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Mighty Mouse

Dec 29, 2009
Hey Sifaka World! I want to share a funny story about a very friendly mouse that we named Jeremiah. I think he wanted to say hello to you and thank you for caring about animals.

Here is how we met Jeremiah.

One night, a mouse climbed the curtain in my bedroom. When he reached the top of the curtain he popped his little head up and gave a very loud squeak. He seemed startled to see humans, and we were very surprised that he was just sitting and staring at us! I tried to go to sleep, but Jeremiah was very busy and loud. He kept climbing the curtains and squeaking. When I was almost asleep, I felt something climb on top of me. I shook around to scare the mouse away and I fell asleep.

Later I woke up and felt the mouse cuddled against my leg, but I was too sleepy to do anything about it.
In the morning I got up and started to make my bed. As I folded my blanket, Jeremiah jumped out of the blanket and onto the floor. When I finished making my bed, he hopped back onto my bed and sat right next to me!
When I got back to my room the next night, Jeremiah was still there! It is not good to have a mouse live in your room, so I caught him so that we could release him outside. I took the little mouse to Dennis who knows a lot about small animals. Dennis showed me how to tell how old a mouse is and whether a mouse is a boy or girl. I found out that Jeremiah was a young male tree mouse (Thallomys paedulcus). Dennis and I took him out into the tall grass, wished him the best of luck, and let him go. Hopefully, he is doing well out there. I'm glad we got to meet Jeremiah so that we could learn more about the small mammals that live here at the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

Visions of Sugarplums

Dec 27, 2009

Thanks to the Nutcracker, you've probably all had visions of sugarplums dancing in your heads, but I'd be willing to guess you're not even really sure what a sugar plum is. Is it a plum? Some kind of candied fruit? I'm pretty sure that as a child, I assumed that sugar plums were a kind of candy because I couldn't imagine why anyone would have visions of fruits dancing in their heads—it had to be candy! In fact, I wasn't far off. Popular during the 17th to 19th centuries, sugar plums were a type of candy made from sugar-coated nuts or seeds that were roughly the size of plums. They had wire stems for hanging, and often had caraway at the center because caraway was thought to have breath-freshening properties. Other spices, like anise, were also popular. Traditional sugar plums had a hardened candy shell.

I've developed a Sugar Plum recipe that is more like a no-bake cookie, but is filled with healthy dried fruits and nuts and it has received rave reviews from family and friends. I think this one makes a great year round snack for kids and adults. These Sugar Plums are decidedly not candy, but they sure disappeared like candy!

Feel free to vary the recipe with different types of dried fruits and nuts.

Sugar Plums

Makes about 2 dozen
1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/3 cup finely chopped almonds

1 cup finely chopped dates

1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricots

1/3 cup finely chopped figs

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch of cloves

1 teaspoon orange zest

3 Tablespoons honey

Powdered sugar, as needed

  1. Kids should be sure to have a grown up present when making this recipe.

  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

  3. Spread walnuts out on a sheet pan and bake, turning, frequently, until lightly toasted—be careful not to burn these. If they burn they'll be bitter. Remove the walnuts from the oven and allow them to cool before finely chopping them. You can use a food processor, but be careful not to go too far or you'll make nut butter! Place chopped walnuts in a mixing bowl.

  4. Finely chop the almonds and add to the bowl with the walnuts.

  5. Finely chop the dates, apricots, and figs and mix them in with the nuts, making sure the nuts and dried fruit are evenly distributed.

  6. Add the cinnamon, cloves, and orange zest and mix well to combine.

  7. Add the honey and mix well again.

  8. Roll the mixture into 1-inch balls and set them, in a single layer, on a plate. After you have finished rolling all the sugarplums dust them lightly with powdered sugar and transfer to a pretty plate or serving platter.

Cheetah Cubs Update

Dec 24, 2009
Hello Sifaka World,

As many of you may know, CCF has had the recent addition of four orphaned cheetahs: Polly, Tony, Mischief, and Phil. Thanks to Sifaka Members just like you, these cubs were able to be rescued and are growing up to be some very amazing cheetahs!

Right now, these four youngsters are getting very big, and are keeping us very busy! To keep up with how large they’re growing, we have just made their yard a lot bigger. It has been very interesting to spy on these cubs as they explore all the new parts of their world. We recently put a big dead tree in their yard, and they enjoy climbing all over it. Trees like this one are very important to cheetahs. In the wild, cheetahs would use this kind of tree to “talk” to other cheetahs by leaving behind their individual scents and smells. The four cubs are particularly fond of a big mound in the center of their new yard, as it allows them to watch things going on all around them. They also like a shady patch of grass in one corner, and they often sleep the heat of the day away by all pilling on top of each other in one big pile.

It is always funny to watch these four cubs, as they all have such different personalities.


Tony has always been a very big and bold boy. He is extremely outgoing and curious, and so he is very happy when he gets to explore his new yard. When we bring people in to see the cubs, Tony is always the first cub to come say hello. He has a very broad forehead and large eyes that make him look very friendly. He also has very good posture, which makes him look as if he were royalty when he sits on the hill and looks all around. When we play with Tony, he often likes to brush up against the person who is playing with him. He might even like getting stroked more than he likes chasing his toy!


Mischief is nothing but trouble! He is definitely living up to his name, and you can tell just by looking at his facial expressions that he is up to no good. We are always trying to outsmart Mischief, because he is constantly being naughty. He might be the smallest of the three brothers, but Mischief is determined to prove just how strong and mighty he is to his brothers.


Polly is a beautiful little girl (on the right) who is still very nervous about people. It seems like she is always wondering who you are and what you want, no matter how many times you feed her or try to play with her. Polly is happy to watch her brothers play with their toys, but will usually stick to herself and lie in the shade of a nice acacia tree.

Phil (on the left) is a tall, dark, and handsome cheetah. He looks most similar to his sister, but has a very distinctive black speckle in his right eye. Phil is also Polly’s favorite brother, and the two often cuddle together while they sleep away the hot afternoon. Phil is rather cautious around strangers, but is also very curious. He will come and say hello to you, but only if his other brothers are with him. When it comes to playing with the toy, Phil is an absolute star! It is amazing to watch Phil sprint around the yard after his toy – zigging this way and zagging that way in the most graceful way. One thing is for sure, and that is that Phil is a true sprinter!

Christmas Snort

Dec 22, 2009

Hi everyone! I’ve been working on my grocery list for the big holiday meal (in our house it’s Christmas, but we have friends who celebrate all different ways) and it’s got me wondering what kinds of things are part of your traditional holiday menus. Every family has something they look forward to having every year—something they wouldn’t throw together for any old meal.

Some of my family’s traditional holiday foods are really healthy, like our Cranberry Relish (recipe below), and others are…well…not quite so healthy, like our annual Christmas Snort.

That’s a strange name for a holiday dish, isn’t it? Well it got that name in a funny sort of way, in part because although it is delicious, it’s not particularly healthy. It all happened because in an email to someone, I wrote the name of the dish and a quick description and then “*snort*” next to it so the person I was writing to would know that I knew how unhealthy it was. Instead, she thought the name of our annual Christmas Sausage Bread was Snort! My kids and I thought that was so funny we decided to officially change the name to Snort, and every time someone says “Christmas Snort” it makes us all laugh. The sausage bread isn’t so healthy, but laughing sure is!

Here’s something quick, easy, and super healthy for your holiday table, and it is MUCH better than the jellied cranberry sauce we’re all used to having from the can.

Crazy Cranberry Relish

The flavors in this dish are bright, clean, and extremely fresh. Kids tend to like this relish over a chutney, for example, because there are no added spices and it’s not cooked—all the wonderful flavors of each fruit remain intact. It’s also quite colorful, which is appealing on a plate full of otherwise brownish foods.

1 granny smith apple, cored

½ a fresh pineapple (or 1 can of pineapple)

1 navel orange, peeled

1 bag of fresh cranberries, washed and picked over

1.Get a grown up to help you with this recipe.

2. In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade, combine the apple (leaving the skin on is fine), pineapple, and orange. Process until it looks like apple sauce. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl and set aside.

3. Pour all of the cranberries into the food processor and pulse until the cranberries are finely chopped, but aren’t mushy.

4. Combine the cranberries with the apple/pineapple/orange mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Serve cold.

*Note: If the relish is too tart you can add some pineapple or orange juice or a small amount of sugar, but I prefer it without added sugar.

So what are some of your family's favorite holiday foods? Go ahead and leave a comment below and if you want to send me a recipe I might even publish it here!

New Cheetah Cubs

Dec 17, 2009
Hey Sifaka World, I want to share this amazing story with you about how your Sifaka World memberships saved real animals. Here is what happened.

A farmer called us. He said a female cheetah got caught in his farm fence. The farmer tried to save her but sadly, she died. One of the farmer's assistants saw cheetah cubs run away into the tall grass, and so we knew that there were orphaned cheetah cubs. The good news is that we went to the farm and saved all four of the cubs! Three of the cubs are boys and one is a girl. We named them Mischief, Tony, Phil, and Polly.

The cubs were scared because they had never been around people, and so they hissed and spit and snarled at us. Their fur was covered with little spiky thistles, called burrs. Poor little things! One of the cubs needed stitches, but other than that they were in good health.

The cubs were about three months old. They were a little bigger than a house cat. They each weighed about 11 pounds. We gave each cub what is called a transponder microchip so that we can tell them apart.

We have a great team of people here in Africa who know how to rescue cheetahs and make sure they stay healthy. Don't forget that if you have a Sifaka World membership you are helping to save REAL cheetahs!

Scones to Sugarplums!

Dec 12, 2009
Hi everyone, and welcome to the Sifaka World Blog!

I'm your culinary host and over the next couple of weeks I'm going to be posting a series of recipes that will bring some serious holiday yum to your tables. Each recipe is kid-friendly and will be completely from scratch. I know what you're thinking! "Wha? Kid-friendly? From scratch?! But, but..this crazy rabbit chef can't be serious!"Oh, I'm serious alright. Cooking is easy, really. Anyone can do it. Craig Claiborne, one of America's greatest chefs, said, "Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love." I've always loved that quote. Mostly because it's entirely true.

Before we start, you should know that all of my recipes have been tested and approved by kids. Even the ones you might think are weird. Some recipes are guaranteed crowd pleasers. Others are what I like to call challenge foods, but all of them have been given the seal of approval by a large group of kids.

To make mixing and handling easier for small hands, I've scaled the recipes to one or two servings.

For kids, as with all my recipes, the first ingredient is a grown up to help with anything hot, sharp, or just plain too difficult. So make sure you have an adult with you before you start cooking.

Cranberry Orange Walnut Scones

Today's recipe is a favorite of all the kids who have taken my real world classes over the past couple of years. My little friend Sarah makes them at home with her mom all the time! Maybe, if we're lucky, she'll pop in here and leave a comment--perhaps a cooking tip or an idea for a recipe variation?

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 /4 cup nonfat buttermilk

2 Tablespoons chopped, dried cranberries

2 Tablespoons chopped walnuts

How It's Made
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

2. In a medium-sized bowl combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Use a whisk to lightly blend.

3. Add the butter and orange zest, and using your fingertips only*, blend the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse corn meal.

4. Add the buttermilk and mix using a fork until the dough forms a shaggy mass.

5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Add the cranberries and walnuts and gently knead the dough until the berries and walnuts are incorporated (the less time you spend doing this the better because the more you handle dough the tougher it gets).

6. Flatten dough with your hands until it is about 3/4-inch thick and cut into desired shapes. (I like triangles or squares because there's no re-kneading involved, which results in a more tender dough than circles or other shapes that leave lots of scraps.)

7. Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet and bake until the tops are golden brown.

*The reason for using only your fingertips while cutting the butter into the dry ingredients is that we want to keep the butter from melting and your fingertips are the coldest parts of your hand. If you use the palms of your hands you're likely to end up with a dough ball when what you really want (before adding the liquid ingredients) is a bowl full of crumbly crumbs.


Dec 9, 2009
Hi everyone and welcome to the Sifaka World blog! I'm Kintana, Sifaka World's lemur host and I'm so excited about the new blog because now I'll be able to pop in and give you regular updates about what's happening in Sifaka World.

Some of you may have visited the Sifaka World Blog before and learned about the Cheetah Conservation Fund (CCF) through posts by Leigh Whelpton who works at the CCF and has been keeping us all updated about the baby cheetahs and some of the other wildlife around her in Africa. If you haven't had the chance to read her posts don't worry! I'll be re-posting them and Leigh will continue to add regular updates.

I'm also happy to tell you that we're welcoming a new friend to the blog.

Chef Lisa Holmes, is both a real person and a Sifaka World character. In the real world, she is a professional chef who has been teaching children and families about cooking for several years now. Chef Holmes is also a writer who co-authored an award-winning book (Lunch Lessons, Harper Collins, 2005) about how we can get better lunches in public schools. It was her work on Lunch Lessons that led her to open The Children’s Culinary Academy in Falmouth, Massachusetts, where she created fun, unique, and exciting cooking classes for children of all ages. Click here to view her old blog and see her mini chefs at work. Chef Holmes will be posting recipes, cooking tips, and lots of fun cooking facts and information on a weekly basis. Feel free to leave questions for her in the comments section. She may even have a question or two for you in the near future. Look for some special holiday recipes in the next couple of weeks.

Chef Holmes’ Sifaka World character is a warm, fun-loving, Arctic Hare who is full of energy and has two children of her own. She and her long-eared sidekicks will be handing out holiday goodies somewhere in Sifaka World (up to you to find her!) near the end of December. After December she will be hosting cooking games and activities in her home in North America.

So that's it for now! Be sure to add us to your RSS feeds so you can stay in the loop. You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook. Look at the bottom of the sidebar on the right for those links.

As the blog grows we’ll be adding more bloggers so stay tuned!