Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If this, then that.

I really enjoy projects/recipes/finds that lead me down a path of creativity and ideas.  Like if you ever make butter, then you're left with buttermilk, so you figure out what to make with that and you learn new things along the way.

After Easter, I couldn't bear to throw out all the egg dye, so I froze it in ice cube trays thinking my daughter could have fun painting with ice.  I had had grand fun with this myself in my days as a preschool teaching assistant, so I was looking forward to sharing the experience with her.

I plopped the first set of ice cubes onto a sheet of newsprint on the back porch and expected... well, more.  :D*  She thought they looked neat and pushed them around a little bit, but didn't like how cold they were, so I gave her a bubble wand to move them with, but the momentum had begun to fizzle.

Juggling her younger brother and a bad back while this was happening prevented me from really getting involved in modeling what one could do with such a boon; but, I thought, surely, my brilliant daughter can figure out how to have fun with this given a few words of encouragement!  She seemed interested enough, so I got out the other trays.  I had lots of different colors and they were all melting differently.

She never really got into it and quickly became pretty non-plussed by the whole concept when she realized that the ice cubes were all going to melt and disappear.  She seemed more attached to the ice cubes as objects than art tools.

Me: (in a half-hearted attempt at reverse psychology) "Well, I'm sorry, I did this because I thought it would be fun for you, I guess I shouldn't have bothered."

D: "It was fun.  But then they started melting."
sorry kiddo!
                                             F+, Mom.  

It was still neat (for me) to watch them melt as it became a temporary art installation type moment on the porch.

A few days later:
After making (amazingly tasty) Osso Buco * I kind of fell in love with the oval slices of bone left over. I figured, I save shells for D to play with; why not bones?  I read up on how to clean them and it worked great. You'll notice them weighing our paper down during the ice cube painting.
I had a flash of inspiration and decided to draw sets of faces with chalk that had missing features and have her place the bones to "fill in the blanks".

I enjoyed seeing her placement of the features and we had fun figuring out which feature was missing.  I also drew many different face shapes just to mix up the perceptions and visuals.  She even took it a step further and drew her own face for me to figure out the missing feature on!

It was one of those easy, spontaneous whims that just felt particularly satisfying for this SAHMA (stay-at-home-mom-artist).  When we decided to wrap it up she looked at me and said "Let's go sit in the hammock and watch this NOT MELT."

* I've made this twice and it's actually really easy, forgiving and sooo good.  
I know it's supposed to be veal, but I've never eaten veal.  (changes to recipe) I used 8 smaller beef shanks, a bottle of tomato puree blend something, red wine, dried herbs and I think a little sugar.  I divided it up between two enameled dutch oven type pans.  I really just sear off the meat in some oil, take it out, sweat the veggies, then add everything in together and put the lid on and put it in the oven for approximately 4 hours, occasionally checking on it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Pool Noodle couch bumpers!

     Always losing stuff under the couch? It was driving me crazy, and finally after some brainstorming with my trusty twin sister and some assistance from my dear husband I have created a solution!
    We used wide pool noodles (except for the armoire) that we found at Target- they are a little over 3 inches across their end with about a 1 inch hole. We roughly measured how many we would need to put noodles across the front of each piece as well as along the sides with a middle support noodle for the longer couch.

    We needed about 6 wide noodles to outfit both couch and loveseat and 1 thinner one for the armoire (it's only open on front). We used a plain serrated kitchen knife to cut them and regular duct tape to connect the ends and corners. It works great and went together quickly. I don't mind the blue peeking out from underneath for now, but it would be a great idea to make coordinating fabric sleeves to slide over them if you wanted a more cohesive look with your furniture. You could probably even spray paint them!
    Thanks for looking, and please feel free to ask any questions, I didn't get a chance to photograph anything in-progress, but it's a very simple project.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Small Space Changing Table

We're both suburban mothers with smaller homes who are always looking for space-saving solutions.   Both of my children's rooms had the louvered door style closets (not a fan).  I got rid of the doors and used the top of chests of drawers for my changing tables (I also have those furniture lifts/ bed riser things to make it tall enough).  With my son, doing this the second time around, I've hit on a couple of ideas that I think are extra winning.

I received about a million of those little, thin receiving/swaddling blankets.  Neither of my children have wanted to be swaddled for very long, so that leaves me with unused blankets that I don't feel quite right just getting rid of.  I use them as burp cloths (my son is quite the happy spitter) and I layer many of them on top of each other, tucking them in nicely, on the changing pad.  That way, when there's a leak, or stain or whatever, I can just strip off the top layer and have a fresh, clean surface.

I also have never figured out how people use all the little clip on-dangly baby toys that are supposed to go on car seats and strollers.  For the most part, my kids can't reach them or don't even notice them.  I do, however, like to make the most of the time a baby spends on the changing table and lit on the concept of hooking them onto a hanger, because there's a closet rod right there!  The little loop/velcro jobbies are great for a plastic hanger that has extra hooks for straps.  You can put the toys at many different levels so that you find one that suits your baby's reach/interest level.  On the hooks, they won't slide around, but on the hanger, they can both slide down really low for when they are first starting to reach for toys.

Hope some of these ideas might be useful to someone else out there!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Happy Belated Easter!

Thought we'd share our little pysanky-inspired pregnancy Easter photo with you.  She, of course, couldn't resist decorating her biggest "egg" yet!  We had a wonderful day full of family and laughs and now we eagerly await our next big day, welcoming a new baby into the fold!  Celena is expecting her second boy and is due May 14th.  Hope he likes eggs!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Make it "Pinterest"-ing!

First Day of Spring!
Our kids had a blast planting "flowers" (frilled toothpicks) on rolling green hills (triple batch of homemade play dough). I had practically an entire giant box of these decorative toothpicks leftover from some forgotten event and didn't have many other hors d'oeuvres-heavy plans in the foreseeable future, so I thought I should let the kids have some fun with them.

Ok, so this was actually something we did on St. Patrick's Day, but I think it works maybe even better to celebrate Spring. Also, Spring came in with a squish here in Austin, so Spring-y indoor activities are on my mind.

Kid Motivated Redirection of Original Plan (KMROP): pushing little burrows into the dough with their fingers brought groundhogs, badgers and the like into the general conversation and added a good 20 extra minutes of enjoyment!

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Make it "Pinterest"-ing!

Inspired and motivated by all the fun and amazing ideas we see online everyday, we'll show you some of the things that we follow through on doing in our homes.

This is a great activity if you're willing to give your table a good wipe down afterwards. Finger painting with white yogurt (I used plain FAGE greek yogurt) is extra fun. You can add food coloring for bright colors and it's all edible and healthy! I can always tell when my daughter is "in the zone" of imaginative play because she talks and sings to herself. She started making up little stories and songs and I played along by illustrating as she narrated. It was really fun to draw in the yogurt and an older child would also enjoy wiping the picture clear and starting over.

D started cutting out the middle man by just licking the table, but was also intrigued by the shapes her tongue left in the yogurt. Tongue painting may be the next big thing!

One of the cutest things I've seen via Pinterest here was a quick and very successful project that I will definitely repeat. D wanted to be a green princess for St. Patrick's Day, so I saw it as the perfect opportunity. I cut the tp tube, let her paint it quickly with some solid tempera paint (a favorite), punched holes in it, then cut slits from the end of the tube up to the holes. I slipped a stretchy headband through the slits and the holes provided nice little notches for the band to rest in. I taped the slits closed and this little crown stayed on for hours!