Dirty art

My children (especially my almost five year old daughter) LOVE to paint. The problem we run into is that my 18 month old, as most 18 month old’s are, is VERY messy. Now I am all about getting dirty (hence the name of the blog). However, I guess I feel the need to draw the line when the paint ends up on walls, ceilings, grout and carpet that are difficult to reach and clean. Getting dirty is extra fun when it is carefree and not careless.

So my daughter loves to paint and my son loves to eat paint. What to do? I usually save this activity during my sons nap time. Inevitably there are days when he does not nap and my daughter is dying to be creative.

I have come to believe that the best skill I have as a mother is “creativity”. It has allowed me to be flexible with VERY active children  and gotten me out of some serious emotional predicaments. I have “baby-proofed” for free using clothespins and rubber bands, and come up with some interesting “diapers” in emergencies.

I love to reuse items without hoarding to much trash and I had some pieces left over from our weekend plant stand build project. My daughter wanted to paint them and paper. What a great idea!

I got her all set up on our dining room table with a cloth backed vinyl table cloth. I use vinyl tablecloths for EVERYTHING. They are perfect for craft projects and play mats and I can usually find them on clearance especially now towards the end of summer. She got her designated paint clothes on and painted away. Easy peasy.

Now my son needs a little more prep work. I use an old sheet to lay under his highchair (queen size of course) and then lay a couple layers of saran wrap over his highchair tray. “Voila!”, instant art surface. I usually just strip him down to diapers or put a smock on him and let him play in the paint while making sure he eats as little as possible. It was fun this time to hand him a wood block and let him put his painty little fingers all over it. So cute. The best part…he is up and away from sisters space while she works diligently to create her masterpieces.

Clean up is not too bad and if it is hot out a run through the sprinkler serves as a great clean up but a quick wipe down works just as well. Painting is always dirty fun!

The Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis

A Violet

A Violet

DSC_0265

Painted wood blocks

Painted wood blocks

Wednesday Wonders

There are a lot of mommy inventions and products that I find myself asking “I wonder if a woman invented that?”. Mostly because it seemed so logical and such a practical baby device. Now I am not saying a man (or daddy) is not equally creative, I just like to think that inventing is a nice even playing field for both sexes. One such product I wanted to know more about its origins was the pack n play.

Have you ever wondered who invented the first pack n play? Look at it closely and I am still amazed how someone came up with the design (especially when after two kiddos and multiple times setting one up I STILL mess it up occasionally).

Well…after a little googling around (yes that is what we call it around here as well as telling each other to “go type it into the googler machine”) I have the information. Apparently we can thank Graco for many, many, many of our first time introductions of baby products that are considered basic essentials nowadays. And the pack n play seems to be their second biggest release of products.

The first was the baby swing created by David Saint, an employee of Graco back in 1953. A coworker of his was telling him how his wife would soothe their tired cranky baby by rocking the baby in the backyard glider swing. Having 9 children himself, Saint urged the invention of the Graco Swyngomatic designed by Harold Kosoff in 1982.

Then the son of David Saint, Nate Saint, came up with the Pack N’ Play portable playard in 1987. Amazingly, not much has changed from its design. 

So whether you have thought about it or not, there is your answer to who invented this seemingly indispensable baby product.  Not a woman but thank you Mr. Saint, you certainly exemplify your surname.

Now…I think it is funny sometimes when I am at a store and (as just ONE example) my daughter is playing and standing in the cart while my younger son is screaming because I have forced him to sit buckled in the cart seat and another adult (without any children with her of course) will quickly tell me how my daughter needs to be careful and she should not stand in the basket of the cart.

Little does this adult know that the ENTIRE time shopping my daughter has been constantly reminded that she should not stand. However, I focus on when the cart is moving since that is DEFINITELY not safe and for the most part she does not stand very often unless she is reaching for something. This was one of those days when I had to chuckle and think about the many things other adults would tell me my children should not be doing if they only knew. As we all must do, though, I pick my battles. Since having my children I am almost certain (cant be positive with sleepy foggy brain) that I have never told a mother what her child should/ or should not be doing.

What should I care? I do not know what kind of morning she has had. Whether one of her children did not want to be put down all morning and screamed bloody murder, or that the other had a meltdown because she was put in time out for kicking her brother in the face, or that mommy had to chase out a wasp that got into the van while loading the kids in. That could have just been her first 4 hours of the day. So no…I do not judge. We ALL have our moments.

So do you ever wonder about random things? I know I am not the only one out there. If so what is it? Maybe I have too and we can find out together.

Plant Stand Weekend Project

We decided to pick up a few potted herbs and plants that we used occasionally.  These were the bunches of herbs that I would find hiding in the fridge rotting after forgetting about them. You know, herbs like Parsley and Cilantro. Maybe it was poor planning on my part. The issue was I had two children under 5 and both like to play in dirt even if it is dirt out of a potted plant.

Solution: Plant Stand!!

Image

This project took my husband and I 2 hours from start to finish. That was with constant interruption and even a couple child injuries (not project related) including a cut pinky toe. This was for 2 stands as well so if you only needed one it would be even quicker and I really was not that much help just the occasional “can you hold this honey” job. Usually I take on a project like this myself such as when I built 3 of our picture ledges as shown here (Ten dollar ledges). But it was kinda fun working with my husband on this one (sorta) and he felt really great about the results afterward. I still think it would have taken about that long even without help. I think that would qualify this as a “NAP” project. You know, the ones you can get done during that precious nap time, if they still exist in your home.

Ok… so this is all you will need and do not forget to check out the scrap bins at your hardware store. None of the pieces are over 4 feet in length and that is usually the length of scrap pieces in our local hardware store. Not a coincidence on our part:)

Final Dimensions:

Frame is 48”W x 10”D x 36”H

Materials

Materials

Materials: For 2 stands (Half for just one stand)

3- 2x4x8 : 2 cut into 45″ lengths and 1 cut into 4; 10 inch pieces

4- 2x2x8: All 4 cut into 36″ and 4 pieces of 7″ out of the scrap

1- 1x2x8: Cut into 48″ pieces each

1- 24”x48” plywood (Note: we found this nice thick grade plywood on the scrap pile and it was already 24” wide so we just had the man cut it in half to two 12 inch width pieces instead of 2 10 inch width pieces which was our original plan. We actually are glad that this left a bit of overhang.)

Box of 2 1/2″ and a small pack of 1 1/2” Screws

Drill

Instructions:

We had all of the wood cut at the hardware store. We no longer own many tools other than a drill since our big cross country move. I am VERY thankful that these stores do this for their customers! So if you take in your measurements you can have all that work done there and once you get home it is as simple as screwing things together!

On a note: I have fallen in love with SPAX screws! They are AMAZING, make any drilling job a breeze and are worth every penny. They even come with their own specially designed bit already in the box. No pre drilling, no wood splitting….did I mention no pre drilling? (I was not endorsed for this comment…I just really love these screws).

Once we got home we started by framing the top part.

1- Screw two 10″ pieces to the end of your 44″ pieces making a large narrow rectangle. We chose to mount the short pieces on the outside keeping our frame 10 inches in depth. You could mount them inside of the long pieces to  make the depth deeper but don’t forget to have a wider piece of plywood! Two screws per joint should work. (See pic)

DSC_0252

2- Mount the 4 legs (36″ 2×2’s) inside each corner.  Then using your 1 1/2″ screws screw your plywood top on your nice new rectangle piece.

Legs added and plywood top

Legs added and plywood top

3- Now we attached the two 7″ pieces across the bottom of the two legs with one screw along the outside of the legs as shown:

4- Finally, screw your 48″ long 1×2 along the back and on the outer edge of the legs. We actually turned the stand around to have these on the front since we were resting the stand along our back screen porch. You can make the table more sturdy by adding another one of these pieces to the front of the stand as well. If you decide to do this then don’t forget to buy 2 more 1x2x8 and have them cut to 48″.

Steps 3 and 4 shown here:

Side bottom pieces

Side bottom pieces

That is it!! You have a stand now.

We could have done many more things such as sealing and painting it or adding more braces along the back etc….but we are not picky like that and it is serving its purpose of keeping the plants off the ground and away from the kiddos! I would love to see pics of your projects or stands if you feel so inclined to share. Thank you for stopping by!

DSC_0260

DSC_0261

Easy, Quick and Gluten Free Dinner

Tonight I had a little one sick so I had to come up with a quick and easy gluten free meal from what was in my kitchen. As the week ends things start getting sparse in the pantry and fridge so I need to get creative. I had an acorn squash and am still using up my bulk sack of quinoa. Here is what I came up with:

Image

Microwave acorn squash with feta crumbles and quick quinoa

This was so delicious, satisfying and did I mention QUICK!

You will need:

-1 Acorn squash

– 2 Tbsp Feta crumbles

– I cup quinoa uncooked

– I had organic grape tomatoes that were nearing their way out and some Italian parsley that needed to be used up

1. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions. Typically 2 cups of water to 1 cup quinoa. Throw both together in a pot and bring to boil then slowly reduce heat till quinoa opens up and is tender.

2- Cut acorn squash in half. Place one half cut side down onto microwave safe plate and microwave for 5 min on high power. Depending on the size of your squash you will then need to check it and if still firm heat again for another 3 to 5 min. I thought my squash was a pretty good size and it took about 8 minutes total. Repeat with other half.

3- Once quinoa is done I added my chopped grape tomatoes and Italian parsley.

4- Sprinkle the crumbled feta onto your squash half, serve your quinoa and DONE!

Please Note: I rarely add salt to my dishes but feel free to add what you like to taste anytime.

I am pretty proud of myself for this one. I think it came out to 15 min from prep to table and I was able to be resourceful out of what I had left in my kitchen. I am giving myself a little pat on the back for this one. Lots of flexibility on the ingredients too. Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Delicious and Nutritious

I rarely bought in bulk but recently my family was gifted a membership to one of those wholesale warehouse retailers and I purchased a huge burlap sack of jasmine rice. Lucky for us it is very good rice.

It is a bit of a joke around here that I tend to throw things together in the kitchen and get creative. Sometimes it works out great and I create a yummy new dish to add to my recipe arsenal and sometimes the recipe is just “so so” and we can take it or leave it. We won’t talk about the recipes that leave very little to be desired.

This particular recipe was quick, full of texture and flavor and healthy. I am ALWAYS looking for those qualities. Not to mention it looks beautiful too:

Jasmine rice with parsley and sliced almonds
Jasmine rice with parsley and sliced almonds
    
This dish could easily stand on its own as a main course with a side of veggies or a a side to any light main dish you desire. The kiddos loved it and so did the parents.
Jasmine Rice with Parsley and sliced almonds
Cooked rice (at least 2 cups)
1-2 Tbsp chopped parsley (cilantro would work nicely too)
2 Tbsp sliced no salt almonds
Dash of lime juice
1- After cooking desired type and amount of rice, mix in chopped parsley (or cilantro) and dash of lime juice.
2- Serve and top with sliced almonds
3- Enjoy!
Now I am looking for plenty of rice dishes to try out.
What are some of your favorites?

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Ok…So I was getting fed up with the nasty smell and taste of what my children’s plastic drinking cups had when washed in the dishwasher. Call me crazy but if it smells like detergent and tastes like detergent chances are it probably still has detergent on it and is probably not so good for the insides. I scoured the internet and found a simple and frugal recipe. After testing it out I will NOT be returning to store bought ever again. Technically I guess you can say this is also “store bought” since the three ingredients must be bought in a store, but I think we all know what I mean. So here it is: Dishwashing Detergent. You MUST try it out. I had issues with clumping at first because I live in a humid environment but I scoured my house and found a couple of those “Do not eat” pouches and taped them to the lid of the plastic pitcher I used to store my detergent in. You might be surprised at where you would find those things: shoe boxes, pill bottles, or bread packs. I also placed an old metal spoon in there too and it seemed to help. All i all I am extremely impressed and my dishes come out sparkly clean, no residue and no smell. I am a happy mommy.

Little Miracles

There is no doubt in my mind that miracles do happen. But it is the smaller, happening all the time ones, that make me stop and say “Thank God!”. Case in point….I was spending my average afternoon going around the house picking little things up and putting things away when in my daughters room out of the corner of my  eye I spy a shiny object on her little table. Sure enough…it was a pair of very sharp adult scissors! My first thought was “What if monkey…had seen those and started ‘playing’ with them!” that would have been an ER visit for sure! I didn’t question how she got them and didn’t ask why she had them. I picked them up and put them away the whole time thinking “How was THAT not a miracle, finding those scissors?”

These little “miracles” seem to happen all the time and it is the continuing series of them throughout the day that seems to get me through a day, a week and so on. How many times have you caught yourself saying “wow…thank goodness I (found, saw, heard, did, caught,etc) that!” I am grateful for my little miracles and reminders that I am not doing this alone and thank goodness. What has been your most recent little miracle you would like to share?

 

The Why?

So why a title with a bit of underlying reference? I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your mind did not go to such a naughty place:)

I feel you can never get too dirty that it can’t be cleaned up. Whether it be kids playing and stinking to high heaven, or you feel you have done so wrong that no one will forgive. It can , and should, be washed away. If we are lucky we will have the chance to do and learn again.

Fortunately for me, my daughter (first child) was never a “froo froo” type girl. Don’t get me wrong…I thought that was what I wanted (and therefore needed) but nope. Bruises, dirt under the nails, and tangled nests for hair is what we get to share each day. I realize now that I would not have it any other way. It is more fun saying “get in there and have a ball” vs. “not in your NICE clothes” every day. I feel many parents look forward to holidays or special events to see the kiddos all dressed up handsome and pretty. Not this momma…I dread “trying” to keep the kids clean. It just doesn’t seem worth it or am I missing something?

One of my many favorite quotes goes something like this: “Don’t mind the mess…my kids are making memories” and I feel that says it all. Not to mention clean up is just as fun! For those fearing the dirt, here is a fun activity to ease you in:

1) Weather permitting, remove valuable clothing from child and if you feel it is necessary to put something on them by all means slip on a “messy play” outfit.

2) Go outside or get in the tub/shower and play with something messy and dirty!

3) Sit back and watch the smiles and silliness.

I realize some kids don’t like to get dirty, and maybe they need a “less” dirty activity, but we should all try it…at least once a week.

So what do you all think? What is your or your kids favorite dirty activity? Would love to hear them all.