Monday, August 20, 2012

Things we do after nap :: Ice play

Its been soooo hot! Disgustingly, depressingly hot. Now before you scold me for complaining about the heat when I live in the Seattle area let me remind you that one, I'm getting mui preggo-pants here and two, because it doesn't get hot often around here, no one has AC. That means that when its 85 outside its 100 in my flat roofed, no insulation house. Gross.
Jack and I were melting the other afternoon and so lethargic that I decided it was a good day for ice play. Ice play is a lot like water play. Its easy, so fun for littles and requires minimal clean up. Put a towel down (or not) under your highchair, strip that baby to a diaper and gather a couple of things you already have in your kitchen.

We started with some ice water in a sippy and a small plastic cup filled with ice cubes. We tentatively touched the ice and talked about how smooth it was and how it was slippery like soap in the bath tub. Jack wants to kiss everything right now so he decided to give the ice a little smootch.

"Oooooo cold!" Since we'd just had our faces next to the cup we decided to blow into the cup and feel the cold air come rushing back out.

We noticed that the ice had started melting and that there was now a little bit of water in the bottom of the cup so we talked about how ice is made from water, and then poured the water onto the tray.

Then some of the ice came out too...

Of course the next logical progression was for colored water to join the party.

We eventually added some dinosaur sponges and the color blue.

It was at this point that Mama realized we had been playing for 45 MINUTES, and that it was time to get started on dinner. I was shocked that Jack stayed engaged for so long. It was a great lot of fun and helped us stay just a little bit cooler.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

McCoyalicious Granola

Hubs loves granola but we don't have it often because the stuff you get at the grocery store is generally super expensive and super fatty. I don't know why I got it in my head to try making it, probably Pinterest again, but I was inspired one afternoon to take to the Internet and seek out a recipe. I found Alton Brown's here and it looked perfectly tweakable. Now, I'm not one to follow a recipe or pattern to the letter... ever, so below you'll find my version. We thought it came out delicious but I would suggest that you add/swap whatever nuts or dried fruits you and your family are fond of. I used what I had on hand but I think that next time I might try sunflower seeds in place of the peanuts, add some dried cranberries and swap out half the coconut oil for vegetable oil. Experiment, experiment! It is a little time consuming, though not labor intensive. You just have to stop by the oven and stir it every 15 minutes. So if you have an hour and a half I highly recommend spending it multitasking by cleaning your house and making this crunchy goodness.

McCoyalicious Granola
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped almonds
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweet coconut
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup raisins

  • Preheat oven to 250.

    In a large bowl combine oats, nuts, coconut and brown sugar.

    In a separate bowl combine honey, oil and salt.

    Combine both mixtures and spread onto sheet pans. Cook for an hour 15 minutes stirring every 15 minutes for even color.

    Remove from oven, transfer to a large bowl and stir in raisins until distributed evenly.

    I stored mine in a couple of mason jars but any airtight container should work. I cant officially tell you how long it will keep but we are still working our way through one of the jars 3 weeks later so it's got to stay good for awhile.

    Saturday, August 11, 2012

    Saving a fave

    I have these V neck t-shirts that I got from Forever 21 a million years ago and I am obsessed with them. I'm glad I had the forethought to buy 4 of them but I wish I'd bought 50. They fit like a glove, are the perfect length, have the perfect neckline, and have held up shockingly well for how cheap they were. We redid our bathroom completely by ourselves a couple of years ago and in my sleep deprived stupor (when you are without a bathtub in a one bathroom house, you stay up late and spend all your free time installing tile) I wore one of my lovlies while grouting. Of course there were spills and I thought I'd ruined it but I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. It lived in my craft room for 3 years until the perfect idea came to me, inspired of course by Pinterest. Oh Pinterest. I do love you so. Note: I get that the damage doesn't look that bad in this photo, but trust me, it was not wearable to anywhere other than Home Depot.

    Some white fabric paint, a chop stick, a Trader Joe's bag and an hour later I had this.

    I leaned heavily on this girl's work for inspiration. Amazing isnt she? I thought about freezer paper but in the end I just free handed that sucker on there. I did not have the energy or patience to make a stencil and I'm actually kind of glad that I didn't. It has this sort of batik, boho thing going on with the imperfect line work that I'm totally digging and hopefully looks as cool as I think it does. There is a wealth of inspiration out there and this is a great way to cover up any kind of minor staining on a beloved piece.

    Tuesday, August 7, 2012

    Things we do after nap :: Water play

    I've been doing this with Jack for several months but have yet to blog about it. Its such a simple thing and yet for littles, so effective. Its even better now that Jacks a little older. I think he spent almost 45 minutes in complete concentration in which Mama was able to finish the first (hopefully of many) hand-knit sweaters for baby girl.

    All I do is lay down an old towel (important in case the food coloring stains) and grab an assortment of things I find in the kitchen. It varies every time and the possibilities are endless. This time we had a Pyrex pie plate, measuring cup and spoon, a straw, an old spice jar and a plastic squirty alligator from the latest trip to the zoo. Then I fill a couple of containers with colored water and let Jack have at it.

    He has so much fun. Pouring, scooping and splashing. There is minimal clean up involved with the towel on hardwood floors (I would suggest not doing this on carpet. We've hung out in the kitchen several times) and it gives a Mama time to finish a couple of chores. That being said, I do love to find an activity for myself that allows me to sit near and observe if I can. Without direction the way he chooses to use these objects never ceases to fascinate me. So next time you're bored, grab some kitchen junk and some water and watch the magic happen.

    Monday, August 6, 2012

    A little trip for busy bees

    Oof. Pregnancy + toddler is hard work! I've managed to keep sewing, baking and making, but blogging has fallen by the wayside. I don't know how some of these bloggy mamas do it. Those broads are amazing. I've got lots to share so I'll start with our recent little summer vacay.

    We decided not to deal with air travel this year and opted for a cabin on the Wenatchee river, only an hour and a half drive from Seattle. What a treat! The weather was great, we were in a little community with a playground and a pool just steps away and Lake Wenatchee was literally a 5 minute drive. We swam, we threw rocks in the river, we sat in the mud, we giggled and sunned. Before we left I did a little vacation sewing. A couple of pairs of maternity shorts for myself, some shorts for Jack and then while we were there, I finished the hand stitching on the next sized bucket hat (I'd already made Jack one in small).

    They were all fun projects. For the mama shorts I drafted a pattern using a pair that fit when I wasn't preggo, leaving the fly open to accommodate some extra room in the waist area. I also cut the front extra low and made a simple elastic waist. One pair is thrifted brown corduroy and the other is a Laura Ashley print that I got on clearance a million years ago. Comfortable and easy. For Jack's shorts I did pretty much the same thing, using a pair of shorts that fit him well, I made a pattern and used an old linen shirt and one of Bruce's old polo's for the fabric. The hat is from Little Things to Sew. God I love that book. The patterns are so well written and easy to follow. This hat comes together pretty quickly especially considering how professional the finish is.  

    We even caught a fish, and what are mini vacations for, if not for getting a little slimy?


    Tuesday, June 19, 2012

    Things we do after nap :: Popsicle stick & Clothes Pin Airplanes

    I really didn't intend to be away so long. One post in almost 3 months, ouch. Clearly I've been busy with something, and the something happens to be growing another human. We are expecting baby #2 in early December! This pregnancy has been a bit harder than the first. Chasing a toddler around rather than lying on the couch with a bag of pretzels is a bit more exhausting than I was expecting. I unfortunately, also had much worse morning sickness this time around. Puking with a curious toddler trying to look over your shoulder is a hilarious story for later but not really all that funny in the moment. I am getting some energy back now though. We're into the golden second trimester and other than the emergence of the rotten heartburn I had with the first pregnancy I'm almost symptom free. I've even started to feel my little goldfish move a bit. So fun. I'd forgotten how magical those first little flutters are.

    But this is what I really wanted to tell you about. A fun and easy project idea we found (where else?) on Pinterest. Popsicle stick & clothes pin airplanes! Who doesn't have those things laying around? They came together in literally 5 minutes, which includes a few minutes hunting for the hot glue gun. For the little guys like mine, I suggest putting the airplanes together during nap and having them all ready to decorate when they wake up. We used crayola washable markers, but the decorating posibilities are endless: glitter, crayons, stickers, modge podge and paper...

    As you can see, Jack quickly lost interest and started coloring on the picture we'd been working on that morning.

    No worries, he came back to it soon enough. Now these are a bit delicate, so be ready to re-glue a couple of times before your littles understand how fragile they are. Maybe super glue would work better... I might try it next time. Either way get ready for some silly fun, though your airplanes may turn into hungry bugs or dancing dinosaurs, I'm not really sure what was going on...

    Wednesday, May 23, 2012

    Simple sandbox

    Seattle weather has been giving us glimpses of summer lately and any day above 60 degrees around here (rain or shine) is a good day for the beach. Jack is thoroughly enjoying all this digging around in the sand and muck. In fact one of his latest vocabulary additions has been "Sand! Sand!" so last weekend when it was better than 60 degrees, 70 and sunny all day in fact, we made ourselves a simple sandbox.

    We went back and forth about using an old planter box on the patio but settled on our hand-me-down kiddy pool and about 15 bucks worth of play sand. Easy peasey. The hardest part was getting the sand out of the car. Those little bags weigh 50 pounds each. I'm not really sure what were going to do when/if we need to move the sandbox...

    Jack was THRILLED. The man is a fan of sand after all and couldn't even wait to get proper clothes on before he jumped right in. Sadly the weather took a turn for the worse the next day and poor Jack hasn't been able to play in it since. He longingly looks out the sliding glass door and points, "sand... sand". Soon my love. We've got sunshine in the forecast for this weekend. I think there is plenty of digging and "ditty" (dirty) in your future.

    Sunday, March 25, 2012

    My sorbetto

    "I'm accomplishing goals!", she shouted. I really wanted to start sewing for myself more in 2012 so I made this sorbetto top for a couple of reasons. Reason one, silly me, I thought that a blouse would be sooooooooooooo much easier then pants. Reason two, it was free. Reason 3, I had this image in my head of red gingham in the summer. It took me 5 or 6 hours all together. I made this a size 12 but I did mod a couple of things. When copying the pattern, I added about six inches to the length. I did end up taking in the hip area but I should have anticipated that from the beginning since my hip to waist ratio makes me a classic apple shape. Boo. I added sleeves using the free pattern at sew weekly (which needed a mod itself being way too small for me at the first cut). I also added 3 vintage buttons at the pleat to balance my idiotic choice of white bias tape around the neckline. I dunno, its OK I guess. At least its wearable and doesn't look completely home sewn. You can see the darts are a little high on me. I should have adjusted them but after taking in the sides and re-cutting and sewing the sleeves I was kind of done. I've gotten so much better, but I still need to learn to be less lazy with my sewing. Half an hour of adjustments can mean the difference between a well fitting garment that you wear over and over and something that you spent hours making that just sits in your closet, judging you. At least it looks pretty good with stretch trousers and motorcycle boots.

    Sunday, March 11, 2012

    More knitting

    I've been on a total knitting kick lately. Little man has been a bit high maintenance, wanting Mama and nothing but, so its been harder to get invested in anything that demands large chunks of time. I also really enjoyed knitting that last pull over for Jack so that's sort of fueled my knitting fires.

    For some reason, I have this issue with Jack's clothing/accessories. I really have trouble with the fact that my child actually grows. Its not the whole "I can't believe my baby is getting so big" kind of trouble, though that crosses my mind daily. The kind of trouble that I have is not realizing that he has gotten physically larger to the point that I am continually stuffing him into things that clearly make him look like Chris Farley in Tommy Boy. I had one of those moments last week when I noticed that the little bear hat he always wears was beginning to resemble a yarmulke. To the yarn stash! I grabbed a couple of leftover bits and used my favorite go to hat pattern for stash busting, Jane Richmond's top down hat tutorial.

    It only took a couple of naps and one stint in the waiting room at my doctors office. This is my first successful attempt at intarsia. I'm pleased with the result especially considering I made the pattern up on the fly and I like the way the colors came together too. I think it looks like something I might have worn at Jack's age, very early 80s. I really wish I'd remembered to switch to a smaller needle when knitting the brim, as it looks a little sloppy and the whole hat is a bit big, which I guess is a theme with me lately, but better big then small when making for kids right? And Jack seems to like it.

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    Things we do after nap :: Pipe cleaner madness

    I picked up a package of pipe cleaners on my epic trip to Joann's a couple of weeks ago with no clear plan, but I did know that these great colors and that delicious pipe cleaner texture would be a hit. I busted them out yesterday while Bruce was on a call from home and needed some space from a curious little man who loves to help Dada by clicking buttons on his laptop. These made for another simple, fun and infinitely customizable activity.

    First we dumped the whole package out on the floor (that kind of mess seems to always be exciting to little people and grabs their attention right away). We talked about the pretty colors, we felt the soft texture and tickled them against each others faces and necks, we bent them and noticed how easy they were to manipulate. Then Mama made some creatures and Jack stuffed them into an empty cookie box.

    I feel like this could work easily for a group of children of diverse ages. There are just so many directions you could take, structured art projects, sensory exercises or completely free play. I'm pretty sure that pipe cleaners will become part of my "go-to" arsenal from now on. And 15 minutes of pipe cleaner madness keeps a busy work-at-home dad and an under-caffeinated mama very happy.

    Sunday, March 4, 2012

    Varying degrees of fail and win.

    I've recently completed a couple of projects, unfortunately they did not all come out completely as planned. Exhibit A: The Child's Placket Neck Pullover from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. It's a lovely pattern, well written and easy to follow even for someone who had never done raglan sleeves or a placket neck. It only took 2.5 skeins of Vana's Choice from Lion Brand. Yes I know its trashy and I am a little embarrassed but 1, I'm too cheap to buy cotton and 2, I have felted every wool sweater I have ever known. It's a good choice for me. It also washes surprisingly well which is great for kids clothes since I refuse to hand wash anything and will inevitably throw everything we own in the dryer at some point (read 2) but I digress.

    I did not swatch this project first. Let this be a lesson to us all. When changing both suggested yarn type and gauge, go ahead and swatch. Ive already got a second one on the needles though and he'll grow into this one eventually. (I'm realizing that these photos don't do justice how huge this thing is on him, but maybe this helps, he is a large 17 month old and this sweater came out at the 6-8 year old measurements) So its a sizing fail, but a definite experience win.

    The second completed project is a lovie for a little boy that Ive been meaning to get to FOREVER. His mama asked for my help recreating one that had been destroyed. Pretty simple, or so I thought. Let me tell you, these minky and sateen blankies are tough to sew. They are diametrically opposed and super bitchy fabrics. Seriously, they hate each other. Also the minky hates irons as evidenced by that top left corner. Jeeze, thanks for telling me in advance minky, WTS? I totally winged this one. I eyeballed some rectangles making the sateen about 3 inches wider on all sides than the minky, slapped them together and machine sewed around the perimeter about a quarter inch in (insert plenty of swearing at this point). Then I ironed the sateen's edges over about a quarter inch and folded and pinned just inside the sewed line. Finally I hand stitched the folded edge of the sateen to the minky. This really didn't take long, maybe 2 hours total. Pretty good for all that hand stitching right?

    I guess it doesn't look THAT bad, though the bunching is killing me. I can see it in this photo and it is making me crazy. Despite my grumping I was informed by the mama that her little man basically had a happy baby heart attack over it. So I guess that makes it a win?

    The third thing I guess isn't really much of a project and isn't really mine to take credit for but it was such a win that I had to share. CRISPY FRIED SHRIMP! They had those bags of frozen, uncooked shrimp on sale at Safeway last week so we grabbed one. Dinner rolled around the other night and we decided to make shrimp tacos. Bruce, who has no fear in the kitchen (blessing and a curse) made a flour, cornmeal, cayenne pepper and salt dredge and an egg/milk wash. I'm sorry I cant post a recipe, Bruce is wont to literally throw things together. Luckily, they often the look like this.

     Oh god, it is so good. Is your mouth watering right now? These were so delicious it was kind of ridiculous. We added home made tarter sauce, corn tortillas and shredded cabbage. Mmmmm. This was of course the big win of the week. We'll be making these again for sure.

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    Its about time!

    I've had several failed projects lately, hence the lack of posting and general making malaise. A trip to JoAnn's last week helped to fuel the fires and after one more semi-fail (not terrible, but certainly not good enough to blog about) I dove into my version of Dana's Lined Kid Pants. I think I may have even used the same fabric she did. It was super easy and a great way to use up Dad's old t-shirts as the lining. Basically you just make 2 pairs of pants, turn one inside out, stuff them together and sew. Now that I've got this pants making thing down, its not much of a hassle to make the second pair. I'm pretty sure I put these together in under an hour, including a sizing snafu that required additional sewing.

    My latest pattern iteration is a little on the long side, hopefully allowing for a longer wearing pant. This lined version is a great realization of that with the built in contrasting cuff from the lining.

    And everyone knows that its important to have a comfy pair of pants to rock out in. Even if your headphones aren't plugged in.

    Saturday, February 11, 2012

    Things we do after nap :: Mirror art with bath tub crayons

    I'm finding that sometimes its hard to fill time with a toddler. Our biggest obstacle right now is Jack's attention span. When planning activities, I have to find short, uncomplicated things for us to do.
    Bruce was on a work call from home yesterday so I needed something to keep Jack busy on the other side of the house. Having daddy work from home certainly affords us moments that I'm sure many moms and dads aren't able to experience together but it also presents some interesting logistical challenges with a rambunctious little boy in a 1200 sq foot house. I had bought our first bath tub crayons a couple of days prior and when I walked into our bedroom to change Jack, the light bulb went on.

    I drew some silly pictures and Jack scribbled happily. This actually kept us both busy for a whole 20 minutes or so. Enough time for Bruce to finish his call and wander into the bedroom to find out what the heck we had been up to.

    I like that we were creating on a unique surface. When you get up close, the reflection of the line work in the mirror makes it even more interesting. From further away our own reflections can become a part of our drawings. I suppose Jack's a bit young for these musings just yet but I hope I'm sowing the seeds. Either way, I got some sweet, baby hugs so that's a win for this Mama.