August 21, 2014
by jenny
3 Comments

Free Shot

 

I had a good day today. I scrubbed the house some. Got the kids moving towards being prepared for school some. I watched three blue jays have an awesomely acrobatic bird fight for a while. And there was a deer kind of going crazy running around houses (entertaining, though something may have been wrong with it). I helped the kids create their final batch of tie dye for the summer (oddly messy even though they are getting better, but they were happy). My 8 year old baby and I made a go at our forth attempt at homemade cheez-its, and though the results still aren’t quite right, we ended up with something  like fluffy little cheese biscuits that are probably the most delicious of all of our attempts to date.

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August 19, 2014
by jenny
1 Comment

Rock Garden Inspiration

When I see a link or recipe I like on my phone I leave the phone browser window open to that link and open new browser windows. After some amount of time, I either realize the link wasn’t that important, or I’ll finally try it out or send it to my laptop to make into a bookmark or printout.

At some point in the summer, I came across this picture. I don’t remember where it came from, but here is the link: https://fbcdn-sphotos-f-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-xpf1/t1.0-9/10551037_738562906205489_3863202595985666569_n.jpg , which is just to jpg, and not a website. I tried googling “rock painting cactus garden” to find and give credit to the original artist, but only got sidetracked by other really cool art and didn’t find the original source (lots of pinterest pins to this though), so if this is your art, let me know so I can link to you!

I thought this was very cool idea even though some rocks sort of look more like cucumbers than cacti to my kids and I. I love both the original idea in the picture and as the inspiration for other projects. I imagined all sorts of ideas with this concept – making other rock garden/planters with different trees/forests/gardens and flowers painted on the rocks, and mixing rock paintings with live plants in planters as gifts. Be sure, I’ve seen plenty of rock ladybugs and turtles in my day, but how about painting rock garden gnomes for house plants? Or giraffes reaching up to eat some leaves of a potted plant or flower? A fox or owl hiding behind a stem? So many ways to go with this. If you search for rock painting ideas you’ll be impressed, amazed and inspired by other ideas.

I think this would make a very cool gift for someone or project to add to houseplants you already have at home. This would be a great way to use the rocks you’ve picked up over the summer, or a reason to stock up on rocks of inspiring shapes on your last beach (or other) outings of the season.

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I do not own rights to this picture or the idea and I do not claim to, I’d love to give credit to the owner, if you know where it came from!

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August 18, 2014
by jenny
0 comments

End of Summer

 

We went away again last week to a lake. It was cool and rainy. It felt and smelled like fall, not like fall was coming, but fall. A few trees had starting to change color. It was too cold to swim (two kids tried), too rainy to boat, and too muddy/slippery/wet to try our favorite hikes. We kept commenting on how much it felt like summer was over, even though we knew we still have a couple of good weeks left of swimming and beaches, we truly couldn’t convince ourselves. Stripping the beds felt like we were packing them up for winter.

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So when I got home and found another nice batch of green beans in the garden, I was excited. Summer is not over. Dilly green beans have become a favorite in the family and I had enough between the garden and the week’s CSA haul to fill two quart jars and bottle up summer. I got everything ready and packed the beans into the jars and put them in the water bath for canning.

But after a little while the kitchen started smelling like dill.

One of the jars had cracked and soon beans were floating at the top of the water! I immediately assumed it was a sign that summer really was over. I solidified this idea when the second jar of beans hadn’t sealed when I checked in the morning.

Soon after told the kids we’d start thinking about prepping ourselves for school minds and bodies. We still have swimming to do, museums to visit, rocks to paint, cucumbers and peppers to pickle, and other summer things on the agenda, but this week, we will try to get dressed and have teeth brushed before coming downstairs, and practice getting out of the house early for the summer things, and take inventory on lunch boxes, rain coats and soccer cleats.

Make the best of these days, people, it’s not over yet!

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August 14, 2014
by sarah
1 Comment

What was I thinking: Frosting

I’m always up for a challenge, but I don’t know what I was thinking with this frosting recipe. I started making it and was too far along when I realized I needed not only one pound of butter, but two ( I think I read 8 tablespoons when it was really 8 sticks of butter).

Lets start from the beginning… My littlest is turning three next week and tomorrow is one of a couple events that I thought I would offer cupcakes to celebrate her. I have cake and frosting recipes that I have tried, but none that I love. So I fell right into Martha Stewart’s trap of yummy sounding pastry recipes. I couldn’t resist “Swiss Meringue Buttercream” as if I was making a wedding cake for adults and not cupcakes for two and three year olds. It is very delicious, I hope it freezes well. frosting1

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August 13, 2014
by sarah
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Garden update: August 11

This week in the garden I have the cutest little water melons I have ever seen. I have never grown water melons, we shall see how they taste. And the edamame are almost ready.

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My favorite time for flowers in my garden is May and June with the iris and the peonies. But now the wildflowers are coming out in my garden: the daises and black eyed susan. I also have been growing zinnias inside the fence of the vegi garden. Some furry critter has stopped them from growing in the flower beds in the past. They have been very successful behind the fence.  I also love Queen Anne’s lace, however I have tried to tame it in a garden bed before. It is a bad idea!! The daisies and black eyed susan are invasive, but easy to pull up when they get out of hand. Queen Anne’s lace grows from the root wrapping itself around other plants and is hard to get rid of. I will stick to admiring it as I drive by, or in my neighbors yard.

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August 8, 2014
by jenny
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Jenny’s Garden Update

 

I haven’t posted any garden updates this year. My husband took over much of the garden with “his” tomatoes (which he prunes too much for my liking, and have a touch of blight, but are doing okay overall) and “his” peppers. I grew snow peas (already done and cleared out), green beans (still going a little, but something comes by and eats them flat across at about a foot high, like a weed whacker has come through), basil (something has also enjoyed devouring all plants since they went into the ground, but I’m hoping they’ll come back), parsley, and pickling cucumbers (of which there has been quite a glut). We also have a couple plants each of eggplant, summer squash and cherry tomatoes that were leftover from a neighbor’s garden that are all doing well.

We have been away on and off this summer as well, but hooked up a timer and a soaker hose system on the faucet for watering. I was looking around in the garden this week after returning from a few days away, collecting the weekly crazy amount of cucumbers, when I was once again overcome by the absolute beauty of it all. I hope you like it too.

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August 6, 2014
by jenny
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3D Wonder Paint

 

Here’s another kit that we found in a closet this summer:

Sparkling 3D Paint Activity Kit (Amazon Affiliate Link)

 

I had picked it out for my 8 year old daughter for Christmas. It seemed like something she would like – she likes instructions, but once she understand the instructions, she likes to come up with her own ways to use the kit parts. I thought this would be open ended enough for her to enjoy. And it sort of was. I have a mixed review of this kit. It’s fun, but should come with a lot of warning.

My 8 year old girl, my 6 year old son and I  tried out this kit one evening recently.

To use this kit you first have to use one sort of paint as an outline. Then you wait for that to dry before you fill it in with the other more colorful paints in the kit. This initial drying time when starting the project upset one kid, and the other did not like being constrained to using the two included outline colors (black and silver).

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The kit included two sheet protectors to paint (squeeze from bottles) on, and line drawings on pages that you can slide into the sheet protectors to trace (you obviously don’t have to stick to the kit included/suggested drawings and could slide in a drawing or printout of text or your favorite cartoon character or other drawing or freehand whatever you want, just as long as it is a continuous line). My 8 and 6 year old did not find “tracing” these drawings while evenly squeezing out the outline paint from the squeeze bottles easy. In fact, they found it down right frustrating. Thankfully, we found more sheet protectors around the house (and photo copied the sheet of fish so more than one of us could make fish projects at the same time), and we had get a bunch of shapes going at once. This worked out great.

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The filling in of paint was fun. My kids liked to mix paints. You can use techniques described in the kit directions to make swirl, tie die and starburst effects using toothpicks. They come out easily and look really cool. We liked this and quickly squeezed out just some outlined circles to have fun experimenting with this. That was a lot of fun. But when the project dried, the all swirls and effects just mixed and the result was cloudy instead of cool. Maybe if you let colors dry more first before adding another the pattern would stay, we haven’t tried that yet.

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The kit directions say let dry for a while the longest time suggested was “overnight.” We let ours sit overnight, when we tried to peel the results off in the morning, it was very very sticky. The projects were beyond hard to remove from the sheet protectors, and would stick to themselves and be ruined. We were sad. and frustrated. We stopped trying and I set the sheets in the dining room because I didn’t feel like cleaning it up. The next morning they peeled off much much easier, so I guess they just required more drying time. This was made things a lot better and we wanted to try again, knowing lots of extra time, patience and sheet protectors from home make this kit better.

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All in all, this project came with frustrations, but was fun to do.  If you think you can handle this, I definitely recommend having extra sheet protectors on hand, saving it for older kids, and leaving a couple days of drying time.

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August 5, 2014
by jenny
0 comments

Oliver + S Popover Doll Sundress

 

This was a super easy pattern. I did sew pieces on incorrectly twice, not because the instructions didn’t say it the correct away, just because. My girls picked out the fabric from the scrap heap, and one helped iron, cut, sew (and use the seam ripper).  We made a few dresses in an hour for their friends (doll and living).

I recommend this as a simple pattern with a good looking result if you know a dolls (or stuffed animal) looking for a sundress!

http://oliverands.com/free-patterns/popover-sundress/

 

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July 31, 2014
by sarah
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Water Painting

This idea is very simple, but worth the share because it occupied all three of my kids for about 45 minutes yesterday with little need for supervision.

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A cup of water, a couple paint brushed, and construction paper (preferably darker colors)  is all that is needed.

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July 30, 2014
by sarah
0 comments

Garden: July 30, 2014

I have been away from my home and garden for several weeks. Instead of showing you the big picture of my overgrown and weedy garden here are some close ups from this weeks progress.

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