November 23, 2015
by jenny

Bob Ross Wisdom

Bob Ross had a birthday a few weeks ago that was celebrated on whatever I was looking at on the internet that day. I do remember being a kid and watching the Joy of Painting. I sort of thought it was fake – how could a cloud that realistic be made with two or three brush squiggles? I can craft, but I’m not a skilled painter, drawer or fine artist by any stretch. I’ve never really looked all that much into the Bob Ross following, but that week of Bob Ross’s birthday, I did read a little more about the man.

Bob Ross has a bit of a cult following, and for good reason. The more quotes I read, the more I felt akin to this man. Some of the quotes, especially brought out of context of the painting show are funny, some philosophical, and most just feel right with me.

I thought they might be a good pieces of wisdom to kick off the holiday week. Use them as some motivation or a few minutes of slowing down for thoughtful joyful meditation.

Here are a few Bob Ross quotes I believe:

  • “The secret to doing anything is believing that you can do it. Anything that you believe you can do strong enough, you can do. Anything. As long as you believe.”
  • “Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.”
  • “You can do anything you want to do. This is your world.”

And of course the lovely,

  • “There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”

A nice collection of Bob Ross Wisdom be found in a ton of places on the internet, but I liked these sites:

And for some entertainment, straight from PBS Studios, a Bob Ross Remix!


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November 17, 2015
by sarah

Folding paper

big paper1

Every once in a while my husband gives us his almost empty flip chart paper pads. They have 2 or 3 pages left and aren’t worth lugging to meetings. They become great fun for the kids to play with. They draw on them, fold them, and use the cardboard backing of projects. My son made a giant fortune teller! big paper14big paper3 big paper2

We also recently discovered another paper project. It is an accordion organizer made from folded paper. This pad of colorful square paper came in very handy.

big paper4 big paper5

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November 12, 2015
by jenny

Hermit Crabs

We got a dog almost three years ago. Gerbils a two years ago. Last year my kids all wanted their “own” pets. My oldest got a fish tank that she maintains in her room.  Upon seeing hermit crabs at souvenir store that we frequent when visiting family in Cape Cod, my middle began a quest for hermit crabs. We did some research and found out, as you may imagine,  it isn’t the best environment for a hermit crab to be purchased from a souvenir store and kept in the small small cages sold there.

Our research also revealed that hermit crabs are nocturnal, so I tried to let the phase of wanting them pass. After after no crustaceans showed up for Christmas and my daughter was still hooked on the idea almost a year into the request, two shelled animals showed up this past spring for her birthday.


My daughter’s crabs are named Sandy and Tiny. They are interesting because you can watch them up close, but they require more upkeep that you might guess for something that you can rarely even locate in the “crabitat.”

These animals are indeed most active at night. The nighttime digging and moving around has become a comforting sound for my daughter. I kind of like it too. It’s not as aggressive as our gerbil who runs in it’s wheel all night. My son finds the noise creepy and hasn’t been able to to fall asleep during “sleepovers” in his sister’s room anymore.


Both Sandy and Tiny have molted at least once since living with us, but neither has changed shells. This summer they were boarding with a friend during a molting and the caretakers reported Sandy “streaking” (hanging out without a shell), which is an odd behavior.

Once we were cleaning their home and we put in a coconut shell hut, left the room to fill a spray bottle for maybe half of a minute and when we returned Sandy had  somehow come out of hiding, climbed up the rounded coconut, and was sitting right on top of the coconut shell. We all agreed that that was the silliest thing a pet has done in our house and still laugh about it.


In general, the crabs and their home don’t smell. Sometimes, there is a fishy odor, but we think it’s from the food. They require fresh water, salt water and food (from the pet store and/or refrigerator), plenty of sand and/or coconut husk bedding, somewhere to hide, and a pretty consistent temperature and humidity. The temperature and humidity control around these parts requires an under the tank heating pad and spraying the tank with water at least once per day.

It is rare that we see the crabs do all that much. During tank cleanings we move them to a box or the floor, it almost looks like they are having fun climbing around or running, but they are more likely panicking and looking for a place to hide, so only sometimes do we make them come out just for fun. The crabs move stuff around in the tank and tip over the water bowls, drag sand into the water, and knock stuff over, which can frustrate my daughter if she is in a mode of trying to keep it clean. She’s not exactly one for keeping things clean, so this passes.

We rarely witness them doing much of the destruction, most of the time when we look in they are buried in sand and hard to find, or the curl into their shell when we come close. Tiny will always pop out of the shell when you hold him, but Sandy stays curled up. They don’t seem aggressive, though we haven’t tested or pushed it. We haven’t had them pinch or bite anyone.


Last month, my daughter ran to her room for a blanket when we were watching TV and caught one of the crabs eating. It didn’t hide, and we recorded it with my iPhone. Watching the crab eat was not at all what any of us thought it would look like. It was pretty cool.

I’m not sure I would recommend hermit crabs as pets, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend against it. For my daughter who wanted a pet in her room, and doesn’t much love rules, being told what to do, keeping things neat, or long term routine with no way out, this does allow her to have a pet and still learn that classic lesson in responsibility, compassion, dedication and caring for something that needs daily attention.  They seem heartier and a little more personality than fish, which is also good for this kid.

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November 10, 2015
by jenny

Easy-Macro Lens

I recently got an Easy-Macro Cell Phone Lens Band (amazon affiliate). It is super fun for me. I wanted to share it here. Mostly because my family is sick of me saying “Look at this!” by now and my excitement about it hasn’t worn off yet.

There are probably better macro lenses for your smart phone camera if you are interested in photography and they are all relatively cheap. I chose this one to start with for a few reasons.


As you may have noticed I really love looking super close at things and taking close up pictures. I don’t know if anyone else tries to take close up pictures very often, but I can’t focus very close with my iPhone camera alone.  I picked this lens because it was cheap, simple, I can leave it on my phone, put my phone in my pocket with it on, and I remember seeing some time ago that at least one of the ladies at (I have no affiliation, but am a fan), uses this or something similar.

Here it is on my phone. It makes the camera lens look like a goggled minion eyeball.


It’s a little piece of plastic glued into a rubber band and it totally works as it should. It comes in a credit card size small packet, so is easy to carry around in your pocket, wallet or purse if you don’t leave it on the phone, but also would make an excellent small something gift to stick in a card, to mail, or as a stocking stuffer, if you know someone into this sort of thing or are looking for a different sort of gift.

I’m having so much fun entertaining myself with this toy. Here are a few pictures taken with my iPhone and the Easy-Macro lens. I’m sparing you all having to see all of the close ups of found dead bugs I photographed, but they are fascinating too.

IMG_5036 IMG_5027

Here is Mona Lisa’s eyeball from the cover of a library book. IMG_5029 IMG_5025 IMG_5032 IMG_5031 IMG_5034



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November 9, 2015
by jenny

Gift/Craft Idea: Spirograph!

There a few things that I have tried to get my kids into because it was something that was a great memory for me when I was a kid. My husband does this with movies, and seeing my kids’ less than impressed faces after he sat them down to watch The Dark Crystal, I’ve learned that these kids definitely might have different tastes.

Spirograph is one of those things I’ve tried to push onto my girls. I’ve bought various Spirograph kits for my daughters for years. The travel version, the little tin, Spirograph Deluxe Set (affiliate link), and I’m always shaking my head that they don’t love it. I’m pretty sure that my girls never had fun with it, even for a minute, even my pen went around and around making pretty designs. Accessorizing the Spirograph with scented gel pens and glittery card stock couldn’t even draw out inspired enjoyment.

Maybe it’s because the new sets include poster gum for holding the rings in place. No more pins!


Last month, we cleaned out my oldest daughter’s closet and found the hardly touched Spirograph Deluxe Set, the other sets have all probably been passed along to Sarah at some point! We moved it from my daughter’s bedroom to the downstairs toy closet in my last ditch hope that someone might see it and use it a few times.

Lo and behold, that hope panned out. My seven year old son loves to spirograph! He’s used it at least a couple times per week for the past month. Not only is he having fun making creations, but this morning he was saying that he was figuring out how it worked, and I was over the moon that we not only shared a joy of the spirograph, but also the math behind it. Like the guy who remembers the statistics of favorite sports teams, he’s starting to remember and recite the wheel number and hole of his favorite designs.


Spirograph is amazing for folks like me with very little true artistic drawing talent. We can create beautiful things in paper. As an engineer and “neat freak,” the clean lines and symmetry are very pleasing. There is some amount of coordination skill and challenge to keep things right and moving along in the geared path without the pen skipping or slipping. You can attempt to use mathematical spacial planning if you are trying to make something look a certain way, but you don’t need to do that because the surprise of what comes out is just as fun. The math behind it is fascinating – can you predict how many points the curve will have, how many revolutions before closing/completing the design? And all of those wonderful things can happen in a short time commitment of less than a minute with beautiful results. The end results are tiny mandalas that you could  color when you are finished to add something extra if you are into coloring, and if you are into mathematics write a PhD theses on finding the equation for the patterns.


One of the major inspirations for creating Two Clever Moms was that a lot of the best arts and craft kits are created for girls and we wanted to share more crafts with our boys. I was thinking Spirograph may go over well if you are looking for a craft gift idea for either gender.

I also wanted to share that I made the most perfect Spirograph design this morning. BOOM!


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November 4, 2015
by sarah

Pumpkin Smoothie

pumpkin4I love all that is pumpkin! My birthday is in November and I would often request pumpkin pie instead of cake. Jenny’s pumpkin bread is my go to recipe. I just found this delicious pumpkin smoothie from Soulemama.  The fresh ginger is key!

So take your jack-o-lanterns, cut them in half, place them cut side down onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes or until a knife can easily be stuck into the pumpkin. Let cool and scoop out the pulp. Now you are ready for smoothies, bread, or pie.


Pumpkin-Gingerbread Smoothie: (Posted on Soulemama recipe by:


1 1/2 cups almond milk (or milk of choice)

1 banana

thumb size piece of ginger, peeled

2 T maple syrup

1 cup pumpkin puree

1 T chia seeds

1 T molasses

2 t cinnamon

1/4 t nutmeg


Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and enjoy!

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November 4, 2015
by sarah


compost2I have been admiring everyone’s Jack-o-Lanterns on their front stoops. Then it occurred to me that this week hundreds of thousands of hollowed out pumpkins will end up in trash bins and then landfills. This thought inspired me to write about compost.


We like to compost lots of food stuffs: egg shells, ends of bread no one eats, sandwich crusts, veggie peels, coffee grounds (and filter), apple cores. As well as yard waste. We live in the woods with lots of critters (including our dog). Our old compost bin was a black plastic box with a lid;  it was difficult to turn the compost and very easy for critters to get the top off. I researched  lots of  different styles. We wanted to make our own. The chicken wire fencing systems didn’t work because of the critters. We considered the rain barrel / trash can. We settled on this model. It has worked great for the last two years. Very little wear and tear. Great compost is created from our waste.

What we do with the compost? It mostly goes into the veggie garden and flower beds. I also use it in potting my house plants.

How do we collect the compost? We use a stainless steal contain that sits right next to the kitchen sink. It fills about every other day and then I dump it out into the back yard container. It doesn’t stay in the house long enough to smell.

Here is a great article about a couple of teenage boys making a business out of composting.

Please consider composting. Many towns sell discounted compost bins. All those pumpkins deserve a better place than the landfill.

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October 30, 2015
by jenny

Red Bugs

I passed these bugs today on some milkweed and wondered what they were named and what they were doing. Turns out they are Red Milkweed Bugs (that makes sense!) and they were probably eating. They aren’t “good” garden bugs.


I’ve been loving the red fall leaves and know why leaves turn red, but I wondered why bugs were red.  I have watched enough Planet Earth to know the flashy colors in animals, particularly birds can help with mating. But why be red if you are on milkweed? Google research leads me to believes that these bugs may be red for the same reason ladybugs are red. Red isn’t just for alarms, traffic lights and firetrucks, but is often also nature’s way of signaling danger. Predators eat something red that tastes horrible (apparently Monarch butterflies and ladybugs fit this category) and then hopefully connect the color to taste and avoid the rest of the species.

They skip over a lot (most obvious the fox, red panda and cardinals), but here are some other red animals, most are creepy, but skip down to the scarlet ibis who (like flamingos) turns red from his diet and is very cool looking. The text is also full of puns if you are into that eye rolling sort of humor (I tend to be).

(By the way, we pulled a tick off my daughter this week if anyone thought we are in the clear on tick season, keep checking!)

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October 27, 2015
by jenny
1 Comment

Fall Leaves

For all of you people in parts of the world that don’t experience the change of seasons, it’s incredible. For me, it’s totally worth the winter, because while it can get tiresome, snow is pretty exciting itself.

Here in New England, we get a definite winter (it’s dark at 4pm, it snows, melts two days later leaving everything dirty and slushy, and the cycle repeats for 3 months),  spring (tends to be very short, one month of all outside being brown and dirty,  then daffodils start peaking out showing hope for green, these get snowed on a few times for good measure, and then the air conditioning is pumping full time), summer (HUMID), and the beautiful fall.

In the fall, you wake up one day and entire trees have changed from green to bright yellow, red and orange overnight. It’s breathtaking. Literally, takes my breath away. Today I was walking the dog and every orange leaved tree I came across I gasp with a “Holy cr@p, this is so stinking beautiful.” This happens many times a day in the fall.

New Englanders see this all through their neighborhoods and they still drive to see more. These trees, their leaves and their colors never ever gets old. It’s just so so pretty.

The Kids Should See This posted a link about leaves changing today, if you are interested in the science behind fall foliage.

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October 22, 2015
by sarah

Baby Blanket

baby blanket 1

It seems like celebrations come in groups in life. You go to lots of weddings, then lots of baby showers, then lots of kid birthdays… I have been out of the baby shower loop for a while. Until now! I know many babies due in December and January. My theory is it is because of the snow last winter. Here is one of the projects that I have been working on. The pattern can be found here for free. The yarn I used is called NAKO artist, the stripy pattern was a result of the yarn variant not changing colors.

baby blanket 2 baby blanket 3

If you are in need of a knitting project, but have no babies to knit for this could be made bigger for a throw. Or could be made for a charity like Project Linus.

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