August 27, 2016
by jenny
0 comments

More Summer Bucket Crafts – Tie Die and Periscope

While Sarah is certainly the Queen of Tie Dye in our town, my kids and I and enjoy a good tie dye session once in a while too. In the spring, I had found a set of blue, yellow and red dye, leftover from previous dying, but we’d taken the soda ash out of the kit. Later, I found some plain white t-shirts in my sewing stash, that I think we’d originally planned to decorate for a Taylor Swift concert (there was glow in the dark puffy paint rolled up in them). This added “Tie Dye” to our summer bucket list.

 

My oldest has been away for a few days, and in washing her sheets, I noticed how beat up her pillow cases are, so I decided to try to tie dye them to see if I could give them new life before moving on. I also wanted to attempt a heart tie dye, and my daughter wanted to try the polka dot technique from the tie dye kit instructions.

IMG_6549

My middle daughter also wanted to make a periscope this summer. At Joann Fabrics we bought 5 mirrors for $0.99, some soda ash and a bottle of purple dye to add to our arsenal.

The tie dyes came out great, though one of my hearts wasn’t quite as heart shaped as expected, it still looks good (way better than a yellowing pillow case!), and is about what I expected for a first attempt. The polka dot tie dye looks much less like lesions that I expected, and my middle daughter’s stripe shirt was the best we’ve done. My son had made the classic swirl and we were giving him a lot of grief for not doing it more neatly, and then had to eat our words and apologize when we saw how nicely it came out!IMG_6550

The periscope was very easy. The mirrors were cheap, and then we use used cardboard and duct tape. It was much more fun to turn the mirrors (and one outlet hole) around and see backwards!

IMG_6545

IMG_6546

IMG_6547

 

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

August 25, 2016
by jenny
0 comments

Stress Balls

This summer has been CRAZY here! And for a lot of people we know. A lot of curve balls thrown into the mix. We haven’t had the opportunity to really tackle any of our summer bucket list (thankfully we didn’t write it down this year) and school is starting soon.

One of the things my daughter had really hoped to do this summer was make stress balls. A few kids in her class had come back from the guidance counselor in the spring with some stress balls that they had made, and she’s wanted to try it since. My kids have made a multiple attempts since then (a quick easy version is putting flour in a ziploc sandwich bag, shoving that into a balloon and tying a knot in the balloon), but we never really got truly satisfactory versions.

This week, we set our sights on working on this, and have achieved good results. It definitely takes some practice, patience and sharp scissors to get something to work out nice.

IMG_6529

We haven’t tried a huge amount of fillers, but now that we have a good technique down think we’ll mix it up a little more. Our favorite tutorials and end product was this one using flour and balloons (and sharp scissors recommended!):

 

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

August 20, 2016
by sarah
0 comments

“The Secret Zoo”

IMG_2864

My son likes to read. It is always hard to supply him with books. He is particular. “Big Nate” and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” are his crutches to fall back on.  I’m always looking for good suggestions for books. Series are even better, if he likes it there are more of the same.

We recently found “The Secret Zoo” by Bryan Chick. It is about the fun adventure of four kids finding a secret zoo. He is hooked. And there are 5 in the series.

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

August 16, 2016
by sarah
0 comments

More rocks!

IMG_2788

Here is our latest rock project. Tick tac toe!! The rocks are small beach rocks and the slate has a longer story. A church near my parents house got rid of their slate roof about 20 years ago. My mom noticed walking the dog in the woods behind it that they still had a huge pile of slate shingles. With the permission of the church she has been taking them and mostly using the large pieces to serve cheese and crackers on. The small pieces have been tossed until they became the perfect game board.

We have found that nail polish works great! It comes with a build in brush for easy clean up. It is very durable and glossy. Alex toys have particularly good nail pens.

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

August 15, 2016
by sarah
0 comments

Another Whole Chicken recipe = BBQ

IMG_2620

I have posted about whole chicken roasting recipes here before. I recently tried to BBQ a whole chicken on a beer can. It was a great success!

You need a smallish chicken, small enough to stand it up and still close the lid. You basically get a hot fire going (I used charcoal) in a circle around the edge of the BBQ. I put a 1/2 can of beer on a tray and placed the chicken over the can. Then transported it to the grill and placed the can/ chicken in the center. Put the lid on and let cook for about 45 min.,  then checked the temperature every couple minutes until it was done.

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

August 8, 2016
by jenny
0 comments

Cookie Bar Pie

While straightening up in the basement a little bit, I happened upon our deep dish pizza pan.

IMG_6013

Instead of making deep dish pizza, I made a cookie bar pie.

IMG_6025

Sometimes it’s fun to mess with the shape of things to make something special. Mini M&Ms, and cookie bar pie for no reason other than happening upon a deep dish pizza pan can’t hurt either.

IMG_6029

I used the Original Tollhouse Cookie Bar recipe, which always turns out flavorful cookie bars for me, and is very easy. I added mini M&Ms on the top to make it more festive (and there was a half bag in the pantry I wanted to use up).

IMG_6031

If you have shaped cake pans laying around, try a cookie bar recipe in them for something quick and easy and to surprise your kids/guests/self!

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

August 2, 2016
by jenny
0 comments

Super Lice!

I keep forgetting to post this. I wrote it half a year ago and thought I’d post it now with the newest super lice news coming out this morning. I’m not sure how prevalent lice is in the summer months, but perhaps may be helpful for summer campers or prepping for the next school year!

 

There have been news articles on Super Lice across the United States. Super Lice are lice that are considered resistant to over the counter (and often prescription) treatments, but that’s not news, it has been that way for a while.

I’m a bit of a germaphobe, and I have certainly had my share of heeby jeebies at the mention of lice. I never had lice as a kid, and neither did my husband, nor do we remember anyone in either of our houses or our friends’ houses having had lice.  I’ve gone through the panic when letters came home from classrooms since my oldest started preschool almost a decade ago, so much so that I ordered some supplies to have at the ready if it ever appeared here. I had ordered combs on Amazon, thinking I wouldn’t want to run out to local CVS or grocery where the town would see me. I didn’t know much at all about lice and had only been taught by society to fear it.

But Sarah once told me that she loved getting lice as a kid. It meant she got to stay home from school and lay on the couch watching TV with her head on her mother’s lap while her mother combed Sarah’s hair for hours. That didn’t seem so scary.

And then just when I was totally convinced that our heads just must have some pH, other scalp/hair makeup that kept us lice free, or possibly that we’d never get the bugs because my kids aren’t “huggy” kids and there is little head to head contact with anyone, we got lice. It was right after New Years this year. My daughters and I spent a really nice morning hanging out with a group of friends at a friend’s house, and the next morning one of the mothers told us they had found lice on one of the girl’s heads. I checked my kids through a bunch of times that day and the next but didn’t see anything at all. I read up on what to look for and how to handle it. I watched many YouTube videos and bought some shower caps, hair clips and extra bottles of conditioner. I poked around on all of my kids heads often and still didn’t see anything.

Well, I didn’t see anything… at first. On the second day, shortly after tucking in my kids, my head itched a little. One of the supplies I had bought more than 5 years was the Robi Comb. The Robi Comb is an electric (battery powered) comb that works like a regular metal pick comb but buzzes (my dog does NOT love that sound) and if you hit a bug (or your finger, a hair tangle, or a drop of water, or sometimes dandruff or a fuzzy), the noise stops (basically when two comb teeth are connected to form a circuit). I think it’s supposed to zap the bug it runs into too. So on the second day after our heads up, when my head itched and I ran the Robi Comb through the itchy part of my head the buzzing stopped.

Gasp.

That was it. It had come. It looked just like the pictures I’d looked at online. Bizarrely accurately exactly alike the pictures. I used the Robi Comb for about 30 minutes without finding anything else, and then went and told my husband, who looked through my hair and didn’t see anything at all.

I thought about waking up my kids to treat them immediately, but it was about 11:30pm and I decided to start in the morning.

I didn’t have any medicated lice treatment on hand. We went for the soaking our heads in olive oil for many hours method (which is supposed to drown the live bugs), wash that out, then a 15 minute vinegar soak (which is supposed to dissolve the glue the eggs attach with). Then combing combing combing with a fine metal toothed lice comb (we had two still in the packaging I’d ordered 5 years before when my oldest entered kindergarten).

I have had five friends go through lice in their house and tell me about it. I’m guessing there are others who just don’t talk about it. From those who have confided, every single one of them did the same thing. They used some over the counter treatment/shampoo, maybe did a quick comb, then a couple weeks later when the eggs hatched, they freaked out and called a nitpicker to comb out the kids.  Every one of them. From there, each mother swore that they were a professional now that they knew what to do and look for and they would come over and comb and it really wasn’t a big deal. They learned that the medication was the treatment, but the cure was in the combing. And a good fine toothed metal lice comb was necessary. I have the patience and accuracy for thorough precise tedious jobs, and with it being right after New Years and school vacation, we had plenty of time for combing and TV watching.

We never found anything on me besides that first bug I caught in the Robi Comb (I’m guessing it climbed over during tucking in right before I found it). I combed out a few lice on my oldest daughter on the first combing. That was the extent of our infestation. Many thanks to a mom telling us so we could catch things while it was very easy. I don’t think the olive oil did a thing, when combing, the bugs were alive on my daughter, though it is possible that there were more and they fell off when she showered, or the oil “stunned” the bugs and I took so long combing they woke up again. We’d put enough oil on that it was dripping down our foreheads and necks for hours so it wasn’t for lack of oil. Similar with the vinegar, I can’t say whether it worked or not – maybe it worked so well, dissolved the egg glue, and they slid off during washing before the combing, so that’s why we didn’t see any eggs, or maybe there wasn’t any eggs to begin with.

We never found anything on my other two kids. My son’s hair was due for a haircut, so after combing through a few times and making sure the girls were clear, I did trim his hair shorter than 1 inch, just to not have to worry about it at all. That’s a very easy fix for boys (or girls) with short hair. The lice need an inch or more of hair to stay warm and hide.

The combing takes lots of time. My middle daughter and I have fine thin shoulder length hair. My husband helped and our heads were combed through in about 40 minutes. Though I wasn’t totally convinced he combed thoroughly and had him do mine at least twice a day for a couple days. My older daughter has thick thick halfway down her back hair and a tendency to have dandruff. It took me a solid 3 hours each the first two days, after that, with the help of clips, I got better in the management of the hair and also felt I’d got most everything and could do a thorough job in an hour. We combed everyday for the first 5 days, then every couple days for another week, and I’ve combed through a few times since, but we never found anything after the first combing.  We used conditioner to help in the combing sometimes, and always brushed damp/wet hair (unless using the Robi Comb, which I did a LOT on my own anytime my head itched for a couple weeks!).

It took a lot of time, but it really wasn’t too awful. Again, we only had it this once, were warned, ready-ish, and caught it quick, so I am definitely not an expert and don’t much experience. This is less of a how to and more of an “Lice in the house really wasn’t so bad.” Definitely not nearly as bad as I expected after all of the stigma and fear and creepies. Lice carry no disease. They combed out pretty easily. They stay in one part of your body- always on your head, that’s WAY better than the ticks we pull off or find crawling around. If you spend any amount of time outside, you’ll find ants, spiders, flies, mosquitoes, and all sorts of bugs crawling on you, which should seem just as gross or not for you, and most of them can harm you a lot more than lice. How about scabies burrowing in your skin? That’s a little creepier too.

Our town stopped sending letters home when lice is in a classroom and you no longer have to report it to the school. This was in a attempt to try to soften the stigma of having lice. Now there are just  periodic “check your kids” notices to the whole school from the nurse. Part of what made our experience not so bad was someone alerting us to check my kids and that I had someone else going through it at the same time for direction, laughter and any moral support needed – or at least to know there is no shame, it was just from having a fun morning hanging out and playing together. It happens.

I’m not sure about the letter policy. Since prior to this, I had zero experience with lice, I DID panic when we got the letters. At the same time, I didn’t know what to look for, so I’d peek at my kids scalp once or twice after the letters came home and that was it. I did want to know who it was. I didn’t think poorly of that kid/family (especially having heard the stories from friends), but I didn’t really want my kid hanging around that kid for a while. There was always lots of whispering about it when the letters came home. Now that I see how harmless it is, I can appreciate eliminating that stigma factor. Strep throat is probably more contagious and there is less fear. The second part of that shedding the stigma concept is that people should come forward and at least tell the guardians of the friends that may have been exposed and perhaps share how to deal with it with products and combs that have worked for them, or the name of a nitpickers. I definitely don’t think that is happening yet.

I did do a ton of laundry and cleaning. You don’t need to do that according to my friends who have gone to the nitpickers and the majority of the up to date websites. Lice can’t live off the head for very long. I knew that, and was over the lice as germs concept once seeing them, but we were home all day towards the end of school vacation going stir crazy with no plans, so I probably would have done laundry and cleaned anyway to keep busy or feel control over something in life. Like Sarah enjoying relaxing TV time with her mom when she had lice as a kid, having a really clean house, all of the laundry done and kids home relaxing was actually a not un-nice part of having lice!

If there ever is a next time, I think I would use some sort of homeopathic shampoo treatment first. I echo my friends who have been to the nitpickers advice and recommend a good fine toothed metal lice comb and a lot of combing. If you have long hair to deal with using conditioner while you comb helps, as well as hair clips to keep hair separated. But most of all if your kid does come home with lice, I recommend giving a heads up to those they may have shared it with.

I’m guessing a “nitpicking, movies and wine” party might be a funny memory for many groups of parent and kid friends!

 

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

July 20, 2016
by jenny
0 comments

Cauliflower Pizza

Have you seen Cauliflower Pizza all over the internet and wanted to see what the fuss was about? Well, I have.

IMG_6053

I finally tried it. I used this Food Network recipe (link).

It was a little bit of work, not entirely that much more than proofing your own yeast pizza dough but certainly created more dirty prep dishes than making a yeast dough. This recipe- or my preparation of it – did not hold together entirely well. It looked promising enough, but didn’t stay solid. It wasn’t all that pizza-y overall. Flavor wise, it wasn’t bad, but again, not that pizza-y. My husband and I ate the final product with a fork (though some could have been picked up). It was more of a  mashed cauliflower with marinara and mozzarella. Pizza didn’t really come to mind, even when trying to think of it as pizza. We both enjoyed the leftovers heated up in a bowl mashed together not even pretending to try to be pizza the next day.

IMG_6062

I would try this again with a different recipe that might at least make a solid crust. I can’t imagine this ever becoming a replacement for pizza, but I can definitely appreciate it as something different to make once in a while. Do you have a cauliflower pizza crust that you like?

IMG_6063

 

As a side note, I did know pretty quickly into the process that my kids would turn their nose up at the cauliflower  (especially when they were playing outside and came into the house holding their noses at the scent of steamed cauliflower) and shifted my whole family cauliflower pizza meal plan. I pulled some Pillsbury Grands refrigerator biscuits out of the fridge and flattened those to make the kids some biscuit pizzas, which were well received and an option for a quick pizza dough.

IMG_6060

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

July 13, 2016
by sarah
0 comments

Summer = Rock Projects

IMG_2638We have enjoyed some time on the beach this summer. Beach = collecting rocks. Here are some projects we have done in the past.

Now we have been working on the alphabet. My little one painted the roughly quarter size rocks with acrylic paint.  I painted the letters on top when the backgrounds were dry.

She has been coming up with some fun games with them. For one of them she picks two letter rocks. We identify the letters, I will close my eyes, and she will hide one in each hand. Then I will open my eyes and guess where the letters are. She will open her hand and we will see if I was right.

 

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email

July 8, 2016
by jenny
0 comments

Lego Card Holder

We like to play a lot of games in this house.

In this house we have smaller than average hands and/or need cards laid out in front of us for the entire game to see and plan our strategy and/or get impatient at someone at the table who is laying their cards down on the table or their chair either because opponents can see their cards (and it’s hard not to look), because a player with cards in face down piles takes forever to take a turn, loses track of what is in their piles making the game not as fun, or the player who has to put their cards down regularly knocks cards onto the ground.

Whatever the the player’s situation, my mom had directed us to this amazingly fun and ingenious solution using Legos. We have had the circle style handhold card holders, but they don’t always work, cards slip out very easily upon loading or unloading, cards get covered up, and they still need to be held. We had tried to make makeshift card holders similar to the Lego style with cardboard boxes, which work okay, but the Legos work better, and are adaptable or expandable as needed, can be designed to the players tastes and can be thrown back into the Lego pile at the end of the day.

IMG_6138

These  holders can be used for a variety of card games, but the two games that we play regularly in our house that we find most useful to have cards laid out with easy access and visibility are Pit! and Ticket To Ride. The Lego Holders make a HUGE difference! Thank you Mom/Grandma and A Mom with a Lesson Plan!

Lego card holder perfect for little hands

IMG_6140

Print Friendly
Facebook Pinterest Plusone Twitter Email