Hoist the Jolly Roger

Well I’ve been having a bit of a freak out period the last few days.  My son’s awesome daycare provides snacks, and they are usually fairly healthy but last time I dropped him off right at snack time and he was given Cinnamon Toast Crunch.  I love Cinnamon Toast Crunch, but it is definitely just pure sugar.  He was happy as a clam so I didn’t think anything of it. He usually has cheese crackers or those veggie stick puffs and I’m sure the CTC was just a one off treat.  Anyway, a couple days later I mentioned it to Will offhand, and Will (who abhors cereal – if you want to waste 3 hours of your life, just use the words “cereal is part of a balanced breakfast”) said something like “we should probably provide his snacks”.  Will is usually pretty chill about this stuff so it freaked me out.  Julius gets really bad eczema so controlling all his food may help us figure out what causes flair ups.

Julius has also become increasingly more picky at mealtimes.  We’ve all seen the kids whose parents make them entree after entree for dinner until they finally eat one of them, and we REALLY don’t want to end up with that kid.  We also have friends who have extremely limited palettes and we don’t want that either.  So I started googling.  I hate the internet, I really do.  Anyway, we’ve apparently been doing everything wrong – we give him a rotation of the same 5 things for lunch or dinner.  Will and I don’t eat dinner until 9pm most nights because we don’t have time to make dinner for everyone after work until Julius is in bed.  So we make Julius a quick dinner – grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, meatballs, tortellini, avocados and hardboiled eggs are our go-tos.  Sometimes we’ll give him leftovers from our meal the night before but I make a lot of Indian and Mexican food and I make it spicy.  We can’t give him that.

So now I’ve decided I need to make dinners Julius can eat or else he’s going to become picky.  We also decided we have to spend extra time preparing his snacks for the next day or else he’s going to only want sugar.  Today I attempted to make dinner when I was by myself with Julius after work and I made him beet pancakes (one of our favorites).  Even though I did all the prep work the night before it still took a long time to make them while watching Julius.  The result?  Julius ended up in bed a solid hour late.  He didn’t like them at first, but after I put a bit of sour cream on each piece he ate quite a bit of it.  I consider that a win, even though fried anything is not exactly healthy.  Maybe I’ll just give up and sail the seven seas.  Good thing I created a pattern for a Jolly Roger for such an occasion!  We gave my dad a Jolly Roger for the pontoon boat for his birthday, so I decided to make the flag myself.  Now, you can too!

DIY Jolly Roger

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 yard black “Sport Nylon”
  • 1/3 yard (or less) white “Sport Nylon”
  • 13″ of 2″ wide trim
  • 2 extra large eyelets
  • Black machine embroidery thread
  • 505 temporary adhesive spray
  • dissolvable stabilizer
  • Embroidery pattern here (note the pattern is zipped, so you’ll need to unzip it after you download it)
  1. Cut a rectangle of black fabric 13.5×17″.
  2. Press 17″ long edge of fabric 3/8″.
  3. Press again 3/8″.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 for other 17″ long side and one of the 13.5″ sides.
  5. Pin and stitch along three seams.
  6. Place trim on fabric and fold 1/2″ of end of trim around the flag.  Repeat for opposite end of trim. Fold the whole length of trim in half so unfinished edge of fabric is completely enclosed.  Pin & Stitch.
  7. Insert a large eyelet at each corner of the trim following package instructions.
  8. Hoop your fabric with embroidery hoop at the center of flag, using the dissolvable stabilizer.
  9. Stitch the first set of stitches, the placement stitches.  Remove hoop from embroidery machine and cut two pieces of white nylon larger than the placement stitches.  Spray the back with 505 and adhere to the front of the hoop and the back of the hoop on top of the placement stitches.
  10. Stitch the second set of stitches to tack down your skull and crossbones.  Remove hoop from embroidery machine and cut very close to the tacking stitches. Make sure to cut out the eye and nose holes.
  11. Stitch the third set of stitches to satin stitch around the skull and crossbones.  Remove from embroidery hoop and trim jump stitches and rip out tacking stitches that remain in the cross bones.

    Front of hoop view

    Back of hoop view

  12. Dissolve stabilizer remaining.
  13. Hoist the jolly roger!  (But please don’t do any actual pirating.)

 

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Master craft

We spent the long holiday weekend in RI hanging out by the lake.  Julius LOVES the water, to the point where he would cry if we told him it was time to get out.   Needless to say he spent many hours bobbing around in the lake over the last few days, watching the boats go by.  He calls boats “row” thanks to “row, row, row your boat”, much like he calls school buses “all through the town”.  We’re not sure why, but he calls airplanes “ahmi”, so if anyone can figure that one out we’d be indebted to you.

For mother’s day Will created a solo DnD adventure for me, so for Will’s birthday I made him a dungeon master screen.  I saw online a really cute one that someone made on Etsy that looked like a medieval door, so I did something similar.  I used wood from the drawers I had left over from my kitchen bookcase project.  All the silly ironwork accoutrements I had to get online and were a bit pricey.  The screens I liked sell on Etsy for $200+ and I understand why.  The materials alone cost me $60.  If you go with cheaper faux-ironwork elements, it would be way less expensive (those were 5/6ths of the price).  Will is probably going to balk at that price, so I just want to say that it was way less than half the cost of my favorite screen AND I recycled those old drawers that have been sitting in our basement – that should count for something!

DIY Dungeon Master Screen

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 drawer faces (Mine were 7.5″x27″.  You could also use similarly sized boards.)
  • 2 – .25″x1.5″x4′ board (common size .25″x2″x4′)
  • 4 – 6″ dummy strap hinges with screws
  • 4 – 3/4″ hinges with screws
  • 8 8mm magnets
  • 8mm dowel
  • 18-20 small clavos nails (I used these)
  • Closure of your choice (I used a hasp and lock set, but you could also use a simple latch)
  • Wood glue
  • Wood stain
  1. Remove hardware from drawer faces and sand so stain looks as desired.  (I left it a sort of rustic color.)
  2. Cut each drawer face in half to form 4 total 7.5″x13.5″ pieces.
  3. Sand cut edges of drawer face.
  4. Using a thin strip of scrap wood to mend the seam, wood glue two of the drawer faces together.  Clamp and let dry as instructed on glue.
  5. Cut .25″x1.5″ boards into 4 strips 7.5″ long, and 2 strips 15″ long.
  6. Sand the faces of the boards, edges and corners.
  7. Stain boards as desired.
  8. After the glue has dried completely in step 4, apply glue to the bottom of each of the strips of wood you sanded, and apply strips of wood along the top and bottom of each of the (now) three pieces of the screen.  Clamp and let dry as instructed on glue.
  9. Attach dummy straps to the center of each board, between the wood strips.  I used 3/4″ screws for this.  Make sure to match up dummy straps between panels using the bottom of the boards to align. 
  10. Hammer clavos nails into wood strips (when dry) at 2.5″ intervals.
  11. To attach magnets for DM notes/rules sheets I used the holes from the drawer hardware to attach my magnets.  Simply drill partway into the hole with a bit the size of your magnet.  Insert magnet in the hole, followed by wood glue and a slice of dowel the same size as your hole.  Let dry, then sand down until smooth.
  12. To create a groove for initiative/combat order cards, use a dremel fitted with a fiberglass cut off wheel and drill a 1/4″ deep groove in the top of each board.
  13. Attach hinges to the sides of the drawers at the top and bottom, so the two smaller panels will fold flat onto the large panel.  I used an awl to provide a guide hole for me to hand drill the tiny screws.
  14. With hinges and screen completely closed, mark the location for your hasp/lock mechanism.  Attach using 3/4″ screws.
  15. Roll for initiative!

 

 

 

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You belong among the wildflowers

I decided recently that I have to change up Julius’ bedtime song.  Will was singing him bedtime songs for a while, but I’d just been rocking him a bit before bed.  Finally Will suggested I just “sing some song you know all the words to”.  So I started singing him “I will follow you into the dark” by Deathcab for Cutie.  One of my all time favorites, though perhaps a bit morbid.  I eventually decided I needed something a bit more cheerful, so I’ve been singing him Tom Petty’s Wildflowers.  He knows the word “flower”, so now I ask him, “what would you like me to sing tonight” and he either says “flower” or “dark”.  That about sums them up.  Freaking adorable.

Well tonight represents another day ’round the Sun, so I’m going to keep this one short and sweet so I can get back to my folk music and Riesling binge for my (0x)20th.  And for you, enjoy this fabulous, quick vegetarian fare with a nice glass of Pinot Noir.

Mushroom and Kale Ragu

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 lb of mixed mushrooms
  • 1 bunch of kale and/or beet greens
  • 1/4 tsp fennel, crushed
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1 16 oz jar tomato sauce
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese

Saute mushrooms on high in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a high sided saute pan until they get slightly golden.  Add spices, saute for a minute more until fragrant then lower temp to medium, and add the tomato sauce, stirring the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Add kale/beet greens and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes or so until kale/greens wilt.  Stir, lower heat to low and continue cooking for another 10 to 15 minutes as you cook your pasta, stirring occasionally.  Serve over pasta and top with fresh grated Parmesan if desired.

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Color Coordination

I’ve been teaching Julius about all sorts of important things like why we eat our vegetables, why we are nice to everyone and how to be a dinosaur.  He is a rather good dinosaur, especially when presented with the task of eating his broccoli.  He’ll roar with slight reservation when taking bites of “dinosaur trees” after hearing words of encouragement that he’ll only become a strong dinosaur from eating all of his broccoli.

He used the word “no” for the first time earlier this week.  Of course he didn’t just say “no”, he squeezed his eyes down to slits and shook his finger at me, like some adorable grumpy librarian admonishing someone interrupting the peace  (or I guess his best impression of me when I’m being stern).  I laughed when he did it, which apparently was the reaction he was going for because he smiled one of his great big grins.

He’s also started mimicking how I react to questions.  It’s totally bizarre.  Yesterday I was playing a game with him and trying to teach him colors by taking a set of his bath toys (water bugs) that look identical except for their different colors.  I’d hide two behind my back, then reveal them and ask him to find the blue one.  The first time I did it (and everytime afterwards) he’d  say “um” then stare intently at the bugs for a good two seconds as if pondering a particularly difficult question.  Then very suddenly and matter of fact he would exclaim “that one” and point (90% of the time to the non-blue bug, but hey).  We played the game about 40 times because I couldn’t get enough of his reaction.

Speaking of color sorting, Will and I played games with someone at The Gathering who had neat foldable bit bowls.  They were color coordinated to hold lots of tiny blocks or meeples and were collapsible to take up less space.  I thought these were pretty neat but decided to make them from some neat patterned scrap fabric instead of silicone.  They are very quick to make and came out very cute.  I made Will a set of four in the primary colors.

Bit bowls! 18 normal sized meeples in the top right bowl for size!

Bit Bowls

What you’ll need:

  • 13”x7” piece of cotton
  • 6”x6” piece of lightweight fusible interfacing
  • 4 sets of size 15 snaps
  • Template here
  1. Cut square of interfacing using the template above.
  2. Fuse interfacing to the wrong side of the 13”x7” strip, leaving a ½” border on 3 sides.
  3. Fold strip widthwise, right sides in, so edge of interfacing abuts the fold. Pin.
  4. Stitch around the edge of the interfacing, leaving a 3” gap on one side.
  5. Clip curves.
  6. Turn right side out, and press.
  7. Stitch around perimeter of the square, close to the edge.
  8. Mark position of snaps using the pattern provided.  Following snap instructions place a male and female snap in each corner so the snap connector is on the portion of the material that has been fused with the interfacing.  (This will just prevent the fabric inside from looking floppy when you fold it into a bowl.)
  9. To use, simply snap each corner together and fill with bits and meeples!

    The bit bowls fold flat for easy storage!

    A stack of bit bowls!

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Great Grains

We stayed up way too late watching Captain Marvel tonight since we made the mistake of starting it last night and needing to finish it in 48 hours before it expired.  I liked it!  Especially all the female rock songs.  It made me realize I didn’t have any old school No Doubt on my Spotify playlist!

Speaking of my Spotify playlist – I abandoned the customized playlist of the week about 17 months ago, when we started playing Raffi songs for Julius.  When my recommendations turned into folk rock versions of kids songs I almost went insane and decided to just never look at it again.  Since then I’ve embraced the kids song channels, especially since Julius always likes to sing along to them in the car.  Frequently I’ll find myself leaving the daycare on my way to work singing “the Wheels on the Bus” at full volume before realizing Julius is no longer in the back seat.  And sometimes (when I’ve really gone crazy) I’ll even finish the song before switching to adult music.

As I probably mentioned months ago, Will and I have been trying to eat vegetarian a bunch of times during the week.  I’ve also been eating vegetarian for lunch.  Despite all these meals I really wanted to come up with a “all ingredients on hand, throw it in a pot” meal.  For instance, American chop suey or hamburger stroganoff.  I (used to) always have ground beef in the freezer, which I could just take out and cook from frozen, add a sauce and be done with it.  I tried experimenting doing the same with beyond beef but, because of the fake smoke flavor they add, it was truly horrible.  Vegetarian meals (that I enjoy) are not generally the meat and potatoes type meal, and I dislike the typical “meat substitutes” like tempeh or tofu, so I needed to approach the problem differently.

One day I tried a meal from Woodland Foods that was exactly what I was looking for: delicious, shelf stable, and it could be produced in large quantities to keep on hand in my pantry.  The version below is what I came up with after several attempts, and was approved by both Will, myself and my dad (who had a second helping and declared he “liked the texture”).  It has a hint of heat and it really does have a nice texture.  It’s been my go-to for a few weeks now, but I might experiment with another version sometime soon.

Tuscan Mushroom Mixed Grains

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup millet
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 3/4 cup rice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp dried garlic
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried onion
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp magic mushroom powder (or ground porcinis)
  • .2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • .2 oz dried maitake mushrooms
  • 1 oz sundried tomatoes
  • ⅛ tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in an airtight sealed jar until ready to use.  When ready to use, pour into a pot with 2.5 cups water, stir and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer on low for 25 minutes.  

4 servings – 9g protein per serving

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Basket Case

Well this was a stressful weekend!  Will and I went back to Cornell for our 10 year reunion and spent 5 days in upstate New York with Mister Julius.  The poor guy didn’t get a proper nap for 5 days (it was too hot in the dorm room) and he was getting a bit crazy by the end.  Poor little man.  It was a good lesson that naps make everything better!  He is 9000x easier when we keep him on a regular sleeping/napping schedule!  (Something to consider working on if your child is a terror and doesn’t nap?  Maybe!  I really don’t know!)  I just hope he sleeps properly tonight.

Even before the nap weekend incident Julius has been doing some frustrating things.  Instead of shaking his head vigorously ‘no’ when we ask him to do something he doesn’t want to do, he now shrieks.  It is an ear piecing scream (like a velociraptor) that is enough to make anyone deaf.  We are doing our best to ignore it and show him no reaction, but it is difficult…

Something we aren’t ignoring is his vocabulary!  He’s starting to learn more words!  On top of mama, dada, all done, more, duck, cat, dog plus every animal sound you’ve ever heard (and some others) he’s added car and tree to the list this past weekend.  He no longer says “sit sit bye bye” but now “sit” and “car”.

The project I’m going to show you today is how I revamped an old basket that we use outdoors to hold Dany’s squeaky tennis balls.  The basket has a metal frame and some type of woven material that seemed fairly waterproof.  After a dozen seasons of sun, rain and snow it finally kicked the bucket and the material started disintegrating off the metal frame.  In the interest of saving something from the landfill, I kept the metal frame.  After getting up the motivation I finally finished the project on Easter (it took me several hours to complete) just in time for the Easter bunny!  (The Easter bunny filled Julius’ Easter eggs with stickers and Yogis – the yogurt snacks, not the people!)

The basket on the right is woven from Hannaford’s grocery bags!

Revamped Wire Basket

What you’ll need:

  • A wire basket frame, you could make one yourself out of coat hangers, or get one from the dollar store.
  • plastic bags (mine were brown hannaford bags, and I needed 20 for my 6x10x5 basket)
  1. Lay a bag out flat on a table then cut bag in half down the middle from top to bottom so you have two symmetrical halves.
  2. Slit down the side seams of each half of the bag to form two loops.
  3. Cut the top along each loop to form two long strips.
  4. Tie strips together at one end.
  5. Just tie more strips on when you are running low; I found it was unmanageable to work with more than a couple strips tied together at a time.
  6. Starting at the base, weave in and out of the basket bottom, twisting the plastic bag strip slightly as you go.  When you reach an end of the basket, loop over and return the other way.
  7. When the base is complete, bring your plastic bag strip up the side of the basket slightly and start weaving the walls of the basket.  Push down each full row so plastic bag rows fit tightly together.  They will compress quite a bit.
  8. When you reach the top of the basket, start loops along the top rail to cover it, do NOT twist the plastic bag strip so that the plastic bag overlaps on itself and covers any gaps.
  9. When you reach the end, tie off and trim the excess plastic bag.
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Push Over

So I’m just now coming to terms with the fact that Julius listens to everything we say.  Yesterday when I went to take him out of his crib he kept saying “pop pop ooh ooh aah aah” over and over again.  When I finally figured out that’s what he was saying, I realized he wanted this book that Erin and Mark got him called “Poke a Dot – 10 Little Monkeys” which I sometimes call “Pop Pop Monkeys”.

Today he kept asking for “sit buh bye” which had me completely stumped.  I knew that he wanted to sit in the front seat of the car and pretend to drive (since he was gesturing wildly and frustrated at the front seat), but I had no idea why that was “sit buh bye”.  Later it dawned on me.  The first time I sat him in the driver seat of the car, a couple weeks ago, I closed the door and said “bye bye” (and pretended like he was driving away) which he thought was hilarious.  I completely forgot about it until today.

In other news, he really has started to push my buttons.  Will is the rigid, structured parent while I am the push over who tries to negotiate with her toddler.  Have you ever tried to negotiate with a toddler?  Let me save you some time and tell you it would be easier to teach math to a duck.  How did this happen?!  (I guess duck evolution just didn’t favor algebra skills.)

I really, really don’t want Julius to know I’m the push over, but it is already too late.  I have started to dread bath time because getting Julius to come out of the bath always ends in tears or else a 30 minute delayed bed time.  Will is out of town this week; it’s only day one of Mommy daycare and I was a solid 58 minutes late putting him to bed.  But, it wasn’t all dawdling or I (probably) wouldn’t have let it happen.  He accomplished a lot in that extra 58 minutes of time.  For the second day in a row he has done all his business on the potty before his bath AND he ate more vegetables (and way more dinner) than I’ve seen him eat in a week.  (He hasn’t eaten much in the last few days.) As an added bonus I didn’t have to deal with ANY tears.  I know you’re reading this Will, so, yes, I was 58 minutes late, and yes, I really am sorry there is no real excuse.  To make it up to you, I’ll make you some peanut butter bars.

My mom makes these peanut butter kiss cookies that Will has deemed “the best”.  She has tweaked the recipe so they come out perfect.  They are a lot of work.  Not only do you have to unwrap by hand a million Hershey’s Kisses, but you also have to roll the peanut butter batter into balls (these aren’t drop cookies, which are already too much work for me), then after cooking press a kiss into each one.  Who’s got time for that?!  (My mom makes the time for Will, who long ago we deemed the “favorite child” in our family.  For perspective she calls these “Will cookies”.)  I of course tweaked the recipe to make them as easy as possible so I could make them when we weren’t seeing my mom for a while.  While they aren’t quite as light and fluffy as my mom’s cookies they make a pretty mean peanut butter cookie bar in half the time.

Ann Collins’ Peanut Butter Cookie-rip-off bars or Will Cookie Bars

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup + 1 heaping Tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup Hershey’s Kitchens Milk Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 375.  Butter/grease a 13″x9″ baking pan. Cream together butter and sugars.  Add egg and mix until combined.  Add peanut butter and combine.  Add baking power, soda and salt and mix thoroughly.  Add flour gradually in 1/3 cup increments.  When thoroughly combined stir in chocolate chips.  Press evenly into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and a toothpick comes out clean.  Place on a baking rack and let cool in pan for 30 minutes.  Cut into squares and serve.

Cream together butter and sugars

Add egg

Add peanut butter

Stir in chocolate chips

Press batter evenly into prepared pan

Bake for 13 min at 375

 

 

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Pots and Pans

This weekend was beautiful, so we finally decided to take Julius to Davis Farmland.  It was great!  We actually enjoyed it so much we decided to buy a season pass and went both Saturday and Monday.  It is ridiculously close to our house, so it is slightly embarrassing that we’ve never been before.  Though I do think Julius is still a bit young for some of the things, he had lots of fun petting the animals, driving a tractor, playing in the water exploration area and sliding down the giant “cowabunga” slide.  (Will and I both liked the last part too because we got to go down with him.)  I wish we’d checked it out earlier!

Speaking of things I should have done earlier – a couple months ago I finally removed the center bar of the pots and pan cabinet.  I’ve wanted to do this for years but was worried maybe it was structural.  I finally got up the nerve to remove it and my counter hasn’t fallen down yet (great news).  I feel like it’s probably a good excuse for me to redo the kitchen if the cabinets do collapse.  The cabinet is so much more functional now!  My original plan was to remove the center bar so I could put pull out drawers in the cabinet.  After some deliberation I decided that wasn’t the optimal use of space so I left up my now fitting pot lid holder and added a stand for my saucepans!  No more lifting out 3 pans to get to the one I want!

Before… slight disaster

After – so much better!!

Remove the Center Bar on Your Cabinets

Note: I was concerned the beam was glued in place, but it was luckily just screwed in.  This gives me further hope that it is decorative and not structural, but do this at your own risk.

Step 1:  Remove the screws holding the center bar in place.  Using a rubber mallet slowly tap the center bar until you can remove it.

The bar removed! Now you can see the messiness of my cabinet in all it’s horror! The lids were constantly falling off the rack because I had to turn the pans to get them out of the cabinet and would knock the lids off in the process. .

Step 2:  Cut the center bar down 1/8″ in length.

Step 3: Attach a piece of wood the same thickness as your center bar a couple inches shorter than the height of your cabinet doors to the side of the center bar.  I used my pocket hole jig to do this!

Using a pocket hole I drilled to attach a piece of wood to the center bar so it is wide enough to attach to the cabinet door.

Step 4: Use clamps to close one cabinet door and position newly widened center bar to the edge of the closed door.  Close second door to make sure with the  doors closed it still looks like the center bar is fastened to the cabinets.

Use clamps to attach the center bar to the door while adjusting the center bar to make sure it is still centered.

Step 5:  Drill pilot holes through the piece of side wood attached to the center bar and through the cabinet face.  Make sure you don’t drill clean through to the other side of the cabinet face.

Step 6:  Choose screws 1/8″ shorter than combined depth of the side wood and the cabinet face.  Screw side wood to the cabinet face.

Screw through your side extension of wood into the cabinet door to affix the center bar to the cabinet door.

Step 7: Stain and apply wax/polyurethane to the unfinished edges of the center bar and the cabinet where the center bar was removed.

 

 

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Trash Monster

My little bear is getting bigger every day.  We did a fun photo shoot a couple weeks ago at a tulip farm in RI and the pictures came out SO GREAT.  I have to share them.  Our photographer was great to work with and Julius was so smiley the whole time despite it being past his bedtime.  He fell asleep in the car on the way back because he was so exhausted.  What a little trooper.

Shayna Lee Photography

Shayna Lee Photography

Shayna Lee Photography

You can really tell how quickly he is growing in photos.  From photos just a few weeks apart it seems to me that he is starting to lose those adorable baby cheeks.  Will thinks I’m crazy, but I think he’s starting to lose his round face.  Just compare the photos above to the photos below which were only taken 2.5 weeks apart!  Tell me I’m not crazy (for this particular reason)!?

Julius is a big fan of George!

Either way, the pictures below are from my latest reuse project – a mesh tub toy holder.  I’m proud to say that so far Julius’ toy holder has held up a whole month and is still going strong!  It’s completely made out of trash, so I was skeptical if he would like it, but put googly eyes on it, and it’s a winner!  I’m pretty sure he named it George.

Monster Mesh Tub Toy Holder

What you’ll need:

  • 2 6×4″ pieces of strong plastic that won’t shatter (mine were from a dish washing tablet box)
  • A giant zip tie – or some other piece of plastic or wire at least 25″ long that is firm enough to hold it’s shape when holding up several pounds of toys.  (coat hanger might work, as long as the ends are not sharp!)
  • large bag of plastic netting  (can use produce bags or otherwise – mine was from an Easter ham)
  • thick plastic shopping bag (mine was from express)
  • giant 1″ googly eyes (the only thing I bought)
  • 2 twist ties
  • hot glue gun
  • pattern here
  1. Using pattern, cut out 2 hooks from your pieces of strong plastic.
  2. Using a sharp tool (I used a cork screw) poke holes in the places indicated in the pattern.
  3. Use an Xacto knife to cut a slit in the place indicated.
  4. Insert one hook onto zip tie through slit.
  5. Insert zip tie through top inch of mesh bag.
  6. After you’ve gone 7″, insert second hook onto zip tie.
  7. Continue inserting mesh bag onto zip tie until you reach the starting point.  (I some how don’t have a picture of this.)
  8. Fasten zip tie and hot glue end of zip tie to secure.
  9. Bend zip tie to form a “D” shape with the hooks on either end of the straight edge.
  10. Cut a 1″ strip of ribbon from the plastic bag on the diagonal – strip should be around 5 feet long.
  11. Wrap plastic along the zip tie and through the weave of the mesh, hiding the 1″ selvedge of mesh. (I used clips to hold everything in place.)
  12. When you get back to where you started hot glue start and end of ribbon.
  13. Glue googly eyes in between the two hooks on the straight edge of the zip tie.
  14. Cut 2 pieces of scrap plastic from the leftover hook plastic in roughly the same shape as the googly eyes.  Coat in hot glue and glue to the back of each googly eye, sandwiching the zip tie.
  15. Hang on bath tub rack and insert twist ties through the holes you poked in the hooks to secure.
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…Always

I hope all the mothers out there had a wonderful mother’s day!  I certain did!  Will and Julius let me sleep in both days of the weekend, and gave me lots of fun presents!  Julius added a sticker to my card which I knew was his signature.  My favorite present was a necklace that Will got me that says “mama bear”.  I call Julius “little bear” all the time, so I am very proud to be labeled mama bear.  (Sometimes when I call him my little bear he says “roar” in a quiet whisper voice, and it is freaking adorable.)

Julius is definitely working to improve his linguistic skills.  The cutest thing he started to do recently is pick up exclamatory statements.  He’ll say “wow” or “oh, wow” or “oooh” in his cute little serious voice when he is looking at something he finds exciting.  Today I heard Julius exclaim, “wow, oh wow” while I was throwing the ball for Dany and I asked him what was so interesting.  He kept saying “oh, wow” and pointing at the ground so I went over to take a look.  It was raining and he had found a sandy ant hill and was mushing the wet sand between his fingers.  Pretty exciting.  Later he exclaimed “wow” about a dandelion that had no more seeds attached.  I really love his enthusiasm for everything, it is quite refreshing.            You know what else Julius loves?  These Yoda ears I made!  He refuses to wear hats, but he wouldn’t let us take the Yoda ears off him.  They’re very simple to make so you could outfit a whole party with them.  You should know that the wookie cookies are also Julius approved.  As promised, here are those tutorials from last week.

Yoda Ears

What you’ll need:

  • scrap green felt
  • a headband
  • hot glue gun
  • pattern here

Cut out two of the ear patterns of felt, making sure to flip the pattern for one of the ears so you have both a left and right.

Fold loosely along the fold lines marked and lightly hot glue in a couple spots to keep the shape.

Hot glue gun the base of one ear to the side of the headband, wrapping around the headband so it does not show.  Repeat for second ear on other side of headband.

Wookie Cookies

This recipe is from smitten kitchen.  The recipe is really delicious, but I think the name “Brownie roll out cookies” is extremely misleading.  They are not at all soft and brownie like.  They are really great, sturdy chocolate sugar cookies that are great for cutting and frosting.  They are nearly impossible to roll if they are cold, so I recommend ignoring her recommendation to chill them.  I first used this recipe to make chocolate mustaches for the PAX cookie brigade.

What you’ll need:

  • Recipe above
  • Semi sweet chocolate (I use Ghiradelli)
  • White chocolate
  • a piping bag and  Ateco #1 and #00 round tips (very fine).

Roll out dough and cut out cookie using a basic gingerbread man cutter.  Transfer to parchment lined baking sheet.   To make fur use a fork to swipe across the dough in short swipes.  Turn 45 degrees and swipe again across the cookie.

Bake cookies as directed and let cool completely.  When cookies are completely cool, melt 1/2 cup of semisweet chocolate in a double boiler.   Let cool slightly (about 10 minutes) until slightly warm to the touch then scoop into piping bag fit with #1 round tip.

Pipe ammo belt from under right arm of gingerbread man to above left arm, making it about 1 cm thick.

Pipe two large dots and a smaller dot for the nose.

Let set.  If you’re in a rush you can place them in the fridge for about 5 minutes but no more than 10 minutes to set quickly.

After chocolate has set, melt 1/4 cup of white chocolate in a double boiler.  Let cool slightly (about 10 minutes) until slightly warm to the touch then scoop into a piping bag fit with #00 round tip.

Pipe ammo on ammo belt as two slightly sloppy, connected dots per piece of ammo.  This really doesn’t take as long as it looks.  All the piping (white and dark chocolate) took me around 30 minutes total.

Rebel Napkins

I made these napkins so I could use plain napkins and add a non toxic stamp for a pop of color so I could compost the napkins afterwards.

What you’ll need:

  • plain white napkins
  • red non-toxic stamp pad
  • rubber stamp (Or rubber eraser and linoleum cutters)

Create your stamp by drawing the alliance symbol on a large rubber eraser and outlining it with progressively larger linoleum cutters.   Remove all the negative space around the symbol to a depth of 1/8″.

Ink your stamp on red stamp pad.  Press firmly onto napkin on a flat surface.

Let napkin dry 48 hours.

 

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