Pretend Play

Yesterday I went to yoga in the evening.  Before I left I explained to Julius that Dada would be giving him a bath and putting him to bed because I was going to yoga.  He got super excited.  I asked him for a kiss before I left and he got all sad.  Eventually I realized he wanted to do yoga!  They have a yoga instructor come in every once in a while and teach the kids yoga.  A couple weeks ago after I saw the pictures of Julius doing yoga I asked if he liked it and he said “yeah”.  After which I took him through several yoga poses that he was pretty darn good at!  This time I did a few more and he really liked it and was smiling the whole time.  He is VERY good at following instructions!  I guess I found a new yoga buddy.

Julius doing yoga at daycare

Julius has also been doing a lot of play with his stuffed animals in the morning.  The last few days he tells me stories about his animals when I get in there.  Will said this morning Julius refused to get out of his crib when he woke up (singing).  Instead he wanted to play with his toys.  And Sunday after his nap Will sent me a picture of Cookie Monster wrapped up snug in Julius’ blanket.

Since Julius has started to get into imagination play, I decide to make him a silly bib for his “bunnies”.  (We call all his stuffed animals “bunnies” since 70% of them are actually bunnies.)  He loves to feed his animals breakfast in the morning, and even though they are pretty clean eaters, I thought a bib would be fun.  He liked it and has moved it around to different animals a couple times but now it’s almost a permanent addition to “Big Bunny”.  He does have some trouble with the velcro, so if I make more I may use snaps instead, which he is quite good at.  This project is super quick so I have no excuse for why I haven’t made more…

Pretend Play Mini Bib

What you’ll need:

  • scrap square of PUL fabric
  • 1/2″ square of velcro
  • pattern here
  1. Cut out PUL fabric using the pattern provided.
  2. Stitch hook portion of velcro to position marked on the pattern, on the top (right side) of the fabric.
  3. Stitch loop portion of velcro to position marked on the pattern, on the bottom (wrong side) of the fabric.


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We’ve spent the last few days at Will’s grandparents’ house in east Tennessee celebrating Grandaddy’s birthday.  Will has a large family and Julius loved the constant attention he received.  Grandmother joked when we left that we were going to have to invite the neighborhood over when we got home to give him the same amount of attention.

Julius has been picking up words almost daily it feels like.  We can’t always understand him, but once he says it ten or twelve times we usually get it.  He can even tell us all his daycare friends’ names.  The other day Will asked him what his best friend’s name is.  He replied “Sheepy” (his favorite stuffed animal).  Will laughed and clarified with “who is your baby best friend?”  He then responded “Baby Sheepy”  (which is the name we use for the mini version of Sheepy).  Will had to ask who his “daycare best friend” is to get the final answer of “Connor”, his buddy at daycare.  I cracked up when I heard that.

As I think I’ve mentioned, I’ve been modifying some of our favorite recipes to work with our slowly developing vegetarian diet.  We have been getting LOTS of peppers this season from our CSA (awesome) and stuffed peppers is one of our favorites.  Let’s be honest though, they’re just a pile of ground beef.  Well I started making this super easy recipe that Will declared “at least as delicious as the original”.  I hope you like it too.  The best part?  It tastes even better the second day.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 15.5 oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15.5 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 24 oz jar of tomato sauce
  • 4 bell peppers (your choice of color)
  • shredded cheddar cheese
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Saute onion in olive oil until softened and fragrant.  Add beans and tomato sauce, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Cut tops off peppers and discard the stems, ribs and seeds.  Sprinkle cheese in the bottom of each pepper, fill halfway with bean mixture, sprinkle more cheese on top and fill to the top with more bean mixture.  Top with cheese and the pepper top. Cook for 30 minutes, or until tops of peppers are slightly brown and peppers are soft.

Finished peppers

Peppers ready to be cooked

Bean mixture ready to fill the peppers

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Good Frame of Mind

Today Julius collected a dozen acorns on our walk with Dany.  He was getting extremely frustrated because every time he’d drop one, Dany would crunch on it and try to eat it.  When we got home he didn’t want to eat dinner and just wanted to play with his acorns.  He really just wanted to hold all his acorns at the same time, but his little hands did not allow that, and thus he was unable to do anything but drop and pick up acorns for a solid 15 minutes.  I finally convinced him to put them into a bowl, which he carried around.  Eventually I coaxed him to the sink to wash his hands by asking if he wanted to wash his acorns.  He did, and I snuck some hand washing in.

Eventually I got Julius to sit in his high chair, but only if the bowl of water and acorns sat on his tray.  I put his chicken nuggets on his tray as well as some corn, and he grabbed a chicken nugget and popped it in his mouth.  After he’d finished chewing that, I asked him to try some corn and he grabbed an acorn out of the bowl and went to pop that into his mouth.  I shouted in fright that they were not edible and he cried for a while until I convinced him that they were yucky and not safe to eat.  I sent him some serious mixed signals by letting Dany eat acorns, having him wash the acorns in a bowl just like we do the cherry tomatoes from our garden and “serving” them next to corn.  I really can’t blame him.

Julius has toned down the hitting the last couple weeks.  The other day he accidentally whacked me in the nose while he was busy doing something, and he leaned over and kissed my nose.  Now he gives me a kiss whenever he accidentally hits me.  I consider this a big improvement over the hitting.

Speaking of improvements, I’ve been contemplating a kitchen renovation of some kind.  I haven’t decided on anything yet, so to contain my urge to renovate I’ve been doing lots of very small crafts.  One such craft was a bunch of dry erase boards for my fridge.  A month or two ago I made some cute dry erase boards from frames from the thrift store.  I very cleverly replaced the glass with some acrylic I had downstairs, so when Julius inevitably drops them they don’t shatter.  The problem I realized later is that dry erase markers on acrylic do not erase.  Instead I purchased Lexan to replace the acrylic and it has been perfect!  Just like glass.  It made my project way more expensive though…

Dry Erase Fridge Frames

What you’ll need:

  • a lightweight frame
  • fun paper for background of your frame (I used recycled wrapping paper)
  • Lexan cut to the size of your frame insert (have them do this at the store you buy it from)
  • 4 heavy duty ceramic or rare earth magnets with holes
  • Screws for rare earth magnets, or E6000 for ceramic
  1. Remove all hangers and stands from the back of the frame using a flat head screwdriver.
  2. Remove the glass from your frame and insert Lexan.
  3. Cut paper to size of Lexan and place on top of Lexan so it shows through the front of the frame.  Replace backing of the frame.
  4. Depending on the size and weight of your frame, choose rare earth magnets or ceramic magnets that will fit in the corners of the frame.  Flip frame over, take the magnets and either screw into or glue onto the frame.



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On a Roll

Will and I celebrated our 8th anniversary last week.  We dropped Julius off at daycare and took the day off of work to do “adult” things like go karts, escape rooms and hibachi.  Okay, there was a reason I put the word adult in quotation marks.  It was one of the best days off of work I’ve had in a long time!

For dinner I made vegetarian Idaho sushi rolls after Julius went to bed.  They are tempura sweet potato and avocado wrapped in nori paper surrounded by rice.  We wanted real wasabi and sushi ginger to go with our sushi, so after our adventure filled morning we enjoyed a kid-free visit to Whole Foods, where we each even got to pick out a cookie.  (“Adult” day.)   I highly recommend the Idaho rolls.  They were amazing, and didn’t take very long, even though there are a lot of steps.  I even thought the sushi rolling was easy and fun!  According to the interwebs I did everything un-Japanese and wrong, but they still looked and tasted amazing to us!


Idaho Rolls


  • 1.5 cups sushi rice
  • 1/4 c rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup ice water
  • 2 cups vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 small sweet potato cut into 1/8″x1/2″ strips
  • 2 avocados sliced in half and then into 1/8″ strips
  • 3 sheets of nori paper, halved using kitchen shears.

Cook sushi rice according to package directions.  When cooking is complete, microwave vinegar, sugar and salt for 1 minute or until sugar and salt has dissolved.  Pour over the hot cooked rice and gently stir.  Set aside with the cover on to keep warm while you prepare the rest.

While rice cooks, begin to prepare your tempura batter*.    Place a handful of ice cubes into the cup of water.  Sift flour into a bowl.  Chop veggies. Cut sheets of nori in half.

At this point, bring your oil to 350 – 375 degrees F.  I hate the smell of cooking oil in the house, so I’ve been deep frying things outside using the burner on my propane grill, a tip taught to me by someone on a yoga retreat.  I just wish I had a real frying thermometer.

While oil is coming to temperature, lightly beat an egg in a small bowl using chop sticks, basically just breaking up the yolks.  Straining out the ice, pour one cup of water from your ice water cup into a measuring cup.  Lightly beat the cup of water into the egg using the chop sticks.  Add flour to egg/water mixture and gently mix with chop sticks until just incorporated.  You will still see lumps of flour in the batter all over the place.

When oil is at temperature, use the chop sticks to dip a sweet potato piece into batter and then drop into the oil.  Repeat for 6 to 8 pieces.  Retrieve slices using a kitchamajig or slotted spoon after the batter looks crispy (but not brown) and have been frying for about 2 to 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels.  Let oil come back up to temperature again then repeat until all the sweet potato is used up.

Now it’s time to get rolling!  Place rice on the bottom edge of your mat, pressing with the back of a spoon to form a rough rectangle about 7″ wide by 4″ high.  Place a half sheet of nori (shiny side up) on the rice and press down firmly to flatten out the rice a bit more.   At the bottom edge of the rice/nori place a couple layers of avocado slices, overlapping.  In front of that place 2 or 3 layers of tempura sweet potato.

Pick up the bottom edge of the mat with the heels of your hands while pressing the sweet potato and avocado into the mat with your fingers.  Roll the mat over the sweet potato and avocado while pressing the back of the mat gently.  Gently start to release the bamboo mat from the rice you just rolled by pulling gently, bamboo piece by bamboo piece, while rolling the whole thing more with the heels of your hands.  Continue, applying firm pressure until you have incorporated all the rice.  Gently pull the bamboo mat away from the rice until the entire roll has been released.

Using a very sharp knife cut into 6 to 8 1″ slices.  Repeat for other 5 rolls

Serve with sushi ginger, wasabi and soy sauce for dipping.  Makes around 6 rolls with 8 pieces each.

*(I used the tempura recipe from The Spruce Eats who I love and always has great recipes.  The amount of ads on the site make it difficult to read, so I have paraphrased the recipe here for your sanity.  I do encourage you to read the lovely article there first.)


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Ba ba banana

Sorry everyone who was awaiting my post last Tuesday morning – I had it all ready to go Monday night at 9pm (early, mind you) and apparently I didn’t hit “publish”.  I only noticed on my way to my car after work when I went to check to see if anyone had left comments and discovered it hadn’t been posted!  Kudos to those who noticed!

Will and I took vacation the last 4 days because my family was all in town!  It was so fun to see everyone again, and I am so sad it is already over.  Julius had fun playing with his cousin Finn, though I think he was a bit annoyed to not be the center of attention for once!  Ha!  As the first grand baby on both sides he is a bit spoiled.  He started recently acting out for attention, though I think he only does it to me.  He likes to hit, punch or hit me and then watch my reaction.  I hate it.  I started out saying “please don’t do that, you are hurting mama” in my no-bullshit voice, eventually I moved onto my stern voice.  Neither of those worked.  Will caught him doing it one time and hollered at him.  Julius of course started crying.  Later he hit me again.  I am hoping this is just part of the terrible two’s phase and he will outgrow it soon because it really makes me sad.

I’m secretly worried that he learned the hitting thing from this stupid video that he loves (one of only two youtube videos he has ever seen) of the minions singing Barbara Ann.  Will first showed it to him because he was eating bananas and wanted to show him a song about bananas.  Since then he asks us to play it on our phones, and we’ll each show it to him occasionally.    The other day I noticed that halfway through the video one of the minions punches another minion!  I honestly never noticed it until recently because it happens so quickly.  When I noticed it I stated that it wasn’t nice how the minion hit his friend, and that we don’t hit our friends.  I have never let him watch the video again.  Maybe someday I’ll cut the video to take out the hitting, because he really likes it and likes the little yellow guys.

After the snack scare, I decided to make Julius some cute snack bags.  Since the fabric was on clearance – they have minions on them.  The bags are nice and small for little hands and little snacks, and they have a convenient spot for a label!  Will and I had been writing his name on masking tape and attaching them to containers to label Julius’ snacks, but this is far easier.  If you’ve mastered the sandwich bags these are just as easy!

Small Reusable Snack Bags with Labels

What you’ll need:

  • 10″x7″ Eco PUL or other food safe PUL
  • 10×7″ cotton fabric of your choice
  • 7″ of 3/4″ velcro hook and loop fastener
  • 5″x2″ strip of clear flexible vinyl (mine was leftover from an old pool toy)
  • parchment paper

Follow the instructions for the sandwich bag here making a 4″x7″ pocket with a 2″x7″ flap – steps 1-8.

9. Pin the loop tape portion of the velcro to the inside edge of the bag’s flap.

10. On the outside of the flap, center your 5″ strip.  Place a piece of parchment paper over the vinyl.  You can masking tape this whole thing if desired.

11. Placing the vinyl/parchment side down, stitch along all 4 edges of velcro.

12. Remove the parchment paper.

13. Trim the vinyl close to the stitching.

14. Insert small cardboard tag into the vinyl pocket to label.



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Colorful Words

It is completely bizarre how Julius cannot identify colors.  Remember when I told you about the bug game where Julius was supposed to pick out the blue bug, and 90% of the time picked the white one instead – even after showing him just before the blue one?  Well that trend continues.  He has become quite enamored with my sad excuse for a garden, when I showed him how to pick tomatoes.  Every day he’s been helping me pick the ripe cherry tomatoes, and we take them inside to wash them, then Julius gets to eat them.  He loves tomatoes so he always wants to pick them.  The weird thing though is that he ALWAYS picks the green ones.  I have explained to him dozens of times that we eat the red ones, and yet he still picks the green ones.  Today there were more red than green tomatoes on the vines, and so I walked away for a bit to see what Dany was doing.  When I turned back around he’d picked 4 green tomatoes only.  I really have no idea what to do about that.

He told us this weekend that a horse is his favorite animal.  Who knew?!  He’s been hanging out with bunnies, doggies, and sheepies for his whole existence but horses are the ones he really wants to spend time with.  No wonder he loves the pony rides at David Farmland!  My parents neighbor has a horse (named Colton – no relation) so we walked over to chat with Colton.  Julius was too scared to pet him but he did smile a bunch at him and say “hi” in both English and horse.  Future equestrian?  I always wanted to learn to ride a horse (and swordfight) so that if I were thrown back in time I would be able to hold my own.  Very practical I know.

Speaking of practical, check out this extremely practical craft I made.  It’s supposed to look like  a pussy willow, but in multi colors, but it really doesn’t.  Will calls it the Dr. Seuss tree, and Julius calls it “mama tree” because I told him I made it and it is my silly tree.  Every morning of the first week it was in the upstairs landing he would go over to it and feel all the pom poms laughing at it.  (Because clearly it was silly.)  It was incredibly easy to make, so I’m almost embarrassed to post it, but hey, here it is.

Dr. Seuss Tree (Mama’s Silly Tree)

  • 3 tree branches (I collected mine about 9 months ago in the woods with Julius & Dada on a hike. Will thought I was insane.)
  • ~36 pom poms in assorted colors (I bought 2 packs of pom poms from Dollar Tree)
  • hot glue gun
  1. Strip off bottom branches until you will be able to fit each branch in the pot of your choice.
  2. Organize your pom-poms into color groups. I used pink, red, yellow, light blue, dark blue, lime green, green, black and purple.

    Branches and pom pom clusters

  3. Glue a pom pom at the end and junction of each branch.
  4. Stick in a vase and watch your child go wild.

    Julius, Gaga & the Silly Tree

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Mailed it

Julius has started asking “why?”  He seems to be using it in context, but I’m not entirely sure what he expects to get out of it.  Frequently he’ll ask “why” to which I’ll give him an answer and he’ll ask “why” again about the next thing, in an infinite chain of “whys”.  Honestly I love it.  I have been waiting for him to ask me why for months!  I know lots of parents complain about the “why” phase, so ask me in a month what I think of it, but right now it is just the bee’s knees!

The little guy is just so darn cute.  He is picking up more and more words every week.  A few weeks ago he finally started saying “Dany”.  He was saying “Deedee” because ‘n’s were difficult.  Yesterday I told him to ask Dany if she wanted to go for a walk.  He walked right up to her crate, knelt down, stuck his head all the way in and shouted “Dany”?  I could not stop laughing.  I eventually had to explain that he needed to move so Dany could get out of her crate and take a walk.  Thank goodness Dany likes him.

He of course has his negative moments as well.  Today I had to buckle him into the high chair and told him he couldn’t leave until he ate a small amount of peas and chicken.  He had eaten exactly nothing before I gave him the ultimatum and was trying to squirm out of the chair to go play.  Julius eventually ate all the required food to leave his chair, but it took 30 additional minutes.  But I won’t let that get me down – I consider the eventual eating of his dinner a win!

Another win is this mailbox makeover I completed!  I’ve been wanting to upgrade my mailbox for a while now, but I finally got the time to sit down and do it.  I created the stencil by hand sketching the line and vine art on my Lenovo yoga.  I got the laptop partially for drawing, and I’m really happy I did.  It’s fun to sketch on!  If I’d had this years ago when making mine & my friend’s wedding maps, things would have been so much easier.  I love that after sketching I can resize easily and now – send it to my cricut for cutting!  The one frustrating thing about this design was that I had to split the design in 2 so it would fit on the mailbox.  I split it into two horizontal pieces, but if I did it again I would split it on the vertical so the seam is on the top of the mailbox.

DIY Mailbox Makeover

What you’ll need:

  • Sticky vinyl – I used leftover contact paper
  • black spray paint
  • gold spray paint
  • cricut or die cutting machine (or if you are extremely adventurous an Xacto knife)
  1. Remove hardware (flag) and measure your mailbox – mine was 18″ long by 20.5″ circumnavigating the top.
  2. Set up your electronic drawing space to be proportional to your mailbox dimensions.
  3. Start by writing your name in cursive on the bottom of the page.  Add vines, leaves and flowers as desired.
  4. Thicken all lines so they are no narrower than 3/8″.
  5. Transfer your design to the Cricut and increase/decrease the size until it fits in the dimensions of your mailbox from step 2.  Split design onto two mats if necessary (I found this link helpful).  I recommend doing split between the top and bottom of the design (instead of right and left) so the seam is along the top of the mailbox where no one will see it.
  6. Use the cricut to cut out your design on sticky vinyl. (Technically you could use and Xacto knife…)
  7. Tape off the area around the mailbox and it’s pole, so nothing will accidentally get painted.
  8. Spray the mailbox black.  (I used flat paint first, but decided I hated it and switched to a glossy spray paint which I liked a lot better.)  Let dry.
  9. Apply stencil to mailbox and press firmly at the edges of all the cuts to adhere. Tape off any areas on the mailbox that you don’t want painted gold.
  10. Spray paint the stencil gold.  Let dry.
  11. Remove the stencil, admire your handiwork!

    Front view

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Wine not?

What to say about this past week?? We were supposed to head down to my parents’ summer house but the lack of air conditioning and the 100+ degree heat wave made that unappealing for my husband.  He actually told me I could go without him.  Julius didn’t seem to mind the heat and was very happy when we took him to Davis Farmland both mornings.  It wasn’t hot enough for him to go within 5 feet of the spray and play area, but he did content himself “swimming” in an enormous pool full of bubbles.  Will took him on Saturday and said he spent a great deal of time in the petting zoo area.  Every time Will asked him to leave the area he said “no”.  Eventually Will realized that he was just afraid of Peanut the camel, whose area is at the exit of the petting zoo.  “Trapped in a petting zoo”, sounds like a horror movie.

We also stayed cool inside this weekend reading some books that I picked up from Savers.  In addition to some cute kids books in great condition I also found a Skip Hop Hedgehog little kid’s backpack that I thought Julius would like.  He LOVED it and has taken to wearing it around the house.  I woke up this morning to find Julius strolling around the bedroom in his footy pjs with the backpack on his back.  Adorable.  His favorite book that I got for him is this book called “Bee and Me” all about how bees are actually nice and get a bad rap.  It’s also one of those motion books where you can turn the pages and see the pictures move.  I know I’m starting him early on the environmental propaganda but he organically decided it was his favorite and has read the book about 80 times already.  (If you think bees are propaganda… I won’t tell you I also bought him a book on RBG…)

So what did Mama do to stay cool while Julius went to bed?  Drank lots of my new favorite thing – wine slushies!  They are freaking amazing.  You need to go make them now.  Oh, but first let me tell you how they came to be.  As usual these are the ultimate in laziness, just mix, shake, smash and scoop.  No blender required.  I looked up lots of recipes online, but all of them required a blender either before or after freezing.  Cleaning more kitchen appliances?  No thanks.  What I really wanted to emulate were the wine slushie mixes that you can buy at wineries.  They just have a bunch of powdered citric acid, ascorbic acid and sugar, that you mix with water and a bottle of wine.  No need to blend.  I would like someone who knows more about the molecular structure of water to tell me why this works, but it seems like citrus works great to make the perfect wine slushy.

Wine slushies: left is orange pineapple riesling, right is cherry limeade sauvignon blanc

Wine Slushies


  • *1 cup wine (we used cheap white wine – riesling and sauv blanc were both excellent.  I wouldn’t recommend a chardonnay because a lot of cheap chardonnays have that nasty fake American oak flavor)
  • 1 cup citrus juice (we tried pineapple, orange and pineapple-orange and my personal favorite cherry limeade – recipe below)
  • gallon ziplock bag

Pour ingredients into a gallon bag.  Shake vigorously for a minute then put the bag directly in freezer.  Wait overnight for the mixture to freeze, then remove from freezer and squish or pound gently on counter to form into slush.  Scoop into glasses and serve.

*to make in larger quantities just do 1 part wine to 1 part juice.  If you prefer a more wine forward flavor you can increase the proportions up to 2 parts wine to 1 part juice.  We tried this, but our personal favorite was still 1:1.

Cherry Limeade Wine Slushies


  • 3/4 cup lemonade
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 2 tsp grenadine
  • 1 cup white wine (Riesling or Sauvignon blanc were perfect)
  • gallon ziplock bag

Pour ingredients into a gallon bag.  Shake vigorously for a minute then put the bag directly in freezer.  Wait overnight for the mixture to freeze, then remove from freezer and squish or pound gently on counter to form into slush.  Scoop into glasses and serve.

Shake vigorously

Freeze in gallon bags, then kneed until turns into slush

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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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