Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Hiking Bag

We're a hiking family. We love to spend time out in the woods. We love to find cool bugs, mushrooms and rocks and we love to take some of our findings home with us. My pockets were tired of being filled with rocks and leaves and all of the other treasures my kids find. When I saw this hiking bag, I knew that I would be making two!
I purchased the pants at the thrift store, used webbing that I had intended on using to make belts for the kids (which is a stupid idea. Kids don't need belts, they need elastic especially when they are potty training!), and Sadie's bag got backed with a Japanese Kawaii print that I got on etsy. The kids filled their bags with very useful things that one would need on a hike: their water bottle, a bug catcher, a magnifying glass, a journal, a camera, a net, and a Cinderella figurine. Very easy. Very useful. Very fun!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Worm Farm

The kids spent yesterday digging. While they were digging, they discovered worms. Lots of 'em. Lots of little tiny worms and a few juicy fat ones!So we spent the day learning about worms. How they are natures composters and that they aren't "icky" but instead very helpful. We made a quart jar worm farm made with layers of mud, oatmeal, and sand with about 20 worms added. You can find the complete directions here. Now, we just have to be patient and wait about a week or so to see what those worms do! Find more earthworm facts:
National Geographic
The Adventures of Herman the Worm
Composting with worms

Monday, April 27, 2009

Secret Messages

After Easter's egg dying, I got to thinking of things I could do with that wax crayon they include in the egg dying kit. I thought that a secret message would be the perfect thing.
You will need:
  • wax crayon (or a white crayon)
  • paper
  • water color paint

While the kids napped, I wrote a secret message to each of them using the wax crayon (going over each letter several times assures a clear message). Then, I set up the table so they would find it when they woke up. I told them that I had written them a secret message and that they needed to paint over it to see what it said.The messages were quite simple, and actually a picture may have been better since neither of them can read. But, they liked revealing the message either way.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

You know you're a "Housewife" when...

...you blog about amazing dish towels. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I'm in love with my microfiber dishtowels and I feel like I need to spread the word about their amazing-ness. They're from Casabella, makers of home cleaning products that promote eco-friendly cleaning.

Here's the story: I was shopping at my local World Market and they had the Casabella microfiber kitchen towels on super-duper clearance. So, I bought one thinking they were still a little more than I wanted to spend on a dish towel, not to mention that I already have a closet full of them, and I've had other microfiber towels, but just wasn't that impressed with them. Well, let me tell you, I tried it out and it picked up every drop of every spill, wiped dry each of my dishes even the last one, and just felt so soft that I went back to World Market the next day and bought up every last one of them. Now, you won't see me in my kitchen without one of those babies tossed over my shoulder. I think I would even pay full price for them. They're just that awesome.

Cut to two months later, I was again at World Market (you gotta love that place!) and they had the microfiber glass cloth and the microfiber dusting cloth on sale so I bought both of those. The glass cloth is amazing. I don't even have to use any cleaners, I just dampen a corner and wipe the glass and they're clean WITHOUT STREAKS, my glass cleaner can't even do that. And the dust cloth, well, it picks up just about every speck of dust in this house. It's just that good.

Casabella also sells floor-dusters with washable heads that I'm tempted to buy. Man, you just got to love a company that makes you feel so good about cleaning your house! So, there you have it. As you can see, I need to get out more so I can tell you about amazing music, or shoes or... anything but cleaning products.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Discovering New Things On a Hike

I'm a big fan of the Take-Along Guides series of books for kids. These books are perfect for younger kids as they are not so jammed full of information that kids can't find what they're looking for, they cover only the animals (or trees, flowers, etc. depending on the topic of the book) that you are most likely to see, and the illustrations are clear and helpful. Eli and Sadie recently got the book Tracks, Scats, and Signs. We brought it with us on our latest "hike" to Prairie Oaks Metro Park. This is a great park because it has prairie, forest, river, wetlands, and relatively short un-paved trails (and the fact that it has a playground and bathrooms doesn't hurt either). The park meets all our needs and it is filled with a wide-range of wild-life, not bad for a 15 minute drive from our house!We set off on our hike and the first thing we found was some very furry scat. This scat was probably the most interesting that I've ever seen as it contained an entire foot with bones and claws still attached. I'm guessing that it used to belong to a rabbit or perhaps a squirrel. We quickly paged through our book to find that the scat probably came from a coyote:It just spent four days raining in a Columbus so tracks were very easy to find and identify. The first we spotted came from a deer:Down by the river we identified a perfect raccoon hand:And we think that this print might belong to a muskrat:We also found signs that a beaver lives near by:I'm including this picture because we have seen a lot of them lately mostly in grasses or wetlands areas. They look papery, but are more spongy and they look like they would be very sticky, but they're not. I'm guessing they belong to some kind of insect, but if anyone knows, I'd love to know:We also found a perfect blue and black striped feather from a blue jay, which is perhaps my favorite find of the day. By the end of the trip, Eli was able to tell us a lot of the animals that lived in the park that we didn't actually see, but saw signs of. It was a great day for a hike and a great day to see tracks, scats and signs!!

Hey, I got nothing to do today but smile...

You know when you hear the first notes of a song and it instantly brings you back to a moment in your life? Like every time I hear the first notes to Devil Inside it instantly reminds me of the smell of our schools gymnasium and seventh grade cheerleading try-outs. Eternal Flame somehow reminds me of being in the back of the Burley's van (get your mind out of the gutter)belting out tunes with the girls. Hey, Jealousy will always bring me back to driving around in my BFF's red Honda Prelude the summer before our senior year.

Simon and Garfunkels Only Living Boy in New York was my song of the summer 1996. I was living with my BFF in a cool old down-town apartment in the town where we attended school. I was working at Target, but barely. I didn't have any money and I lived off of popcorn, beer and clove cigarettes. I had nothing to do most days "but smile" and I would sing "the only living girl in Grand Forks." (clever, right!?! ha, ha) I checked the weather and decided what to do from that: go to the pool, head to the coffee shop to read, go for a bike ride, etc. The reason I bring this up is because lately I've been singing "I get the news I need from the weather report" because with kids my big question for the day is: can we go outside or not? The weather report determines our entire day. Will today be an indoor game playing, movie watching, picture coloring sort of a day or a run outside, play in the dirt, go to the park sort of a day? Today is a pouring rain, ride the bus to dad's work and eat lunch in the cafeteria kind of day. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a sunshiney, sunglasses, sunscreen and flip-flop wearing kind of a day. But, it's spring, the weather is unpredictable and I need to just go with the flow. After all, I have nothing to do today but smile (and take care of my kids)...

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Butterfly Release

The butterflies emerged before I was ready for it. The first one was born inside it's little cup because I was still waiting for the lurker to build it's chrysalis (which it never did and has since passed on) so she has little wrinkled wings. I promptly moved the rest of the chrysalises into the netted cage so they could have a safer place to live. The rest emerged unscathed and were so beautiful to look at. Here you can see the empty chrysalis and underneath their is some red goo on the mesh netting that came from the wings and the chrysalis. I'm not really sure what it is.
The butterflies should have been released a lot sooner, but it has been pouring rain in Columbus and we didn't want to send them off into a wet world. We waited until yesterday when the sun was shining. Here's Eli slowing unzipping the zipper.Three of them quickly fluttered away on the wind, but our little damaged wing lady had a harder time. She could hardly get off the ground but she eventually disappeared from us as well.I'm really tempted to order another set of caterpillars and do some journaling with Eli. It was so much fun the first time to watch the changes!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Homemade Shrinky Dinks

I've read about making homemade shrinky dinks using #6 plastic on several different blogs and have been waiting patiently to cross paths with the take-out boxes that use #6 plastic. Well, it finally happened. I had finished eating my birthday dinner and the waiter kindly boxed up the rest of my food. Then, he placed a lovely #6 plastic container in front of me. I was tickled. It was the best birthday present ever (dare I say, almost better than the yoga bag that I got from my dear children).
Sadie and I decided to make egg-shaped necklaces for the up-coming holiday. I punched a hole at the top and we colored on our design using permanent markers. Here's a good idea of how they looked before they went into the 350 degree oven:And two minutes later we had (sort of) egg-shaped necklaces:

Man, I love this. I wish I had more plastic take-out containers. Note to self: go out to eat more!Go here for the complete instructions.

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Caterpillars Came!!

And they've already entered the Pupa stage! Here they are hiding out in their chrysalis:We picked up a butterfly house at Target several weeks ago and sent in the enclosed coupon for caterpillars. They arrived about a week later from a company called Insect Lore. The caterpillars came with food in a sterile cup, so we didn't have to do anything but wait for them to crawl to the top of the cup to make their chrysalis. Once they've all made it to the top (we still have one lurking...) we can move them into their butterfly house. We should have painted lady butterflies in about a week. I'll keep you posted throughout the metamorphosis.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Getting the Table Ready

My children never ask me to paint. Never. But, I want them to like arts and crafts so I lead them to water, so-to-speak. When they go down for their naps, I put out some sort of creative activity for them to wake up too. It's amazing how quickly they sit down and get to work on an artsy-craftsy project that has been laid out for them. I guess it's hard to resist once it's right in front of them!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Meet the Egg People: Growing Grass Inside Eggshells

For this project you will need:
  • eggs
  • egg carton
  • grass seed
  • soil
  • markers and scissors


1) Very carefully cut off the top of an egg. (Put the eggs aside to make omelets later.) With warm soapy water, gently clean out the eggs and allow to dry.2) Carefully, fill the eggs about 3/4 full with soil. Add the grass seed. Then cover with more soil.

3) Add water, then place in the sun and wait patiently for about a week, watering as needed. Once the grass has started to grow you should still wait a little longer until you have a good head of "hair".4) With a damp cloth, wash all dirt and debris from the egg. Draw a face.
5. Start to "trim" the "hair".6. After receiving their hair cuts. Put them back in the sun and allow their hair to grow back.

7. Repeat steps 5 &6.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Meet the Wood Family

Remember back many moons ago when I mentioned that finishing these little wooden dolls were on my to-do list? Well 10 months later, I can finally cross these little guys off my list. I finally finished the little details and applied the last coat of varnish (after my children had already played with them, hence the scuffs). It is without hesitation that I introduce you to my family. Yes, that's Dennis, Sharleen, Eli and Sadie: This little family was made to represent some good friends of ours. This is Michelle, Gabriella, Robert and Alexey:
The BV Gang:And the whole Wood Family:

Yes, I got a little carried away making little wood friends for my little wood children. But, it was well worth it as these little wood people were well initiated today. They were buried in the dirt, tossed for hopscotch, passed from one neighbor kid to the next and held in grubby, chocolate laced hands. This is a good lesson in attachment for me. I'm trying to let it all go, but I think I'll apply one more coat of varnish after scrubbing them clean!! Then, I'll feel better.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Instant Gratification Sunday

Sadie has really been into accessorizing her outfits lately. She loves purses, belts, extra layers, tights, jewelry, and special hair thingies. She is such a girly-girl which is a good thing for me because she keeps me crafting. A new headband was desperately needed to keep Sadie's ever-growing hair out of her face which is probably driving me more crazy than her. I purchased the pattern off of etsy from deidrewicks and I found the instructions immediately in my inbox. Gotta love the instant gratification in that and I had all of the materials that I needed in my house! So, I got started right away and sewed while watching The Rage in Placid Lake on Hulu (which I thought was an excellent movie, by the way). I made the headband reversible and I shrunk the pattern down a little to fit Sadie's head. I just love the feeling of accomplishing whatever you want to accomplish without having to leave your house. Sewing and movie watching instantly? It feels so gratifying.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Lemondade Award!

Hey all! I was just given the Lemonade Award from Becca over at Chocolate Eyes. The Lemonade Award is an award given to those who inspire. Aww, shucks, thanks. I'm touched, so I'm going to pass it along.

Here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post.

2. Nominate blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude

3. Link to your nominees within your post.

4. Let them know they have received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and link this post to the person from whom you received your award.

Here are my nominees:

5 Orange Potatoes: An Ohio homeschooling mom inspires with her creative activities for her children.

'Tis a Good Life: A crafty Canadian mom who finds inspiration in the everyday.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Skin Deep

Today was the first 70 degree day of the year. We met our playgroup friends at a park for a little romp. We had a blast, but I noticed when we got home that we all looked a little pink-cheeked and somehow my freckles have quadrupled. I forgot the sunscreen. Rats!! I sort of thought we were safe, but I guessed wrong. That sent me to Skin Deep a data base of research on the safety of cosmetics and skin care products sponsored by the Environmental Working Group. There they have a list of all of the sunscreens they tested and how the sunscreens were ranked for safety by measuring toxins in the sunscreens themselves as well as how they actually protect you against the sun. This list is a little intimidating because the ones that ranked the best are a) hard to find and b) expensive. But, after going through the list I found that CVS has a moderately hazardous ranked sunscreen, as does Trader Joes which are both easy enough for me to find and inexpensive. Last year I used the CVS sunscreen with zinc oxide 45+, but I can't find it on their website this year. I can only find the sunblock +30, but I'll check in the stores and see if they have it.
I got a little long-winded just trying to tell you to check out your family's skin-care products at Skin Deep to see how they're ranked. It might just surprise you at how toxic your child's shampoo might be. (Darn that "fragrance"!)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Tie-Dye Cookies

We made tie-dye cookies yesterday and they were a real hit. You can find the recipe here where they are called play-dough cookies, but I like the name tie-dye cookies a whole lot more. These were really simple to make and I didn't even have a freak-out mommy moment when we made them. The dough is really easy to work with and not sticky at all so the kids were able to make the balls, then roll them into snakes, then coil them into snails with little assistance.
**edited to add: Thanks Jennie for the heads up. The link to the cookie recipe has been changed!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Low-Carbon Lent

In case anyone else wants to follow along with the Low-Carbon Lent, here are this weeks:

• Monday – Share this week’s Low-Carbon tips with a neighbor, coworker, or friend.
• Tuesday – Turn down your thermostat down by one degree.
• Wednesday – We are asked to give up meat on Friday’s during Lent. The average American diet contributes an extra 1.5 tons of greenhouse gases per year compared with a vegetarian diet.
Consider giving up meat an extra day this week.
• Thursday – Climate change isn’t a distant threat – it’s affecting poor communities now. Pray for those helping vulnerable communities adapt to the changing weather.
• Friday – Give your dishwasher a day off or promote it to an Energy Star rated appliance.
• Saturday – Unplug your mobile phone charger: it uses electricity even when it’s not charging.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lent 2009-- Doing More

Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lenten Season-- the 40 days that helps us prepare for Easter, our Salvation. It is a time for prayer, self-reflection, sacrifice and giving. Now, I'm not the most religious person in the world by far, and I'm not even a very good Catholic. This year, however, I'm trying to make more of an effort this Lenten Season to grow as a Catholic and as a person. I didn't grow up Catholic so "giving something up" for lent feels awkward for me. I don't really see how giving up chocolate is going to make me a better person, in fact, it's only going to make life worse for those around me and it will make me miserable. Yeah, yeah I understand that it's all about sacrifice, but wouldn't doing more during Lent help me grow more as a person? I think so. That's why this Lent I'm attempting to do three things that will hopefully help me grow as a human-being, help others and help the world.

1) Each week during Lent I will volunteer my services to an organization. Our church provides sign-up lists for opportunities to serve. Usually these are for working at the local shelter providing meals, building a Habitat for Humanity home, working at the St. Vincent De Paul, and the like. This week, I'm volunteering to help with the blood drive that is being held at my church.

2) Participating in Catholic Relief Services' Operation Rice Bowl that helps raise money to help fight global-poverty. CRS provides a calendar of events for each day of lent that helps raise awareness of poverty around the world. The calendar provides prayers, Bible study, opportunities to give, and introduces you to people from all over the globe who have benefited from Operation Rice Bowl along with fasting recipes from those countries.

3) The church bulletin is giving ideas for a "Low-Carbon Lent" in which they provide one "green" idea a day to help reduce our carbon footprint. This weeks ideas are:
• Ash Wednesday – Remove one light bulb (without inviting danger) and live without it for the next 40 days.
• Thursday – Check your door for drafts with a ribbon or feathers. If it flutters, buy (or make!) a draft stopper.
• Friday – Tread lightly – whether that’s by foot, by bike, on to a bus or the gas as you drive. Find a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions when you travel today.
• Saturday – Are you recycling everything possible? Really –everything? Look into it today. Visit earth911.org to get started.

I'll keep you posted on my progress. Hopefully, this Lenten season will be a time for change for me.

Oh, and because Catholics are asked to abstain from eating meat and fasting on Fridays during lent, I thought I'd add some links to some of our favorite vegetarian meals:
  • Curried Potato and Vegetable Soup: Seriously, this is an awesome soup. I serve it with rice. The first time I made this soup Dennis said, "I love this soup. It reminds me of Nepal." Hey, if my cooking can help bring back memories, then it must be good!
  • Red Kidney Bean Curry: Seriously easy, seriously tasty!
  • Lentil-Tomato Soup: An old stand-by at our house. Great for cold, wet days!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sadie's New Threads

I've had my eye on some super-cute applique shirts over at Mini Boden for Sadie. But, for the price, I decided to make them on the cheap at home. After searching for plain colored shirts in department stores (why can't I find bold non-girly colored pocketless shirts anywhere?) I ended up buying some American Apparel shirts for a sort-of reasonable price and appliqued the designs on. I have three more shirts that I'm still deciding what to do with. I think I'm going to stencil-paint dandelions on one, but the "pattern" I have in mind looks a little too intricate.These skirts are from a simple, free pattern from Oliver + S. The blue skirt turned out cute and Sadie loves to wear it. The fabric is from Amy Butlers Daisy Chain Collection. Even with the baubles on this skirt, the brown and green is not princessy enough for Sadie, but she was happy to wear it for a lollipop! Should have known better...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Cuban Black Beans and Rice

I made this recipe for company the other night. I have no idea if it is authentic or not, but it certainly is delicious and the leftovers are even better. It's super easy too. There are a lot of ingredients and it takes a little planning ahead and all day (but only because you're soaking beans), but hands-on time is about 10 minutes so in my mind this is a "simple supper". Serve it with a salad and dinner is served.
This recipe calls for epazote, which I had never heard of before. It is an herb traditionally used in Mexican cooking. I borrowed some from my Mexican neighbor who said that it can be hard to find (especially fresh), but you can get epazote at Penzeys and Mexican markets. She also said that with such a small amount it would be ok to omit without making too much of a difference in the taste.

Cuban Black Beans and Rice from Penzey's One Volume 3, Issue 5, 2009
1 pound dried black beans (about 2 cups)
12 cups water, divided
2/3 cup olive oil
1 cup red wine
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped (I used 1/2 green and 1/2 red)
4 cloves garlic, minded
1 whole bay leaf
1 T. dried Mexican Oregano
1 T. epazote
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. black pepper
1 T. salt
2 T. sugar
2 T. red wine vinegar
3-4 cups cooked rice
lime (optional)
cilantro (optional)
avocado (optional)
corn tortillas (optional)

1. Rinse the beans well, discarding any debris or floaters. Put the beans and half of the water (6 cups) in a large stockpot and soak for at least 5 hours or overnight. Just before cooking, drain and rinse the beans. Place in a pot with the remaining water (6 cups).

2. Add the olive oil, wine, onion, bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, epazote, cumin, pepper, salt and sugar to the pot. Place the pot on the stove over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, for 45 minutes or until the beans are soft. Add the red wine vinegar and simmer, uncovered , to thicken the beans until ready to serve, about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Optional: mash some of the beans against the side of the pot with a spoon.

3. Serve with rice, lime, cilantro and corn tortillas.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Valentine's Day Stuff

We've been busy doing Valentine's stuff from around blogland. Here are some links of what we've been up too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

MIA, Hotdishes and Orange Cranberry Muffins

It seems that posts are slowing down a lot around here. I've discovered that the less I post the better I'm feeling about life. Not that posting makes me feel bad about life, but just the opposite. It seems that the less satisfied I'm feeling about life, being a stay-at-home-mom and thinking I should get a paying job, feeling bored, feeling down about all the things I should be doing and aren't, I tend to post more to help me feel better about myself, like I'm trying to prove to myself that I'm doing a good job at being a mom, a wife, a person who cares about the Earth and humanity. So I post more so I can see what I accomplish during the day in black and white. When I'm feeling great about life, I still do the exact same things that I always do, I just don't feel the need to post them. So, the bottom line is when you don't hear from me for a while, know that life is grand and that I feel at peace with my situation. Maybe this is also very selfish as it seems by what I've just written that this blog is more for me than you!

I think I'm going to be posting more recipes this year, which means less pictures, because I am not a food stylist and all of the pictures I take of food just make the food look unappetizing, which it isn't because if it was I wouldn't be posting about it here. Anyways, I have dubbed this year "the Year of the Casserole" as I am trying to find really easy, make ahead meals. So, not everything will be a casserole but it will be fast, or make ahead or a one-pot meal. I have checked out lots of books on the subject of casseroles--"hotdishes" as those who grew up in the north land call them, and I plan to make a lot of them, though I don't plan on using a single can of soup. I'll be posting lots of recipes or sending out to favorite food blogs for super-fast suppers.
Here's a couple to get you started:
Chicken and Rice Casserole This is a delicious, relatively quick recipe to put together. You can make it ahead of time, it doesn't call for any "exotic ingredients" and my kids ate it. Bonus!

Squash and Chickpea Moroccan Stew This recipe is absolutely delicious. It was way better than I anticipated. Though the ingredient list is long, this came together fast in ONE pot (plus the couscous pot, which doesn't count). It's a vegetarian meal, which we're trying to eat more of. The kids would not touch this. Rats!

And now the Orange Cranberry Muffins, as promised... I love these muffins and would eat them everyday if I wasn't so lazy to make them. Not that they're hard, I'm just lazy.

Orange Cranberry Muffins

2 cups flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
zest from one orange
3/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 12 muffin cups and edges.

2) Stir together: flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baling soda and salt. In another bowl mix together: buttermilk, oil, egg, vanilla, and orange zest. Add wet to dry. Stir until just combined. Add cranberries and nuts.

3) Spoon batter into cups. Bake 15-20 minutes.

4) Cool 5 minutes in pan before removing from pan.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Homemade Non-Toxic Cleaners

I've been using "environmentally friendly" cleaning products for several years, ever since I realized that cleaning the shower would give me a gigantic headache. It was either stop cleaning the shower or use products that didn't give me a headache. (I seriously considered the first option though!)
If you haven't noticed, these "environmentally friendly" products are usually quite a bit more expensive than their Earth damaging counterparts. Making my own cleaning products is cost effective, environmentally friendly, and fun! I've been messing around with some different options for cleaning and here are a few things that I came up with: a dusting aid, a window cleaner, a multi-purpose and I still use my laundry soap. There isn't a homemade cleaner for the toilet, shower or a dish soap. That's because I tried the baking soda and vinegar thing in the toilet but found that I had to clean my toilet several times a week to keep the pink stuff from growing and I just don't like cleaning my toilet that often so I'm using Seventh Generation toilet bowl cleaner instead. I'm using Seventh Generation in the shower too, because when you use pure soap in the shower, it leaves one heck of a soap ring that is hardly dented by homemade stuff. I did give up my beloved Comet for straight up baking soda to scour with and I think that it works as well. As for dish soap, I tried to convince my husband that using Dr. Bronner's Castile soap cleaned the dishes just as well as the foamy soap, he just wasn't convinced so we compromised on Seventh Generation Dish Soap (I also love Trader Joe's Dish Soap because it smells yummy but the dishwasher (aka Dennis) thinks that it doesn't work as well). You would think that this is an advertisement for Seventh Generation. It isn't. I just use them because I can get it at most supermarkets and at Target and I've been pleased with the results. As for the floors, I just squirt a bit of Dr. Bronner's into warm water and scrub on my hands and knees. This is not an advertisement for Dr. Bronner's either. The guy may be a bit wacky (just read the the label), but his soap is pretty good!
I bought a few ingredients to get me started. Here are the ones that are the most helpful, some you probably already have in your kitchen:
  • baking soda
  • vinegar
  • Arm and Hammer washing soda
  • Borax
  • Murphy's Wood soap
  • Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap
  • essential oils: tea tree, sweet orange, lavender, and peppermint are a good assortment

I bought the spray bottles at the dollar store and made the labels myself by using (really fun)sticker paper. Have fun and let me know what you think!!

Dusting Aid

  • 1/2 cup Murphy's Soap
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 5 drops orange essential oil
  • 15 drops cedar essential oil

Window Cleaner

  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 tsp. castile soap
  • 8 drops essential oil

All-Purpose Cleaner

  • 1/4 tsp. washing soda
  • 1/2 tsp. castile soap
  • 2 cups water
  • 10 drops essential oil

Monday, January 26, 2009

Color Mixing: Rainbow Goo

Here is a fun color-mixing science activity!
You will need:

1/3 cup sugar
1 cup cornstarch
4 cups cold water
red/blue/yellow food coloring

Other Materials
3 bowls
pot and stove
zipper bags

1) Combine sugar, cornstarch and water in a pot. Heat until the mixture begins to thicken (about when it starts to boil), stirring constantly. Cool.
2) Divide the mixture into the three bowls. Add food coloring to mixture so you have one red, one blue and one yellow.
3) Put several tablespoons full of each color into a zipper bag so you have the following combinations: red/yellow, yellow/blue, red/blue, and red/blue yellow. Tape the bag closed.
4) Knead and mix the colors.5) Talk about the new colors you made.When you are finished mixing the colors, use your goo filled bag as a writing tablet for practicing those letters or just for scribbling!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Iceberg Rescue

Oh, No! Some animals got frozen into a gigantic iceberg and need to be rescued before they lose their air supply. Super Eli to the rescue!It's a good thing that Super Eli has the right tools for the job and he uses a towel so he doesn't make a mess: a super hero every mother can love!Can he do it? Yes he can.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


I have been looking forward to today for a long time. It is with great pleasure that the USA bid adieu to 8 years of "W", a man who was painful to watch and listen to and who has embarrassed me and my country in numerous ways. Today, we have a new President. A president who inspires, challenges, and promises change. Today, I am proud to be an American. Today, I am hopeful for the future of my country. I am really looking forward to the next four years. President Obama, please don't let us down!
In honor of Inauguration day, I made myself a little Obama Icon. You can make one for yourself over at Obamiconme. Thanks for the tip, Meves!