Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Toddler Activity: Pipe Cleaners In A Can

This is a super easy activity that Toddler Girl just loves! It involves an empty formula can and some pipe cleaners.


To make: 

1. Cut a hole in lid.
2. Decorate can and lid by covering with scrapbook paper, if desired.
3. Bend and twist pipe cleaners with sharp edges turned in for extra durability and safety. I bent these in thirds so they are just the right length to go in the can.
4. Give new toy to toddler and watch them enjoy putting the pipe cleaners in the can!

Engaging Toddler Activities shows using a spice bottle or punching holes in the top of a Gerber puffs container for a little extra challenge. Or you can make a color sorter for a little older child.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Children's Book Haul

I'm a sucker for children's books. Love them.

I'm always looking for good titles to add to my collection and every little one that has been through my doors loves to read or be read to so it's a win-win!

An event we set up at every year features a small library book sale so I always enjoy browsing through their selection. This year they had a lot of children's books!

Their prices were extremely reasonable too this year. I bought several books first thing then went back at 1:30 when everything was half-price and got another bundle! For 9 books and one CD, I paid $4.25. Not bad!

Some are good for babies/toddlers and some are more suitable for a bit older children.

Is Your Mama A Llama? by Deborah Guarino. I love this book!
Rock-a-Baby Band with CD by Kate McMullan.
Time For Bed by Mem Fox. I remember reading this book to 2 year olds at one place I worked. A sweet story!
All Aboard Trains.
White Snow Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt.
Parade by Donald Crews. His simple books are always a hit here!
Blueberries For Sal by Robert McClosky. A classic!
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer. A funny little story!
Counting In The Jungle. A magnetic book with magnets.
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom CD. I already have the book and I know several children who will greatly enjoy listening to this!

Looking forward to sharing these stories with the little ones!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

A menu plan hasn't been posted here in quite a while! While I've still been planning meals, I haven't been quite as intentional as I would like. So I'm getting back into it!

*Scrambled eggs. (5x)
*Hard boiled eggs, cheese, ham.
*Breakfast in a hurry made with sausage instead of bacon.

*Leftovers. (2x)
*Lentil soup, veggies and onion and chive cream cheese dip.
*Hot dogs, veggies.
*Beef jerky, cheese, vegges/dip, hard-boiled eggs. (2x)
*Eat out.

*Yogurt, bananas with peanut butter.
*Applesauce, bananas.
*Apples with peanut butter.
*Fruit smoothies.
*Apples, nuts.
*Rice chips, cheese.

*Shepherd's Pie  made with eggplant, green beans, celery, onion, peppers and mushrooms and topped with mashed butternut squash. Based on a new recipe from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest cookbook.

*Chicken and veggies (crockpot), sweet potatoes.

*Salmon patties, rice, stir-fry veggies.

*Grilled steaks, mashed butternut squash, salad.

*BBQ meatballs (crockpot), brown rice, salad.

*Eat at church meetings 2x where we take something to share. 

**This post is a part of Menu Plan Monday

What are you eating this week?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Toddler Game: Peg Board

This Montessori-style peg board was $1 at a recent children's consignment sale.  I snatched it up to use as a table activity for Toddler Girl.

It's very sturdy and has obviously been well-used but still has a lot of life left in it!

This activity lends itself nicely to the toddler favorite game of  'In and Out'.  Put it in. Take it out. Repeat.

This activity can be used to teach (depending on the age and development of the child)--
  • One-to-one correspondence--one peg for each hole.
  • Colors.
  • Counting.
  • Sorting/Classifying.
  • Sequencing/Patterns. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Items Of Interest

In which she writes a bunch of random things...

**During our morning walk, the graceful Cherished Dog laid down in the grass beside the road to roll around and fell off the curb.

**Compared to Steve, these regular size squashes look like midgets. 

**It's been 6 months since we've changed our eating habits. I've lost somewhere in the 25 pound range and Andy has lost close to 40 pounds! We've both dropped several clothing sizes as well. This may be a fluke since women's clothing sizes vary so much, but I recently purchased a size 8 dress for myself. And it fit!!!

**There's a little progress on the little doll quilt that I'm making. I sewed the remaining triangles together into small squares. (Still need to trim them!) Next up-- sew the small squares into larger quilt blocks. My goal is to have this ready for quilting by the end of next week. 

What have you been up to?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

In Good Company

I loved reading the comments on my Keeping It Real post.

A few that made me smile:

From Mary Bailey-
"Our first home was a rental and I remember when I went to buy shelf paper for the cabinets I told my husband, "Look they have contact paper that matches the wallpaper in the kitchen!" That's when he pointed out to me that the kitchen wallpaper *was* contact paper!"

I must admit that this closely rivals my floor-tiled cabinet tops!

From Katie-
"We are content to rent and anything else the Lord has in mind for us. =) And we purposely purchase furniture with nicks and wear (the old fashioned look, you know?) because we know that undoubtedly, more nicks are wear are in order!"

The 'old-fashioned look'. I love it!!!  Between many littles in and out on a daily basis, a black-haired dog and well, us, our furniture and furnishings get a lot of use. So buying used  for most items is definitely the way to go for the time being.

That being said, I do want to make it a point to mention that I do not in any way, think that it is wrong to  purchase new furniture or have lamps that actually stand straight. It is simply up to each individual as to what they spend their money on and has nothing to do with being better than or worse than anyone else.

And besides, if no one bought new, there wouldn't be much need for thrift stores now, would there? :-)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Keeping It Real...

We all know that I think that the 'keeping it real' thing gets blown out of proportion. But I do still appreciate people who tell it like it is and live their lives, even online, without caring what other people think. 

Take this post from Thy Hand Hath Provided. I'm sure it's a lovely read concerning homeschooling and all but what really caught my eye was the floor lamp in one of the pictures. The leaning lamp that they use because it still works.

And this post about renting from Content to Rent. I think we have the same kitchen. Except instead of bricks, we have floor tiles that are known to crack and crumble under our feet. This may or may not have anything to do with the fact that the exact same tiles can be purchased at the Family Dollar right around the corner. But yet, I'm pretty sure not too many folks are privileged to have matching floor tiles on their counter tops as I have. Yes, you read that right!

These things encourage me. That we're not alone in our choices to make that $20 couch work even though it is ugly underneath it's very worn slipcover. To rent instead of buy for the time being. To choose paying cash and being content with what we have instead of racking up credit card debt in order to keep up with the Joneses, whomever they may be!

So yes, keeping it real can be good!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Toddler Activity: Coloring On The Floor

That sounds fun, doesn't it?

Wanting to provide a creative outlet for Toddler Girl (17 months) at the same time as providing entertainment for and keeping an eye on Baby Boy, I remembered how we used to tape big pieces of paper on the floor for the toddlers to draw on back when I worked in childcare.

I briefly entertained the thought of taping  paper on the wall to draw on, but thought better of it. Toddler Girl really doesn't need any encouragement in the way of wall decoration. But somehow, a few crayon marks on the floor doesn't bother me as much!

Butcher paper works splendidly for this as do large pieces of recycled cardboard. I don't have any butcher paper at the time but do have a large pad of newsprint. I like to use larger sheets of paper for little ones to freely express themselves rather than little sheets!

T.G. was very excited to get to work drawing and playing with the crayons, dumping them out and putting them back into the container.  Note: A recycled frosting container is the perfect size for jumbo crayons and the lid fits on for storage!

T.G. enjoyed the experience-- playing with the crayons, being traced as she sat on the paper and a little coloring! Baby Boy looked on longingly, eagerly looking forward to the day he has free reign of fun stuff like crayons!

Friday, September 09, 2011

Friday Funnies: The Adventures Of Steve The Squash

I just could not resist  bringing the 7 pound butternut squash home with me from the farmer's market last week.

No, I could not!

Then I couldn't understand why my husband thought the tote bag was so heavy to carry...

Once we got the squash home, we realized that this was no ordinary squash. This squash needed a name. And a photo shoot. A Facebook friend also suggested clothes.

Oh my!!!

My husband named him Steve. It seemed fitting.

If you've ever seen the movie Over The Hedge, you will understand the name Steve.

"O Great Steve, what do you want?"

So here we have...

The Adventures Of Steve the Squash!

Baby Steve- he's the size of a newborn!
 Steve, down home on the farm.

 Steve at work.

 Steve, Steve, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?

Little Steve On The Prairie.

Because we wanted to use Steve for both food and entertainment, we opted not to draw a face on him. Instead, we pretend he's an Amish doll.

We've been eating on Steve all week. He's delicious!

This might be similar to raising chickens as pets and then eating them.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Why I Regularly Purge, Declutter and Get Rid Of Things

 I had a whole post written with a bulleted list of all the reasons I regularly whirl through the house purging, decluttering and getting rid of things that we no longer use.

We live in a small house. We rent so therefore, we move more often than if we owned a home. We are given lots of stuff--both a blessing and a curse!  Clutter and little knick-knacks make me jumpy. We have a lot of people in and out of our home on a daily basis.

But when it comes right down to it, there is really only one reason:

Too much stuff.

I have too much stuff.

Too much stuff for the space I live in. Too much stuff for the life we live. Too much stuff to deal with.

Today as I walked through an estate sale, it struck me. We spend our lives accumulating stuff. Then we die and strangers shuffle through our stuff and pay pennies for what we worked so hard to accumulate.

We love yard sales and find lots of useful things there for much cheaper than purchasing new. We also buy a few things to resell. My husband and I love to go to yard sales and it's one hobby we have in common and can do together. So I don't see us ending this activity anytime soon. But we've been much more selective in our purchases this year.

Do we really need this? Will it make our life better or cause more work and expense? Can we live without it? Do we really need to replace the one we have? Did I just get rid of something similar? Will having this cause me stress if the kids mess with it?

I don't know about you, but I really don't want to spend all my time sorting and organizing stuff. Stuff that I don't use. Stuff I haven't looked at since I got married 7 years ago. And I certainly don't want to continue moving all these things from house to house!

Are some things worth storing and saving? Yes! We keep family heirlooms, our special baby stuff and  a few favorite childhood toys, some furniture and nice things that while we don't have space to have out now, are things that we will enjoy later in a larger home. And a few things we are sentimental about or just like having in our home.

What we decide to keep and not keep is a very personal decision. We are the ones who will have to clean and care for these things. We are the ones who will need to walk around these things on a daily basis. We are the ones who will be moving these things from house to house. So we are the ones who need to decide what we will keep!

Just this week, we went through our storage shed and purged through a huge pile of boxes. Some of which we had never gone through in 7 years. A lot of which I had never seen. We sorted and purged for a whole day. Many items were set aside for an upcoming yard sale. We threw away a lot of trash. Only a fraction of the stuff was boxed back up to go back into storage. The boxes in storage have now been reduced by about 50%.

I'm not against stuff. I have plenty of it, thank you! I like cute things for my home. I have hobbies....

It's a balance between things that are eternal and things we take the time to enjoy here.  And I'm still learning!

Related Reading:
Buying Stuff For A Life I Don't Live
10 Ways To Simplify Without Becoming A Minimalist
Loosen The Grip Of More Stuff
Downsizing Your Home, Downsizing Your Life