Saturday, October 15, 2011

The Village...

No not the M. Night movie, that everyone in the world hated but me. I loved it. I even bought it on DVD... I love an underdog romance. But I digress... Today we spent the day playing in the sandbox and weeding the backyard to reorganize, revitalize it. Pregnancy and baby taking care of is hard work and unfortunately my poor urban homestead is suffering. Er, was suffering. It now doing a lot better well the survivors are.

My Girl started to get bored of playing in the sand. We got the idea to build a village for her little toys. Each one of us went around the yard and gathered up anything we could to build this village.


It was so much fun. Figuring out what could be buildings, who lived where, where the stream went, who got cars, where the park was, and if we were done or not. Let me take you on a tour of The Village:


Welcome to Grow! The Home of Dora, ceramic turtle, lion, donkey, gnome, and elephant. Also the location of the famous ladybug building!


This is the village center. It has a "very fancy" bridge that link Dora (who lives with ceramic turtle) with the famous ladybug building. The gnome guards them both. To the right you'll see donkey eating a waffle in his house.


Donkey's house is the entrance to the town where the flag is being flown and the name of the town is posted!


Across the street from Donkey's house is Lion's (he has a wonderfully fast car). And next to his house is the park and lizard's house, who doesn't like the slide by the way.


This is My Girl's house.


The Ladybug building is located next to the duckpond. Where the 5 ducks of varying size share a drop of a pond with runs off to the center of town and forms a stream. I hoped you enjoyed your tour. I know I enjoyed mine!

It took a couple hours to build it and it was amazing to play with afterward. We still need to build a fairy house in town. But as it stands it my may heart warm to hear how creative My Girl was. We also put some golden coins and a treasure map in the sandbox and that rekindled that interest. We are having a wonderful time reworking the backyard to create a urban homestead that is more child friendly than it was.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Bloggles (Playdough)

I try my hardest to limit television for My Girl. Some days are better than others. Put a blob of play dough down in front of her and BAM! You just bought yourself at least 2 hours to get housework done, pay bills, write a blog, Skype with your friend in Spain, and you know any activity.

We started to go through playdoh fast, or "bloggles" as My Girl calls it (no clue why). I was tired of making trips to the store to get more playdoh. Yeah, they are only like a dollar a can but they get gross so quickly and dry out and crumble. Unless I stood over My Girl and put a stop to most of the fun involved in playdoh just to make it last. Then what's the point. So I mixed up a couple batches of Kool-aid Playdoh.



Kool-aid playdoh is great. Its easy to make, plus the kiddos can help make it, and its smells yummy. Its a nice thing to mix up with the kid too.

Kool-Aid Play Dough

2 cups flour
1 cup salt
1 package of Kool-Aid
1 cup hot water
Combine ingredients and mix.

There's a few more recipes on this site like Gingerbread playdough, peanut butter playdough, sand playdough and a few more equally as interesting. But I love the kool-aid playdough!

 
Don't forget to throw some spoons, cookie cutters, butter knives, and a rolling pin down for increased playdough fun-age! Or perhaps a playdough play set.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sandcastles in the sand


 For My Girl's 3rd birthday, we promised her a sandbox. Her birthday came and went... no sandbox. We got the sand. Sand is cheap as ever! We just couldn't decide which one to buy. Definitely the lowest price we could find and it needed a cover. That was easy to find... the popular plastic turtle or crab. But I really hate to put something all man made and plastic in my organic garden/urban homestead. I definitely wanted something natural. So finally, we decided to build a sandbox ourselves from re-purposed materials.


With my best friend back from Spain and over for a visit, it seemed like a great time to get this project underway! We grabbed some large pieces of wood that used to hold up an old, old camper that we finally were able to give to someone else, and the some of the wood we bought last winter. Made a small rectangle with them and filled it with sand. It was a wonderful activity for everyone to do together and  My Girl has the satisfaction of having build a sandbox for herself!

My Girl: "We pulled the corn and made me a sand..."
Mama: "Yes, we did. We made a sandbox for you."
My Girl: "I'm gonna built a castle, this is my castle."

Now she refers to the sandbox as her "castle". She steals all my friends when they come over to visit and made K-dawg play in the sandbox with her for a couple hours. Then when she took a nap, we buried gemstones, golden doubloons, and some shiny beads from a broken necklace in the sandbox.

She started digging and was so excited to find treasures. She also attacked the dirt with K-dawg and got down right dirty. That was a change for a girl who has to wash her hands whenever she touches anything that is slightly dirty. It was a fun project with amazing results!


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Roasted Chickpeas

 

Like a year ago or 2roasted chickpeas made their chic way around blogs. Lets bring them back. These things are amazing and a great source of fiber. I made them for dried chickpeas. My whole family munched them down. They make a great snack and travel very well. The only thing to remember is that these are beans even though they seem like corn nuts or something. Enjoy!

Ingredients
  • 1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt (optional)
  • garlic salt (optional)
  • cayenne pepper (optional)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season to taste with salt, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper, if using. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crunchy. Watch carefully the last few minutes to avoid burning. 
This recipe is by AllRecipe.com.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Katydid... in my eggplant


Some days  you go through and do things you love but treat them as chores. Its unfortunate, but we get caught up in our schedules and rushed. We forget to take a breath and enjoy what we are doing now. I was watering my gardening, when I saw a Katydid, a leaf grasshopper!


I feel so fortunate to have seen this beauty and that he was still there when I got my camera. I snapped a ton of pictures because I wanted Jorg and My Girl to see it too. It was like I discovered a treasure! A marvel. I scooped it up into a mason jar and showed it to them when they got home.

They came home like 10 minutes later and marveled at it with me. Then we released him back to the eggplants. I never even knew a bug like this existed and almost didn't see it. Then the next day, when My Guy's Godmother was visiting, she just got back from living in Spain., he was still there and she got to see him too. I kinda feel lucky to have seen it and been able to share him with others.
 Here's some info on them:
  "True Katydids are relatives of grasshoppers and crickets. They grow over two inches long and are leaf-green in color. Katydids have oval-shaped wings with lots of veins. They resemble leaves. True Katydids live in forests, thickets, or fields with lots of shrubs or trees.
    Katydids spend most of their time at the tops of trees where most of the leaves are. Usually katydids are heard, but not seen. Unlike grasshoppers and crickets, both male and female katydids make sounds. They rub their forewings (front wings) together to "sing" to each other. Katydid hear each other with ears on their front legs. Breeding season is in late Summer and early Fall. Females will lay eggs on stems. Eggs will hatch the following Spring into nymphs. Nymphs are young katydids not fully grown. Katydid nymphs eat and grow, molting their skin several times. Each time the nymph sheds its skin it looks more like an adult. Finally, after its last molt, the nymph has changed into an adult katydid.     True Katydids eat leaves of most deciduous (lose leaves in Fall) trees and shrubs, especially oaks. Katydids can fly short distances when threatened, but they prefer to walk and climb. When they do fly, it is more of a downward flutter. If a katydid lands on the ground, it will walk to the nearest tree and climb. Predators of True Katydids include birds, bats, spiders, frogs, snakes, and other insect-eaters."
That information is thanks to True Katydid

Take some time and enjoy the little things!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Golf

My Girl currently loves two things: Karate and Golf. So on the days there is no karate class, we run some drills for karate of course (practice makes prefect) and then we play golf. I recently got her a little plastic golf set and she adores it. Every morning I hear,
                    My Girl: "Are we going to Karate today?"
                    Mama: "No, darling. That's tomorrow."
                    My Girl: "Let's play GOLF! I get the golf balls and the clubs."
This is all before she gets out of bed...
We use big soccer balls and the tiny golf balls in our game of golf. It reads a little more like croquet because golf is hard and I am terrible at it! Absolutely terrible at it. Even at mini golf, with the little windmills. I end up raging after my 40th stroke! Golf ranks slightly below Bowling on my dislike-o-meter. But I bowl because my daughter loves it and now I Golf because she loves it.
I teach a less convectional golf of course. One of the Wreck This Journal activities is to use the book in a game of golf. So we hit the ball back and forth through the book and sometimes place the hole on the other side. My Girl is much better at it then I am! But she has passion and whenever you have passion you do it better.
Though I dislike Golf, because its hard and boring etc, I think its something probably important for her to know how to do. Its a long way off, of course, but there is alot of business that happens on the golf course. I don't want her excluded or being at a disadvantage for that should she choose to go into that world. Like I said I know its a far way off and a perhaps at that but its my job to prepare her for the "grown up world" and I'll do it. Even if golf sucks.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Homemade Cheese Crackers

If you bring a box of goldfish or cheez-its into my home, they will be gone long before the end of the day. You bring cheese nips and you are on your own there. Cheez-its are clearly more delicious.

Well, as good as they are, it might bankrupt me to keep them in the house. Srsly!?!?! So I found a recipe for them and they are crazy good out of the oven. I need to tweak the ones I made. I didn't put 8 full oz of cheese in mine, whoops, math is hard and I had trouble rolling the dough thin enough. But practice makes prefect.

I came across this recipe at Savory Seasonings. A wonderful site about cooking with pure and simple ingredients! I love her blog and the yummy stuff on it.

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. white ground pepper (optional)
4 TBSP cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 ounces grated cheddar cheese
3-4 TBSP water

Pulse the flour, salt and pepper, then add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add grated cheese a little at a time until the mixture again resembles coarse meal.

Pulse in 3 to 4 tablespoons of water, one tablespoon at a time, and only enough so that the dough forms a ball and rides the blade.

Remove, wrap in plastic, and chill for 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.




Roll the dough out to 1/8th-inch thickness directly onto a baking sheet.
Using a knife or pizza cutter, cut 1 inch squares, then bake at 350° F for 15-20 minutes or until crackers are golden brown. If the outer edges your pan are done but the crackers in the center still need a few more minutes- remove crackers on the edges and bake the center crackers for a few more minutes.

Remove from oven and recut any squares that may be stuck together. Store in an airtight container for up to one week or freeze.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Compost!!!

This was my compost pile when I first started my garden. It was full of chopped up pulled weeds, wood chips, fireplace ashes, and over time kitchen scraps. For sure its not the optimal formula of greens and browns. But we keep it wet and covered and the heat sure helps. Oh and we turn it about once every 3 days. It absolutely doesn't smell. I know you are doing something right if it doesn't smell. That being said, its reduced our kitchen waste dramatically and we only throw out about 1 bag of trash, 2 rarely, a week. To be fair we also made a recycle bin and stopped buying a ton of prepared food around the same time. Egg shells, coffee grounds, bad apples, lettuce (which frequently goes bad in our house, stupid leaf freezing refrigerator!), bad tomatoes, potato peels, carrot peels, cores of lettuce, those grapes that are too squishy, anything that doesn't have oil or animal fat in it.

We now have at least 6 bags of compost chilling at the bottom of this pile. Yesterday, I added a lot more dried weeds, grass clippings, corn stalks, and assorted bad veggies on to it. Its not a difficult undertaking to make a compost pile and not gross. Its kinda neat to watch it turn back into healthy soil, cause my backyard is essentially sand. I think we are just gonna keep adding on to it whenever it gets flat again until next march to have just an amazing amount of happy dirt!


Oh it doesn't stink but there is a lot of "wildlife", Crickets, earwigs, snake, alligator lizard, a healthy amount of spiders, worms, rollies pollies, and beetles. I think a Opossum was there for a while until my 30lber cat , Lincoln, scared it away.



How to Compost

Your dirt can be happy too!

 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Karate-do!

It was time to get My Girl into a structured social activity. Get her ready for preschool next year. We had considered several things. Dance class, gymnastics class, cheer leading class, pee wee soccer, pee wee t-ball, or ballet/tap class. But as a parent, I feel like there are certain I need to have my daughter know. One of which is self defense. I know, I know,  a 3 year old isn't gonna be fighting off any attackers or probably not gonna be attacked and I don't expect that for her now. I expect for her to have fun, build confidence, and social skills.
We went to a free trial class for the mini tigers, age 3-6.  My Girl absolutely loved it! She talked about it the whole week until it was time for the next class that we signed up for. Plus, she looks soooooo cute in her uniform.
She's doing so well. I'm so proud of her and its wonderful to see her have a passion. She wants to practice karate all the time. Well, that and golf. its her new thing too. Which is definitely one of the things I want her to know how to do. Business happens during golf. So we will take her mini golfing soon :P
During her 3rd class, she won her first tug o war match! She also won her second! Which is amazing because she's the youngest and smallest. She's also the only girl in her class. I don't know why more girls aren't in karate. The instructor is fantastic! She and the assistant are both women and absolutely amazing at get the group of kids to listen and be nice to each other.
She's still the sweet little girl despite her new growing abilities to beat people down. A boy in her class took his belt off and started hitting people with it. The instructor took away his belt and told him he could have it back after he performed 10 punches. The boy threw himself on the floor and sobbed, his mom said he missed his nap (we have all been there). My Girl went over to him and put a hand on his back and asked him, "what's wrong?" and she tried to comfort him. She even tried to give him her belt but she couldn't get it off.
The class has been a very positive experience and she's so cute in her uniform!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Weeds are Worthless...?



Not from everything I have read. Dandelions are used for all sorts of stuff. I finished weeding a large area and the pile of weeds looked like salad. I wish I knew which weeds were edible and helpful. Its a little dangerous to just start popping random weeds in your mouth. My Boy in my belly probably wouldn't like it either. So I have resolved to figure it out! I WANNA KNOW!

It turns out I could have learned this years ago (about 4). But I wasn't into doing anything at that time. My aunt gave me a book on the subject: American Nature Guides: Wild Flowers by Pamela Forey
Its really hard to find this book (I did a Google search and everything). But she has lots of other books on similar subjects. 

This book is my reading/studying material for the next week maybe 2 if I want to remember any of it. LOL. I already know dandelions are amazing and can be used for wine, coffee substitute, and in salads. Delicious!!! I hope to find other treasures!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Kitten Update

Anyone want one, they are FREE and they are way talented cats. Very special and very beautiful. They may also grant 3 wishes... just saying.


They have started litter box training now and eating kitten chow. Almost time to leave the cat nest. I haven't named them but I will miss them. My Girl spends most of her day play with them. They are definitely getting used to be around small children.


The dark orange one has gotten much more adventurous then the light orange one. I dunno what happened.



Sookie Mama is such a worry wart. She runs out into the kitchen and the kittens meow and then she runs back.


The snake is a favorite toy of the kittens, My Girl, and generally everyone in the house!



My Girl builds towers out of boxes, tents out of sheets, and forts out of pillows for the kittens to climb through.

And so no one gets jealous: