Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Yard is Alive

Button Boy and I have made a pact to spend lots of time outside everyday this week. I'll be giving you updates of our adventure each day. Somehow we managed to spend 3 hours in the backyard and have PP&J sandwiches al fresco. It was a little chilly and very muddy but Button Boy had a ball. Here are some photos we took along with his observations.

The snow is melting along with the fort and snowman that he built.

The daffodils are sprouting.

He can make footprints in the snow just like rabbits and cats.

Some plants survived the winter.

We saw 7 squirrels, 1 robin, 1 cardinal, 3 bugs that looked like mosquitos, 1 fly and 1 ant that climbed all over my Button Boy’s finger. The animals were too quick for a photo op.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fishy Friday

We spent a snowy, fun filled day experimenting with crafts that made us think of warmer weather. First we painted our tropical water backdrop by mixing green and blue tempura paint with ample amounts of real water. We just let the brush go where ever it may - just like the ocean. Then we created a few tropical creatures to swim in our oasis of tropical waters.

Button Fish
What a simple, but cute idea. We used buttons instead of beads and came up with an equally nice project.

Pudgy Fish Sculptures

I loved the instructions on this site. They provided color photos of each step and made them seem really simple to put together. We used Crayola Model Magic instead of Fimo clay. I am not a fan of Model Magic, but we had some in our crafts stash. It’s really expensive and reminds me of stale marshmallows. One of the sealed packages was completely dried out.  I prefer homemade dough myself.

Paper Plate Jelly Fish
I have no idea what site this idea originally came from. I found a photo of it on on the link above at the very bottom of the page. We sort of made up the directions as we went. I think they used crepe paper for the tentacles, but I thought blue plastic bags strips made a nice swap.

Here's to sunny days and warmer weather!

Monday, February 21, 2011

There’s a Dinosaur in the House

I have been in a craft fog lately. There are just so many ideas out there for kids and I was really bored by all the winter and Valentine’s Day stuff. So I asked Button Boy “What’s on your mind?”  He’s really been into Dino Dan on Nick Jr., so we Googled dinosaur crafts and found this little green guy made from one paper plate.

Now I’m not the type of mom to take over and make Button Boy follow the directions exactly. I figure he’s got enough years of school ahead of him to cover that territory. That’s why I like to make my own version of the craft – then I’m not tempted to take over his. Plus his version always has loads more character than mine. He has no preset conception of how all the pieces fit together or even what colors to use. His finished dinosaur actually reminded me more of a turtle. Check out both of our creations. His is the first photo and mine is the second.

The whole process took about 30 minutes, excluding the 4 hours of drying time on the paint. We opted for the glue instead of staples. I’m still leery of the combination of staples and my 4 year old. I loved that we got a whole animal out of one plate, which ended up fitting together like puzzle pieces.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Getting Ready for the Party

Button Boy is really excited about the Steelers going to the Super Bowl and requested we have a party with all the trimmings. So we headed off to the dollar store for supplies and went to town on the decorations. First we took a cue from Christmas and made simple black and gold garland from construction paper loops.

Then Daddy helped him hang long strips of yellow crepe paper from the entry way between our living room and kitchen. They found a Steelers logo from a craft at the library and taped them to the walls with black footballs and goal posts.

Grandma helped Button Boy make a stuffed football pillow inspired by the Zee and Moose pillows they keep featuring on Nick Jr.

I have snack duty. I could not decide what to have and settled on a nice German Mexican theme.

Bratwurst simmered in beer with Sour Kraut on Buns - Fresh Bratwurst is nearly impossible to find in Pittsburgh. I found it homemade from Parma Sausage in the Strip District. It's not listed on their menu. I know most people around here prefer kielbasa or Italian sausage, but I can not deny my Ohio roots.

Hot Fiesta Dip from Amanda's Cookin  I also used her recipe for homemade salsa

We are finishing off the meal with a chessecake from the Cheesecake Factory provided by Grandma. We should all feel really good by the end of the evening. Here's hoping the Steelers win!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Spicing Up a Snowy Afternoon

It's January in Pittsburgh and I've been thinking nonstop about fresh salsa made from homegrown or CSA tomatoes. Summer is months away and tomatoes from the grocery store just won't cut it. I had heard you could make salsa from canned tomatoes. I dug up this a simple recipe on

It calls for canned tomatoes and green chillies. I swapped out the minced garlic for one clove of fresh and used red onion instead of green. I also omitted the red pepper flakes. Button Boy and the husband like their salsa mild with a kick. Since the food processor was involved, I had my son stand off to the side on a chair to observe and munch on cilantro. After maybe 10 pulses, we had a nice, spicy enough, chunky salsa. I gave Button Boy a small bowl with tortilla chips. He immediately dove in to the salsa and used his fingers to dip when he ran out of chips.

On a side note, we have tried 2 recipes so far from Amanda's Cookin and both have worked beautifully. This site is wonderful for anyone with or without kids. She has great instructions for comforting food. Plus all of the ingredients are affordable and easy to find. Three cheers for Amanda!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Feeling a Little Buggy

Button Boy's really into bugs, snakes and lizards right now. We are currently reading him an Usborne book called Snakes before he goes to bed. It's not my idea of the best bedtime story, but he likes it. So I saw this great craft that looks like a caterpillar on and thought he would love this.

I have to admit the craft was a little too advanced for him, but it was fun to work on as a family. I poked the holes into the foam sheets. Button Boy had a really hard time lacing the pipe cleaner through the accordion layers – which we helped him work through. I made a couple of small changes. Instead of gluing on the antenna, we wrapped the cut end of the pipe cleaner in the body around the base of the antenna. I tried a new kind of glue, called Beacon's EZ-Flow Kid's Choice, for the puff ball head and googly eyes. Dear Elmer's glue – I love you, but sometimes you just don't cut it. The Beacons Glue worked beautifully. It's very thick and dried quickly. I also left off the little hearts, since I don't have a heart shaped hole punch.

Button Boy and Daddy loved the craft so much they made several little creatures. We could not help making a couple of Steelers caterpillars in honor of the game tonight.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mommy Muffin Time

There are days when a mom needs time to to bake alone. Every once in while I get that chance. The lights were low and Button Boy was laying on the floor talking to Spider Man. I snuck into the kitchen, turned on some jazz and made blueberry muffins. He only realized what I was doing just as I was putting the batter into the muffin tin. I tried to let him help me finish, but the batter was heavy and the liners were out of shape. “Mommy, can I eat the blueberries? Can I lick the batter? Why is the batter so sticky?” Frustration began to set in for both of us. I asked him if wanted to play with his trains and he left the kitchen.

I love this special bond we have over food, but my nerves can only handle so much cooking time with the Button Boy. I dream of lazy Saturday mornings, making soup or baking cookies while I listen to Car Talk and What Do You Know on NPR. Sometimes I miss those days, but then I remember the joy of watching him crack an egg for the first time or licking the spoon after we made pudding. Baking with him is both enjoyable and exhausting all at the same time.

Check out my favorite go-to recipe for Muffins from Everyday Food, May 2008:

They are also fabulous with mini chocolate chips.