Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Feathering Nests


During the past few months we’ve faithfully provided food for our little feathered friends to help them weather the cold. Claire has spent many mornings engaged in observation while snug in her pajamas. She’s laughed at the antics of the tree clinging nuthatches and the ever clever tufted titmouse, all from her perch in our living room window. To say we adore our little birds is an understatement.


Today, we are welcoming spring with homemade nesting material dispensers! I hope this will entice the birds to stick around through our gardening season eating bugs and laying eggs (hopefully where we can watch the chicks hatch).


We gathered a bunch of yarn, ribbon, dried grass and pillow fluff and stuffed it all into an onion bag. Hooray for recycling! Claire had a ball snipping the yarn into manageable pieces for the birdies. We also draped bits of yarn all over our bushes, it’s quite festive looking out there!


We’ve got our fingers crossed for lots of multicolored nests this spring! Every year there have been a few nests in the forsythia bushes, hopefully the birds will weave some of our colorful goodies into their creations.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Painting With Water

Here is Claire hard at work painting with her Buddha board -- a consistent favorite since Christmas. I’ve enjoyed HOURS of quiet while Claire kept herself amused painting with water. And speaking of fun toys, I was recently contacted by CSN Stores to review an item on their site here! I’m sure you’ve seen them before – they have over 200 online stores and carry everything from modern office furniture to cute cookware to children’s toys.


I still haven’t picked out what I’ll review with my gift card, so check them out and give me some ideas! I’m of course leaning towards something from the arts and crafts section. There’s lots and lots to choose from.


We’re off to enjoy the warm weather now and instead of painting with water we’ll be splashing and sculpting with the mud. Mmmm…brown nature paint. Heehee!

Oh My Sweet Beets! We Love This Dip.


Beets thrived last year in my garden. Tucked under the soil, they were safe from the deer and Claire’s busy little fingers. My cherry tomatoes didn’t make it to the table with my daughter’s constant snacking and let’s not discuss my zucchini plants that didn’t produce ANY zucchinis. This is three years in a row I’ve had zero luck with the most “prolific” of garden veggies. I was led to believe that zucchini were like the rabbits of the veggie kingdom. What on earth am I doing wrong?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Hearts

Glue and tissue paper make for a happy child.

Art Project Roundup


We've been in full swing over here crafting up pretty pink things for Valentine's Day. The full scoop and "how to" is over at Chalk In My Pocket, but I thought everyone would love to see a few photos of Claire and the end results of some of our projects.

Spray Paint Valentines
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DIY Block Stamps

Our little portrait artist is still creating lots large bodied stick folk. We made up these gift tags for Linda and Sandy for their belated Christmas gifts. The alphabet stampers have gotten so much use - thanks GrandBob and GranC!

This whole other blog took off a lot faster than I expected so I've need the help of my trusty assistant. I think I might photograph things too much - every time Claire draws something she takes off to fetch her camera.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beans, Beans - They're Good For Your Heart {AND MORE!}

Three pounds of dried beans -- $2.00
One Large Plastic Container -- $4.00

A happily entertained toddler who is stuck inside with me? 

There are days when we're homebound all day - due to weather, illness or just my general lack of enthusiasm about completing laundry. On those days, I find it pays to have a special "something" up your sleeve. My newest device? The sensory bin.

I knew that kids went gaga over those bean filled tubs in the preschool room where I used to work so I figured I'd give it a try at home.  The tablecloth under the bin worked perfectly to collect any spills.

 The beans alone amused Claire for quite a while. She scooped, squeezed and dug for a good half hour. Once the zoo animals went in she pretended to be a zookeeper feeding the animals (beans) and scooping their poop (beans). This cycle of eating and pooping seemed perfectly reasonable to her.

This is our first venture into sensory play (aside from our summer sandbox) and Claire needed some gentle reminders about keeping the beans in the bin. There was one accidental tip over, but thanks to the tablecloth it was a quick clean up. All in all, it was a successful experience. I can't wait to try filling our bin with new things: rice, lentils, water or perhaps even shaving cream!

See our festive heart garland in the background? I just discovered our library's Ellison machine. There will be lots of die cut goodies gracing our house and art in the coming months!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Loving Google's Art Project Site!

I'm trying not to mix my "public blog" and private blogs, but this is too cool not to post here as well. Google launched a new site called Google Art Project where they use their "street view" technology to tour world famous museums, included are extreme closeups of masterpieces - I'm talking brush stroke zooming here.

You can read my whole techie teacher/enthralled parent take on it on Chalk In My Pocket. But really, go check it out -- this is not an art site just for kids.

I've been immersed all morning in Google's youTube channel and they have some really interesting videos about both the making of the application and restoration/preservation efforts at various museums. Very cool indeed.

To make up for my double post here's a dose of Claire cuteness. As you can see, I also enjoyed "painting" the snow with our watercolor paint in spray bottles! :-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Snowy Day

One winter morning Claire woke up and looked out the window. Mother nature had dumped another foot of snow and her Mommy was desperate for something new to do. They decided to act out a favorite children’s book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.
After breakfast Claire put on her snowsuit and ran outside. The snow was piled up very high. The doggies had made a path through the snow for her to follow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow, Ice and Sleet...Oh My!

I've been trying to get outside for a little while everyday with Claire. Last week (before Mother Nature dumped ICE on us) we went for a walk in the state park - primarily because I wanted to check my mail. The boxes are at the bottom of the hill and I couldn't actually drive out of the driveway. Anyhow, once we're at the mailboxes down the road, we're already halfway to the park entrance so we decided to explore the woods.

Best idea ever! We cleared off lots of snow to look at the frozen creek (don't freak Mom, it's only 8 inches at it's deepest) and followed little critter tracks for a while before Claire announced she was d-o-n-e.

"My feets are too tired to walk anymore in this high, high snow."

She made it out without me having to carry her (thank goodness!) and fell asleep sitting up next to me at home. Score one for Mommy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Tugging on Heart Strings

I hope no one is getting tired of all our Valentine’s crafts – I have a few more to post! This idea came from the Feb 2011 issue of Family Fun (great magazine, I dog-ear at least 10 pages each issue which is my criteria for keeping a magazine subscription).
Deck the halls with pink yarn hearts...fa la la la la!
If you want to read the full saga and get the recipe for the homemade cornstarch glue, I posted it on my other blog. I know most of you are here for your daily dose of Claire cuteness -- not a step by step tutorial of cornstarch paste making, but on the off chance if you want to make these at home, off you go then!
Homemade paste! A semi-success if you count the mess I avoided in the pan!
While I was busy messing with the paste Claire was cutting up the yarn. She’s still getting the hang of the whole scissor thing and snipping yarn was a low frustration way to practice.
Almost ready for a quick bake in the oven (we were too impatient to wait overnight for them to dry)
January 20112
Snip, snip, snip!
The final product makes a super cute hanging ornament. Alternatively, you can wear it like Claire - and I must add I was immediately reminded of Flavor-Flav and his oversized watch necklaces upon seeing this morning! Heehee!

Do tell if you have a secret recipe for homemade paste and glue. I suppose it won't be secret anymore but I will be forever grateful!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lil' Letter Caper

I strongly believe play is the most important learning a three year old can be doing. That said, I have a kid who is endlessly curious about letters and writing (and books obviously). Claire quickly learned all the sounds in our alphabet over the summer (short sounds for the vowels) and now I’ve introduced the letter names. I didn't follow any formal program -- I just wrote a few letters on the board before breakfast and pointed to them while speaking their sounds. That's it! Our phonics approach seems to be working because we were goofing around with some stick-on letters and I found this:

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Through Her Eyes

I wrote shortly after Christmas about Claire’s excitement after receiving a digital camera for Christmas from her Aunt Nikki and Uncle Matt. I finally got around to taking a look at what she’s been photographing and I laughed out loud at many of the images and marveled over the beauty of the “everyday” she captured. I’d like to think I was looking through her eyes at things that are important to her: family, friends, animals, her special toys and favorite places in our home…

Claire Camera Pics1

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Westward Ho!!!

>>> Regina has cholera. Would you like to push on or rest for three days?

If you're a child of the 80's, I'm sure this game has a place in your heart. I remember vying for computer time amongst my fellow classmates intent on guiding my wagon full of family west to the promised land. I was so excited to purchase the newer version complete with primary source material scanned in for my students back in 2004. The graphics had improved immensely, although I admit the original had a charm all its own.

Here's a great read about the unlikely start and success of this educational software, and the efforts of its creators to make it historically accurate: THE OREGON TRAIL: HOW 3 MINNESOTANS FORGED ITS PATH

Do you remember this game? What was your chosen field - farmer, banker, carpenter? Did you join a wagon train or rough it alone? And most importantly -- would you push on or let me rest as I suffer from cholera?!

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Family Portrait

Claire has been drawing these fantastic people for a couple of weeks and I just had to share this family portrait. I especially love her mohawk hairstyles and the carefully chosen hair colors. Can you tell that we are all wearing shoes? I (on the left there) am even wearing my glasses! I'll have to post more of these, they are just cracking me up!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

How to Make Homemade Apple Chips

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Yummy! A crunch, sweet Valentine’s Day that's not loaded with sugar – what a delicious, simple and healthy afternoon treat these were! Package ‘em up pretty and I think they’ll make a lovely gift for someone special.

Valentine’s Baked Apple Chips

Thinly slice apples (really thin, or you’ll be cooking these for HOURS). This would have been a good time to whip out the food processor but I was lazy.

Lay out your slices and put your kid to work with some heart shaped cookie cutters. If there isn’t too much “core” or seedy bits, the punched out hearts can be baked too! Dip all the slices in some freshly squeezed lemon juice to prevent browning (optional). Claire loved the dipping…and licking her fingers after each dip (guess, we’re keeping these for ourselves!)
January 2011
The food photography is just for you Caca, step by step LOL!
We baked the apple slices on some parchment for an hour and 10 minutes in a 250F oven. Some of the thicker slices took a few minutes longer. Once they are lightly browned, pop ‘em out of the oven and let cool. They’ll crisp up in no time and are totally delish.

They also make fantastic love goggles:


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Ornithology 101


What do you get when you combine a snowy morning, tons of sunflower seeds and our very first non-fiction book checked out from the kiddie section at the library?

A very happy Claire who spent the morning counting birds at our feeder and marveling that her feathered friends had their very own book! Is she too young to begin studying for an ornithology degree? The book we checked out was "The Pebble First Guide to Songbirds" and it contained nearly all the birds in our area with little factoids about each species. There were a few of our frequent visitors missing -- Junco, Tufted Titmouse, Red-Breasted Woodpecker -- so I might have to improvise a guidebook of my own one of these days.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Front Door Valentine's Wreath (and why you should consider using our back door)

I do believe that everyone needs a glittery, poofy pink wreath on their front door.

This is probably proof that I've been sniffing too much polyurethane while finishing our staircase.

Three stairs down and at eleven to go...I'm sure there will be lots of crafty goodness to share in the coming weeks as this home improvement project wraps up (or as I get tired of sanding). I've got to keep this kid occupied so while I'm slaving away, Claire's been whipping up some Valentine's Day decorations.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Saturday Snapshot

Claire and her new favorite game, "Singing Contest." She croons from her bed while Dan and I sit in chairs and bop along. Most of the songs consist of one word (princess, penguin, instrument or alphabet are recent favorites) repeated over and over (and over) in different monotone rhythms. She seems to have Caca's gift for pitch.

We clap as directed and smile, lots of smiling.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Oh, that's for the birds!

I have to admit to housing all sorts of experiments in my fridge (both intentional and unintentional, green shrimp, anyone?) but this hodgepodge of lard, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, cheese and bird seed was a success, albeit a messy one. If birds could talk I'm sure they would be raving about this recipe. Yet another thing to add to our many bird feeding stations!There seem to be lots of tutorials for similar bird suet on the web but I liked this one for two reasons, I had the stuff on hand and the recipe came from reputed wildlife organization so I figured we wouldn't poison our feather friends. I was inspired by the recipe here and saw the cute mold idea here.

The cast of characters, do NOT melt the lard. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Our Nature Table

Children are natural collectors, and I'm guilty of the same thing myself, often arriving home with just as much "treasure" in my pockets as my daughter. Rather than discourage our little naturalist-in-training, I carved out some space on an end table to display whatever bounty Claire snags on our nature walks.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Future Photographer?

Aunt Nikki and Uncle Matt gifted Claire a digital camera for her birthday and she couldn't love it more! We've been teaching her some photography techniques, first - get low and try to shoot at your subject's eye level. The tummy wriggle is especially effective when trying to creep next to the grandparent's elusive kitties.

Review your images, but keep in mind the LCD screen does have its limitations, look for composition rather than exposure. I'm still learning that lesson myself.

Claire demonstrates with cousin Aidan the tenants of excellent child photography: get low, shoot lots, no flash and let the baby see themselves on the screen.

I might have to give Claire her own little corner of this blog pretty soon. The camera holds 1000 images and many are worth sharing. It's interesting to look through the photos and see the world according to Claire. There are shots of me cooking, the colored threads in the braided rug she loves to look at, a stack of crayons, the polar bears she photographed (on my Ipad) after watching "Go Diego, Go!" and lots of other interesting objects from her perspective.

Claire's corner has a nice ring to it, perhaps I'll make it a section to share her artwork and the "notes" she's been busy writing.


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