Post-Hump Day post: “Without a shadow of a doubt . . .”

This week . . .

> We laughed at Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen, which leads to fan videos like this one. I don’t think it’s catchy enough to be the next Gangnam style, but it passes the time.
long-chayote-squahs> We ate what we think is called long squash (I think some stores mistakenly call this “chayote squash”). One set of our next-door neighbours is always kindly offering us extra vegetables from their garden, and this is our new favourite. I braise or slow-cooker this with diced eggplant, tomatoes, chicken, and a mixture of garam masala, curry, cumin, salt, garlic, chili flakes, and fresh coriander. Everyone in the family loves it.
> We couldn’t stop watching this really sweet, tear-jerking Amazon Prime commercial. They’re really pushing the same-day delivery service lately, which I’m all meh about, but I could watch the commercial on a loop all day. Each time, my desire for a Lion-Dog increases. Much better than the first Amazon Prime dog commercial, where the owner walks a few feet ahead and just seems inconvenienced by his slow canine pal.
> Funniest thing I heard this week that wasn’t on the radio/tv: While cleaning out the kids’ old baby clothes, I held up an item and—yet again—jokingly said to the Husband, “You sure you don’t want another one?” To which he replied, while backing out of the room, “You’re looking through old baby clothes? This isn’t going to end well for me.”
> Our current word/phrase: “Without a shadow of a doubt” (or as the Boy has been saying, “Without a shadow of the doubt”). It’s cute because you know your kid is growing up and this is an improvement upon the previously un-sophisticated, “Nope”.
> We learned that in some school boards, teachers (not with permission from the board) are confiscating lunches and snacks due to their own judgements of what’s “healthy” and “suitable”. Come on! Yes, some of us try to provide homemade goodness, but we do have to rely on a store-bought Bear Paw with chocolate chips or Goldfish, from time to time.
> Our DIY project was neoprene hair ties. I just re-purposed this dollar-store tablet sleeve that didn’t really fit, and was sitting around empty. Like these ones, our neoprene hair ties don’t cause that pinched or pulled-back feeling, and are no-ravel. Unlike those ones, there’s no hefty price tag.neoprene-hair-ties

>
And finally, à propos of nothing in particular, we found this great article about a basket for sale.

A post-“Hump Day” round-up

Yay! We all made it past Hump Day, and it was an especially remarkable week, with many kids going back to school on Tuesday. Who doesn’t like the feeling of rounding the bend and sliding into the weekend? So after Wednesdays, I’m going to start posting a short round-up of various things. Just something to keep an eye out for, mid-week.cat-watching-horror-film

This past week (or couple of weeks). . .

> We played water balloon tennis. (No link required, as it’s pretty self-explanatory: Fill water balloons. Whack with old tennis racquet.)
> We laughed at this cat watching a horror film. The eyes, the eyes! (Thanks to the MIL!)
> We ate from this recipe over about three days. So good, and it really does taste remarkably-KFC-like!
> We couldn’t stop watching episodes of Lip Sync Battle, like this great moment here.
> We couldn’t stop listening/singing to Adele’s great album. (No, not “25”.) Young and old, we were totally carpool-karaoke-ing this one out loud last week.
> Our current word/phrase (thanks to The Boy mysteriously choosing to revive an 80s slang term) is “That’s dope!”
> Funniest thing we heard on the radio (even if it was a re-broadcast): “I also have a large vocabulary, which is both big and good.”
>
We learned how to open and do simple repairs on our own watch, especially those seemingly difficult backs. So much money and time saved, and so satisfying!
> Our DIY project was this homemade, natural spray deodorant. Have tried several of the solid recipes, but the spray was the hands-down winner during this hot summer. My only modifications: added 1/4 tsp. of rubbing alcohol, and used a mix of lemon and orange essential oils instead of clary sage.
> I wanted to make these fantastic-looking stress balls (just skip the long moments of stirring).
> And finally, we found this great web site for rocking new moms.

#840: Widening interests

The Boy just turned six years old, and what a wonderful year it has been. Six is a significant number because I always feel that it marks the real jump from “babyhood” to “childhood”. Because let’s face it: when you’re holding your five-year-old, or when you can board the bus or commuter train and the driver says, “5 and under is free”, you still feel like he’s your baby.

One of the big changes we noticed in the Boy this past year—other than his physical growth, of course—is how much he has grown and matured in his tastes and interests. Though he still loves his Hot Wheels, Lego, toy cars, and video games, he’s added some more sensitive diversions and activities to his range of interests. We’ve noticed, for example, what a good and thoughtful drawer he is. This skill, and his interest in fashion, has shown up in his new love for an activity that his sister has enjoyed for a few years: Paper Fashions.

Paper Fashions provides many hours of fun for both girls and boys (and their parents)! You want to know how fun Paper Fashions is? The Boy declared to me, as he concentrated on cutting little pants and shirts and writing titles like “Summer splash” and “Outfit for a fall day”: “I’m really enjoying this. It’s even more fun than video games.” More fun than video games. Yup, he said that.

He certainly has matured this past year.

#843: The 3Ms

Although the Boy is too young and incapable of participating in Movember, you gotta love his quirky sense of style. He confided to the family earlier this summer that he’d like to have what he calls “The 3M Hairstyle”: mullet, mohawk, moustache.

Just trying to conjure up this visual, cracks me up each and every time. I mean, who comes up with stuff like this? Oh yeah, wild and zany five-year-olds. And though we believe that his mullet days are truly over, we can’t wait to see what he’s going to do once he becomes more hirsute.

Great-looking lunches

cooler bag by So Young

Still on the topic of food:

An interesting article today says that of 700 kids’ lunches tested, fewer than two percent were kept in the safe temperature zone. As we all go out picnicking with our families this summer, that’s a scary number to contemplate. To summarize, we need to put more ice packs in with our meals if we’re going to consume them more than two hours later.

mini pocket by Lily Écolo

And to make lunch-packing even more enjoyable, it’d be nice to have our meals stowed away in these really snazzy-looking cooler bags and lunch boxes, along with these smart and stylish little bags that can replace Ziplocs. If they weren’t cool enough on their own, I love the fact that both are Canadian-designed and made. Yay for more mompreneurs/designers!

If we didn’t already have about six or seven lunchbags and coolers in our house already . . .

We made it!: Revolving earring organiser

(Edited to clarify instructions.)

Using a drill (properly, at that) is a very important life-long skill that should be learned from a young age. So is finishing a project. Last week, the kids were able to share in this fun and rather easy project and learn from my procrastination. Too bad the resulting product is really only useful to one of them (unless the Boy decides that he’d like to wear earrings too).

This was a project that I had hoped to finish as a gift to the Girl this past Christmas, because her earrings had been slowly invading too much space on my own wall-mounted earring-holder. So I looked at my earring holder, and some that were already designed out there, and set out to design a holder that would be functional, easy to build, fun to use, and which wouldn’t require expensive materials (in fact, I wanted to use not only inexpensive, but upcycled materials as much as possible). But time got away from me around Christmas, and I convinced myself that the Girl had received too many gifts anyway. As days went by, the materials sat there and mocked me, and the Little-Girl-earrings were slowly overtaking the Sophisticated-Adult-earrings. So now was the time.

This is my own invention: a revolving earring storage unit on a Lazy Susan base, with holes to easily hold fishhook earrings, and notches to hold fishhook and stud earrings.

Below is the list of supplies and materials, and a brief description of how I built this. I know, I know—it would have been easier if I had stopped at each step to take photos, but sometimes you’re just too into a project (or the hot glue is threatening to drip all over your fingers and/or project) to stop and take pictures. It was great fun to do this, both kids had such pleasure drilling holes, and even The Beloved Husband commented admiringly that this was my best designed and executed project yet.

Revolving Earring Organiser

Estimated time: 1 hour (about 50% longer if using child assistance)

Materials (with a rundown of my costs, and estimated if you don’t have materials to upcycle):
> 1 wooden Lazy Susan, one size: $10, IKEA
> 2 wooden embroidery hoops, measuring 25 cm (10″); this will give you a total of 4 hoops as shown, when disassembled: $2.50 for both, upcycled from second-hand stores ($3-$4 each, from most needlecraft stores or Michael’s craft store. If you’re not in a rush to finish the project, wait for one of Michael’s frequent coupons that discounts any one item at 40% or 50%.)
> 5 wooden dowels, measuring 30 cm long x 1 cm thick (12″ x 3/4″): $1 for package of 8 at dollar store (slightly more if purchased at hardware store). We had some left over from a previous project, making suction-cup arrows for the Boy’s bow and arrows, so the cost for this was nominal.

Supplies:
> electric drill with 3 mm (1/8″) bit
> hacksaw with fine blade (alternatively, a serrated knife)
> glue gun and glue sticks (or wood glue, for a more secure fit)
> sandpaper/emery board/nail file
> measuring tape
> pencil

Procedure:

1) Plug in glue gun and keep in a safe place away from children. Disassemble embroidery hoops.

2) While an adult holds the measuring tape along the outside of each hoop, a child can pencil in marks about 2 cm (1″) apart on each hoop, all the way around (try to keep it centred vertically). This will be where you will drill the holes or cut the notches that will hold the earrings.

3) Making the holes to hold earrings: While an adult holds each hoop steadily, the child can carefully drill holes where marked, on two of the hoops only. This should be fairly easy to do, because the hoop wood is thin. Use the drill’s lowest speed.

4) Making the notches to hold earrings: Adult only should use a hacksaw or serrated knife to saw little notches about 3 mm down the hoop on the remaining two hoops, where pencil-marked.

5) Using sandpaper or emery board/nail file, sand both inside and outside of hoops, to get rid of minor wooden splinters.

6) Stack all hoops one atop the other, and mark four lines on the inside of each hoop, two sets across from each other (think of these as your North-South-East-West points). These will be where you will glue the dowels for support.

7) On each dowel, pencil in three marks approximately 15 cm (6″) apart, starting at one end. These will be where the hoops will be glued.

8 ) Glue dowels to hoops: Take one dowel and place a dab of hot glue to the first mark. Attach a hoop. Now dab glue to the second mark on the dowel. Attach a second hoop. Dab glue to the third mark on the dowel. Attach a third hoop. Dab glue finally to the top of the dowel and attach the final hoop. (You can have a child help you with this step, as long as you take precautions around the hot glue.)
Continue until all four hoops have been glued onto all four dowels at the marked spots.

10) Wait a minute until the hot glue has solidified on the last dowel, and place the entire structure onto your lazy Susan. Place where you’d like it, and using a pencil, trace circles around the base of each dowel to mark where they will be attached.

11) Remove structure, and dab hot glue to each spot, then quickly secure structure onto Lazy Susan(Edited to add: during a house move, the dowels detached from the Lazy Susan, so we’ve since updated this by drilling holes and attaching the dowels to the base with wood glue.)

12) Optional: Glue the fifth dowel across the top of the earring holder, for necklaces and bracelets. You may want to use your handsaw or knife to cut notches into this, to prevent sliding of the necklaces.

Et voilà—you now have a revolving earring holder for under $15 and an hour of work. Hang necklaces and bracelets from the horizontal bar.

With all that extra space at the base of the lazy Susan, we also used poster putty (like Fun-Tak) to position some little paper jewellery boxes to hold extra earring backs, rings, etc..

Thinking of doing this project yourself? Snap a photo and show us!

#872: Crafty little guy, Part 2–Bead it!

From the “Marvellous Mamas” experience, the Boy learned, among other things, how to bead properly. And by “properly”, I mean from something other than the I-shall-grab-every-single-thing-I-can-find-to-make-the-most-rainbow–like-creation-you’ve-ever-seen school of beading.

So he made this. And he spent almost two hours doing it one night, sitting there and perfecting the pattern, moving and replacing beads, and exercising his newfound sense of colour-control. Now, it just seems a given that the Girl will make a wonderful beaded creation. It may not be fair to say, but after all, as a girl, she’s always shown patience and creativity. But we’re talking about the Boy here. Two hours. Five years old.

He asked me to wear this set on Mother’s Day, and I did, all day. Proudly.