Creative Coloring

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My son tends to not want to color much himself. It got better when we moved from crayons to markers, but he still mostly wants to direct me or Hubby, and tell us what to draw. I don’t know if he gets frustrated, or is unhappy with his results, but we keep trying to get him more involved.

Around Christmas I was digging through stuff (endless amounts of stuff everywhere, always), and I found an old bingo stamp! I figured I’d see if he liked it. I started with a drawing of a Christmas tree for him to decorate, and that was a hit. Then I drew a house, which was okay, then he requested a dinosaur. That was super popular as well. Keep in mind, I think these things are permanent, so take mess precautions, and DO NOT leave those things where a kid can reach.

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I did these around Christmas, but since it’s now summer time, I figured I’d make some basic free printables for anyone who wants them. If you’re reading this around winter, I have some done for that also. These are super basic, just to give you a jumping off point. The dots one can be used for pompom sorting as well. Feel free to give your kid blank paper, poster board, wrapping paper, or cardboard to draw on. My son has a giant box he uses as a fort, and we let him color the inside of that as well.

March 7, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Kid Stuff, Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Pompom Sorting

I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest, the same way most people do. I love getting ideas for new activities with my kid, but some of those blog posts have to be built on a house of LIES. There is no way your 18 month old built a Christmas tree out of playdough and wrapped garlands around it like that, Smothery Mothering!! THERE’S NO WAY. So take Pinterest with an enormous grain of artisan, organic, hand-harvested, pink Himalayan sea salt. OK, rant over. (maybe).

I saw this idea for sorting Pompoms by color as an activity for 2 year olds. Well, I just happen to have one of those at my house, so I thought, why not entertain him? I used construction paper, and plastic cups I had laying around as the basis for this project. Look at all the random junk you’ve accumulated since having a child (I mean, who has time to take out the recycling any more?!?!) and find a few containers that are roughly the same size. You’ll also need scissors, tape, and a pencil. You could probably paint the bottoms of the containers instead of using construction paper if you’d like. I’m not your boss. (But if I am, GET BACK TO WORK, GAYLE!)

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Trace the bottom of the container onto the paper. I cut one out, and tested it in the cup until it fit, then used that as my template for the others.

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Tape the circles into the bottom.

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Boom! Ready to play! This only took me 10 minutes or so.

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I was making this in the bathroom while my son was in the tub. You guys got to see my counters while they were clean! Oh, I mean, they’re always clean. I’m like, Martha Stewart mixed with June Cleaver, but super hot and witty like Tina Fey, all in one.

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For younger kids, or when just starting to learn colors,use fewer containers and colors. I would also start with colors that are distinctly different from each other, like red and green, or yellow and blue. Orange and red can be a pain to differentiate, so start out simply.

“Why are there no pictures of this mystery toddler playing with this toy his mother so lovingly crafted?” you’re asking. Well, because he immediately wanted to play with the circles in the bottoms of the cups, and cried until I pulled them all out for him. Then he shoved each one into my dresser through a tiny gap in the drawer. Maybe I should have just made that the game? Now I have a new idea…

But you can see why I have a vendetta against Pinterest. It would have been so easy for me to snap a picture of the back of baby Nacho’s head “playing” with this toy while he desperately tried to pull the circles out of the bottom. So don’t feel bad if you make something, and it doesn’t go as planned. All kids are different, and all kids are weird. I try to pay attention and participate in the way he plays with something, rather than trying to guide how he’s “supposed” to play with something. Above all, have fun!

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March 4, 2016. Tags: , , , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, Kid Stuff. Leave a comment.

Lakeline Mall Play Area

Like most parents, I’m constantly looking for ways to entertain my kiddo, especially ways that don’t cost anything. To that end I follow a blog called Free Fun in Austin, which alerted me to the existence of a free play area inside Lakeline Mall. It’s air conditioned, free, and has wifi and comfy seats. What more could an adult need?

Little Nacho is about 1 1/2, and he liked the play area well enough, but he’s a bit too young to get the most out of it. Mostly he wanted to point to all the shapes and letters on the carpet and name them. The place is neat, and pretty clean, and kids older than mine had a blast. I’d say it’s probably better for ages 3-7. We also saw a kiddie train going through the mall, but I didn’t find the starting point or where to pay for it. I know, you guys come here to get all the wonderful details, and once again, I delivered. That wasn’t vague at all!

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To sum up, it’s clean, free, and air conditioned. It’s not so amazing that it’s worth a special trip over there, but if you’re at the mall anyway, it’s a good place for kids to burn off energy.

July 13, 2015. Tags: , , , , . Kid Stuff, Thriftiness is Cool. 2 comments.

Super Soup!

Hubby usually thinks my obsession with frugality is something to be tolerated, but the other day he profited handsomely. I made a pot of soup out of things that would normally go in the compost. Sounds gross or weird right? No. DELICIOUS. *serious face*. Here’s how you can make your own almost free soup.

Every time I drain a can of beans, tomatoes, or other vegetables (except corn because the flavor is too strong), I pour it into a tupperware in the freezer, instead of down the drain. When I rinse out a can I do the same thing. I use lots of canned beans in cooking so I end up with mostly bean broth.

When I’m cutting up vegetables to cook, I save the parts that won’t taste good on their own, and throw them into a tupperware in the freezer. This is generally onion skins and celery leaves. Don’t use anything that is bruised or gross in anyway, or it will grossify the whole batch. Garbage in, garbage out.

So, how did I make my fantastic soup, you ask? I had about 4 or 5 large tupperwares full of broth stuff. This includes some chicken broth I’d made myself. I let these thaw just enough to pop out of the tupperware. I put them all in a huge pot, and turned the heat on. After this had liquified, I threw in the 2 tupperware worth of vegetable scraps I had in the freezer, plus a whole jalapeno. I let the whole mixture simmer for a couple hours with the lid off, so the excess water would cook out.

After awhile, the veggies were all squishy and gross, but the broth was good. I turned off the heat and let it cool for awhile. By the way, I was playing video games the entire time, so this was the perfect meal preparation for me. Once it was cool enough, I put the whole mixture through the blender. This made a thick broth, chock full of veggies and spiciness. I put it back on the stove and added some beans, potatoes, chicken, onions, and corn. There was definite heat to it, and the broth had a complex flavor I don’t often achieve. This whole experiment was definitely worth it, if only to find a new way to make soups. I will absolutely continue this method of broth making!

September 16, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Cooking, Thriftiness is Cool. 4 comments.

Free is my Best Friend

I love to do free things around town. Why? I’m broke, and I’m cheap. My friends are always out doing fancy things and talking about them, so I find awesome things to do for free, then brag.

So what’s right up my alley? Free Thursdays at the Blanton Museum of Art.  Every Thursday is free, but the place closes at 5. What the hell kind of scheduling is that? Well on the third Thursday of each month it’s open until 9! That means I can go! It’s not that expensive to go generally, but you have to pay for parking as well, so it can easily turn into a $30 adventure. The parking here was only $3 at the Brazos garage at the corner of MLK and Brazos Street. You can bring your parking ticket into the museum to pay, rather than hike up to the top of the parking garage to pay the cashier.

Hubby and I wandered around the whole place, and saw a ton of cool stuff. The museum is a lot bigger than I thought, and they have a massive variety of artwork. Of course, I couldn’t take pictures of any of it. They had an exhibit going that revolved around love and sex, but I can’t remember the name.

There were some really neat modern art pieces, like this tree built out of wire and silk flowers, and there were some dumb modern art pieces, like the video of an octopus crawling through plastic tubes that was supposedly “erotic”. Yeah, it was literally leftover film from a Discovery Channel special about octopuses, (octopi?), and the “artist” added some music to it. Oh not her own music, some country song. Yep, she had NOTHING to do with it! “Art” like that gives all other art a bad name. End of rant.

They also had historical pieces centered around the same theme, and there were lots of “Lot and his daughters” from the Bible. If you are unfamiliar, the story is Lot and his kids are led out of Sodom and Gomorrah as they are being destroyed, and Lot’s wife looks back and turns into a pillar of salt. I’m sure everyone remembers that part of the story. After that, it gets weird. Lot’s daughters think they are the only survivors left on the planet, and decide to repopulate by sleeping with their dad. Yes, ew. To do so they get him drunk for DAYS. How did they have the time to cart all this alcohol out of a burning city? I dunno, I’m no biblical scholar. So long story short, they both get knocked up by their dad. For some reason there is a TON of artwork featuring this story! I have no idea why. If I had been an artist back then that would not have been my choice to work on.

The museum had some beautiful pen and ink work by Rembrandt and Diego Rivera, among a ton of other easily recognizable names. My favorite piece was a pen and ink of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, with the devil watching them. It was a very dark composition, with light just on Adam and Eve. It was a very wide shot, so that the figures were tiny, and the Devil was hidden in the shadows in the lower right. What I liked most was the use of light to show Adam and Eve, and to barely show the Devil. The Devil was also shown as an angel, not a demon, which I liked a lot.

At the end, we of course wandered through the gift shop where I spotted something that made my nerdy little heart jump:

That is a Lego model of Falling Water! The house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright! Who knew they even made stuff like this?? Lego, I heart you!

September 15, 2010. Tags: , , , , , . My Quest to be more Interesting. Leave a comment.