Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Toddler Fun: Felt Board!

Wow, I love that I stumbled upon this how-to via Pinterest today for how to make a felt board for a toddler! I can't even remember where or when I used a felt board in my childhood, but yet I have such fond memories of them from when I was little! Seemed like a great idea for something quick and easy to make for my son to play with, and something new for him to figure out/explore.

Browsing through all of the materials I'd need on the tutorial list, I realized I wouldn't be doing this board today if I went by the instructions the author offered up. So instead I kinda just winged it because I already had a ton of color felt, white fleece felt, some hard/thick poster paper, tape and glue.

Here's a photo of my resulting board. I just kinda used what I had, taped the light/white felt pieces together then glued the taped side to the poster board. Then I went to town cutting up shapes. I tried to go for a large variety so that my little guy could turn the shapes into little things, i.e. a house, car, airplane, etc.

The little dude did very much enjoy the new felt board experience, though after a while he got a bit more enjoyment out of just smacking all the felt pieces off the board and to the ground (I used clothes pin magnets to hold the felt board on the fridge so he could play while I cooked).

I'd definitely suggest reading the actual tutorial I linked to above to make a much neater, more durable felt board. Just wanted to show off my easy-peasy board in case you're not too picky and already have the stuff you'll need to do it simply/quickly at home.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Operation Screw All These Dishes

So I was reading a cooking blog the other day that focuses on minimalistic cooking/kitchens. The author was writing about her experience living in NYC in a small apartment with limited kitchen space. Her logical solution to the space dilemma was keeping only enough cutlery, plates, glasses, etc for a meal for two people, and cleaning them immediately afterwords. I kinda wanted to kick myself repeatedly after reading that post when I thought back to the small apartments my husband and I shared for 5 years, and the ridiculous amounts of plates, cups, mugs, etc we had on hand, which would always just pile up and make the kitchen a disaster of a place. HOW HAD I NEVER THOUGHT OF THIS?

Fast forward to the present, where we are living in a townhouse with a decently sized kitchen and a reasonable amount of cabinet space, and our kitchen is still a disaster area. We moved in right before I gave birth and so I never had time to organize the kitchen the way I would have liked. Add to this a busy husband, and until more recently, a busy me with little time to do much else but tend to a demanding baby, and you might be able to sympathize with my constant pile of dirty dishes and altogether unorganized kitchen.

My son is older now and, God bless him, able to amuse himself for spans of time, and so I got it into my head to improve my kitchen. A month or so back I went through everything and put all of the items we basically never used in a box and later in a yard sale/Goodwill. And more recently, after reading the aforementioned blog, I became enamored with the notion that I really didn't need the piles of plates, bowls, mugs and cups we had sitting in our cabinets, taking up useful space.

We are a family of 3 and I rarely entertain guests, so this seems do-able for us, but I'm sure some families are so large or busy that this scenario wouldn't be plausible. Now, what I propose to do, is to cut out all but the essential amount of plates, bowls, cups/mugs because these are the big space takers. I'm down to 4 large plates, 4 small plates, 5 large glasses, 3 bowls and 4 mugs. The idea is to simply pick up a sponge and clean our plates, cups, etc right away. That simple. Limiting the amount of plates available to us will motivate us to be sure we clean them right away so they are dry and ready for use the next time we need them. Further motivation will arise from the energy and water we will save thanks to not running the dishwasher 2-3 times a week.

Mind you, I'm not automatically getting rid of all those extra dishes and cups. Some will go into the cabinet in the dining room so if we do have people over, we have easy access to them. The rest will go in a box in the basement until I decide if this whole operation actually works for us. I am all for quickly cleaning dishes right after use. The main thing is getting the h-band on board. To be honest, as I write this I haven't told him my plan yet. I don't forsee him having an issue with it so I'm just going to spring it on him tonight when he gets home :)

We'll live like this for about a week and see how we like it. I'll be sure to write about the experience after the week is up. Ever done anything like this yourself? I'd love to hear how it went for you!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Take-Out & Reuse

I have fallen prey to the guilty pleasure that is take out now and again. I'll admit it. There are times when there's nothing in the house to make, and I am NOT in the mood to leave the house, and take out always wins at these moments.

Generally the biggest problem with this guilty pleasure for me is all the extra containers, utensils, packets, etc that I'm left with. Today I found a new, simple use for a couple of take out containers. In particular, those plastic containers that soups come in, and used chopsticks were utilized to replant some sunflowers that I've had growing on my back deck in small paper planters.

The sunflowers quickly outgrew their original homes (pictured), but they are still much too tiny to replant in the yard. I know: I replanted a few only to find them completely devoured the next morning by a stealthy resident rabbit.

I am hoping my sunflowers can do a bit more growing in the take-out containers before I give replanting them in the yard another go. Notice that the sunflowers are propped up by used chop sticks as well. I have some used plastic forks, spoons etc on hand that I'll use for the remaining sunflowers when they are large enough to need some support as well.

A few other things I've used these plastic take out containers for:
- Storing old/dead batteries until I can take them to the proper place in my municipality for safe disposal.
- Cut a hole in the lid and you have a change holder (some contact paper could turn it into a pretty spiffy change holder, at that).
- An airtight container to store kitchen waste before I can take it out to our composter.
- A mixing "cup" for when I need to make a mixture of baking soda and Dr. Bronner's, water or vinegar to help clean up the bathtub, sink & shower dirties.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to get some more use out of old take-out containers?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Dying Brown Eggs

So today we dyed eggs! I am really in love with the rich colors that resulted from dying brown eggs. The h-band seemed pretty impressed with the results too.

Here's the instructions on how to dye brown eggs again, for anyone who missed my last post which contained this link.

I am equally amazed at how much my 1 year old son was content to sit and watch as the eggs soaked in the cups of dye. Periodically he'd yell out the name of a color (usually green) and point, and that meant that I should bring the egg up and check on its progress.

Tomorrow I'll be hiding the eggs around the house while my husband feeds the boy breakfast, and we'll see how he likes his first Easter egg hunt. I crocheted some egg cozies to add a bit more color, decoration and cushioning for the eggs, especially considering they will be getting handled by a 1 year old :D

Have a happy Easter if you are celebrating it tomorrow!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

It's Earth Day once again. I have never been great at doing something grand to celebrate. I just do what I do every day of the year, in trying to be as sustainable and eco conscious about the water and energy I use, reducing the amount of waste we generate, recycling, etc. It's nice to reflect on what we do to live greener lives today, and to think of how we could potentially be more earth-friendly in the future.

With that in mind, I came up with a list of ways I'd like to live even more sustainably in the coming year...

- I'd like to cut out any use of paper towels. I use them VERY sparingly as it is, but I really do need to designate certain cloths which I'll use to clean the toilets, so that I don't feel compelled to use paper towels over cloths.
- Eat a whole lot more fresh fruit and veggies, and shop for them locally. We are lucky to live close to lots of farms and 2 farmers markets that will be stocked with local produce very soon. I just have to make the extra time and trip to them every week, on top of going to the grocery store.
- Get outside more! Especially this summer. This way I don't need the air conditioning on so much too, as I won't be in the house. I am working on making our small outdoor space into a fun, shady place just for this purpose. I'll be looking for deck furniture on craigs list and in thrift/antique stores too instead of automatically buying something new that I could get for cheaper in a used but good condition.
- Drive even less. I'm lucky enough to not need to drive very often. We live in a town with a decent amount of things to walk to. So when I want to get out of the house, I will have to try and find us lots of fun things to do within walking distance.

Earth day falls very close to Easter this year, so I thought I'd share the few things I am doing to celebrate in a greener way...

- I found an Easter basket and stuffing (made from wood) from my local Goodwill store this year. Spent a whopping $1. 98 on those items
- We are going to dye the organic brown eggs we have (and be sure to actually eat the eggs when the Easter egg hunt is done). I found this great write up on how to easily dye brown eggs with household supplies (no egg dying kit necessary, or the extra wasteful packaging that comes with it).

What are your plans for greening the year ahead, or even just greening Easter?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just Listen

This has to be my favorite Bon Iver song. It's hauntingly beautiful.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Leaky Pocket Diapers

Since my son was about 8 months old I've been slowly growing a collection of different one size pocket diapers (i.e. Bumgenius) to replace the previous sized prefolds and Grobaby 2 in 1 diapers I'd been using for him, as it became obvious he would not fit in those options for as long as I'd need to diaper him.

The more pockets I bought, the more I fell for them. I didn't think I'd be all for pre-prepping diapers after washing them, but as my son grew, became more mobile and squirmed like the dickens for every change, I quickly saw the benefits to having a diaper all ready to snap or velcro onto him. Pockets were my dream diapers, I found.

The issue with his diapers came a few months ago (my son is about 18 months old now), as the little guy's bladder grew and I found that any and all of his pockets would start to leak when he wore them. I didn't even consider it a design or manufacturing flaw, as I have a large variety of different pocket diapers. The leaking made me feel like he was a newborn again with the amount of changes he needed in a given day. Moreover, I never had leak issues with cloth diapers before, whereas I had had them a lot with the disposables we had used when he was first born and when we went on vacation. Overall the cloth diaper leak issues were bumming me out.

My solution to the leak problem, for a while, was to just add more inserts to the pockets. I'd stuff about 3 inserts into a pocket, but still a lot of times he'd leak, and I would find that the pocket wouldn't even be saturated all the way, especially not the back portion of the inserts, near his butt.

More recently I had a eureka moment when I realized that the leaks might not be so much about an overactive toddler bladder, but about how the inserts were being placed in the diapers. It didn't matter if I had 3 inserts in a diaper, once the front of the diaper was saturated (little boys tend to saturate the front of the diaper the most, whereas girls, so I have heard, saturate the middle), urine would start moving out of the diaper from the sides, and onto his clothes, instead of making its way to the rest of the inserts in the back of the diaper. It was so simple that I kinda feel naive for having not realized it sooner. All I had really needed to do was to fold one of the inserts in half and make sure it was positioned in the front of the pocket. This meant that the folded insert near the front would be able to do more absorbing. Of course I use a doubler in a lot of his pockets too, so that was also folded along with one insert, and added to the front of the diaper as well.

I have definitely cut down on the amount of leaks he was having, and have extended the amount of time he can remain in a diaper before needing to be changed by about a half hour more, on average. I think this is definitely worth trying first if you are having leak issues, especially before you go ahead and try stripping your diapers (which may not be necessary at all). It's worth a shot!

My question to other cloth diapering parents is, how do you handle a heavy wetting girl in pockets? Pretty much the same method, except perhaps putting the folded insert more towards the middle of the pocket? Or something else? I'd love to hear, especially for other readers who may have this leaking issue, but with little girls :D

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tasty Tuna Salad

I'm a South Jersey native. We have lots of Wawa convenience stores around here, and while I don't go to them often any longer, I used to go a lot. They have a deli section where you can order subs and what not. I was always a pretty big fan of their tuna salad subs. Something about the flavor of that tuna salad always drew me in, but I had no idea what they put into it to make it so tasty, until a few months ago...

I think it was some act of desperation to get my little guy to eat the tuna salad I'd prepared, that had me experimenting with its taste. I ended up adding quite a bit of Italian seasoning to the tuna salad (along with the regular amounts of mayo [~1 tbsp], mustard [~1 tsp], and pepper [to taste]). The end result was REALLY tasty and reminiscent of those Wawa tuna subs that I still order on occasion. The bonus was that my son ended up devouring the tuna salad!

Another trick I found to get my little guy to eat a tuna salad sandwich was to melt some american cheese over top of the tuna on the bread (a toaster oven comes in handy for this). He was in a cheese loving phase at that point so anything with cheese was a sure thing.

What do you put in your tuna salad to give it that extra oomph and appeal?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Flickr Finds

My EcoCraftiness Flickr pool still gets submissions all the time, which I love. I browsed through it tonight to find some representations of what I'm up to for the next week. Can you guess based on these photo clues?

Aluminum Can Earrings-"Jets" ~ 2 of 6 photos
Aluminum Can Earrings-"Jets" by Urban Woodswalker

Rough Sea, Stormy Sky - Painting on Driftwood
Rough Sea, Stormy Sky - Painting on Driftwood by tiddu

caribbean / central america travel journal
Recycled Travel Journal by PrairiePeasant

(Hint: don't take the 3rd clue too literally)...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Knitter's Delight

I've been a knitter for years now, and have never tired of it! Well, except for that brief 9 months of pregnancy when hormones took over and things I had loved I didn't care for so much. But as soon as I gave birth and could pick up a pair of of needles again, I was right back on the knitty wagon.

Knitting has always felt so second nature to me from the moment I taught myself how. I attribute that feeling to having ancestors who knit. It's ingrained in my DNA!

Browsing through my Etsy favorites tonight, I've compiled a little collection of items that I, as a knitter, and lover of all things knitted, seriously covet...

This yarn bowl, by MaidofClay, seems like the most adorable solution to knitting with an unwieldy ball of yarn.

A scotch on the rocks would go soooo well with a night in and some not-too-complicated knitting. I'm game.

Everything about this knitted pouf ottoman amazes and draws me to it. If I had the cash, this sweet baby would so be mine!

If you knit, what would be your number one outlandish knitting accessory to own (or perhaps that you already own)?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some Cloth Diapering Resources

I have a few favorite online sources where I go to learn about the different types of cloth diapers, read and watch reviews, get tips on washing/caring for diapers, and of course, places to buy said diapers too. Here's a short list of my most frequented cloth diapering resources...

DiaperPin - A review site where CDing parents can rate the diapers they have used on their kid(s).

Dirty Diaper Laundry Blog - A wealth of video reviews on all kinds of cloth diapers (these videos and reviews really are essential to getting to know the diaper(s) you might potentially buy), plus cloth diaper giveaways, CD discussions, and so much more.

The Cloth Diaper Whisperer - Another great blog with lots of information on different types of cloth diapers, diaper care, and giveaways galore!

Zany Zebra - I found this page to be very helpful and thorough in explaining how to care for different types of cloth diapers in different ways.

Kelly's Closet - This is where I've done the majority of my cloth diapering and CD accessory shopping. I love it because they always have promotions going on (i.e. free one size diapers with a purchase of X amount, free shipping, etc). I also love that you can rack up points with all of your purchases and when you accrue enough points, use them for store credit. I've made many purchases from this website and have never been disappointed with the service or speed.

BTLdiapering Yahoo Group - This forum is awesome if you're looking for answers to your cloth diapering questions. I've always received great answers and support every time I posted a query.

Have any questions about cloth diapering? I'd love to share what I've learned with you, so feel free to ask in the comments section!

Friday, March 25, 2011


It's the simple little things in life that make me happy, and thankful. Like my sweet bub. He's been around for only a year and a half now but it seems so much longer and I can't imagine things without him!