Thursday, January 27, 2011

Chicken Update: An Expanded Brood

We've acquired 3 more baby chicks since the last time I wrote about the chickens. (But that's all...we're not planning on expanding our brood indefinitely :-) Meet our happy, little chicken family:

1. Jane Red Star Hen. Someday, she will look like this: Red feathers with sort of white petticoats.
2. Wendy- New Hampshire Red. Someday she will look like this. Supposedly her breed matures more quickly, and she will be the first to give us our nice, tasty, organic eggs.

3. Miriam - Buff Orphington. Will look like this when she is full grown. We wanted to make sure to get at least one of this breed because the rumor is that these are the "cuddliest" chickens.

4. Minnie- Ameraucana

5. Mehitabel (long story) Also an Ameraucana. They will look something like this. The big reason for getting this breed is because they lay GREEN and BLUE eggs! Really! They are also called "Easter Eggers" for that reason.

The chicks are no longer living in a cardboard box, but they are still indoors. (in the computer room actually, and I can hear them peeping happily) I commissioned a craigslist fellow to build this brooder because I thought cleaning a cardboard box would eventually get to be a problem.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spur of the Moment Research Project

One of the things I love about my upbringing was the insistent curiosity about the world that was part of our family culture. Whenever a topic of conversation came up that begged some historic, linguistic, or scientific question my mother was very quick to say, "Well! Let's look it up!" as she lugged out a volume of our very accessible encyclopedia set. We learned more interesting things that way.

Today I had the fun privilege of carrying on that tradition. When I went to rouse her this morning I found M licking her chin and told her that her saliva needed to stay in her mouth. When she asked "Why? What does it do in there?" I realized that I probably didn't know the full answer to that question, and that it was a great opportunity for both of us to learn about all of the uses God has for our spit.

After breakfast we headed off to an encyclopedia and looked up the word "saliva." We found that it performs 4 main functions and decided to make a chart about it- complete with pictures so that M could share with her Daddy later on when he got home. I let M pick out the pictures and glue them on. (I love that she chose the cat for the picture of the tongue- also you'll notice that M thought the teeth needed some sort of decoration (?))

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Playdate Dinner Cooks

In reading Family Fun magazine the other day, I ran across an idea I couldn't wait to try- a cooking playdate. So on Friday, M had her little friend C over in the afternoon, and together they made dinner. (I had done all of the chopping, etc. beforehand)

At the end of their playdate, all of C's family joined us, and together we enjoyed the delicious dinner M and C had made. We kept the dinner simple, and it turned out great.

This is what they made:
Hamburger Vegetable Soup (recipe from Money Saving Mom)
Garlic Bread
Orange Jello with mandarin oranges inside and whipped cream on top.
Also, I picked up a cheap bouquet of spray roses at the grocery store and let M and C decorate the table with them. (It turns out that those tiny personal salt and pepper shakers make great bud vases)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Homemade Marbled Paper with Shaving Cream

This is a craft that I'm surprised I haven't seen more people in bloggingland talking about. It really has it all.... fun, messy, easy for toddlers and preschoolers, and BEAUTIFUL results- even from little ones.

1. Fill a 9 x13 pan with a layer of shaving cream. Squirt a few colors of liquid tempera paint on top. (washable, and water based)2. Using a knife or stick, swirl the colors around.
3. Place a piece of white cardstock on top of the shaving cream and smush it down, making sure that every piece of the cardstock is thoroughly wet.
4. Pull the cardstock off and wipe the excess shaving cream off with a paper towel. (Try to do it thoroughly with the first wipe because the more wiping you do, the more muted the marbling.)
That's it! The paint stays on the paper even though the shaving cream is wiped off. It really feels magical!(We did this outdoors, and even though the paint is washable, I'm REALLY glad I did. It makes quite a mess. You should have seen the color of green that the bathwater turned when I dipped the girls in afterward! Also, it was a little odd having my little ones smell like freshly shaved men :-)Now that my marbled cardstock has dried and I've flattened it out under some heavy books, I'm planning to use it to make a few thank you notes from the girls that we have yet to send for Christmas gifts. I'm thinking that it would be neat too to try thinner pieces of paper and possibly use them for wrapping paper sometime too.
This post is part of Works for me Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Paper Towel Riding and Finger Puppet Trains

I love the creative ideas of children.

Here's M saddling up the giant sized paper towel package.  (They got a little smushed in all her bouncing, but it was ok)

And here you see that M and G have decided to let their finger puppets ride the wooden train.  Very cute!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Glow in the Dark Rings

Those glow in the dark sticks you can buy in the dollar spot at Michael's are great for so much more than just bracelets. This morning we went into a dark room and played ring toss with a battery candle. Then we took turns hiding one of the rings in the room while the others waited outside.I'm sure there are lots of other fun, simple ideas with glow sticks. What does your family do with them?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Meet Baby Chicks Jane and Wendy!

Overnight, M and G have turned into suburban farm girls. They are the proud new owners of two baby chicks. We're hoping to add three more by the end of the week; so eventually, we'll have a good little flock of egg layers.

This is Jane (of Jane Eyre and Dick and Jane association) -a docile little dear who likes to snuggle down and fall asleep in M's hands.
And Wendy (of Peter Pan ) it seems, is the more curious and jumpy of the two.
This is our family's first chicken venture (actually first animal venture of any kind). When I was growing up my family had one chicken that we kept as a pet (even painted her toenails red and had her wear a pearl necklace- poor thing!) but I'm really excited about the prospect of keeping chickens for the eggs (as well as treating them like beloved pets of course!)We will be fixing up the shed in the backyard to be a coop for our brood, but for now the little chicks stay indoors in a box under a heat lamp.

We live in a very suburban neighborhood within the city limits, but one thing I love about Austin are the liberal city ordinances concerning livestock. Chickens are no problem! So far, they're pretty inexpensive little creatures. I've spent under $30, and most of that was on the heat lamp.
I'll keep you updated as to how our little adventure turns out...Does anybody have any good chicken advice they'd like to relate?

Edible Tic Tac Toe

R taught M to play tic tac toe with apricots and pretzel squares. (Winner takes all!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Teacup Candle

I love crafts that don't involve me going to the craft store.  Something about going to Michaels and roaming down the aisles of overpriced, perfectly prepared materials just feels like cheating (plus, the temptation to make impulse purchases is often more than I can bear :-)

This craftstoreless craft was inspired by Martha Stewart.  Of course, her finished product is more perfectly beautiful, but I got a kick out of adding my own little twist.

I found this mini teacup at a thrift store for 2.99.  (a bit overpriced, but I liked the fact that it was miniature, which seemed especially suited for a candle.)

I wanted the wax inside of the cup to be brown to look like a real cup of tea, but didn't have any old brown candles I wanted to part with.   But then I realized that of course this is the perfect time of year to be in need of brown candle wax....after Christmas sales!!   I bought a red and green taper candle at Walgreens for 9 cents each.

Using a hammer, I smashed open one of the candles to extricate the wick.  (By the way- I didn't actually use the candle in the picture for the wax- you'll notice that the red is only painted on)

 I broke the red and green candles into pieces and melted the wax.  Everyone seems to say that wax should be melted in a double boiler or in a special wax melter contraption.  I melted mine under the broiler in the stove.  This method actually worked fine the first time, but the second time the glass container I was using got too hot and shattered.  (terrible, TERRIBLE time I may use a double boiler)

Because I was using an old wick, I needed to tie something to the end so that it would sink.  I used a paperclip that I folded in half and twisted around the wick.

I left the wick extra long to imitate a teabag string, and held it in place with a popsicle stick while the wax was cooling.
Tracing around a tea bag label as a guide, I cut my own label out of cardstock and used it to write a birthday greeting to my sister (an avid tea drinker- as are all the women in our family)

Such a fun little craft...I think I'll be on the lookout for pretty teacups at garage sales from now on!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Homemade Memory Game: Family Pictures

My family has wonderfully creative ways of making sure M and G don't forget them throughout the year (not that they're really in danger of that, but since we live on the other side of the country from both sets of grandparents a little extra exposure sure doesn't hurt!)

In M's stocking this year, my mother put a set of homemade memory game cards with all of our family members included (even pets!)

If you want an inexpensive way to make a set of these yourself, a good idea might be to sign up for a new account with Snapfish. (You'll be credited with 50 free 4x6 prints).

Monday, January 3, 2011

Christmas Card Puzzles

Before you throw away the Christmas cards from this year, take a moment to cut a few of them into simple shapes to make little Christmas puzzles for next year. Stick each little puzzle in a ziploc baggie and tuck away in the Christmas decoration boxes. When you open those boxes next year, you'll have a quick, fun activity waiting for you!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Window Spraying Fun

I never would have thought M and G would have so much fun behind a window when I was power-spraying it with a hose!