Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Frozen Vegetables

Frozen Vegetables

A tip for picky eaters

This is a tip I learned long ago and it really works.  I have buddies who outgrew daycare days long ago tell me they are still eating frozen vegetables.   It's my most favourite way of serving peas!  The thing about frozen vegetables is that they just don't have that much flavour, the coldness kind of does a trick to our taste buds and they mostly taste just frozen.  Try it!

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Painting Suds

Painting Suds - Kids who aren't all that interested in other art activities are likely to find this activity fun! photo Painting Suds 1.png

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This activity came about as a result of another activity that left me with some leftover paint. Not a whole lot, but I do hate to waste materials.

Painting Suds - A great use for small amounts of paint left over after other art and craft activities photo Painting Suds 2.png

We were heading outdoors to play, so I threw the paints & some brushes into a caddy and grabbed an empty foamy soap dispenser and refilled it.  I use about a tablespoon of palmolive dish detergent and then s-l-o-w-l-y fill the dispenser with warm water.  If you fill it too fast it's going to foam up before you get enough water in and you'll have to empty it and start again.  Don't do that!  Also, err on the side of too little dish detergent because too much can clog up your dispenser and then it may be impossible to clean out and get it working again.  I've ruined many dispensers that way. You can always add a little more soap if it's too liquidy.  I haven't found a way to fix the dispensers I've ruined, though.  (Let me know if you have a trick for that.)

I basically just turned my buddies loose with the materials without any instructions.  They figured things out pretty quickly.  This was a great multi-age activity too, I had children age 2 to 8 years old playing together quite happily.

Painting Suds - Colourful multi-age activity photo Painting Suds 3.png

One of the great things about this kind of activity is that it allows kids to be creative on their own terms.  Without a lot of instructions, children are free to be creative and will often enjoy experimenting with their own artistic abilities.  This is a great pre-writing activity, too, as the children make marks in the suds, with colours or just by brushing suds away in the same way we use salt trays. 

Painting Suds - Great for beginning writing skills photo Painting Suds 4.png

I hope you'll try this one out and have some fun with it.  Let me know what you think!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Freshen Stinky Garbages

Freshen Stinky Garbages

You don't need toxic chemicals to freshen up your garbages and diaper pails.  When my buddies go home for the weekend I grab that garbage pail and set it out in the sun!  (I don't leave the plastic bag in it, though.  Empty it first.  Then set it out.)

 photo Tip 4 - Freshen Pails.png

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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Patio Makeover

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One of the realities of living on the wet coast is... well, wetness.  It rains a whole lot. I am absolutely not complaining about the rain! As I worked on this project, our other coast was still shoveling snow. However, the rain does have it's challenges.  

I believe in lots of outdoor play and my buddies and I spend time outside every day. We have a covered patio that is used often because it provides shelter from the rain. You may have seen pictures of it before when I had it arranged more exclusively for the children's use. I had a change of heart and I have been working on making my home feel more homey and a little less classroomy. My buddies will have many years in a classroom setting, but precious few before they get there. I wasn't willing to lose the ability to do all the things we like to do on the patio, but I wanted it to look more welcoming.  I love that it is now also be a place I could use to entertain after daycare hours. 

I've always wished my patio was a little bigger, though I don't have the budget to actually extend it. I could absolutely make my patio at least seem like it was a little bigger, though.  I started with a shopping trip.  

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My husband helped pick out some beautiful things. He's a great guy like that.  See those pretty ferns in cages? His pick. They were a little pricey for me, but he wanted me to have them. His favourite are the pansies, and I always make sure that I have some of those.  I also got bags of river rock, some bricks, plants and pots.  

My plan was simple.  I took the trellises that I had just at edge of the patio and moved them out a little over a foot.  Just like that I had increased my patio size!  I really had trouble getting plants to grow right next to the patio anyway, so I'm hoping that the space farther out will be better suited for any plants I put directly in the ground.  In between the patio and the trellis space, I put bricks down in a pattern and then filled the space with the river rock.  I brought up some of my favourite ornaments and pushed the two metal trunks that I have sitting on the patio out farther towards the trellises.  I'll probably give them another coat of paint to protect them since they will be more exposed to the elements, but since they were designed to be outdoors, they should be okay.  

I'm loving the new patio and we've had many rainy days where we've been able to use it much more effectively since expanding it. We've built with blocks, painted and coloured and even enjoyed drinking hot chocolate on a dreary, drizzly day. We've enjoyed our first rainy day barbeque of the season, too!  What else do you think I could do to improve this space?  I'd love more ideas!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Homemade Blocks

Homemade Blocks - A village created from homemade blocks decorated by kids photo Homemade Blocks 3.png

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Most projects have beginnings and endings but this one is one that we started and seem to keep working on.  My husband had a box of scrap wood pieces left over and he asked if I could use them with my buddies.  He's just beginning to figure me out ;)  OF COURSE I could use them with my buddies!

We have been colouring on them with markers and crayons, writing on them with chalk and we've painted them, too.  We've sanded the rough edges a bit, but they could still use some more work.

Homemade Blocks - building and stacking photo Homemade Blocks 1.png

In between the painting, colouring and sanding, there has been some building.  They've been stacked as towers and even built into a great city.  This as been another great multi-age activity that all my buddies aged 2 to 8 could feel successful at.

Homemade blocks - colouring with chalk photo Homemade Blocks 2.png

We're going to keep at it for a while and when they seem to be done adding to them, I think I would like to add a protective coating. We'll be using them outdoors so I'd like to help make them last a little longer.  

Homemade Wooden Blocks photo Homemade Blocks 4.png

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Upcycled Denim Easter Basket

Upcycled Denim Easter Basket photo Easter Basket 2.png
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If you're tired of the usual Easter baskets, I found a cute and easy basket you can make out of a discarded pair of jeans.  I had found a cute tutorial for some denim baskets and pinned it to my craft board without really knowing what I'd do with it.

I don't like most of the baskets available at Easter.  I wanted something a little more crafty for the grandkids and then I remembered the ones I had pinned.  I thought they'd be perfect.  I had a pair of jeans ready to be upcycled, too.

I followed the tutorial on Hometalk to make the denim baskets.  I didn't have any modge podge for the flowers and I was looking for something a little less complicated, so I made mine differently.

Denim Flowers photo Easter basket flower.png
Denim Flowers

I took a piece of denim and brushed a thinned solution of tacky glue over the surface.  After it had completely dried, I traced 5 large circles and one smaller circle with a permanent marker.  I cut the circles out and placed the large circles in an overlapping circular pattern.  I used my hot glue gun to stick the smaller circle onto the middle of the flower.  Then I flipped it over and glued the back flower petals together to hold them in place a little better.  I had a little flower button that I used to sew in the middle and also sew the flower onto the denim basket.  

Upcycled Denim Easter Basket photo Easter basket.png

I think they turned out pretty cute. The grandkids were pleased to find their Easter baskets and hopefully they will find a use for the basket once the chocolate and candy is gone.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Asbestos Awareness

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A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a lovely lady named Heather Von St. James. Heather is a survivor of a rare form of cancer called mesothelioma. I had heard of mesothelioma but I knew nothing about it. It was Heather's hope that I could be willing to help spread her story and raise awareness of the dangers of asbestos exposure.  I read Heather's story and decided that though this wasn't my usual blog material, I could not turn away from sharing this information.

My Buddies and I is primarily for children, or, rather, for the people who care for them.  I write about children's crafts, and recipes, about childcare and keeping kids healthy. As I read about mesothelioma and asbestos I came to realize that there was a very real danger that many people, people like myself, were very likely unaware of.  If I were in a position to help make people aware, it was something I felt I had to do.

April 1 -7 is Asbestos Awareness week and this post is about helping people protect themselves and their children from asbestos exposure, which is the main cause of mesothelioma.

Asbestos Awareness photo AsbestosAwareness_15-2x 1.jpg

Did you think that asbestos was an old problem, something that we didn't have to worry about today unless we lived in an older home or worked in an older building? I did. Then I read that the U.S. and Canada are the only two industrialized countries where asbestos is still not banned.  WHAT?  So this is a real danger, a threat to all of us?  What can we do? Where are the dangers?

Where might asbestos be hiding?  According to the EPA, among the asbestos-containing products that are not banned are: clothing, floor tile, roofing felt, cement shingles, gaskets and roof coatings. Click on the link to see the full list.  I'm still in shock that these things are still around.

How do we protect ourselves?  This is a link to the EPA's recommendations to Protect Your Family From Asbestos Exposure.  We have to be especially careful with home renovations.

The World Health Organization is reviewing it's policies and considering putting the asbestos industry on its list of entities with which it will not engage.  You can read about that at Right On Canada.

If you would like to take action towards having asbestos banned in the U.S you can go here:

CALL TO ACTION: Say NO to Toxic Chemicals

I've learned a lot in the process of writing this post, but I am not claiming to know very much at all. If you would like to share your experience or knowledge on this topic with me, I'm open to learning.  I wish all you happiness and good health!