Archive | July, 2011

Watercolor Painting and Homemade Watercolors

31 Jul

Eli's first time painting with a paint brush.

Watercolor painting is quickly becoming one of Eli’s favorite art activities.  I recently picked up this kid’s watercolor set at a thrift store.  It’s older than me-made in 1984!  I happened to think that was really cool. 😉  Guess they never get old? 

Such concentration.

We try to do some type of arts and crafts activity once a day since Eli stopped eating crayons. 😉  If it’s nice out we take them outside to the picnic table.  Try your hand at Ice Cube Painting before summer ends.  What a blessing to sit outside on a pretty day watching a sweet little boy explore the world of art! 

Eli has had so much fun with these watercolors. We even sent one to Great Meme as a Get Well Soon card.

 Did you know that you can also make your own watercolors?  It is very easy!  Simply combine: 3 T. cornstarch, 3 T. baking soda, 3 T. vinegar and 1.5 t. corn syrup.  (This should fizz.)  Pour into desired container (an egg carton would work great) and add in food coloring.  Then grab a paintbrush and show your kid how it’s done! To switch things up try using different utensils as the brush (we often use q-tips). 


Eli's first water-color painting involved homemade watercolor paints and Q-tips.



Homemde Snow Cones

29 Jul

Eli's First Snow Cone


The other day it occurred to me to try my hand at making homemade snow cones.  We are blessed to own an incredible blender which attaches to our Bosch Mixer.  It easily crushes or pulverizes just about anything.  I simply placed ice in the blender and crushed it using the momentary speed.  (I’m not sure if this will work on every blender so use caution.)  Then we added a simple syrup that I had prepared beforehand. 


I think he is hooked on Mom's homemade snow cones!


Snow Cone Syrup Recipe:
1 pack Koolaid-your choice of flavor
2 c. sugar
1 c. water
Mix all ingredients in a medium saucepan dissolving sugar as you stir.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  Allow syrup to cool and store refrigerated.  We like to store  in an Snapple Bottle.  Pour over crushed ice and enjoy. 

Getting serious about his snow cone.

This is a super cheap alternative to snow cones or even purchasing the snow cone syrup from the grocery store.  Fresh fruit could also be used in place of the koolaid packet or 1/2 t. of flavoring (the bottle kind you use in cooking).

Bean Scooping for Toddlers

27 Jul

Eli's new favorite activity: bean scooping.


Last week I introduced Eli to the idea of bean scooping.  I simply pulled out 2 containers, a measuring spoon, and about a pound of pinto beans.  I placed all of the beans in one container and showed him how to carefully scoop them into the other.  He absolutely loved it! 

This can get slightly messy. In a cheery voice encourage your little one to pick up the fallen beans with their little fingers. (This is also great for motor skill development.)


You could also use a measuring cup for this activity.  It does need to be supervised carefully as the beans are a choking hazard.  We have found this to be the perfect activity to keep Eli occupied (and having fun) while I clean up the kitchen.

Use different containers to create different sounds. This recycled pie plate made a delightful noise.
This has become such a favorite of Eli’s that if he sees it sitting out on the counter he will walk over to it and point.  🙂  I waited until he was 19 months old to introduce bean scooping but believe he would have been able to do this a couple of months ago. 

This was during clean up time. I guess Eli figured out a faster way to put the beans in the container than with the scoop. 🙂


Pork Roast with Apples & Sweet Potatoes

25 Jul

Can such a simple dish really taste so good?


This meal tastes great and is so simple to prepare.  I’m sure that your family will enjoy it as well.  I fixed it a couple of weeks ago when a sweet friend flew to visit.  It was great to come home from the airport and find such a tasty meal waiting for us to eat.  It also takes 10-12 hours so it is perfect for days when you are away from home for a long time.  Sometimes it is hard to find recipes that can cook that long without burning.  🙂 


  • 1 pork shoulder roast (fat trimmed)
  • Salt, Pepper
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes peeled and sliced thinly  
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples peeled and cut into 8 parts
  • 1 sweet onion (or regular onion) sliced thin
  • 1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter

Spray slow cooker with non-stick spray.  (I always do this!)  Layer onion slices along the bottom of slow cooker.  Next layer sweet potatoes and then apple slices.  Pour apple cider vinegar and water on top.  Place pork roast on top of sweet potatoes and apples.  Sprinkle brown sugar on top of roast.  Cut butter into small sections and place on top of roast and veggies.  Cook on low 10-12 hours.  Remove and place roast on a serving platter.  Arrange vegetables and apples all around roast.  Enjoy! 

What other ways does your family enjoy pork roast?



The Breakfast Picnic

22 Jul

Eli enjoying his breakfast at the park.


Yesterday we started a new family tradition: a breakfast picnic in the park.  You see with all of this incredibly hot weather we have not been spending as much time outside playing.  If I’m not careful this can make for a long day for mommy and child.  To remedy this we are now having breakfast and play time first thing in the morning a couple of days a week.  We did this yesterday and it was great! 

Food somehow tastes better when enjoyed outside.

It is great!  Since it is so early none of the slides have heated up yet which makes the park so much more enjoyable.  It is also so peaceful!  I can’t tell you how serene it was watching Eli play while a light dew touched the grass.  I took along a sheet to stretch out on and leaned up against an old tree in the shade.   

What a great way to burn off energy!

We had such a pleasant start to our day.  Eli was able to burn off a lot of energy as I prayed for a while and then joined him to play.  🙂  This can also be a great way to sneak a bit of exercise in for mom.  (We actually walked to the park.) 

If you would like to try your own breakfast in the park here are my recommendations.  😉

Take Along:

  • Food: Muffins, bagged cereal, granola bars, hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, fresh or dried fruit and of course something to drink. 
  • Sheet or Blanket: Since I don’t own an old blanket (crazy huh) I always use an old sheet. 
  • Wipes: for those precious dirty little hands and faces. 
  • Book to Read Together or Alone
  • Ball, little Truck to push, sand toys, etc. 
  • Most of these items can even be packed the night before in a picnic basket or large bag.  Then in the morning you only need to grab some drinks and off you go! 


All grins after our breakfast picnic.


What new or old summer traditions does your family enjoy? 

Menu Plan July 18-24

20 Jul



  • Breakfast: Granola Bars, Blueberries, Milk
  • Lunch: Egg Salad with Crackers, Raw Veggies
  • Dinner: Shrimp Enchiladas, Fruit Salad

Tuesday: friends coming over 🙂 

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with Fruit, Tea
  • Lunch: Sneaky Potato Soup, Crescent Rolls, Fruit Salad  
  • Dinner: 40 Clove Chicken, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Broccoli, Homemade Crescent Rolls   



  • Breakfast: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Lunch: Pack Lunch: Leftovers 
  • Dinner: Chicken Veggie Pot Pie with Drop Biscuits, Salad.


  • Breakfast: Cream of Wheat, Yogurt
  • Lunch: Leftover Soup, Chicken Salad
  • Dinner: Music in the Park    


  • Breakfast: Waffles, Sausage, Fruit
  • Lunch: Homemade Hamburger Helper, Salad
  • Dinner: Leftovers   


  • Breakfast: Toast with Apple Butter, Scrambled Eggs, Fruit
  • Lunch: Out with the family
  • Dinner: Turkey Chili with Black Beans over Spaghetti

Road Trips Without Tears for Toddlers

14 Jul

Eli enjoying his first convertible ride.


Since we live far away from both sides of our family road trips are a common occurrence in our family.  They radically changed with the birth of our son Elijah.  Boy does it sure take longer traveling with a baby or toddler!  We have learned in a short time that being organized is the key to a happy road trip.  Along with a lot of prayer of course! 

  1. Bring some Good Books and Toys: I have a small bag that I pack with toys, books, and other quiet interesting things.  It is helpful to pack this bag a few days before the trip as it adds to the excitement when the toy is pulled out to play with if it has not been seen for a few days.  Throughout the trip I try to ration the toys meaning I do not let Eli have all of the toys in the first 30 minutes of the trip. 
  2. Pack a Great Cooler and Snacks: Not only will this save you lots of money but your child can eat familiar foods.  No upset tummies to worry about and it saves time not having to stop.  We enjoy taking the following for Eli on long trips: Milk, Blueberries, Cheese Slices, Frozen Peas, Kefir, Hard-Boiled Eggs, Pancakes, Fruit, and Dates.  These are all nourishing foods that will not make his belly upset on a long trip as fast food would do.
  3. Set Realistic Expectations and Stop Often: In order to keep your toddler happy you should plan on stopping every 2-3 hours.  We have found stopping at a park or elementary school for just 10 minutes to make all the difference in the world.  Eli has a chance to run around and burn off some energy while we get a breather as well.  It would be a good idea to make note of some good stops along your route before you take off.  Elementary schools are a great stop during the summer.  🙂  We usually just had Eli play for 10 minutes, changed his diaper, and then fed him while in the car.  This made a huge difference! 
  4. Pack a Car Box: We keep a box in our van that include all the things that might be needed in case of an accident or emergency.   Our box includes: plastic bags, Ziploc bags, Lysol Wipes, Tissues, Baby Wipes, Hand Sanitizer, Lotion, and a First Aid Kit.  I don’t know how many times I have reached for something in that box! 
  5. Pack a Medicine Box: Murphy’s Law always seems to happen on a trip.  By taking along a medicine box you are prepared for the unexpected.  On our last road trip Eli ended up with a high fever.  I was very thankful to have a thermometer and infant tylenol with us.  I could also find it at a moments notice rather than try to hunt down a Walmart along thew ay.  You could include all of these items in your car box but we found it easier to put them in a smaller box in case we needed to bring them inside during our stay (which we did).  These included: bandages, neosporin, infant tylenol, gas drops for little babies, shampoo/conditioner, Tylenol, Sunscreen, Thermometer, Vitamins, Diaper Rash Cream, cough drops, allergy medicine, and Teething Medicine.
  6. Pack Wisely: I keep a master list on my computer of items that are usually packed for our trips.  This helps me so much!  I also like to pack backwards meaning if we were going on a trip Mon-Thurs. then I would first pack Thursday’s outfit, then Wednesday’s etc.  Pajamas go on top.  This way the day’s outfit is always the one on top!  Think about your destination place.  You may want to take along some additional items such as: bubbles, sidewalk chalk, a ball, etc. for your child to play with while there.  Also a travel high chair might be very helpful.  I also take along a small amount of detergent.  If given the opportunity I always do our laundry.  One less thing to do when we get home! 

Happy traveling!  Where is everyone traveling this summer?  Any great tips for taking toddlers on long trips?

Strawberry Julius and Orange Julius

13 Jul

So refreshing on a hot summer day.


This morning I made a mistake and walked a couple of miles to the library.  At 9:00 it wasn’t that hot out but by 11:00 it was unbearably hot!  As soon as we got home I made this Strawberry Julius Smoothie recipe.  Although we had taken water along I wanted to ensure that Eli had enough fluids.  I knew this would do just the trick.  It’s a little sweeter than our typical Green Smoothies. 🙂  Oh and it tastes wonderful by the way! 

Simply combine all ingredients in a blender:

  • 2 cups strawberries (about 1 container)
  • 1 cup of milk (skim tastes great)
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 16 ice cubes
  • 1/4 c. sugar or your choice of sweetener-You can omit this but the hubby sure enjoys his with a kick of sugar. 🙂 
  • Enjoy! 

If you don’t have strawberries on hand you can also make an Orange Julius. 

  • 1 can frozen orange juice concentrate
  • 1/2 c. Cream or milk
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 4 c. ice

Both of these smoothies would make a wonderful treat for your hubby after a long hard day at work or mowing the grass.  I have such fond memories of being a newlywed and making Brandon an Orange Julius while he mowed the yard at our first house.  🙂

Menu Plan July 4-10

5 Jul

This week we are preparing for a sweet friend’s wedding, a baby shower, and looking forward to a fun-filled weekend with old friends. 


  • Breakfast: Toast with Fruit, Milk, Tea
  • Lunch: Leftover Roast
  • Dinner: Beef Barbeque, Cole Slaw, Potato Salad


  • Breakfast: Granola Bars, Nectarine
  • Lunch: Mushroom Burger sans the meat (very good although Brandon says it sounds like the worst thing ever a burger with no meat), Squash with Onions 
  • Dinner: 40 Clove Chicken, Bread, Baked Sweet Potatoes, Salad  


  • Breakfast: Oatmeal, Fruit, Tea
  • Lunch: Leftovers 
  • Dinner: Small Group: Take Homemade Potato Salad, Homemade Cole Slaw (recipes coming soon), Peach Tea  


  • Breakfast: Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins, Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Lunch: Pack Lunch: Hummus Sandwiches, Veggies, Hard Boiled Eggs for Eli
  • Dinner: Crockpot Pork Roast with Apples and Sweet Potatoes, Salad.  (This is a new recipe if it’s good I”ll post it.)


  • Breakfast: Coco Wheats, Scrambled Eggs
  • Lunch: Leftover Pork Roast and Veggies
  • Dinner: Chicken, Veggie and Biscuit Bake   



  • Breakfast: Pancakes, Sausage Links, Milk
  • Lunch: Baby Shower
  • Dinner: Beef Enchiladas 

What’s on your menu this week?  Are you trying any new recipes?

Creative Frugal Pajamas for Elijah

1 Jul

Eli's New PJ's.

A couple of weeks ago Eli desperately needed some new pajamas.  I had 3 options: go to Babies R Us, buy material and make them, or get creative.  I decided to take the creative route this time.  First I headed to the thrift store to see what I could find.  I picked up the adorable monkey pajama shirt shown above.  Doesn’t it fit Eli nicely?  We had just learned what sound monkeys made that week.   This shirt was perfect.  I looked and looked and could not find the matching shorts.  😦  What to do oh what to do? 

The solution: a size Large boy's polo shirt.


As I was debating I came across the above boy’s large shirt.  What do you know the brown on that shirt is awfully close to the brown on the monkey shirt. Hmm.  This I where things get creative.  I purchased both shirts for $2.00 and went home hoping my idea would work.

The fabric from this old shirt worked perfect for Eli's pajama pants.

Using the basic baby short’s pattern from the Kwik Sew Sewing for Baby book I cut out the shorts from the boy’s shirt.  It just barely fit.  (If I ever try this again I will definitely purchase a boy’s XL or man’s small.)   

Once cut out it looks just like a regular cut piece of fabric. You would never guess it use to be another shirt!

I actually cut the shorts out in a way that I didn’t even have to hem them.  I just used the existing hemmed edge from the shirt.  After sewing the shorts they looked like this:

All finished! (These ended up being a little big in case you are wondering.)


How cute is this?


Not only were these a fraction of the cost of new pajamas but what a fun memory I have every time I look at them.  I’ll remember all of the fun trips Eli and I have made to the thrift store and the week that Eli learned the monkey sound.  He also played next to me while I sewed them and helped me cut out the pants. 😉