Toddler Sensory Play with Pipe Cleaners

This easy activity for toddlers is great for practicing hand-eye coordination (and patience)! All you need is some pipe cleaners and penne pasta!

Pipe Cleaner Pasta Activity:
1/2 package penne
several colorful pipe cleaners, with the ends folded in (this protects little fingers from the jagged wire end)

Place penne in a shallow plastic bin. Show your toddler how you pick up a piece of penne and thread onto a pipe cleaner.
Encourage them to try it as well!
My toddler enjoyed taking off the pasta I threaded more than threading her own, as well as moving the penne out of the bin, then back into the bin. There is no right or wrong way to do this- just invite them to play!
I try to incorporate one sensory play activity per day that I’m home with Audrey. What is your sensory play experience?



Painting Decorative Boxes

This past weekend my mother-in-law, Fran and I finally had a crafting day! It was so nice to have time to get together and spend some time creating art together. My father-in-law crafted some 6 inch by 6 inch boxes out of scrap wood for us to use. Fran had a lot of acrylic craft paint colors to choose from, and lots of different size brushes, so we were ready to go! I made one painting for our bathroom, and one for my daughter’s room. To make the text easier, I printed the verse in several of my favorite fonts so I had a reference to go off of. Then I used a T-square to find my middle point, and worked out from the middle to make sure my text was centered.
I lightly wrote in the text with pencil, and painted over it with a thin brush. It worked pretty well!
The key to a second coat with acrylic paint is to wait until the first coat is dry to add the second coat- otherwise it is a mess!
I am pleased with the way these turned out. I cant wait to hang them in our house. Have you ever created your own personalized art for your house?
It is a great way to personalize your home- no one else will have the same art!




Winter- I’m over it!

So we all know there has been a lot of snow this year.  

No really.  A LOT of snow.  

And ice.

And it is frustrating.  We are all tired of being cold, tired of slipping on our driveway, tired of cleaning off our car, tired of being late to work, tired of the snow days.  I get it.  We are just tired of it.  And some people have developed a short fuse at this point.  With it all, including with their snow removal, and complain about their snow removal not being good enough.  I understand we all pay taxes, and we all want clear roads, and we all feel entitled to perfection, and we all want it all.  I just want to propose a different viewpoint: the viewpoint of the family of a salt truck driver.  The wife and child of a man who works 22 hours straight and is missing seeing his daughter’s milestones.  The wife who works full time while picking up the pieces while her husband plows your streets, who worries about her sleep-deprived husband not eating good food while surviving on fast food because that is all there is time for.  The baby who misses her “Dada” and misses playing with him because he is out salting your neighborhood.  The husband who is in “work-sleep-eat” mode with no time for anything else.  

People are quick to complain when their road is not spotless, and like I said, I get it.   This  winter really stinks!

But next time you think about whining, remember the sacrifices being made so that we have public services.  And then just be thankful!



Scrambled Tofu for Christmas Morning

This is a delicious plant-strong breakfast scramble that is perfect for Christmas morning- the red pepper and the green cilantro and chives create a festive red and green dish!




Inspired by “My Beef with Meat” by Rip Esselstyn

1 block extra firm tofu

1 small sweet onion, diced small

1 red bell pepper, diced small

2 tsp. low-sodium tamari

1 tsp. curry powder

¼ tsp. salt

1 tsp. garlic powder

½ tsp. turmeric

½ tsp. black pepper

½ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup chopped chives

½ cup nutritional yeast

Over a fine metal sieve, squeeze as much liquid out of the tofu as possible.  Crumble tofu into small pieces.

Heat a large non-stick pan to medium heat.  Saute onion using just a small amount of water (if needed) for about 5 minutes.  Add bell pepper and sauté another 3 minutes.  Add in tamari and all spices and cook about 30 seconds.  Add crumbled tofu.  Cook about 3-5 minutes, then stir in chopped cilantro and chives.  Sprinkle the nutritional yeast over and stir to coat.  Serve!

Melon Breakfast Smoothie

I have more than 2 whole Galia melons to use up, so this morning I whipped up this delicious smoothie.  Galia melons are an heirloom variety similar to a honeydew, but sweeter and juicier.  They are delicious!

2 cups Galia melon (or honeydew)

1 overly-ripe banana

1/2 cup frozen mango

1 T hemp seeds

1 tsp. maca


Spring Garden: Before & After

Spring is my favorite time of year to garden; I’m antsy to get things growing after a long cold winter and it’s not too hot to enjoy working the ground.  We have had one raised bed for several years and decided this year to add another raised bed and a cold frame.  The cold frame is made from a repurposed cabinet door with a glass panel to allow the sunlight to come through while creating a warming greehouse effect, so I can start lettuces, arugala, and herbs earlier without danger of frost.  The panel is on hinges so on warm days I can open the door, while on cold evenings I can close it to protect the seedlings.

In my original raised bed, which is 4′ x 8′, I have my perennial asparagus patch, which takes up about half of the bed.  Last fall I planted garlic in between the asparagus rows, and it will be ready to harvest in June.  Garlic is really easy to grow, and it is a great plant to add to your garden to deter rabbits and deer from nibbling, as are onions. In the other half of that bed I have kale, collards, oregano, broccoli, peppers, and tomatoes going.

In my new raised bed, which is 4′ x 6′, I have an outside row of onions, an inner row of beets, and sections of peas, kale, pak choy and broccoli.  I planted the outside row of onions to deter the rabbits from nibbling on the tender inner plants, like kale.  So far it is working fairly well.  These are all great spring and fall crops, as they can handle the cool nights.  Once I harvest the pak choy, beets, and peas, I will pull the plants out and plant some good summer crops, like tomatoes, bell peppers, jalapenos, cucumbers, and zucchini.

Here are photos of my garden area just after installation of the new beds, and another photo of how they look today.  I’m excited to see how this garden area evolves.  My next project is to add 2 blueberry bushes.  Happy Gardening!