Easy Lego Storage

31 07 2013

I have loved Legos since I can remember and am extremely excited that my boys are starting to love them as well. I am not, however, excited about stepping on them everywhere. My husband and I have been discussing and mulling over different options to keep the blocks contained and organized. If you look up Lego storage or Lego tables online you will find many options and some really creative DIY ideas.

My husband’s idea of a great table is this (a rather good idea seeing as we have 3 boys):

lego table

I would love a lego/playroom wall to look like this one from iheartOrganizing:

OrganizedLegoStorage15

(Read all three posts for the complete picture. Fellow organizers may want to devote an afternoon to reading through the rest of her blog. I can’t get enough and funny thing, her name is Jen too!)

But my boys play with Legos like THIS:

lego mess

So after weeks of research and thought, and spying a great coffee table at our local Fred Meyer, this is what I decided on:

coffee table

kids

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I love this plan, the table looks nice and gives the boys a surface at their level to build on. At the end of the day if we need to use the family room, they can stick their unfinished projects in the basket. Or more realistically, just sweep all the Legos off the top of the table into the basket.

The Sterilite drawers on the side of the couch are also being used for Lego storage. The top drawer has base plates and instructions. The middle drawer has desk drawer organizers for separating little pieces. And the bottom drawer is full of Legos waiting to be played with by the kids or organized by me 🙂

In the basket under the table I’ve included small empty tubs for holding loose pieces they are currently using. These were from a dollar store trip when I was visiting my family in Ohio. Also from the dollar store are the small organizers on the right. (I wish I had a dollar store close to me!)

basket closeup

I would love for all the tiny accessories (ie hair, swords, flowers) to stay separated but I know it’s not going to happen! Maybe we I can have a session a few times a year to separate them? In the meantime, I am hoping this new set up will keep things corralled.

Jennifer
Advertisement




Summer Fun and #DOLESaladsParty

21 06 2013

DSCN2110For the first day of summer, we created a Summer Fun To-do list inspired by this one from the Buente family. Everyone got to add their own ideas and decorate the poster. I tried to add some easy ones too, in case of boredom setting in…they won’t require too much work to be able to check those off.

Dole Salad party pack

I’m also excited to be chosen as a host for a Dole Salads Taste of Spain House Party at the end of June. The party pack came this week with these cute red rose hair clips and many goodies for the guests. So much fun!





Just get started already…

28 01 2013

Motivated by the success I was having creating Christmas crafts this year, I have decided to make a conscious effort to become a doer instead of just a planner. I have a hard time putting my perfectionism aside and starting what seems like complicated or involved projects. I never feel there is going to be enough time, I might get interrupted by one of the kids, or that there are other things to be done first (like dishes, or changing diapers). I found a few times over the holidays, that if I just get started, more often than not, something gets accomplished. It may not be perfect, it may not be complete, but something is better than nothing.

I will put up a separate post on the Christmas crafts I did this year. It was fun to turn my inspiration into actuality. And the process was just as fun as the results. For now I will leave you with the project of the moment- my very first sensory tub. It was made on the spur of the moment, using the container that had been housing the toy cars now scattered all over the bedroom (we’ll pick those up when we’re done playing with moon sand).

IMG_4616

It doesn’t have to be extensive or expensive. The kids were playing with the cars and I was reading a blog post on sensory tub ideas. Moon sand- never would have thought it was as simple as 5 parts flour and 1 part oil. I grabbed up their toy bin, mixed up the moon sand (while multi tasking and calling my sister), threw in a few spoons, small containers and some stray dinosaurs.

My IMG_46062 year old has been enamored for over an hour already. We are working on fine motor skills and vocabulary at the same time. Fun, educational, easy set up, easy cleanup- my kind of project!!

What is in store tomorrow??

Jennifer





Banana Cake Muffins

24 01 2013

banana muffins

An icy cold day like today needs something warm baking in the oven. But what to make? I’m not sure how I happened across this recipe for Cake Mix Banana Bread from Real Mom, but it sounded ideal for it’s simplicity and likeliness of being tasty. And, by making them into muffins instead of a loaf, I got to use these spunky Drömmar bakery cups that I picked up from Ikea.

And they did turn out lovely and yummy! I would call them banana cake muffins over banana bread muffins because the texture was more light and fluffy rather than dense and banana-y. Maybe add another banana next time?

 

Here’s my adapted recipe:

1 (18.25 oz) package yellow cake mix

1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

5 egg whites

1/4 cup oil

1 Tbs Coconut Oil

3 medium ripe bananas, smushed

Mix all the ingredients together until smooth. Divide batter evenly among 12 large muffin cups. Sprinkle the tops with a little granulated and/or brown sugar. Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, until it passes the toothpick test.

 

As a side note, if your bananas aren’t ripe enough, try baking them until they blacken. This makes them super sweet! Just be careful to cool them down a little before mixing with the eggs.

 





Beginning of a new year

15 01 2013

presentMerry Christmas and a Happy New Year! I resolve to make this year more heartfelt and compassionate. Like this birthday gift I got from my nearly 4-year old. A little flower wrapped around a pine cone. His expression of love makes my heart smile! I hope that I can make many hearts smile this year too.

 





Fabulous Fall Crafts and Activities

9 10 2012

Fall is the perfect time for outdoor activities like apple picking (been three times now this season!) and fairs. Here’s the three munchkins at at local “touch a truck” afternoon. Don’t they make an adorable fashion statement altogether?


Our latest fall project included black glue to create some spectacular leaf designs. The inspiration came from Mess for Less (the leaf forms) and Robin Mead Designs (the colors). We used watered-down acrylics on cardstock (8.5×11″ cut in halves). I trimmed the excess background after they dried and now they are gracing our front door!

I’m amazed at how interesting leaves are…seriously! I am also very happy the kids never tire of them. We’ve had some nice science lessons learning about different trees and the characteristics of their leaves. How’s this for a leaf identification chart? Up next on our fall arts and craft list are these projects too:

What are you creating this autumn?





Homeschool Away From Home Day! #homeschoolspiritweek

24 09 2012

We are having a blast homeschooling, but one of the drawbacks is that there isn’t time leftover to post all the exciting things we do! (sorry!)  This week we’re celebrating Homeschool Spirit Week and I thought we could share some of the week with you.

Today is Homeschool Away From Home Day!
We’ve got other travel in store this week, so our “away from home” was outside today. We had the most perfect fall weather! (t made my heart sad to think of other elementary school children stuck inside.)

We practiced phonemes with a game of hopscotch. Hopscotch exploded all over the driveway and soon we were practicing writing numerals and skip counting. (By the way, chalk is awesome for beginning writers!)

And then making an underwater habitat for piranha. (They started off as koi, but Mighty Man added teeth.)

There was a momentary interruption when someone spotted an inchworm and we all stopped to observe.

Find International Homeschool Spirit Week 2012 on Facebook and at Currclick.





Recipe ideas with Fillipo Berio Olive Oil #imabzzagent

13 06 2012

There are many different kinds of oils jammed into my cupboard, but the one that’s sitting in front is Filippo Berio Olive Oil.  Filippo Berio is one of the brands that I like to buy, so I was excited to participate in the BzzCampaign. I’ve been brushing up on the health benefits to using olive oil over butter and other oils. Inspired to make some meaningful substitutions in our family’s diet, I started looking for more places to use it beyond the typical sauteed onions and garlic.

Once I started keeping track of how many things I can use olive oil in, I was surprised by how versatile it really is. With a bit of balsamic vinegar, a cutting of basil from the garden, and some salt and pepper, olive oil makes a tasty dressing for grape tomato halves. Adding a splash of olive oil to jarred spaghetti sauce makes it taste more like homemade. (And it only takes a tiny bit to keep cooked spaghetti from sticking to itself while trying to keep it warm until the kids have finished cleaning their room and are ready to eat dinner…that can be awhile!)

One of the new recipes I tried was this one for grilled pork from Leite’s Culinaria, using olive oil in place of the canola oil in the marinade. When I broiled the meat, the olive oil made a shiny crust on the outside of the meat just like canola oil would have. And, my goodness, the board dressing should not be optional! Using Filippo Berio Olive Oil gave it a bright, almost fruity flavor that really bounced off the sweetness of the meat. My family agreed that it had exceptional flavor, and ate it up before I could get a picture.

So, I made it a point to get some pictures of another flavorful dish, our family potatoes. During grilling season, we eat a lot of potatoes cooked on the grill in foil packets. Usually, I add butter, but have found that olive oil makes it a less heavy side dish and doesn’t burn as easily. This is an easy dish to make with kids, who love to shake the spices on! Here’s the recipe:


Family Potatoes Recipe:

1. Slice each potato into 8 wedges.

2. Add potatoes, enough olive oil to coat the pieces, and your choice of seasonings to a sturdy plastic bag. (Think beyond salt and pepper to rosemary, Old Bay, dill, etc.) Close and shake until coated.

3. Wrap in foil and throw on the grill or bake in 450 F oven about 20-30 minutes, turning once, until tender.

If you need more exactitude in your measurements, try this recipe for Oven Baked Parmesan Fries. Love them with freshly grated parm!

My next step is to find the Filippo Berio Extra Light Olive Oil and start subbing it into my baking and desserts. Here’s some of the recipes I’ve found on Pinterest that I’m drooling over:

Olive Oil Granola (from a blog called “Love & Olive Oil,” no less)

Olive Oil & Sea Salt Palmiers (I didn’t think those could be made in a healthier way)

Olive Oil Pancakes (I love pancakes!)

 Do you have any recipes with olive oil that I should try too?

PS–Just a disclaimer, this is my own opinion of Filippo Berio Olive Oil. As a bzzagent, I got a free sample bottle as part of this BzzCampaign, but the opinions are all mine. You can take my review with a grain of salt…Or a whole sprinkle of salt over a small dish of olive oil with some crusty bread to dip in it. That would be nice.





Wordless Wednesday in MA

13 06 2012

Is this where I spent four years of my childhood? It still looks the same, except I think that tree got scruffier.





Gifting the Grad

30 05 2012

If you do an internet search for graduation gift ideas, the first thing to pop up is usually money. Not my gift of choice. At least put a little a little thought into it. Money origami, anyone?

With several graduations coming up, I think I can do better.

I am plotting a gift basket for a college bound teen I know. Yes, “gift basket” sounds cheesy, but I was thinking more along the lines of a hip tote like these upcycled ones from TerraCycle. Wouldn’t it be fun to have a Clif Bar Duffel Bag teeming with some necessities they might not think of…like a pair of flip flops, s bottle of acetaminophen, those removable hooks that don’t mark up the walls…well, you get the idea.
And why not include some TLC for the grad’s hair? My new favorite line is Garnier Fructis. As a BzzAgent, I got to try the Sleek and Shine shampoo and conditioner. The smell is very light and, with the nourishing formula, makes for smooth, happy hair. I like how it virtually eliminated all my frizzies, but there’s several varieties to choose from to fit your needs. If you don’t know your grad’s hair type that well, go for something like Daily Care. Who wouldn’t want healthier hair? (I’m sure many teens would like this model’s hair too, but I can’t say that mine looks like that after using Sleek & Shine.) The product bottles are also made of less plastic, so there’s less weight to haul to the showers! They make a good fit with the TerraCycle bags, because Garnier is sponsoring a TC beauty brigade.

What would you put in a gifty tote for teens?