Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Fun on a Budget - Lacing with Pool Noodles

Another indoor activity we've tried this summer is lacing. Margaret's still too young for even the largest store-bought beads, so we tried out an idea we found on Design Dazzle.

We bought three colorful pool noodles from Dollar Tree and cut them into rings. I just used scissors, and it wasn't difficult, but you could try a knife or even a hand saw. Then I cut a length of rope, knotted one of the pieces onto the end, and let Margaret go to town. I found it was much easier for her to string the "beads" after I wrapped the end of the rope with some tape to make it stiff and keep it from unraveling.

A little story about the rope I used. I knew we had some hanging around the house, so I didn't bother buying any when I was out. I got home and lumberingly crawled around our messy garage, climbing on top of the air compressor, squeezing between the van and the wheelbarrow, until I remembered my husband had been using it out back to measure out a fence he was building.

I went outside and gathered it up, but found one end was buried under the ground. I tugged and unearthed about 2 feet of it, bringing up a very frayed end. That's when I realized the ground around where the rope was buried looked quite similar to the mole hills dotting our yard. Seems our little friend tried to make off with our neon green rope. I thought that was pretty darling. My husband, a self-confirmed mole hater, was less amused.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pantry Tour

I recently had the blessed opportunity to revamp our pantry storage system. What prompted this opportunity, you ask? Why, none other than charming little ants taking up residence in our kitchen.

They actually didn't even make it inside our pantry. They were more interested in the dishwasher. I've read this is common as ants typically come in looking for water, and only make a pit stop for food if it happens across their paths.

Didn't stop me from mentally tallying up the hundreds of dollars worth of food just sitting in my pantry, waiting to be contaminated and thrown out if the ants found their way inside.

So off to the store I went to get some storage containers to protect my favorite household assets. We're on a strict budget right now, with our new little one on the way, so I bypassed all the cool pantry gadgets and decorative containers and went straight to the cheap, utilitarian stuff. I focused on getting grains and sweets stored away in airtight containers.

I've been having such fun since discovering Pinterest, browsing clever storage solutions and lovely organized spaces. We're in a "function over form" place at the moment (we have neither the time nor the money to paint pantry walls or invest in matching wire baskets), but I thought I'd go ahead and share our new spiffed up pantry, just in case you lot are as nosy as I am when it comes to browsing others' homes. *A note to remind you that I hate to cook. I take shortcuts wherever possible, and my pantry reflects that.*

I didn't bother investing in cereal keepers, as we seldom have cold breakfast cereal on hand. Our current glut was a result of hyperemetic cravings a few months ago. We're making do with clipping the bags closed inside the boxes until we finish it all off.

A plastic shoe organizer hung on the back of the pantry door keeps all our spices handy. I considered labeling the pouches, but I like being able to switch things around. We don't have trouble finding things in the see-through pockets anyway.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer Fun on a Budget - Treasure Hunting

We've been searching out some inexpensive toddler-friendly activities this summer. It's hot, hot, hot, so our old standbys of chalk in the backyard and running around the park just aren't doing it for pregalicious mom right now.

One goldmine we've hit on is treasure hunting. I filled Margaret's toy wagon (you could also use a sand/water/sensory table, kiddie pool, baby bath, large bowl, cleaning bucket, plastic storage tub, etc.) with 3 lbs of stale pinto beans I'd let get away from me in the food storage. Then I raided my craft shelves for treasures. I pulled out crocheted flowers, polished glass chunks, old marker caps, large buttons, milk jug lids, and other goodies. My kitchen drawers yielded measuring cups, old formula scoops, and baby spoons. Margaret's playroom bore up wooden puzzle pieces, blocks, and animal figures. I finished it off by offering her sand pail and shovel.

When Margaret woke from her nap, the treasure hunt was waiting for her. She proceeded to play with it for the next 3.5 hours! No requests for Little Bear, cheddar bunnies, or Da Da to be heard. She's been playing with it all week, and she still can't get enough of it. (Please excuse the poor lighting. It's been so overcast here lately.)

She's actually not so interested in the hunting aspect. My orderly little one is all about the sorting. She lines up the marker caps, tosses the animals in a glass jar, and separates the toys from the other treasures. She loves experimenting with moving the beans around. Scooping them up with a jar, dumping them from vessel to vessel, shoveling them from wagon to pail and back again.

It's been a big hit, and it's so nice to have a portable, indoor piece, rather than schlepping out to the backyard sensory table in the midday heat.