Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tempera Paint with Littles

Tempera paint is great because it gives those little hands more texture to work with. It is messier and if the weather is nice, I recommend taking it and your littles outside to make some art and soak up some vitamin D. Sometimes I let Owen paint in the grass and sometimes I take his high chair out to paint in. We have a cheap high chair from ikea that I LOVE for making art. With tempera it does stain, so I make sure we are wearing our paint clothes. I also have a plan for clean up, before we get started painting. Below are a variety of projects all using tempera paint. Please be aware that a lot of the time you need to seal the project after the painting is complete and dry, even a cheap can of clear spray paint will do, just make sure to do it in a well ventilated area when there are no littles around.

Tempera on canvas. 
You can get really inexpensive canvases at A.C.Moore or Michaels or any arts and crafts store. Owen made these with his Uncle Wes, when he was just about a year old. I took him outside, put him in just a diaper and let him go nuts. I gave him a variety of brushes to experiment with and let him use his hands...and feet. It was great! I plopped him right in the tub afterwards and he was good to go. This is what he looked like while painting. As you can see he really had a good time exploring the squishy paint. These were also sealed with a clear spray paint after they were fully dry and away from Owen.

Tempera with sponges.
I cut up a sponge to make some snowflakes and a snowman hat and we used a cup to make the snowman body. Owen experimented painting with sponges. He really enjoys using different tools to apply paint. Some other things we have used are a plastic fork, fabric scraps, a potato, foam stamps, the other end of the paintbrush, grass, a flower, and leaves. This painting was just done on black construction paper.

Tempera on paper board.
My husband had Owen paint this for our younger son for Christmas this year. Tempera gives nice bright colors as you can see here. This was spray sealed after it was dry as well.

Watercolors with Littles

Watercolors are my favorites with littles for a lot of reasons! They are easy to use, give a good variety of colors, are so easy to clean up, and for the most part wash out of clothes! They are definitely my go to paint when I don't have a project planned and Owen just wants to paint. He usually does wear his painting shirt, but if he does get any on his clothes it will generally come out in the normal wash (the red does stain a bit). It washes off his hands and face as well as his high chair. Invest in a pad of watercolor paper, it's so worth it! Below are some basic watercolor projects that Owen (my now two year old) has done in the past year, along with how we did them. I squeeze water into each color on his eight color tray of Crayola watercolors and hand him a brush or two. I don't recommend giving them a cup of water because it will get spilled or they will just want to play in the water. *Please note: playing with water is another great activity and I give him cups of water to play with how to pour or let him "paint" the sidewalk with water.* If you are trying to get them to paint though, introducing a cup of water will only distract them and you will have an overflowing watercolor tray in no time. I also tape his paper down so that it doesn't slide around while he is working on a masterpiece.

 Owen set up in his highchair to do some watercolor painting with his Uncle Wes.

Watercolors on paper.
These are basic watercolor paintings done on watercolor paper. Owen likes to experiment with different size brushes and use his hands to make different marks.

Watercolors on wood.
These are some Christmas ornaments that Owen painted using watercolors. When I wet his tray of Crayola watercolors I usually don't put water in the black or brown as it results in a lot of muddy looking work and makes it harder for him to mix colors since he is not washing his brush between dipping it in the different colors. I did seal these with a clear spray paint after they were dry.

Watercolors and salt.
I cut out circles for Owen to paint with watercolors. While the watercolor paint was still wet I let him sprinkle on some salt, which gives it the spotty effect you can see here. We decided they were bubbles so he added some foam fish stickers to his bubbles. Owen loved this project and the different steps involved. He really enjoyed peeling the backs off the stickers and sticking them down.

Friday, March 14, 2014


Owen is two today. When he was one I was elated that we made it to one for a lot of reasons, a big one being that I had successfully breastfed him for one full year! Two is a little more bittersweet. My little isn't very little anymore. He weighs thirty pounds and is three feet tall. That might not sounds very big, but compared to my seven pound eleven ounce baby that wasn't even two feet tall, he's big. I am very proud of him though. He is an amazing person. He is curious and fearless and so so loving. When I say to him,"Stay little my little." He replies,"But I'm big." And he is.

When he was one his favorite color was red. His favorite book was Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton. His favorite food was pickles. His favorite toy was an airplane his Aunt and Uncle got him. His favorite activity was anything outside.

Now that he is two his favorite color is blue. His favorite book is Art & Max by David Wiesner. His favorite food is cheese and pickles. His favorite toy is his train from Gramma and Pampa or any ball. His favorite activity is bug hunting outside.

So happy birthday to my little boy who will not always be little, but will always be my little, even when he is taller than I am. I hope you travel farther than I have, see more than I have, love bigger than I have, help more than I have, and learn more than I have. Stay curious, stay fearless, and keep your hugs full and free. I love you.




Art Projects: Family Handprint

One of the very very first projects we did after Owen was born was a family hand print. I used water soluble block printing ink, a brayer, Bristol board, and an old Styrofoam meat tray. I put a dollop of ink the size of a penny on the old meat tray and used the brayer in alternating directions to spread it evenly in the tray. My husband put his hand print down in yellow ink, I did my hand print over his in red ink, we let this dry overnight. We did at least 3-4 of these because I knew getting a one month old's hand print would be a challenge and may not come out very good on several of them. Once the ink was dry that my husband and I put down, we inked our sons hand in blue and were able to get some decent prints over top of ours. We are doing this again now and adding our youngest son's hand print to the mix. Here is a photo of our family hand print that hangs in our kitchen.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


Dirt goes primarily in your hair or down your shirt, try to avoid your eyes.

Flour goes everywhere but in the bowl.

Pompoms and rocks are really the only toys you need.

Paint goes primarily on your hands and is also good on your face.

Someone will always poop in their fresh diaper when getting in the car, especially if you want to be on time.

Bugs are yummy but it's sad when you eat your friends.

If there are geese at the pond, the groceries are going to have to wait.


You can fit at least six grapes in your mouth at once, anything less is a disappointment.

Roar your way through the grocery store, you will hear people laughing in every aisle.

Dirt on your hands is approved. Dog poop on your hands is not.

The "right" spoon is always the last one that mom chooses.

There is no such thing as "too little."

Cheer for everyone, including the mail man and the landscapers.

Always say "thank you," even if you are saying it for someone else.

Water dries. Even a lot of water eventually dries.

Snow is magic.

Deodorant goes on your neck and face and takes about a week of baths to get off.

Blueberries are ear hole sized.

The milkshake song is the best song.

Everyday there is a reason to say "Wow!"

Strollers aren't nearly as much fun as running.

Cookies do not need to be cookie shaped to be delicious.

You can't see it if you can't touch it.

If you fill your pockets with "treasure" your pants may fall down.

Art with Littles

Owen loves to get messy and make art. From the time he was born I started doing art projects with him. Now he will be two years old in two days and he draws every single day and is always asking to do projects! Other parents always ask what exactly you can do with such little littles and the answer is a lot as long as you aren't concerned with them making epic art museum worthy pieces! You also do not need to be artistically inclined to enjoy making art with kids!

So to begin with this is my basic list of go to supplies that I always have on hand because our older son (2 years old now, was probably about 6 months old when we really started doing projects) asks to do art every single day. I started doing some really basic projects when he was born and we have been doing simple but fun stuff ever since. 

I always have:
-colored construction paper 
-non-toxic tempera paint
-a variety of brushes to experiment with
-non-toxic crayola water color paint (the 8 color one is plenty)
-watercolor paper (usually I get Strathmore watercolor paper when it's on a good sale, Michaels just    had it for 60% off so I got a big pad for $4. I also cut the paper in half or smaller so it fits on his highchair tray)
-Speedball block printing ink (Please note that I use the water soluble type, but I do NOT think it is marked as non-toxic. I do help with every project that we do with the ink and we thoroughly wash hands/feet immediately after we are finished.)
-a brayer
-a pad of bristol board (also always purchased on sale). 

Owen also has his own sketch books (these are legitimate spiral bound sketch books, not coloring books.) that he draws in every day. All together I spent less than $30 on these items and the only things I buy more of every few months are the papers. 

Here is a photo of our supplies.


Spaghetti is delicious and cheap. Home made spaghetti sauce is actually really easy, and can be made quickly in a pinch. This is my basic down and dirty, cheaper and better than ragu or prego, sauce that can be modified or added to quite easily.

1 can of tomato paste
1 can of diced tomatoes (I can and freeze fresh tomatoes but due to a lack of space we never have enough to last us how often we eat spaghetti so any store brand will also be just fine)
2 tomato paste cans of water
About 2 teaspoons of olive oil
A dash of salt and pepper
Fresh garlic if you have it, otherwise some garlic powder will do
About 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
A pinch of thyme

Put it all in a pan, and cook on low heat stirring occasionally. I like to cook my sauce for at least an hour, but really as soon as all the ingredients are combined and the sauce is hot, you can eat it. You can also add anything to this sauce, I like to add frozen spinach, leftover ground turkey, sliced and lightly sautéed bell peppers or mushrooms or both! Including the pasta this costs about $1.00 per person depending on your add ins.

We also like to make home made bread to have with spaghetti. It can be really easy and some recipes only use flour, water, yeast, and salt.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

One Dish Chicken and Rice

As far as active cooking or prep time goes, I have, at most, about 30 minutes where Owen will play blocks or quietly read and Beck will hang out in his swing. I don't make much along the lines of a "gourmet" meal. I do make whole balanced meals that are quick, easy, and inexpensive. Owen is also really into helping in the kitchen and as long as I'm not doing anything with large knives or an open flame, I fully welcome his help.

I have been making a one pot, baked rice and chicken dish that we are loving. You can easily make different variations to mix it up and change the flavor profile. It also doesn't create a ton of dirty dishes so it saves us time on that front too. We also do not eat huge portions, so while this may be enough food for us, it is not a normal American sized meal.

Here's the basic how to:

1. In an oven safe dish with an oven safe lid I put about a tablespoon of olive oil. I add a cup of brown rice and stir it up. *Please note: the cook time for white rice is much less and your chicken will not be cooked through or your white rice will burn if you put the chicken and the rice in the same dish. Use brown's delicious and will cook properly with the chicken.
2. In the microwave I heat two cups of water, sometimes I add a bouillon cube, sometimes I don't.
3. Pour the hot water over the rice, I add either some soy sauce or teriyaki or balsamic (pretty much anything you would normally add to rice), and some seasonings to accompany whatever is in it. Stir it up again.
4. Put one large chicken breast in the center of the water, it can be thawed or frozen (for frozen it will just take a bit longer to cook as the frozen chicken cools down the water you heated up in step 2.). I drizzle a little olive oil (and/or more sauce from step 3) over the chicken and add some seasoning.
5. Cover and cook at 350 for 1 hour for thawed chicken or 1.5 hours for frozen chicken.
6. When there are about 15-20 minutes left of cook time, I add some frozen veggies around the chicken, and usually drizzle on a little olive oil. If I have fresh veggies I want to use I usually add then with about 40-45 minutes of cook time remaining.
7. When the rice has absorbed all or most of the liquid, it's done. Plate and enjoy.

Total prep time: 10 minutes
Total cook time: 1-1.5 hours
Serves two adults (and one toddler) at a cost of about $1.00 per person.

Friday, March 7, 2014

I Love Food.

For the past 40 days I have made dinner at home. I usually cook most of our meals at home, but we have been really tight on money this past month due to some large bills so I have only been cooking at home. I'm a big believer in home made food and I enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking less, however, when I have a toddler and an infant. I also enjoy eating home made food. I was raised on home cooked food. It's cheaper to cook at home, a lot cheaper. And we can eat better food. I secretly love grocery shopping. We usually have a $200 budget a month for groceries for the 3 of us, since Beckett just has breast milk right now. When we first moved to Arizona we were broke. Like, not kidding, really broke, somebody offer me any job and I will probably take it broke. We didn't have a grocery budget then and it was a big problem. So we fixed the problem. And it's been fixed ever since then. This is my system.

At the end of each month I sit down with a calendar, I use an old frame with a white piece of paper in it that is divided into the days of the month and I use dry erase markers to fill it in. I fill in the whole month of dinners. Yes I know what I'm making for an entire month. And yes I love it. We have a couple of standards that we have each week. We instituted spaghetti madness on every tuesday, and my almost two year old toddler can make it (almost) completely on his own (can openers are hard though). Spaghetti is cheap to make and delicious, I make the whole meal for less than $1.00 per person. It doesn't always have meatballs with it, but we do different variations with veggies or leftover ground turkey in the sauce, home made bread, and sometimes we do have turkey meatballs (also home made). We make chicken and rice with a veggie every week. We love rice. Rice is cheap. We could probably eat rice for every meal if we had to because rice is so easy to make in a lot of different ways.

Once I get the whole month of meals laid out, I make a list of everything I need to make all of the meals and list specifically how many of each item I need. I do all of the grocery shopping in one day. Usually I have to make a few small trips for things like milk, fruit, and bread, but everything else I buy enough for the month and either freeze it or store it in air tight containers. My big trip usually costs about $120 (at either walmart or target and a local grocery store) and then from there I spend about $20 a week on milk (Owen drinks a lot of soy milk), eggs, bread, and fresh fruit and veggies. I usually get our fruits and veggies at our local farmers markets.

In a typical month, in addition to the meals mentioned above, we will have things like lasagna, shepherds pie, salads with chicken breasts, southwestern stew, pulled chicken BBQ, empanadas, stir fry, tacos, shrimp Alfredo, chicken pot pie, turkey burgers, salmon, and beans with rice and chicken apple sausage. As I said, we eat good food via this method and a decent variety.