Monday, April 28, 2014

Art for Littles: Alternative Paintbrushes

It has been so nice out this past week that we had to get out and paint! First we took a walk around our neighborhood and collected all sorts of fun different objects. Some of the things we found were dandelions, long grass, small leaves, big leaves, dried leaves, a stick, a pinecone, and buttercups (Owen tried to catch a toad to use as part of his art as well, but the toad was too fast for him, thank goodness). While we were collecting things we talked about whether the objects were soft or hard, bumpy or smooth, big or little, etc. We do a lot of talking when we are making art. We talk about colors, textures, dark vs light, bright vs muddy, etc. 

Once we had a whole bag full of different items we went back to our house. I rolled out a huge piece of paper and let owen choose three colors of tempera paint that I squirted onto a palette (we use a plastic cookie tin lid that you can see in the table painting). I dipped the stick in some paint and made a mark on the paper. Owen got it right away and started experimenting to see what marks each object would leave. He also used his hands and feet (good thing I had brought a bucket of water out with us to wash up in). This is his finished piece.

The next day we decided to refinish a little table we have on our front porch that holds some potted plants. We used acrylic paints for this (if you have a paint eater stick to the tempera or watercolor until they understand not to eat it.). I gave O a couple colors and let him choose some brushes. He also decided to a pinecone and his hands. We sealed the table with a clear spraypaint after he was finished. Here's his table.


Friday, April 25, 2014


Salads are underrated and overpriced. The good news is you can make them in your very own kitchen for very little money. Why does a salad (that's supposedly fresh) at any fast food chain cost more than five bucks?!?!?! You can get a head of lettuce at the grocery store for a dollar, and that's enough lettuce for 2-3 good size salads. Also they are delicious...oh and you can make tons of different kinds of salads! They are the ultimate quick and easy meal. There's also a thousand variations like chicken salad, fruit salad, pasta salad, potato salad, mashed potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad, and I'm sure many more. I like to make a big batch of pasta salad on the weekend and enjoy it all week long (my two year old loves it too).

When I was younger my dad would make a massive (and I mean like the biggest bowl in your house) salad. They were delicious and always different. Lettuce (please note there are a ton of different types of lettuce alone!), kale, carrots, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, sprouts, beets, radishes, green beans, mushrooms, so much delicious. You can add shrimp, chicken, cheese; make a taco salad with some cooked ground beef or turkey and tortilla strips or go with a nice soy ginger chicken and at some wonton strips and edamame. Try a new homemade dressing (there are at least a thousand recipes online) and they are also really inexpensive to make! Salad is a great solution when you don't feel like cooking or are crunched for time. I like to chop the lettuce and other veggies when my boys are napping or content entertaining themselves for a few minutes and dress it lightly, then add some fun crunchy toppings just before it's time to eat.

We try to have salads once a night for dinner and it's always a dinner we look forward to. It's almost farmer market season here and I can't wait to find some new fun things to add to our salads! So go make some big delicious and healthy salads (of any kind) for dinner! What's your favorite kind of salad?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Art for Littles: Styrofoam Prints!

This is a relatively easy project and can be used to quickly make a lot of pieces (aka this is great for the holidays where you want to send something homemade to many friends/family members). This project can also be done in steps so they can take breaks if they aren't digging it right away.

For this project you need:
-a tube or two of speedball water soluble block printing ink
-a brayer
-a couple of old Styrofoam trays (the kind they package meat in are good or leftover containers)
-some paper (pretty much any kind will do, we used construction paper)
-a pencil

You will need one Styrofoam tray to roll out your ink in so make sure and hang onto one. Cut a flat piece of Styrofoam from the bottom of a tray or a leftover container. I made my Styrofoam piece about 3x5 inches. Any size will do, a small print is easier for them to handle though. This will be your littles canvas to create their art on. Give them a dull pencil to draw on the Styrofoam with (just a note when you make a print from the Styrofoam it will be reversed so if you were to write their name on the piece it would print in reverse). I had to trace over a few of Owen's lines to make sure they would be deep enough. He made this print when he was about 20 months old. This is his Styrofoam block for printing after he was done with it.

I just tore paper to fit the size of the plate. We made about a dozen prints so I tore up three pieces of paper just by folding it in half and tearing on the line. Once you have your paper you are ready to ink.

Take your brayer and place a dollop of ink about the size of a nickel in your Styrofoam tray that you saved earlier. Spread the ink up and down and side to side until you have an even covering over your brayer. Using your brayer cover the design on your littles Styrofoam plate. Press the plate down onto the paper and have them press really hard with those little hands or you can have them walk on it which they think is hilarious and lots of fun! Lift the Styrofoam off and you will have their print. Do it as many times as you want!

Two of O's prints on one piece of paper.