Sunday, March 23, 2014

Butterflies & Spinderella #projectcrafthappy

My sister, Jennifer, and her husband share a birthday month, so I'm sharing the gifts I made for each of them in this post- It's March Madness for #ProjectCraftHappy!

My brother-in-law, Mike, is really into all things nature. There are random animal cages and tanks scattered about their house, weird things growing in pots on their kitchen windowsill, a chicken coup out back and wild mushrooms growing on logs on the side of the house. He even hosts #ShroomAtNoon and #InsectAtNoon on Instagram- search the hashtags and follow him at @glycine3 to see some really cool pictures!

What makes Mike even cooler is that he exposes my 3 nieces to nature every day. You can often find all 4 of them trekking through the woods, butterfly nets in hand, wading through creeks for tadpoles, turning over leaves for insect eggs. Here they are exploring the root system of an uprooted beech tree...

hunting for wild mushrooms...

and chillin' with some Polyphemus Moths!

One time, I was babysitting my then 4 year old niece, Annabelle, when she gave me a small seed looking thing that she found on the underside of one of the leaves from my herb garden. She told me it was a butterfly egg, and that I had to protect it. I checked with Jen and Mike to verify this, and she was, indeed, correct! 

Recently, a hawk broke into their chicken coup and killed one of the chickens. My niece, Gabriella, rationalized the sad situation that might otherwise be earth shattering for a 10 year old by stating "Maybe the hawk needed to feed her own babies". These kids understand the circle of life! It's so cool!

Mike loves butterflies, and each year he collects Monarch butterfly eggs, hatches them, raises the butterflies, and hosts a big Butterfly Release Party in his front yard for all neighbors. He sets up a tent where everyone can view the butterflies and hold them, and then at the end, everyone gets a butterfly to release. It's beautiful!

I wasn't sure what to make for Mike's birthday, but luckily I came across the instructions to for a butterfly feeder on the zoosociety.or website- perfect! You can check out the full instructions in the pdf in that link and make one for yourself! It was super easy. I have a ton of random jars laying around. Everything I read about attracting butterflies says they are drawn to bright colors because they seek nectar from brightly colored flowers. I used colorful washi tape (my new obsession!) to decorate the outside of this jar.

Then I wound gold wire around the jar until I was able to hang it upside down. I just looped and curled the ends of the wire to add a fun decorative touch to the jar.

I didn't add the sugar water before I gave it to Mike, but the directions are to heat a solution of 1 part sugar to 10 parts water, then cool before adding it to your jar and hanging outside. Any more sugar than that ratio could pose a dehydration risk to the butterflies. Also, clean and refill the jar every few days so it doesn't get funky and moldy from the sugar.


Jennifer balances what Mike teaches the girls about science with what she teaches them about all things awesome and pop culture. Jen is the oldest of my 4 sisters, and she always had the best music. She's the reason I appreciate Madonna and Salt 'n Peppa, and why I know all the dance motions Rob Base's "Joy and Pain". She always has good music on in the car when she's driving her girls to soccer, gymnastics, girls scouts and karate. She makes sure they get floors seats to Taylor Swift and even works her swagger to meet Taylor's mom in the crowd! A few weeks ago, I gave a tutorial on how to do a letter painting for my other sister's "Yo, Yo, Yo, Yo Baby Pop" painting, so you can check out the instructions there. I wanted to make something equally fabulous for Jen, so I took another iconic line from Salt 'n Peppa for her painting.

Happy Birthday, Jen & Mike! Keep raising those girls with good science and good music!

If you enjoyed these crafts, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Donut Day Paper Craft

It's Donut Day! One of my favorite days of the year!  I love any good reason to have a crazy snack, and we go for the craziest donuts around- Italian Crispelles!  They're HUGE, can easily feed 2 or 3 people! But we each get our own to snack on for a few days.

All day long on Facebook, you can share a picture of your donuts! Just click here to be redirected to the Mom Hearts Pinot Facebook page and Show Us Your Donuts!

But you all knew I couldn't do a holiday without having a crafty activity, right? I came up with this one on the fly- Paper Donuts! Simply cut out some donut circles and let the kiddos decorate with crayons, confetti sprinkles (I just cut small squares of colored paper), and whatever other materials you want to throw in there!

I taped a paper donut to the table so the Meatball could participate in the fun, too!

Happy Donut Day!

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Monday, March 3, 2014

#Moms4Moms Day!

A few weeks ago, the lovely ladies over at CT Working Moms compiled a beautiful photo essay, End The Mommy Wars, in which they highlighted differences in parenting choices and stressed acceptance, love and understanding without judgement. My mommy friends and I got together and did our own End The Mommy Wars photo series, as we thought there were some, er, important topics missed in the first series. To our surprise, the CT Working Moms caught wind of our post and they loved it! They invited me to share a wonderful event they are hosting in conjunction with The Bump- March 4 has been declared Moms4Moms Day! All day long, we'll be celebrating judgement-free motherhood on social media!  You can participate by snapping a selfie while holding a sign with a positive message for other moms. Post your pic on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Twitter using the hashtag #moms4moms - you can even get your other mom friends involved and have fun with it!

It's easy to think that we women wage these "Mommy Wars" because we are "gossipy" and "judgmental". But I don't believe that. I think women are at a major crossroads. Our roles have evolved exponentially in the past century, especially compared to the roles of men. It has us all feeling a little insecure. 

Do people think I'm lazy if I stay home? Do people think I neglect my children if I go to work? If I do a little of both, do I make enough time for my husband? Do I make enough time for me? Am I giving birth the best way? Feeding my children the best way? Am I a valuable contributor to society?

The war is in our own heads, ladies! We need to all take a deep breath, stop trying to defend what we do and give ourselves our own pat on the back because we are all acting out of love. And that's what really matters!

Today in the Senate, there are 100 members and only 20 of them are women. In House of Representatives, there are 435 members, and only 80 of them are women. In contrast, the latest census numbers state that women make up 50.8% of the United States population.

Ladies, we need to fight a different kind of battle! It does not matter if you're pro-choice or pro-life, if you're for or against hospitals supplying formula for newborns, if you think healthcare should be covering contraception or not, and on and on and on. The fact of the matter is these are women's issues, and women are not adequately represented in the highest levels of our government. The majority of the people voting on these crucial women's issues are men! Our insecurities stem from these issues not being addressed as we women need them to be.

We have to unite as mothers, as women, to ensure our needs are served. We have to vote every chance we can, not just in presidential elections, but also for all primaries and every November.

As women, as mothers, we owe that much to our children. And that is something we can all agree on.

Like what you've read here? You can follow me on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot !

Friday, February 28, 2014

The thing

This past week, a student in Philly was the subject of national news when an adult contracted by her school yanked a sweater vest out of her mouth, pulling 3 baby teeth along with it.  The little girl has special needs, although the story does not indicate exactly what her disorder is.

But it doesn't matter to me.

I made the mistake of reading the comments below the article.  I don't know why I did that.  Only assholes post comments under those news articles.  It was a shitstorm of posts on how this child doesn't have special needs, she's just a "brat" who is "defiant" and "can't follow directions." I could copy and paste some of those moronic comments here, but I can't even bring myself to go back and reread them.

Incredibly ironically, I read about this story last Wednesday night, and earlier that very same day the Meatball's Occupational Therapist was here to work with us.  She just happened to tell us about a certain sensory issue in which people chew on their clothing.  She was explaining how the Meatball needs extra sensory input sometimes and he clenches his fists and jaw in response to this need.  Many kids need to chew gum or their sleeves to release the tension.  Again, it was totally ironic that we had that conversation and then later that night this particular story was on the news.

So we happen to have a kid who has a "thing".  Meaning, we can't put a name on it, but the Meatball has a way of learning that isn't conducive to present day societal norms.  He doesn't have a physical abnormality or anything outward in his appearance that indicates his struggles.  So assholes out there in the real world are going to assume things about him based on his behavior.

And you know what?  I'm one of those assholes.  I've worked with people who I thought were "weird".  I recounted stories about encounters with strange people at the supermarket.  I have bitched about my day being inconvenienced by someone who is an odd social bird.

In the years before I had children, I ran a summer camp at an art center.  One day, a dad walked in with a registration form in one hand and an Epi-pen in the other.  His daughter has a severe peanut allergy, he told me.  Someone on staff would need to administer the Epi-pen should she have an allergic reaction.  This small non-profit community art center could not afford to have a nurse on staff, so that staff member would have to be me.  I hesitated a little too long in my response to this dad.  I had never had any medical training and I had never been approached with something of this nature as Camp Director.  

"By law you can't turn her away!"  He practically shouted at me, "She has a right to go to camp here and you have a responsibility to make it a safe environment for her!"  

I threw my hands up- Whoa Whoa Whoa!  Of course we would make it safe for her, I assured him.  I reluctantly got a brief lesson on how to use the Epi-pen, which, to my horror, was basically "thrust into her chest".  Anyone who is close to me knows that I am pretty squeamish when it comes to anything like this.  I cringe when the hubs just cracks his knuckles in my presence.  Later at home, I complained to Dave.  Why wouldn't he just send her to a camp that has a nurse on staff?  Of all the camps, why did he have to choose our tiny, broke, camp that couldn't even afford proper air conditioning in most classrooms?

What an asshole I was.  What an arrogant jerk.  Because now here I am, the mom of a kid with a "thing" that people aren't going to understand.  He might be in school someday and need something intangible that people don't think is necessary or don't want to be bothered with.  He's going to grow up into an adult out there in the world and maybe have some "quirks" that make people think he's odd.  He might not fit into the social constructs in life.  He's not "average".  He's not "the norm".  

I read the comments posted below that news story and I want to comment back to each and every one of them and educate them personally.  "She has sensory issues, you asshole.  She's not chewing on her clothes because she's a brat.  She's doing it because she needs to do it.  Because her body needs to place itself in space.  The sensory issue she has is unnerving and uncomfortable.  Her jaw needs an outlet."

Being the parent of a kid with a "thing" makes you hyper aware of everyone you interact with.  There's that dude in line ahead of me at the small Italian market who is temperamental because the prosciutto is sliced too thick, and he's becoming upset and getting loud about it.  Yea, maybe he's having a bad day, and maybe he's just a dick.  But maybe, maybe, he has something else going on... something a little more complex than that. 

I know whatever this is that's going on with the Meatball is something that could require me to advocate for him possibly more than once in his life.  I might find myself in the sweltering un-air conditioned office of some ignorant summer camp director, my sweaty and nervous palms clenching a registration form as I demand in a high pitched voice "He has rights!"

I know someone who has been going through something with her child that she needs to advocate for, and she once said to me "I know she's different, and I know I can't make everyone see that she needs these things.  I just need to teach her to be her own advocate and to grow thick skin.  But it makes me mad that my kid has to have thicker skin than a lot of other kids because most people don't get it."

But that's the reality.  Those who get it, get it.  Those who don't, might be able to be educated, and they'll get it with time.  And those who don't and can't be bothered with being educated on the matter.... well, I guess they'll just keep being assholes, won't they?

Like what you've read here? You can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot !

Saturday, February 1, 2014

New Baby Gifts #projectcrafthappy

One of my very dearest friends, Jen,  just had her first baby, an adorable little girl.  There's nothing better than one of your good friends having a baby!

Yea, I'll just be taking her home with me, thanks.

I wanted to make gifts that each parent would enjoy.  "Visiting your new baby at the hospital" gifts aren't really about functionality, they're about celebration.  They're about saying "DAMN!  You friggin made a human being!  And a cute one at that!  Nice Work!"  Like a Major Award kind of gift, know what I mean?  At least, that's how I see it.  

The Dad is a really smart, great guy.  I knew he'd appreciate something awesome, so I tapped that funny bone for his gift.

For this project, I just used the Sharpie method that's been on Pinterest over and over again- draw your design, wait 24 hours, put it in a cool oven, heat oven up to 350 degrees, turn off oven and remove the mug after the oven has cooled completely.  I wrote "Handwash Only!" on the bottom, because I am skeptical of this technique.  I made a "Cookies for Santa" plate 2 years ago, and that hasn't washed off, but again, I don't put it in the dishwasher and it obviously doesn't get much use.  The Sharpie method, for me, seems too good to be true.  But this will be a novelty mug for dad to have at work and for that purpose it will probably last a long time.... or at least until his baby girl makes him a new mug for Father's day in like 5 years.

My gift for Jen had to tap into our long standing friendship.  I could write a friggin book on our adventures together!  

We all have that friend.  But mine is better than yours.

Now that we're older and more settled, we still enjoy our random quirky time together, it's just less time at the bar and more time being crazy---- for example, we've been watching the entire original Dallas Series because JR Ewing is a Boss, and that's why.  Dave doesn't think we can get through all seasons (1978-1991), but we will prove him wrong.  I decided to keep it simple and use some old school puffy paint to decorate a onesie.

I love painting novelty onesies for babies because babies grow out of clothes in the first year in like two seconds, so this is useful but fun at the same time.  Whenever I use puffy paint on a shirt or onesie, people always compliment me like crazy.  But seriously?  Anyone can do this!  Just follow the directions on the bottle and don't over think it.  Practice on a piece of paper before hand and apply even pressure to the bottle as you write each word.  You can do it!

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Pineapple Spinach Smoothie Cubes

So I'm officially jumping on the smoothie bandwagon.  I've been making smoothies for a while now for the Meatball because all the sudden he decided the only fruit he will eat are bananas.  I wanted to get a variety of fruit in him, and he loves smoothies.  I even got special smoothie cups with straws for both he and Red.  When I pull them out of the cabinet, he gets excited and everything--- totally cute.

Smoothie recipes are all over Pinterest, and there are obviously a ton of health benefits, so I started making them for myself in the past few days.  But I think what I love most about them is that it helps me to waste less food!  Bananas are over-ripe?  Smoothies for dessert!  Spinach is on the borderline?  Toss it in the processor!  I love my food processor, and although I'm sure I'll invest in one of those fancy blenders someday, my 4 cup Cuisinart works just fine for mixing up some smoothies.

Yesterday I swung through Produce Junction, and the smallest bag of spinach they had was huge.  Actually, it was friggin huge.  Seriously?  This bag of spinach was bigger than my head.  but it was only $3 for all that lovely spinach, so I had to buy it.  I made a salad and later a smoothie with spinach, pineapple, yogurt and some flax seed (yea, I got the flax seed.  I'm all healthy and whatnot).  It was delicious.  But I probably put just a tiny dent in all that spinach.  

I looked at the friggin huge size bag of spinach and considered all the meal possibilities.  But I still knew I'd never use it all before it turned to green sludge in my vegetable crisper.  

So I called my mom and asked her if I could freeze spinach, and she said, "Sure, you just have to blanch it first." 

I googled "How to blanch spinach" and determined pretty fast that I am far too lazy to blanch it.  So instead I had an idea-  I was Pinspired (I just coined that.  Is that already a word?  I take credit right now)---- I was Pinspired(TM) to freeze my summer herbs in water in ice cube trays, and that worked out great!  Could I do something similar with my spinach?

So I give you- Pineapple Spinach Smoothie Cubes:

Fill up the food processor with half fresh spinach, half fresh pineapple.  Grind it all the way down.  Then switch to the "chop" button because you think maybe getting the blade going the other way will knock that one stuck chunk down.  Did it work?  Good, now switch it back to grind.  Make it into a pulp.

Cut the pulp with half water, then pour it into ice cube trays.  Try to ignore the fact that it literally looks like vomit.

Once frozen, pop the cubes out....

and toss them in a freezer bag!

I got a huge amount of pulp from that spinach, and I still had over a full head size amount of leaves left in the bag.  Seriously, I got spinach for days and smoothies for weeks.

It's ridiculous.

You should maybe pin this and then you can Pinspire(TM) others to lead such an awesome, healthy lifestyle.  I'm like Pop-eye up in this shiz.

Like what you've read here? You can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot !

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Baby Girl's First Birthday Sensory Box #projectcrafthappy

My friend's daughter just celebrated her first birthday, and I just love this sensory box I made for her.  So far, my year of handcrafting all my gifts is going seamlessly, and this project has been my favorite one to make!

Using a regular shoebox- the kind with an attached lid- I just hot glued fun fabric and felt all over the outside and inside.

Making a sensory box is like going back in time and doing arts and crafts as a child. There are no rules or "right ways" to do it.  When Red makes some sort of work of art, she's always proud of the outcome, even if I secretly don't see what the heck she made---- "It's a WHALE!" she'll exclaim about one of her drawings.  Most times, I see it.  But sometimes, I find myself scratching my head on the inside while shouting "It TOTALLY IS A WHALE! Great Job!!" and then she's scribbling away with her crayons on the next work of art.  Or sometimes she'll stop abruptly and announce that the project is complete.  I have to fight the urge to say "Don't you want to draw the rest of that tiger's head??" or something like that.  Children are blissfully unaware of the need to perfect and tweak.  And that is how I make a sensory box--- I don't need it to be completely fine tuned and perfect.  The purpose of these boxes is to incorporate elements that spark the senses and get small children interested in discovering the way things feel, how something works, the cause and effect of the way it's handled, and so on.  It's honestly a lot of fun for me to make these boxes!

I cut the fabric on the back into strips and just knotted them in interesting ways.  Then I added a layer of flag-like cut felt to give it a more interesting texture.

Wherever I could find a spot to loop ribbon through, I did, and just knotting it over and over and over again makes an interesting rope-like texture.

Of course, you want to make sure that everything you add to the box is secured and doesn't pose a choking hazard to a small child.

I filled the box with birthday party items- including gift bows in different colors and sizes and also some shiny garland.  Then, I nestled a smaller gift box inside.  Ironically, I was at this Baby Girl's house for New Year's Eve, and she kept putting a toy cupcake in the front pocket of my diaper bag.  I found it there a few days after the party and set it aside with intentions of giving it back to her mom.  Instead, I was able to tuck it inside the little gift box!  Perfect!

If you enjoyed this craft, you can follow me here on the blog by entering your email address in the box at the top right hand corner.  You can also find me on Instagram and Twitter @momheartspinot and search #projectcrafthappy for other great ideas!