With St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner, here is a fun and free activity to do with your wee ones! My first-grader was sent home with a do-at-home assignment to make a leprechaun recently. This got my crafty senses tingling, and I remembered making one years ago out of a toilet paper roll (yet another reuse for those this year!).
“You’re on for Risotto this week” are six of the most terrifying words in the English language. It’s not that I don’t like making risotto (I do, it’s involved, but fun.) It’s also not like I don’t make a good risotto (I do, it’s involved, but delicious.) It’s just that in our almost ten years of marriage, I’ve only made it twice, because it’s a bit involved, but ultimately worth the work. Read more
Yesterday was a big day for us here at Thrift & Thrive, as the long awaited renovations on our downstairs showroom finally began! That’s right…in just about two months we will be doubling our size, thanks in large part to the SBIF/TIF money available to building owners that house small businesses in the City of Chicago. Between the owners of our building and others on the block, partnering with Alderman Cullerton and the Portage Park Chamber/Irving Austin Business District, since October of last year, you may have noticed some nice changes happening here in the neighborhood. Last October the scaffolding went up and construction crews completed the roof and tuckpointing on our storefront. Later in the year, contractors upgraded the HVAC, electrical and plumbing and as well, installing the fabulous new wall racks that we purchased from Simplified Building Concepts…causing some minor interruptions in our business, but nothing that we couldn’t work around. We took a break for the holidays and are back at it again with the final (and most exciting) part of the job!
Finished play dough!
We started letting our two-year old play with Play Doh a couple of months ago. We were finally over the fear that he would eat it, and we also just had to give over to the fact that he was going to make a mess with it, but he does with everything he plays with. He’s two. Last week when we got the bin-o-Doh out, we found that most of the dough had dried out and realized we were going to need more. As we cannot buy anything new for a year, I was succumbing to the idea that the boys would just have to learn to live with a couple of containers of mixed color crumbly dough for the next year when I remembered that our first grader’s teacher had sent home a recipe for homemade play dough at the beginning of the school year. I had held onto it, as I remember making it when I was a little girl with my mom and sister. It’s great fun to play with, but mixing it up is just as much fun. So, this Saturday, the boys and I got a little messy and had a lot of fun!
Home made play dough i
You probably have all of the ingredients in your pantry right now! This recipe makes the equivalent of about four large containers of store-bought Play Doh. We divided the recipe into two and made two colors, but you really could split it four ways, as it makes so much. Though it doesn’t last for as long, it will keep in airtight container for some time. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 4 cups of flour
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 1 cup of salt
- food coloring
- Add your food coloring to the water. The more you add, the brighter your dough will be. We found that about 15 to 20 drops worked best.
Mixing it up.
- In larger bowls, mix your flour and salt well. We used our hands for this, which the boys loved.
- Now, make a well in the flour mixture and add the colored water. We began mixing with a spoon, and when most of the water had been absorbed, we dug in and used our hands to squish it and mix the remaining flour into the dough. (If you find that your dough is too dry or too wet, you can add more water or flour, just start off with very small amounts.)
- Break out the cookie cutters and rollers and get playing!
Finished play dough!
You can even make little creatures or statues or whatever you like and bake them at 350 for an hour or let them air dry to keep them forever! This is a great idea for making ornaments at the holidays or just little gifts for the grandparents.
It probably took us about 20 minutes to get it all mixed up, but that is because the boys had fun just mixing the food coloring into the water and playing in the flour! They played with it for at least half an hour, and then we stored it in leftover Play Doh containers and resealable plastic bags to keep it soft. As prices of Play Doh vary from store to store, I figure we saved around $4 or $5 by just making it ourselves. Making it was half the fun! Hope that you have as much fun as we did!
Tomato and pepper seedlings.
I love to grow things, like plants and little people. It is just so amazing to feed and water and tend to something and to watch it develop into a beautiful plant, or person! I grow flowers, but also as many vegetables as I can fit into my little green space. Nothing is more satisfying that growing your own food. An heirloom tomato from your
Basket of heirloom tomatoes.
garden tastes nothing like the pale, bland tomatoes you buy in the supermarket. Plus, you know exactly what has not been fed to the plant or sprayed all over it. We’ll be growing some veggies this year to feed ourselves top quality food and to save some money.
March is the time to start seeds indoors here in the Midwest, and it helps get us through those last cold months of the winter, giving us hope for the green that
spring brings. So, it is time to start planning and gathering supplies, and not purchasing them. Below is a list of a few of the things we’ll need to start seeds:
- Seeds We already have seeds from gardens of previous years, so I’ll take inventory of those seeds. Then, I’ll likely spend hours looking at the Seed Savers Exchange catalog, drooling over their amazing selection of veggies. If I buy seeds, I buy them here. It is a great organization and they are not far away in Iowa. You can also do a seed exchange with neighbors! If you have any to trade, please comment below!
- Seed starting containers Rather than buying seed trays, you can reuse multi-compartment seed starting cell trays from previous years, small containers out of the recycling bin (just poke drainage holes in the bottom with an ice pick), or use toilet paper rolls. My mom sent me a link to Minnesota Locavore’s blog that tells you how to reuse toilet paper rolls to start your seedlings—brilliant idea! You can set the whole thing right into the ground in the spring, as the roll is biodegradable. Start collecting them now, even ask your friends and family for theirs!
- Soil Instead of buying soil and compost from a home improvement or garden store this year, I’ll be seeking out compost and soil on Craigslist.
- Covers I cover my seedlings with plastic to keep in moisture and heat until the seeds sprout. So, I’ll be collecting plastic lids that come with the used containers in the recycling bin and clear plastic bags that I can wrap around the containers and secure with a rubber band.
- Markers You need to mark what seeds you’ve planted in each containers. I’ll be looking for waterproof things like plastic strips or something similar to write on with a sharpie and stick into the dirt.
- Fertilizer Once the seedlings have sprouted and got their second set of leaves, it is good to fertilize them periodically. I’ll likely be on Craigslist again here looking to barter with a vermicomposter, or just regular compost to add to the seedlings.
I’m going to go and rummage through my recycling bin right now for supplies! Watch for the next post in the gardening series of Buy Nothing New for a Year on getting those seeds started. The rewards in the spring are worth all of our preparation now! Let’s get growing!