Water Painting

June 29, 2009

Water paintingThe weather is finally cleared up enough for us to be outside, and yesterday I had a lot of gardening to catch up on, so I needed the girls to self-entertain for a while.   I set them up with a bucket of water and some paintbrushes.  It was terrific!  I painted a cat and a smiley face on the cement, to show them how it worked.  It only took a few moments before they grasped the idea and set off “painting” the house, the terra cotta pots, the wooden benches, the dog, and each other.  That was the only moment that I had to intervene and change the little one’s dress.  But, it was just water, it cleans up pretty easily.  Maybe when the weather gets hot they can paint each other on purpose.

Reel Mower

10: Exercise!

No need to go to the gym after mowing the lawn with  reel mower.  Truth be told, they are only a little bit harder to use than a powered mower.  I also have a plug-in electric mower which I use when the grass gets too tall for the reel.  I get just as much of a workout using that one.

9: Cheap!

You will spend is hundreds of dollars less on the purchase of a high-quality reel mower than a high quality power mower.  In addition, you don’t have to buy gasoline, or oil, or take the thing in for repairs anywhere near as often.

8: Kid-friendly!

I can mow while my little girls are playing in the yard.  There is no loud scary noise, nor danger of them being whacked by fast-flying sticks or rocks that get caught in the mower.  It’s also less frightening to dogs.

7: It’s actually kind of relaxing!

I’d never say that about a power mower.  But the simplicity of the reel, the spinning blades, it’s sort of meditative.

6: Quiet!

I can have a conversation while mowing the lawn.  And I can hear when the kids get into trouble.

5: Easy start up!

For so many years as a teenager, I wrestled with my dad’s pull-start gas mower.  I am glad to be rid of that struggle. VERY glad.  In addition, for some reason it feels easier to just pick up the mower and work for 15 minutes if I only have a little time available to go out and mow 1/3 of the lawn when using the reel.  I think it is because I don’t have to deal with the production of start up that the power mowers require.

4: Low Maintenance!

No spark plugs, no oil, no extension cords (as is the case with our plug-in electric push mower), no air filters, no gas cans spilling in your car on the way home from the gas station.  You may need to adjust your blades periodically, but it is easy to do yourself.  And you may need to have the blades sharpened every few years.

3: Lightweight!

Those engines are heavy things to push around.  And to haul in and out of the basement.

2: Clean Air!

It’s not stinky to walk behind a reel mower.  Most gas mowers do not have catlytic converters, and belch out nasty smoke at you and your family and all your neighbors.  Yuck.

1: Reduces your carbon footprint!

I think we all understand the importance of weaning ourselves off of Petroleum products now, right?  I don’t need to explain this one.

clean air gardening has some good info on reel mowers.  You could buy one from them, or get a used one for cheap.  I think we paid $50 for ours on craigslist.

I haven’t yet figured out how to embed vidoe files, but here’s a link to a video I made of the reel mower.  You can see it slicing the grass and sending the little bits flying through the air.  ( I love that)  And you can hear how quiet it is.

Rain.

June 23, 2009

This “summer” has been pretty wet.  My snap peas have grown to over 6 feet tall, growing well taller than the chicken wire I’d set up for them to climb, and then flopped over from their own weight.

Our dog hasn’t fully dried out in about 3 days.

The basement is starting to smell mildew-y and the kids are going BONKERS from not going outside.  So, what to do?  We’ve made a fake snowstorm with styrofoam peanuts, exhausted the joy of playing with corn meal, made finger puppets, beaded necklaces, busted out the marble run.  All these things have been fun, but tomorrow we must get out of the house. Cabin fever is setting in quickly.

Truth be told, we’ve been traveling a lot the last couple weeks, which is why I haven’t posted much lately.  Road trips and visits to the grandma’s houses are good in the rain.  But only for so many days.  We’ve now spent 24 straight hours in the house.  Which is enough.  NOW WHAT?

Perhaps an outing to the library?  The YMCA?  IKEA?  Maybe we’ll do some tie-dying or something.  That sounds fun.  Stay tuned.

The dress-up drawer.

June 13, 2009

princessesI have to say… I’m really not so into the princess thing. I chafe against all the commercial images of perfect little Disney princesses that are crammed into my daughter’s brain by the power of mass marketing. (We don’t even own a TV but it still gets through) However, I do remember how magical pretty froofy dresses were to me as a child.

Recently my older daughter has started showing interest in the pretty dress-up stuff that she has found at friends’ houses. So I decided she needed a dress-up drawer. We designated a drawer that had previously contained baby blankets and I set to work collecting froofy things. We went to our local Savers and stocked up on stuff, but I was surprised at how expensive things were, even second hand. A bridal veil for $15 seems a little too much to pay for a plaything.

Then I remembered that I still owned my old prom dress. I bought it at a vintage shop in Boston and wore it to the 1986 prom. It was still hanging in a closet at my mother’s house. It was strapless, so I removed all the vertical boning from the bodice and stitched in 3 bands of elastic around it horizontally. I re-purposed the hanging straps (intended to hang the dress on a hanger) as spaghetti straps and cut about 12 inches off the bottom. I used the excess to make “arm puffs” to go with the dress, plus a smaller little shift dress for the baby sister.

It has been a huuuuuge success. They want to wear them every day. What fun.  I’m on the lookout for more stuff hanging in my mother’s closets to add to the dress-up drawer.  All those bridesmaid dresses will finally get worn a second time!

Letting go.

June 10, 2009

It has been raining a lot here in Rhode Island this summer. So I’ve had to come up with lots of fun things for 2 kids to do indoors. Today, despite my initial desire to maintain clean floors today at all costs, I decided to let them play with a couple of measuring cups, a handful of steel bowls, and a pile of cornmeal. So far the mess is mostly contained to the paper they are playing on. We’ll see how long that lasts. Kids love scooping loose stuff in and out of bowls. It never fails.

Update: It was a success! I rolled out brown paper first, and the rest was easy to sweep up. (I used coarse meal, so there was no powder.) I should try to let go of my hangups more and just let the kids have fun.Playing with cornmeal

10: It ever-so-slightly increases my daily physical activity, which is good for my health.

9: It keeps my family safer. Did you know that approximately 15,500 fires per year are started by clothes dryers?

8: I am outside, listening to birds. Instead of in the basement, listening to the dryer.

7: It is easier on my clothes than being tumbled about in very hot temperatures. No shrinkage!

6: The smell. Clothes and sheets that have been dried on the line smell like summer. They smell like air. I also use scent free detergent, so this smell is as unadulterated as it gets. I have become so accustomed to this smell that now the perfumes used in most laundry detergents make me feel a little sick.

5: No ironing. I’ve learned how to hang items of clothing so that they dry flat and relatively wrinkle free. Especially men’s shirts. If you unbutton them and hang them by the tips of the collar they dry smooth enough for casual wear. Dress shirts will still need a light press. But cotton sheets dry flat, instead of all bunched up by the tumbler. Whatever you hang, it will dry in that shape, so if you spread things out cleverly you can avoid a lot of ironing.

4: No starch. You probably don’t use starch in your laundry. But the dryer does leave clothes all soft and puddingy. This does feel nice to some. However, I prefer the stiffer feeling that comes from line dried clothes. Especially in bath towels. They get a little scratchy and feel like they are more absorbent.

3: Natural bleaching. The sun will bleach light yellowing out of your clothes. Chemical free!

2: A smaller electricity bill. An electric dryer is one of the biggest power guzzlers in the house. Eliminating it’s use can save around $25 per month.

1: A smaller carbon footprint. Seriously. Why burn oil (or use electricity generated from coal or oil) to dry my clothes when the sun is right there, willing to do it for nothing?