Monday, October 31, 2011

Eleventh Hour Halloween Ideas

Happy Halloween, everybody!  In case you need a last-minute costume change, here are some very fast ideas from the archives for you:

The Fastest Capes

5-Minute No Sew Skirts for Witches, Wizards, Pirates and Fairies

Tin Can Tin Man

Cats and Mice

Fork Fangs

If you make the skirts or capes, remember to save the t-shirt sleeves to use for super-easy matching doll or toy costumes!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Simple Play Kitchen Sink

I have been busy working on a special play kitchen with a toy sink that I am building for some friends.  Julio has been so drawn to it while I'm working on it, that I decided to make a simple version for him.  I knew that I wanted to make it out of recycled furniture, and before long, I found this little treasure out on the curb:

Am I the only person in the world who could get excited over this piece of junk?  When I saw it, I knew it was just perfect.  I cut a few inches off of the legs and a hole for the sink, painted it blue, and outfitted it with some inexpensive plumbing pipes and a steam table pan.

I made some wooden knobs that are decorated with bottle caps.  They were very simple, and they are nice and sturdy.  (Let me know if you like these little knobs, and I'll give you a tutorial.)

I stuck a wire rack in there, but I may have to take it back every time I want to bake some real cookies.  I thought the kids might want a door and more knobs for the oven, but I was happy to see them miming opening and closing the oven when they were pretending to bake.  I'm going to wait and see how they play with it, and then I might add some more details later.

The only real problem with it is that now Julio believes that he can really wash his hands here.  When I tell him to wash up for lunch, he refuses, saying, "I already did it in MY sink."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Chalkboard in the Hall

This simple project  has been on my to-do list for years.

And then, moments after I hung it on the wall, Ruben wrote his first sentence.

I bought a piece of decorative molding that had a ledge big enough for holding chalk and catching dust.  I rubbed some mineral oil on it, let it dry, and screwed it directly into the wall studs.

I painted a thin sheet of MDF with chalkboard paint (three coats with a smooth foam roller, and light sanding after each coat with 250 grit sandpaper).  I waited three days and then "seasoned" it by rubbing it all over with the side of a piece of chalk and then washing it.  I mounted it on the wall with drywall screws and finishing washers.

It has seen a lot of action all week.  Julio has become an expert at drawing 7 and 8-pointed stars.  What?  Your two-year-old can't draw an 8-pointed star?

I'm kidding, of course!  He just loves scribbling on everyone else's drawings.  And we all love this new chalkboard.

Monday, October 17, 2011


Things you would never see on my sideboard before I had kids:

A.  Monsters, bats and superheroes
B.  Broken glass
C.  Collectible figurines
D.  Jigsaw puzzles
E.  Piles of bills

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Front Tooth

It was a happy day when, after weeks and weeks of wiggling, it finally came out.

Diego would like to add:  "When I lose a tooth, I feel surprised, happy and glad.  It feels like an upside-down crevice when I put my tongue in the gap if it's one of the top teeth that's in the middle."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quesadilla of the Woods

After the first rains of October, these enormous brilliant yellow Laetiporus fungi popped up here and there around Los Angeles.  I remember seeing one growing on this same tree last fall, and there were dozens of them on a block near our house last year.

Apparently, they are edible, and according to this, they taste like chicken.  (Note to my mother: I am NOT going to eat this.)  It may be delicious, but in addition to "Chicken Fungus" and "Sulfur Shelf," another of its thoroughly unappetizing common names is "Quesadilla of the Woods." 

Friday, October 7, 2011

Is Halloween Tomorrow?

As we went outside to carve our pumpkin back in 2008, a then four-year-old Diego said, "I've been wanting to do this ever since last Halloween, and as soon as we're done I'm going to want to do it again next year!"

What is it about Halloween?  It seems like it has constantly been Halloween around here for years... the daily costumes, the obsessions with monsters, skeletons and candy.  But it's October now, and the rest of the city has finally caught up with us.  The boys want to decorate our front yard.

This guy's been on our front window for a month already, but he'll have some spooky company soon!