Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Pin 215: Watermelon Sticks

Original pin:
Watermelon sticks, perfect for little hands.  A finger food perfect for picnics or potlucks #Watermelon, #KitchenTips, #Summer, #Food, #Clea...

My boys LOVE watermelon. We found a cute seedless one at the store that they begged for. I gave in. Today, when I was getting dinner ready, I decided to cut it up for them to snack on.

I started by cutting the melon in half. That part wasn't too hard. It was step two I was more worried about. I was certain I'd end up with quite a few odd sized pieces and waste a lot of the melon. 

 My first half was a bit rough.  I was REALLY REALLY REALLY worried I was going to cut a finger off. I had my big serrated knife out and the watermelon was sliding around a little bit and I was trying to hold it all together for the cross cuts.  While I did end up with sticks, they were fairly large. Fortunately, I did not end up with all the odd sized pieces I was afraid I'd have.

About 16 sticks

I called the boys in to test them out. They were so excited I could not get a good picture out of them. Here is the best one:

silly boys

They loved the sticks instead of the wedges, or as L referred to them, "the smiles." They plowed through about three each before returning back to whatever it was they were doing before watermelon time. W actually ate most of his cookie-monster-style--shoving it in as fast as he could with juice dripping everywhere. They did a much better job of eating it down to the rind than they usually do with the wedges.

My second half turned out a little better as I made a more concentrated effort to make thinner cuts. I also turned the melon halfway, working from right to center, turn 180 degrees and work right to center again. Then do the same method for the cross cuts.

More than 24 sticks
These packed up easily into a large storage container. Again, easier than wedges to pack them in tightly. And easy for the boys to grab one out on their own.

Cost: $3 for the watermelon

Time: 5 minutes

Final verdict: I may never cut a watermelon any other way again. This was easy to do, convenient, and the boys loved it. With practice I may even get good at it. It would probably be even easier to make straight, even cuts if you used an electric knife. Oh, and in case you were worried, I did not cut any fingers off.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Pin 214: Painting Tips (aka How to Paint While Caring for a Newborn)

We've been in our house over eight years now and there are a few walls that are in desperate need of a fresh coat of paint. One problem. . . I hate painting walls. When we were first married we owned a small home that was formerly my husbands bachelor pad. It was covered in blinding hi-gloss white paint on nearly every surface--walls, ceilings, cabinets. Pretty much only the carpet escaped the previous owner's paint sprayer. Before I moved in, we spent hours and hours painting everything in that house. After that, I swore I would never paint again. The first coat of paint that went up in our current house was done by someone we paid to do it.

Besides being eight years old, the paint has been at the mercy of two boys and has crayon, pencil, handprints, spaghetti sauce, and who knows what else smeared on many walls. The nice eggshell finish is not favorable to cleaning this mess off. Our lightswitches are a bit high, so under each switch is this long smear of boy, where they plant their hand and then jump to switch the light on.

Finally, finally, finally I got the motivation to start taking action on these walls. My motivating forces--I am having a baby shower for my sister next month and I just don't want one more round of guests to endure that mess on the walls. Secondly, I have a friend who LIKES to paint. Seriously, if it weren't for her I might have curled up and cried on the bathroom floor for a day or two before actually cracking open the paint can.

My husband and I discussed strategy on painting for a few days before starting. One of the worst parts of painting is the prep work--the taping, and drop cloths, and working around the mess of plastic sheeting. He was certain that we could do this without taping. I, however, was not so sure. But, again, thanks to my paint-loving friend, I forged ahead, sans tape, sans drop cloths.

So my friend and I knocked out the painting job in the boys bathroom in just a few hours--without drop cloths or tape, thankyouverymuch. How did we do it?? Well, first we were just really, really careful. If we smudged an edge it was immediately wiped off. We started out the edges cutting in with angled brushes. Then I remembered I had this edging tool out in the garage. I had tried it before on another painting job but remember it not working so well. I was feeling just brave enough to try it again this day.

Here it is:

So it is this little rectangle thingy with a handle and a couple of wheels on the top. The other side is this super soft pad. 

I was careful not to overload it with paint and rolled the wheeled side along the edges of the ceilings, doors, baseboards, etc.  It worked AMAZINGLY. Using this puppy saved us soooo much time. Apparently the trick I must have missed last time is that you can't get paint on the wheels or you get a big mess on the other side. You can see the old paint on the wheels in the first picture. You can get your own for just a few bucks by clicking here. It was so easy that when my helper had to leave, I was motivated enough to tackle the hallway all by myself. With the baby home. And this is where the pin comes in. . . well, sort of.

I know I had this pinned somewhere but I can't find it now. It was probably under one of those pins with about 8,000 tips to make my life easier--can't get enough of those (who doesn't need an easier life???) Or maybe it was one of those mysterious pins that gets deleted by Pinterest due to some sort of copyright infringement. . .

Original pin:
No image available, since I can't even find the original pin, but the idea behind the pin was that when you are painting, you can put your brush and paint tray in plastic bags to keep them from drying out while you take a break.

The hallway I was about to attack has high ceilings and seven doorways to cut around. No fear here with my edging tool! But, again, I was home alone with my baby who needed to eat frequently, bathe, and be lovingly snuggled back to sleep.

I worked in between these tasks and when I needed to stop I simply stashed my brush or edger or roller in a grocery sack to keep it wet.

My paint tray double bagged

It worked well all evening. I bagged all my different tools as I switched between the brush, the edger, and the roller.  Unfortunately, I didn't have time/energy to finish the whole hallway that first night. I decided to take a gamble on that pin and see if the trick would work through the night. I only had a little paint left in the tray but I bagged the tray and the roller up for the night just to see how long I could push it. 

The next day when I was ready to paint again I pulled everything out and did a little finger test:

While the roller was mostly dry, the paint in the tray was perfect. I had another roller brush so I popped it on and went back to work. I finished the hallway in a few hours and am sooo happy to have it all done.

Total cost: $0 for the plastic bags

Total time: Mere seconds in the midst of a big painting job. Overall I probably spent 6-7 hours painting the bathroom and hallway, but saved so much time by not painting or dragging around drop cloths--not to mention having the big kids traipse around the dropcloths!

Final verdict: Fabulous. I could never have done it with the kids around if I hadn't been able to stop frequently to tend to baby and big kid needs. I would totally use this again. For overnight storage, I would wrap the roller in its own bag to prevent drying out, I had just left it propped on the tray. Now I'm motivated to keep painting the rest of the house, although I need my friend to come back for the living room. The ceilings in there are way too high and intimidating. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pin 213: How to Cut Grapes

This video has been all over my facebook feed this week. I decided to try it out during lunch for the boys one day.

Original pin:
Genious!  How to: cut a bunch of grapes in half in less than 10 seconds. (check out the video at this link)

According to these folks, I've been cutting grapes all wrong. I didn't really know there was another way! The idea seems simple enough--sandwich a handful of grapes between a pair of plates and slice away.

I grabbed me a plate of grapes . . .

 . . . sandwiched them in there real nice. . . 

and sliced away with my longest serrated bread knife. 

While I was doing this, my eldest looked at me all wild-eyed and said, "ummmm. . . WHAT are you DOING?!?!?!" Mr. Type A can't handle change well.  Apparently this is not an appropriate way to cut grapes. 

I was all ready to awe him with this new trick and I whisked the top plate away to reveal . . . 

this. This plate of half untouched grapes and the other half randomly sliced. Most no where nearly in half. Quite a few I had just barely skimmed off their tops. Never one to be discouraged, I decided that the problem must be that I have too much lip to my plate and it prevented the knife from going through the centers. So I dug out my flattest plates and a plucked a new batch of grapes and tried again. 

This time at least all the grapes had some sort of damage to them. They worked just fine for our fruit salad. 

Total cost: $0

Total time: 5 minutes, mostly because I had to trouble shoot the first time and start over. 

Final verdict: I definitely think you need to use the flattest plates you have. My grapes in round one were sitting much too low inside the rim of the plate to be reached in the middle by the knife. While round two's grapes weren't perfect, with practice I could probably make that work. Will I use this trick again or just stick with the old way?  The future is unclear right now. Since it didn't save me any time this day and it is a skill I'm going to have to hone, I may just stick to the old way (you know, not really cutting them and just practicing my Heimlich skills. I kid. . . well, sort of. I cut them when I send them to school, okay??) Kudos to the people who do this well. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

I have a secret. . .

It has been nine months since my last post, and even before then it was getting a little erratic. I can explain it. . .

I was nauseous. And tired. And huge.

Pinspiration was something I did in the time after my kids went to bed. Now all I wanted to do after my kids went to bed was eat a bowl of Bluebell as big as my head and pass out in the recliner as quickly as possible. So I did.

But, come St. Patrick's Day, I was done with all that business.

After almost 41 weeks on team green, we welcomed our third beautiful, bouncing, (BIG) baby boy. I spent all of 20 minutes in labor to deliver him.  Twenty painful, unmedicated, hard minutes in labor to deliver this 10 lb 2 oz miracle. He broke his collar bone and I broke my tailbone in the process.

We are both healing up now and I have been thinking about Pinspiration a lot lately--not that I really have ANY time to do some pins, but just that I miss it and I miss y'all. So I wanted to stop in and say hi and thank you to the people out there who have sent me sweet messages telling me they miss the blog. I do too!!

I'm going to do my best to get back to it this summer, although there will definitely NOT be five pins a week at this point. I do have some baby lessons to share. Funny, its my third AND I am a professional baby carer (NICU Nurse) and I am still learning new tips and tricks with this one.

One of my friends once told me something about her third child that really stuck with me. She said that the third time around, she finally threw out everyone's advice and did everything the way SHE wanted to do it, from pregnancy, to labor, to newborn care, and it was the best thing she ever did. I chose to do that too, but that's for another post because I have a lot to say about that!

Thanks for sticking with me through this. Love and miss! xoxo lizzy