Rainy Monday Smoothie

It’s been raining steadily here for about four days and it’s starting to wear on all of us a bit. There’s lots of things to go and do for indoor play, but outdoor play has been very limited.  When my little guy was starting to melt down after a bout of play on the deck, I knew it was time for the 4pm smoothie.

Do you know about the 4pm smoothie?  It can work miracles. Months ago, I noticed that about 4pm, my sweet little boy would turn into a raving lunatic.  He melted over nothing or was intentionally naughty. It took me a while to figure out that he was in need of a bit of a blood sugar boost. And so began the 4pm smoothie. This ritual comes and goes as we need it. Some days, he’ll ask for crackers or fruit, but some days, the suggestion of smoothie making will stop him in his tracks and make him run for his Tower.

Today, we threw together an easy one. I used a partial can of coconut milk from the fridge, some frozen pineapple, and two frozen bananas*.  On top of that, I added ~2 cup water to help it have a more drinkable consistency. It tastes reminiscent of a pina colada. (If you don’t like banana or coconut or pineapple, then steer clear of this one as all of the flavors are very present.)  One more thing… This delicious beverage is both vegan and dairy-free!  It’s a twofer!

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*I generally buy an extra bunch of bananas, peel, cut in half, and freeze in a plastic bag. Freezing the bananas give it a more ice cream-like consistency.

Rainy Monday Smoothie


  • 4 bananas, frozen
  • 1-2 cups frozen pineapple
  • 1 can coconut milk (make up for any partial cans with water)
  • 1-2 cups water, or as needed for desired consistency.


Put ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy.

Makes 5-6 (8oz) cups.

The Deck is Back!

We spend a LOT of time on our deck. It is a race track, drawing surface, and more. And it was looking, well, a little sad.  After nearly two years of heavy use, most of the stain had worn off of the high traffic areas. Our lovely landlords had it refinished, but the deck guy was very unreliable and it took a long time. Thankfully, it is finished now and the weather is nice enough that we can start playing on it again!

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Rex and Chloe romped up and down the newly finished deck yesterday before we put the furniture back on it.

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I also rearranged a bit, pulling some new toys outside. The basketball hoop previously lived at the end of the hallway.  The red rolling bin was downstairs in the play room, gathering stuff. We picked it up at a yard sale last summer and it lived next door as a sand/water bin. I’m planning to put sand in it again, as we had the idea to turn his little sandbox into a garden bed. The green/blue basket I bought last year, but never found a good use for it. Now it’s housing the outdoor balls. The white milk crate has a set of “dig digs” (bulldozer, excavator, and backhoe) that haven’t seen much love lately. I’m hoping that moving them will give them new life.

We also bring out a couple of ride-on toys when we’re playing, but since it is still raining fairly regularly, they have to live inside when they’re not in use. I have some ideas for building a covered “garage” so the vehicles can stay outside without getting ruined.

Also on the docket is a new gate to keep the kiddos safe (see half-assed gate in the first picture) as the old one was removed when the deck was repaired. (It was broken and due for replacement anyway.)  But more on that later.

Baby Peas

A while back, we stopped at the Urban Farm Store to pick up a special pitchfork. I’ve always called it a sifting fork, because it’s the style we used to sift the shavings while cleaning horse stalls (which is like cleaning a cat box, only much bigger).  Online they seem to be called manure forks or stall forks.  They’re fantastic for picking up straw, leaves, etc. Anyway, none of that is really important. What’s important, is that Rex picked out a packet of seeds.

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After spending an inordinate amount of time communing with the chicks, he insisted on a packet of Super Sugar Snap Peas from Territorial Seed. Who was I to argue?  We planted his seeds (or, as he calls them, his baby peas) on February 20th. Six days later, they sprouted!  As Liisa says, peas are nearly instant gratification and perfect for kids.

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Four days later, they looked like this.

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Soon, his peas were climbing up the window, in search of tendril holds.  I staked them with BBQ skewers, but they soon surpassed those in height (image below is from March 9th) and we knew it was time for transplanting.  (They should have been transplanted prior to being so tall, but life got in the way a bit.)

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Finally, we moved them to their proper home.  The soil is a mix of local compost and organic potting soil.  I’ve given them a tomato cage to climb and Rex watered them with his new watering can.

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I’m excited to see his reaction when his baby peas grow up and sprout pods.

As a little aside… I used clothespins written on with a Sharpie pen for planting markers this year. They are working great! They clip on to the sides of the little starter pods and then are easily moved when the plants are transplanted. I found the idea online from a variety of sources. I marked mine with the name on one side and the seed ID code on the other. In the fourth image, you can see I’ve used them to mark the tomato starts next to the peas.

Home Day

Sometimes, our busy lives get too busy and we just need a day at home. Today was one of those days.

My allergies are raging and Rex is in full growth-spurt and toddler mode. His breakfast included a meltdown tantrum, simply because I served him the food he asked for. The quest for clothes took several outfits this morning, because he was only happy with his shirt choice until I tried to put it on him. The number of freak-outs, melt-downs, and general toddler-y-ness was amping up by 10am and I knew today was a Home Day.

Rather than let things spiral out of control, I took a few deep breaths, brought my voice down to a low, soft level, and canceled all of our plans. Here’s what we did instead.

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We donned our “boobles” (aka goggles) and sanded down the board I’d had cut for the train table top a few weeks ago. I picked up the table via Freecycle, but the top was pretty much a wash. I pulled off the old one and went to Home Depot where we picked up some red oak laminated plywood*. I had the board cut at the store on their wacky sideways table saw.  At that time, we also purchased primer and polyurethane as well as brushes.

This project has been sitting in the garage, waiting for its turn for a couple weeks.  The problem? The board didn’t fit quite right and the edges were sharp and in need of sanding. I wasn’t about to do that much sanding with a manual hand sander.  Luckily, over the weekend, my father gifted me with his old Makita hand sander. It’s a corded sander in the style that I’ve always referred to as a “jitterbug”, but in actuality is called a palm or finishing sander. Mine looks very similar to this one, but is at least 15 years old. Age didn’t make a difference for this project, because that little sander did just what I wanted!

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I sanded the heck out of the edge that didn’t quite fit as well as smoothing and rounding all the edges. With the sharp sides fixed and the top smoothed out, it fits in there quite nicely. I may have to sand a bit after we paint it, but for now it’s perfect.

With the top sanded and ready, I was able to prime it while Rex took a very unexpected self-directed nap.

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When we acquired the table, my husband had the idea of making it a family project that would take weeks and let Rex feel a lot of ownership over a piece that will ultimately be his.  The plan for this table top is to paint it in layers, using one color at a time. We have a rough idea sketched out of what we’d like the finished landscape to look like. I purchased powdered tempera paints from a local place** so we can mix just what we need to use for each painting session. The tempera paints are easy to clean up and the colors tend to dry brighter than other kid-friendly paints. When the painting is finished, we’ll put several coats of polyurethane over the top to keep it looking great for a long time.

The cost of this project is not cheap (we’re at about $50 in supplies, give or take a little), but it is less expensive than purchasing a train table new. Many of the supplies (tempera paints, leftover wood, primer) are more than enough and will be used for future projects.  The real benefit isn’t saving money, it’s doing a project as a family.


*It was mis-marked on a high shelf as underlayment and was priced at $12.97. At the counter, it rang up at $29.97. They honored the shelf-tag price, phew!

**Shout out for I’ve Been Framed! They were the only place in town that carried powdered tempera paints.  I wish I’d had more time to browse as they have great stuff at great prices.

Complete, with Compost

The new garden beds are complete and filled with compost.

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With rain in the forecast, the urge to get outside and enjoy the last of the warmer weather today was overwhelming. It’s been a rough week around here for a variety of reasons (and it’s only Wednesday, Oy!), so some manual labor was a great anxiety-relieving activity.

The beds are filled with compost from a great local place called McFarlane’s Bark.  We picked it up a couple weekends ago when we took a load of yard debris for drop-off. Since then, it has been sitting in my garage, making it smell very… earthy.

Rex loved scooping and dumping dirt out of the trailer.  (Not that much of it actually made it into the wheelbarrow…)  He climbed the compost mound and spent a lot of time talking about the colors of our shovels. (“Mama shovel red! My shovel blue! Me up here! Me in dirt!”) You don’t know how fascinating shovels are until you’ve seen them through the eyes of a toddler.

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I think his favorite part was riding in the wheelbarrow. He had a total of eight rides back and fourth to the garage. (We paused in the middle to air up the tire and that just made his day.)

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The day culminated in a bubbly bath and tv with dinner. Sometimes, you have to go off-schedule for a day to reclaim some calm. I’m feeling much better after some time in the dirt and Rex does too. Give it a try. You won’t regret it.