Savoring Stone Soup

We ate lunch with Liam’s Pre-k class today. His class helped prepare stone soup and all of the parents were invited to come eat. Our little guy was very excited that we were joining him for lunch and that he got to help cook the meal. All of the kids were very proud of their contributions to the soup.

If you don’t know the old folk tale of this communal meal, here’s a short summary from Wikipedia:

Some travelers come to a village, carrying nothing more than an empty pot. Upon their arrival, the villagers are unwilling to share any of their food stores with the hungry travelers. The travelers fill the pot with water, drop a large stone in it, and place it over a fire in the village square. One of the villagers becomes curious and asks what they are doing. The travelers answer that they’re making “stone soup,” which tastes wonderful, although it still needs a little bit of garnish to improve the flavor, which they are missing. The villager does not mind parting with just a little bit of carrot to help them out, so it gets added to the soup. Another villager walks by, inquiring about the pot, and the travelers again mention their stone soup which has not reached its full potential yet. The villager hands them a little bit of seasoning to help them out. More and more villagers walk by, each adding another ingredient. Finally, a delicious and nourishing pot of soup is enjoyed by all.

Liam’s teacher informed us that they really did put a rock in soup but assured us that it had been washed and scrubbed thoroughly beforehand. Being the germiphobe that I am, this wasn’t the best news of the day but I survived and the soup was quite tasty! See for yourself…

stone soup

I love this time of the year when there are so many activities going on and this year is extra special because with my new job I’ll be off more days through the holidays to spend with my family.

Liam Stone Soup

Stone Soup Class

Little Nipper & His Tiny Flippers

For a site called 2Dolphins, we sometimes seem kinda light on posts about dolphins so I knew I had to share this cute picture that Nanny Karen sent me earlier this week:

Nipper baby dolphin

Click the photo above for a larger version of the image.

This 10-day old baby La Plata river dolphin, suffering from injuries from a fishing net and separated from its mother, was recently rescued on a Uruguayan beach in south-eastern South America. The tiny fellow nicknamed Nipper is being nursed back to health at the NGO Rescate Fauna Marina reserve in Piriapolis, 62 miles east of the capital, Montevideo.

For more photos & info, check out the article on UK Daily Mail.

Two For Tuesday: Painting Tools

I’ve done a few Tuesday Tool Twofers posts in the past to highlight software or web-based apps that I’ve come to rely upon. But this time, I’m breaking out of the digital realm and showcase a couple of “real” tools that I’ve been using lots lately.

Not long after we moved into Kirkwood Manor, we asked the trusty handyman near me (Truett) to replace a few of the old, cruddy interior doors. (The guy is a wizard, literally replacing a door, hardware and all, in less than 30 minutes!) Well, he took it upon himself to do all of them. Right, he swapped out every interior door in the place except for the bi-fold closet doors in our master bath! Now, the new 6-panel doors do look fantastic, and we were very pleasantly surprised to discover that he’d done them all, but it did leave us with one small problem…

Painting all of those newly-hung doors!

Months later, I’m finally getting some traction on that project. Painting is a bit of a chore anyway and the raised panel styling of these doors made that even more tedious a prospect. Add into the mix an eager-to-help 4 yr old, and you can begin to see why I dragged my heels on getting this started for so long. But I splurged on a tool that’s making a huge difference: the Graco Spray Station 2900.

Graco Spray Station HV2900

The Graco is working very well! I do have to thin out the latex paint to get to a viscosity suitable for spraying, and this took a little trial & error to get just right. Otherwise though, I’m very happy with this! It’s an easy-to-use paint spraying system that requires minimal adjustments. And cleanup—the thing I feared the most—is much easier than I had imagined.

So, I’ve got a makeshift assembly-line setup (complete with Dexter-inspired plastic sheeting) in the fenced off carport behind Liam’s room where I’m knocking out the doors 2 or 3 at a time:

spraypainting interior doors

Wooster Painter's CombIn keeping with the painting theme, the 2nd tool that’s become an essential part of my toolkit is a very inexpensive gadget I read about in Family Handyman magazine (a very practical Christmas gift, courtesy of my bro Rich!) called a painter’s comb.

I found mine, a Wooster brand, at Home Depot for about $5 and it makes cleaning out paint brushes a breeze! The stainless steel pins work paint out of the interior of the brush and reshape the bristles after washing so they dry straight & flat. This tool will help you get lots more mileage out of your brushes!

Some painting tips we’ve picked up along the way:

  • Splurge on better brushes. They yield much better results when painting, clean up easier, and hold their shape better if you clean them thoroughly (with a painter’s comb, of course!).
  • If you’re going to leave your brush idle for even 5-10 minutes, toss it in a ziplock baggie and squeeze out as much air as you can. This will help prevent the paint from setting up within the bristles, which makes cleaning all the more difficult.
  • Forget the evil blue masking tape and instead go green! Get some Frog Tape for masking off areas when painting around trim molding, cabinets, etc.
  • You can keep your paint cans clean, dribble-free, and easy to reopen by snapping one of these inexpensive spout stretchers on the inner rim before pouring the paint into a tray or other container. These little gems are only about a buck at nearly any home improvement store and while they call them “disposable,” they’ll last forever with a little care.

After the entire painting process, I would suggest you book Maid2Match house cleaning services to help you get a spotless house and remove the unwanted paint stains off the floor.

Have any tools that you find indispensable? Let us know about ’em! Any painting tips you’d care to share? Please leave a comment!

Halloween 2010

We had a busy fun-filled Halloween weekend this year!

Liam was all revved up about being his favorite Toy Story character for Halloween so we pieced together a costume over the course of the Summer. The Buzz Lightyear Action Wing Pack came as an awesome birthday gift back in April from “big bro” Ryan. Rob found the jumpsuit at Wal-Mart 3 or 4 months ago. I picked up matching Toy Story 3 green socks in the dollar bin at Target, and we splurged on some lime green Converse hightop “Chucks” and some glow-in-the-dark armbands to finish the ensemble off.

Liam in his Buzz Lightyear costume

The festivities began Friday night at my Mom’s nursing home. They had a mini carnival inside and the kids got to trick or treat with the residents there. Of course, all the residents just lit up having the kids around. Liam had lots of fun playing games and even won a stuffed frog that he gave to his G-Ma as a gift. It was so sweet.

Saturday night we met up with Clems, Sophie & Siena and Martin, Ashley & Little Sophie at St. Elizabeth’s Gooberfest carnival. We love this one because it’s a lot smaller than some of the other carnivals in town and the games are geared just perfect for younger children. The kids had lots of fun just running & playing with each other and it was nice to be able to relax and visit with our friends.

Liam and Siena

Buzz Lightyear and Darth Vader

Sunday night we took Liam around the neighborhood trick-or-treating and he loved it. Last year he wasn’t that into it but this year, he was all excited and did great going up to the doors and interacting with people. When we got home, he loved passing out the candy to the trick-or-treaters who visited our house and would get all excited every time he heard the doorbell ring. He told them all “Happy Halloween” after he gave them their candy.

Liam goes "Trick or Treating."
Liam "Trick or Treating."

I was wiped out by the end of the evening but it was SO worth it! It makes me realize how precious these days are that he enjoys such simple things in life. I wish I could just freeze time and he would stay 4 forever! (He’s always quick to tell that that he can’t stop growing!)