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Muddy Feet and More

Muddy Feet and More: April 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fun with frogs

For the last couple of weeks, I have been busy with our foster puppy (I'll update on her soon!) and garden, filling out enrollment forms for schools and spending lots of time getting my frogs sorted out. Yes, frogs. I have two White's tree frogs, two tiger-legged monkey frogs, and three Vietnamese Mossy Frog tadpoles that are in the process of morphing into frogs. In the last month one of my tanks began leaking water, two pumps stopped working, and I have had a heck of a time maintaining humidity in another. Thankfully I seem to be getting a handle on all that now!

My real point is that I like frogs. I think they are very cool. So when I came across a paper frog toy in a very old craft book (my grandmother's), I just had to try it! Then I just had to try to make it better. I ended up with thin wooden frogs that bob up and down when you race them. I could not stop! I spent hours trying out different strings (really good kite string had the fastest time, and a thick cotton had the slowest) and trying to perfect my movements. Then the kids got involved. Below is a video of a race that they had. Anyway, it was a lot of fun and I think the kids ended up learning quite a bit about friction without even knowing that they were learning. I think we may end up bringing these guys out at the next party we have, perhaps a wizard party... They might also come out for a physics or a probability unit. So many possibilities!


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Our new foster puppy

Monday we picked up a new foster puppy from the Humane Society. She is about six weeks old and quite adorable (what puppy isn't?). We think she looks just like a little polar bear. She is still pretty unsteady on her legs, can't see very well yet, and sleeps a ton. She is a little thin, although her fuzzy fur hides the ribs, so we are working on getting her to eat solids. She would much rather suck and nibble on fingers.

Many people ask how we can possibly give the animals that we foster back so that they can be put up for adoption. Sometimes it is really difficult. Our first foster was probably the hardest to return. He was a very cool dog and we all became very attached to him, especially our young dog who was about the same age as Finn. We already had two dogs and two cats of our own, and we knew that we didn't have the space or time for another full-time addition. We also knew that if we did decide to adopt him, we would not be able to foster any more animals. On top of that, he needed a family of his own, a family where he would get the attention he deserved all of the time. Once you have gone through the process, the next time becomes a little easier. Our home always seems much quieter after we have returned a foster animal, but soon enough we have another to get to know and have fun with.


Easter eggs

The kids really enjoyed doing the eggs this year. They thought it was pretty cool that we could make our own dye. My husband loved it too because everything smelled so good! We experimented with just a few colors since we weren't sure how things would turn out. The blueberries gave us the most vivid blue, and blackberries made a lovely blue-violet. Both of these came out of the dye a different color then they ended up, so that added excitement too. The blueberry ones looked more violet, and the blackberry ones were pink. We had a much harder time with the yellow.

These were done with a combination of paprika and cumin, but only one turned out really vivid, most were a pale yellow. I was able to make one greenish one by dyeing in yellow first, followed by the blue, but I couldn't get it to take the yellow after that! On a few of the eggs, the kids made designs using their beeswax crayons to add a bit of decoration. We tried a spinach dye as well, but the color was extremely faint, so maybe I should have used more spinach. It really was quite fun. Hopefully next time I will plan better and we will get more colors!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Our calendula flowers are blooming profusely right now, their brilliant orange and yellow blossoms making for a cheerful view out the kitchen window. After taking my younger son off to school in the morning, my other son and I spent part of the morning harvesting the blossoms to make an all-purpose salve. The recipe is really fairly easy; just cover the petals with olive oil in a glass jar, place in the sun and wait a few weeks. The jar is checked daily for mold and the contents swished a little. After the olive oil has been infused with the oils from the calendula, the petals are strained out and beeswax is added to get it to just the right consistency. The salve can be used for dry and chapped skin and lips, burns, diaper rash, and so many other things.

I spent part of the morning (while my son was completing his main lesson work) carefully plucking the petals, making sure that mold-causing moisture was present. We picked about 300 blossoms (yes, I actually counted them) for this batch of salve, which will make about 15 to 20 oz. of salve. It's a lot of effort and time for such a small amount, but it is so worth it! I am also thinking about doing a batch with a mix of olive and coconut oil. I think it would smell fantastic! That might have to wait until after Easter though!

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Sunday, April 5, 2009


In many places this time of year, flowers are beginning to bloom, birds are returning and making their nests, and green is returning to the landscape. Here in the Phoenix area, our spring is on it's way out. Our poppies are spent, our one deciduous tree leafed out several weeks ago, and it seems a little quieter in the way of birds. The change in seasons is not so noticeable here and sometimes I really miss that, so I am looking for ways to bring the idea of spring into our household for a little longer. I have had a few bunches of tulips and daffodils, which were great, but they just do not last long enough. Hopefully dyeing Easter eggs this coming week will help (we are going to try some plant dyes this year), and maybe something will come along that really speaks of spring.