Sunday, January 28, 2018

Oy Boy! was nominated for The Sunshine Blogger Award - twice!

Never knew how much fun and support I was missing out by not engaging on Twitter. Thank you, blogger community! It's amazing to get to know so many inspiring folks and learn from you. And now, the Oy Boy! is so flattered to receive the nomination for The Sunshine Blogger Award.

Replying to this lovely award nomination from Adam actually took me so long that I received another one from Annie! Thank you, guys! This post is my double response. 

The rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award are as follows:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) who nominated you in the blog post and link back to their blog.
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you.
  3. Nominate 11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions.
  4. List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or in your blog.
Very happy to share details about me, my blog, and my life. Let's get to know each other better - hope you enjoy it!

Replies to Adam:

1. Is the blog I nominated your first blog?

The very first and only one so far, though my day job involves blogging for businesses. Also, before the blog I ran a Livejournal page for several years.

2. What do you struggle with as a blogger?

Making time to edit my posts properly. It takes me several hours every time - aside from writing - and is a real bottleneck at the moment. I'm trying out new editing schedule this month - wish me luck!

3. What’s the best thing to come out of your blogging?

Feeling of accomplishment. The blog is a significant part of my life, which I enjoy making. It brings lots of challenges, yet always keeps boredom at bay. I love what it looks like and what it becomes. It's very rewarding.

4. Who is a blogger you admire and why?

Aimee Bourget, a solo traveler behind The Gallivanting Grasshopper. She tells about people, places, struggles and challenges that constant life-on-the-go brings. I love how frank she is - and I adore her vocabulary.   

5. What’s one app or service that helps you with your blog?

I'm using the free Hootsuite now - it's user-friendly and comfy. Saves me quite a bit of effort to keep up with the content calendar.

6. Do your friends and family know about your blog?

They know... a little. However, I plan on involving them more. Especially my mother-in-law - she is an amazing crafter. Yesterday she made a toddler-sized Samurai sword from paper and masking tape - how cool is that?

7. What’s a secret you’ve never told your blog readers?

I seriously consider having another baby purely for getting another model for my blog photos. :D

8. What’s your favorite message you’ve received from a reader?

All messages where people share a bit about themselves are my favorite. I love finding out more about my readers - who they are, where they live, what they do. I'd love to have more comments like these - so please feel free to say hi at the bottom of this post!

9. What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t blogging?

I love making busyboards and testing them out with my boy - lots of laughs. Also, I'm a pretty good cook. I throw dinner parties for friends often, and every weekend I spoil my family with homemade baked goodies.

10. What’s something you wish you’d done differently when you started your blog?

Start it on Wordpress right away. Learn more basics - it took me too long to automatize proper post length, layouts, and promotion.

11. What’s a good book or article about blogging that you’ve read recently?

27-killer-strategies-brainstorming-blog-post-ideas - this one is pretty helpful. I tried it out and generated about 30 ideas in less than half an hour.

Replies to Annie:

1. What was your last dream?

The last one that I remember was a very dark one. To put it briefly, it involved killing someone and then getting rid of the body (in a very unappetizing way). I know. Sorry.

2. Who's your inspiration?

Ashley Hackshaw from Lil Blue Boo is amazing - she is a cancer survivor and a brilliant artist, I'd love to have her productivity. James Paulius, the creator of the Sky Villages. Tali Buchler, maker of the best kids spaces.

3. What was the first blog you ever read? (if you remember)

One of them was The Cavender Diary - an amazing DIY and home transformation blog from the two Texans. They're all plumbing pipes and checkered flannel projects - and I love their laidback and genuine narrative.

4. If you remember, then about what was your first blog post?

It was showing off my painting on my very very turquoise balcony wall. Hardly a 'post', though, since in the beginning, I was just pushing out pictures with hardly a dozen words.

5. Is there something you were afraid of, but aren't anymore?

The concierge in my house :D She is a grumpy and rather unsympathetic old lady, and I really hated bumping into her before. But this year we became friends!

6. If you could live anywhere in the world, where it would be?

Cote D'Azur, the French Riviera. The most beautiful land with sparkling sea, spectacular mountains, amazing food and the best climate ever.

7. What was the last movie you watched?

Baby Driver, twice. Emir was very much fond of all the vrrrrooming and chasings. The movie is very good. Vfx and sound design are to die for.

8. Winter or summer and why?

Summer, spring, and autumn. Life in the tropics made me appreciate seasons. Not winter, though. Too many clothes, too little fun.

9. If you could change one thing in the world what it would be and why?

Make ripe juicy mangoes available worldwide! Because it's the thing I miss most from Asia :D

10.If you could start your blogging journey all over again what would you do differently?

Start it on Wordpress right away.

11.What's your favorite song for the moment?

"Sigma ft. Birdy - Find Me" Mainly for their clickbait youtube thumbnail - they got Bobby Millie Brown on it.

Thank you so much for the nomination! I enjoyed answering the questions - hope you enjoyed reading my answers. 

My questions: 

1. What is your personal feature you value most? 
2. What was your college major and did it turn out useful to you? 
3. What did your mom call you when you were little? 
4. What are your favorite games to play with kids (if you have kids in your life)?
5. If you could live in your dream house, what would it be? 
6. What was your favorite DIY project? 
7. Do you have a happy place? Where is it? 
8. Are you a cat person or dog person? Tell about your first pet.  
9. What's the best remedy for a bad day? 
10. How do you schedule your blogging work hours? 
11. Your favorite motivational quote? 

And my nominees are: 

I'm very lucky to meet you and read your blogs! 

Thank you for checking out my post. Really looking forward to reading your answers! 

Also, make sure to drop a line in comments - I love to know more about every reader. Yes, that means you :)

Friday, January 26, 2018

How To Place Your New Busyboard Safely

So, you've got (or, you've made) a shiny gigantic busyboard. Congrats! Let's see, where do you put it?

Busyboards are a great addition to any house. I installed quite a few of them in the renovated playrooms, as well as in the rented apartments. They change the atmosphere drastically. 

Any space will benefit from such a bright, fun, nicely designed big object. It’s like bringing a huge piece of modern art in your house. Think Takashi Murakami paintings or the Jeff Koons sculptures  - when it’s big and colorful, you just can’t hold your dopamine from kicking in. 

Now, where do you put a busyboard? I'm glad you asked. 

What area is best for the busyboard?

First, decide what area will work best for you. If your baby is 6-12 months old, then placing the busyboard somewhere where you can keep an eye on her would be a good idea. I mounted the first board for my one-year-old between the kitchen and the hallway. This is a popular option. Below is a post from another mom, who chose the same placement. 

Put the board somewhere in the view of your favorite coffee spot, so you can enjoy your relaxed moments and watch the baby play. You don’t want to miss all the fun that inevitably comes when you give a door spring to a toddler. 

If your kid is big enough to play on his own, then nursery or playroom would be a perfect option. 

Photo: It's Leigh
Photo: AllThingsKatieMarie

I ran across several posts across the web where people even place it in the living room. It does look very nice since the busyboard adds a perfect warming splash of color and fun to any room. Just make sure that the kiddo will not be in the way, and that the doors or furnitures are not too close. 

Photo: OurHomegrownSpud

Outdoor is nice, too - think backyard or porch. It will limit the busyboard usage to the warm season only, however, depending on your area it can be year-round. 

Photo: TheArtGarden
Now you have to decide what mounting option is the best for you and safest for your child. As the busyboard has its specifics - this toy is quite heavy - it needs a proper installation that will provide safety and convenience for the little user. 

Which way to put a busyboard is safest?

1. Put it down on the floor - OK

Photo: DIYPassion
Can work for the little babies, who are not standing yet. Do it if you have a heavy board, the one that baby cannot drag all over the place. While allowable, this option requires you keep a close eye on the play. Horizontal surface brings in a special fun. Kids tend to pull in other toys, from cars to dolls, to add to the busyboard. It turns into an amazing obstacle course for the matchbox cars. The smaller action figures find their way through the labyrinth of parts.

Emir was mesmerized with the little platform on the piano hinge that I made the other day. He took a little man and he was getting this tiny 'door' open and close, open and close for 30 minutes in a row. Guess I missed the perfect opportunity to teach him some foolproof knock-knock jokes.

2. Lean it against the wall - CAUTION!

Only allowable if the parent is around, and make sure to secure it at least somehow. Put it on a big pillow, for instance. 

It is usually the temporary method that parents use before they mount the board to the wall. Even if it's the case, baby only should play under your full control. In between the sessions, put the board securely away. 

The free-roaming busyboards, not anchored to anything, have just one benefit - mobility. So, when your kid builds a fort or a spaceship, he can grab the board and make it a control panel or a dungeon door. However, if your baby is still far from building forts, unmounted busyboards are not recommended. 

If you want to have a piece that can be moved around easily and safely, go for making a smaller travel version. 

3. Make it stand - OK

There are several options that let busyboard stand on its own. 

One is making a very sturdy heavy base to keep the board upright. Like here. 

Source: Matthighlively
While it looks very secure, I believe it weighs a ton. It also eats up a chunk of the floor space. 

Another option is making a double-sided board, that unfolds like a book and has small hooks installed on the sides to keep it open.

Photo: TableAndHearth
This is a good solution. Just keep in mind that it still can flip over. Also, you'll need to store it somewhere.

Photo: TableAndHearth

I love this option for the additional fun. Imagine building a train tunnel through this Busy Mountain. Choo choo! 

All stand-alone options have one minus in my opinion, which is taking a LOT of your floor space. If your place allows - go for it. Just make sure your baby has several free square feet around for comfortable play.  

4. Mount it to the wall - THE WINNER!

Photo: ACountryPile

It is the best, safest, most convenient way. I am adamant about it. 

It is comfortable to play with, and it doesn't clutter the house. It adds the perfect accent to the interior, and as safe as Dwayne Johnson. It stimulates your baby’s gross motor skills by encouraging longer stand-up sessions.  

The only requirement is a good power drill it if you have concrete walls. If they're wooden, a simple hammer will do. This solution will last forever and you will never regret it. 

You should see me when I deliver the orders, with a busyboard in one hand and a huge heavy-duty power drill case in the other. That's my favorite part of the job! 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Top Three Ways to Have Fun with Cardboard

The cardboard is one of my all-time favorite materials. It is cheap, omnipresent, abundant, and sensory friendly. I've made a bunch of cardboard projects over the years, and I always find it hard to just toss away pieces of nice cardboard. This year, with adopting the Sort-My-Trash resolution, I feel even more obliged to re-use every piece of cardboard by putting it to good use. After all, if cats like cardboard boxes, there is probably something magical about them, right? 

What I love about cardboard is that it's so easy to handle for the parents and children alike. And cheap! You will never stress out if your baby wastes the material. Just go and grab another box. 

Here are some of my favorite projects.

1. ART

Collages. Collages and cardboard is a match made in heaven. Cardboard makes a perfect base for any mixed media that you would like to assemble. Get a big piece of cardboard and some other junk - oh, I mean recyclables - from around the house. Now fantasize about what you can make out of it. 


Check this Tibetan Mountain Flags art for inspiration. I made it out of next to nothing. Some cardboard, an A4 sheet, twine leftovers, colored paper, glue, crayons... that's it! Turned out lovely and adorns our nursery just perfect. 

Think of all the landscapes that can look good in cardboard. A desert would definitely look natural, as well as the Mars or Moon surface. Go for a deserted island, a stormy sea, or a dinosaur cave. 

Cut out your elements from the color paper of from magazines, put them on your cardboard, throw in some ropes, buttons, napkins for the texture. You can use any leftovers and scraps you have lying around. Check out this Winter Wonderland we made last weekend out of the wrapping paper leftovers. Ta-daaaa!  

Abstract art Constructor

The abstract sculptures constructor. I saw this one on Pinterest, and it's crazy cool. Note how this project is also made from the leftovers only. It teaches the assemblage, modern art, and the volumes. Awesome. I will cut out the details and then involve my boy to make fun designs on each of it. We will learn parallels and perpendiculars with this one. Or, just make a huge abstract sculpture. 

Collage Faces

These cardboard faces are awesome. The project is easy to adjust to any age. Smaller kids will have fun placing ears, eyes, noses, and mouths in the right places. Let them get creative with the hair. 

Older kids can be introduced to Picasso art with this project. Get some of his staple face features pre-made: eyes, half-face noses, unibrows. Ask kids to recreate some masterpieces. Maybe, you can even get yourself portrayed in Picasso-ish manner. 


Knights Castle

This castle was my response to a hundred-bucks fortress that we spotted in the toy store. (Since then, I sure changed my mind about Playmobil - their kits are worth every cent - but the good part was that it pushed me to go home and create this one.)

I grabbed a bunch of boxes from the nearby supermarket, combined them in a castle-like shape, and secured with scotch tape and glue. Then I added ladders and balconies, cut out the door, secured it all together once again and painted grey. 

Only took me about an hour of assembling. It was not as cool as store-bought - it was much cooler! Our Playmobil toy soldiers sieged the castle, and it was a true challenge for them. The high towers were unreachable for the attackers to get their hooks on, and the monster jumped out from the castle as they tried to ram the gates! 

We had a ton of fun with this one. It is very light and easy to get around, too, unlike the store-bought ones with millions of small parts. The cardboard one can be picked up with one hand and moved to wherever you need it. The best part? After Emir lost his interest in this one, we tossed it to the trash bin. No regrets, no re-selling, no money wasted. Profit! 

Viking Ships

These cardboard Viking ships by ikatbag are one-of-a-kind and make an awesome toy as well as a nice school project. Imagine making a fleet and telling the story of how Vikings explored America for the very first time. Amazing. 

The weapons

Here is a picture from the same lovely ikatbag with the adorable swords she made for her girls.

Emir came up with something else. He would collect all the cardboard tube sticks, then get his painters tape (we're using a ton of this, all the time) and make a club. Boys. They're still cavemen. 

Then he took a toy knife and attached it to another stick. I'm so proud of my boy. 

Then he made nunchakus. Also, numerous rifles, and more than one spying glass and binoculars. What's good is he can smash it however hard he likes. The supply is always flowing, so we can replace weapons as they wear out.

Toy Garage


The Pinterest is full to bursting with the ideas and tutorials on making toy garages for the Hot Wheels cars. To my pity, I still haven't tried out this project, yet I'm definitely going to. As the proud owner of 200+ cars, I just have no choice. Moreover, I really really hate the tracks from the brand - so DIYing them is definitely a better option. 


Cardboard car is the best thing you can make for your kid and for yourself. Attach a smaller one to the back of it to perform as a trunk, cut out several wheels and attach on the outside to make it all more realistic. If you have two boxes, you can make a Cabrio with a convertible roof.

What is the difference between a car and an airplane? Apparently, the propeller. 

Wings can be added, too. Or you can just keep the flaps on the board. 

Emir can play for hours with these, while I relax with a cup some of my well-deserved cocoa.

You can go an extra mile personalizing and adding details to your car, like Sarah from FrugalFunForBoysAndGirls did, for instance. We tried this several times, too. Yet, I didn't notice much difference in result - the little ones have such a wild imagination, they would enjoy their car anyway!


Kids are a bit like kittens, don't you think? After all, you can just give them a box and feel like the best parent in the world.

Our stack of cardboard is growing, slowly but surely. It is begging me to be recycled into something - collages, armor, doll houses, airplanes, shields... And what are your favorite cardboard projects? Please share, cause I need to tame this beast - the sooner the better!