Q. What crafts can my kids do in the car without making a big mess?
A. With some versatile supplies at the ready, your kids can keep themselves busy for hours. Choose items that are safe (no scissors) and tidy (no drippy white glue). A container with compartments, such as a tackle box, keeps things neat and readily accessible. You might include origami and scrapbook papers, glue sticks, washable markers, self-adhesive gems and other stickers, pompoms, hole punches and craft punches, chenille sticks, photocopies of family snapshots, and foam shapes. With these, kids can make pictures and collages - you could even ask them to re-create something they’ve seen out the window along the way.
Here are a few specific projects to do with the supplies: Pack a pad of blank watercolor postcards, and kids can embellish them to send to friends back home. Take the mats from picture frames (leave the frames at home), have your children decorate them, and use them to display vacation pictures when you return from your trip. If you’re visiting friends, you can send them photographs in the frames from your time together. Or prepare a vacation scrapbook for each child, with plastic sleeves and clear zippered pencil cases in a loose-leaf binder. Kids can start chronicling their trip in the car; ask them to make an opening page, to draw pictures of animals they see as you drive, or to make lists of the states seen on license plates. Or give them a map of the route to embellish - they may even keep you from missing your exit.
Bring along lap trays as work surfaces, or improvise with rimmed cookie sheets, which prevent items from rolling off.
Q. I live in an apartment and would like to have birds as pets, but I don’t want them to disturb my neighbors. What breeds do you suggest?
A. Birds make lovely companions, but choosing the right one for your circumstances is key for a rewarding relationship. Steer clear of parrots, whose chatter will be audible in nearby apartments. Even small parrots, such as budgies, have outsize voices that carry through walls, floors, and ceilings.
Better choices include zebra finches, society finches, and colorful Gouldian finches, according to Marc Morrone, Martha Stewart Living Radio’s resident pet expert. These birds are quite sociable; it’s important to buy them in pairs, so that they will not become lonely when you’re away from home all day. Also, be sure that their cage is large enough for them to fly about freely (when shopping, look for a flight cage), with bars narrow enough to contain them.
Adapted from Martha Stewart Living.