Easter Eggs – #minicreations #creativechallenge

We try not to go too mad with chocolate over Easter, and try to do something a bit different as a gift for grandparents rather than buying a standard egg, particularly because Grandad can’t have chocolate. This year I had a brain wave one day when thinking about what we could make. I’d been meaning to do some papier mache with the boys for a while, and it occurred to me that balloons blown up small would be the shape of eggs. So that’s what we did!

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I blew up 2 balloons, one for each set of grandparents, and ripped up some pieces of paper in various bright colours to give small-ish strips. Then came the really fun part – getting messy! We mixed some white PVA craft glue with some water until it was nice and runny. Andrew very much enjoyed helping me with that part. We made sure we put our protective plastic mat down on the table, and then started dipping strips of paper in the watery glue. As we pulled them out, we stuck them onto the balloon (we did one at at time). I held on to the balloon to keep it in one place, then when we needed to do the bit that was touching the mat, I lifted it up and held it by the tied end, which we left poking out.

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Once both balloons were fully covered in lots of overlapping strips of paper, I tied an elastic band around the poking out bits and we left them hanging to drip dry in the garage (unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice day when we did it otherwise they would have been great drying outside). After a couple of days they were well and truly dried out. Then I got a skewer and popped the balloons inside to leave a nice egg-shaped hollow structure. At the end where the tied with poked out, I got some scissors in and cut around the centre to give two halves.

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To give the inside a different colour and texture, I cut four squares of foil and we had fun pushing them down into each half egg. To finish off the edges we stuck some red tape around each rim. Then all that was left to do was fill the eggs with surprises and give them for Easter! We chose some chocolates from a lovely chocolate shop in Keswick on holiday, and some Cumbrian sheeps milk cheese for Grandad.

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Creative Challenge
Mini Creations

Woodland discovery area – #CountryKids

Following on from my post last week about the woodland art activity that we did after one of our many trips to our local National Trust property, Anglesey Abbey, I thouht I’d write a bit more about the woodland discovery area there, because recently Andrew has got very into exploring it.

The property has extensive grounds that range from formal gardens to informal fields to wild woodland. Once you enter the grounds, there are signs that point the way to the woodland, which is at the far end of the grounds relative to the entrance. The signs are made from natural materials, such as cared wood and painted rocks and stones. Andrew particularly likes the rocks painted as ladybirds that signal one of the entrances to the area.

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Once inside, there are many activities to keep an active, or even less active, toddler amused for quite a while. Near the entrance, we enjoy the stepping stones, and the branches that hang from a rope that you can ‘chime’ with another branch like a xylophone and play a ‘tune’. Then as we venture further in, never taking quite the same path, we come across the tree house and the pirate ship, both built up around trees using wood, and which are perfect for a toddler who likes to climb up steps (with help of course).

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One of our recent trips was at the time of a scarecrow competition – local schools had made and displayed scarecrows in various categories like ‘the best dressed’ and ‘the scariest’ scarecrow. So that was fun to see their creations as we wandered through the woods.

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We also like the places that you can sit and have a rest (well I do, Andrew sits for about 10 seconds before turning the benches into climbing frames!) There are a few circles with benches made out of logs, one has a ‘tent’ made out of willow branches over the top, and one has a story telling cupboard inside – it’s actually a hollowed out tree stump with a hinged door fitted into the bark, and inside there are various costumes and props that you can use for telling stories. Andrew chose to be Little Red Riding Hood on one of our visits.

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Of course I can’t forget the hut where we saw the picture frames that inspired us to make our own. Inside there are lots of crayons, paper and other craft materials that you can use to be creative in this middle of the woods location. Not that Andrew is too interested on one activity for more than a few minutes, but I think this is a lovely idea for slightly older children who like to stop running around for more than 5 minutes!

Even though we’ve been to the woodland discovery area several times, both before and since children, I still don’t think we’ve discovered every single part of what’s on offer there. It is extensive and has so much to offer for all ages from baby to grandparent (though I don’t think we’ve been to that bit with the boys’ grandparents – we must do that!) I’d definitely recommend it for a day out.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

 

Woodland art – #CountryKids

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A couple of weeks ago on a trip to our local National Trust property, Anglesey Abbey, we ventured all the way into the woodland discovery area at the far end of the extensive gardens. When I go on my own with the boys we don’t always make it that far by the time Andrew has ridden his bike through the ‘number garden’ and across the fields. But this time he chose to head through the woods on his bike and follow the signs to the discovery area. He particularly liked the big rocks that had been painted as lady birds signalling the entrance to the area.

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There are lots of activities to do in this fabulous area for children, including a tree house, a pirate ship climbing frame, stepping stones, a willow ‘tent’ to sit in, a story telling circle with benches and a tree ‘cupboard’ with masks and costumes in to help tell stories. There is also a hut that has lots of paper, crayons and other art materials for kids to have a go at colouring and being creative.

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It was in this hut that we saw some picture frames on the walls. These weren’t ordinary picture frames, but were made out of natural materials found in the wood, sticks and twigs, tied together with string and wool and hung on the wall. So we decided to pick up some of our own bits and bobs from the woodland floor and take them home to make our very own frame on the balcony later that day. Andrew was excited, and chose some sticks when I explained what we would do with them later.

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After his afternoon nap, we set to and made our frame. We tied four thick, straight sticks together in a rectangle using string and some of my embroidery yarn. Then we decorated it with some thinner more interestingly shaped twigs and some pieces of wool that we’d found in the wood as part of the activities that are suggested at the entrance. When we’d finished, we hung it up on the balcony frame using some ribbon and cord that we found in my craft box. Andrew was very impressed, and often still mentions our ‘picture’ when he looks out of the balcony door. Our balcony has transparent panels so when you look through it at his height, it frames the grass and plants behind it.

This was a fantastic way to keep Andrew’s attention for a crafty project, just the right length of time, and we get to see the result every day on our now ‘arty’ balcony 😉

 

Linking up with the fabulous Country Kids linky, if a little late this week (it’s been a very busy weekend!)
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Craft – #SnapHappyBritMums

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I started this project before Andrew was born, so over 2 years ago. It’s a cotton bag with a counted cross-stitch design on the front. One day, maybe not even until the kids have left home (?!), I plan to finish it; it’s actually not far off being finished, but doing craft on my own is something I’ve found very little time for since I’ve been a mum. I’d love to find more time to do craft other than kids stuff with Andrew (and before I know it, Joel too), but for now I’ll just use this picture to remind me what’s waiting for me when that time comes.

BritMums - Leading the Conversation

Star Christmas cards

There seems to be a bit of a star theme going on on this blog this Christmas! First there were the cupcakes we made for my friend’s sister’s charity fundraising efforts, then Andrew’s nativity play costume, and now these homemade cards. One of my reasons for choosing a star as the shape to feature on the cards was that I wanted to use the finger paints that I bought last year (they seem to last ages, even having used them a few times since last Christmas) to do some potato stamp painting, and a star is a shape that is both Christmassy and simple enough that I could easily make a potato stamp using a star biscuit cutter that we have. Plus Andrew is a big fan of stars, particularly the song Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, so I knew he’d enjoy making cards with stars on.

Potato stamp cut with biscuit cutter and knife is ready to roll (or stamp!)

Potato stamp painting is something I haven’t done for a long time, and it reminds me of early school days. It’s such an easy and cheap way to make your own stamp – a baking potato cost me about 30p, and we already had a star cutter for making biscuits and playing with play dough. I cut the potato in half, and pressed the cutter into it and took it out again; I then cut out the potato from around the edges of the star to the edge of the potato, to a depth of about 0.5cm.

Andrew enjoying helping me paint the stamp before pressing it onto the paper.

The paint we used was some blue finger paint that came as a set of 4 pots (with red, yellow and green too). We stamped one blue star into the centre of A5 orange paper (A4 cut in half) – blue and orange are complementary colours, so the star stands out well on the background. Once the paint was dry, we stuck some glittery mini star stickers randomly around the big star, to make it look like a starry sky (with a bit of imagination 😉 ). Then to assemble the cards, I chopped a 1cm border off each edge of the orange paper, and stuck it down using double-sided tape onto A4 brown thick card folded in half.

11 stars drying overnight on our kitchen floor.

I always like to make (or buy) my Christmas cards with a design that reflects the real reason for Christmas, rather than something seasonal like snowmen, robins or holly. That was another reason for choosing a star – it was a star that marked the place where Jesus was born, so it had a vital role in the first Christmas. To go with this star design, I printed the text of a Bible verse that tells of the Magi’s (or ‘kings’ or ‘wise men’ as they are traditionally known) encounter with the star that shone over Bethlehem:

The star the Magi had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.
Matthew 2:9-10

We then stuck this verse onto the inside of the cards, the opposite side to where I wanted to write the greeting. I used a silver pen to write on the brown card. And that’s all there was to our card making, pretty simple really, but something Andrew could get involved with and enjoy doing!

A finished card, ready to write and send!

Die liebste Überraschung des ‘Liebsten Blogs’ – Danke schön!

The loveliest surprise of the ‘Loveliest Blog’ – thank you!

Being a total newbie to this blogging malarkey, I had no idea about blog awards – what they are and how they work. So when I was nominated by fellow mummy blogger LowImpactMama for the Liebster Blog award, I was very surprised, not just that someone had nominated me, but that such a thing even existed. I came across LowImpactMama’s Low Impact Parenting blog via the Mumsnet bloggers network, and I have enjoyed reading her posts about greener living whilst being mum to a toddler (who’s sadly been sick recently, but appears to be on the mend now, hooray!) I too try to be as ‘green’ as possible and I have a toddler, so I’m keen to pick up lots of tips and learn things from her very readable, well-written and interesting blog.

Once the initial surprise was over, the linguist within me was immediately drawn to the fact that Liebster is a German word (meaning loveliest. dearest, nicest… things along those lines). A quick thank you reply to the nomination comment on the blog and a tweet later, I suddenly thought that I should probably Google this, to find out exactly what it is. From a quick scroll down the first page of results, I soon realised what I needed to do….. and this is me doing that here and now.

The Liebster Blog Award is given to up-coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The rules for the Liebster Blog Award are:

1. Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog: done (before I realised the next steps…)
2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you: done – see above or here’s the link again for Low Impact Parenting
3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog: done – it’s in this post and I’ll work on putting it on the sidebar soon (I’m planning on doing some rearranging at some point anyway)
4. Reveal your 5 blog picks: see below. I have to say it was quite hard because most of the blogs I’ve been reading since getting into blogging are obviously much longer established than mine, so they already have more than 200 followers for sure. The ones I’ve gone for here are those which look like they’ve been going for not too long, or the number of twitter followers that author has is less than 200, as that’s easy to find info. Sorry if I’ve got anything wrong here….
5. Let them know you chose them by leaving a comment on their blog: (off to do that now…)

My five blog picks are the following…

Old Policehouse is written by Grace, who welcomed me very kindly into the Mumsnet Bloggers network, leaving me a lovely comment straight away. She is mum to six kids (wow, amazing lady!) and they live in an Old Policehouse along with her husband and various pets. I love her writing about family life, and I’m sure I can learn lots from her as a more experienced mum than me.

Made by Yours Truly is packed with gorgeous crafts ideas. I’ve come across it a few times through Mumsnet, and was particularly drawn to it recently by the post on how to make a Hobby Horse – I would love to do that one day! Yours Truly certainly knows how to transform old or boring things into fun and funky things, mostly for kids.

Miss Magpie Makes is written by Beth, who also has lots of fantastic craft ideas, mainly tending towards needlecrafts, which is why I came across the blog. I share her love of finding bits, bobs and shiny things (hence the Magpie name), and I’m looking forward to reading more of her ideas of what to do with them.

The Adventure of Parenthood is written by Bex, who writes about all the things that she’s realised she has lots to say about since becoming a parent. I can totally identify with this feeling – that was also one of my reasons for starting a blog, and I too feel like being mummy is a real adventure. Her little one is younger than mine, but I was particularly drawn to her most recent post about going back to work part-time, because I had the same kind of feelings about leaving my baby.

Truly Myrtle is written by Libby, who I actually know from life before we both started blogging, but I just came across her blog recently through Mumsnet. Although very new, this blog has already got lovely ideas for knitting, sewing and generally making stuff – I like the look of the handmade giveaway that’s currently on offer. One day I’d like to give knitting a go and maybe the tutorials coming soon will inspire me.