Category Archives: kids craft

Advent fun – days 1 through 9

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Since Mr 6 was a trepidatious toddler walking on tiptoes we’ve been doing some advent activities. Every year I say I will blog the activities we do and every year I get caught up and don’t. So I will post our fun in blocks.

Our calendar has little pockets in it and I place notes in each pocket (see bottom left picture) saying what each day’s surprise is. It’s a really lovely way to spend some time together and I have very much focused them around things the boys like to do as well as things I want to focus on like giving back, making home made gifts and the like.

I’ve been collecting ideas for our activities all year and wrote out the list, sitting with my calendar for December (we have SO many birthdays this time of year too!) and worked out what days would be busy, what days the kiddos would be with Grandma, Mr and me and popped a note in each pocket that fit with the day.

Over the last week and a bit we have:

– danced to a Christmas song
– baked biscuits for Mr 6’s class mates and teachers
– written a quiz about Rudolph
– gone on a Christmas picnic with their friends
– decorated a “gingerbread” house using this tutorial. We tried making gingerbread houses a few years ago and it was a complete disaster and this is more my boy’s kind of thing
– bought and decorated our Christmas tree
– written a letter to Father Christmas including the things that they’re thankful for. This was my favourite so far as Mr 6 helped Mr 3 write his letter and they both carefully considered their content. Their thankful list was also three times longer than what they were asking for. Ace stuff!
– a lucky dip – we have a couple of days when it’s all too much so a jelly bean or similar is on offer

Do you advent calendar? What’s your favourite thing you do as part of it?

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Christmas Cheer

I’ve been really enjoying the lead up to Christmas this year.  Well, I’ve enjoyed it since I finished up work and study for the year last week anyway!

Mr 2 is getting excited about things like lights and Christmas trees and is old enough to participate in a number of our advent calendar activities.

I revisited my Pinterest boards and chose some activities that I’d been hoping to do for a while and added in some teeny presents and the odd treat.

032Mr 5 wakes every morning begging to see what is in the “pocket calendar”. My favourite activity to date was this one where we made washi tape trees in our hall.  Here’s Mr 2 with his “cheese” smile.081I’ve also made a number of presents myself this year – trying a bunch of new craft projects in particular and of course, enlisting the help of the small ones.   I can’t show too much but suffice to say our table is full of paint! 🙂

Mr 2 made some paintings with some cars…008Both my little lovelies painted on some fabric for a secret project – paint was ALL over the floor!035I made some sugar and orange hand scrub.039 We used some air dry clay to make some dishes and candle holders… 102And of course I’m making a bunch of food gifts….

Mini panettone using this amazing recipe – it’s umm, not exactly kid friendly as it’s heavy on the booze but it is darn delicious.  I made a big one too for us to crack on Christmas Eve.  This is a really sentimental cake in my family.  My Dad brought it around to my Grandparents as a gift the first Christmas after he met my Mum and my Grandpa, who was the funniest man you ever could meet in the great, dry way that I love most, asked if he’d cooked it in the BHP ovens.  It’s been nicknamed BHP cake in our family ever since and we eat a slice, along with a glass of bubbles at midnight on Christmas Eve.  I’m really looking forward to trying it with my family!142I have also whipped up a batch of two of Amy’s favourites – dulce de leche shortbread sandwiches and salted dulce de leche brownies (which my Grandma has requested for her birthday on Sunday too).

001We’ve done pear and vanilla jam and I am going to make up some lemon curd using lemons from our garden and some nutella meringues in the next few days.  I’ll package up various goodies for family and friends though exactly how I’ll package them I have no idea as yet!

With all this baking, crafting and making it’s been a fun and busy time and the Christmas spirit is in full swing around here.  I love imbuing my making and baking with love and considering what gifts people would like but most of all, having the small ones around is what makes this Christmas so special….because THIS!

003Merriest of merry times to you all lovelies.

xxxxx

Christmas Gift Guide 2013: Gifts for little men

Today in our series Cat and I are sharing some ideas of what to give the little men in our lives….I may know a thing or two about little boys and my boys have several of these already and love them!

My little boys are creative players, puzzle do-ers, collectors and avid readers and our list reflects the kinds of things they love doing.

Gifts for little men
Row 1:
Marble Starter Kit by Flower Press by Flower Press $30.75AUD – etsy store here
Pirate Messenger Bag Satchel for Kids Mee a Bee $25AUD – store here  my boys carry their crayons, twigs, leaves, small notebooks, toy cars, planes, trains. compasses, torches and all manner of things in these bags (not all at once!) and they’re small enough for them to sling over their shoulders comfortably
Row 2:
Dimple Wheel Cushion by One Pear $45AUD – madeit store here (two little boys in my life may be receiving these exact ones for their reading corner in fact)
Handmade soft toy superhero “Edwin” by Tiny Morsels Emporium $24.16AUD – etsy store here Someone better snap this one-of-a-kind up before I do!!!! He’s adorable.
DIY Tutorial: Circus Paper City by Made by Joel – free! – blog here We have used a number of Joel’s tutorials now and they are all great. You could make a beautifully presented gift by pasting on to thicker card stock and presenting in a lovely tin.
Special offer: As a special offer today Jacqui from Mee a Bee has offered free shipping for anyone who wants to order a bag from her store.  I have gifted every small person in my life one of Jacqui’s bags and they are brilliant.  To claim this offer just enter: BELOVERLY at the checkout.

Loverly Parties….Things that ROAR!

My boys birthdays are three weeks apart and this year, after his brother’s large 1st Birthday Party, Bebito was very keen to have a party.  I think he imagined another huge gathering but instead I wanted to focus it around him and his friends.  Five seems like a milestone year to me and I’ve certainly seen him grow up in the last little while.

It’s the first time I really saw Bebito as my “Client” when it came to planning.  I’ve talked about his in my previous party planning post. Essentially, my party philosophy is home made, hand made, thoughtful and organised and don’t spend a fortune so I was guided by this. It was the first time he got involved in the planning and worked out who to invite and I wanted it to be first and foremost, a kids birthday party.  As Little Lion was 2 several weeks later I just combined their party together.

My boys are loud. Yep, I know all kids are loud but my two are particularly loud when they play together and one thing they like to do is out roar each other and pretend they’re dinosaurs.  So months ago I decided on a, “Things that ROAR!” theme.  This encompassed dinosaurs and other animals, rockets, planes, trains and pretty much anything.  As I like to reuse decorations I stick to safe colour palettes that I know we can incorporate into our house…blue, red and green essentially.

I wanted to get Bebito involved in making things so bought some cheap white fabric and some fabric paint and had him potato paint to make a tablecloth. He also helped me glue some dinosaurs on some jars and spray paint them for party favours.

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The jars had some jelly play dough in them, which again, he helped me make – see the recipe here for this play dough which is the most awesome play dough ever.

I did invest in some cookie cutters which I used in various projects for the party – biscuits topped with natural food colouring sprinkles….

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and to trace some figures on card (which my bigger niece and nephew helped us do as a school holiday activity) and we then strung them together as garlands.   This was a great activity to do with both the boys as we talked about colours and patters and it cost less than $5 to make a whole lot of garlands.  We strung these up around the yard and they’re still hanging up under our verandah. The kids love them!

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I found some blank bunting on special for $3 so had my niece, nephew and Bebito decorate two flags each with fabric crayons.  SUPER cute yes?

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Activity wise, the party was a smash hit.  Given the age of the children attending was so varied I wanted to make sure there was a lot of different stuff to do. I took the train set outside, had a table set up with play dough and the cookie cutters, left our swing set very accessible, had a face painter (our largest expense), had a table set up with fabric crayons and blank aprons that the children got to decorate and take home as gifts also.  The feedback from Mama’s who came along was that their smalls loved the aprons most of all.

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We had a few party games too – including pin-the-tail on the dinosaur drawn by me and looking a whole lot like George’s Din-e-saw  – I think I’ve watched too much Peppa Pig!

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Food wise I did a light lunch and had a table set up outside with menu cards written by me on card and using various stickers around the theme – Bebito helped with this too.  We served up home made mini pizzas and garlic bread, home made sausage rolls, healthy chocolate crackles using this recipe, mini frittatas, pinwheel fairy bread using the natural sprinkles again, fruit skewers, spinach and ricotta puff pastry rolls and some puffed corn in a mini cup. The only things I made on the day were the fruit skewers and frittatas as they don’t freeze well.  The rest I cooked up in a huge batch the weekend before and froze, reheating the morning of the party. By far the most popular food was the fruit skewers. I decorated the table with some of the boys toys that met the, “roar” theme.

We also made some strawberry milk using smashed up real strawberries and chocolate milk with cacao and honey, as well as some iced coffee for the grown ups.  Mr also spent a fair chunk of the party ensuring everyone who wanted to had a chance to sample his barista skills.

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The cake was one Bebito chose from a Donna Hay kids magazine and in spite of the sponge having completely split and falling apart when we baked it and inverted it, turned out really well I think!

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Overall, the party was really good fun and very relaxed.  The 15 or so children who attended all had a great time and there was no fighting, screaming or ickiness at all which I think marvellous!

Most of all though, my client gave me the following feedback, “Mama, today was the best day of my whole life! I think we should call the news people to tell them what a wonderful party it was.” High praise indeed!

Messy Monday

It’s been far too long since my little men and I spent the day without any plans and as the house is in much need of a clean anyway I declared today, “messy Monday”.

I encouraged them to do every possible activity to get messy and of course they were happy to oblige!

We started with play dough, drew and practised letters with texta, I made a batch of tiny and little fingerpaint that we made fruit paintings with and then they drip painted with, they made cities in the sandpit, picnicked and then we made pizza together.

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But this was by far my favourite sight of the day, Bebito reading outdoors.

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The weather turned this afternoon and they are happily reading and playing trains now. This kind of fun, relaxed, messy play is just what the Dr ordered.

Lessons in parenting: the dealing with setbacks edition

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Last week Bebito and I set about making his gift for his much loved Grandma (my Mum). I asked him what he wanted to make and after some thought he decided upon a necklace. Kellie put me on to this great tutorial on making a clay necklace. I knew it would be perfect.

So we set about making it together…rolling and chatting and chatting and chatting (well he did most of the chatting!) and poking holes. It was fun. The best kind of crafting together fun.

Only, the thing is, that I forgot to account for the difference in temperatures…the tutorial and indeed the clay was listed in Fahrenheit not Celsius!!! I popped the beads in the preheated oven and a few minutes later returned to the kitchen where there was smoke billowing from the oven. And oh boy, the smell!!!!

Let me say, I’m usually quite good in a crisis. I’m clear headed and calm and I leave my freaking out til later. EXCEPT when it comes to fire. I am not good with fire. So I did what any normal person would do and rang my husband. Because of course that was going to fix it! I mainly wanted to check whether it was a good idea to open the oven. I was worried adding extra oxygen to the situation would be ok and not burn the whole house down! My Mr was the rational man he always is and talked me through it. He sometimes must think he’s married to a complete ditz! Anyway, major crisis was averted.

I was however worried how Bebito would react. He has his Mama’s propensity to get a bit upset when things don’t go according to plan. He asked a million questions but actually coped well. He actually thought it funny more than anything, especially when the drama died down.

That night as we reflected on his day together he asked if we would try again. He knew we had more clay and we hasn’t actually achieved what we had set out to. I really didn’t want to! Fire! I made a mistake. One that could have ended terribly. But it didn’t.

Sometimes the teaching moments in parenting are just so obvious and this was one. A mistake shouldn’t stop you in your tracks. You should pick yourself up, try again, learn along the way. I had to set that example. So, we did it again, this time, only better and he made one for me too (his idea!). One that I will proudly wear for the rest of my days as a reminder of how much he is teaching me as much as I am teaching him.

Le craft with le kids: Jelly Play Dough

Last week I spied this really interesting tutorial on Modern Parents Messy Kids about making play dough with jelly (or jell-o as they call it).  We’ve tried making play dough several times now and haven’t really liked any that much as we found it a bit too grainy and well, salty.  Bebito, like most kids, loves jelly and he thinks it’s hilarious when we use familiar things for other purposes.

I nearly always follow a recipe to the letter the first time around but this time I didn’t have all the ingredients (no cream of tartar) and I’d already promised we would make the play dough so I didn’t want to let him down.

So, here’s my amended recipe:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar (was supposed to be cream of tartar but I didn’t have any)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 packet of jelly

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and beat together until smooth.

Cook the ingredients over a medium-low heat, beating with a wooden spoon constantly, until it’s super thick, forms a ball and you find it hard to beat it anymore (kinda like what happens when you make shortcrust pastry in the food processor).

Set aside the play dough to cool by inverting on to a floured surface and allow to cool for 20-30 minutes.

When cool, knead it, adding in about half to one cup of corn flour (this really did make all the difference) to the mixture until it’s just the right consistency to be pliable but not so sticky that it remains on your fingers.  Bebito really liked this stage! As is said in the original tutorial you could add food colouring at that stage if you’d like to but I really like the more muted tone of the “original” jelly colours – a mauve and a mint green is what we ended up with.

Store in the fridge in an air tight container – the original tutorial says it’ll last a few weeks and that if it gets too sticky to add some more flour.

Bebito’s verdict:

This is really good fun, I like the smell of the play dough and it makes a lot of play dough so I can decide to make anything I like, even a really big truck like a semi trailer or something like that! I didn’t like that it took so long between cooking it and me being allowed to play with it and it took my Mama a really long time to get it so it wouldn’t stick to my fingers too much.

Mama’s verdict:

It took a long time to get the consistency right and this makes LOADS of play dough. Next time I will definitely halve the recipe and if he wants more colours then I’ll even quarter it.  That way he’ll love it even more because we’ll actually make some jelly from the mixture too!

I actually think I’ll make these for party favours for the child guests at Little Lion’s Birthday later in the year and add them to the craft table I want to set up at the party.

The absolute best thing about this play dough though is the consistency – it’s smooth and really easy to work with when you get the consistency right. If I had cream of tartar it may have been easier to work with, I’ll let you know next time!