Saturday, 22 December 2012

Child-led crafting

How often do you let your child lead the way with crafting?

I'm guessing that the older your child and the more comfortable you are with mess the more likely it is that you let them lead the way.  The younger they are and the more pristine you like to keep the nest, the less likely that they get free rein.

Up until now I've mostly led the way to some extent.  Either I've told them what we are making (such as with the snowmen and the Christmas tree decorations, or I've just decided on the equipment or media and let them get on with it, such as with our shell sculpture, or pipe cleaner people.

Sometimes C has asked for particular items, but up until now he's been a bit aimless, and just been sticking or cutting randomly.

This week was the first time that he's had a very particular end in mind, and has come asking for the bits and pieces he needed.  He had an interesting stick which he had found in the garden and brought into the house.  He left it to dry on the radiator for a couple of hours.  At the beginning of quiet time he requested "some sparkly things and some glue".  When I asked what for, he said he wanted to make a sparkly stick as a present for Santa.  I suggested that he might want something to stick the stick into so that it would stand up, so he also asked for some playdough and a little pot.  I provided the goodies and left him to it.  A little while later he reappeared and asked for a wet cloth so that he could wipe the glue off his fingers.

Here's the result:

Isn't it awesome?!  He came up with this all by himself, and he's only three and a half.  He is adamant that its a gift for Santa and that we need to take it with us to leave with the beer and mince pie that we leave out for the big man on Christmas Eve.  I just love him so much.  He makes me proud.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Christmas Gifting

I'm having mixed feelings about my Christmas gifting.

Some of the gifts are, I feel, pretty good.  I'm quite proud of the ones that I've made, though they don't look much.  You'll get to see them after Christmas, when the recipients have seen them too - but I'm quite pleased.  One or two that I've bought have been pretty good too.

Others, unfortunately, are distinctly lacking in inspiration.  There are a few people for who it is difficult to buy.  I really want to get something  brilliant, personal, that they can see is well thought out and special to them.  I can't always succeed.  Either I hoped to make them something but never managed to fit it in, or I just didn't know what to do.  In any case, I know which people they were, so I'll start with them next year and concentrate to get something better.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Easy Toddler craft activities - salt dough Christmas tree decorations

Salt dough is a brilliant activity for toddlers.  It feels good, it is cheap, it washes off and you can do so much with it!

I've made things with salt dough in the past, but not for a long time and this is the first time I've done it with the children.  We made Christmas Tree Decorations, which we've painted with glitter paints and threaded with ribbon ready for the children to give as Christmas gifts to whoever they would like to.

Salt dough recipe:
Use half as much salt as flour and mix to a dough consistency with a little water at a time, usually about the same volume as salt.  I used one cup of flour, half a cup of salt and about half a cup of water and it made two baking trays full of decorations.

What to do:

  • Make the dough by mixing the ingredients (you can add food colouring and even glitter at the dough stage if you want).  Knead it well - the more you knead the smoother it will be.
  • Roll it out.
  • Cut with cookie cutters or just free-form if you prefer.  For Christmas tree decorations or anything else that needs hanging, don't forget to poke a hole through with a skewer at this stage.
  • Bake in the oven at 120 C until the dough has completely dried out.  I think I left it in for about two hours, but I'm not sure that this was enough, and now I have the finished items sitting on top of a radiator just to make sure they are completely dry.  Apparently you can also put them in the microwave for two or three minutes.
  • Once dried out, paint your creations.  You can use any type of paint - poster paint, acrylic, glitter glue.  You can also varnish with proper varnish or with PVA and water mixed 1:1.
  • Thread with ribbon.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

More Christmas activities for toddlers

Following our Advent activities to get ready for Christmas - we have:

made a wreath (this one was largely me, once they'd felt the holly prickles they suddenly weren't all that interested and wanted some CBeebies!)

decorated a potted mini Christmas tree (it wants re-potting really but was frozen into its pot so will wait until after Christmas).  Decorating it was C's job

decorated the Christmas cake  - now we can eat it!

watched The Snowman

been to The Ceramic Experience to paint some coasters for family Christmas gifts

put up the Christmas Tree

Please forgive my shocking lack of posts lately.  I'm full of cold that I just can't seem to shift so have no energy, and I'm frantically trying to finish some crafting projects required for Christmas presents.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Quick Christmas crafts for toddlers - angels and stars!

This is a glittery one, so beware!

What you need:
  • some doilys (white, silver or gold - all good)
  • some cardboard - empty cereal box is perfect
  • glue
  • glitter
  • pencil
  • string or thread
  • scissors
  • selotape
The Angel
  • take a doily, and imagining that it's a pizza, cut out 1/3.
  • Cut out a piece of cardboard that is the shape of a skittle (head on top and a fattish bit for the body).  Get your toddler to draw a face on the blank side of the cardboard.
  • Take the larger piece of doily and wrap it around so that it makes a good cone shape, cut off the pointiest bit.  Unwrap again and then rewrap with the neck of the cardboard in the point of the cone (look at the pictures for help deciphering what I mean here) and glue the dress in place.  
  • Now glue the smaller piece of doily onto the back as the angel's wings. 
  • Dab some glue on to the front of the angel's head and dip in glitter to make a halo.
  • When it's dry, use some selotape to attach a loop of thread to the back so that you can hang it from the tree.
The star
  • show your child how you use a ruler to draw straight lines.  Draw three longish lines all crossing in the middle, and then three smaller lines each going in between the three longer lines.  Now join up the ends of all these lines (again, look at the picture to get a clue what I'm on about).
  • Depending on the development of your child you can then get them to draw their own star, or not; and to cut out their star... or not.
  • Get your child to put glue wherever they want on the star.
  • Sprinkle glitter over the star (show your child how to do this inside a tray so that the surplus glitter can be collected back up and sprinkled again).
  • When all the glitter is dry, use tape to attach a loop of thread from the back so that you can hang it from the tree.
Enjoy!  Please share links to your favourite Christmas crafts for little ones, I'm always after some inspiration.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Quick and easy crafty ideas for toddlers - cotton wool snowmen

I think that these are totally cute, and very easy to make.

First - take an empty cardboard box from the recycling and cut out a snowman shape.
Next - provide your toddler with glue and encourage them to liberally spread it all over the snowman shape.
Provide them with cotton wool balls and show them how to tease out the ball shapes to make "clouds", then get them to stick the cotton wool all over the snowman.
For the next stage it depends on the development of your child.  If they are happy to do it, then just provide them with some coloured paper scraps and encourage them to cut out appropriate pieces for hat, nose, eyes, buttons etc.  If they are still... well... anything like Bug, then you need to cut out the shapes and direct them exactly where to stick them on (she really wanted to stick the nose on to her own nose... and to stick everything else to the table!).
Et voila!  Gorgeous snowmen to decorate your home.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Things to do in central Scotland with toddlers - Stirling Castle

The accumulation of another twenty stars on the fridge (rewards for doing as they are told promptly, being kind and helpful etc), it was time to choose another treat.  Sometimes they get a new book, sometimes a toy, and sometimes a trip out.  This time it was a trip to Stirling Castle - the centre of the Scottish Universe back in the 16th Century. 
As well as exploring the rooms, looking out over the battlements and generally roaming around, I was delighted to discover a change since my last visit - the Vaults.  These were originally used for storage, but have now been turned into an interactive space for younger visitors.  There's a musicians vault, where you can try out some musical instruments, and hear the type of music that would have been part of the castle day.  The Jester's vault, the Painter's Vault... and best of all the Tailor's Vault, where you get to try on Stewart Dynasty costumes!  How gorgeous do my two look with their outfits on over the top of their big coats!?

The hour that we spent on this visit is really not enough, as there is so much to see.  We'll be going back again soon so that we can explore a bit more.  Preferably in the warmer months so that we can spend a bit more time outdoors!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Checking in

Just a very quick one so that you don't all think that I've abandoned the blog.

Feeling rubbish with yet another cold!  So I'm in bed and will try to get some sleep while Bug is napping and C is playing quietly upstairs.

I need all the strength I've got as we're off on the train to London this afternoon/evening, and I will be trailing two toddlers around the big city with me for the next few days.

Toodle-pip, tally-ho and all that.  I'm sure I'll be feeling better again soon, until the next cold strikes!

Friday, 23 November 2012

An advent calendar of activities to prepare for Christmas with toddlers.

Once the advent calendar comes out we know we're on a countdown to Christmas.  C knows what to expect, and with non-stop Christmas music in the shops, Christmas trees and Santas wherever you look and all the hype, it'll be an achievement to keep his feet on the ground in the run up to the big day.  Bug is still pretty clueless.  She'll go with whatever her big brother suggests.  So, to keep them on track, help get things organised at my end, encourage them to think about what Christmas means, and about other people, and allow them some way to express their excitement I've come up with twenty-four activities for the advent period.  One activity for each day. I've kind of broken them down into which need doing earlier to help me out, but there isn't a specific day, to allow us a bit of flexibility.  Hopefully I'll be blogging as we go through December on some of the progress that we are making with the list.

  • Make Christmas cake
  • write and post Christmas cards
  • go to Ceramic Experience to make gifts
  • donate things to charity shops

  • make stars and angels
  • make a wreath
  • make a stable scene (felt I think, but maybe card)
  • make snowflakes (paper cutting - C will love to practise his cutting skills)
  • peace and goodwill chart (we'll put stickers on whenever we do something to make somebody else feel happy)
  • go to a Carol Service (it'll be my District Scout one)
  • make Christmas decorations (fir cones dipped in glue and then glitter, salt dough and felt)
  • watch The Snowman
  • check that we've got all the presents that we need
  • read the Christmas story
  • make a snowman (if we don't have any snow then we'll use cotton wool and make a mini one!)
  • plant a mini-Christmas tree
  • do some artwork for mummy and daddy (I've started a tradition of them doing something for us as a Christmas present which then goes on the sitting room wall)
  • go for a winter walk
  • plant a fruit tree

  • decorate Christmas tree
  • wrap Christmas presents
  • pack for Christmas trip
  • leave snack for Santa and reindeer and put out stockings

Sunday, 18 November 2012

My Space

This is my workspace:
 It's cluttered, it's crowded.  
Believe me when I tell you that it's organised and that I know where to find things.
I would like to have a pristine workspace where everything is ordered and tidy, but it isn't really me.
This is me. 
No matter how often I tidy this space, it reverts to looking like this.
I stick up post-its to remind me of things.  I add photos and postcards of people I love or pictures to inspire me.
Books and files that I use often are close to hand.
It's comfortable.  I sit here often, doing any number of tasks (often simultaneously and sometimes with a toddler on my lap).
Yes... this is my workspace.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Play prompts and i-pad apps for toddlers

My camera has given up (I've only had it since last Christmas...  I've managed to kill a camera in under 12 months!).  But I'm now armed with Hubby's camera #2.  It's a little bigger than my usual, and won't just slip into a pocket or handbag (perhaps where I went wrong with my camera?) so won't get as many outdoor photos, but at least I have one that works now.

This month our vague theme is "shape and colour" about which I based this morning's invitation to play.  C was busy with the i-pad, more on that in a second, so this was really for Bug.

I started by stacking her coloured stars, stacking her coloured cups, stacking her coloured cars and laying out Mr Potato Head's accessories, as well as leaving my brightly coloured poncho lying around and setting up a shape puzzle.  She spent some time playing with all of these, mostly taking the stacking items out of their towers and fitting them inside one another.  Eventually she finished this play and wandered off.  When she returned I had rearranged everything.  This time the stacking items were lined up in order of size, Mr Potato Head had a funny face, and I had put out some different shape puzzles ready to complete.  She couldn't resist.  She came back to have another play, this time rearranging Mr Potato Head's face, and making towers out of the stacking items, as well as having a go at the puzzles.

Meanwhile, C was busy with the i-pad.  He'll sometimes take no notice of it at all for weeks on end, and then he wants to have a play on it every day for a while.  We first introduced it as a distraction/treat to keep him on the potty when we were first potty training.  I usually give him a 20 minute time-limit - which he is more than happy with - but what does he play on there?  Here are the "apps" that we have on there for him and Bug, if you have any good app recommendations then do let me know:
  • Art of Glow - a simple programme where you can draw firework-esque pictures that glow in different shapes and colours.
  • Counting 123 - I'm not a great fan of this one.  You do things - such as tapping on the fish or dresses on the screen and it counts to ten and then gives you a cheer.  I suppose that the repetition of counting to ten helps children to remember the sequence, but that's about it.
  • Animals Zoo - This one is a bit like animals flashcards, only animated, and when you tap the animals they make a suitable noise, and when you tap the animal name, the computer reads it to you.  Both my children are now pretty confident with the names of all sorts of animals, and I think this app has helped.
  • Paint Sparkles - you can either draw freehand with paint, crayons, sparkly ribbons etc, or you can colour in one of the many provided pictures.  If you have the sound turned on then the american accent will also tell you the name of the colour.
That's about it on our i-pad for the kiddies - any others you'd recommend?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Roofing my shed!

The hardest part of any job is getting started
This particular job was re-felting the shed roof.  It's been leaking for a while.  We looked at the cost of replacing the shed, which is not in the best shape, but it was a bit on the pricey side.

Re-felting the felt was much cheaper!
I admit, it's not the neatest job in the world, or the best.  It only needs to keep the water out for another couple of years, and it's definitely much better than it was before.

I've been putting the job off for... hmmm... too long.  So, up on the roof, worrying just a little bit about the slightly rotten roof.  I'm quite proud of it actually, just getting the job done.  

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Books I've been reading...

I seem to have been doing a lot of reading just lately.  Here's a few of my recent reads:
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  • "Regeneration" by Pat Barker.  I've just finished this and it only took me a couple of evenings to read.  Hubby did tell me a few times that I actually do need to put the book down and go to sleep, even if it is gripping.  It was his fault - he recommended the book!  The story is based around some facts - namely Siegfrid Sassoon's stay in Craiglockhart Military Mental Hospital in Edinburgh during the Second World War, and the time he spent there with Wilfrid Owen.  It's horribly thought provoking, as there are references to the rationale behind continuing a war in which so many young men are being slaughtered, and to the grizzly experiences which are behind some of the illnesses suffered by young men in the hospital - most of whom, as soon as they are pronounced "fit" will be sent straight back to the front line.  I learned a lot by reading this book, and will definitely be seeking out further Pat Barker books.
  • "Creative Girl" by Katharine Sise.  This book is an exploration of how to find a career that makes use of your creativity, whether in your current job, in a new job, or in your own business.  There are lots of exercises to get you thinking about what would suit you, and it really does open your eyes to the breadth of possibilities.
  • "The Handmade Marketplace - how to sell your crafts locally, globally and on-line" by Kari Chapin.  I love this one.  It gives lots of information about how to sell the things you make.  About finding out which Craft Fair might suit your goods, about selling on Etsy and in shops.  Can you tell that I'm thinking in this direction for how to make some cash in the next few years?
  • "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat.  Another one that I picked up from Hubby's recommendation, and another war story.  Nicholas spent time during the Second World War in the Atlantic Convoys.  I had absolutely no idea just how brutal this part of the conflict was, just how many ships were destroyed.  Again, the story was gripping and I learned a lot in the reading.  You can't go wrong with a well told story that also teaches the reader things that they didn't know.
  • "How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk" by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. I read this book quite quickly and will need to revisit it to absorb the ideas better.  It just gives tools to help you communicate with your children in an effective and constructive way.  I've caught myself saying things to the children and then reflecting that I could have said it better.  With more reflection on the contents of this book, and with practice, I think I'll be able to communicate better more of the time.
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Friday, 2 November 2012

Creative inspiration - paint your child's bedroom

Firstly - apologies for the photos, I seem to have killed yet another camera, and as soon as I can scrape together some cash may be investing in another one.  This one has lasted 10 months since last Christmas, but  it has had a lot of use.
Enough on that though, on to the post...
C's bedroom used to have a built in wardrobe, which we took out.  We painted the alcove white, but it didn't look right, and would have needed another couple of coats.  We've put C's wardrobe into the space, as well as some other bits and pieces.

I had some creative inspiration of what to do to make a feature out of the spot.  I painted the alcove with one  coat of some pale green emulsion that we had left over from painting the master bedroom.
A few weeks later (today) I completed the project.  I drew out my design on paper first, which didn't really look as I hoped because the children helped.  Then, I drew directly onto the wall, making it clear to C that he wasn't allowed to do this.  I used normal poster paint to paint on.  First I painted the tree trunk and branches and the back colour of the squirrel and owl with brown paint.
Next I used a sponge to apply a not quite mixed palette of green, yellow and white as leaves, and a brush to apply green for grass.
I used a sponge again to apply purple, white and yellow for spring woodland flowers, and a brush to apply purple and yellow for butterfly wings and yellow and white for the chest, talons, beak and eyes of the owl.  I then applied black for details throughout.   
I'm quite pleased with the result, I think it looks really effective.  C loves it, and was desperate to show Hubby when he got home.  The whole thing only took about an hour to paint.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Baby and Toddler groups

I go to one Baby and Toddler Group.  It's little (too little actually, we are struggling to be viable at the moment - any new members please?) and friendly and right here in the village.  So we toddle down there every Tuesday and have a nice big village hall to run around in and lots of interesting toys to play with, and I get a change of scenery and some lovely mums to chat to.  
Just one group a week is apparently quite unusual for a Stay-at-home-mum.  I know several who have groups to go to nearly every day of the week, sometimes one in the morning and one in the afternoon!  I like just one though.

I've heard new mums wondering how they are ever going to make any "mummy" friends.  They are newly at home and their friends are still at work and/or childless and they suddenly feel all cut off and alone.  I always advise that they get along down to their local parent and baby group, assuming that this friendly group will be as welcoming and friendly as the group I belong to...

... I have now discovered that they aren't all like this.

I found a booklet in the library last Monday about Clackmannanshire Storytelling Festival, and one of the events was going to be a drumming workshop for toddlers, hosted by another toddler group (do I mention the name?  Hell yes, name and shame, it was Alva Toddlers).  So last Tuesday at our toddler group I shared the info and we collectively decided that we would cancel our group and go to the drumming workshop.
The drumming bit was fine.  The toddler group was massive, way bigger than our little group (we've never had more than about a dozen children, and more often operate with about five).  There were children everywhere, and adults everywhere, and a lot of noise, and a lot of toys.  You know what though?  We were there for an hour and a half, looking friendly and everything, and in an hour and a half not one person spoke to either me or my children.  Not one.  Even though we joined in with the drumming, and we joined in with snack.  Everybody just chatted with the people they knew, and dealt with their own children and totally ignored us.  I couldn't wait to get out of there.  

Now I know what people mean when they say that they tried their local toddler group and won't be going back.  All of you, come and join our Baby and Toddler Group.  We welcome everybody, chat to everybody, make you a tea or coffee and have a nice time.  Okay - rant over... and breathe...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Simple craft ideas for toddlers - Paper weaving

Anybody remember good old paper weaving from Primary School days?
I had a delivery of art and craft supplies yesterday, which included a pack of construction paper, so while a tired Bug extended her afternoon nap, C and I took the opportunity to try a new skill.

I took the piece of background colour paper and folded it in half, then cut from the fold to about an inch away from the edge of the paper to make slits.  I then cut the other piece of paper into strips about an inch wide.
I then showed C how to push the paper over and under to weave, and showed him how the colours alternated to make a pattern.  He tried it himself, but found it quite tricky, so needed quite a lot of support, but he loved the result.
This afternoon I think we're going to try some Wool Weaving to make a bracelet, but I'm not entirely convinced that it will be a success... we'll give it a go and show you how we get on.

Monday, 29 October 2012


A local Under-5 group have an annual toy sale.  I think they aim for this time of year deliberately as they know that parents are thinking of clearing space ready for Christmas, and other parents are looking to bag a bargain in the run up to Christmas.  I fall into the latter camp.

We headed to the toy sale without too much cash in hand.  C was allowed to choose a toy for himself up to the value of £5 as a reward for getting twenty stars on his chart.  He chose a (sadly plastic, and with noises) lorry that opens out to a small road and ramp system for little cars.  It cost only £2 and he is delighted with it.

I next spotted a wooden dolls house.  Santa has instructed me to keep an eye out for one of these, and I have been scouring Gumtree and e-bay, but so far have had no bidding success.  Imagine my pleasure when I spotted this amazing one, including the dolls and the furniture - for only £10!  That's Christmas sorted for Bug...

Just next to it - for only £2 was an unopened box of Meccano - a set which retails for between £20 and £30 and was on our radar as a potential Christmas present for C.  Okay then... twist my arm - that's Christmas for C sorted as well.

Is it bad to deliberately spend little on Christmas presents for the children when others spend hundreds of pounds?  I don't think so.  They are still getting something for Christmas that they will really love - I don't imagine that they will mind that it wasn't bought for full price or was previously loved.

Sunday, 28 October 2012


I’ve mentioned Tom Hodgkinson on here before.  He’s the editor of The Idler, and has written books “How to Be Idle”, “How to be Free” and “The Idle Parent”.  I love the principles expressed in “How to be Free” (though not all the ideas in the book), and while I don’t agree with the term Idle I think The Idle Parent is a must-read and describes well how I was brought up and how I wish to bring up my own children.

I’m writing a series of blog posts exploring these two books, and the ideas contained in them further, in the hope that this will help me to explore further the principles behind my own way of living and parenting.
Chapter 13 – Say no to guilt and free your spirit – SAY YES
Tom suggests that we make or allow ourselves to feel guilty.  Guilt, he says, is an emotional payment for when we do something that we or society thinks is wrong, but that the feeling is pointless, it doesn't accomplish anything, and in fact it in some cases it means that we loosen our responsibility for an action by saying that we "feel really guilty about that".  It's as though you are splitting your good self from your bad self and are trying to reject the bad so it's not really you.  Being free of guilt doesn't have to mean being irresponsible.  You can shun guilt and still behave in a reasonable way.

Guilt is self-government.  It's about looking at the actions of the past, and the guilt is supposed to help us to resolve to do better in the future.  The higher your moral standards, says Tom, the greater the guilt.  The answer?  Lower your standards, accept disorder, make things easy for yourself.  If you don't expect so much from yourself then you'll feel a lot less guilt.

How does this match up to the "ink spots and grass stains life"?

I've been told many times that I suffer too much from guilt.  That my guilt debilitates me and lowers my self-esteem.  That I am constantly feeling guilty for not being perfect and that this is a result of my Catholic upbringing.  It's as though guilt is a negative thing.

I don't see my emotions as feelings of guilt, and I certainly don't equate them with my Catholic upbringing.  I believe that I have very high standards - and yes - I do strive for perfection.  Is that a bad thing?  I am always striving to be a better person, to be the best that I can be, to achieve more, to get more done, to improve things.  It does leave me disappointed with myself sometimes that I fail to live up to these expectations, but it just makes me strive all the more for the future.

If that's unhealthy, then I guess that I'm unhealthy.  If that's guilt, then I guess that I'm guilty.  I don't actually see any way out of the situation.  I am generally happy enough with myself, and good enough is sometimes good enough.  Will I ever achieve my ideal and stop feeling I could do or be more?  I don't know, but until I do, I think I'll always be working for it.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Crafty ideas for toddlers - Wool Winding Pictures

Mister MakerMr Maker is a popular man among the three-year-olds in my family.  

To me he's a little over-the-top.  I really don't like the way that he cuts shapes out of the middle of a piece of paper and wastes the rest of the paper.  I spent years as a Primary School Teacher telling children that they should cut from the edge so that as much of the paper as possible can be used for something else.  He seems to require a lot of his resources to be bought, rather than following thrifty and environmentally sound principles of reusing things from around the house.  There aren't many items using bottle tops, egg boxes or old newspaper or loo-roll tubes for example.  Enough ranting - C loves his show on CBeebies.

Yesterday afternoon he decided that he wanted to cut a piece of cardboard.  I immediately made the connection to the wool picture that Mr Maker had made on the television in the morning, and produced the necessary resources.

We needed:

  • pieces of cardboard cut from a cardboard box, about A4 size
  • A4 coloured paper
  • sharp scissors
  • glue
  • sticky tape
  • oddments of coloured wool.
What to do:
  • stick the coloured paper to the cardboard and trim so that they are both the same size.
  • Use the scissors to cut little v-shaped notches around the edge of the card - as many or as few as you like, there should be at least one on each side.
  • Fasten the end of a piece of wool to the back of the card with sticky-tape and start winding it around the card, feeding it through the notches.  The bit that C found tricky was keeping it tight enough rather than just looping it around loosely.
  • When you reach the end of a piece of wool, fasten it on the back of the picture using more sticky tape, and fasten on your new piece of wool.  It looks good with two or three colours.
  • I then cut the centre of another piece of A4 paper (I used a wavy line so that it wouldn't matter if not entirely central or straight!) and stuck this on as a frame (not shown).

C really enjoyed making something he'd seen on the television, and was proud of the result, though he did comment that "it was tricky and hard".

Friday, 26 October 2012

Dear Santa...

Okay, so I know it's early, but when you're a crafty, thrifty kind of mamma (as well as a bit of a control freak) you've got to start early or you really struggle.  So here's what C and I came up with...  I think it's kind of lovely, and is also supposed to be helpful to any of my family out there who keep tabs on the blog!

Dear Santa,
We hope that you and the reindeer are well.  We are looking forward to Christmas.  You will find us at Auntie Janet's, but we will still leave you some beer and a mince pie and tomatoes for the reindeer.

We would be happy with any presents, but here are a few ideas:

  • Bug doesn't have a favourite colour yet, she wears size 5 shoes and age 2 clothes.
  • C's favourite colour is purple.  He wears age 3 clothes and will soon be in size 8 1/2 or 9 shoes.
Some ideas for both of us are:
  • Lego
  • Aquadoodle (travel ones?)
  • an Etch-a-sketch for long journies
  • things for decorating cakes
  • small dolls house
  • things for our babies
  • accessories (hats etc) for our dressing up box
  • playmobil car and trailer with boat (C)
  • pencil case and pencil pot
  • meccano (C)
  • wooden train station and/or level crossing for wooden train set
  • purple motorbike (C)
  • books - we'd quite like "The Tiger who came to tea" and "Gruffalo's Child"
Don't work too hard!
Oh by the way, we think we've mostly been good.

Love from C and Bug

Monday, 22 October 2012

Enchanted Forest

This weekend we went away in the caravan up to Pitlochry.  We were having an adventure weekend.  Here are some of the things we've been up to:
Faskally caravan park nestled in the hills beside the river tummel

  • we camped at Faskally Caravan Park - it's a bit more commercial than we really like, but most other caravan parks in this part of the world had already closed for winter.  As an added bonus the campsite does have a swimming pool on site, which was a lovely way to spend an hour on Sunday morning.

  • We went for a walk to the Falls of Bruar.  The woodlands in Perthshire are absolutely gorgeous at this time of year, and the walk up through the trees alongside the gorge was just incredible.
Polar Bear - Walker.jpg
  • We visited the Highland Wildlife Park, which is a branch of Edinburgh Zoo.  Here you'll find animals that don't mind the chill of a Highland winter - arctic foxes, polar bears, wolves, snowy owls, reindeer, snow monkeys, lynx, capercailie.  It was amazing.  My favourite was definitely the Polar Bears.  It was just mindblowing to be so close to one of the most dangerous animals in the world (to man!), and such a beautiful, playful, gentle looking bear.
    Photography by Liam Somerville
  • In the evening we headed back to Pitlochry for our Enchanted Forest expedition.  The Enchanted Forest is an amazing light and sound show which takes place every autumn in the woods around Pitlochry.  It has to be seen to be believed, but if you follow the link to their website, you get some video excerpts to give you an idea of what it's like.  C's favourite parts were: the bus ride (you have to get a bus from the centre of Pitlochry as carparking at the venue is not appropriate for the numbers); the "floating light shapes" and the "moon bit where the fairies were" - there were no visible fairies, but what else could have made such beautiful music and lights?
  • On Sunday, after our swim, we headed to look at the exclusive but very nice emporium at the House of Bruar, where we had lunch and a look around.