Thursday, 20 December 2012

Go Fish

Age recommendations frequently underestimate children.  This has been an awesome present for Mr 4 and little Miss 2.
When we've been playing together I always ask for the colour on the card and also follow up with a name for the colour that they are more familiar with, I like that they have less obvious names. Chartreuse, maybe I'm a total pleb but I have never had a reason to use this term to describe a colour.

Friday, 14 December 2012

Twelve days of christmas

I am a recent convert to the twelve days of christmas.  Having the time with just one toy, no matter how flashy and fabulous, gives a chance for children to appreciate them a little more than the toss to the side treatment they get during the present opening frenzy of a large family christmas.  No doubt reducing all these gifts to one special teddy for the duration of your childhood, instead of the population a small outback town perched precariously on a chest, would do the same but industrialisation, a throw away society and grandparents have done away with the chances of that happening.

On the first day of christmas my parents gave to me a fairy sitting on a horsie.

On the second day of christmas my parents gave to me two dogs in a truck and a fairy sitting on a horsie. fairs...advent bunting...I have truly been possessed by the domestic spirit.  four years ago when I was twenty kilos lighter and dancing til my eyes adjusted to the surreal tangerine sun rise I would certainly not have believed that I would fit so nicely into a domestic routine and be enjoying it so much.  I didn't even know what bunting was but thought those little flags that people strung up were a useless and ciche waste of fabric.  Now I draw with erasable marker on the back of my children's laminated cards a map to where they will find tomorrows present and tuck it into the advent bunting which I am so proud to have made myself from the beautiful example set by Sew Sweet Violet whilst I plan the time I will need to sew some christmas themed bunting for my daughter's day care and bake a gift of shortbread for the good folk at work.  Merry crafty christmas mums and makers everywhere.

Lark a treasure trove of retro booty, sweet and precious things.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Handmade Christmas - Sight Words Books

One of the christmas gifts I aim to get organised to finish is a small collection of sight words books.  The beginnings are a bunch of sketches which I aim to manipulate with GIMP and the mouse track pad.  So tedious.  I cannot wait to get my Bamboo stylus and Sensu brush for christmas.
I want to bind using the japanese book binding method, Tinker Labs has a great tutorial here.

Gigi and the Bear

So I heard there have never been any bears in Australia or Antarctica?


Saturday, 1 December 2012

Dog Birthday Cake

great recipe to do with kids.  Especially the younger ones as it seems they gain the greatest pleasure from creating something for someone else, in this case one of their favourite creatures - the family dog.

3 eggs
1/4 cup of canola oil
1 tbsp golden syrup or honey
1 carrot grated
1 cup of wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder

1 pack of cream cheese frosting
1 container of pate

1. Preheat oven at 180 degrees centigrade.  Grease the ramekins with butter and place a circular cutout of baking paper, the diameter of the ramekin at the bottom.
2. Add the eggs, this is fine for little hands to do even if they are new to cracking eggs, egg shell is good for dog coats and they are not going to mind the texture of a little egg shell if they happen to have some of it touch their tongues while ducking down their throats in literal break neck speed.
3.  measure and allow your little one to add each of the ingredients one at a time and mix until completely combined.  You may need to take over after they have had enough.
4. Separate between ramekins to give each party member their own cake.  This mix makes three cakes.
 5.  Bake for about 10 - 15 minutes.  Checking the mixture is cooked through.
6.  Once completely cool cut in half and spread a nice thick layer of the pate in the middle of the cake.
7.  Ice with the cream cheese frosting and serve for twenty seconds of madness.

Dog Birthday Party

We decided to have a birthday party for our house guest, Louis the spitzoodle (or whatever).  Mr 4 told me someone had sent a message saying it was Louis' birthday on the 1st of December.  This seemed very specific so I thought my partner must have had an email from Louis family letting us know that.  It wasnt, they hadn't, he is four so he has a very creative grip on reality.  It was awesome!  Kids and dogs loved it.  We had doggy birthday games (just one, bones hanging by a piece of wool laced over a pagoda beam, very funny to watch and every dog ran away with a prize).  I had bought a Spot book while I was out and just left it on my son's bed getting on with the party preparations.  This worked out perfectly because neither of them had seen it until after the festivities and it looked like it had magically appeared there.  So now we have the magic animal fairy who delivers special gifts to boys and girls who treat animals like the special little people they are.

The dog cake was great to prepare together with my little Miss doing all the adding of ingredients and mixing.

Monday, 26 November 2012


Dance Kids is a fantastic program which engages children by learning through movement.  It is always fun to just be there as Sue takes the kids on an interactive scientific adventure complete with dressing up, educational discussion, dance, music and role play.   We have enjoyed the classes on the water cycle, butterflies, dinosaurs, bumble bees, camouflage and under the sea.  We all thoroughly enjoyed every one of them.  They are currently taking donations and selling packages for their new Creative Classroom Kits.  To purchase for your school or support their efforts please go here.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Salicylate Friendly - Rustic Beef and Vegetable Pie

This isn't a recipe that's great to cook with children but my children love eating it and it is low in salycilates.

1 tbsp canola oil * 2
400g beef finely sliced and chopped into a rustic mince
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
2 baby potato, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
1 medium vine ripened tomato, finely diced
1 large leek, finely chopped
1/2 cup peas
125 g butter
1 chilled egg
1 tbsp chilled water
1 1/2 cups plain flour
2 tbsp milk

  • Prepare short crust pastry.  Rub butter into flour with finger tips until it resembles bread crumbs. 
  • Add the egg and chilled water and bring together with a fork until well combined.  Dust with a little flour if the mixture is too wet to knead.  Use hands and knead lightly adding a small amount of flour if needed.  Wrap in baking paper and place in the freezer.  
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large fry pan over high heat and sauté the beef for 5 minutes, breaking up any large clumps. Strain the beef and discard liquid from pan. Place the pan back on heat and add 1 teaspoon of oil.
  • Add the garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Add the tomato, carrot and potato to the pan and cook for an additional 3 minutes stirring often.
  • Return beef to the pan. Remove from heat and stir through the parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper and let cool for 7 minutes.
  • Remove the pastry and separate 2/3 it.  Roll out the larger portion of pastry to approx 2mm circle and using fingers, mold to a 20cm circular diameter baking dish, removing all air bubbles.  Blind bake for approx 5 - 10 minutes.
  • Roll out the pie lid to approx 2mm thick.  Cut out decorations before covering the pie.
  • Fill the dish with the pie mixture.  Place the lid on and pinch the sides down, remove excess.  (This is great for adding small amount of grated cheese and using to make savoury snacks.)
  • brush with a little milk.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the filling is cooked through.
  • Let sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Felt Solar System

Like the moon landing but possibly without the extraordinary hype, the Curiosity has ignited the imagination of children and adults around the world.  We are lucky to live close to one of the three global NASA satellite sites and control stations, I had the opportunity to work for them and on my last day walk across a massive satellite dish, climb a rickety viewing tower and see the underbelly of the dishes.  Whilst there I met some great people who's passion and excitement for science and the exponential progress of humanity was still strong on their day of retirement and the message this one particular person left me with of the wonders that he knew I and my children would experience in our lifetimes will always be with me.  Back to space, along side the internet, the wild west of modern times, the human brain and DNA, the last frontier of discovery.

I am not sure which came first the Solar system booklet at school or the fuss and buzz at home about the Curiosity landing on the seventh of August this year.  When my little Mr started showing lots of enthusiasm for space we thought we would encourage it as much as possible, astronomy and geography were always destined to be topics covered in excess as the desire for my children to be more than the sum of their parts (parents) drives me to give them a depth of knowledge in areas that I am still lacking in.  So that is where the following craft project began.  A cute and tactile introduction to astronomy and our solar system.

It's all pretty easy stuff, and all of the sizing and colouring was gathered from the NASA site or the Britannica Kids Solar System App.  By sizing I mean this one should be bigger than that one, that ones about the same size as the other one, this one needs to be the biggest and these are comparatively small.  The next thing I would like to do is get a nice big piece of dark blue or black felt and draw the nine (the threat of planet coke hasn't made us give up on you Pluto) orbits of the planets in our solar system with the children.  This is why I ended up making a felt Sun rather than just the fabric one that is on what became the carry bag for our felt solar system.  I turned what was the background of the solar system into a handy bag with some space print fabric and a long jacket zipper.

Felt, wadding, cotton thread, dark blue fabric, patterned fabric and a long jacket zipper.

Blanket stitch tutorial at Stitch School.

Britannica Kids Solar System App rates a five out of five in my house.  We try not to have much on the IPhone but this App, the Animal Drop game for little Miss Two and some episodes of Curious George are the occasional life savers we need when in a jam.

Beautiful Felt Solar System
Montessori Print Shop
Solar System Banner

Other great felt stuff from Jane Talbot.
Felt Continents Project.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Sew Sweet Giveaway

Gorgeous craft book giveaway from too, too sweet Sew Sweet Violet.  Mollie Makes Christmas is packed with step by step instructions to recreate some beautiful Christmas craft designs from ten hand made artisans including two from Sew Sweet Violet.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

How does our garden grow?

Some times fast...
and sometimes slow.

 This patch of garden has been softened and is specifically for little hands and shovels to dig through.

The fairy garden is new and we still have some fairies to finish and paint.  These little tea light candle glass pots make this tree look like a christmas tree.