Friday, 31 August 2012

Meet Douglas

I may actually be along with a crochet related post fairly soon having managed to finish a project at long last.

In the meantime, please let me introduce Douglas.

Douglas helps M and Baby to do some drawing.

Douglas is a bag puppet which M made herself. I spotted the idea over on An Ordinary Life? a few months back and have been waiting for an opportunity to let M have a go. I sold the idea as doing some sticking which caught M's imagination along with the googly eyes when I dug them out of the craft box.

The aim here was to end up with a recognisable puppet but allow M to take as much creative ownership of the project as possible rather than sitting there and guiding her hands.

I prep'd the bag by applying strips of double sided sticky tape to the top and in approximate locations for the eyes. After that I pre cut lengths of yarn for hair and applied liberal amounts of glue stick to the rest of the bag.

I explained to M that we were making a puppet, showed her the bag, pointed out the sticky tape and then let her loose with googly eyes, yarn strands and various bits we have on hand for sticking. M had fun sorting the eyes for a few minutes and then got stuck in, making Douglas's face with careful consideration. She even made him two hair clips to try to tame his hair.

When M had finished we admired the new puppet and M declared:-

"It's a puppet. It's Douglas. Called Douglas."

And so he was named.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

What to do with a chocolate egg

Easter is nearly upon us and this weekend I remembered that we still had a chocolate egg left over from _last_ year. This left me with a dilemma of whether to force feed M (or indeed Dave) chocolate or to do something more creative with it.

I was thinking of attempting to make biscuits or cookies, but was thwarted by the oven deciding to blow up.

The oven dying in a dramatic fashion was unrelated to my baking aspirations. There was a local power surge, the oven was on, it went bang and that was the end of our supper. It's been a bad month for appliances, with the washing machine springing a leak early in March. Still, at least this time I have insurance!

Back to the left over chocolate.

After a little thought I decided to try my hand at Rice Krispie (TM) cakes. I don't really bake that often and have never actually tried making these but the idea seemed simple enough. I googled a little to see how others had done it and then made my own, aided and abetted by a small child.


  • Approx 125 g of Cadbury's chocolate
  • 1.5tablespoons of golden syrup
  • Approx 25g non salted butter
  • .5 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Approx 4 mugs of rice pops (supermarket own brand)
  • Some sprinkles to decorate with

I broke up the chocolate egg and placed it in a Pyrex bowl suspended over hot water to melt.

The butter also went in, along with the syrup and a little vanilla essence. I stirred and prodded the chocolate mix until I had a shiny almost smooth mix.

I helped M into her booster seat where she took charge of the rice pops. Not quite seeing the connection with the chocolate sauce, M began tossing the rice pops around with much glee whilst I decanted the chocolate into a mixing bowl.

Intervening in the rice based fun, I showed M that I wanted to add the rice pops to the chocolate, which she happily did. I added some more rice pops to make up for those lost to the floor while M got in there with a wooden spoon.

Things were mixed together. M discovered that rice pops in syrup/chocolate are very sticky and don't fall off a spoon easily. We then went on to find out that they are not that easy to spoon into bun cases. Personally I think it would be easier to spoon the whole lot into a baking tray or shallow dish and cut into pieces later.

Once decanted into bun cases, we decorated with 100's and 1000's type sprinkles. I put some sprinkles in a bowl and let M loose with a spoon. Much fun was had. Some sprinkles went into M. A lot of sprinkles went onto the floor. But between us we did get sprinkles onto the cakes!

M and I add sprinkles to the chocolate crispie cakes

The resulting cakes were very tasty, still slightly soft rather than completely set and easy to eat, rather than the type to break your teeth on.

Very easy to make and child friendly, except for the boring melting of chocolate bit.

Finished cakes

Yummy. I will have to make them again.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Dotty Valentines Cards

A few weeks back I decided it was time to introduce M to the heady excitement that is arts and crafts as done at home, as opposed to anything organised by the nursery.  With this in mind, I started stocking up on suitable arts materials, aided and abetted by a 50% off sale at the Early Learning Centre.  I also started looking into potential projects or activities that would be suitable for a small person of M's age (currently nearly twenty months).

In my wanderings through the interwebs, I came across many crafty things and started cataloguing them over on Pinterest for anyone who may wish to take a look.

In particular I came across this suggestion for a Valentine's Card on Sunhats & Wellie Boots (which I highly recommend), using a simple template to stencil a design in relief onto a card.

It caught my eye, I pinned it and then I set about gathering my supplies.

Supplies needed:-
  • Card
  • Some scrap paper
  • ELC Easy Painters
  • One small child
  • An arts apron/bib for small child
  • A mummy or other suitable adult to assist
  • Scissors
  • White tack or similar temporary sticky substance
  • Glue stick
  • Lots of newspaper
I started by covering out kitchen table with a newspaper, something M immediately recognised from our earlier trial run a week or so ago with the easy painters.  Excitement filled the kitchen as she loudly declared "PAINTING! PAINTING!" and tried to climb into her booster seat. I helped her up, strapped her apron (which most definitely is NOT a bib) on and handed her the easy painters along with some sacrificial paper while I carried on preparing stencils and cards.

The ELC easy painters are an interesting idea, they're bottles of premixed and watery paint with a sponge applicator. They need shaking vigourously to mix the paint before working with them, but that's about it. The sponge applicator means the paint pretty much stays inside the bottle until applied to something; if dropped onto the floor with enough force there will be a little splatter but only a few drops which are easy to clean up. The first time I showed these to M she was a little hesitant but quickly got the idea.

Easy Painters in action

On this occasion, M got to work enthusiastically, happily decorating the newspaper covering the table and occasionally aiming at the sacrificial paper.

In the meantime, I cut out two heart templates and stuck them to the front of some folded card using some white tack. Once prepared M and I got to work spotting paint onto the cards.

There was a brief moment when M considered ripping the heart template off the card but she decided painting them was more fun once she saw me having a go as well. At that point M got stuck in, happily painting her card and even working on the inside. I gave her the heart innards which she decorated as well, and even took my card to add her touch to it, thoroughly enjoying herself in the process.

A short while later we had painted valentines cards which I duly rescued as M declared she was finished with the paints and moved onto crayons.

One of the cards just after it had been painted and before drying - you can see the heart template still in place and covered in paint
One of the heart shape cutouts which M very prettily painted - I think this one looks a bit like flowers!

We put the cards aside for a couple of hours to dry and then carefully peeled off the hearts.  I decided to use the painted template and the innards on the inside of the cards which I thought was very effective.

And this one is M's, entirely her own work except for the cutting and sticking bits.

M's card, I love the way she deliberately placed the colours
M chose to add paint to the inside of her card too

Not too bad for our first go at a 'structured' activity, as opposed to just letting M loose with her creative side and a piece of paper. 

M deep in thought choosing which colour to add next
M deliberately placed her dots with a great deal of thought and concentration, she even overlaid the heart innards to get in some additional stencilling.  She also had fun with her fingers, blurring the edges of the dots to give a softer edge. I guess this comes under colour play, colour recognition, fine motor control and sensory play since she also got stuck in with her hands.  Most of all though, it was fun and M was equally pleased with the result as I.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

If you can't beat em

Gosh, it's been a while since I posted here!

Life has been trundling on and while I have had the odd thing to post since May last year, I've lacked the fundamental time aspect to do so. I never knew that being a working mum would leave me with so little time to... well, do anything really. Typing or crafting are real problem areas for me these days as M still loves the laptop and believes that she should have a go at anything I'm doing. With computer time at a real premium I'm also very slow to upload photographs since M always tries to take over and is a dab hand at reconfiguring the laptop.  At nearly twenty months, this is impressive to behold and it can take quite a while to figure out what she did with a few swipes of the touchpad and the click of a couple of buttons!

Ahem. Onwards and upwards though.

A week late but, last weekend we had snow overnight on Saturday. This meant we headed outside for the obligatory snow sculpture.

Dave showed us how it was done, rolling huge snow balls around the lawn hoovering up all the sticks, rubble and leaves he could find, to construct his snowman who is largely hardcore.  He topped him off with his ushanka.

M says "HAT! SNOWMAN!"

A week later, while most of the snow is gone this snowman is still standing and a testament to Dave's snowman construction skills.

M and I chose a slightly more sophisticated approach, carefully collecting clean snow and packing it together to form our snowman.  She grew more slowly than Dave's and ended up a lot smaller, but both M and I liked her.

Mummy lends a hand building a snowman.

M chose to decorate the snowman with one of her old beanies.

M adds the finishing touches.

She also inserted the arms and added the eyes herself.

A week on and our snowman has taken on the delicate proportions of an Edwardian Lady.

We did of course have snow on the ground throughout December in 2010, but M was only six months old when it melted and so probably doesn't remember it.  She wasn't really mobile back then, so this was her first year of playing out in the snow and I think she enjoyed it.  M had seen snow in books before this and knew what a snowman was.  Indeed her reaction on seeing snow this year was "SNOW! WHITE" and after building the snowmen she was very excited when we came inside to warm up.  She spent a good while running up and down chattering about her "NO MAN".

The snow may have only been around for one day but it certainly impressed one small person.