Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Happy New Year!

We went to the park this afternoon and as we played, we watched the sun go down on 2013. 
Happy New Year! 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Sparkley Christmas preschool science experiment

We had great fun with a couple of torches and a selection of Christmas items, sorting into 2 groups: shiny and dull.
A very quick to set up experiment, and while Eden and I talked about light reflection, Asher was happy to shine his torch on a bauble and enjoy the sparkles! 
Here's a link to the website where I found the idea: http://www.science-sparks.com/2011/12/08/fun-sparks-a-little-bit-of-sparkle/

And some of our pics from the activity:

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Re-purposed drinking straw card craft

I hate waste, so in our craft scraps box we have an abundance of plastic drinking straws that I cannot bring myself to throw away. Of course I'd much prefer to be using reusable drinking straws, but unfortunately we found that they don't wash well after milky drinks. I'm always on the lookout for craft activities that we can use our drinking straws for, and have a few crafts lined up for closer to Christmas. Today however, we had a spontaneous cutting, glueing and sticking moment and I love the results that Eden came up with - all her own idea and work! 

First she made a line of glue and told me it was a flower

She snipped off segments of drinking straw to stick onto the glue
And here's her finished flower! It looks great, and I'm so proud that it was entirely her own creation with no direction. I reckon with a little input we could make some beautiful designs together - perfect for developing creativity and using up all those old drinking straws! 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Cardooo cards: Plenty of 'do' and lots of oooooo!

If you're looking for a greeting card that stands out from the crowd then Cardooo greeting cards are for you. When I first heard about Cardooo right away they sounded appealing - each card is packed full of entertainment in the form of stories/activities/quizzes/stickers. They are designed to aid literacy, numeracy and imaginative development in a fun and engaging way - all so important for our little ones. I looked forward to receiving some to review, and when they arrived I was expecting something good - but they are great! There's a lot packed into each card, and the majority (all except the cards containing crayons) will post anywhere in the UK with a standard first class stamp.

Cardooo generously sent us some samples from their extensive range of greetings cards. First we read the story card that we'd been sent - Rapunzel. It's well written, with both the story and pictures containing lots of detail. It's more than 'a card with a story' - it holds it's own as a story book, and is one I'll be keeping on the book shelf. Because of its compact form, it would also be great to pack when travelling as it takes up very little space and yet still offers a complete story. Pretty sure it got Eden's seal of approval as when we finished reading it she asked if it could be read again! 

Their Christmas activity card had so much for Eden to do! These would be perfect to send as Christmas cards at the start of the festive season. 

Eden loved the sticker page! 
Throughout the card there's cute little envelopes with mini-cards to write
Eden said the envelopes were her favourite bit
We had a lot of fun with this card and it offers great value for money at £3.50

With Christmas just around the corner, why not have a browse of Cardooo's Christmas range? It contains four fun-filled types of card for you to choose from:

4 Christmas Activity cards with stickers, games and mini-envelopes:  http://www.cardooo.com/seasonal/christmas-cards

1 Christmas Advent card with a surprise within (not chocolate!): http://www.cardooo.com/seasonal/advent-calendar-cards

4 Christmas Story cards with beautifully illustrated Christmassy stories: http://www.cardooo.com/seasonal/christmas-story-cards

6 Christmas Calendar cards perfect for all your friends which fold out in to a desktop calendar for 2014: http://www.cardooo.com/seasonal/christmas-calendar-cards

I'm super-impressed with Cardooo, the cards offer great value for money, and something different to your standard greeting card, these ones will certainly stand out amongst the crowd on the mantelpiece! You can browse their range and order from their online shop on their website here

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Vanilla play dough cupcakes

Home made play dough is soooo easy to make, this morning I made a fresh batch and added in a few drops of vanilla essence - it smelt delicious! 

Eden set to work making play dough cupcakes, using recycled plastic mousse containers for the bases. She added on for decoration some pretty beads and foams stars, and imaginatively used some flour from the table as 'icing sugar'! 

This is the play dough recipe we use (it's a no-cook recipe): 

2 cups plain flour
1 cup salt
2 tbsp oil
1.5 cups hot (not boiling) water
1 small squeeze of lemon juice

Just mix it all together! 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Junk model spider

This morning we did some junk modelling to create a spider - originally we'd planned to make an autumny owl - but with the materials we used it soon became apparent that our 'owl' was going to look much more like a spider. Eden made it all herself, apart from me cutting the sticky tape for the legs. The paper plate was leftover from a painting session over the summer - the colours are so vibrant on it that I couldn't bring myself to throw it away. We used jam jar lids, milk bottle tops, googley eyes, and used but cleaned drinking straws. 

We've done lots of counting today - spider legs, number line, new (to us) building blocks and stickle bricks from ebay. Asher (20 months) is really picking up on this, and joins us in counting with his own version of counting to 10, which is very cute to hear! Eden's really interested in numbers at the moment - she's asking me to use a clock so that she knows when 10 minutes is up (in baking today), asks me to time her by counting while she goes upstairs, uses numbers to link with people's ages, and points out numbers on road signs. 

Back to the spider.. Here's our finished result :) 

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Playing with shells

While at the grandparents' earlier today, my mum brought a collection of shells out to play with. Eden loved lining them up and creating patterns and shapes with them. 

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Cabbages, worms and pumpkin beer

We nipped down the allotment this morning to pick some veg for the week. First time this year that it's felt bitingly cold outside, just as well we'd wrapped up warm although I need to find our gloves! 

The row of cabbages look brilliant, we've taken the netting off now. We picked the biggest one to eat this week. I also picked some kale. 
Luke dug up some more potatoes - some of our main crop potatoes are satisfying big. 

Eden found two worms - her latest outdoor fascination - love it!
Asher toddled around, saying hello to the next-door plot's chickens 
I harvested the sweetcorn, despite them not looking ready but I didn't think they'd ripen anymore now - disappointingly none were good enough to eat, we'll try again next year. The growing season this year was very slow to get started, at one point in the spring it was said the UK was a month behind what was normal, due to the prolonged cold and rain we had then. I think this is perhaps why our sweetcorn didn't do well, and also our winter squash and tomatoes. 

This year Luke's started some home-brewing. We have potato wine fermenting, sloe gin, and the first batch of pumpkin beer (there will be more considering we have so much pumpkin!) The pumpkin beer has been bubbling away rather ferociously in our dining room for the last 10 days, and is now ready to transfer into bottles for the secondary fermentation to begin. We took the lid off just now and it smells amazing! Just as you'd expect - a strong pumpkin smell, along with a strong beer smell. We'll leave it another 10 days now and then we can try it! Can't wait! Here's a pic I took of it just now:

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Pumpkin lapbook

We've completed our very first lapbook! I wanted to give lapbooks a try with Eden, who is developing more of an interest in reading and writing, and I thought creating our own topical way of nurturing this interest would be fun! 
I started by looking on Pinterest for ideas of what others had done, but found that the pumpkin lapbooks on there were from a few years ago, so most of the links were outdated unfortunately. So a google search, and looking on free resource websites that I use already came up trumps for creating our own. After we'd completed each activity we added it to create our portfolio :) 
Probably my proudest moment was Eden correctly placing the correct letters in order to spell out 'pumpkin'. 
Here's a pic of the finished lapbook: 

Toddler and preschool pumpkin play

This morning we used another of our pumpkins to explore what's inside, and for an excuse for a bit of messy play outside in the tuff spot on a drizzley day.

First Eden and I put some seeds from last week into a ziplock bag to dye them - the results looked very pretty in the bag, but I then went and burnt them in the oven ooops! I'm sure we'll still find something to do with the crispy brown seeds that resulted! 
We then picked our smallest pumpkin to explore what's inside. Eden gave it a wash, then I used a sharp knife to take the top off. I love the kids' reactions when they looked inside! 
Eden had seen this before with Luke last week, but I don't think Asher had been involved in that, so this was a new experience for him:
The kids had a turn at scooping out the seeds and gunk side, then we took that outside to the tuff spot for the kids to have a play, with spoons and bowls. 
It wasn't long before we were pottering in the garden - earlier this week we spent an hour or so pulling up the massively overgrown nasturtiums that had taken over all of our borders, dropping their seeds everywhere in the process - problems next year anticipated! After reclaiming the soil in our 5 'Olympic ring' tyres from the nasturtiums, today we moved two roses into their new positions. The kids both wanted to help dig too which was lovely as a family activity, putting the roses into their new homes
Eden found a worm! She asked me if she could hold it!! I must admit I was a little surprised, but seized the moment of her enthusiasm! She held it gently, named it 'caterpillar worm', showed Asher, and remained focused on it for quite a few minutes, bless her :) 
All in all, a fabulous morning was had! 


A couple of weeks ago we harvested our pumpkins from the allotment. When we planted them, we added a special growing ingredient in an effort to be the winners of our family pumpkin growing competition - well that ingredient certainly did the trick! We had 8 pumpkins altogether, the largest weighed 4 stone! The two smallest were a stone each! 
Here's Asher proudly perched, on the day of harvesting them:
Last week, Luke carved the largest into a fairy house for Eden, and Eden had a go at carving too
We had A LOT of pumpkin to eat just from carving this one pumpkin! So far we've made pumpkin risotto, pumpkin bread, pumpkin and carrot soup, and pumpkin and apple soup, plus freezing some pumpkin purée for future. Next on the list is pumpkin curry, which we'll have later this week.

Oh and if you're interested in what the special ingredient was that we added at the growing stage......

Pigeon poo! 

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Squash Painting

We have a glut of winter squash which sadly didn't ripen on our allotment this year. I'm not quite sure why, maybe we got them in the ground too late, or we didn't have a long enough period of warm weather. They're all white, when the should have turned green, and on tasting they're very bitter sadly. On the plus side, their colour lends itself very well to being painted! Yesterday we sat down with the kids and had a fun squash painting session. Even Asher, who normally is too occupied with climbing or his cars to sit still to paint, wanted a go! He picked his own squash from those freshly washed, brought it over to his chair, and used the pointy end of a paintbrush to make his own squash masterpiece. I'm a very proud mummy that he showed such an interest! Here's the results! The colours are so vibrant!
This one's mine!