Friday, 22 February 2013

Baby Bels and Waxy McWax

wax, pom pom, googly eyes, craft, kid's craft, children's craft, craft creature
Waxy McWax
Z1 made this little beauty while I was making dinner one evening. She had a mini Baby Bel cheese to stop her fading away while dinner was cooking and I gave her the wax to play with. Next thing I knew she was asking me to open the glitter glue. Kindly and firmly, I told her I was glad she enjoyed doing crafts but it was dinner time, not glitter glue time. I continued cooking dinner. This involves having my back turned to the rest of the kitchen. When I turned around, there were globs of glitter glue, along with this little guy, on the kitchen table. Sigh. At least glitter glue is easy to clean up.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dragon eggs are kind of palish

newspapers, spotty tablecloth, papier mache materials
Newspaper ready
to go
This idea was inspired by this blog post here about not doing crafts with children. I get the impression from her picture of bunting that this blogger is probably a more skilled crafty person than me. However, I must gently disagree with her decision to use ordinary eggs as dragon eggs - surely they would be bigger?

Before I had even finished reading the blog post, I decided that we would make a dragon egg using papier mache around a balloon. I Googled to find recipes for the the paste and congratulated myself on not throwing out the junk mail newspapers that I had saved from before Christmas in case of ever doing papier mache.  Tearing the strips is quite a pleasing task. I was also pleased that I hadn't used up all the balloons doing these.

blue and green, craft, preparation, balloon, papier mache
Balloon and paint brushy
While boiling up the water for the paste, the Zeds played with a balloon each. Predictably, it ended in tears when Z2 burst his. I distracted him from his misery with a couple of pre-lunch Smarties, then we ate luch, Z2 was despatched for his nap and Z1 and I sat down at the kitchen table to get going.

balloon, craft, papier mache
First layer
hanging to dry

I asked Z1 if she wanted a music on my laptop but she said she would prefer it to be quiet because otherwise she would be distracted. She was right and I was supposed to have learned that lesson already. We worked together happily and harmoniously and chatted about what colour we should paint it when it was finished. She told me that dragon eggs are kind of palish.

After she had gone to bed, I slapped another layer on to the now dry first layer to speed up the process as I didn't know how long Z1 would be willing to string this activity out. It did tie in quite nicely with the snow dragon which we made between layers so we had a bit of a dragon theme in the house.

balloon, craft, papier mache, paper mache, paint, glitter
Z1 in action painting
and glittering the egg
balloon, craft, papier mache, paper mache,
The finished dragon egg
hanging above our sink
Incidentally, our
dragon egg is not palish
but it is glittery.
Painting and glittering took place while I prepared Z1's school lunch and cooked rice for dinner. I didn't notice any glitter in the lunch or the rice but either way, thanks to reading an article about pregnancy tests for rhinos in Dublin zoo a few years ago, I am confident that glitter will not be harmful if ingested. I know human digestive systems are probably a bit different to those of rhinos but zoos are usually pretty careful about what they feed their animals so I am sure it's fine.

You may also be interested to know: 

  • The paste recipe I used (in the highlighted box at the bottom of the linked page) made a lot of paste. A large mixing bowl full. We have most of it left. I did add salt to stop it going mouldy but if anyone has a recipe for making it edible, please do send it my way.
  • We used some of Z1's discarded drawings on plain white paper for the final layer to make it easier to paint without newsprint showing through.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Hearts of rage

hearts, Valentines, Valentine's, colouring page, craft, template, downloadable
The hearts of rage (they look
innocuous, don't they?)
Download them here to avoid
having the rage yourself
As a Dubliner, I feel sort of proprietorial about St. Valentine's Day, though I have never been to see his remains in the city church in which they rest. I also like seeing people smiling carrying flowers and I think telling people you love them is a good thing. Sure, it's all marketing and hype and prescribed affection if you want to see it that way but, it you want to partake, I will be happy to support your efforts. You can even send me some flowers while you're at it and I'll be grateful, thrilled and surprised.

However, Z2 is two and a half. When asked if X or Q or R is his friend, he will respond either "He doesn't hit me" or "He can talk, but he can't sing songs".  His concept of friendship and love is not yet fully developed. Although he is an affectionate little fellow, I don't think he has any particular want or need to show his pre-schooler colleagues his affection by way of a heart-embellished card or pencil or sweetie. His daycare is brilliant and I generally can't fault them. However, my heart sank when  I saw a list of all the children and teachers in the room taped to his cubbyhole. There was a paragraph explaining that bringing in Valentine's tokens - shop-bought or homemade - was not compulsory but the children would be having an activity involving distributing Valentine's tokens to each other. This letter is what brought on the hearts of rage. The letter went up on the Monday, with Valentine's Day being Thursday, so I didn't even have a weekend to prepare.

In fact, I had already been stewing and pondering over a craft for Z1 to do to bring in to her friends. I had opted out last year, our first February in Canada, not knowing she would come home laden with sweeties and pencils and stickers. I rolled my eyes a bit and resolved to sort her out with something to bring in this year but hadn't really got a concrete idea by the 11th of February. I wanted something that she could mostly do herself but knew she would get bored before she had written her own name, let alone any further message, on a token for each of her classmates.

And so, with this double pressure, from memories of last year and the letter from the pre-school room, I used Word to make the hearts of rage. The rage was caused by various cutting and pasting, text placement and font size complications. The plan was to bring them home, have the Zeds paint them in pink, red and glitter and then glue the paper to some card, cut them out on squares and possibly, if I had the energy, personalise the ones for Z2's colleagues given they were having a distribution activity. Sigh. Even worse, despite supposedly  having become one of those people, I didn't have any saved cereal boxes for backing the hearts. The idea grew into attaching bits of paper to Z1's tokens to make them into very useful bookmarks instead of pretty useless bits of card just beautiful tokens of affection.

Valentine's day, craft, heart, glitter, bookmark
Valentine's bookmark
from Z1
preschooler craft, Valentine's day, hearts, glitter
Glittery Valentine's hearts on
squares from Z2
Considering the forced march feel of this activity from my point of view, it was actually rather nice. Z2 more or less painted one sheet before wandering off to do something else (I haven't yet discovered any pink, glittery handprints) and Z1 zealously coated her two pages in glitter glue and paint. That was Tuesday evening. I cooked a creamy mild curry dish while this took place before finishing off Z2's other sheet. Z1 was set to work on Wednesday after school attaching pieces of stiff paper to her squares (while I made homemade burgers and cooked up some sweetcorn) and the finished products are certainly passable. I cut Z2's sheets into squares and decided it would be MUCH easier for the staff if I didn't write names on each heart so they could be distributed randomly.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Not pancakes (but possibly even better)

Pancakes seemed like a good idea on a cold, snowy, February, nearly-pancake-Tuesday-anyway day. However, we had only a piddly amount of flour left. Very piddly - not much more than 50g. I hadn't checked before announcing the plan to Z1. (Clearly I did not learn my lesson from the not-gingerbread fiasco)  Things were looking grim.

I Googled "what can I make with 100g of flour" (in my wish for more flour than we had, I misread the scales) while Z1 stood disconsolately on the chair beside me, gazing at the flour that was not going to be a pancake in the bowl. She also kept putting her hand in it which I found somewhat irritating but flour does feel kind of silky. Google did not solve my problem.

baking, brownies, chocolate, I turned to Pinterest, recalling a single serving chocolate chip cookie recipe but came across these three ingredient Nutella brownies before I found the cookie recipe. Only ten tablespoons of flour were required. With trepidation, I got my measuring spoons and spooned out my flour - just about enough. Hurrah! I told Z1 we would make brownies instead. It was all good. We'd even just bought a new jar of Nutella. It was then that pure wonderful began. I remembered we had a jar of non-Nutella, non-hazelnut chocolate spread. It was bought when I was alerted to the fact Nutella wasn't allowed in school 'cause of the nuts. It wasn't very nice and nobody ate it...until now.
The brownies began to smell very lovely in a short space of time and then we ate them warm from the oven with the chocolate chips still melty. Z1 gave them 58 marks out of 10. (I really must work on her grasp of numbers, fractions and rating scales.) They were also rather delicious, possibly even more so, after they had cooled. 

The satisfaction of using the jar of sweet brown not-Nutella and the tiny bit of flour is immense.

Credit where credit is due: My recipe can be downloaded from here but I adapted it from Schoochmaroo's recipe at Instructables here.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Resting on my laurels and planning for the future

snow, rocking chair, weather, porch
In our covered porch today
As I type, our marvellous marbles are a week old and buried in the worst snow in 5 years. Sorry, no, that should have been THE WORST SNOW IN 5 YEARS. Ah, the meeja media, they have enjoyed working themselves up to a frenzy about the snow we are having today with promises of storm reports and second by second weather reports. Admittedly, we trekked to the bus stop only to take one look at the main road with u-turning, stuck and skidding cars and return home. In fact, husband actually got on a bus for a minute or two before realising it was foolish and he should work from home too.

rocking chair, shadows, small boy, sun, porch
Our covered porch in July
(with Z2)
Anyway, yes, our marvellous marbles are still there though some of them cracked a little from freeze-thaw action and the like. Husband thinks they are wondrous and I know of at least one family who have copied the idea so I have been resting on my laurels and we have been craft-free since last Friday.

However, the cogs in my brain have been turning and I have several ideas gradually emerging.  In fact, given that we have a snow day today and I am working from home, we may have to get cracking today and back on the craft wagon. Oh, the craft wagon, such a thing to behold. I imagine it looks a bit like this.
wagon, drawing, craft
The Craft Wagon

Breaking news: Z1, on this day, the day of the worst snow in Toronto in living memory the last five years, has asked to colour in my craft wagon drawing so craft-free week is officially over.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Feast your eyes on these marvellous marbles

winter craft, ice sculpture, craft with kids,
I love them
I don't think much needs to be said - just marvel at my marbles. Some of them weren't completely frozen but I didn't have the patience to wait longer.  I also didn't have the patience to keep my gloves on while snipping the balloons off. That was not a good idea.

Icy Colourful Marbles - progress report

Day 1 - poking the snow-dusted
I may have uttered a few curses under my breath as the icy wind attempted to flay the skin from my cheeks while I walked through the car park to work on Thursday morning, but I thought of my slowly freezing garden sculptures and bravely toughed it out.

I had checked the temperature immediately on waking: it was -1C. By the time we were leaving the house, we had a light dusting of snow and it was -3C. Poking the balloons revealed that there was some crunchiness but they were definitely not solid ice. By 11am, it had reached -4C and I was at my desk thinking of my balloons.

More snow had fallen by the time we got home. A poke let us know that they were significantly icier than the morning. A shake revealed some slooshing. Temperatures are forecast to continue dropping - it should be -7C overnight and -8C by morning. I think we'll be snipping and exposing our icy jewels on Friday evening. I am rather excited.
ice sculpture with balloons, craft with kids, winter activity
Day 1 - in the evening