Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Glitter nuggets

Again following along with my fairies theme, these are perfect in any fairy world, or to decorate a garden path for your dolls house, use as magnets, counters, as counting stones (to help children with maths), and whatever else you can think of. I think you can't have too many of them, and they are so easy to make and pretty to look at!

I got this idea from http://stimulatinglearning.co.uk, one of my favourite blogs for teaching young children. Her blog is so inspirational.

All you need are:
Clear glass nuggets (I got mine from the local dollar store in a net bag)
Clear nail polish
Plastic tray or lid for working on (small ice cream container lids are good)

Pour some glitter onto your tray.
Brush nail polish onto the bottom of your glass nugget.
Dip nugget into glitter.
Tap off excess glitter; leave to dry.
When dry, apply another coat of clear nail polish.

I have found that young children can pull off the layer of glitter when I adhered it using the nail polish; in this case, apply PVA glue to the bottom of the glass nugget rather than nail polish; dip in glitter; and apply a protective coat of nail polish when dry.

To help with counting, I made sets of ten nuggets in different colours: 10 silver, 10 red, 10 pink, 10 green, and 10 blue.

Rock painting

Rock painting is such a peaceful activity. Following on from my fairies, I decided to paint some wishing rocks, to go into a fairy garden. These are simple to do. All you need are:
Acrylic paint
Clear nail varnish
A tool to create dots - a skewer works well; you could also used a chopstick for larger dots, and toothpicks for small dots.

 Gather some stones. I collected some stones from the beach, but I also bought a bag of rocks from the local dollar store. Give them a coat of paint, top and bottom and allow to dry. (Don't paint both the top and the bottom at once. Paint the tops and let them dry; then turn them over and paint the bottoms and allow to dry). It is easier to paint a whole pile at once rather than just doing one stone.

Dip your tool into the paint, and dot onto your stone. You can do whatever patterns you choose. I did a couple of random patterns, wavy patterns, and some circle patterns. I used one colour at a time, putting silver on all my stones; then chose another colour paint to put on and applied it to all my stones; and so on. This gives stones a chance to dry and saves you switching back and forth between colours.

When dry, apply a coat of clear nail polish to protect your stones.


I admit it, I love fairies. I have done ever since childhood. My favourites stories were about brownies, gnomes, dwarves, pixies and elves. And fairies.
So when I went to Thames and saw this beautiful book in the local sewing shop, I couldn't go past it.

The lady in the shop was lovely, and when I started to talk to her about the book, she took me out the back and showed me all the fairies that one of her customers had made - and they were gorgeous! That was it, I had to buy it! And it didn't just have fairies, there were ninjas, mermaids, witches and wizards, leprechauns.... It showed me the versatility of these basic pipecleaner figures and how I could adapt them to suit whatever theme we might have at school. The book contains patterns for everything - the clothes, the bodies, gorgeous treasure keepers, and even little animal bags and pouches! (There are even hints at the back of the book for teaching children to make them).

So, I went home, and already had most of what I needed so I got started straight away! I love how easy it is to make each fairy different, just by changing the hair, the colour of the dress, adding a flower or two, using different thread, adding sequins or beads or tiny flowers.

That night I found myself dreaming about fairies, and I couldn't wait to get up and start making them.  I had to go and buy some more pipecleaners the next day.

It's funny how once you start looking out for something, it comes to you. I visit my local charity shop almost every weekend, and once I started looking for fibre (for the fairies hair), I found bags of 6 balls of eyelash fibre for only $3 a bag. In different colours too! So I am not going to run out of fibre any time soon.

Some fairies have gone to school where we have created a Fairyland on a little table for the children to play with; I have got some fairies in an Autumn display on my pedal organ which does not work and is pretty much for display purposes only; and I have got some fairies in my craft room waiting to have a garden made for them. What do you do with your fairies?

Cakes and desserts

Now I know this was supposed to be a cooking blog. But since I spend more time crafting than cooking, I think this blog will be going on an inevitable new course. So anyway this is a combination of the two, after spying Anne Farrell's blog (an Australian artist). This is a fabulous way to recycle and re-use lids and bottle caps, perfect for the dolls house or family corner or miniature world, and perfect to make with children. I did this with four year olds and they loved it and made lots and lots!

You will need a selection of:
Lids (from milk bottles, soda drinks, empty cooking oil bottles, medicine bottles, dishwash, shampoo and moisturiser lids. I found myself raiding the kitchen and bathroom cupboards, and the recycle bin!)
Bottle caps
Glue. Tacky glue works really well and dries clear and strong. But try PVA and hot glue as well. Hot Glue has a different consistency so you can try different things with it, such as swirling it upwards, or a clear covering over the top of beads.
Ribbon. Try glueing a length of ribbon around lids for fancy cakes.

Play around with your materials, placing beads and buttons on lids to create fun little cakes. I turned some bottle caps upside down to make tart cases, and filled them with seed beads. The best way to do this was with the hot glue gun, and a teaspoon. I dipped the spoon into the beads, and poured them over the hot glue, then tapped off the excess. I found it best to work on a tray, otherwise the seed beads went everywhere!

I put some small lids on top of a larger lid, and topped them off with a selection of beads. Choose which colours you want to go for and what effect you would like. Brown beads resemble chocolate.

Some large beads had a visible hole  - I solved this by using the tacky glue and glueing a small bead over the top of it.

When working with the children, I laid out a selection of beads, lids, bottle caps, PVA glue and brushes, and let them go for it. If using PVA, be generous with the amount of glue you are using, to hold the beads fast.

The children suggested we put the cakes in Fairyland, so the fairies could have a tea party.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Homemade Ginger Beer!

I don't drink soft drinks (no coke or lemonade for me, thanks!) and I stay away from energy drinks - they make my teeth tingle with the amount of sugar in them.  But I love ginger beer.  In the heat of summer I can think of nothing better than to relax with a chilled glass of refreshing ginger beer.  And it is so easy to make!  There are a number of different recipes around, and this is the second recipe I have tried (forgot to post the first but will do so later).  I also didn't take photos.

This recipe came from a recipe book compiled by Waitakere Primary School, where each student submitted a family recipe.  The book is called Waitakere On A Plate, and is full of family favourites - mains, salads, desserts, biscuits, cake, hot puddings, drinks, and preserves.  It is a fabulous recipe book.


For the plant:
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tsp yeast

To start the plant, put all ingredients into a large glass jar and feed daily with 1 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp sugar.  You should see small bubbles rising up from the bottom of the jar after a few days.  After 7 days, make up the ginger beer.

For the ginger beer:
4 cups sugar
4 cups boiling water
juice of 3 lemons
3.5 litres of water
strained liquid of the plant

To make the ginger beer, mix all ingredients together and pour into bottles, ensuring that you leave 4-5cm betwee the top of the liquid and the lid.  Use plastic soft drink bottles as they can expand.  Glass does not expand as the gas builds up and then is more likely to explode - which is something you probably don't want to happen (well, you could experiment with one glass bottle and see how it goes, just for the fun of it).  Leave bottles for at least one week before drinking.  Keep and eye on the pressure that builds up in the bottles and open carefully as they can get very fizzy!

Let a little pressure out from time to time if the bottles feel very hard.  Every time you make this recipe it will be a little different.

I made this ginger beer in the middle of summer, and the garage got very hot - so my flatmate and I opened up the first bottle after 3-4 days and it was fine to drink.  By the time I got to the last bottle, however, it had been sitting in the garage for maybe two weeks, and tasted a bit bitter - but I also think it had started to become a bit alcoholic, as I felt quite light headed after drinking it.  Will need to experiment further with this.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

celebrating Valentines Day for my single friends!

Valentines Day is coming up soon.  Traditionally I hate Valentines Day, partly because I think that it is very commercialized and a marketing ploy and I feel that romance should come from the heart and not have to cost money; but also more so because I am 41 years old and I have never once received anything for Valentines Day.  I have spent most of my life as a single woman and there is nothing quite like Valentines Day to make one feel so unloved and so lonely.

Anyway, the other day I started toying with the idea of making some mini books, and thinking about different shaped books.  I thought a heart shape book would be pretty cool ... then I thought how wonderful it would be to make some heart shaped mini books and send them anonymously to my single friends, so that they would feel loved and know that someone was thinking of them!

you will need:  card (I used a combination of red card and pink card with gerberas printed on it)
selection of papers
selection of stamps and ink

So I got to work making a stencil, cutting out my base shapes out of pink and red card, and rummaging through my stash of pretty papers for suitable papers to decorate with.  To create a heart shaped stencil, it is best to fold the card in half and draw half a heart shape on it, that way it is even on both sides.  I used 4 heart shapes per book, so that it opens out into a flower shape.  (3 works fine too).

Once you have your hearts cut out, start decorating them!

You might like to use stamps and quotes as well.  I created poems using words and phrases that I had cut out of an old children's book that I picked up for 50c. I got some of my pictures out of children's books too.

 I like cutting up paper doilies and adding bits of lace to give an old fashioned feel to them.
Decorate the fronts and backs of each heart.

I put a little pocket / envelope on a few hearts, so that I could put in a little note to that person telling them how special they were.

Once you have decorated your hearts, put 4 of them together and line them up.  Make a hole in the bottom of them and put the brad through to attach them together.

Voila!  Gorgeous heart shaped mini books to surprise your single and special friends with! 
I hope my friends like them! (I can't post pics on Facebook in case they see and then they will know it is from me, but I don't think they follow my blog so it is safe to post pics here).

Friday, 15 November 2013

Nurturing a culture of creativity at home

Welcome to Week One of the month-long Carnival of Creative Mothers to celebrate the launch of The Rainbow Way: Cultivating Creativity in the Midst of Motherhood
by Lucy H. Pearce

Today's topic is Nurturing a Culture of Creativity at Home. Be sure to read to the end of this post to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Join the Carnival and be in with a chance to win a free e-copy of The Rainbow Way!

November 27th: Creative Heroines.
December 4th: Creative Inheritance.
December 11th: The Creative Process.


I grew up in a crafty, creative home, although I didn't consciously know it at the time.  It was just what we did, how things were.  My mum made our clothes for my sisters and I; Dad painted the house(s), worked on the car, and both Mum and Dad decorated all the houses that we lived in, painting and papering, Mum making curtains and re-upholstering chairs.  I have fond childhood memories of mum spending her evenings working on her tapestries or rugs, while my sisters and I lay at her feet, untangling bunches of wool that were all knotted together.  Mum crocheted a poncho for each of us, and I loved it and wore mine all the time.  We had hand-knitted jumpers every winter, along with handmade pink flannel pyjama's, which were really special because my pyjama's had Bee Buttons on them, and my mum really hates buttons.  We never had buttons on our clothes growing up (apart from those pink pyjamas).  

My mum was a stay-at-home mum while we were small, and to support us, she made things to sell.  She had a knitting machine on which she made jumpers, which she sold in a local shop.  She made soft toys, which she sold in a friend's home-based cafe.  I used to eye up her toys that would disappear in their clear plastic bags out of the door, and wish that I could have one.  My sister once smuggled one under her bed (it was a pink toy elephant).

Mum also made and sold Wombles, which were beautiful.  I remember a car trip up to the Bay of Islands when I was 2-3 years old (I vomited in the car and cried), and then when we arrived at our motel, there was a Womble on my bed, waiting for me!  That was the highlight of my trip - my very own Womble!  I don't know what happened to it, I think we left it behind when we moved to England a few years later.  But I remember that feeling of excitement when I saw that Womble and realised it was for me.  I felt special.

I remember vividly the excitement I felt opening up a parcel that arrived for me from Grandma (mum's mum).  I was 7 years old, sitting on the stairs, when the postal flap in the door lifted up and a parcel was pushed through, with my name on it!  The feeling of anticipation, as I unwrapped the brown paper and pulled off the string, revealing a cereal box that had been folded down to keep its' precious contents safe... and inside it was Lucinda.  Lucinda the rabbit, handmade with white fur, the inside of her ears lined with pink satin, wearing a blue and white check cotton dress and white cotton bloomers underneath.  Made with love, especially for me.  I still have Lucinda, perhaps not quite so white, and the bloomers have lost their elasticity so they don't stay up any more.  But she is still so special to me and reminds me of what a special person Grandma Peg was.  I loved going to Grandma's place.  She had a big plastic 2 litre container under the stairs, full of buttons. Big buttons, little buttons, old buttons, pink buttons, wooden buttons, plastic buttons... my sisters and I would open up that dark little door under the stairs, poke our heads inside, and come out triumphantly holding that box of buttons and tip it out all over the floor.  We made button gardens, button flowers, patterns, houses, and pictures.  Grandma painted, and sometimes she took me to her art class.  I remember being 9 years old, sitting outside near a river on a sunny day, alongside lots of old people with their easels and paints, and me with my own little wooden tray and watercolour pad and paints, sitting next to Grandma and chatting away and drawing and painting.  Everyone said nice things about my efforts.  I remember feeling content - I was doing something special with my Grandma, and we were doing something that we both enjoyed.

Grandma taught me about the magic of wax resist - using crayons and then watercolours over the top.  She showed me how to do wax rubbings - put a piece of paper over a coin, or any textured item, and rub a crayon over the top.  Grandma took us to the Birmingham Art Gallery every time we visited.  I grew up looking at beautiful famous paintings. I was fascinated with the paintings of nudes, and I once told Dad they were rude.  I can't remember Dad's response, but it would have been something like "that is just what people look like".  I remember sitting at school one day and we had to draw people.  I drew people like I saw at the Birmingham Art Gallery, and put nipples on my people.  Other kids looked at my drawings and called me rude.  I was made to feel embarrassed and ashamed of my art, and I didn't put nipples on people for a very long time after that.  Looking back, I think that those kids are the ones that didn't understand.  I wasn't being rude, I was being real.  40 years later, I look through art books or online at famous paintings, and I see those paintings that became so familiar to me at the Birmingham Art Gallery, that I developed a connection with as a young person, and I think "I know that painting.  That painting is like an old friend to me".  

We didn't have lots of money growing up, but I didn't notice.  Our home was full of love, full of experiences.  We spent our days climbing the local hills, playing cowboys and Indians, riding our bikes, making daisy chains, making paper beads and turning them into necklaces, making huts under the table using old sheets on rainy days.  We put on circus plays and magic shows that we made our parents and our friends' parents watch.  We went to the beach and dug really deep holes and made huge sandcastles. and sand sculptures.  My sisters and I spent many pleasurable hours cutting out bits of paper and sticking them down in our scrapbooks.  We loved catalogues, and would cut out pictures from them to paste down.  One of my favourite christmas presents was a  Rolf Harris Art Station that was stuffed in my Santa's stocking one year, and a weaving loom another year.  I still have that weaving loom, it sits upstairs in my craft room.  I will be using it with my niece's and nephews.

My aunt, (my mum's sister) is also a crafter.  She makes boxes, quilts, paper, books, and so much more.  Over the years I have seen my mum take up many different crafts... ceramics, faberge eggs, stamping, card making, and now quilting.  I only have to look in my china cabinet to see the products of her many crafts and hobbies - a black ceramic horse she made for me when I was 16; a velvet lined egg she made for me one easter.  In my china cabinet are also products of my own crafting - handpainted egg shells; a miniature handpainted ceramic tea set; handpainted wine glasses.  On the top of the cabinet sits needle felted things that I have made - a fantail, a horse, a donkey, a kereru.  On my walls are paintings I have done over the years.  In my wardrobe are clothes that I have made (not many, but a few), and jumpers that my mum still makes for me.  I am also lucky enough to be the beneficiary of her crafts that she doesn't do anymore - I rummage through her things and find stamps and inks that I am allowed to take home and use in my crafting.

I have a cuttlebug, and a variety of stamps and scissors and inks.  My 4 year old nieces and 5 year old nephew love coming to visit (or sometimes I bring it to them) and we spend a wonderful afternoon together just creating.  I see the wonder in their faces when they carefully put the paper into an embossing folder, turn the handle, and take out the paper to reveal bumpy patterns and flowers, just like magic.  They love dipping the stamps into the inkpads and pressing them down on the paper and finding a butterfly or a fairy sitting there on their page.  They get excited when using special scissors which cut wavy lines and zig zag lines - they cut into paper just for the pleasure of seeing a zigzag splitting the paper into two.  They use the craft punches in ecstasy, gleefully punching out hundreds of dragonflies and butterflies and hearts.  We are creating lifelong memories, and at the same time imparting to them a love of creating, which teaches them to be self-reliant.  There is an innate feeling of satisfaction, pride and contentment that comes with creating.  When my niece turned 4 years old, I made her a Creation Station box - I covered a filing box with pretty papers, and filled it with a $2 pack of A4 coloured paper (some sheets of which I had cut down to A5 and A6) an A5 pad of pretty printed paper for $2, an $8 stamp set, a gluestick, and a variety of coloured card and envelopes from my paper stash.  I filled little boxes with sequins, and paper butterflies, dragonflies and hearts punched out with my craft punch.  I used my cuttlebug and die cut a variety of doilies, bird houses and other various items; and embossed paper.  It was so much fun to make, and I enjoyed finding little things to add to it, and I know that my niece will have hours of fun with it.  My youngest sister saw the treasure box full of crafting goodies and put in an order for her daughter's next birthday!

Sometimes I look around me as an adult and I despair a little as I hear kids talk about what their mum or dad is going to buy them or have bought them, rather than what they did.  They talk about what they saw on TV, not what they made.  I think about what it was like when I was a kid and wonder if it is  possible to bring up kids today without being materialistic.  I think, "yes it is possible".  Material things are not important and so easily discarded - but those things that have been handmade especially for me, by someone special to me, retain their significance, because they are so much more than just a 'thing' to be discarded.  Creativity in the home is just something that I do, it is completely natural, because every day I am creating, whether it is in the kitchen, in the lounge, in my head, or in my craftroom. **********

and grab your free extras (first 200 orders only!):

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or order it from your local bookshop!
Carnival host and author of The Rainbow Way, Lucy at Dreaming Aloud shares an extract from the chapter Nurturing a Family Culture of Creativity.

Lilly Higgins is a passionate food writer. Now a mother of two boys, she's discovered a new calling: to instil in them a love of food and creativity in the kitchen.

DeAnna L'am shares how visioning the New Year with your child is an invitation to be inspired: use creativity and resolutions to create a fun road map for the year ahead.

Molly at Talk Birth on Releasing Our Butterflies - balancing motherhood with creativity.

Laura shares some of the creativity happening at Nestled Under Rainbows and a few thoughts about creativity.

Georgie at Visual Toast celebrates her own unique culture of creativity at home.

Esther at Nurtureworkshop spreads the love of the ordinary, the delights of everyday things that can be an adventure of the imagination.

For Dawn at The Barefoot Home creativity is always a free form expression to be shared by all in a supportive environment where anything can be an art material.

Naomi at Poetic Aperture is a mother, artist and photographer who tries to keep her daughter away from the expensive pens and paints.

Aimee at Creativeflutters writes about keeping your sanity and creativity intact with small kids in the house in her post: Mother + Creativity - They Must Coexist.

Amelia at My Grandest Adventure embarks on a 30 Days of Creativity challenge...you can too!

Becky at Raising Loveliness explores creating with her smaller family members.

Jennifer at Let Your Soul Shine reveals how children help us connect to our souls, through music and movement.

Mary at The Turquoise Paintbrush shares her experiences of creating with kids.

Brooke at violicious spent too much time worrying and trying to be creative instead of letting it flow.

Joanna at Musings of a Hostage Mother explains why creativity at home is important to her in her post "I nurture a creative culture."

On womansart blog this week - nurturing a creative culture at home.

Creative woman at Creator's Corner loves color and uses it to paint, draw and decorate to inspire herself and her family.

It took until Amy at Mama Dynamite was pregnant aged 35 to discover her dormant creative streak - she has found lovely ways of tuning into it every since.

Anna of ArtBuds is a trained educator and art therapist. She has been creating all her life and nurturing her daughter's creativity at home is a priority.

Deb at Debalicious shares how her family enjoy creativity at home.

Emily at The Nest explores how creativity runs through her family's life together.

Jennifer at OurMuddyBoots sees that encouraging creativity in children is as simple as appreciating them for who they are: it just means overriding everything we know!

Lisa from Mama.ie has discovered that a combination of writing and traditional crafts can provide a creative outlet during those busy early years of new motherhood.

Anna at Biromums shares what nurturing a culture of creativity means to her.

Zoie at TouchstoneZ argues that the less they are interfered with, the more creative children become as they grow up.

Darcel at The Mahogany Way celebrates creating with her kids.

Molly at MollyLollyLoo explores her family's shared creative times.

Liz at Reckless Knitting shares how she celebrates creativity with her family.

Sally (aka The Ginger Ninja) of The Ginger Chronicles is continually inspired by her own mum and grandmother.

Just being creative is enough, says Nicki at Just Like Play, as she ponders her journey of nurturing a creative family.

Allurynn shares her creative family's musings in her post "Creativity... at the Heart of it" on Moonlight Muse.

Laura at Authentic Parenting explores how being creative saves her sanity.

Mama is Inspired talks about how she puts an emphasis on the handmade in her home, especially in the holiday season.

Kirstin at Listen to the Squeak shares with you several easy ways for busy mamas and dads to encourage their children to be creative every day.

Chiswick Mum believes that a healthy dose of chaos is the secret to nurturing creativity at home.

Mila at Art Play Day always lived in her dreams, sleepwalking through life ... now she is finding out what creativity is all about.... her inner child!

Sadhbh at Where Wishes Come From describes how picture books can nurture creativity in young children.