Foliage Crowns, Paddling & Cardboard Flowers

Yesterday, we made the most of the weather and spent a lot of time in the garden. I suggested making foliage crowns for the girls and they collected a few leaves and flowers for me before their interest waned πŸ™‚ I just used some gardening wire and wrapped to it fit their heads. They I used my jewellery wire to attach leaves, etc. I hope to make a second attempt at it when they’re in a more focused frame of mind πŸ™‚ I might use a less visible colour of wire next time though πŸ™‚ The girls still insisted on wearing their single-leafed headbands πŸ™‚

I got to read a complete short story in the sun (which is an achievement when the girls are awake.) I filled the old baby pool we have with bubbly warm water for the girls to soak their feet in. It seems to provide as much entertainment as the full-sized pool we used to have and takes much less time to fill πŸ™‚

I noticed that my tomato plant was getting too big for the windowsill, so I repotted it outside. I’m hoping it continues to thrive there and that one day it might even produce a tomato πŸ™‚ Some daisies I planted a couple of years ago have come out again, along with a few yellow poppies. It’s nice seeing bits of colour in our garden, however limited πŸ™‚

I came across a cake recipe in a magazine that I wanted to try. It had cardamom in it, which I’m obsessed with. I love Indian dishes, chai tea and anything with that flavour in it πŸ™‚ I had some overripe bananas to use up, so I made a cardamom banana cake. I didn’t realise that to release the flavour of the cardamom, you take the seeds out of the pods and crush them (I’ve been using them whole or blending the whole pod.) You learn something new every day πŸ™‚ It was a slow kind of cake to make and the girls were otherwise occupied for a change, so I enjoyed sifting ingredients and taking my time over it. It produced an aromatic, indulgent kind of banana bread and I had to bake it in a roasting tin because there was too much batter to fit in a cake tin πŸ™‚ It produced large wedges of cake that are too easy to eat πŸ™‚

This morning, I took the girls for a walk on the Greenway. We went early and the pathway was quite quiet. The girls collected dandelion clocks along the way and named each one. I looked around and tried to identify different plants and weeds along the way. I read in a magazine that there are certain weeds you can use to make pesto, but I have to figure out how to identify them first πŸ™‚ I also wanted to try to make nettle soup or tea, but have to find some first πŸ™‚ I don’t often go for walks with gardening gloves on so it might be tricky to do that one.

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On the way home, we spotted a tree that had been decorated with rainbows and kids’ craftwork. (Sorry if this is your tree but I had to take a picture of it because it really brightened our day.) The girls asked if we could make something similar, so I’m going to work on adding things to some of the hedges outside.

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I think I’m just starting to recognise the creative potential of toilet roll tubes πŸ™‚ It’s funny how when you don’t have access to craft shops, you save everything in your house to use in future projects. We made some simple toilet roll tube flowers. I just got the girls to paint the tubes green, I cut some leaves out of an empty box and then they painted them and added glitter. When they were dry, they attached the leaves and I cut two slits in the tops of the tubes to slide their flower heads into. They were easy to make and kept them entertained for a while πŸ™‚

Afterwards, the girls worked on some more rainbow-themed items. They spread glue onto cardboard and used some confetti to make collage rainbows. Then we made some colourful feather hangings to put outside. We didn’t have any wool or ribbon, so we used gift ribbon I found in the cupboard πŸ™‚

I made a quick yeastless pizza for lunch and then we spent some time in the garden. The girls made a pretend campfire in the middle of their tuff tray. Once it turned into a runny pile of mud, we converted it into a lego table and the girls made some cars and flowers. We had a very American style dinner and the girls discovered a new love for ribs with barbecue sauce. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and I no longer have the energy for planning anything πŸ™‚ I’m just hopeful it’ll bring some sun with it.

Gardening, Gloop & Beetle Friends

Yesterday, we went for what has become our usual walk on the Greenway. While we were walking, the girls were talking about the different birdsong and they pointed out some Forget-me-nots and butterflies along the way. They are becoming a lot more perceptive about their environment and noticing the little changes in nature on our walks.

Afterwards, I made them some yellow play doh to β€œbake” with outside. I’m glad I kept all the tools from play doh sets over the years. Even though they add to my cluttered cupboards, the girls have got so much use out of them. They also use dough ball trays from M&S as pretend mini bun trays but you could use kitchen utensils too. I know a garlic press works well with play doh and they enjoy the realistic element of having kitchen equipment too πŸ™‚

The girls made me some bright yellow cupcakes to have with my coffee πŸ™‚ Then they started making desserts and made up their own names for them πŸ™‚ Eventually, it ended up turning into a play doh and soil game and I declared it over πŸ™‚

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Then, we made some real chocolate chip cookies using an easy recipe I found posted online. The girls had asked me to pick up some giant chocolate chips at the shop the day before and it felt like a sign it was time to make choc chip cookies πŸ™‚

The girls helped to roll out the dough and proceeded to lick the bowl and pinch bits of dough to eat while I cut out cookies πŸ™‚ Β We listened to some calming music and I made some coffee to go with the cookies/the girls claimed theirs for snack and TV time πŸ™‚

I had some ripe avocados, so I decided to make guacamole and use a nachos kit we had in the cupboard πŸ™‚ I put some lime in our drinks too and when my daughter came into the kitchen and saw the overloaded plate she said it was β€œlike we’re in a restaurant.” We had a slow dinner at the table and listened to 1920’s jazz. She was right; it did feel like we were in a real restaurant πŸ™‚

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Today, we went for a walk to a nearby shop and the girls got some ice-cream and sweets. The weather was so hot today and going for a morning walk almost felt like being in Spain or Portugal πŸ™‚ I like the fact we go to local shops more now and barely use the car. It feels like we get to experience more together and have longer chats while we walk with nowhere to rush to. The girls picked some dandelion clocks and had fun blowing them on the way home.

Afterwards, my daughter had to do some pets colouring in the style of Dean Russo, so I printed off an extra sheet for my younger daughter. She had her ice-cream while she coloured and my older daughter put a lot of time into drawing patterns. I wish maths homework went that swimmingly. My neighbour kindly gave us some spiced buns she had made and we all loved them. They were like a gingerbread cake πŸ™‚

Afterwards, I made some gloop for the girls to play with. My friend suggested it yesterday and I’d never made it before. It’s so easy to prepare and is such an interesting texture. I couldn’t stop playing with it either, because it keeps changing from solid to liquid and is really weird! The girls played with it for a long time, until they started flinging it around the garden, which is how most messy crafts end!Β 

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I finally tackled the weeding at the front of our house. The girls helped me with raking and binning πŸ™‚ Then they started their own games beside me. I uncovered some Clematis on the wall and I’ve no idea how it got there! It must have just been obscured by all the weeds I never get time to remove πŸ™‚ While we were weeding, my daughter found a beetle and decided to befriend it. I was happy to see her not scream at the sight of a bug πŸ™‚ She was really gentle with it and made it a β€œhouse” in an empty container. She named it β€œDude” but then decided to rename it after my parents’ cat. It eventually moved on and she was momentarily disappointed. (That’s it walking upside down on a twig/its new house it quickly vacated,)

For dinner, we had a barbecue in the garden. I’ve realised having a barbecue with the girls means sitting eating alone while they come up with thousands of reasons to repeatedly leave the table πŸ™‚ But it was nice sitting in the hot sun, feeling like we were on holiday and having the company of the neighbours voices and the birds in the background πŸ™‚

 

 

Sunshine Smoothies, Feeding Robins and Cardboard Pets

We started the day yesterday with sunshine smoothies, and the sun joined us in the background. One thing that has helped with the self isolation is the accompaniment of the sun πŸ™‚ Even if you can only enjoy it in your garden, or with the light bouncing off the windows, or warming a room, it is more cheerful than looking out at a grey day πŸ™‚ The girls are obsessed with smoothies, and they’re a good way to get vitamins into their systems without complaints πŸ™‚ I just used some frozen mango and papaya we had in the freezer but you could use pineapple too, and combined it with orange juice and honey in the blender.

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We absorbed some of the sun in the garden and I brought my coffee and reading material outside πŸ™‚ Even though it is a challenge to make it through a sentence on paper without interruption, I’m enjoying using the little table and chairs in our back garden. It is positioned next to some plants that are budding and it’s a restful spot to sit in. I’m looking forward to sitting out there when the kids are in bed and the nights are a bit longer. But for now, I’m grateful to have somewhere to enjoy my coffee surrounded by nature, even if we are confined to a smallish yard πŸ™‚

I planted some hyacinth bulbs a while ago and I was surprised to see they are flowering and looking healthy so far πŸ™‚ I decided to make some bird food to attract the birds back to our garden. I checked online to make sure we weren’t giving them anything they couldn’t eat. Every time I have made bird feed like this, the birds devour it in a couple of days. Meanwhile, they seem to be neglecting the seeds in the proper bird feeder next to it πŸ™‚ I found this online for anyone that wants to try making some.

The girls helped me to make it. We combined oats, rice krispies, raisins, peanut butter, a little oil and some grapes. I read somewhere that birds love grapes, and couldn’t imagine them eating them, but they do πŸ™‚ Today, we noticed a robin had been spending a lot of time in our garden and was eating it πŸ™‚ I always wonder how birds find out there is new food in a garden. Are they always watching to see? Do they tell each other?

After making our bird seed, we stuck our egg carton daffodils together πŸ™‚ The girls were much less interested in assembling them than they were in painting them yellow πŸ™‚

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We made some chocolate rice krispie buns, and the girls enjoyed taking charge of making them and eating them πŸ™‚

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Afterwards, I opened one of the Toucan Boxes we got. It had a bunny racecar to make, but as always my mechanical skills let me down πŸ™‚ We managed to make the bunny and today we improvised and made a car out of an empty teabox. The pack also contained an Easter bunting kit and a bunny hairband kit. Both crafts were much easier and we completed them. The pack contained white crayons and watercolours for magic painting, which the girls enjoyed doing. There was also a magazine for kids with suggested projects and sticker activities in it.

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After the kids were in bed last night, I tried making my first homemade tortillas. I find cooking really soothing, particularly when no one is howling at my feet πŸ™‚ It was therapeutic making the dough. It doesn’t contain any yeast, so you don’t have to worry about kneading, etc. I was happy with how they turned out. They were a bit misshapen but tasted fresher than ones I would have bought in the shop.

This morning, I decided to put our Easter tree up πŸ™‚ I love the way it brightens up the kitchen. I was surprised it still had some life left in it, as we’ve had it for a few years now. The girls were happy to see it make a reappearance.

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My daughter had been given a task by her school, to make a junk model pet. She decided on a parrot and I helped her assemble and tape it together. She added feathers and made a beak shape out of a pipe cleaner. We strung it up with balloon ribbon and it is currently suspended from our kitchen door handle, blessing us with its beauty πŸ˜€

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My other daughter decided to make a five-eyed hamster out of an egg carton. I’m glad I’ve saved up so many cardboard boxes now. At times, my craft hoarding can be a nuisance, but during this period of staying at home, it has become a gift πŸ™‚ Our kitchen table permanently looks like this at the moment, but I just try to remember that saying about excusing the mess because the kids are busy making memories πŸ™‚

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Lollipop Ladies, Seed Sowing and Stall Shopping

I thought I’d share a few things we’ve been doing recently. I’m in budgeting mode at the minute after booking some trips for the summer, so I’m going to be coming up with ways to occupy the kids without spending money πŸ™‚ The Belfast children’s festival is starting next week, so I’ve been going through the programme and circling what I plan to attend with the girls. I find circling things in papers as therapeutic as making lists πŸ™‚

I came across the idea for washi tape dolls online, so decided to try making them with the girls. They are so simple to make and held their attention for a long time. They love sticking decorative tape on anything but with the added dimension of making dolls outfits, they were completely absorbed by it. We had some craft lolly sticks lying about. I just got them in the pound shop. We had tapes I’d collected and stuck them on first as clothes. You just cut them to the shape you want and wrap them around the sticks. Then I used permanent pens to draw faces, hair and features on the clothes. It was a pretty girly activity but you could adapt it for boys, making superheroes with capes, animals, dinosaurs or people they know. I found the pen runs a little when you draw on the wood so it might be easier to stick on white paper for heads and draw on it (if you can be bothered with all that!) You could add wool for hair too if you’re in the mood for it πŸ™‚

 

I recently bought a grow house from B&M for a tenner. My purchase was poorly-timed, considering the weather. I don’t know if anything will cure my off-green fingers, but I thought it’d be a good activityΒ for the girls anyway. We planted tomatoes, herbs and some pansies. They are growing well in their tiny pots on the windowsill, but I guess we will see what happens when we transplant them to larger pots in the garden! The girls love planting things and watching them grow and they’re much better than me at remembering to water things πŸ™‚

I’ve also been trying to give the girls more free play time. Sometimes life can be crammed with too many structured activities and I like to see the creativity they come up with when left to their own devices. This is one of their recent creations.

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Last weekend, we went to a market at the Titanic Hotel with my mum. A lady described her as a vision of colour and I thought that perfectly summed up her outfit πŸ™‚ It was a cool, bright day. You could imagine Spring emerging, even though it was icy cold next to the docks. I had decided before I went in to allow myself to buy hair bows from my favourite bow lady πŸ™‚ I find if I limit myself to one treat I’m less likely to splurge on twenty. My mum kindly treated me to some more bows to add to my collection πŸ™‚ We spotted a coffee stand and grabbed a seat before the place filled up πŸ™‚ It was really good coffee and two pounds a cup. I had thought ahead and brought water and cakes for the girls. Afterwards, we just looked around the other stalls. They have everything from photographs to baked treats. The girls had been given some money from a friend so they bought a bow and a cupcake each. The buns were so cute; they had ones shaped like hamburgers and so much work had gone into them. These are the ones the girls chose. I don’t know how they brought themselves to eat them, but they managed to πŸ™‚

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I love finding markets with free entry that support local artists. It has become a Sunday tradition of mine and my mum’s and the girls enjoy looking around too. I like the fact you have unexpected conversations with people and get inspiration from looking at their lovely artwork πŸ™‚ I always leave them feeling creatively charged and ready to write πŸ™‚

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Ways to entertain kids in the garden

Cheap Ways To Entertain Kids In The Garden

I’ve only recently acquired a garden. It is small but is saving my sanity, even in cold weather. Here are a few easy ways to keep kids occupied in your garden, even if you only have a small patch.

Make your kids their own plot

You can save a small space with soil and no plants just for your kids to dig and play in. If you don’t have a flowerbed, fill a large pot with soil and get them some kids’ gardening tools/spoons/measuring cups.

Second-hand Scooters

I got my kids some second-hand scooters and a bike on Gumtree, which even included free delivery and no assembly for me (thank God.) Even in a confined space they like to have mini races and scoot in circles.

Mini Mud Kitchen

I gave my kids an old tea set they weren’t using indoors and they love using water to make tea and soil from their little patch for mud pies. A kitchen isn’t even required πŸ™‚

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Plant Flowers and Let Them Water Them

My kids love helping to tuck plant roots into a flowerbed. Kids like a little bit of responsibility too, especially if it involves pouring water. Let them use a watering can to care for their plants.

Teddy Bears’ Picnic

Make a picnic and have it on a rug in the garden. Get your kids to help you make sandwiches and invite β€œguests” along (teddies.)

Child Labour

Get your kids involved in weeding your garden and brushing up leaves. They tackle it with much more enthusiasm than adults and love being helpful. Just watch they don’t uproot any of your precious plants in the process πŸ™‚

Washing Line Play Tent

Hang up your sheets outside and they can double up as entertainment for your kids. Let them make a little house under them and bring toys inside. (Keep the water and mud pies at a distance though!)

Cooking with Chives

My sister and I used to spend hours doing this. If you have any herbs in your garden, let your kids use them in β€œrecipes” in a toy pot. You can be the β€œcustomer” while you drink your real tea and read your book πŸ™‚

Bug Hotel

My kids and I made one of these this week at a National Trust property. You just use an empty plastic container with open ends (or cardboard held together with string) and fill it with twigs, moss, pine cones or any natural materials you can find. Set it in a flower bed or hang it on your fence to attract bugs.

What do your kids like to do in the garden?

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