Clay Creations, Chilli Hot Chocolate & Fairy Houses

We have been doing diverse and random things the last couple of weeks, so trying to assemble them into one coherent post might prove challenging. Hopefully it will result in a collection of snapshots of ideas and inspiration 🙂

I got some beads and pipe cleaners from the pound shop for lazy bracelet making 🙂 It makes threading the beads easier as they can’t slide off and they are easy to twist together at the end too 🙂 The girls enjoyed making some multi-coloured creations and managed to do it with minimal interference 🙂

We made another trip to the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens to catch the roses before they wilt 🙂 When the girls climb on the bandstand it reminds me of hanging around there as a teenager. It’s strange living through different phases of life in the same place and with a new generation 🙂 There are some lovely bright flowers there at the moment and combining it with the museum is a good way to pass an afternoon. I’ve noticed that since the discovery rooms are closed in the museum, the girls are starting to show more interest in displays they typically ignore. They were building stone age tombs and looking at changing displays of burials, followed by a visit to the mummy. (It was all a bit morbid but at least it kept them entertained :))

I found a bag in B&M of slime accessories. I didn’t see any slime so I got some of the colourful soft clay instead. It kept the girls entertained for hours. I’m still finding the little balls and sequins everywhere! They loved decorating the clay with all the different accessories, and generally making a mess 🙂 I like trying to redirect my kids’ love for mess-making into an activity at the table, to try to minimise the number of water incidents that take place in the bathroom 🙂 I also got some foam stickers and the girls made under the sea pictures. I think that stickers hold their attention longer than anything else. It’s good to have something that quietens them down and that they find therapeutic 🙂

We played some card games. I looked up how to play Crazy Eights and played it with the girls. My skills for cards are at the same level as theirs 🙂 We played Monopoly too and had some hot chocolate. I found a dark chocolate chilli one in Lidl that I’m addicted to at the moment. Oat milk hot chocolate might be my new favourite thing 🙂 I finally found a dessert that my daughter will eat – berry crumble with custard 🙂 It’s so easy to make and I’ve been using frozen berries for it. You can just put them into the dish frozen, top with the crumble and stick it in the oven 🙂 I’m definitely in the mood for autumnal comfort food now. My slow cooker has made a reappearance this week too and I plan to make lots of casseroles and soup. We made some cinnamon cookies too and the girls did the icing and sprinkles. We were planning on gingerbread men but I had no ground ginger so we made those instead.

We are always happy to find interesting things to look at on the school run 🙂 It’s good incentive for my kids to walk and I notice far fewer complaints along the way 🙂 We came across two fairy trees. One is surrounded by painted rocks and has little fairy doors on it. The other is quite elaborate and has lots of little fairy houses and a fairy postbox 🙂 I was thinking about writing letters with the girls soon so they can post them there 🙂 I love the attention to detail and the fact that there are even little figures and trains inside the houses 🙂 My kids could easily stop there for an hour to examine everything 🙂 (as could I.)

We made another trip to the folk museum. I love walking around there and shutting off from modern technology 🙂 I almost resent taking pictures there because it seems to jar with the rustic feel to the place 🙂 My daughter befriended a pig and was talking to him for a long time. They wanted to move into the little cottage and live there with him as a pet 🙂 It was quiet so we didn’t feel rushed and got to take our time over everything. I stopped to look at the flowers, the apples on the apple trees and the girls did some more blackberry picking 🙂 There were lots of animals there and the kids loved uncovering the donkeys in a hidden corner of a barn 🙂 They were really friendly and liked having their noses petted.

We also went to Seapark early one morning and had the playground mostly to ourselves. It was a windy day and I could imagine it being Wintertime. I love looking at the view across the water and trying to spot Carrickfergus castle, seeing the light on the Cave Hill and watching the boats coming in.

We made a cereal box postbox by painting it red and making a slot for letters. I gave the girls some envelopes and they wrote letters and drew pictures to post. They used stampers for the stamps and my older daughter picked them up in her backpack and took them to the post box. I love how simple activities like these keep them happy for so long 🙂 I might need to buy more envelopes now though 🙂

Cheap Crafts, Wild Weather & Curious Chickens

Nothing makes me happier than seeing my children playing with a cardboard box. I don’t know what it is about it – maybe it’s just a classic childhood activity, but my kids always seem more content when they’re inside one 🙂 Sometimes they find them without my knowledge and transform them into things on their own. The most recent one was used as a pirate ship and my daughter stuck a flag onto it she made without my involvement 🙂 The garden was turned into a colouring station and we had some homemade play doh that was transported out for a cookie shop afterwards.

I stocked up on some of the 79p craft packs from Home Bargains. They aren’t made to last, but that’s probably for the best, considering the amount of clutter we have already accumulated in the house 🙂 The girls enjoyed decorating their own hairbands with ribbons and sequins.

Since our blackberry-picking expedition the girls have been obsessed with finding them on our walks. Every time I look at one of them they’ve spotted another blackberry bush and are collecting them in their then-stained handbag or pockets 🙂 There are some in our garden too so that has kept them happy.

We had our first proper trip since before Lockdown to the library. After picking out all the books they wanted and finding a book of short stories for myself (I’m hoping there is more chance of me actually getting the time to finish them!) we went to a cafe we hadn’t been to before. I hadn’t realised they sold ice-cream and I love the window seats 🙂 There was something about it that reminded me of a Turkish tea house.

At home, the girls cut out images from an old magazine so they could make their own collages. I cut out accompanying text that I thought went with what they were making. You could also cut out random words and put them together to make new sentences of your own.

I found some sand and cutters in the pound shop and put it in a tray for the girls to play with. It was the same as kinetic sand and kept them occupied for hours. I love looking in the craft and toy sections in the pound shop 🙂 Then again – that’s why I’ve had to convert three of our kitchen cupboards into craft cupboards 🙂 I also found some masks with elastic for the girls to colour. I find my kids seem to sit for longer to colour when they’re colouring something that serves a purpose when it’s finished :/

We went to the beach on a very windy day. The girls turned the picnic blanket into a bed to hide from the wind 🙂 It was a strange kind of weather: cloudy, sunny, hot, cold and windy all at once. We had a pain au chocolat and tried to shelter from the wind. I like windy days at the beach because I like watching the waves and the sea breeze really clears your head. We kept moving to keep warm. The girls climbed on rocks, we went for a walk and they played in the playground. I love the trees that make up the backdrop of this playground. I think they have so much character and make the place instantly recognisable.

We also went to the Folk Museum for the first time in months. The sweet shop was closed but other than that, things felt fairly normal. In the printers shop a man made the girls a donkey print each. They liked watching the process and they’re always happy to get something to take home with them. I love stopping at the houses and seeing the turf fires. It makes me wish we had a functioning fireplace and that people still cooked over them 🙂 There were lots of animals wandering about that day. The chickens were roaming around the farmhouse and tried to follow us inside. There were also piglets, a horse, a donkey and sheep. It made the walk more interesting for the girls. There were some people in front of us that had brought punnets for blackberry picking, so that started off the girls’ obsession with it again 🙂 There are very few items of clothing of theirs left without blackberry stains on them now 🙂