Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Scented sock genies

We made these cute and useful little creatures today when I noticed just how many outgrown and threadbare socks were lurking in the children's not-so-fresh smelling drawers. I took the aforementioned socks and put them in a box on the kitchen table along with a mixture of dried mung beans and lavender, a selection of googly eyes, ribbon and metallic sticky tape, brightly coloured feathers, pipe cleaners and a few elastic bands.

There followed a fabulously fragrant hour as Buddy and Daisy made all the scented sock genie characters pictured above.

They half-filled each sock with the mung bean and dried lavender mix...

...then I helped tie an elastic band round the top of the sock to seal in the scented filling.

They stuck on eyes, added feathers, tape and pipe cleaners just as they wished and the whole kitchen filled with the relaxing scent of lavender. Bliss.

Daisy made a princess, a mermaid and two baby dinosaurs. Buddy made a pirate and two ninja-explorers.

The sock genies are now in residence in Buddy and Daisy's bedroom; scenting their drawers with the wonderful aroma of lavender. And they make me chuckle every time I see them; aren't they funny.

Friday, 12 August 2011

A postcard from Edinburgh

Every August Edinburgh is transformed; posters cover every billboard, fence and lamp-post and its town squares become venues, complete with temporary outdoor cafes and bars. The Royal Mile is pedestrianised for the whole month; you can walk down its entire length watching street theatre, and being handed flyers for the hundreds of shows on offer. It is, of course, Edinburgh's Fringe Festival.

My BC (before children) festival memories are rather hazy - I vaguely recall all-night drinking, eating terrible take-away food and watching late-night shows. So upon arrival, when my 5 year old enthusiastically announced, 'It's like Edinburgh's a city of shows!' gazing starry-eyed at all the posters, I knew we needed to discover a different kind of Fringe Festival - one that was rather more family-friendly.

So we got up and went out in the mornings - a festival rarity unless you're involved in a children's show - and we drank coffee and juice, looking through the Fringe programme deciding what to see that day.

We saw Not So Grimm Fairy Tales, Little Howard's Big show, The Just So Stories, The Amazing Bubble Show and Stick Man Live on Stage! - all brilliant. We couldn't pick a favourite and we didn't pick a dud.

We were also entranced by the sights and sounds of Mirazozo - a 'luminarium' in George Square.

We walked down the Royal Mile, got the children's faces painted and accepted handfuls of flyers for dozens of shows we knew we wouldn't get to see.

We stumbled upon some fabulous street theatre at the Grass Market in which my children eagerly participated.

We spent a lovely afternoon running around Calton Hill.

We visited Edinburgh's historic castle...

... and the audaciously redisplayed galleries of its museum.

We walked up Arthur's Seat...

... and got out of the rain and into some books.

We collected so many interesting things on our holiday that since coming home we've made a scrap book. The children helped stick in the tickets and mementos we accumulated over the week. I've also put our holiday snaps in a little wallet for them, so they can enjoy the memories of our festival fun in the months to come.

We're already looking forward to going back next year. Edinburgh - City of Shows - gets a five- star review from us.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Disco dough

Both my children had play-dates scheduled for this afternoon. While my son and his pal settled in upstairs for a Lego-thon, Daisy patiently waited and waited for her friend to arrive - but her little chum never showed up.

I had to pull something dazzling out of the bag to lift her spirits and distract her from the lack of a friend over to play. Thanks to The Sleepy Time Gal's blog, which I'd read earlier today, I had the answer: home-made play dough.

We didn't do the aromatherapy variety as featured on the blog - no essential oils to hand - but I did have glitter. Offering Daisy the chance to make some dazzling disco dough was the clincher that got her smiling again and making plans. See the wonderful Imagination Tree's children using glittery play dough here.

We adapted Martha Stewart's recipe as featured in The Sleepy Time Gal's post and added food colouring and a disco dose of glitter. It was a lovely, sensuous experience kneading in the pastel colour and sparkly glimmer to the warm fresh dough.

When Daisy's disco dough was ready she decided we were going to have a cake stall 'like at school'. She made posh lady cupcakes...

Ribena milk-shakes (with ice)...

... and 99 ice creams.

I sourced the extra ingredients - buttons, pony beads, feathers - and made a few cardboard cones. She spent a happy hour making and chatting about her creations.

She also made a couple of spacecraft cupcakes for the Lego-boys and my son's play-date then asked if he could make a cupcake too. It seems no one can resist the lure of Daisy's dazzling disco dough.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Our summer fete

Although our fete was for my daughter's fifth birthday party, it would work brilliantly as a family day-at-home project. Preparing for it was such fun - the birthday girl gave me all the ideas - and as children's parties go, it was pretty much stress-free. We had about fourteen guests ranging in age from under 2 to over 10 years and everyone found plenty of things to do and enjoy. My helpers (thank you, all) gave out stickers to all who took part in activities, then small prizes were given out to everyone at the end.

Games in the garden:

1. Hook-a-duck - the classic fete game. Of course some guests had a paddle in the pool too.

2. Bite a biscuit - ring-biscuits were bitten off rather faster than we could tie them on their strings. There must have been some cheating going on - you weren't supposed to use your hands.

3. Lucky rainbows - colourful beanbags were thrown into or rather aimed at the pot of gold (the basket). It's trickier than it looks.

4. Make a mural - I attached a huge piece of paper to the garden wall and set out chalks and crayons for free-for-all drawing.

5. Lucky dip - our stash of shredded paper provided an inviting texture for small hands to dive into and search for treasure.

6. Apple bobbing - another classic outside party game that's definitely harder than it looks.

And the fun continued inside...

1. Make a fancy party bag - plain white paper bags were decorated with stickers and doilies. Our youngest party guest particularly enjoyed getting creative alongside the big children.

2. Decorate a cupcake - this was predictably popular. Thanks to my chief icing-maker who made a big batch before our guests arrived, we could just stand back and let the children transform their plain sponges into bejewelled masterpieces all by themselves.

3. Make nibbly necklaces - made by threading ring-shaped snacks onto colourful cord. The finished necklaces looked great and it was interesting to see how many different patterns were made from the edible beads.

4. Dressing up - always a popular activity at our house.

5. Do-it-yourself puppet theatre - several guests sorted themselves into audience and puppeteers and took it in turns to put on their shows.

6. Lego workshop - my son was in charge of offering help and ideas - and was in Lego heaven.

7. Food and drink - tea with jam and cream scones for the grown-ups and finger food for the younger guests. Easy peasy - and no time-consuming sandwich making.

And finally... the birthday cake. Desperate for one that was chocolate and had a TinkerBell theme, my daughter happily helped with its decoration - sugar daisies and white chocolate stars. The TinkerBell image was cut out from one of her magazines, backed in card and jazzed up with a little glitter.

Happy Birthday, Daisy!