Monday, 26 August 2013

Playgroup Art & Craft: Foam brush and roller painting

Foam brushes and rollers provide an interesting change from the usual bristle brushes, and their shape and flexibility enable the artist to make so many different kinds of imprints on the paper - thick lines, thin lines, blobs, or even circles, if they figure out how to twist the brushes around. It helps if you provide paint spread thinly in rectangular containers so the children can swipe or roll up just the right amount instead of winding up with a piece of foam dripping with paint.

Lots of fun and lots of opportunities to talk about shape, line and colour. Washing a heap of paint-soaked rollers, however, is  not so much fun...

Friday, 16 August 2013

Playgroup Art & Craft: Liquidambar Lollipops

R is fascinated by the different leaves, seedpods and stones we find on our walks around our suburb. Just down the road is a massive liquidambar tree that drops hundreds of spiky seedpods on the footpath, so we collected a bagful to take to playgroup this week.

Inspired by this wonderful post on Casa Maria's Creative Learning Zone, I put out some pots of paint, each with a second colour swirled gently through it, and let the kids go wild with dipping the seedpods into the different paints. Some of the younger children dabbed and rolled the seedpods onto paper to make interesting patterns; for the older ones I stuck a thin bamboo skewer into each seedpod for ease of dipping, which had the benefit of turning the pods into lollipops! A shake of glitter provided the finishing touch.

At the end of the session we had lots of stunning multicoloured seedpods. R took hers home and - after a couple of days of drying - distributed them among her toys to 'eat'. Apparently, they were delicious!

Monday, 12 August 2013

'Mama, I want to make something!' what R tells me every day (and sometimes several times a day). In the past couple of months she has become crazy about making things, and this mania shows no signs of slowing. Toilet paper rolls, foil, fabric scraps, plastic cups, jars, chopsticks - nothing is safe when she's on the lookout for things she can use. And although I like to blame Mister Maker and Playschool I know it's really no one's fault but my own, because I am exactly the same. 

I thought I would start documenting some of her sweet creations, so above are a few of last week's 'projects'. From left to right: paper peacock feathers (to give to her friends), glittery painted apple and hedgehog (made with Das and sticks), paper plate face (which she named 'Nina Pretty Ballerina').

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Rice bubble muesli bars

I like to put homemade muesli bars in the kids' lunchboxes for a sweet but (relatively) nutritious treat. Until recently I'd been using this recipe, which I like because it's vegan. But I've been on the lookout for something different, and I think I've finally found what I'm looking for: a muesli bar that is light, crunchy and tasty. The kids agree that this one's a keeper.

Rice bubble muesli bars (slightly adapted from this recipe)

Mix together in a large bowl:

1 cup rice bubbles
2 cups quick oats (not traditional - you must get the 'quick' or 'instant' variety)
1/2 cup sultanas
1/3 cup choc chips

Put in a small saucepan:

60g butter
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees.

Put the saucepan on low/medium heat and stir until the butter melts and the sugar is dissolved. Bring gently to the boil. Once it boils it will start to froth up - turn the heat to low and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and mix well so that all the oats and rice bubbles are nicely coated.

Tip the mixture into a baking dish (I use a 20 x 30cm slice pan) lined with baking paper and spread it out evenly. Then, using a metal spatula - or whatever does the job well for you - press the mixture down firmly until the surface is nice and flat. Then press it again. The more you press, the better your bars will hold together.

Put the baking dish in the oven for 5-10 minutes, taking it out when it starts to brown a little on top (you can see how it should look in the photo above). Let it cool down for a while before slicing it into bars. It's easier to slice when it's still a little warm.

I store my bars in an airtight container and as they're always gone by the end of the week I can't say how long they last for - but I can tell you that they are absolutely delicious!

Monday, 5 August 2013

Another stretchy skirt for me

Finally managed to take some photos of my second stretchy skirt based on this tutorial. More dreadful self-timer photography I'm afraid... hopefully the skirt looks a little better in real life than it does in the pics!

I found the fabric at Darn Cheap and fell in love with it, but wasn't sure if it was really 'me'. To be honest, after years of dagging around at home in old clothes I no longer have any idea what my style is, if indeed I still ever had one. So I just went and bought it. It's a thick polyester/spandex with a good amount of stretch, but I fear I've made a novice sewer's mistake with both the stretchy skirts and not made them tight enough around the waist and hips. My advice to anyone sewing with stretch or knit fabrics: make it really tight, so tight that you have to squeeze yourself into it the first time you wear it, because IT WILL STRETCH OVER TIME.

Still, I'm pretty happy with this one.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Happy pyjama pants

This is what my sewing room (+ study/storage room/computer room) looked like a few months ago:

I took these photos thinking I'd (eventually) do a 'before and after' post, showing the room transformed from chaos to order, with all the fabric, papers, mexican flowers and miscellany cleverly stored away and neatly arranged for easy access. And while my desk is still piled up with stuff and the room is still in a shameful state of disorder, I have put drawers in the previously useless wardrobes and have begun the sorting and tidying process.

Although it's a challenging and dusty task, I've rediscovered all sorts of things I'd forgotten I had - like a metre of girly flannelette that was supposed to be for R's pyjama pants last winter. Poor R has two shop-bought pairs of pyjama pants, both of which are too big around the waist and fall down constantly. So I'm seriously overdue in making her a pair that fit. But guess what! That Happy Homemade pattern turns out to be perfect for pyjama pants. I used ribbing for the waistband instead of flannelette, which adds a bit of colour and feels nice and comfy around the waist.

No more falling-down pants!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Happy pants

For years I've been reading about Happy Homemade vol. 2 and its wonderful patterns for pants and shorts. Unfortunately the book only goes up to size 8 which rules out making anything for my son, who is 9 years old and big for his age. Of course there's my daughter, but she is very much a skirts and dresses girl who refuses to wear pants unless there's a compelling reason (I managed to persuade her when they had 'mud day' at kindergarten) or a bribe (as in: 'if you let me take a photo of you in these lovely jeans with the cute top I just made, I'll give you a chocolate frog'). But hey, I wasn't going to let her fashion preferences stop me from making some of the famous Happy Homemade pants!

I used some black linen left over from a skirt I made myself last year. Black wouldn't normally be my choice for a 5-year-old, but I didn't know if the fit would be any good so this was something of an experiment and not worth buying new fabric for. I made pattern O, wide-legged pants, in size 2. Yes, size 2 - and they fit her perfectly with just a little bit of length added. The pattern is an easy sew, with an elastic waist and back pockets. Now R has black linen pants that she may never wear, but they do look kind of cool...