We’ve been working on these feathered friends on and off for a month.
A few weeks’ ago, Ickle and Mivvy collected a whole bag of banksia seed pods on an excursion to Norah Head lighthouse, one of our favourite destinations. The pods were scattered along the roadside and each one was excitedly scooped up and popped in our bag.
Then my creative duo painted a selection of pods and left them to dry on the verandah, for ages. OK, we forgot about them, although one lucky pod did accompany Ickle to school for “News”. This is a weekly slot where each child in Kindy has to present an object or tell a short story to the rest of the class. Ickle announced that she had brought in “a pine cone from Newcastle”. Well. Almost.
Today, it was time to apply the very important finishing touches to our little pets: the wings. Mivvy also insisted, quite rightly, on a beak for her special blue-feathered creation. She chose black embroidery thread for the desired effect.
The Banksia Owls have taken up roost again on the verandah, but I think they’d look quite cute as a table centre … once they’re dry.
BTW, pine cones would be a great alternative if you don’t have any Banksia trees close by.
Meanwhile, back in Australia, Nature is telling us that spring has sprung: the wattle is in flower, warmth fills the air on a good day, and those magpies have started to swoop…For me, though, it’s still about the daffodils, those golden trumpets of spring that push their way through the earth after months of lying dormant. I have yet to see any in our little patch of Lake Macquarie, but maybe I haven’t been looking closely enough.
So, last week, Ickle and I made our own. With just a few basic supplies: an egg box, card, paint, and a few drinking straws. We were spurred on by the knowledge that Friday 26 was Daffodil Day.* Ickle’s preschool were keen to support the event, and – as well as donate – we wanted to make something special too.
So Ickle painted.And cut (with a little bit of help).And stuck.And we ended up with a beautiful spring bouquet.And some equally beautiful brooches.And, later, Ickle and her daddy gave Zizi the bear a complete makeover to mark the occasion.*Daffodil Day is an annual event run by the Cancer Council. It raises funds for cancer research, support services, and education and prevention programmes.
It’s the perfect time of year for cubby houses.
Ickle and Mivvy love their snug little hideaways. Our usual efforts involve a couple of chairs, bean bags and a funky floral sheet draped like a tent. Indoors on a rainy lazy day. Sometimes the tea set comes out to play too, and the girls enjoy a snack or two in their secret abode. Nothing like a tiny plate loaded with sultanas and miniature biscuits.
This week, though, we have enjoyed blissful still sunny mornings on the lake. So, I dug out a cardboard cubby that has been tucked away in a flatpack for a couple of years. Just waiting for that special moment. After a battle to construct it, which I won, we headed outside for some fun.Boy-next-door charged over to join in the action. And three little pairs of hands set to work with brushes and colour. For a while. Then, the budding artists clambered in and out of the partially-painted cubby, before transforming it into a truck depot. And a very pretty one, too.
Yes, we may live in a land teeming with weird and wonderful creepy crawlies, but there’s always space for a few more.
This weekend, Ickle, Mivvy and I created a colourful collection of giant bugs. The original concept came from a fabulous craft book, Creative Crafts for Kids (Hamlyn), gifted to Ickle by the lovely Auntie KT. What a refreshing change to leaf through paper pages rather than trawl the web for inspiration! And with 100 fun projects to try out, there’s no shortage of ideas*.We adapted the original colour scheme, opting for green and yellow paper rather than black. Ickle’s new craft box came up trumps with an amazing selection of sparkly pipe cleaners, perfect for our project. Check out our creations in progress:And the fun didn’t stop there. As you know, Ickle and Mivvy love to paint. So they went blob-tastic, transforming their insects with crazy spots and dots.Ta-da!*I think the craft book is great. So I’m recommending it. For free.
It was Daddy Ickle’s birthday last week and the girls, especially Ickle, were very keen to make him something (as well as a cake, that is). So I trotted off to Bunnings, our fave store of the moment, to purchase some raw materials. Nothing too complicated; the idea was to have fun.
And, have fun, we did. Painting is not a regular activity in our household as Ickle and Mivvy manage to make a huge amount of mess every time we attempt it. Leaving yours truly the exciting task of clearing up, while the girls run riot elsewhere in the house.But this was a special occasion, and Nanna L. had come over to play too, so I had additional support. Ickle and Mivvy surpassed themselves – I’m sure you’ll agree that their pots for Daddy are works of art. I particularly like the personalised hand prints on each saucer. I later added names and dates, although Ickle’s trademark pink did make this slightly unnecessary.
They didn’t stop at the pots either. Ickle painted both her arms bright pink up to her elbows; Mivvy managed to spatter most of her body, face and hair with a rainbow of colours. And both girls were having so much fun that the session spilled over onto sheets of coloured paper…not to mention the table, chairs and floor.So Nanna L. whisked the budding artists off for a warm bubbly bath, while I attempted to remove all traces of the morning’s activity before Daddy Ickle got home. I didn’t fare so well with hiding the pots. “Come and see what we made for your birthday, Daddy,” urged Ickle that evening. Ah. So, not a birthday surprise this year, then.
[Photo credits: hand prints and coloured paper on the line – Nanna L.]
Bet you thought we’d forgotten about Christmas thank-you cards this year…
But no. They have just been a while in the making. Ickle and Mivvy spent a fun craft session stamping paper plates a couple of weeks ago, and I hit on the idea of sending their creations instead of cards.Only then I realised there might be a slight problem…envelopes. A bendy plate is not the most practical shape to send by post, especially overseas. And I figured it wouldn’t be the most cost-effective solution either, although I don’t believe international postage rates have been increased by the walloping 40% that has been applied to domestic mail this year.
So, I sat on the plates, figuratively speaking. And had a think. For a while. Then both girls conveniently dropped off for a nap at the same time on Saturday and it was time for paper plate action. I Googled “paper plate thank-you cards” and my search immediately returned these wee chappies. They didn’t take long to make, and I didn’t worry too much about the occasional misshapen snowman. After all, the real things are often a bit lumpy.The eyes, mouths and buttons really finish them off. In fact, if I were organised enough about Christmas cards, which – let’s be realistic here – I’m not, I’d make them again later this year with the littlies. With paint and stickers and cotton wool. Although, on second thoughts, they might be a bit bulky for the post too…[Edit 2 Feb 2016: A whole paper plate is a tight squeeze even in an A4-sized envelope; the snowman cards neatly slide into an envelope half that size. Just in case you were wondering!]
Last year, Ickle and I had a lot of fun making thank-you cards after Christmas. So we decided to do the same again, only differently.
Our starting point was a Paint with Water colouring book Ickle had received from the lovely Auntie A. Initially, I thought she would only have to apply water for the colours to magically appear. But actually her book contained 20 different one-page designs, each with an individual paint palette at the top (great idea and perfect for days away too). All we had to do was rip out the chosen page, fetch a paintbrush and pot of water and get to work.
I helped a little by dipping the paintbrush in the water between colours, and also by dabbing it in the paint, but all the brush strokes are Ickle’s own. She hasn’t quite mastered applying paint within a design, opting instead for patches of colour and the occasional long squiggle across the page. Ickle does love to paint, the only disappointment being that we didn’t have paintbrush handles to match all the colours in the palette. Things that match are very important to her at the moment.
In the interest of keeping things as simple as possible (see our Melting Snowman post for more on this), we didn’t make cards this time. Ickle painted a set of designs over the space of about a week. And I wrote thank-you messages on the back of each completed artwork, folded them into envelopes and sent them on their merry way. And that’s our Christmas thank-yous done and dusted, thank you very much.
Ickle and I have been getting crafty in the run-up to Christmas. We’ve made a variety of decorations to add to the small collection of baubles I’ve accumulated over the past few years.
I can’t take the credit for the original ideas behind these creations, although we have stamped our mark on each. There’s a whole host of colourful and fun ideas online for getting toddlers involved in making Christmas ornaments. And that’s where the inspiration for our selection came from.
A classic, and perfect for little fingers, although the ribbon-threading and tying is probably best left to big people.
Ickle found this activity the most fun by far. Possibly because it was the messiest. We stuck squares of coloured paper on a large sheet of card, let it dry and then cut out our Christmas shapes.
My favourite of the bunch (dig the Frozen colour scheme) although Ickle wasn’t so keen. I made up the star templates in advance by sticking paddle pop sticks together (like for last year’s sparkly snowflakes). Then, we smeared them with glue and stuck the buttons on. Or rather I did, while Ickle selected the colour and size of each button.
Easy. And this time the glueing was undertaken with enthusiasm by my little helper!
Because, as we all know, a Christmas tree is not complete without a crazy pink angel on top.
Play Dough is a big winner in our household. Ickle just can’t get enough of the stuff. She kneads it, rolls it, flattens it and moulds it into all sorts of crazy shapes. Current favourites are worms, flowers, spaghetti hair (with the aid of a great little gadget) and, of course, cupcakes!
Nana L presented her with a fabulous selection of Play Doh in mini pots shortly after Baby Lil’s arrival. And it has been used and re-used on countless occasions. Unfortunately, the individual colours have gradually morphed into a dull sludge green lump. And Ickle has been regularly disappointed to discover that we no longer have any pink, or green, or blue, or any other colour for that matter.
So, last time she requested a play dough session, I suggested we head to the kitchen to make some of our own. I’d been told it was super-easy and cheap too. I’d also earmarked a recipe on the back of a Cream of Tartar pot I had in the cupboard (untouched since an attempt to make pavlova a while back).
And it really was easy. You just measure out the ingredients, including an alarming quantity of table salt, and mix them over a medium heat for 5 minutes. And hey presto! Beautiful warm, pliable dough to work with, which lasts 4-6 months in the fridge. I only had Rose Pink food colouring to hand, so we now have a huge batch of pink dough, but Ickle is not complaining. And nor am I. No risk there of it turning sludge green in a hurry!