Category Archives: Easy-peasy craft

Clive, the Cress Head


Well, hello. What have we here?

Meet Clive, our resident cress head. He’s been with us for just over a week now, and is comfortably settled on the kitchen window sill (although we took him outside for this pic). He’s doing very well; his growth from a few little seedlings to a full head of hair has been nothing short of phenomenal. It almost seems a shame to send him for the snip…

I can’t claim credit for Clive, although I did remember to water him once we got him safely home from playgroup. Ickle was in charge of his design and delivery, and she has been quietly tracking his progress ever since. In fact, he has been much more of a hit than the little veggie and herb pots we planted a while back.

That experiment has not been a huge success, I must admit. Our peas yielded the grand total of 6 dry little nuggets; the baby carrots are currently the size of my thumbnail (surely even baby carrots grow bigger than that?); and the mint has decided to shrink rather than grow. Only the basil and parsley are hanging on in there.

Not that I am put off. On the contrary, we shall try again and be assiduous in our watering efforts next time around. And we’ll make a success of it, just like Clive.

Sparkly Snowflake


It’s wintertime here in Oz. The first snow has fallen in Perisher, one of Australia’s best-known ski resorts, located in the aptly-named Snowy Mountains of NSW. And it’s June, which for me was, and still is, the start of summer. I can’t seem to get my head around winter in June, despite living in the southern hemisphere for 5 years. Especially with warm sunny weather such as we enjoyed last weekend. Surfers were out in force at Catherine Hill Bay, and Ickle decided to have an impromptu dip in the ocean, fully-clothed.

In the true spirit of the season, however, we have organised a ‘Winter Wonderland’ themed party for our end-of-term playgroup session this week. Ickle will be going as a snowflake, complete with a gorgeous mini white tutu. And we’ll be making snowflakes too. Not the traditional white sort, but sparkly ones in a variety of rainbow hues. So, Ickle and I had a test run.P1020231P1020232

First, I prepared the lolly stick (paddle pop) stick templates while Ickle slept. I played around with them a bit as you can see. Multi-pronged Jenga. Almost.P1020237

Then, with Ickle super-excited to find a craft activity laid out ready and waiting for her after her nap, we got down to the serious business of glueing and sprinkling glitter confetti. Absolutely everywhere. I’m sure I’ll be finding little bits and pieces in strange places for weeks to come.P1020239

But, it was fun, and easy, and the end result looks pretty good too.P1020255P1020257



Yoghurt Pot Telephone

Icklegen and I made vanilla ice cream this week in my fabulous ice cream maker. What a great invention – no longer do you have to open the freezer every few hours to whisk your ice cream mixture by hand to stop dreaded crystals from forming. Would I actually manage to remember to do that, I wonder? I think not.P1010702

As I was washing up afterwards, including the two empty pots of cream we used in our recipe (I’m a bit of a stickler for clean recycling), I remembered making a very simple ‘telephone’ when I was a wee lass from a couple of yoghurt pots and a length of string. And I thought, what a great little idea for Icklegen and me.P1010696

It’s a bit fiddly for a toddler to make, as you have to puncture holes in the bottom of your pots, knot the string and then thread it through, but it takes all of 2 minutes to complete. Not even long enough for Icklegen to start hopping around with boredom. And actually, your toddler could get involved by decorating the pots with paint, coloured tape or stickers.P1010697

What I wanted was the end product so that we could have some fun calling each other on our yoghurt pot telephone. It took a little bit of effort to explain to Icklegen that she needed to hold the pot to her ear and keep the string taut while her mummy spoke into the ‘phone’. And then swap roles so that she was speaking and Mummy was listening. But we got there and enjoyed ourselves a lot in the process.

P.S. To finish, a quick plug for the cream used in our original recipe: Gippsland Dairy Pure Double Cream. It is thick, velvety smooth and so delicious you just want to scoop it out of the pot with a spoon and devour it. Plus, no added thickeners/nasties like so many varieties on sale (why, when the real thing is so much better?). And no, I haven’t been paid to say this; I just think that good things are worth sharing.

Homemade Thank-You Cards


Icklegen and I decided to make our own thank-you cards for the wonderful gifts she received at Christmas. Given my lack of inspiration on where to start with this, I turned to my trusty Google search engine (how did we cope before the Internet?) and found this page full of original ideas for children.

A lot of the suggestions are a bit beyond a young toddler, such as “let her make up a story about the gift,” and will have to be saved for future years. We opted instead to create a set of unique art cards – basically cutting rectangles out of one of Icklegen’s paintings and then glueing them to folded blank card.

Firstly, and most importantly, Icklegen had to create her one-off masterpiece. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun with this. Painting is always a very messy business in our household, and nearly always followed by a bath or shower. This time though, Icklegen was kitted out in her super-trendy Da Vinci art smock (courtesy of one of her lovely aunties). We still managed to create a fair amount of mess, but it was more *contained*.P1010482P1010484

Once the painting was complete, I pegged it out to dry and scampered around tidying up.P1010503

While my mini Da Vinci was comfortably tucked up in bed, I did some valuable behind-the-scenes work on her chef d’œuvre: cutting, glueing, and writing…And voilà: a rainbow of homemade cards, ready to mail out. P1010521

Melbourne Cup Hat

Tuesday was Melbourne Cup Day, and Icklegen and I had volunteered to take the lead on a suitably-themed craft activity for our weekly playgroup session. Rather amusing really as until moving to Australia a few years ago, I had no idea what the Melbourne Cup was. And believe me, it is a HUGE event!

For those not in the know, it is a 3,200-metre flat race for thoroughbred horses aged 3 years and over. It takes place on the first Tuesday in November at 3 pm at Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne. It is known as “the race that stops a nation” and with good reason; although the actual race lasts all of a few minutes, the country comes to a standstill for most of the day. Melbourne folk have the day off to celebrate, and people elsewhere take time off work, or slip away for a while, to join in the general merriment.

My first experience of the great occasion was at the Newport Arms, a well-known drinking hole on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. There was a heaving crowd by the time I arrived for lunch and the usual laid-back Aussie beachgoing look was not much in evidence. The ladies especially were dressed in style: fancy frocks, killer heels, sharp accessories and serious make-up were definitely the order of the day. It doesn’t matter that you are not actually at the race; you glam up as if you have been invited to swan around in one of the major pavilions.

So, how appropriate then, to focus on fashion, and not horses, for our toddler Melbourne Cup special. Might as well introduce them early-on to the importance of looking good on the big day! The obvious choice was a headpiece of some sort, so I got Googling and up popped this beauty from the Crayola website: a simple template for little ones to work with, and a great blank canvas for all sorts of designs.P1000936

Icklegen and I had a trial run on the Monday before playgroup to see how things went. I cut out the basic hat shape and then she got busy with colouring in…her hands mainly, although her T-shirt also got a bit of a makeover. I am a big crayon fan (not necessarily Crayola either!), but we have had to ditch those for the time being, as Icklegen has a tendency to eat them. So, it’s colouring pens for us, and Icklegen has discovered that it is far more fun to use these to decorate herself, rather than a boring old piece of paper or card. She did eventually put a few squiggles on the hat, following my lead, and then we got onto the really fun bit: glueing!

We stuck on feathers, beads, metallic shapes, googly eyes and small rolled-up balls of tissue paper. I was glue monitor, and my little assistant chose what she wanted from the tray and pointed to where it should go on her hat. Excellent teamwork, and a fabulous end result, I’m sure you’ll agree!P1000953P1000957P1000955

How do you celebrate the Melbourne Cup?

Pasta and String

It was hot on Sunday, so hot that Icklegen and I decided to stay indoors for the afternoon with the air-conditioning on.

We had a great time playing with various toys, reading books and generally messing around. And then she made a bee-line for our craft cupboard. Well, if I am totally honest here, it’s not much of a craft cupboard at the moment; it contains three tubs of Play-Doh and some plastic cookie cutter shapes.

Outside of playgroup, Icklegen and I have not done much craft as yet, but Play-Doh is a regular activity in our household. At some stage of the day, little hands will hammer on the cupboard for it to be opened, and off we go. Purple hearts, pink stars, green bangles, multi-coloured worms and flowers, and those are but a few. We might only have a basic craft kit, but there is no end to our repertoire!P1000769

Today though, I thought, let’s do something different. So I stopped Icklegen in her tracks by diverting her attention with a ball of string that happened to be handily lying on the kitchen counter. I fetched some penne pasta and poured a small amount into a bowl and we sat down at Icklegen’s little table. She proved to be an excellent sous-chef, handing me the pasta pieces which I then threaded onto a length of string. We had soon made a beautiful necklace that wouldn’t be out of place in a Pandora window display.

Although actually, that is the simplified version as, in between passing me the penne, Icklegen played with the ball of string, unrolling it, passing it through her hands and waving it up and down. She had even more fun with the penne, dipping her hands into the metal bowl and moving the pieces around; she even had a couple of crunches on a piece before deciding that it wasn’t any good, and then she threw a handful on the floor.P1000760

Icklegen wasn’t very interested in wearing the necklace; in fact, although it has been hanging over her little table for the last couple of days, she hasn’t paid any attention to it at all. The fun for her, I realise, was not in making the necklace, but in using her senses – sight, hearing, taste and touch – to explore the pasta shapes and string. I think craft activities are going to be a lot of fun for both of us.

Do you have any ideas for easy-peasy craft activities for toddlers?