Saturday, 19 April 2014

A Very Eastery Good Friday

We managed to squeeze a lot of Eastery activities into our Good Friday this year, with egg painting in the morning and hot cross bun making in the afternoon. This was the first year the girls' decorated boiled eggs for Easter and they both loved it. Even Little was taken with it and didn't try to suck the paint brush once.

They both had lovely new egg cups from Grandma and Papa to sit their eggs in and let their creative side run wild. Poppet's design involved a lot of pink whereas Little went for a more multi-coloured approach.

I'm not sure how they will feel about flinging their eggs down a hill tomorrow; both are really fond of eggs and in particular of their painted ones. The whole practice may seem a bit twisted to them. Little especially, I am guessing, will not want to waste good food. 

In the afternoon, we tried our hand at some homemade hot cross buns for the first time. These were a big success and tasted amazing hot from the oven so we will definitely make them again in future years.


The dough was very sticky so Poppet only tolerated it for a short while before an extended hand washing session was called for. She loved grating the nutmeg in and rolling the lumps of dough (not sticky by this point) into balls. 

She was very excited to see "they got bigger!"after we left them to rise, and loved using the 'special pen' and 'special paint' to do the crosses (she needed some help holding the bag to squeeze it out). We did some hot 'A' buns, as well as some N, M, S, and D ones too. Tasted lovely!

Poppet: 3yrs 3mos
Little: 18mos

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Some Spring Sowing

We spent a lovely afternoon in the greenhouse eagerly sowing seeds; as usual I have probably planted far too many but I get a bit overwhelmed by the choice. Poppet was my trusty helper as usual. She loves having her own little bench down at her level where she can potter about planting seeds and watering them like mummy.

I have tried very hard this year to not spend lots of money on seeds so have been using surplus from last year, along with a Funky Veg Kit I got for Christmas from my sister, and some freebies we got as well.
Poppet chose what seeds to sow first and chose Purple Haze carrots. She was quite excited by the prospect of purple carrots. These will be ready to harvest mid August and should be interesting! Together we filled up the seed tray with compost - Poppet has her own little trowel that she loves using. Then we wrote a plant label - I wrote on one side and Poppet carefully scribbled on the other. On later plant labels if she ever found one with a blank side she would exclaim "you missed one!" and add some scribbles to it.

Carrot seeds are really little so quite hard for little ones to sow; Poppet's ended up all in one side of the tray so I spread them around a little bit for her. Then she 'put them to bed' by covering them with a light layer of compost. Finally we watered them, although we should have really done that first as Poppet's overzealous watering means the seeds got washed around the tray a bit.

We planted tomato seeds, which we got free from Heinz Ketchup - they are the San Marzano variety which I can't wait to try because they are the ones I really like from Marks and Spencers. Plus I love a freebie. We also planted Tigerella tomato seeds that were in my Funky Veg Kit and produce striped tomatoes. We used a sheet of perspex that we found as well as some old tomato and grape punnets as mini propagators for the tomato seeds.

Poppet planted some more pea seeds by herself, they are much better for little fingers to plant. First she makes a little hole with her finger and then pops a seed in. A couple of holes were left seedless so I had to point them out to her. We planted some peas last autumn that will be ready early in the summer but these will be ready a bit after that ensuring we have a continued supply of fresh peas! We only use them for snacking; Poppet loves eating peas like sweets straight from a peapod, Little has yet to experience it but she is not one to turn down food.

We also planted Little Gem lettuce, French radishes, Swiss Chard 'Brightlights', Chantanay carrots, red brussel sprouts, Mazur lettuce, yellow courgettes, coriander, parsley and a singly solitary jalapeno chilli pepper seed (for daddy). Poppet was very interested to see what the seeds looked like and especially liked the big courgette seeds. 

We have even had our first harvest of the year from the garden - our purple sprouting broccoli was finally ready to be picked from Poppet's garden. She was very proud of it and rightly so although the fact that it turned green after cooking disappointed her a bit!

Poppet: 3yrs 3mos
Little: 18 mos

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Decorating a Card Egg for Easter

We had lots of fun one afternoon making some simple Easter Eggs from card.

I made one too which I don't do normally, but I will definitely be taking a more active role in crafting from now on as we both enjoyed it more when I was taking part rather than just watching from the sidelines. It gave us an opportunity to talk about what we were doing, our design ideas and colours we chose and felt more like a natural conversation rather than me quizzing her while she made something. 

Initially I just intended for Poppet to decorate an egg so I drew a big egg shape on some card and cut it out for her, but, not to be outdone, Poppet drew her own egg on a sheet of card and proceeded to cut it out. She did really well on the cutting and managed to do a very raggedy line around a quarter of the way round before asking me to finish it for her. So, we ended up with two eggs, one each, and we started to decorate them together.

Poppet looking very pleased with her self-drawn egg

I put out a jar of glue, some lengths of ribbons, some sequins and some crayons to decorate them with.

Poppet was drawn to the pink ribbons and stuck those onto her egg; she watched me arrange my ribbons in stripes so copied me and did the same. We added some sparkly sequins and finally some more stripes with the crayons until we had two beautiful Easter eggs. 

I enjoyed the activity far more when I was crafting alongside Poppet rather than just supervising. I don't know why I didn't think to do it before. And she definitely found it a lot more fun.

When Little woke from her nap Poppet insisted she have an egg as well so I gave her a little cardboard egg shape with some foam Easter stickers and some crayons. Little, still dazed and confused from her nap and clutching her penguin was in need of some assistance so Poppet helpfully peeled all her stickers for her and helped to stick them down. Little added some crayon scribbles helped once again by Poppet and soon her masterpiece was finished.

Poppet really liked her egg and proudly showed it to daddy when he got home. The next day she even drew a picture of it so it really stuck in her mind!

Poppet: 3yrs 3mos
Little: 18 mos

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Greenhouse Spring Clean

I actually really look forward to my annual greenhouse spring clean! As soon as the weather starts getting warmer my mind turns to gardening and what seeds we are going to sow this year. I love getting everything ready to start anew.

Little went down for her afternoon nap and Poppet got herself ready to help with the cleaning - complete with wellingtons, tutu, chalk make-up and a string of pearls.

The greenhouse was packed full so we started by emptying everything out, trying to remain calm despite the cobwebs and spiders! I felt itchy all day afterwards. We sorted out all the plant pots according to size, binned the broken ones, organised our tools and watering cans (there were two big ones and two little ones so they were assigned to the appropriate family members), washed Poppet's gardening gloves and decided to buy mama some new ones.

Then we brushed the whole place down; Poppet was very keen to help and made sure her own little bench was clean. I brought in a basin of hot soapy water and we wiped down all the benches

Little woke up and joined us so I gave the girls the task of washing old plant pots. It was raining by this point, and Poppet also naughtily decided to pour plant pots full of water over Little's head but luckily she had a good raincoat on. They had great fun 'washing' the pots, it was funny how much they loved playing in the rain. While they were busy I quickly washed all of the seed trays (with the outdoor tap which sprayed up everywhere so I also got very wet) and assembled everything back into the greenhouse ready to plant seeds the next day.

Then it was indoors to take off our wet clothes, have a bath to clean up (and kill off any spiders that I was paranoid had got under our clothes) and get into cosy clothes to finish off the afternoon watching Frozen.

Poppet: 3yrs 3mos
Little: 18mos

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Egg Box Daffodils

Poppet really likes daffodils. Whenever she sees them she exclaims "for your wedding mum!" and picks some for me (I am already married so I am not sure why she thinks I am due another wedding).
We have a big clump in the garden that she had been eagerly checking everyday, waiting for the first one to bloom. Now we have a beautiful little patch of yellow in the garden.

While we were waiting for them to bloom we made some very simple paper ones - first Poppet painted some egg box cups yellow. While they dried I made a flower template and cut out some flower shapes from yellow card (Poppet is very keen to help with any sort of cutting activity so to pacify her while I got on with it she got some scraps to cut up). I put a fold in each petal to make the flowers look more 3D.

Poppet glued an eggcup on to each flower.

Then we put the flower on a ball of blutak and carefully pushed a nail through the middle to make a hole. It felt very Blue Peter-esque. Poppet liked it.

Poppet carefully threaded a pipe cleaner through the hole to form the stem.

Our daffodils sit merrily in a vase, brightening up the room. My mum recently visited and took a few hours to realise they were not real.

Poppet: 3yrs 2mos
Little: 1yr 6 mos

Love Lock

The whole notion of love locks was unknown to me until I saw the curious site of lots of padlocks attached to the railings of a bridge at Falls of Feugh near Banchory. Some googling later and I learnt that they are quite popular at various sites across Europe. A lovelock is a padlock inscribed with names or dates that sweethearts lock to a bridge or gate or something similar to symbolise their love. Straight away I had the romantic notion that we had to return to the bridge to attach our own love lock.  Of course my husband was also completely 100% behind this idea and couldn't wait to go.


However on arrival and after closer inspection of the lovelocks, I was intimidated by the high standard of padlocks on display and suddenly feared my Poundland padlock and permanent marker may be some reflection of our perhaps poorer quality love so I chickened out. My husband did not find this infuriating in the slightest. So I now have plans to get a nicer padlock, get it engraved and make a return trip. In the meantime we enjoyed the visit to the bridge; apparently you can see salmon jumping at certain times of the year there but there were none when we visited. It was quite a scary bridge as it was so high up and the water thundered below so loudly and the bridge moved a little when people walked on it.

I liked reading all of the inscriptions. Some were very touching. It's obviously quite a new lovelock site so it will be interesting to see if it gets popular. 

We followed our lovelock trip with a walk at a nearby woodland; I use the term walk rather loosely here - it was a case of overly ambitious walking plans and not enough chocolate. Still, Little enjoyed the snooze.


Poppet: 3 yrs 2mos
Little : 18mos

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Goldilocks and the Three Bears Sensory Play

This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience.

Poppet favourite book just now is Goldilocks and the Three Bears. The version we have is by Lauren Child (who is also behind the Charlie and Lola books) and it is a beautiful retelling of the classic fairytale. The pictures are amazing -real teddies and dolls are placed in elaborate miniature scenes and then photographed which give it a magical feel and set it apart from other storybooks. Poppet is captivated by it and requests it daily since we got it nearly two weeks ago and I really enjoy reading it to her. It is definitely going to be one of our most treasured storybooks.

Inspired by the book I decided to set up some Goldilocks sensory play. This sensory play is fantastic for exploring textures, strengthening hand-eye coordination, developing language and introducing simple maths skills. 

I found a large, medium and small teddy to play the role of father, mother and baby bear, and put them on three different chairs (I even managed to give father bear a 'too hard' chair and mother bear a 'too soft' one). Father bear held our Goldilocks and the Three Bears book and mother bear held another  book called 'A Bad Week For The Three Bears' which is about the week leading up to the incident with Goldilocks. A doll with yellow hair became our Goldilocks.

In an under-bed storage tub I put a big bowl of dry oats along with three differently sized bowls and various spoons and scoops to explore it with (the under-bed storage tub was a vain attempt to contain the oats somewhat -in reality I had to hoover the entire room up after this play session!). I went to bed excited to see their faces in the morning when they saw the bears!

In the morning however, the girls walked straight past the set up and didn't notice it at all! It had to be pointed out to them at breakfast and then they were very keen to investigate. Poppet excitedly recognised father bear, mother bear and baby bear and was very focussed on filling up the bowls with 'porridge'. 

Little, meanwhile, just ate it. Even thought she had just finished her own breakfast she still managed to squeeze in some more. She prefaced each wooden spoonful with "no no no no no no!", so used is she to being told that when she eats things! It was such a novelty for her to actually be allowed to eat something she was playing with.

Poppet made sure everyone got their bowl of porridge; baby bear had the smallest bowl and she helped him eat it.

She also displayed excellent conflict resolution skills by giving Goldilocks her own bowl of porridge, thereby avoiding any porridge theft on this occasion.

After a while the porridge was taken over to the play kitchen and put on the hob. Poppet carefully counted in spoons of water and did a lot of mixing.

The girls loved their play session; the enjoyment they got from it was more than worth the 10 minutes of clean up that it required afterwards! While they were not really interested in the books at the time of playing, we sat down to read them in the afternoon together.  I'm hoping to bring more books to life like this in the future - I have my eye on Lauren Child's The Princess and the Pea for some dried pea sensory play!

Poppet: 3yrs 2mos
Little: 1yr 5mos