I think we’ve had cabin fever. Not sure why I didn’t click before. It took a beautiful weekend to make me realise. We’ve been out and about over the winter, but this weekend, we were out. All the time.
No longer cooped up. The bickering stopped. The tittle-tattle tailed away. They worked together, just as I know they can.
The bikes came out, along with scooters and skateboards. Not forgetting the poi. Middle daughter has been attending a club and learning more spinning moves. She is way ahead of me now.
The best part was watching her teach her older sister, who was just as keen to learn. They spent hours and hours perfecting the moves and their friendship.
Turns out that she is a good teacher with interesting techniques. I can’t help smiling at the shadows they cast.
I’m not alone in enjoying seeing the sun out again. The boy decided that he wanted to experiment with the sun’s rays and harness it.
After struggling with a magnifying glass from a bug kit, that produced the smallest hint of smoke, he did upgrade to a higher spec. Worthy of Sherlock Holmes. It was as the leaf sent out an immediate and impressive flash of a flame that he fully appreciated the difference in the magnifying strength.
The three children worked as a team to refine the distance, to perfect the effect of the sun’s power, and burn holes in a few more leaves. In the meantime, their father cut the grass, and I sowed seeds and started on the kitchen garden.
Let’s hope this weekend is as good. Plenty more leaves to experiment with.
(Otter Pool Galloway Forest)
Beside my washing machine are two little piles that gradually grow as the months go by, until I sweep them up and rehome the contents. The first pile consists of small stones, some rounded, some with hints of fossils and others glisten with minerals.
(RSPB Wood of Cree)
The second pile is of little sticks, pine cones and other seeds. There is a third pile but that is swept away once the washing machine is loaded and running. No need to keep the tissues, pieces of crumpled paper and similar.
The contents of all three piles, as you have probably guessed by now, come from the pockets of clothes worn on our many walks and adventures. The children take after me. They cannot resist bringing back interesting nature finds.
But what to do with them all? I have jam jars full of stones and sea glass of all descriptions, so some are redistributed around the garden. I have baskets of acorns, walnuts and other seeds on our shelves, which are great for crafting.
It is fun to search and collect the pieces, but our house would soon feel crowded if we didn’t use them for something.
This weekend we have been reducing our collection of pine cones, and scrap brown paper, to make beautifully scented firestarters.
Years ago, before children, we went to New England around leaf peeping season. It was a fabulous holiday and I’d love to go back. One of the souvenirs I brought back was a cupcake shape firestarter, with a pine cone in the middle. The fragrance was absolutely amazing compared to the white version we use at home. I have looked high and low for something similar, but no luck so far.
In the meantime, we make our own.
an old muffin tin
an old coffee scoop
thick, brown paper bags
old birthday candles and other wax ends
bits of string
old potpourri refresher oils
pine cones, twigs and dried herb leaves from the pile
dried ends of lemons and limes (left over from squeezing) and clementine peel
Step one: cut the paper into squares to fit the muffin tray holes and line the tray with the paper.
Step two: wrap string around pine cone, pushing the string into the cone and leaving a wick at the top, ready for lighting.
Step three: divide the cone, twigs, leaves and peel between each of the paper holders.
Step four: melt candle bits in jam jar. I pop this in the Aga, but I have used the microwave before.
Step five: once it is melted, I laddle the wax over the cones carefully, using the old coffee scoop to coat them. No need to fill the hole. There will be a small puddle of wax at the bottom.
Step six: leave to set
Once set, I like to pop them in a basket, ready for use. They scent the room and add a bit of rustic charm, while they wait for their moment in the flame.
There will be more walks. There will be more finds. Already the washing machine nature piles grow again (I’m sure there is a name for them), just from dog walking over this weekend.
The children enjoyed making these. We talked about the three things you need for fire – fuel, spark/warmth and oxygen. What happens when one is missing.Why the wax didn’t burst into flames as it melted. We also talked about a very neat experiment that we want to do, which I hope to share soon.
I have a feeling they have started searching for just the right nature finds to go in our homemade firestarters. Hmm. Not exactly what I intended, but at least they have fun looking when they are out and about.
The perfect project, I think, is one that combines creativity and learning. This STEM activity fits the bill. Middle daughter really wanted to make an articulated hand. I’ve seen the project before, but was impressed by how clear the instructions were in the Amazing! magazine. Middle is now of the age that she can follow the instructions by herself, with very little
interference help from me.
We used my glue gun to stick the straws to the cardboard. The only other change she made was using cardboard from a cereal box instead of corrugated cardboard. The end result is remarkably sturdy, and strong enough for everyone in the family to play with.
She raided my dressmaking tools and found my loop turner, which is used to turn spaghetti shoulder straps the right way round. Having a latch hook at the end, it was perfect for pulling the wool through the straws.
We used the glue gun again to stick the rubber bands to the back of hand, so the hand will return to a flat state.
We recorded a video to show you how good the movement turned out. I’ve sped it up. It only takes 12 seconds.
Linking up with Fiona’s Trash 2 Treasure linky
If you would like to find out more about the Amazing! magazine, I have a competition running at the moment to win a copy of the magazine, so you can see for yourself. Competition open until the end of April 6th.
Anyway, click here Now closed.