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….. We make
….. We explore
….. We nuture

Three children (16, 14, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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Just a thought….

“A moment spent in wonder is worth a lifetime spent in awe.”

 

Thank you….

  • Carol Not only is your bag practical, it is also very cute. Most reuseable bags aren't very attractive but I use them anyway. 16 Jul
  • Crummy Mummy We've been up at our allotment watering every day too - could really do with some meaningful rain now, although I'm not complaining! #MMBC 16 Jul
  • Kim Carberry What a fantastic idea and a fab looking bag. So pretty. I love your sewing machine too. x 15 Jul
  • sam What a well timed shot X #mmbc 15 Jul
  • Craft Mother I really hope you do get the gardening bug. Wonderful way to spend your time. 15 Jul
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Sticky

crafting with children

Quick Crafts

As the children grow older, I’m finding it tougher to find craft projects that they want to join in on. I’m sure I’m not alone. I’m always on the look out for enticing, new craft projects that will tempt them away from screen time, in particular. They also begin to suffer from the “what if it is not perfect” syndrome. I still believe that, as teens and tweens, they need the hands-on creative time. Just as much as younger children do. Projects that have no right or wrong way of doing them.

When I was contacted by Penguin Random House about a new book called Quick Crafts, my ears definitely pricked up. A book that encourages  the “just have a go” approach and the joy of creating rather than expecting perfection. The cherry on the top was that the craft projects are designed to be played with after they are made. Make your own toys, in other words. I feel the author Emma Scott-Child and I would be best friends. She has the same approach to creativity as I do, judging by this book.

For those of you who are not so keen on crafting, then this book is aimed at you. Maybe children who prefer not to get overly sticky hands (and hair!) This book needs no special crafting materials or skills. Quick projects using stuff you have around the house. Mostly the items that are destined for the recycling bin. What is not to like?

The craft projects are ones that tweens and younger should have no problem doing, although there are so many good ideas that I can imagine older siblings muscling in on the action, and adding their own creative twist.

I do think this book is chocka block full of good ideas. I went through my copy, marking lots of projects with orange stick-it notes. Nice twists like the rattle snake, that rattles, and the stink thief which we will definitely be making for their stinky sports trainers over the holidays.

To start with, we chose one project.

I love the idea of recycling a milk carton. I literally had to rummage through our recycling bin. We don’t have many of these now. The project called for permanent pen, but we used acrylics paints instead.

I set the materials up outside on the table. Less mess to clear up and lots of fresh air, to boot. The project is a milk bottle baboon. It is a plant holder and uses a grassy plant as the hair. We went for a thyme plant instead, as I had one. Any trailing, bushy plant would work.

The photos in the book made me think of the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford.  A very theatrical look to them.

Youngest enjoyed making his baboon. We chatted away as he made it. It didn’t take him long. A quick craft project that is hung up on the wall now and doing a grand job of holding our herb plant. Most importantly, it reminded him of his creative side and the fun of making something.

I already have ambitions to add more and make a baboon herb garden, hanging by the kitchen door. Can you imagine? A whole troop. It would be cool.

Quick Crafts is out in August. I know I’ll be dipping into my copy over the summer holidays, for inexpensive, fun projects to fill the odd half an hour. Recycling as we go.


Quick Crafts is out on 8th August. RRP £12.99. Hardback. It has 40 projects, that require no messy painting (unless you want to), no sewing, no special equipment and no glitter.

Disclaimer: I was sent a review copy of Quick Crafts. All views are honest and my own. This post contains an affiliate link, which may generate a payment to me, at no extra cost for you.

Felted Soap on the rope

Move over shower gel and hand soap in plastic bottles. You’re scrubbed off my shopping list. There’s a new kid in town. One that doesn’t need a pump mechanism, or leave a trail of packaging. We call it soap.  A bar of soap.

Ok. Maybe not so new. I mean, when I was growing up, a bar of soap, on the side of the sink, was a pretty common sight. That’s how you got your hands clean. Public loos might have a soap dispenser on the wall, but not private homes. The humble bar dealt with the dirt.

With the tide turning, soap bars are back in favour. Rising demand as people look to cut their plastic buying habits. People are using special formulated soap bars to shampoo their hair. Removing another plastic bottle from the bathroom

There is one problem with the bars. Arguably more, but I’m thinking about the way it sits in its own wet puddle and disintegrates, if you’re not careful. Imagine you’re in the shower. You lather up the soap and put it down in a soap dish, or just on the side, and use the soap on your hands to wash with. The soap bar is wet. It sits there, slowly dissolving in its puddle of water, reducing its useful life. Not a good idea and it can be avoided.

(When you are a family of five, sharing one bathroom, ugly, soggy soap ends up being pushed to one side. I’m saving you from a photo of it, at this point!)

Soap needs to dry out in between uses, in order to extend its life. Lots of ingenious ways of achieving this, including special dishes and bottle tops to sit on. I’m going to suggest another way. Felted soap on a rope.

There are lots of reasons that felted soap works well.

Acts as a flannel and gentle exfoliator
Colourful
Natural material
Include scrappy bits of soap, that would otherwise be thrown away.
Allows the soap to dry out
Brilliant crafting activity to do with children of all ages (including teens)
Cleans up your hands as you make it (great after gardening)

It is really easy to make. All you need is a bar of soap, wool roving, netting or pair of old tights, bit of rope and warm water. Wool roving is the fibre you get in felting kits. Felting wool, if you prefer. It is 100% wool, which felts when it’s plunged in hand hot water, soap added and rubbed. Bit like when you put a wool jumper in a hot wash. It shrinks. Making it a tight fit around the soap and sealing it in. Lots of craft shops now stock felting fibre and there are also plenty of online sources too. Alternatively, make friends with a sheep farmer.

Now for the fun part.

How to make a felted soap on the rope

1. Tie the rope around the soap and secure with a knot. Leave a long tail for hanging up the finished soap.

2. Take a length of the wool and tease it out into a long, wide, flat as a pancake strip. It should be wispy, like the teal strip above. The trick is to have lots of thin layers. If the layers are two thick, they will be harder to felt and you’ll end up with ridges and gaps. At this stage, wispy is your friend!

3. Wrap the wool around the soap, making sure the rope tail is not caught up. Keep adding more wool strips, in different directions each time, until the soap is covered and you can see no more soap. Add another two or more layers of wool to build up a thicker wool covering.

4. Wrap the wool covered soap with the netting. An easier option it to put it in the toe of a pair of old tights.

5. Briefly plunge the soap into a bowl of hand hot water and out again. Rub the wool covered soap gently in your hands. The wool will begin to felt, as the soap suds start to appear. Keep going. Allow 5 minutes. (previous child friendly soap felting activity) Test by removing part of the netting and pinching the surface. If the wool pulls away like a cobweb and doesn’t look smoothly matted together, wrap the netting around again and rub the surface again.

6. Once it’s felted, remove the netting completely and run under cold water to remove the suds on the surface.

Your felted soap on the rope is ready to be hung up in the bathroom and used. Hanging it up will allow it to dry between uses. I’ve not tried it, but I’m sure felted soaps can be made using shampoo bars too. Once dry they can be stored away in a cupboard.

I love using felted soap. Every member of the family can have one. It cuts down on the mountain of wet flannels that grows in our bathroom. Once the soap is finished, either slice the felted wool open and add another soap (or ends of soap), or use the wool case for something else. It can be put in the compost heap once it is beyond all conceivable usefulness.

Middle teen and I made these two soaps this afternoon. She’s happy to be cutting down on the plastic bottles in the bathroom , as much as I am. Can’t wait to put them to use.

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Joining in with Rosie’s Going Green linky. This month is Plastic Free July. I’d love to know if you are joining in and any tips you have.

Encouraging creativity

“Comparison is the thief of joy”

If you have a table of children crafting side by side, one of two things is likely to happen. Either they will inspire each other or it falls to bits, with one child slipping from their chair and declaring they “can’t do it”.

Cue crumpled up paper falling to floor.

It can all change in a split second. One moment they are chattering. Encouraging each other. Next pencils are downed. A glance at the work next to them, may be all it takes. The power of comparison is tangible.

Not an unfamiliar event for the youngest of the family. Sigh.

Being a youngest child, I can empathise with my last born. Somehow you forget that older siblings have several years more practise. Even then, everyone’s journey is different. The older ones probably chose and lead the project. With less years under your belt, you also probably don’t fully appreciate that we are all individuals and have our own style.

It can be tough.

This summer, I’ve set up a few art and craft projects that give him a chance to succeed. No right or wrong. No comparisons. Working on his own style.

He’s had the clock movement for a couple of years, but couldn’t settle on a clock face. We found a basic wooden one in Hobby Craft. He loves street art and comic style. I suggested keeping it simple would keep it on the wall for longer. He pointed out that he could always change it later. I like his way of thinking.

So he went for splatter paint. Boy, did he have fun. Our front path was speckled with colourful paints for days after he finished. Is he happy with the results? You bet he is. He did his own thing and succeeded. His clock will hang on his bedroom wall for all to admire, and the ticks of the second hand will be a constant reminder to be himself.

Am I happy? Yes. The project was finished. That on its own is a major success. He’s pleased to display it too. Not a crumpled paper moment. My heart sings. For one moment at least, I’m riding the parenting wave.

(Cue Beach Boy sound track, and sunset)

 

 

 

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