Welcome to our blog.

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

Three children *** 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.

You can find me here

  • RSS Feed for Posts
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
  • Flickr
  • Instagram

Follow

Follow on Bloglovin

Just a thought….

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

 

Thank you….

  • Catherine Lanser I'm happy it was a frog and not something worse! 18 Mar
  • Angela Webster What a shock for a Saturday morning ! Just glad you didn't sit on him without looking 😆 Sorry to hear you've been poorly, my... 18 Mar
  • Craft Mother I was relieved that I didn't need to clear up anything else! 18 Mar
  • Craft Mother The colours really suit her too. She's hoping for warmer weather soon to wear it. 18 Mar
  • Ali Duke I think I would have been quite shocked to find a frog on my toilet seat lol, at least you know how he's getting in.... 18 Mar
  • Older »

Sticky

craft activity with teen

The Motley Man

(The Motley Man)

I watched my daughter making a paper automata, yesterday. Taking a handful of flat, printed sheets and turning them into a moving statue. I saw how much patience, determination and focus it took. The ability to follow the instructions too. The dedication to see the project right through to the end.

It might seem like a simple project. Cut it out and stick it together. Yes, I can see how this can be seen as simple. After all, we are used to seeing the walls of playgroups and primary schools walls plastered with cut out paper stuck to other paper.

In a world where children are growing up using programs that design and build an image on screen, that are manipulated to perform movement, it is easy to see this as a simple, basic project. Imagine what our great, great grandparents would have made of the digital images. How far we have come. Paper, scissors and glue replaced by pixels.

The thing is I don’t see one replacing the other. I see them both as skills complementing each other. Building on each other. I love to see my children creating new worlds on the computer. Their creativity is power boosted, as they storm through turning the image in their heads into a pixel representation, in next to no time. It’s good.

It is restricted though. Creativity cannot go beyond the confines of the program. A limit is eventually hit, however good the software. Yes, it might inspire them to create/program a new or add-on online experience that will allow them to follow their idea, but that takes time. Very few will take up the challenge and push the boundaries as it doesn’t give the instant reward they are used to.

(Crafting before breakfast)

So back to the paper automata. As she worked on this project, I saw the care she took to cut it out. It had to be precise, otherwise the different elements wouldn’t fit together. Movement would be inhibited by jagged edges. The glued edges sometimes held and other times flicked apart. It was frustrating, but she was inventive using pegs, weights, folds and eventually my glue gun. She improved the original design to make the arms move in the way she wanted.

It took hours. We ate lunch around her project. No instant reward with this project. It was frustrating, but she kept going. There was not going to be an abandoned, half-finished project.

This is the 14 year old who produces the most amazing drawings on her tablet. She can spend hours drawing on the computer, but can also focus on a glue-on-fingers project too. I’d actually go as far to say the patience she has gained drawing on her computer has boosted her ability to focus longer on other projects. Paper projects included, but also to concentrate on her studies. Almost like patience, concentration and determination are muscles that can be trained to perform and take on any marathon. Whatever form it takes.

And the icing on the cake. As I was chatting to her, she talked about a science test she took that week. She said she was aware that she was able to concentrate fully on it. Didn’t daydream half way through, as she is apt to do. Completed it to her satisfaction. Be interesting to see how she does.

So what do I take away from all this. Maybe I shouldn’t worry that the children are spending too long on the computer (Unless Fortnite is concerned. Don’t get me started.). Maybe instead of passively lugging home the junk modelling from preschool, that was helpfully lovingly described as a robot, I should have revelled in her achievement. It’s not so much about what they do, but how they do it.

 

(not an ad, but is an affiliated link: If you are interested the Motley Man came out of the book Paper Automata by Rob Ives)

Capturing the sunshine

Dear summer 2018,

I just wanted to let you know that the sunshine and warm weather, you’ve sent our way this year, has been awesome. We’ve enjoyed it. Made the most of it. Drunk it up like a bumble bee in spring. No weekends spent mowing the grass. No thought of bringing jumpers when we venture out. The wet washing drying on the line within an hour. Eating alfresco and late evenings in the garden. Lots of outside time.

I’ll forgive the fact that our salad garden was baked solid and not much grew, except turnips and lettuce. The green house has made up for it. (Anyone for a cucumber?) I’ll even put aside the fact that you chose the one evening we attended an outdoor theatre, to summon up a sustained downpour. I may never be able to watch Oscar Wilde again without thinking of raindrops on umbrellas.

No. Seriously. It’s OK. I’m over it.

Overall, we have been hugely blessed. Blue sky and sun. There is a big part of me that wants to capture that feeling. Bring it out when the first frosts bites and I most need it.

In an effort to bottle some of that sunshine, I’ve made strawberry jam, and have a vat of apple and mint jelly brewing as I type. We’ve nimbly crafted lavender wands to put among clothes in our drawers, to summon up the scent of summer, as woolly jumpers are pulled out to wear midwinter.

Wonderful, colourful ribbons.  I’ll be transported straight back to sitting by the lavender with my two girls, weaving and twisting the stems in place. (how to here) Watching a hummingbird hawk moth visiting the flowers waiting to be picked.

Good memories.

But, hands down, my favourite summer project, this year, has to be the tie dye bedlinen. I’ve had this one waiting in the wings for a few years. Looking for a summer that’s not too wet, because this project was always going to be big and messy. Not a kitchen activity. Oh, no. Has to be outside.

Although, I do usually count on the rain washing away the inevitable spilt dye, that runs off on to the lawn. While the rest of the grass in our garden was crunchy brown, this year, we did have one small corner that looked like a rainbow had laid down to rest. For weeks.

So three duvets and three pillowcases are now summer coloured. We bought more dye to top up the colour for the crumple style duvets, meaning we could dye three pillowcases, one bag and a pair of socks, at the same time.

It would be true to say that we are well and truly over the urge to tie dye for a while, at least. Yep. No desire at all to dye anything. I’m not even sure we have anything left to dye.

It was worth it. They did have fun. They innovated and problem solved as they went along. The bedlinen is now on their beds. Boldly declaring that summer is being observed in this home. Some of the vibrance washed out at the rinsing stage, but it doesn’t seem to matter. Enough sunshine has been captured.

Thank you, summer 2018. You have a few more weeks to run yet, but already you have proved to be a vintage year and we’ve captured it, not only in memories and photos, but duvet covers and pillowcases too.

Your forever friend

Cheryl

p.s. I’ll be bookmarking this post. Once the jam and jelly have been eaten, and the duvet covers swapped for a winter theme, there will be days that I’ll need a top up of colour and sunshine in my life. For sure.

Debs Random Writings

Make your own chocolate advent calendar

Now I admit, I probably didn’t approach the issue in the best way. I should have known. It’s not as if I’m particularly new to this parenting lark. I know the rules. Parenting Rule number 537 states that a short sharp, direct approach, out of the blue, will not seamlessly shift offspring on to the next stage of development. Too quick. Too sudden.

No. It requires carefully placed, crafted hints being casually dropped for weeks beforehand. Like a trail of breadcrumbs leading them to their own discovery of the need to move up a level. Preparing the ground. I knew that. I’m not a rookie.

Not that that stopped me. When I look back, I made the classic mistake and I was doomed to fail from the moment I drew breath to speak.

All three offspring were in the kitchen. I seized the moment. I announced, in a nonchalent manner, that everyone was too old for chocolate advent calendars this year. My follow up argument about single use plastic would have won them over, but I played it too late. I felt some of them sway. Alas, by then, the battle had already been lost. Apparently, and this is the moment I knew I was defeated, I was on route to ruining their childhoods forever. (again)

I wonder which page of the childhood manual that gem is printed on.

Anyway, this partly explains why I ended up in the kitchen with my 13 year old, one evening, making chocolate.

I compromised. Yes, they could have a chocolate advent calendar, if and only if they helped make it, and as little new plastic as possible should be involved.

Fortunately, I am part womble. I have a habit of keeping useful things that other sane people would throw away. “Surely this will be useful one day“, is my motto. I had three plastic inset trays from a previous year’s chocolate advent calendars, squirrelled away in a cupboard. Empty and clean, of course, and ready to use. They had the cutest, Christmas shaped indents, which is why I kept them in the first place.

Before you think that this was a smart move on my part and how it must have saved me a packet by not buying new, it did not. True, the chocolate cost less than buying all three of children a calendar each, with the added bonus of being really nice chocolate. A definite win.

I then threw cost effective out of the window and hiked up the cost by buying a chocolate thermometer. I was now even. I was making for more, or less, the same price as buying three new, deluxe chocolate calendars.

My theory is that I can use the thermometer again. It also ensures that the chocolate will, not only shine and snap correctly, but can be kept at room temperature without a melting issue. No need to make room in my overcrowded fridge for three glitter covered calendars, between the milk and the brandy butter, while showering the uncooked turkey with seasonal cheer.

(I’ll just pause there for a moment so you can imagine the complications of doing this in the run up to Christmas)

The next part the children did pretty much between themselves, as work and the lurgy kept me otherwise occupied. They flattened cereal boxes and marked out holes for the window, which lined up with the chocolates in the trays. Fortunately, the 13 year old is a dab hand at using a craft knife to cut out the windows.

Next they painted and decorated the cardboard, which, once dry, was sticky-taped to the plastic tray.

I’m told that the chocolates easily pop out of the old inset tray, each morning, and are delicious. Success. This craft project is worth doing again.

So just three questions left:

Will the insets survive for another year? I think so. They are thin, but there are no cracks, so they should be good.

Next question. Did I cut down on single-use plastic? Hmm. The chocolate came in a smallish plastic bag and I should have given them thread or string instead of the sticky-tape.

The thermometer was packaged in a moulded plastic case, which went out in the recycling bin and hopefully can be made into something else. Not wonderful, but over time, I should cut down on more plastic by using my thermometer to make treats rather than buying little bags filled with sugar yummies.

Final question. Why are there only two calendars? Darn you spotted that. Simple answer. Eldest teen is in the throws of her exam mocks, at the moment. I agreed to finish her one. Hmm. Yes. I’m getting there. I really am.

Project complete and a success. Finding a craft activity to do with older children is always more challenging, but this one worked. I had a great time making the chocolate with my daughter. Decorating the calendar fronts was a fun craft activity in its own right. Will we do it again? Yes. Although, I know with a heavy heart, that there is always a chance that they may be just too old for chocolate calendars next year.

 

Photos

There have been cases when people lifted my photos and words, and used them without credit to me or asking permission first. Using them for their own commercial gain. I have now added a level of security to deter people from doing this. Apologies to people who do play nicely. If you would like to use any of my photos, please contact me.

Copyright notice:

All my words and photos are copyrighted to me. They cannot be used for commercial benefit by anyone else. If you would like to use any of them, then please ask me first and don’t just take. Written permission only. Don’t pass my words, photos or ideas off as your own. It’s not nice.

Cookie Policy

Our web pages do not use cookies however this website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics uses cookies to help us analyse how people use our site. The use of cookies by Google Analytics is subject to change.