DIY Mother’s Day Gift – Bath Bombs

Mother’s Day is coming very soon here in Australia and in the lead up I thought I’d do a couple of posts on quick and simple (yet still stylish) gifts for Mums that kids can be involved in or totally make on their own.  I’m notoriously late in organising pressies and can often be found quickly whipping something up the night before.  These gifts all fit into that category – perfect last minute gifts!

Last year bath bombs were all the rage at our place.  These pics were snapped a year ago when Frog and I were having a practise before we made them with the MOPS Mums.  I’ve been meaning to share them with you ever since…

You’ll see pics of two colours here which I hope isn’t too confusing.  The purple mix was for lavender bath bombs where we used dried lavender, lavender essential oil and purple food dye and the yellow mix was for citrus bath bombs where we used grated lemon and lime rind, lemon essence and yellow food dye.  
BATH BOMB RECIPE:


1. Mix dry ingredients together:
½ cup baking soda
¼ cup citric acid
¼ cup corn flour

2. Mix together wet ingredients:
½ tspn dried lavender or grated peel if desired
2 drops grapeseed oil
2 drops of colouring 
2 drops of essential oil or essence

3.  Slowly add wet mixture to dry mixture.

4.  Add some water, using a spray bottle, a little at a time and mix together with your hands until it becomes a thick, slightly damp powder.

The pic below is an example of how much water to put in.  When you scrunch it up in your hand, if it holds it’s shape, you have enough.  If you put in too much water you’ll know as it starts to expand when you put it in the moulds and won’t stay put! 


5. Pack the mixture firmly into silicone molds.  I used ice cube & mini muffin trays.

Frog was 3 years old at the time these pics were taken and even though, as you can see, a rather large mess was created, she was very involved in the process and did lots of it on her own (under a watchful eye of course)!


6.  Leave them to dry in the mold for about 10 minutes before popping them out of the mold onto a teatowel to dry.  Leave them overnight to really harden. Or you can just leave them in the mold overnight before popping them out in the morning.

7. The next morning, once they are completely dry, run yourself a bath! Or package them up as a gift for Mother’s Day!
Above is a pic of some that we made one Christmas using orange rind and essential oil – the smell was divine!

You might also like to try making some bubble bath to go with the gift like the one we made below.  See this post for our recipe.

Stay tuned over the next week for more quick and easy gifts that you can make for Mother’s Day, or any time of the year really.

What are you doing for Mother’s Day this year?

LAMINATED BOOKMARKS

Earlier on in the year, the kids and I made bookmarks.  While the school holidays are still in full swing I thought now might be the time to share it.  It all started when Frog wanted to be just like Goose.  Nothing new there.  Goose (almost 9) reads “chapter books” and therefore needs a bookmark.  Frog (aged 4) looks at picture books and does not really need a bookmark, but kept pinching Goose’s as she thought they were pretty and if Goose had them, why couldn’t she?!  After the suggestion of making her own backfired with the flimsy paper just not being sturdy enough and the inevitable tantrum ensued, I brought out the big guns – the laminator!  Do you have one?  I inherited my Mums last year and I’m in love.
We used origami paper, scrapbooking paper, book pages, map pages, birthday cards and anything we could get our hands on!  We cut them into rectangle shapes using a paper trimmer and using a corner punch, we rounded the corners.

I inherited a laminator from my Mum – how cool are they?!  We popped our paper strips into the laminator sheet and put them through the machine as per instructions.

Once through the laminator, we trimmed around the edges of each bookmark using scissors with a border of a couple of millimetres.  On some of them we then punched a hold at the top with a hole punch and added some ribbon for something extra.


Needless to say, with that amount of bookmarks (and by no means do these pictures contain all that we made!) there are no longer bookmark arguments at our house.  If one gets lost, another one is easy to find!  I think they’d make a lovely gift also, particularly with a child’s drawing or a photo on them.

Are your children insatiable readers?  Are they forever losing their bookmarks?  Do you have ten books on the go at one time and need multiple bookmarks yourself?

Head over here for more FGB kids craft ideas.

Growing Sprouts

We make our own alfalfa sprouts quite regularly in our house.  But this time, I thought we’d try something different and purchased a mixed sprout packet.  Here’s the method that we use, if you’d like to give it a try.  It is very simple and takes only a couple of days to have your own homegrown sprouts.  Sprout seeds can be purchased from your local plant nursery or health food shop.


INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Put sprout seeds into the jar and cover them with 1-2cm of cool water.  


2. Cover the top of the jar with a piece of tulle and secure with rubber band.


3. Allow the seeds to soak overnight, then gently drain off the water. 
 It is important to drain the water off using the tulle as a seive to keep the seeds moist but not covered in water.  You might need to hold the tulle in place as you drain as the rubberband has a tendency to slip off if you are not quite gentle enough.

4.  For the next few days, rinse the seeds in the morning and evening by covering the seeds with some water, swishing the seeds around, and draining them straight away. 


5.  Repeat until sprouts are ready to eat. Usually 4-6 days depending on season. The hotter the weather, the quicker they’ll grow.  



Some people suggest that you need to store the jar away from direct sunlight as you grow them, but I have always grown mine on the window sill and I’ve never had a problem.

Once grown, your sprouts should last at least 2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.
We used these mixed sprouts in a salad and although Granny loved them, they were not a particular hit with the kids.  The kids do love alfalfa sprouts though (or ‘worms’ as they are affecionately known here) and they are a common ingredient in sandwiches here. 
 Alfalfa sprouts are grown using the exact same method above and even if you don’t like to eat them, I highly recommend it as a fun experiment to do with the kids.
You could make your own egg creatures with alfalfa sprouts.

You could make your own sprout growing kits as Christmas gifts.  
We made sprout growing kits as a MOPS activity earlier in the year also.

You could even put a mini sprout making kit inside a bon-bon/cracker like we did last year.

Do you grow your own sprouts?

How do you eat them?  

My personal favourite for a healthy snack is kavili or toast with cream cheese and flavoured tuna with alfalfa on top.

DIY CHOCOLATE BOWLS

Just to keep with the sugar theme that we seem to have going on this week…

we made something that I’ve been meaning to try for a very long time.
Our own chocolate bowls!  For a more elaborate tutorial and where I got the idea from in the first place head over to the very clever Bakerella.

These were made by children, so were not the neatest of bowls, but it did not affect the taste!  One of the children, who will remain nameless, thought they would like to create a bowl larger than anyone elses and tried to cover a majority of the balloon in chocolate only to discover when it was time to pop the balloons that it all cracked into tiny pieces.   The rest of us, with a bowl shape (and not greed) in mind, simply dipped the base of our balloons* in the melted chocolate as thickly as possible and placed it on some baking paper to set.  We put them in the fridge, as we wanted them to set quickly, but you probably wouldn’t need to.

Then we set about making our icecream in a bag and had hoped to be eating icecream out of our chocolate bowls within 10 minutes.  In the end, the icecream wasn’t ready until later, so we ate our chocolate bowls with some leftover strawberry and chocolate instant pudding** from the night before and a few strawberries.

I have seen these chocolate bowls (albiet a little fancier) on the front cover of a Donna Hay Kids mag made using white chocolate mixed with pink & green food dye – I’d like to try that next!  What a fun and impressive, yet super simple dinner party dessert!
For more easy peasy recipes, you might like to check out the FGB easy recipes page

* We used normal balloons blown up very small, but water balloons would be best.
**instant pudding - another food from my childhood that I happened to see on the supermarket shelf and had to give it a try!

DIY Chalk Paint with a touch of Fizz.

My kids have always liked washing the windows (yes, I like to use child labour). It’s all about the spray bottle and spraying as much as you can. So last week, after a little too much fun was being had while washing windows that I actually did want cleaned, I just filled an old spray bottle with water and sent Bear off around the garden spraying to his hearts content. Not a stone, leaf or slater was left unsprayed after the good hour he spent out there.


I had seen a few recipes for sidewalk chalk paint around blogland and had been wanting to give it a try for some time, but after seeing how much fun Bear had with the spray bottle, I had to give this one a try!

We played around with a few recipes and ended up with this one, changing it’s name to be a little more Aussie of course…

FIZZY FOOTPATH CHALK PAINT

1/4 cup cornflour
250g of baking soda
1/2 cup cold water
a few squirts of dishwashing liquid
a few drops of food colouring

You might like to play around with this recipe to get the consistency that’s right for you. You’ll just need to add more water if you return to it the next day and it’s started to dry out.

Fill a spray bottle with vinegar and spray on the painted chalk. Watch it start to fizz!


I had trouble dragging Bear away from this activity.

Incidentally, bicarb soda & vinegar are apparently a great natural combo for cleaning your bathroom – might just have to set this game up in the bathroom next time… minus the food dye of course!

For more fun kids activities, you might like to check out our Kids Craft Page.

A ROCKET PARTY {the activities}

I’m a big fan of having activities to walk straight into at a party. No awkwardness, just straight into the fun. Sets the tone for a fun party to come. Kids can go at their own pace and only participate in activities that they want to. Having activities all set up before hand also makes it easier on the party host so that she’s not running around like a headless chook* I also don’t enjoy running group games, particularly when kids are all of varied ages and abilities and competition is involved.
This rocket themed party was for our gorgeous four year old, Bear.


A surprise hit at the party was a rocket that we made from a large refrigerator box.*** Thanks to our friend Ben (who happens to have an engineering degree) we came up with quite a convincing rocket.

So much of a hit that it was not quite the same by the end of the party…


The kids could play with space playdough, moon sand,


(some may have gone a little too far…)


blow space bubbles


or read some space themed books or have their hair spray painted with space glitter.**


We did have a game of pin the tail on the rocket, but I figure the blindfold part puts all ages on an equal footing and the game can be played in a staggered way. It’s also become a bit of a tradition of ours to have some kind of pin the …. on the …. game to fit the theme of a party.


The kids also decorated soft drink/pop bottles, that I had spray painted white, and made them into rockets…


…then after the food we went over to the park across the road and blasted them into space!



Each child had a turn at shooting their rocket into the air. So much fun!


Purchased here on ebay, they seriously went about 20 metres into the air and and I think the adults (particularly the Dad’s) had as much fun as the kids!



Come back tomorrow for more rocket party pics – the food & the decorations.


In the meantime, for more kids party ideas you might like to visit my Party Ideas Page or check out others’ DIY parties here.

Linking up this party with Bird’s party blog.



* For the benefit of my overseas readers, this is an Australian colloquial term meaning, to run around like crazy.
** Not necessarily a big hit – particularly as a majority of guests had blonde hair & it did not really show up well and most children were just not interested.
*** Obtained by heading around the back of a white goods store and asking for a large box.

DIY MINI MIKADO


Mikado, or pick-up sticks as it is also known, is a game that we played often as children. The game got its name from the highest scoring (blue) stick “Mikado“. Mikado is the name given to the Emperor of Japan. We played Giant Mikado at Goose’s Japanese birthday party last week and as a memento to send home, we made each child their own set of Mini Mikado. I think they will also work very well in our bon-bons/crackers next Christmas too!

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN:

I personally think the game works better if you can find double pointed, round toothpicks, but you could also make the regular size in the same way by using bamboo skewers. My clever Mum made these ones for me and this is what she did:

1. Color 4 bowls of water, each with different colored food dyes – Mum used Edicol powder to get a strong color.
2. Add the right number of toothpicks into each bowl.
3. Take the toothpicks out after a couple of minutes or until color is right. You can take them out by using a pair of metal tongs.
4. Leave them to dry on some newspaper or paper towel.

I searched all over the net and there doesn’t seem to be any hard and fast rule for which colors to use or how many of each color or even the score each stick is worth, so I just made up my own values and colors. Feel free to print these rules up and use for yourself.*

HOW TO PLAY “MIKADO”

1 Blue Mikado stick – 10 points

8 yellow sticks – 5 points

8 green sticks – 3 points

8 pink sticks – 1 point

Any number of people may play. Everyone sits in a circle.

One person holds the sticks upright touching the ground, then opens their hand to let the sticks fall. The sticks should all lay on top/under each other in a disarrayed fashion (the messier the better). Each person takes a turn at removing one stick from the pile, while trying not to move any of the other sticks.

If the player moves any other stick apart from the one they are trying to remove, it is the next person’s turn. But if he/she moves the stick without moving any others, they have another turn and keep going until they move a stick and then it is the next person’s turn.

When the Mikado stick has been lifted, it may be used for the removal of further sticks.

When all the sticks are gone, everyone counts the value of their sticks. The person with the highest score wins!



Up to your own discretion obviously, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that it’s probably a game for those 5yrs and up. Wouldn’t want anyone poking their eyes out!


* If anyone is tech savvy and could teach me how to attach this as a downloadable pdf document, I’d be ecstatic if you could explain it to me!

JAPANESE PARTY {the activities}

I like the idea of walking into a party and having something to get involved in right away, so I often have a number of different activities going on and the kids can do the rounds. It does involve having other adults to help you. These are the activities we had at Goose’s Japanese party.

CHERRY BLOSSOM TREE PICTURES
I painted a branch and photocopied it onto pieces of card. We provided some geisha girl stickers, some cherry blossom shaped cutouts (punched out using our origami scraps & some Japanese writing) and some leaf shaped stamps & Japanese symbol stamps (that I already had in my stash) along with some red ink and some pink tissue paper to scrunch up and make their own cherry blossom tree picture. This idea was borrowed from here.

ORIGAMI PAPER FOLDING
We had an origami paper folding table set up with origami paper and printed a few simple origami animal shapes from here and stuck them on the wall with one of each that Goose had already made up. This is the first activity most kids headed for. You can see the table in the background of the photo below.

PAPER FAN DECORATING
I found some blank paper fans at Riot Art and the kids decorated them with textas. Thanks Anna for the idea!

GIANT MIKADO (AKA ‘PICK UP STICKS’)
If you’ve never played this game, see here for more details. This was my Mum’s set that she has had for years, but I have seen them for sale at Australian Geographic.

FUKUWARAI
Translated “Lucky Laugh” in English and traditionally played around New Year in Japan. Just like Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Donkey, players are blindfolded & must try to stick the eyes, nose, mouth & cheeks in the correct places on the face. Thanks to my sister Clare for drawing the face!
You can find more information on the game of Fukuwarai here and some free Fukuwarai printables here.

We also did pass the parcel on the birthday girls request, which we played to the music of the 80′s classic ‘Turning Japanese’ by The Vapors and had a Guess How Many Japanese Lollies in the Jar competition.


P.S. Some other activities that I liked, but we didn’t end up doing are :
- writing your name in Japanese. You can type your name into this website and it tells you your name in Japanese.
- Get the kids to race each other using chopsticks to pick up cheerios or lollies and transfer them from one bowl to another.
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