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.

The Advent Calendar

Every year I plan to write a post on advent calendars and each year, time runs out on me.  This year, however I managed to get in just before the beginning of December which means you’ll still have time to do this quick and easy, no time to get fancy, advent calendar if you feel so inclined.

Just some seed packet sized envelopes, some string and some small pegs, along with some stamps to decorate.  Fun for the kids to be involved in too.


For the last few years we’ve been reading a part of the Christmas story each day and then collating them on a piece of paper so that we can see the story evolve.  It gets longer each day until we have the whole Christmas story at the end. We use the following adaptation, paraphrased into language kids will understand, by my beautiful friend Jane: 

1. The angel Gabriel took a message to Mary: Don’t be afraid!  God is pleased with you, and you will have a son.  His name will be Jesus.

2. The angel visited Joseph in a dream.  He said: when the baby is born, name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

3. The angel told Mary that her son would be great, called the Son of the Most High.  God will make him a king and give him a throne and he will rule forever.

4. Mary & Joseph were engaged to be married and waiting for baby Jesus to be born.  The Roman Caesar said “everyone must be counted…”

5.  Everyone had to go to his own town, where he had been born to register.  So, Joseph took Mary on a long trip, from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be counted.

6.  When Mary & Joseph got to Bethlehem they looked & looked for somewhere  to stay.  All the houses were full so a kind man let them stay in his shed.

7.  In that shed, in Bethlehem , the time came for Mary to have her baby, & so there he was born: the Lord Jesus.  And his little cot was a manger.

8.  Just then, an angel came to visit the shepherds in a paddock near the shed where Jesus was born.

9.  The angels told the shepherds: “Don’t be scared.  I’ve got good news & it’s for everyone in the world…”

10.  The angels’ good news was: “Today in Bethlehem, the town of David, a saviour has been born; he is Christ the Lord”.

11.  Then the angel said: “You will find the baby wrapped in cloths & lying in a manger”.

12.  Suddenly, there were hundreds of angels in the sky praising God, above the shepherds & their sheep.

13.  The angels sang: “Glory to God in the Highest & Peace on Earth to People who Please God”.

14.  After the angels had gone back to heaven, the shepherds decided to go to Bethlehem & see the new baby.

15.  The shepherds went quickly & found Mary, Joseph & baby Jesus in the hay in Bethlehem.

16.  The shepherds told Mary & Joseph all about the angels & what they had said about the new baby Jesus.

17.  Everyone who heard the shepherds story were surprised and amazed!

18.  Mary kept thinking about everything the shepherds said and wondered what it meant.

19.  The shepherds went back to their sheep; praising God because of everything they’d heard and seen.

20.  Jesus also has the name “Immanuel” which means “God is with us”.

21.  Some wise men from the east saw a big star & knew it would lead them to the new baby Jesus.

22.  The wise men followed the star all the way to Bethlehem where it shone over the stable where Mary, Joseph & Jesus were.

23.  The wise men were excited to see the star because they knew that it pointed to the king of the Jews, baby Jesus, just like the prophets  had said.

24.  The wise men went into the stable to see Jesus and worship him.  They brought gifts for him of gold, frankincense & mhyrr.  Precious gifts for the new king.
There is a wonderful array of homemade advent calendar ideas across blogland.  I have made a collection of my favourites over here on pinterest if you are looking for ideas.

Do you have an advent calendar at your house?  Is it a special part of your own childhood memory of Christmas?  Or is just another thing to do at this craaaazy busy time of year?!

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.

A Father’s Day Craft – The Mo Mug

This week at MOPS we made moustache mugs for Father’s Day.

           

Mugs were only $1 from kmart and I found these awesome porcelain pens here that you just draw on and you’re done.  No baking required!  You just let it dry for three days (although it is dry to touch quite quickly) and then it is dishwasher safe.  Easy!

I don’t trust my drawing skills at all so I printed out a free moustache printable, cut out the mo shape, traced around it with a pencil onto the mug and then used the porcelain pen.  I can’t seem to find the free printable that I used, but I’ve just come across this one that has a whole of lot of different shaped moustaches made especially to use on mugs!  

Teamed up with this free printable card from One Charming Party I think it makes the perfect Father’s Day gift!
In searching on pinterest (yes, I am addicted) I came across lots of fantastic and simple designs for using porcelain pens on mugs and plates.  I’d love to give these a try next.  These pens are obviously nice and easy for kids to use as well.

The kids have all been to their obligatory Father’s Day stalls at kinder and school.  Always makes me smile what they bring home.  

Are you all sorted for Father’s Day?

AN APPLE PRINT SHOPPING BAG


Although we made these apple print shopping bags at MOPS, it’d be a great craft for kids to do.  Fruit can make some great patterns.  I purchased the bags here for only $1.50 each.  We chopped an apple in half, painted each half with fabric paint and stamped them onto the fabric.  After the paint dried we ironed the fabric as per paint instructions.  I remember doing the same thing onto wrapping paper when I was a kid.  I also think apple stamping would look great on tea towels and would make a great gift.


Have you ever done any fruit stamping?  What did you stamp?


Try the FGB kids craft page for more kids craft ideas.




The inspiration for these bags came from here, thanks to pinterest.

The bottomless jar of Vanilla Extract

Did you know that you could make your own vanilla extract?

I noticed a few people around the blogosphere making them around Christmas time as gifts and I had big plans to do the same, but I only ended up making one – a gift for myself.


DIY VANILLA EXTRACT

Fill a small jar with unflavoured vodka and pop in a couple of vanilla pods.  You might like to cut the vanilla pods in half lengthways first to let the goodness out.  Pop the lid back on and let it brew for a 3-4 months.

That’s it!

The beauty of this method is that when the jar is running a little low, you simply add some more vodka!  A bottomless jar of vanilla!  

I made this bottle back in December and it’s ready to use now.  The smell is divine.  If truth be known, I probably went overboard with vanilla pods

They would make a great little gift by adding this little free printable from the Graphics Fairy* of a vintage vanilla extract label.


Have you made vanilla extract before?

What is your favourite use for vanilla extract?  
Mine is adding it to cream and piling it on a bowl full of strawberries.  Yum!

For more easy recipes, head over here.


*If you are a fan of vintage graphics – you will find this site to be your mecca!

P.S.  I have seen many, many tutorials online for making your own vanilla extract and brandy & rum can also be used.  Here is a more detailed tutorial should you need it.

Some more egg decorating…

For some reason this year, I’ve got right into the whole easter craft thing!  We normally do one or two easter craft activities, but this year I can’t seem to stop!  It is most likely due to getting so much wonderful inspiration from fellow bloggers!


 Along with the fact that my children are getting older.  I no longer have babies, but children who are interested in, & capable (ish) of crafting along with me – with the exception of Bear.  “I’m not into craft, Mum” he often tells me.  His artwork folder at kinder is usually empty.  However, every now and then he ventures out of his ‘no craft’ box and surprises me.  

Last week when Bear and I were the only ones at home and I was preparing the MOPS craft for the week he was really keen on joining in.  It might have been about him wanting to experiment with colour & eggs, but it also might have been about spending some quality time with Mum which is sometimes hard to come by with this gentle & mild middle child who resides between two boisterous & defiant sisters.


We blew our eggs & used this simple dying technique.  We made these patterns using double sided tape (the stripes) & white crayon (the dots & words).  I saw today some gorgeous vintage lace eggs that I’d love to try next.  Egg dying is an Easter tradition in many households.  Is egg dying an Easter tradition at your house?


If you’re interested you’ll find more easter crafts over at the FGB kids craft page & even more over here on Red Ted’s Art collection of Easter crafts.


EASTER HOT CHOCOLATE

The Christmas before last, the kids & I made some Christmas Cocoa in a Jar as gifts.  A little while ago, I came across some more DIY hot cocoa recipes via pinterest.  I thought they might be a fun & simple MOPS activity and a great gift idea as well.

You can find the recipes to make your own mocha, peppermint, mexican or classic cocoa over here.  I halved the recipes to fit in these jars.  Each of these particular cocoa blends are really, really delicious, but the beauty of these is that you can play around with the recipes to make your own perfect blend.  It’s a great activity for the kids to be involved in as well.
When we made our Christmas cocoa mix we filled the jar to the very top, making it tricky to combine the contents in order to make the hot chocolate.  The contents had to be emptied into a bowl, combined and then returned to the jar.  This time, I didn’t fill the jars as high so the ingredients could be combined by simply shaking the jar.

As chocolate is such a big part of the easter tradition that I thought maybe it could be fun to gift some Easter hot chocolate!

We go camping* every Easter holidays with my family.  We’re heading off soon for a few nights away.  The kids are talking about nothing else.

This is the perfect camping drink as it doesn’t require milk.  Cozy cup of hot cocoa by the fire in the evenings.  Can’t wait!

What are you up to this Easter?  Do you have a camping tradition?  What Easter traditions do you & your family have?

* the real deal kind of camping – in the middle of nowhere, no electricity, no running water, no showers and the shovel & toilet roll over your shoulder to find a good tree kind of toilet.

Elegant Easter Eggs

You might remember that last year there was a little Japanese fad going on at our house… and that when I came across this idea I had to give it a try.  A year on, I still have a love for Japanese origami paper.  As my recent bunting cards may attest.

 I ended up only making one egg last year, the sparkly blue one in the photos (I’d accidentally purchased glitter modpodge) and it is still in good condition a year on.*  



You can find the full instructions on how to make them over here.  
Mine were more of a slapdash kind of job, not quite as fiddly as Martha suggests, but I think they still turned out quite well.  Origami paper works well for this project because it works best with thin paper.  We might end up doing them for the MOPS craft this week.

These eggs are fun for the kids to try as well.  
Frog was very proud of this one that she & I made below!



Joining in today with Jodie, the Haby Goddess in her new Make-Grow-Thrift linky.

Do you do easter crafts?  I love any excuse really – adds to the magic maybe…

* the eggs were blown so they’ll last for a long time – as long as you don’t drop them!

P.S.  I just had to include this dodgy little photo taken a year ago of Goose & Frog blowing some eggs.  
Gorgeous kids – they grow up too fast!

CLAY NECKLACES

This year, I am once again co-ordinating the craft activities for my MOPS* group.  Once a fortnight I need to come up with a 30 minute craft for a group of gorgeous women.  Some are seasoned crafters and others are new to expressing their creative side.  I love the challenge!  I’m really excited about the fun crafts we’ll be making this year.

One of the crafts that we’ve done already this year is to make clay necklaces.**
You might remember the clay decos that Goose & I made at Christmas time.  Same concept.  Oven baked clay imprinted with leaves.

We also made some with newspaper imprints.  If you want to give this a go, remember that the image comes out in reverse.  The one attached to the necklace on the picture below is from a picture of a tomato plant from a Bunnings ad.


We attached them at the back, by first of all putting a dob of hot glue onto a small split ring and then attaching this onto the back of the cooked clay with superglue. We then slid it onto the wire necklace.  It also means that the clay images are also interchangeable.  

Oven baked clay comes in all different colours, so the possibilities are endless.
I’ve been loving working with this simple and easy to use clay lately. The kids really enjoy playing with it too and making their own creations. 

Sage & Daisy leaves were my faves.


I’m keen to try making some small bowls like this & this.  
Have you used clay before?  What have you made?

I’ve been collecting simple craft ideas on my pinterest page.  If you have any ideas for me – I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Joining in with our creative spaces once again.

There are MOPS groups all over the world.  MOPS is short for ‘Mothers of Preschoolers’ and according to our facebook page - MOPS offers a caring & accepting atmosphere where Mums have an opportunity to share concerns, make friends, explore areas of creativity and learn.  We have some really worthwhile speakers & discussions.

** Thanks Claire & Candy for the inspiration!  & thanks Claire for making 30 of those split ring/hot glue combos!
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