Thursday, 1 January 2015

Goodbye 2014... Hello 2015

Just a short post to wish you all a Happy new year and to say goodbye to 2014. We have put quite a few things off recently due to a death in the family, blogging has been one of those things but we have still been muddling through in a quiet way and we are now very much looking forward to 2015 and all the new challenges it may bring.

We still made some Christmas decorations for our home, but this year things seem to have taken a simple, more natural approach. Both my husband and I have made some Christmas baubles, complete with pyrography, from a section of an old branch.

I made this pine cone garland, another very simple, natural craft that looked so beautiful on the fireplace. I am definitely thinking of making some more of these next year.

Another one of my favourite additions this year was the snowflake mobile. My husband hung a twisted willow branch, that had been sprayed slightly with silver glitter to give it a frosty feel, in the window. We then hung snowflake decorations and crystals from it to give a feel of snow. It was very difficult to get good photos of this but it looked amazingly magical.

My husband helped the children to make these wooden snowmen using offcuts of wood, which they chose to paint. So most of the decorations we made this year had a wooden feel to them.

Well that's some of the things we have been doing at this very busy time, all that's left to do is wish you all a very Happy new year!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Autumn Critter Craft

Autumn can be a magical time of year for children to explore nature with the last of the harvests, the leaves going through a beautiful colour change and then falling along with their nuts and seeds. Our children love to go for long walks and collect many things including pine cones, conkers, teasels and beautiful leaves to use in Autumn crafting of one sort or another. This year they have decided to make some autumn critters with the things they have collected.

Many things that can be imagined by little ones can be easily made, start with the items you have managed to collect and see where your imagination takes you. As you can see we have made owls, hedgehogs and even conker man!

These are some of the things we started with, the little hedgehog seems like an obvious choice using the prickly teasel.

We have used the stalk as a nose and trimmed back some of the spikes at the stalk end until we had the desired length... this is quite prickly so little ones may need help or gloves. I found the teasel less prickly if you trim a tiny piece off the end of each spike, a bit like giving it a hair cut. Then all we did was add a nose and some googly eyes.

We love owls and the pine cone seemed to lend itself perfectly to the shape of an owl, so all we have done is add a few extra features to make it look a little more owl like. Conker man was made by my youngest daughter using a match stick and glue to hold his head on, she also gave him a lovely red super hero cape and has also been making him a family... so we now have a whole bunch of conker people.

 A few years ago we made nature faeries with our autumn collections if you would like to see I have added the link.

If you decide to collect some Autumn things on your nature walks let us know what you made. Have fun!

Friday, 26 September 2014

Hoover Disassembly!

Over the summer we have had the opportunity to make use of the educational resources from The James Dyson Foundation. The children have borrowed the Ideas Box and the Engineering Box both packed full of learning resources and equipment to disassemble.

They absolutely love taking things apart but usually only get to work on things that are broken and no longer useful to any body. So it was very exciting for them to take apart an actual working hoover then reassemble it, hoping they had followed instructions carefully enough and see it working again.

Both of them were extremely enthusiastic and it was lovely to see them working through the packs and spending many hours totally engrossed in the projects.

The educational boxes are lent out to schools and home educators on a 4 week basis, they are really quite large but the children loved their time spent as budding inventors and engineers and loved the challenge of looking at things in new ways.

After the boxes went back we were allowed to keep the educational resources packs from each box, which will give the children further things to do, we have also just ordered the challenge cards. I have put a link to the James Dyson Foundation at the top of this page for any home educators wanting to know more about the boxes.

Monday, 1 September 2014

A Summer of fun and a 'MOOC'

The summer has been full of parties, fun and theme parks for us. We managed to fit in a trip to the dinosaur park along with the two theme parks and of course our usual days out to the beach, long nature walks and some pond dipping.

We tend to slow things down slightly during the summer holidays as everywhere is so crowded, the children have been busy as usual with various projects. My son was especially excited to try out one of the new 'MOOC' (massive open online content) courses earlier in the year. Many of these are free for everyone to try.

The above logo is from the course he took with Coursera... Dino 101 Dinosaur paleobiology. The course was amazing, run by the University of Alberta, perfect for any budding dinosaur expert. Dinosaurs are a big passion for my son and the course was taught in a way he finds very easy to learn. He managed to pass the course with a score of 100% and got a statement of accomplishment. I have put a link to the course above as it is about to run again, the new start date is september 3rd if you are interested.

We are currently planning many Autumn trips out to keep us occupied in the coming months.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

The 5th Anniversary is Wood!

A few days ago my wonderful husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, although we have been together much longer. If you follow us you will know that we made the decision when we first married to hand make each other a present based on the traditional gift guide each year.

This year it's wood....yes wood!... definitely a challenge for me. As my husband works with wood he had a slight advantage but I was determined to at least make something slightly presentable.

This is what I came up with, it may be very simple in construction but remember this is the first time I've worked with wood. The board is an old weather worn piece I chose for the beautiful grey colours that came through after sanding.

I fixed natural branches to the board to act as little hooks for his keys or tools and tried my hand at pyrography to get the words 'love hanging with you' along the top.

I am quite pleased with the results and quite enjoyed working with wood, I'm even thinking of some more projects.

My husband made a box frame for me to hold a very romantic piece of branch he found, which contained a heart naturally formed within the wood and added a few words of his own.

Would like to wish my husband a happy anniversary and I look forward to spending many more years together.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Suitcases are like buses.

For a while I have wanted to buy some of the gorgeous, old leather suitcases complete with the faded art deco style travel stickers of places visited on the grand tour in times past. I was just hoping to use them as storage but the price of these in my area was a little too high.

I decided to look for something not quite so old but still vintage to stack on top of the wardrobe or under the bed. I found the large brown suitcase for just £5, it is in very good condition, the lining on the inside is immaculate and comes with a key.

Then a couple of days later some body put the two blue ones on free cycle, they are in lovely condition too and the larger of the blue ones is lined with red silk. Three at once... couldn't believe my luck, the children were just as excited as I was and they have already made plans for what to store in them.

Although not quite as old as I was originally looking for they are just as useful as a storage solution and at a much more reasonable cost.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Beach Trip

The weather predicted rain for a couple of weeks so we decided to make the most of a really sunny day last week and get to the beach. It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in sight.

The children spent quite some time playing on the sand and in the dunes before deciding to do some paddling and beach combing.

We ended up walking quite a long way along the beach at the shore line and found many things of interest to look at and discuss.

We found lots of sea gooseberries that had washed up with the last tide, these are not technically jellyfish they are a marine invertebrate. They tend to only live a few months and die after spawning but just in case any were washed up by accident and were still alive the children decided to return them to the sea.

Finds like this usually inspire the children to learn what they can about the life cycle and this link leads to a wonderful website called Arkive where you can find out more about this creature and see photos of it in the water if you choose to.

My daughter also found a fish head and some dog whelk shells which were slightly worn away to reveal the beautiful inner spiral.

Our disappointing find of the day was some rubbish and lots of old fishing line and hooks which we decided to collect and take to the nearest rubbish bin as we were a little concerned that someone or one of the beach combing sea birds could have been injured. It is important to keep our wild spaces rubbish free and safe for all, it only takes a second.