Saturday, 30 October 2010

More Halloween Preparation

My husband carved the pumpkins today, as you can see above, what do you think?... scary enough? He tries to carve a different face every year and I think he's rather good at it. Last year he did Jack Skellington, he also likes to carve something in the back so that you get the shape projected onto the wall behind, this year he did bats. A little added magic for the children. With two pumpkins there is a lot of pumpkin insides to be removed, and we like to make use of as much as possible. I started off by collecting all the seeds and tossed them in a little oil, salt, pepper and cajun spices, these were then roasted for us to snack on.

The pumpkin flesh that was scraped out we have divided in half. One half I've kept to make soup, the other I've cooked and made into a puree to use to cook other things with. Today we made pumpkin pie, or should I say pies, as the recipe we used had very big portions.

This was really nice and as there are two pies we will be eating it again tomorrow. The children have been enjoying all the Halloween preparations, especially all the crafts.

They have made this banner, I wanted to make a fabric one to keep forever but ran out of time so they have made the banner using Halloween shapes, colouring them in and sticking the pumpkin faces on. So today has been another very busy day full of baking and crafting.

Bats and Lanterns.

   More Halloween crafts, this time we have decided to make lanterns in the style of the sleepy hollow ones, only much more child friendly. The lamp on the left is a faerie lantern that my children bought for me (we didn't make this one) the one on the right is the one we made. we chose some stiff black board and made sure it would fix around a jar. Using a jar ensures that your cardboard doesn't burn and your tea light candle is held safely. We cut out our Halloween picture from the card and fixed a piece of tissue paper to the rear of the cut out shapes. Orange in this case to match the pumpkins waiting to be carved.

  Once this is completed you can roll your cardboard into a cylinder and fix it, we just used tape. then put your cylinder over the jar with the tea light inside. wait until after dark and light the candle. This will definitely wow the children and provide a spooky atmosphere.  A really eye catching lantern for our display. We will be keeping ours out of reach of our youngest children for candle safety reasons.

    I really love bats and no Halloween display is complete without bats, the above bats were very, very simple to make. We love to recycle as much as we can so we cut the bat shapes out from the crinkly black paper covering that comes in chocolate boxes. this gives them a slight 3D look and they make a crinkly noise when you touch them. Once cut out, the children stuck little sequins on for eyes so that they catch the light... added spookiness. Then they were hung onto a hanger using fishing line and left in a doorway to brush against the face of an unsuspecting passer by.

   We had some bats left over and didn't want them to go to waste so these were positioned on the wall as if they were just flying past. So as you can see we have been really busy, these are just a sample of the things the children have been making.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Spider webs for Halloween

 Halloween / Samhain is one of my favourite holidays, I love how spooky the house looks with broomsticks propped up by the front door and witches hats hanging on the hat pegs in the hallway. All cobwebs in the house get a reprieve for a few days and the smell of pumpkin lanterns wafts through every room.

    The children have been really busy crafting scary things for Halloween, we have had to find crafts suitable for a 2 year old to join in because she absolutely loves everything crafty the messier the better. Yesterday we made cobwebs with great, big hairy spiders in them. Do you think they look spooky or just rather cute?

    We have used conkers to hold the wooden skewers in place as we have many hanging around thanks to our Autumn collecting, but you could also use large crafting polystyrene balls, clay or indeed anything round you can find. Then the conker was covered in glue and rolled in wool that has been cut up very small so that it was all fuzzy. Pipe cleaner legs were added and googly eyes. The web part was very simple to make as you can see, it is easy to wind wool around the skewers. This does tend to slip a bit if played with too much, so some discrete dots of glue would hold this in place if you choose to.

 They are now ready to hang up on the wall to scare people for Halloween. My husband also helped our son to make a PVA glue cobweb. He drew out the web shape in glue on a laminate sheet and left it to dry overnight. Once dry it could be peeled off the laminate sheet, and stuck on a window. The thinner you can get the web the better here as it tends to spread out a little, but it looks very effective.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Not so guilty pleasures?

    As you can see I have been trying to make good use of my time now that my university courses have finished for this year. I have been putting absolutely everything off until the studying was finished as I kept feeling guilty if I did something that wasn't studying!!... Even if I was up to date or ahead with my studies or the project was small, as in the patch on my daughters jeans that you can see above, I wouldn't allow myself the time off from studying because I felt guilty. I will have to work on this and be a bit more lenient with myself... everyone is allowed free time... right?

   The patch above was one of the first things I did after the exam finished, before you laugh and point out all the mistakes in the sewing I must just say that this is the first time I have done anything like this for a very long time and my daughter really loves the little bee. I have chosen to patch the jeans as they still fit and have a lot of wear left in them. The embroidery on the patch also fits in completely with the jeans as they have lots embroidery all over them in the same style.

    I have also been catching up with some reading and have got through quite a few books and I have been trying to re learn how to crochet... I have practised all of the stitches and I am now the creator of many granny squares with which I am going to make into bedding for my daughter's dolls cot. I am hoping to give it a vintage feel hence the crochet blanket and maybe a patchwork quilt too.

   It is so nice to have some free time to do all the things I've been putting off for so long... It is quite hard to shake the feeling that I should be studying... but I definitely have a few months off to enjoy my not so guilty pleasures.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Rock Painting

I have been thinking of ways of making the garden look a little more interesting or magical lately, to the children over the stark winter months, and also introduce some more fun crafts. This time we have killed two birds with one stone (excuse the pun). It was a really rainy day, the children were a little upset that we had to cancel our trip out so we had to come up with something to do last minute that was fun. We didn't have any acrylic paint so we have had to use normal poster paint but they loved making these little rock monsters so much that we will probably make some more when we have the proper paint. My husband sprayed them with lacquer to make them a little more waterproof.

 When they were dry and the sun was shining, we hid them all over the garden. As you can see above, some have had some finishing touches of googly eyes and the toadstool has a little hand carved stalk. But these were mostly painted and made by my youngest children aged just 6 and 2 with much love. 

Now when winter comes and the garden is bare, there will be little folk or things of interest hiding everywhere. So far my daughter has been finding them hilariously funny every time she spots one lurking. Some of them like the one above are very colourful and will brighten up a dull corner.

I spotted this lonely one playing in the dirt. We did something similar to this for my husband on father's day, my son painted a rock and we wrote "dad rocks" on it. you can see it here. can't wait to paint some more using acrylic paint. we have quite a few crafts lined up to cheer up the garden for winter and to try to make it a little more magical for the little ones.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Beach Love

How I do love the earth. I feel it thrill under my feet. I feel somehow as if it were conscious of my love, as if something passed into my dancing blood from it. --James Russell Lowell

A couple of days ago we visited the beach, an Autumn visit, to compare the difference in the things washed ashore by the sea at different times of year. We visited earlier in the year too, in spring, and went beach combing, the things we found this time were a lot different to the spring visit. It was wonderful to get to the beach again and we chose a really sunny day, even though we went to a beach with a town attached it was so quiet, hardly a soul to be seen strolling on the sand.


On the spring visit we found mostly young cuttlefish bones and some shark and ray egg cases. The photographs show a small sample of our finds. On our Autumn visit, there were no cuttlefish bones, there were a few egg cases (or 'mermaids purses' ) but this time we mostly found a few different kinds of shells. Mussel shells, dog whelk shells, some limpets and slipper limpets. Also much driftwood.


We have decided to make some things from our finds to remind us of the times we spent on the seashore. I will post about the things we make at a later time but we have decided to use some of the small perfect whelk shells as jewellery charms for bracelets and to make some beach wind chimes with some of the other things.

Before leaving the seashore , while the children were playing, I took a little time to myself to feel at one with nature. Just for a second between the beach combing and playing I looked far out to sea and took a deep breath... with the wind in my hair and the sand between my toes, then as the breath left my lips I felt a kind of peace, a calmness spread over me... just for a second, I felt the freedom of the gulls and the wildness of the seals... then the call came to leave.

After our beach adventures, we decided to visit the sea life centre, which again we mostly had to ourselves. The children had the the touch pool all to themselves and the staff still gave them the educational talks. They got to touch a large crab, stroke a starfish and be cleaned by a sea anemone. There were some very happy children that day! We absolutely adore the seashore, my children especially, and often speculate what it would be like to live by the sea.

I wonder... does the seashore still hold it's magical quality if you see it everyday?

photographs numbered 1,4 and 5 were taken by my lovely husband.found here.