Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Nature Faeries

The Autumn Equinox falls on the 23rd of September this year and is the second of the three pagan harvest festivals otherwise called Mabon. We have been on several nature walks but have only collected a few Autumn things for our display so far, therefore the nature faerie craft will be using these natural things like pine cones and acorns.

First select a pine cone for the body and an acorn for the head for each faerie you want to make, we pulled the pointed end off the pine cones to allow a good place for the head to sit.

When it comes to gluing this sort of stuff I have found using a hot glue gun to be the most efficient way, it dries fast and holds well, this means helping the little ones so no one get hot glue on their fingers, but much better than waiting hours for the glue to dry.

This is what they look like with their heads attached, acorns were used with the cups removed for now. Then we added hair, my daughter was very insistent that they should have pink or multi coloured hair and helped to choose the wool. We stuck the hair on the top of the head with a spot of glue and then added the acorn cup as a hat with another spot of glue.

Starting to look a little more faerie like now, next step is to add facial features, we have used googly eyes and sparkly lips, of course.

Nearly done now, sycamore seed pods were used to create wings as that is what we had close to hand but you could use beautiful autumn red maple leaves or the round moon like honesty seed pods.

There you go, Autumn nature faeries, perfect to play with or they can be hung up on display or secretly hidden in the garden for the little ones to find and be surprised by. My husband also helped me with another idea to add little feet so that the faeries could stand, he cut off a couple of one of the larger pine cones scales and glued them to the bottom. I think it makes him look like he is wearing clogs.

If you prefer a more natural look to the faeries, they look just as good without the rainbow hair and googly eyes as you can see below.

This one was made in the same way as the others but without all the added cuteness from the children. I have added cotton to the back and hung it on a me an idea about Christmas or Yule decorations, think I will make some more and spray them in silver or some other festive colour to hang on the tree...Enjoy the Equinox.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Elderberry Syrup

This week we have made the elderberry syrup for winter, this has been used in folk remedies for centuries to boost the immune system and to help protect against colds and flu amongst other things. If you would like to read more about the benefits there is this site or it is easy to search for others.

First we collected our elderberries, we used about 500g in all, make sure you know what you are picking NEVER use berries if you do not know what they are. Once they start to droop or hang they are ripe, we collected a few from several bushes to ensure there where enough left for the wildlife of the area.

The 500g of berries can easily be removed from their stalks for the pot by using a fork. We just covered the berries in water approximately a litre and cooked them for about 20 minutes. Then we put all of the pan contents through a straining bag to remove any berry remains and seeds. At this point measure how much liquid you have and return to the pan to add some sugar, you will need to add about 500g per 500ml if you are using metric measurements, or if you use imperial 1lb of sugar  for each pint of liquid you have. Simmer for a further 10 minutes until all of the sugar has been dissolved and you can then bottle it up into your sterilized container.

As you can see it is a very dark purple colour and has a very thick texture like syrup, you need just one tablespoon of this in a glass of water per day or just a teaspoon on it's own, my children love the taste of this. I will add another couple of sites at the bottom here in case you would like to read further on the benefits  HERE and HERE

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Not Back To School Day

As a home educating family we like to celebrate 'not back to school day' with a special activity, as do most other families. This is usually a picnic out in nature or something similar, but yesterday due to the damp weather we went out to explore one of our local woodland areas instead.  Once we arrived the day commenced with a hill rolling race, always a lot of fun... so I'm told.

We spent lots of time identifying different types of trees which included a walnut tree and other types of plants and fungi and we found a natural chalk out crop. The woods were very noisy as it was rather windy which added a spooky atmosphere, one tree actually sounded exactly like a creaky old door opening. Rather puzzlingly deep in the centre we found one small spot where there was no sound at all.

Do you think  the entrance looks kind of spooky?...a bit like a tunnel. When the children had finished exploring and playing in the trees we decided to pick some apples from this tree before returning home.

This is the tree that provided us with enough apple jam and pie fillings to last all winter last year. There are many more apples this year and they are twice the size, we collected 10 kilos which is about 20lbs and the tree still had so many apples on that you wouldn't have known we had picked any at all. The children helped to collect apples in between more hill rolling, we also collected a few elderberries... I have plans for some elderberry syrup this year, so will need to pick more.

Some of the foraged apples are so big that it is very hard to hold them effectively while trying to peel them. So far we have made another batch of apple jam and prepared several bags of apple pie filling which have been frozen for winter. The children would like to make some fruit leathers, a natural form of fruit sweets so this will be put on the list of things to make. Overall everyone had a lovely 'not back to school day' enjoying the freedom to explore nature.