Saturday, 28 April 2012


Or leaf rubbings as the kids preferred. We are lucky in that we live next to a great park that we spend lots of time in. On the way back from our picnic lunch today the kids collected all manner of things including lots of gorgeous autumn leaves- I love the colours. In the gorgeous light coming through our window, I showed them how to do leaf rubbings but adapted the technique to suit them. I used a small mount of blue tack to stick the leaf to the table and then sellotaped the paper to the table so it didn't slide around for them. We used oil pastels- they're great for kids are they produce lovely bright colours, can be blended and respond in different ways depending on how much pressure you apply while drawing.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

fairy house

It's ANZAC day today so we're at home spending time together as a family. We have been outside all day feeding the ducks at the park and now at home in the front garden. There's a tree stump that I will one day have the energy to remove but in the meantime I thought it might be a good place to 'display' something. M love Tinkerbell so I asked them f they'd like to build a fairy house, we went through my cupboard of things and they chose what they liked the look of, we also added to our collection of leaves we'd started at the park. It took about half an hour to make and I enjoyed being guided by their answers to my prompts ( eg...how do you think the roof should look?) or from their ideas...M wanted to be able to see in from the top so she came up with the idea of an open roof covered my leaves. T wanted a BIG front door but also wanted it hidden by leaves. I love doing this kind of thing with them. I love hearing their reasons for their ideas and watching them experiment with how they can bring them about. I had to take odd pictures as we still have a very ugly plastic temporary water pipe going across our front garden- it's been there since the Sept 2010 earthquakes and I imagine it will be there for some time yet!

Here's a link to a gorrrrrrgeous fairy house  dream fairy house


M wanted a sign

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

young at art

I've just finished reading a book called Young at Art by Susan Striker. It's a bit prescriptive in parts for my liking ( like introducing kids to one colour crayon at a time) but there are some really inspiring parts too and I had lots of "ahhhh, yes" moments reading it. The core belief behind the book is that " Manipulative work with responsive materials with which the child has direct physical contact, such as finger paint and clay, in addition to crayons and paint are significant and contribute to the child's intellectual and creative development". It stresses that art materials need to always be available in order to encourage self - motivated creations. It also talks about the language parents sometimes use when talking to children about their art, for example, rather than asking "what is that?" it's better to say something about the tools they're using, the shapes/ lines they're making or how your child is feeling about what they're doing, for example,  " I can see you're covering your whole page with lines"- makes sense I think. My teaching training has taught me how to speak to children about what they're doing creatively but I really liked the  idea of a designated art area which we didn't have until today. This morning I bought and set up a trolley with pencils, felts, crayons, paper, glue and collage supplies on it. I like that if I had to I could hide it away easily but until then everything's well within their reach. As soon as we got home today they were busy creating. M made me a fan and T experimented with the glue stick. It was a bit messy but nothing a quick wipe over didn't fix. I will add things to it ( leaves, sticks, buttons etc) so I'm looking forward to seeing what they'll come up with in future.

yes they eat some of their meals at that table- but it's a start!

a fan

Monday, 23 April 2012

Anzac biscuits

More baking! This time it's my mum's never fail recipe and I've just proved this to be the case. They're yummy and the kids will be pleased to have one each after pre school.

Anzac biscuits

An Anzac biscuit is a sweet biscuit popular in Australia and New Zealand, made using rolled oats, flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, butter, golden syrup, baking soda and boiling water. Anzac biscuits have long been associated with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) established in World War I. It has been claimed the biscuits were sent by wives to soldiers abroad because the ingredients do not spoil easily and the biscuits kept well during naval transportation. 

My mum found the recipe in the Sunday Times Magazine and it's Olivia Tully's.

1 cup flour
1 cup castor sugar
1 cup coconut
2cups rolled oats
125g butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp boiling water

Mix flour, sugar, coconut and oats and make a well in the centre.

Melt butter and golden syrup together, dissolve baking soda in water.

Combine all, roll into balls and press onto greased baking trays.

Bake at 180 C for 15 minutes.

Space them evenly as they spread a bit- reduce the temperature to 170 C  in a fan oven, they may cook before 15 minutes too so you need to watch that they don't burn.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

chewy choc chip biscuits

 I made these for the kids this afternoon because I know they (we!) love chocolate buttons- YUM

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
50g butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chocolate chocolate buttons

Heat oven to 180°C.
Combine flour, baking powder and baking soda in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Combine butter, sugar and brown sugar in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping the bowl often, until creamy. Add eggs and vanilla. Continue beating, scraping bowl often, until well mixed. Reduce speed to low. Beat, gradually adding flour mixture, until well mixed. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Shape dough into golf ball size portions, place them 4cm apart, onto baking paper, press them lightly. Bake for 10 to 14 minutes or until light golden brown. (Do not overbake.) Let stand 1 to 2 minutes.

embroidery for beginners

I came up with this idea my self based on some pre school sewing things I've seen. My mother in law also gave me a box of wooden frames and I wanted to do something with them. First, I used a staple gun to attach some tulle to the back of three of the frames. I had a bit of an accident with one and it split on the side but I figured I could use that to demonstrate. I then asked the children to choose a colour thread they liked then tied the thread to the ( blunt) needle and a knot at the other end. They just went up and down and didn't seem to want to make a picture of anything in particular. I think this is an activity we'll come back to as it was fun and would be interesting to see what happens as their hand- eye co ordination develops- I also still have heaps of frames left over. Typically the boy insisted on using the broken frame.. sigh- not sure why but I went with it. Next time I think I'll use white muslin and I need to think of a way to hang them without seeing anything through it.

Monday, 16 April 2012

squash creatures

I remember doing this as a kid and being excited about the shapes that were created. I used some Resene test pots and paper from a big pad of coloured paper M was given at Christmas ( such a good idea as a gift). We folded the paper first and I put paint blobs where the children said they wanted them. I had explained the steps so they knew that the paint would mix and spread and make 'shapes' as it was squashed together,  "like a paint sandwich" M said. I let them dry and then asked the children what they could see in the shapes, they used vivid markers to add details and M and I had a little discussion about symmetry. We ended up with a butterfly, monster, volcano and a fly.

the volcano
lava is a must for volcanoes
this one makes me laugh!
only one wing has lines mum

Thursday, 12 April 2012

inside tent

It rained all day yesterday. I love rainy days, I always have. Even now if there's a good storm my mum expects  phone call from me, lol. Making tents with the kids made me want to be a kid again myself, it gave me that warm comfy feeling inside and I loved watching their faces as they dragged blankets, pillows and toys in there. Dad ( who was rained off from work- another bonus) even gave them a hanging torch for inside- oh the joy!

zucchini chocolate cake

The kids don't eat a wide enough range of vegetables as I'd like them too ( I'm hoping they'll get more adventurous as they get older? ). Anyway, they love this chocolate zucchini cake, it's tasty, not dry and not overly sweet. Yes there's brown sugar and butter in it but there's at least 2 mouth fulls of zucchini per kid sized serve. Thank goodness for lovely neighbours, I must learn to check if we have all of the ingredients we need before we start baking together. I'm not a brilliant baker but I try and one day I'll be able to say I've improved- I hope! Our cake needed longer to cook than the recipe states but we do have a pretty average oven. I decided not to ice it as there's chocolate inside and it's pretty rich already, I dusted it with a bit of icing sugar after I took the photo.I got the kids aprons off trade me, they're made by creative_two.

hard at work stirring and grating
the best part
doesn't look to bad to me!

sharing with a friend

The recipe is from chocolateandzucchini.com is a food blog written by Clotilde Dusoulier, a 31-year-old Parisienne.

Chocolate & Zucchini Cake

240 grams (2 cups) all-purpose flour

60 grams (1/2 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

180 grams (1 scant cup) light brown sugar (I use unrefined cane sugar)

115 grams (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, or 1/2 cup virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 teaspoon instant coffee granules or 2 tablespoons strong cooled coffee -- this is just to deepen the chocolate flavor, you won't taste it in the finished product

3 large eggs
- 350 grams (2 cups) unpeeled grated zucchini, from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini

160 grams (1 cup) good-quality bittersweet chocolate chips, or chopped chocolate
- Confectioner's sugar (optional)
Serves 12.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Grease a 25-cm (10-inch) round springform pan or a 22-cm (8 1/2-inch) square pan.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a mixer (or by hand in a large mixing bowl), beat the sugar and butter until fluffy. Add the vanilla, coffee, and eggs, mixing well between each addition.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the zucchini, chocolate chips, and about a third of the flour mixture, making sure the zucchini strands are well coated and not clumping too much.

Add the rest of the flour mixture into the egg batter. Mix until just combined; the batter will be thick.
Fold the zucchini mixture into the batter, and blend with a spatula without over mixing. Pour into the prepared cake pan and level the surface.

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer onto a rack to cool for 10 minutes, run a knife around the pan to loosen, and unclasp the sides of the pan. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar or a chocolate glaze if desired.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


Recently a book arrived in the post that I'd seen on the www.bookdepository.co.uk that I liked the look of, it turns out it's a little old for mine yet but the girl still enjoyed the first few pages. It's by and American called Ed Emberley and shows you how to draw animals step by step using basic shapes such as D, 3, triangles and squiggles. I made M a little ' drawing book' by stapling a few sheets of paper together and she loved going through step by step while I giggled away at the humour ie 'turtle skating in the rain' and 'porcupine jumping over a rock'. Here's some pictures.

Monday, 9 April 2012

inside play forest

I pinned this a few weeks ago and when I saw the husband throwing out some lengths of chipboard I decided to try it. You drill holes into the wood using different sized bits for different sized branches and poke the branches in. Please excuse the drill it was in an earthquake!

Saturday, 7 April 2012


I made the kids an Easter lunch today, fruit served in an egg shape with egg shaped french toast and cheese cut out like bunnies- I hear you, who cares ( and why bother?!). Our kids love thins kind of thing as a surprise from time to time and I love seeing happy smiley kids at meal times.

Bento (弁当 bentō) is a single-portion takeout or home-packed meal common in Japanese cuisine. A traditional bento consists of rice, fish or meat, and one or more pickled or cooked vegetables, usually in a box-shaped container. It is still common for Japanese homemakers to spend time and energy for their spouse, child, or themselves producing a carefully prepared lunch box.

that is one happy looking sandwich

he eh snowmen rice balls!

what kid wouldn't want to eat that?

Here is a website I like that has about 170 lunchboxes displayed on it- great when there's no bread in the house or if something new/ different is needed.

over 100 lunch box ideas 

and here is a link to my Pinterest page that has all of the fun foodie things I've found on my web wanderings.

fun kids food

Friday, 6 April 2012

lolly flowers

This morning we planted two old lollies in the garden to see what might happen. We planted them in a sunny spot, watered them and looked after them- not much had happened after lunch but what a surprise we got when we looked in the afternoon- two big lolly flowers were growing there! Yum and so much fun! My girl had a quiet word with me afterwards "it was you wasn't it mum? " No, it was the Easter bunny"...long silence..." No mum, it was you". End of discussion.

the look on their faces is why I do such things!