One of the things my children got for Christmas was a crystal making kit (they got one each – I know that they’re not going to, like, share).  So on the third day of Christmas, I spent most of the day making crystals.

Here they are

The children got a bit fed up with this after the first, large, crystal solution had been made.  I like to think that my children are interested in science but most science is just waiting around for stuff to happen which hardly interest anyone.  I was tempted to leave the rest to another day but knew that I wouldn’t have enthusiasm to come back to it – plus I didn’t want a load of open packets of evil solution mixture of DOOM sitting around.

The kit includes lots of terribly serious warnings about the ingredients being terribly dangerous and / or likely to stain stuff.  The crystals also need a spot to sit undisturbed for about seven days, ideally at a temperature above 20C.  So I put them on the side in the library.

The kit came from a place called Cass Art, which is a lovely shop.

Here’s the box

Children’s books – Time Out list

It’s my daughter’s birthday next week and I’ve bought her some books.  I found these on this list published by Time Out.

Children’s books

I’ve had a quick look through them (they’re now wrapped) and I think they look pretty good.  One interesting one is the We Are All Born Free which is basically the Universal Declaration of Human Rights explained to children with pictures.  This is the sort of thing that an old boyfriend would have described as “right on” (not a compliment).  I’ll have to see whether she likes them.

Children’s clothes for Autumn

Now that the children have gone back to school and nursery school, I’ve done a bit of a cull of their clothes.  There’s stuff that was super and worn all the time but is now too short and tight.  So off to Save the Children with those things.

Last winter, my daughter got a lot of wear out of a couple dungaree dresses that my friend M kindly passed on.  Because she wore a long sleeved top and tights or leggings underneath, they were warm enough but also fulfilled my daughter’s constant want to wear a dress, regardless of how utterly freezing it is outside.  Plus, unless it is really soiled, denim doesn’t have to washed every time it is worn.

On the left is a dungaree dress from Boden, on the right is a pinafore dress from a place in Brighton called Toby Tiger.  I’d never heard of them but my friend N mentioned them and they look like the sort of thing I really like.

Dungaree and pinafore dress

I ordered a bunch of pointelle tops from Boden, along with a (reduced) top from Toby Tiger.

The cream top is from Next, the one with the apple is from Toby Tiger, the rest are from Boden

I don’t usually look at JoJo Maman Bebe but the other day I noticed a little girl wearing one of their dresses so I bought one for my daughter.

Mulberry cord pinafore dress and stripy dress

I love this cardigan.


My daughter’s leggings are getting a bit short so I’ve also got a few more in the next size up.  These were about £4 each from Next.


My son actually had a quite a lot for Autumn already (plus he wears school uniform for most of the time).  I did get him these tops from Frugi.


Last month a company I used to buy a few things from, LoveItLoveItLoveIt, closed down.  The lady who ran it said she hadn’t been enjoying it for a while and now is quite unwell so isn’t trading any more.


Stuff for the children to get on with during the summer holidays

We’re now one week into the summer holidays.  And it’s going okay so far.  We don’t have any visitors this week but some are coming (with their children) next weekend.  It’s nice to have a bit of time to just chill.

One thing we’d been saving up to do here was to build this model volcano.  My son bought the kit at the school summer fair but, as it takes a few days to make (and quite a lot of MESS), we said that it would have to wait until we were in the IoW.  To begin with, you make the volcano itself using a mould and some Plaster of Paris (takes a couple of hours to set but we gave it a day).  Then the children need to paint the thing (very messy – also, non washable paint).  Then, once that is dry, you put in a load of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar (and some red food dye, if you have it – we didn’t) to make the lava.  Presumably, this is what children do for Science Fair projects in the US.


We’ve done a bit of piano practice (me and the boy).  He is only doing about ten minutes at a time so I am not quite up to Amy Chua standard just yet.

We’re also doing a bit of handwriting practice.  Although his report was super, it did say that he tends to write some of his letters and numbers in a really peculiar way.  Reading between the lines, this is not yet a problem but probably will be once the class starts doing joined up handwriting.  So I bought this book from Amazon:

A mum friend recommended this

He’s going through this book one page at a time (takes maximum seven minutes).  I don’t really care if he has nice handwriting (mine has been atrocious all my life) but it is a problem if people can’t read it.

Name tapes

It is that time of year again – the time to order new uniform for the next school year and sew name tapes into it all when it arrives.  Logo’d stuff comes from the school supplier.

The sewing kit comes out once a year

In the past I’ve bought shorts and trousers from them as well but, although they look good, the hems come down really quickly (infuriating) and they’re relatively expensive.  So this year I bought a load of shorts and trousers from M&S – because they were on sale – and then found that it was all stiff and shiny.  So back it went.

I then tried John Lewis, which was a bit more expensive but at least the stuff looked okay.

So far, I’ve sewed name tapes onto:

  • two pairs of swimming shorts;
  • two pairs of school shorts;
  • two pairs of school trousers (one age 6, the other age 7);
  • one school jumper; and
  • three school polo shirts.

My son will also have to wear a swimming hat but as this is silicon, there’s no way I can sew a label onto it.  My husband’s mum suggested I paint his initials onto it with nail varnish which is a terrific idea.  I’ll have to see whether I have any nail varnish that is not extremely expensive (waste) and is not pink (he’ll moan if his initials are pink).  Or I may have to resign myself to having to get a new one whenever he loses it.

Looking through his uniform, he still needs two more pairs of age 6 trousers, another school jumper (he has two from this year but one is getting really short and the other is covered in a weird red stain that won’t fade – think it must have been washed with a bleach cloth) and a swimming towel.  All of which have been ordered.

One (not very serious) problem I have is that there are now three pairs of faded, too-small trousers, one pair of too-small shorts and a couple of school jumpers that are no longer needed.  What do I do with them?  There is a second hand uniform sale on at the school every so often so perhaps one of the jumpers and the pair of shorts could go to that.  However, I can’t send in faded, hem-drooping trousers and a jumper with a stain.  It feels shameful to put them in the bin but I can’t see that any charity shop will want them either.  Plus, do I have to cut the name tapes off?  I have no idea.

Project X Alien Adventures Series 3

Earlier this year, I bought the Project X Alien Adventures (series 1 and 2) books, which my son LOVES.  His teacher has also told me that she is thrilled with his progress in reading so, frankly, it was one of the best £30 I’ve ever spent.

Recently, he has been fretting that, at some point, he will finish series 2 and have no more books to read.  Now, he does have plenty to read but all the same I’ve been looking for series 3.  Which doesn’t exist.  The Book People have told me that they have no plans to stock series 3 and the kind man from the Oxford University Press said that the easiest thing to do is to order the three sets of level 15/16, 17/18 and 19/20 books (8 books in each set so 24 in total) – if I order the three sets in one go, he will give me 20% off.  However, even with the discount, it will still be about £160 which does seem a bit heartbreaking.

Perhaps I’ll wait until he actually finishes series 2 before I start thinking of getting series 3.

Things to consider

My son announced yesterday that he wanted to make a model alien from this Project X Alien Adventures book.

Here are the things we need to make the model – I don’t have them all

Obviously, I don’t have pipe cleaners.  Or sticky eyes.  I’ll buy some the next time I am in Cass Art.

There are a couple of things that I need to add to my shopping list – pretty much all plants.  The slugs have now eaten all my petunias, most of the pelargoniums (bit of a surprise, that), the flowers (but not the plants themselves) of some alpine plant I’d put in there and all the bugle.  The Greek oregano that I’d planted elsewhere is much reduced.  However, they have also started eating the bastard creeping yellow buttercup.  Which is a hideous weed – it is super invasive and is basically my nemesis.  On balance, I think I prefer slugs to the buttercup weed.

The question is, what can I put in the flowerbed, given that the slugs have eaten everything but thyme?  I absolutely love heather but my husband really wants small plants in that bed so they don’t clash with the box hedge.  I’ve seen heather up Headon Warren that comes up to my waist so that’s out (I have no idea how you would prune heather).  I would just bung some more lavender in there but my husband has got a bit sick of the endless lavender (to be fair, it is one of the only things the slugs won’t eat, apart from winter flowering heliotrope).

Perhaps sedum?  More sea holly?