Crystals

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

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?

Ray Stitch

There’s a nice little shop round the corner from me called Ray Stitch.  Now, until recently, I had considered this a shop that I had almost no use for, apart from that they sell awesome brownies.

Ray Stitch
Ray Stitch

After I started sewing on name tapes, I realised that what I could really use is a thimble.  So I bought one from here, along with a load of black, navy, grey and white thread.

I think they do classes and people who make quilts like this shop (I am never going to make quilts).  The next thing I may have to learn is how to take up trousers (we are short legged in my family) – however, this may be a step too far for me.

The Tyranny of Mr Maker

The other day, my children were watching Mr Maker.  If you’ve never seen it, it’s basically a dude who goes to various places and makes different crafty things within a one minute time limit (I think it is one minute).  I am sure that he is delightful, and his job is my idea of hell, but it does mean that my son now wants to actually make the stuff featured.

We usually don’t have any of the stuff Mr Maker uses to make the things (brown paint? stick-on circles? ha, ha, ha) but some of the things can be made with a cardboard box, kitchen foil and pritt stick.

My son was pleased with this
My son was pleased with this

My husband ended up making this boat with my son and I think they were both really pleased with it.

Chessell Pottery Barns

In September, we went to Chessell Pottery Barns, which is between Freshwater and Newport. It is a very middle class tourist attraction – basically, you choose a piece of pottery and then glaze it (they have loads of colours) and the staff fire it in the kiln, ready for you to pick it up a few days later.  They also have a lovely cafe.

Skull and dragon moneyboxes
Skull and dragon moneyboxes

My son pretty much used every colour on his skull but my daughter (with my husband’s help) went for a far more uniform colour scheme for her dragon.  Honestly, I would really recommend it for children who are aged four and over (and are sensible) but my daughter (who is two) was probably too young.

I know it’s obvious but don’t put your kids in clothes that are precious.  They give you aprons but the children WILL get paint on their sleeves.

Stained-glass bats

This afternoon, my son and I had a go at making stained-glass bats.  This is another thing I read about in Celebrate and is nice and simple.  You basically cut shapes out of coloured card circles and cover those shapes with tissue paper.

This sort of thing
This sort of thing

My son drew around a dinner plate then cut it out – it ended up being a nice way of getting him used to using scissors.  I then cut out the shape in the middle, got my son to glue around the shape and put coloured tissue paper over the shape on top of the glue. Pippa Middleton made a stained-glass effect using lots of different coloured tissue paper but we found that one piece was okay too.

Here you go
Here you go

Now, I’d bought the art stuff last weekend and probably went a bit overboard.  I’d overestimated my children’s attention span for this sort of thing.  However, we may make a few more (when the kids are interested again).

Perhaps we can use some of this at Christmas
Perhaps we can use some of this at Christmas

Tomorrow, we also have some pumpkin carving to do.

My job for tomorrow
My job for tomorrow!

Making a Halloween wreath

Today, I had a go at making a Halloween wreath – I got the idea from Pippa Middleton’s Celebrate, which loads of people were completely vicious about when it came out but is actually a lovely book.  I think they mustn’t have read it.  It has great photos and lots of ideas – most of which I won’t try but like to imagine I will.  Like most cookbooks, really.

String, sellotape, gardening wire, sweets in wrappers and Celebrate
String, sellotape, gardening wire, sweets in wrappers and Celebrate

Now, to make a Halloween wreath, you need gardening wire, fishing thread and a load of wrapped sweets.  I ended up using nearly four 225g bags of sweets for around one metre of gardening wire.  One thing she doesn’t mention is that you need pliers to cut the gardening wire – thankfully I had some in the toolbox.

You need these
You need these

Now, I didn’t have any fishing thread, mainly because Ocado don’t sell it but also because I really have no other use for it.  So I started off using string to knot together the sweets but got into an awful mess.

This is much harder than it looks
This is much harder than it looks

So then I gave up using string and switched to sellotape.  This is far less picturesque but is something that I am good at using.  It took quite a long time to get all the sweets onto the wreath.  I had suggested that my son help me but he said that he was happy for me to do it myself because he was “busy playing Temple Run 2 on the iPad, Mummy”.

This looks great lying flat
This looks great lying flat

Halfway through, my son came to see me and took an interest.  This gave me a warm feeling because you know – crafts! So good for children! However, it turned out that my husband had told him that he had to take a break from Temple Run 2 until I had finished my project.  So he had a vested interest in me finishing quickly.

My daughter also came and took an interest but got rather cross when I said that she wasn’t allowed to eat it until Halloween.  It’s this sort of thing that is the reason I don’t do crafty things – that and really not being very good at them.

Unfortunately, although the wreath looks nice lying flat, it rather loses its shape when you try to hang it up like a wreath.  I think perhaps I need to use more heavy duty gardening wire.

Not quite what I was thinking of
Not quite what I was thinking of

Perhaps this will have to be a table centrepiece – I’ll see what it looks like with a pumpkin in the middle.

This is what it was supposed to look like
This is what it was supposed to look like

My husband suggested that next year I use a wire template for a Christmas wreath and fishing thread.  I may or may not bother doing this again next Halloween.