Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Purple Glitter Glue

 Glitter Glue

Easy, peasy project: a batch of glitter glue.
We bought a 
~bottle of white glue with the handy screw tip
~package of purple glitter
Add some of the glitter to the glue and mix (with a throw-away chopstick!) and voila! 


O liked drawing "paths for snakes" with her fingers...
Googly Eyes

...and the addition of a few googly eyes did not hurt either!

Glue, Foil & Shoe Polish? "Make it a wonderful life" boasts this amazing and easy art project. Results are stunning!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Puppet Theatre: Nesting Projects

IKEA Fabric

Orange is the 'pop' colour throughout our house, so I could not pass up this IKEA patterned fabric.
When I was finishing nesting projects prior to O's birth, I designed a Doorway Puppet Theatre.That one has been shipped off as a gift.

Doorway Puppet Theatre

We made one for our home with the heavy IKEA fabric and the help of our local tailor;)
The results are FAB!

Front View

It is made to hang in a standard-size doorway with the help of tension rods; one at the top and one below the window. Velcro ties keep the curtains drawn back for the show.

Back View

Two extra large pockets house tons of tiny finger puppets (also IKEA purchases) as well as some larger puppets we have collected and received as gifts.

Though I didn't have the time or energy to sew this up myself, I managed to make a long bag with handle for storing;)

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tell Me A Story: Story Stones & Linen Bag

Story Stones & Linen Bag

Brilliant ladies at 'Crafting Connections', created Story Stones along with the little Tell-Me-A-Story bag.
Very much inspired and seeking a lino-print project, I got down to business.

First introduced to the Art of Lino-Print by my middle-school art teacher, Miss Nellie, I was hooked.
It has been years since I have attempted a print, so I needed to brush up my skills.
Essentials (bought at Curry's in Canada....


This rubber roller serves to spread the ink evenly over the linoleum tile.
You can also use a clean one to roll over the back of the tile, to ensure it makes contact with printing surface.

Cutting Tool

'Speedball' has the cutting handle and blades all-in-one, with a handy screw top compartment in the handle.

Linoleum Tile

This soft, rubbery tile is the surface used for cutting into.
The images in black will stand out. Whatever is not penciled in, will be cut out.

Second Attempt

I thought I could break the rules and use general acrylics (fab for fabric) in place of printing ink.
I was mistaken. The acrylic was not thin enough and made a 'globby' print.
Buying ink meant for printing, is essential. I had several bottles and chose orange.

Large & Small Bags

I still have left-over linen from our Tee-Pee we made three years ago. Though I love the look and feel of linen, I am not as fond of sewing with it. So I included a printed cotton liner that made sewing a little sturdier (and finishes off the inside nicely too!)

Gift Bag

 Rock-Painting Kit

As one is meant to be a gift for friends, I printed and mounted a Tell-Me-A-Story gift tag.
Also included is a few bottles of acrylic paint, wooden palette, glitter, googly eyes and paintbrushes, so the children can create Story Stones of their own choosing.

'Poppits Cupboard' uses family members on their Story Stones

Rock Monsters have googly eyes for some kooky designs and fun story themes.

Pinterest. Type in 'Story Stones' or 'Painted Stones'

Vegan Bites: Rainy Sunday Soup

 Rainy Day Gardening

Despite the serious heat wave, it has been a beautiful blue sky Shanghai Summer.
It has rained so seldom, but miraculously (what little plant life exists in the city) is lush and green.

I love weekends, because it means the three (plus bump!) of us can be together.
I definitely don't mind a rainy day either. It encourages us to do some projects around the house, followed by general laziness. 

While catching up with chores before baby arrives in the coming weeks!!...we made Minestrone Soup.

 Sunday Soup
Minestrone Soup
~1/2 c onion, minced
~1/2 c celery, minced
~3 cloves garlic, minced
Lightly fry in oil.
~2 c potato, diced
~1 c carrots, diced
~3/4 c barley
~1-2 T salt
~3-4 T each rosemary & oregano
~2 bay leaves
Add and cook on low for 5 mins.
~2 c tomato, chopped
~1 zucchini, diced
~1/2 c corn kernals
~6-8 c water
Add and boil until veg is soft.
Can add greens & cooked grains (quinoa) before serving.
Mix up the veggies, to do some Fridge Cleaning!

O likes connecting veggie soup to Little Bear's Birthday Soup story, "carrots, potatoes, pea's & tomatoes".

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Beloved Hammock


To say that O loves hammocks would be an enormous understatement.
When she took her first swing in a hammock in Thailand, we wondered why we had not hooked one up for our newborn, nearly three years ago!  
Not only did it put her in a different element (pure peace!), she stayed in for uniquely long naps, it self-promoted extra naps (benefiting her health and happiness!) and gave my husband and I some time to actually talk to each other.
She is a deep state of relaxation once are we.

Hubby was the hero this week, when he brought home a hammock prior to our new baby's arrival. With or without intending to, he has likely purchased a magic key to bringing peace into our household as we prep for the chaotic bliss of another baby;)

He's trying to find a way to hook it up in the birth room!
(not for me, but it won't be ruled out;)
Everyone wins with a hammock!


Vegan Bites: Mango Ice Cream

Mango Ice

Not necessarily ingenious, but sometimes the best things in life are just this simple.

Shanghai has shipments of extra large and fleshy mangoes via Southern China's Hainan Islands. When ripe, the orange fruit is 'meaty', rich and great in a blender. (It reminded me of the 'Fish Bowl Mango Shakes' my sister and I had for Christmas breakfast in the Bay Islands, Honduras.)

Taking the shake one step further, we froze the puree in an ice cube tray and allowed it a few minutes to thaw before whizzing in the blender. Then prepared for the brain freeze;)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Brown Paper Packages: Embroidery Hoop

 Bamboo Embroidery Hoops

There is a definite weakness in my soul for mail.
I remember a friend from grade school whose father worked in Papau New Guinea. 
He would send her the coolest postcards and travel paraphernalia. 
I thought he was Paul Simon!

O has shown an interest in sewing, so I thought some embroidery hoops could guide her a bit better by holding material taut. Last weekend, I went searching through the Craft Central of Shanghai (Yu Gardens) where they have plenty of cross stitch stores, but not ONE embroidery hoop made of wood. All these bamboo tree's and no bamboo to be seen.

A quick search on Taobao (China's online shopping) and I found a set of four hoops for 13rmb ($2).
The bonus with Taobao? Items arrive via mail!
Double score!

Mix-mash of Thread
Embroidery hoops are not longer for old grannies.
There are a million trendy projects out there that use wooden hoops.
Here are a few of my favourites...

Tooth Fairy Pillow. Brilliant Mama at Curly Birds created a tooth fairy hoop for her girls

Laundry Bag. Save space and keep the room tidy!? Back-of-the-door laundry hampers using only an embroidery hoop and pillow case.

Fabric Decor. Matching fabrics in bedroom textiles, to create art in hoops.

Mobile. Using a hoop for creative nursery mobiles. Kids rooms too!  

Postcards via Aunt Reta

 Bear Out There

Everyone should have an Aunt Reta.

On a regular basis, my husbands Aunt sends O a postcard from Canada. She doesn't have to be traveling somewhere to do so, sometimes she sends them 'just because'.
Yesterdays Bear Mail arrived via Algonquin Park.

Since Frog & Toad are a huge part of our day, receiving the postcard reminded O of the story The Letter.
She kept 'reading' it over and over,
"Dear Olivia. How was your day? Aunt Reta loves you!"
She could not be told that it read anything different.

Then O proceeded to tell the Baby Bear stamp, that when she got home she would paste him beside his mother on the front of the postcard!

These simple things, are what make my day;)
Thanks, Aunt Reta!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Number Parking Lot: Montessori-style Math

 Car Park

Nurture Store's weekly activity idea's arrived via email.
This Numbers Parking Lot, courtesy of Little Family Fun was my choice for a morning project.

We have no cardboard around the house, so opted for multi-purpose masking tape, which worked out very well.
We also stuck to numbers 1 through 5, as we are beginners around here.

 Marking the Masking

 Take Your Places

O is not one for 'organized' activities. She thrives from the freedom to choose her own activity. Also, her strength for imaginary play is so prevalent that it has to be incorporated into activities in order for her to find enjoyment.
Simply putting out the numbered cars, parking lot and offering a demo-run, she replied "I don't like this game. I can't do it."

However, when people are in the cars and coming and going about their daily business...then she is in.

Lesson to me...keep allowing her the joy of free play...and my involved interest in her idea's.
She gets more out of it.

Tell Me A Story: Painting Rocks

 Rock Bath

In preparation for our Tell Me A Story loot bag, we picked and washed rocks.

 Soap Suds

Within minutes, O had her favourite rock selected.
I asked why it was this rock.
"Pecause, it sticks in on one side and sticks out on the other side."


Then came the second favourite rock.
This one, due to the fact that it had a 'cut' in it.
(and here I was picking out all the smoothest shaped rocks I could find.)

 Contemplating Colours

In hindsight, I would have chosen three colours. Even one colour would have sufficed.
O is a "mixer" and the idea of keeping colours separate is very abstract to her!
So no matter how many colours are in the palette, it turns out to be one colour in the end!

 Blues, Purples, Browns & Yellow (with Iridescents in the mix)

This was the first time that O would work with permanent paints (acrylics) which are notorious for adhering well to fabric. We set up the art space to be as 2-year old friendly as possible.
~covered table (sheet of heavy duty plastic)
~already-stained clothing
~old art towel
~wet wipes
We moved the work table away from furniture, but there was no helping hair or clothing;)
I attempted the "One Clean, One Dirty" approach; one hand stays clean to paint and retrieve supplies, while the other can stay dirty and get involved with paint.

Then the Tiger obsession came through...
She told me she was drawing, "tigers whiskers".
Brilliant! Working with textures, all on her own.

 Yogi Baby Breathing

At last, she was demonstrating how I should take a breath, while her rock was drying.
Apparently I was acting high strung;)



Fabulous wooden toys are a staple in Waldorf education.
When we find them, we stock up.

'Anamalz' were no exception. 
I first discovered them at a friends house during a play date and went searching for them on Taobao (a very addictive and dangerous shopping site!).
We then stocked up at Christmastime, so O had an animal to open each day of December.
They are perfect for imaginary play as well as mini lessons in biology.
We set up a 'forest' with our homemade Waldorf Wood Blocks and a 'river' out of play silk.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Alligator Pie

Alligator Pie

Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee
Alligator pie, alligator pie.
If I don't get some, I think I'm gonna to cry.
Give away my green grass,
Give away my sky,
but don't give away my Alligator Pie!

Deemed, "Canada's Father Goose", Dennis Lee poetry was big during my childhood. 
Apparently, it is classic kids lit, because O picked up this poem in a matter of minutes!
We made play dough pie to add a bit of tactile experience to the mix!
Check out more of Lee's classic's

Vegan Bites: Monkey Bread

Mini Monkey Bread

Yes, we have banana's.
Our freezer is full of the bruised and browned.
Fresh ones are not lasting long in the Shanghai heat. Perfect for a batch of Monkey Bread.
Monkey Bread
~5 ripe bananas
~1c brown sugar
~1t vanilla
~1/4c water
Mix wet.
~2c flour
~1t baking powder
~1/2t baking soda
~1t cinnamon
Mix dry.
Combine & bake @350 (60 minutes for bread, 30 minutes for muffins)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sticker Art: Ocean Life

Wavy Ocean

We picked up some stickers on an Art Run today.
It was my sorry attempt at keeping O busy for a few minutes while I worked on a canvas.
I prepped two, Wavy Ocean backgrounds for her to arrange her animals.

There were plenty of 'expansion' opportunities, to learn about animals names (sea turtle, dolphin, whale) and even habitats, as a couple of sea birds slipped into the mix.

Normally, this might have kept her busy for ten minutes, but Mama was painting in the room adjacent..and painting always trumps stickers!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Toddler Tales: Cookies with Frog & Toad

 Flour Girl

For a few days, O has been asking that we make cookies.
I thought it was a fleeting idea, but apparently it was inspiration from a Frog & Toad's story "Cookies", which involves Toad baking a batch of cookies and the two of them finding ways to hide the cookies on themselves to practice will power!
There was no cookie-hiding involved in our re-make of this classic tale!

As I left my floured toddler to get another cookie upon request, she yelled out to me,
"A whole one this time!"

If you have yet to enjoy the Frog & Toad series or any of Arnold Lobel children's lit, do not hesitate.
Many thanks to Miss K & Mr. B for gifting us with the series!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Learning to Crochet


A friend gifted me with a Beginners Crochet kit.
With a huge belly & nesting instincts kicking into full gear, I attempted the instructions from the booklet included, Creature Crochet by Kristen Rask.

First Attempt

...and this was about as much as I could manage!
I think I will swap out the cute fish, pictured above, for this simplistic bookmark, pictured below!