Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Glitter nuggets

Again following along with my fairies theme, these are perfect in any fairy world, or to decorate a garden path for your dolls house, use as magnets, counters, as counting stones (to help children with maths), and whatever else you can think of. I think you can't have too many of them, and they are so easy to make and pretty to look at!

I got this idea from http://stimulatinglearning.co.uk, one of my favourite blogs for teaching young children. Her blog is so inspirational.

All you need are:
Clear glass nuggets (I got mine from the local dollar store in a net bag)
Clear nail polish
Plastic tray or lid for working on (small ice cream container lids are good)

Pour some glitter onto your tray.
Brush nail polish onto the bottom of your glass nugget.
Dip nugget into glitter.
Tap off excess glitter; leave to dry.
When dry, apply another coat of clear nail polish.

I have found that young children can pull off the layer of glitter when I adhered it using the nail polish; in this case, apply PVA glue to the bottom of the glass nugget rather than nail polish; dip in glitter; and apply a protective coat of nail polish when dry.

To help with counting, I made sets of ten nuggets in different colours: 10 silver, 10 red, 10 pink, 10 green, and 10 blue.

Rock painting

Rock painting is such a peaceful activity. Following on from my fairies, I decided to paint some wishing rocks, to go into a fairy garden. These are simple to do. All you need are:
Acrylic paint
Clear nail varnish
A tool to create dots - a skewer works well; you could also used a chopstick for larger dots, and toothpicks for small dots.

 Gather some stones. I collected some stones from the beach, but I also bought a bag of rocks from the local dollar store. Give them a coat of paint, top and bottom and allow to dry. (Don't paint both the top and the bottom at once. Paint the tops and let them dry; then turn them over and paint the bottoms and allow to dry). It is easier to paint a whole pile at once rather than just doing one stone.

Dip your tool into the paint, and dot onto your stone. You can do whatever patterns you choose. I did a couple of random patterns, wavy patterns, and some circle patterns. I used one colour at a time, putting silver on all my stones; then chose another colour paint to put on and applied it to all my stones; and so on. This gives stones a chance to dry and saves you switching back and forth between colours.

When dry, apply a coat of clear nail polish to protect your stones.


I admit it, I love fairies. I have done ever since childhood. My favourites stories were about brownies, gnomes, dwarves, pixies and elves. And fairies.
So when I went to Thames and saw this beautiful book in the local sewing shop, I couldn't go past it.

The lady in the shop was lovely, and when I started to talk to her about the book, she took me out the back and showed me all the fairies that one of her customers had made - and they were gorgeous! That was it, I had to buy it! And it didn't just have fairies, there were ninjas, mermaids, witches and wizards, leprechauns.... It showed me the versatility of these basic pipecleaner figures and how I could adapt them to suit whatever theme we might have at school. The book contains patterns for everything - the clothes, the bodies, gorgeous treasure keepers, and even little animal bags and pouches! (There are even hints at the back of the book for teaching children to make them).

So, I went home, and already had most of what I needed so I got started straight away! I love how easy it is to make each fairy different, just by changing the hair, the colour of the dress, adding a flower or two, using different thread, adding sequins or beads or tiny flowers.

That night I found myself dreaming about fairies, and I couldn't wait to get up and start making them.  I had to go and buy some more pipecleaners the next day.

It's funny how once you start looking out for something, it comes to you. I visit my local charity shop almost every weekend, and once I started looking for fibre (for the fairies hair), I found bags of 6 balls of eyelash fibre for only $3 a bag. In different colours too! So I am not going to run out of fibre any time soon.

Some fairies have gone to school where we have created a Fairyland on a little table for the children to play with; I have got some fairies in an Autumn display on my pedal organ which does not work and is pretty much for display purposes only; and I have got some fairies in my craft room waiting to have a garden made for them. What do you do with your fairies?

Cakes and desserts

Now I know this was supposed to be a cooking blog. But since I spend more time crafting than cooking, I think this blog will be going on an inevitable new course. So anyway this is a combination of the two, after spying Anne Farrell's blog (an Australian artist). This is a fabulous way to recycle and re-use lids and bottle caps, perfect for the dolls house or family corner or miniature world, and perfect to make with children. I did this with four year olds and they loved it and made lots and lots!

You will need a selection of:
Lids (from milk bottles, soda drinks, empty cooking oil bottles, medicine bottles, dishwash, shampoo and moisturiser lids. I found myself raiding the kitchen and bathroom cupboards, and the recycle bin!)
Bottle caps
Glue. Tacky glue works really well and dries clear and strong. But try PVA and hot glue as well. Hot Glue has a different consistency so you can try different things with it, such as swirling it upwards, or a clear covering over the top of beads.
Ribbon. Try glueing a length of ribbon around lids for fancy cakes.

Play around with your materials, placing beads and buttons on lids to create fun little cakes. I turned some bottle caps upside down to make tart cases, and filled them with seed beads. The best way to do this was with the hot glue gun, and a teaspoon. I dipped the spoon into the beads, and poured them over the hot glue, then tapped off the excess. I found it best to work on a tray, otherwise the seed beads went everywhere!

I put some small lids on top of a larger lid, and topped them off with a selection of beads. Choose which colours you want to go for and what effect you would like. Brown beads resemble chocolate.

Some large beads had a visible hole  - I solved this by using the tacky glue and glueing a small bead over the top of it.

When working with the children, I laid out a selection of beads, lids, bottle caps, PVA glue and brushes, and let them go for it. If using PVA, be generous with the amount of glue you are using, to hold the beads fast.

The children suggested we put the cakes in Fairyland, so the fairies could have a tea party.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Homemade Ginger Beer!

I don't drink soft drinks (no coke or lemonade for me, thanks!) and I stay away from energy drinks - they make my teeth tingle with the amount of sugar in them.  But I love ginger beer.  In the heat of summer I can think of nothing better than to relax with a chilled glass of refreshing ginger beer.  And it is so easy to make!  There are a number of different recipes around, and this is the second recipe I have tried (forgot to post the first but will do so later).  I also didn't take photos.

This recipe came from a recipe book compiled by Waitakere Primary School, where each student submitted a family recipe.  The book is called Waitakere On A Plate, and is full of family favourites - mains, salads, desserts, biscuits, cake, hot puddings, drinks, and preserves.  It is a fabulous recipe book.


For the plant:
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp sugar
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tsp yeast

To start the plant, put all ingredients into a large glass jar and feed daily with 1 tsp ground ginger and 1 tsp sugar.  You should see small bubbles rising up from the bottom of the jar after a few days.  After 7 days, make up the ginger beer.

For the ginger beer:
4 cups sugar
4 cups boiling water
juice of 3 lemons
3.5 litres of water
strained liquid of the plant

To make the ginger beer, mix all ingredients together and pour into bottles, ensuring that you leave 4-5cm betwee the top of the liquid and the lid.  Use plastic soft drink bottles as they can expand.  Glass does not expand as the gas builds up and then is more likely to explode - which is something you probably don't want to happen (well, you could experiment with one glass bottle and see how it goes, just for the fun of it).  Leave bottles for at least one week before drinking.  Keep and eye on the pressure that builds up in the bottles and open carefully as they can get very fizzy!

Let a little pressure out from time to time if the bottles feel very hard.  Every time you make this recipe it will be a little different.

I made this ginger beer in the middle of summer, and the garage got very hot - so my flatmate and I opened up the first bottle after 3-4 days and it was fine to drink.  By the time I got to the last bottle, however, it had been sitting in the garage for maybe two weeks, and tasted a bit bitter - but I also think it had started to become a bit alcoholic, as I felt quite light headed after drinking it.  Will need to experiment further with this.