Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

From our family to yours. I hope your Christmas is joy filled and peaceful.

Thank you for stopping by our little blog.  Its been fun sharing our house and adventures with farmyard in tow.  I've appreciated all of your comments and the friendships I've made through the blogosphere this year.

I'll be back in the New Year.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Favourite Christmas Decorations

While at Sallies recently I spied  a bag of wooden rings apparently used for hanging curtains.  We've found they make great xmas decorations.  This is one Ella made.  I love how shes finished it with a plaited hanger.

 Gosh it looks like I've been on the turps taking this blurry photo!

This is made from a wooden peg.  Acorn cap for hat, mohair wool for hair, artificial flowers for wings and hat and felt for body.  This one I made for Laura.  I thought we would make more but I'm running out of time with a list of other things to finish.

Ben made the decoration on the left last year when he did embroidery lessons.  He made up the design himself.  He embroidered three strips of craft felt and then plaited them together.

We were given these by dear friends Paul and Evie years and years ago.  They're probably the kids favourite.  Most importantly they're able to hold a candy cane.

I bought this from Trade Aid years ago and its my all time favourite.  It sits on the eating table and when its dark the light shines through the stars in the pottery.  I recently added the large angel while buying some stocking fillers for the children, also from trade Aid.  Its earthy and handmade and it sums up my wish for xmas, simplicity, handmade and giving from your heart.

Monday, 19 December 2011

So Far This Summer........

We've been to a watercolour painting class in the park.  Luckily the weather was dry and sunny.  It was a lovely day and the children really enjoyed the class.

Babysitting a friend's two brown shavers while they went for a holiday to Australia.  Its nice to be getting a regular supply of eggs again.

Thinking and planning and making some things for xmas.  Some of them will be wraps for xmas presents and others like the puppy fabric are destined to be a gift for Louie.

Enjoying the beginning of a (hopefully) long strawberry season.   Really enjoying picking our own raspberries this year and beating the wild birds to them!

Enjoying this gorgeous boy.

Looking forward to a long family holiday with lots of time in the garden and at the beach and lazing about enjoying the weather.

Hope your Summer (or Winter) is going well whereever you are.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

How To Make A Yo Yo Brooch

Ella has been making a few of these lately. 

These are called Suffolk Puffs or Yo Yos.  We found these at the 2nd Hand Shop.  Theres all sorts of things you can do with them.  Made into a brooch they make a great gift.  And when you're short of time a 'make in a flash' gift.  This is what you'll need:

* fabric of your choice, think xmasy colours, silver, gold and quilting fabrics are great.  Keep in mind it can't be too flimsy otherwise your brooch will be floppy with the weight of the button on it.

* brooch backings from the craft shop.

* various buttons from your extensive collection.  Lay them out on a tray and choose what takes your fancy.

* needle and thread.

* something round like a jar to trace a circle from.  Experiment with different size circles.  Remember they get a lot smaller when you've gathered them in so make a few yo yos and try them with different size buttons in the middle.  The bigger the yo yo the stiffer the fabric needs to be because theres more fabric to flop.  You could stitch/hot glue a circle of felt on the back to stiffen it if you want to use flimsy fabric.

Heres where you can go for a how to for the fabric part.

So you've got all your supplies and you've made a few yoyos.

Making the brooch

Attach the button to the gathered side of the yoyo and the brooch pin to the flat side.  Remember if you think your yoyo needs stiffening attach the button to the front first then glue or stitch a circle of felt on the back then sew on the brooch pin.  Check that the brooch backing is is the middle to the top part of the yoyo and that the brooch when its finished doesn't flop, before you sew it on.  If its a bit floppy attach the felt first or the put the pin higher up.  When choosing and deciding the endless combinations of yo yos and button possibilities remember you can layer the buttons.  Start with a larger one on the bottom and a smaller one on top.  Don't feel that it needs to end with a brooch you could make this into a necklace instead.  Just finger knit or crochet a chain to the length you desire.  You could just hot glue this to the top back of the brooch or attached it to the brooch pin and let the receiver of your wonderful gift decide if its to be a brooch or a necklace.

We bought the cardboard boxes at the $2 shop.  Try and decorate with the same colours as your brooch.  You could attach a circle of the same fabric to the top of your box, use buttons, something from nature or whatever takes your fancy!

Hope thats clear enough.  If you've got any questions just leave a comment and I'll clarify.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

What Is An Education?

I sat wondering this today as I watched Ben (aged 9) reading Captain Underpants to Laura (aged 5).  He read with such enthusiasm and invoked different personalities into his voice for each character that Laura was riveted and I could see from the expression on her face that she was enjoying the experience of being read too.  I asked her what she liked about the story, she said what she liked best was the way Ben told the story.

Since beginning our journey into Home Education more than 7 years ago, what is an education is a question we have frequently asked ourselves.  For me education is about planting seeds of possibilities for themselves as individuals and members of a community.  I don't see my children as empty vessels that need to be filled with information or that need to be tested on that information on a regular basis.  I see them as diverse individuals whose particular talents and interests are to be nurtured.  I want them to be life long learners.  That learning isn't confined to a time of day or particular day of the week.  There are no time restrictions placed upon it.

In order to create life long learners its so important that children are nurtured in their learning.  We read aloud to our kids every day despite the fact they are able to read themselves.  Sitting and reading side by side with your children on a regular basis nurtures them in their own learning.  We call it a ruddle - a read and a cuddle.  I think its why Ben enjoys reading to Laura because its always been a great experience for him.

  For us, the emphasis is about the development of our children not the adherence to a certain curriculum.  Don't get me wrong, we do use some curriculums some of the time.  But for us a homeschool education is about learning from real life and creating life long learners.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Books To Inspire

Ella and I have been reading this book lately and really enjoying the humour and the recipes.  We tried the cleaning paste in the weekend.  It contains baking soda, cream of tartar, Dr Bronner liquid soap and peppermint essential oil.  It worked fantasticly on the toilet (thanks Ben) and smells like a bar of peppermint chocolate.  Theres also food recipes too and others for the garden and even beauty products.  Wendyl is a New Zealander. So the monthly stories are seasonally based for our part of the world.  Heres a link to the author's site.  She sells some of her products there and includes the recipe for you to make your own.  Great idea!

Monday, 12 December 2011

This Week In The Garden

The Calendula is in flower and we've been drying the heads as they've opened for skin care recipes.  Last year I filled a jar with petals and filled it with oil, left it on the windowsill for a few weeks and then sieved out the petals.  Calendula is the great cure all of many skin ailments. 

The rhubarb is flourishing.  I'm still planning on making rhubarb relish before xmas.  (Laura took this photo)

The Gooseberries are ripening.  I think they'll be ready just after xmas, earlier than usual.  We like eating these straight from the bush.

The Acanthus is looking at its best.  We've had lots of rain over the past week or two and the garden is looking alot better for it.

The bees have been busy and I'm going to check them this week to see if I can extract some honey off before xmas.  It makes a wonderful gift.  Last year we gave away most of our harvest away and the bees died a few months later, so this year we'll be holding onto some.

 And the potato competition is continuing.  Its due to finish on xmas eve but we might continue it for another couple of weeks.  Watch this space!

Ella, Tony and I have been busy building a no-dig garden. (1 of 3)  It wasn't until we finished that I realized I hadn't taken any photos of the process.  I'll try to remember next time to show you what we do.  A method that I've used for the last 14 years that gives great growing results.

Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Thrifty Finds Friday

Just a couple of treasures this week

Enamel pot, 70's colour that I remember (hating) from my childhood.

I find it hard to turn down a chance to buy a leather bag.  The workmanship is just lovely.

And a lovely barkcloth tablecloth.

Have a great weekend !

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Make Your Own Christmas Crackers

This is a family tradition of ours.  The kids try to save every empty toilet roll they can get their hands on for the last month or so. 

 So you'll need:

Empty toilet rolls or paper towel rolls cut in half
Coloured tissue paper or crepe paper, or childrens pictures on thinish paper
Pictures from old broken books or encyclopaedias or music sheets or magazines for outside embellishment
Coloured string, ribbon, bias binding, lace or thin strips of fabric to tie the ends
Cellotape and a gluestick
Wrapped chocolates

You can put what you like inside the roll.  A homemade hat, small treats etc.  We include in each cracker, a hand written joke, a prewrapped chocolate and a sticker.   Last year they included a horoscope too.  My kids set up a production line.  Ben chooses from his collection of joke books the jokes he wants to put in.  Ella writes them out, Ben cuts them up and they both put them in the crackers.  Laura just decided to make a couple of her own in their entirety.   There's a fair bit of smelling chocolates that goes on and choosing favourites and trying to remember which cracker their favourite chocolate went into.  This is a great teamwork exercise.
When you've filled the cardboard tube with your chosen treats, place on a piece of tissue paper, making sure there is enough paper to create the flouncy bit at the ends of each roll (about 5-7cm extra).  Roll paper around and overlap edges and tape.  Next glue on your picture using the gluestick.  Tie the ends with a bow.  And you're finished.  They look great on the Christmas table and hanging from the tree.  Really nice to include in a gift bag or basket too.

Louie loves them so much he's already ripped one to bits.  Probably the chocolate!

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

More Christmas Making

We've had a few of our outdoor activities cancelled this week due to the rain so it was a good time to get out the paint brushes, cellotape and pretty papers for a bit of Christmas crafting.  The kids painted some pictures to be made into Christmas cards and gift wrapping.

Laura just adores painting.  She seems to be mesmerized by the colours.  We use water colour paints on dry, good quality, thick paper.  I don't like using cheap paints and paper for the kids art.  It just doesn't get very good results.  I love how when one wet colour touches another 'they shake hands with each other and make friends' and the magic of watching the colours combining and changing begins.

Ben painting his cards.

All finished!!

I'll be back tomorrow to show you how to make your own Christmas crackers.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

This Time Last Year.....

We were pouring the first part of our driveway.  A driveway that has waited ten years to be completed.  Back then a very large digger scraped through the top garden to make an access way and we were left with a gravel driveway.  Which meant that we couldn't drive on it unless we had a 4 wheel drive vehicle. We had to leave the car parked at the top of our driveway and walk down to our pod.  In that time since, we have had two more children and carried them in their baby seats up and down the gravel driveway in all weathers.  Not to mention loads of groceries etc etc.  So last year was a celebration of the end of a long renovating/extending/building project, ten years in the making.

First the driveway had to be boxed up to pour the concrete to make the kerb edge which directs any water off the drive into a tank at the bottom of the driveway.  We had to jump through so many hoops with the council to gain consent to put the driveway in which is one of the reasons it took so long for it to get finished.

Because the concrete trucks couldn't drive onto the property all the concrete had to pumped down hill via this huge, long,extremely heavy pipe.  Blair controlled the flow remotely with the control system around his waist.  He made it look so easy.  He was such a nice guy and really knew what he was doing.  Our site was a real challenge.  Something we've just accepted (with gritted teeth at times) over the years.

The pump had a huge reach, from the top of the drieway to the bottom.  Yes it got blocked a couple of times.  Which meant dismntling the pump bit by bit, finding the blockage, whacking it with a sledge hammer to dislodge it and putting the lengths of pump back together again.  Pouring concrete on this scale is hard, heavy work.  I was exhausted by the end of the day and I was only on the end of the teapot and the camera!

We opened the door to our pod to get access to the house because we were pouring concrete around our usual entrance.  When we first moved here this was our only entrance door.  Note the curved door behind the kids.

 It was a real novelty for the kids.  Its been about 8 years since we had it opened.  When it was originally built in the 70's this door opened with the press of a button but then the hydraulics seized up and locked the previous owner inside.  She had to crawl out the window.  The pod looks like a happy face.  Two eyes a round nose and a big smile.

This photo was taken just before Laura got carried away with waving to our neighbours in the house opposite the door, lost concentration and fell of the edge of the steps and rolled a ways down the hill!

This area is by our new front door under the original pod.  The previous owners loved mosaics.  Note the curved concrete steps  put  in in  2002  when  we  built  the  concrete  floor  link   between the two pods. 

We really wanted to have this part of the driveway finished by Christmas so that we could drive Nana down on Christmas Day.  We felt that it would be her last Christmas with us and sadly it was.  We put a ribbon across the driveway and got her to cut it.  She had always been so supportive of us and our ideas and dreams.  When we first moved here she would drive up the hill, walk down the driveway with her bucket of garden tools and radio in hand and spend the afternoon trying to tame the long elephant grass at the bottom of our large garden, with her hedge shears.  At nearly 80 she had walked down the gravel driveway on the night of Laura's birth, in the dark with just her stick, to stay with the children while I gave birth to Laura.  She arrived just as she was born.
  And so it was this time last year that we rejoiced and celebrated and remembered how far we had come to have this part of our dream completed.

Thanks as always for stopping by.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Make Your Own Paper Gift Bags and Washi Tape

We've been busy making some presents for Christmas.  Well the wrapping part of it so far.

I found this tutorial here.  We found an old music book at Sallies and tried making a bag from the pages of it.  The paper was too thin so just used it for decoration on the thicker brown paper bag instead.  You could probably use two layers of the music paper instead.  I thought a little branch across the bottom of the bird bag would finish it off nicely.  Meant to have it finished to show you but have been busy, busy in the garden and end of year activities with the kids.

 I've been loving all the washi tape I've seen on various blogs lately and because of the cost and difficulty of getting it here I decided to make my own.  Someone's blog suggested brown paper tape but I found a 50 metre roll of double sided tape at the $2 shop and used that instead.  The tape was just the right width to use some bias binding I had found in my travels recently.  The sticky part of the tape has to go on the back of the paper/fabric that you're using so that when you take off the top covering paper, the fabric or decorative paper is the right way up.  Washi tape can be repositioned, this tape can't be.  But hey who cares!  You could even use up all your scraps and make patchwork tape.  This would be a great present to personalise and give a roll to a friend or just use it to make stylie gift wrapping.  I was thinking of children's pictures made into tape, string, ribbon, anything you can think of!  We used pinking shears along the edges of the fabric for something a bit different.  Laura really liked cutting off pieces and making patterns with the finished tape.  I think my favourite is the lacey one.  Its the same lace I used for the handles in the bag above.  So even if your lace is thinner than the width of your double sided tape, just use two widths of lace.

I'll be posting some more crafty stuff later in the week so remember to stop by.  Have a great week.
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