In the last month we have been treated to some wonderful animation.
Each has been unique, and fabulous in its own way.
First was Coraline, a stop motion animation film featuring a short but sweet song by They Might Be Giants which I just loved. It appealed to me on so many levels, opening with a scene of the doll being sewn together (the needle really pops out in 3D), a surreal garden with truly alive snapdragons and a nice cooking scene or two.
Ponyo was Oscar's pick, and I'm so glad he did. We tend to overlook the more traditional animation in favour of the great Pixar creations, but this was a real treat. Very beautifully drawn imagery and a lovely story.
Today was Poppy's choice, Up. Pixar have done it again. They just seem to get better and better. So realistic, and in 3D, it almost seemed as if you could feel the characters clothing if you tried (old man tweed and corduroy). Funny little story and I almost cried at the sad beginning.
This is next on my list. One for me next week when the kids have gone back to school.
While I love the rain, the children have been going ever so slightly MENTAL. Cooped up indoors for most of the day yesterday, and at least temporarily out of ideas, we finally had to resort to popcorn and DVD's.
Just fine by them, I think a bit of quiet time was in order.
While the kids rewatched Alice in Wonderland, wishing the new Tim Burton movie would hurry up, I made a batch of chocolate flavoured lipgloss.
Easy as could be, and great for sore cracked lips.
3 tsp petroleum jelly
1/4 tsp honey
3 squares of chocolate
1/4 tsp vegetable shortening
Heat ingredients together in microwave for 20 seconds, stir, and reheat for another ten seconds. Place in a small airtight container and chill to set.
After all that wet weather we have had lovely sunshine peeking through this morning. Off for haircuts, a quick errand or two, and maybe a bit of weeding this afternoon if the weather stays good.
My lovely red poppies are finally doing their thing, and soon we should have a riot of red in the middle of the garden.
School holiday time for us usually means a houseful of kids. We have a lovely family of kids right across the road who spend a lot of time in our house (and vice versa). Sleep overs, hide and seek, dress ups, bike rides, shared breakfast, lunch and dinner.
With three girls searching for a bit of entertainment, out came the art supplies.
Using this book as their starting point, the kids have been recreating some wonderful works of art.
First off was Kandinksy's "Squares with Concentric Circles".
The girls loved the idea so much, they then flicked through other pages before settling on van Gogh's "The Starry Night".
Paul Klee's "The Golden Fish" (except their fish were every colour but gold)
Back in February, a little over six months ago, we took the kids to Vietnam. While it wasn't our first trip overseas, it was certainly the hardest. That's including trips traveling with a toddler. We were away roughly three weeks, journeying from top to bottom, taking boat trips, train trips and plane trips. The combined heat and constant activity certainly took their toll.
While in Hoi An, we took a day away from our non stop moving, and went our separate ways. The boys hired bikes and rode around and us girls headed to the tailors to have some clothes made. While I chose the more practical option of jackets and shirts, Poppy had an Ao Dai made to measure. We went to Yaly, and the girls there were so lovely and professional. A day later, after one more fitting, our outfits were ready.
It really was a lot of fun, and the end result just gorgeous.
This morning this is what she decided to wear. Sadly, what fitted like a glove six months ago, is now, shall we say, tight.
Our next trip is sans kids. Cambodia and Malaysia. I have been so looking forward to this one, but now, with the trip a little over three weeks away I am starting to feel guilty. Great big pangs of it.
Tricky stuff, needle felting. I have so many stab wounds it's not funny. Nowhere did it mention that it would be quite so difficult.
Kinda cute though.
I used this book for the basic (and I do mean basic) instructions. Probably a bit too ambitious for a beginners project, although the blurb on the back assured me it was for crafters of all skill levels.
My initial feelings towards this project were that I had wasted money on needles, sponges, wool etc because I really didn't think it would ever get to resemble an animal, let alone a donkey. Husband banned me from doing this in the evenings because it apparently made an annoying noise and it did seem to be taking sooo long.
But picking it up again today, I seemed to make quite a bit of progress, and I can see the end in sight now.
In an effort to beat school holiday boredom, we have spent the morning making our own soap.
This is something we made last year with great success, but using solid soap instead of soap flakes.
While these are still setting, they seem pretty much the same, perhaps ever so slightly softer.
For the kids it has been a fun activity, teaching them about measuring and weighing, and although closely supervising them around the stove, they have felt that it was something they made all on their own.
Milk and Honey Soap
200g pure soap flakes
1 1/2 cups water
1/4 cup instant powdered milk
1/4 cup honey
Weigh soap flakes and place in a double saucepan with water.
Gradually heat until soap melts, about 20 minutes. Stir occasionally.
As the soap contains fats, it is important that it is closely watched because the last thing you want is a kitchen fire.
When soap is melted, add in powdered milk and stir until mixture becomes creamy. When well combined, add honey and continue to stir for another five minutes.
Pour into moulds and allow to set for several hours, or overnight, depending on room temperature.
For ease of removal, silicone moulds are great as they are very flexible. We also used a plastic bear mould, which was originally out of a sandcastle set.
This made four very large soaps.
With any luck, they will be super keen come bath time tonight!
We have had near perfect gardening conditions over the last few days. A heavy dumping of rain, followed by a sunshiny spring day, had us all out in the garden, pruning, weeding , mowing and mulching. Compost was spread, mice scared away, and a nice glass of Pimm's enjoyed as the sun went down.
My tomatoes think it's summer already, self sown seedlings are in flower, and strawberry plants covered in fruit.
New plants were put in, with Daisy chains in mind, and future bouquets to be picked.
Little helpers were busy with watering and choosing new locations for fairy houses.
And the best bit? It rained heavily again that night, settling everything in nicely.
It's spring, school holidays and Show Time. While the kids all headed off to the opening day as part of a school excursion, I have opted out. The crowds, show bags, and rides are just not my thing. However. I am partial to a toffee apple, and really, really like those toffee dolls that you seem to only find at the show.
Having spied these lovely, petite Granny Smith apples at the market this week, I bought a handful with toffee apples in mind.
Maybe not quite show quality, but tasty nonetheless.
And just enough left for a toffee sprinkle or two.
Here was a nice, quick, mess free activity for the Prep/Grade 1 kids for last day of term. Partly to assuage my guilt for not going on the class excursion (couldn't think of anything worse than crowd controlling small children in a public place), and partly because we needed some puppets for the theatre.
After discussing monsters in general ie: monster attributes, monster behaviour, and good Vs bad Vs misunderstood, we were ready to go.
Using up scraps of Calico left after making apron's, we stuck them to the desks with a bit of masking tape, shared around some marker pens, and unleashed imaginations for a bit of monstercraft.
These are now drying on the bench, but I am taking them home this afternoon and sewing them up, stuffing, then inserting small dowel rods in the base, which I will glue for added support.
Monsters on sticks.
We hope to make up a monster story or two, and create a play early next term.
It seems we are a little wool crazy at the moment. This dreadful photo, with bed hair and fuzz must be excused because the scene was just too adorable not to record.
As my alarm went off this morning I was greeted with a ball of wool and a couple of pencils. Pop has taken to "knitting". Her version of it involves pencils. Hmmm. Time for a long stay with a patient Granny who can advise how else knitting can be done.
I have been experimenting with needle felting, and after overcoming my fear of those dreadfully dangerous looking needles, have begun what will hopefully come to resemble a donkey. This book is drop dead adorable!
The other child has been experimenting with French knitting. I had started with this beautiful kid mohair, but a bolder shade, and thicker yarn was more Oscar's style. The mohair is like clouds, so very soft and light, and I have about a metre of cord so far. Not sure what I will do with it just yet, but am thinking along the lines of a brooch of sorts. I remember making metres and metres of this as a child, and it certainly is addictive once you get started. Oscar is busy thinking of an end use for his, perhaps something along the lines of an egg cosy, or bookmark.
With school holidays rapidly approaching I am trying to plan a few crafty projects for us all to keep the boredom away. Any ideas?
Can you think of a better way to start the day? Unfortunately it wasn't how I got to start my day, but a belated birthday present for lovely husband. This was the fourth attempt to take to the skies, and from the looks of it, well worth the wait.
A chilly takeoff, requiring waking at the unseemly hour of 430am, had him up in the skies above Melbourne, ready to see a beautiful sunrise.
I was consoled with a sleep in, and treated to brunch at our local cafe. After all the windy weather we have been experiencing, we at last got a perfect spring day. The sun was out, a lovely breeze and just the right temperature.
Time to get out in the garden and tackle the hedges.
First was the Lavender hedge. My favourite.
Grown from cuttings taken from the lavender at the Beach House, it has really taken off. It is roughly two years old now, and about a metre high. Situated right outside the kitchen door, on the way to the clothes line, you can't help but brush past it, and run your hands along its edges. So deliciously fragrant, and almost ready to flower again. All it needed was a light prune, to keep it in shape and maintain it's dense appearance. Another month and it will be covered in blooms, ready to pick and dry, or perhaps use for the lavender icecream recipe I have put aside.
Next was the cotton lavender Santolina, or Billy Buttons as it is also known. This was grown from cuttings as well, but has been a bit slower to establish itself. I plan on pruning these into mounded balls, but it is early days yet for them.
Tomorrow I hope to tackle our big hedges along the fence line, but might need to enlist some manpower from husband to help with string lines etc, so they don't end up too wonky.
After that, the never ending task of weeding garden beds really can't be put off any longer. Especially as I have two big, very full compost bins ready to be used, and a third not far off being ready. All I have to do is move the extended family of mice out of the bins before emptying them. Hmmm. Might leave them a little bit longer.