Thursday, 27 January 2011

The play area.

Last week I started taking Hope to a Waldorf toddler group. It was very inspiring. There was a good range of natural and open-ended play materials for the small children to explore. Playdens were set up from wooden clothes horses with fabric draped over them, beautiful offcuts of wood were sanded and smoothed of rough edges to be used in building, pine cones, shells, felted woollen balls , soft fabric dolls and much more were there to be played with.
At home, we have already been influenced by the Waldorf approach to some degree but I'm now in the process of developing the play area in the corner of our living room a bit more in this style. At the moment we are using this wooden shoe rack as a shelf for the 'toys'. There is a basketful of wooden pegs which the kids use for anything their imagination decides. It is quite fascinating to watch what becomes of such simple materials. I put a small jam jar on the tray and Hope will spend ages putting the lid on it and taking it off again. I also put a wicker basket there with some blankets and cushions for den making, or whatever... but as the photo shows, Hope loves to get in the basket and make herself comfy.

My mother-in-law gave Honor some coconut shells which had been a bird feeder in another life, and the kids have fun with those. I shall be adding more to the area as the opportunities arise.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

LTG's rag heart

Finally. I have been successful in uploading the photo of my friends' rag heart. Very nice, isn't it?
For details on how to make one, scroll down to the relevant post.

Another Sunday Lunch with Friends.

Inspired by some yummy looking recipes in some magazines recently, I had to invite Lisa, Glenn and Jancy over to help me try them out.

It was a bit of a mish-mash of things. We started with baked camembert infused with lemon, white wine and thyme and baked plantain served with 'mojo' which is a blend of parsley, coriander, 4 cloves of garlic, white wine vinegar and breadcrumbs. The camembert was lovely on some baguette from the local farm shop. The plantain, however, was a bit of a let down. Very dry. The mojo was quite nice with it, but not a dish we'd care to repeat.

Then we had this quiche which was filled with butternut squash and wild mushrooms. The recipe called for pecorino cheese, but I couldn't find any so I used Gruyere instead. It was lovely. The salad was great too: feta cheese, grapefruit and fennel and included radishes and pomegranate.
The dessert was a bit of a gamble. In the magazine, these dishes of tapioca pearls cooked in coconut cream looked very pretty. These ones are topped with mango pieces and dark chocolate shavings. I didn't think I would like them as I don't usually like things like rice pudding, but I was pleasantly surprised.

It was a lovely afternoon and the sparkling rose that Glenn brought over went very nicely with the food.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Spreading the love.

Oh frustration.
A friend of mine (LTG) saw the rag heart I made (see previous post) and couldn't wait to have a go herself. She sent me the photo of it and it looks great made out of her children's old t-shirts. I've tried to post the photo on here but it won't work. Such a shame. It does look good. I'll give it another try later. Meanwhile, LTG has craftily sourced herself 20 coathangers from a local supermarket and plans to make more with a class of school children.

I've been crafty, too. I bought an old dresser from a second hand furniture shop and painted it to go in the dining room. Now Hubby wants me to get rid of the filing cabinet in there. It's not very attractive but it is very useful for all my stuff.
For the dresser in our living room I made a felt flower garland. Might try to post a picture of that later, too.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Making a rag heart.

Hello! How's your new year going so far?
We love Christmas but I have to admit I get enormous satisfaction from the post Christmas/New Year clear up, when the tired looking tree gets hauled outside, the needles get hoovered up, the decorations get put back in the loft and I get stuck into a jolly good clean up and reorganisation around the home. Even before the Dr Who Christmas special comes on, I feel myself getting fidgety, looking around the house and start planning in my mind little changes I'll be making in the near future.
Although our Christmas holiday was fairly quiet, we did have guests drop in occasionally from Australia, Italy around town for some hot chocolate and cake. Though our guests were well behaved, the kids were a little bit less so and Hubby and I found things a bit claustrophobic. We have a separate room downstairs which for the past two years has been 'the study' - a place for the kids to do homework, me to do my tutoring and Hubby to work when he is at home. Hubby agreed with me that it might be a good idea to turn this room into a dining room and therefore make our living room larger. Bless him. We spent a whole day rearranging the furniture and other stuff to do this and didn't argue once! I don't know why we didn't think of this sooner. The extra space in the living room has made things more relaxed and we use 'the study' far more now. I have done one tutoring lesson in there since we made the change and the bigger table came in really useful. However we now want to make this room look more homely and less like a classroom. So I got busy this evening making a rag heart to go on the wall next to our wedding photo. It was very easy to make and cost nothing!
First of all I gathered together some scraps of material, including an old pink cot sheet and a blue top that Honor has grown out of and hardly ever wore. Then I cut them into short strips, some thick and some thin.

Hubby shaped an old, wire coat hanger into the shape of a heart and I tied the fabric strips on. (I often see craft projects which involve old, wire coat hangers but I'm not sure where you get them from these days. All of ours are wood or plastic, but my Mum had one going spare.)
After about two and a half hours, it was finished. I was very pleased with it and what was really nice was that as I was sat down one end of the room making it, the kids and Daddy were watching Die Another Day but looked up every now and then to say "wow, that looks really pretty". Well, the colours I have chosen are very much to my personal taste, but I bet it would look great made up in some modern, vibrant colours and fabrics like satin or velvet for a more modern twist. In fact, not only did Hubby and I start creating a dining room this holiday, but we also redecorated Honor's bedroom in a more modern, grown-up style. I may post some pics soon. Laura Ashley have a good sale on right now and I got some beautiful wallpaper for her room. I think we'll have to do one of these hearts for it next.
Earlier on today Honor went to a birthday party, so we too the other two children for a walk at Wildwood. Here is Hope trying out her new wellie boots. She did really well walking around the wildlife park.