30 May 2012

How to Make: Coloured Rice

How life has changed!! Being a mum requires a whole new set of skills and extensive knowledge to our ‘previous lives’. These days I find myself Googling' how to colour rice' and' make your own Play-Doh' inbetween playing, cleaning, cooking, more cleaning etc! 

Today I had my mother’s group over and decided to have a craft day with the kiddies. The six of us (plus six littlies!) have been meeting every Wednesday for almost three years now and still aren’t sick of one another’s company! But to tell you the truth, it is starting to get harder to entertain ‘the brood’ particularly on cold and miserable days. We generally try and steer clear of our homes on these kinds of days but play centre outings can become expensive (mainly because we all drink too much coffee!).

As I mentioned yesterday, I was all inspired to learn new things and came home from MOPS very enthusiastic and keen to create. I did a few searches on how to colour rice for art and craft but realised most methods required rubbing alcohol or white vinegar. Since I didn't have either in my pantry I decided to play around with my own recipe. I found it to be so good I thought I’d post a mini tutorial! 

This activity is super easy to prepare and most of us would have these things already in our home so it's cheap to make! Depending on how you feel on the day, you could always get the kiddies to help out but just be careful with hot trays and food colouring! Both are recipes for disaster if you're not looking at all times!!

What you need… 
  • Large metal mixing bowl 
  • Dark spatula or metal spoon 
  • Food colouring 
  • White rice 
  • Measuring cup 
  • Measuring spoons 
  • Baking tray 
  • Paper towel 
  • Grease proof paper 
  • Pre-heated moderate oven 

Step 1 – In your large metal mixing bowl add one tablespoon of cold water and a few drops of food colouring. Swirl around until evenly dissolved.

Step 2 – Add one cup of rice (I used white long grain rice) and use your spatula to stir until all the rice is coloured. Make sure you get all the rice up the sides of the bowl too. You can add a few more drops to the mixture if you’re after a more intense colour. Just keep stirring until well combined. 

Step 3 - Place the mixture onto a piece of paper towel double-folded so it can absorb the excess dye and water. Let it rest for a couple of minutes then transfer rice onto a tray lined with baking paper.

Step 4 – Evenly spread the rice mixture over the baking paper so it’s a thin layer and pretty well separated. Put the tray into the oven for about 5 minutes. After the first 5 minutes, take the tray out and give it a little shake to loosen off the rice that might be sticking. If you think the rice is still a little wet return it to the oven for a further 2-5 minutes. 

Step 5 – Once you’re happy the rice is dry you can remove it from the oven and pour it into a bowl to cool down. Once the rice is cold you can transfer the mixture to a plastic container for storage.

So what now? There's a whole load of art and craft activities you can do with coloured rice! We made a whole load of colours for mother's group today so we could make treasure jars where you put loads of goodies into a container and you have to find them! We also made i-spy bags (similar to treasure jars just in zip lock bags instead of glass) and the kids loved it! Whatever you do... have fun!

29 May 2012

Creative Play with Toddlers

As most of you may already know, I am the mother of an adorable (and incredibly active) ‘almost’ three year old. Little Penny is constantly full of energy and easily bored so I am forever looking for great ideas to keep her amused, stimulated and occupied!

I attend a local MOPS group (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) run once a fortnight at a church in the area. Our guest speaker this week was Laura, author of the ‘Happy Little Munchkins' blog. Laura has some wonderful and inspiring resources for parents to entertain a pre-schooler. I highly recommend you head on over to her blog and print off three fantastic resources that will seriously help when you don’t know what to do with your children!
I like to think of myself as a pretty hands-on parent and try to keep Penny busy with lots of art and craft, activities and outdoor play. She particularly loves making mud pies, blowing bubbles and playing with her Play-Doh. All these things are fun on a warm day, but harder to do when Melbourne’s gloomy winter weather consumes every day of the week! I think the resources listed above will be really helpful for the wet and cold days and hope you do to!

Here are some other tips I’ve learned on how to be a creative parent (some are my own and others are from ‘My Art Class’ by Nellie Shepherd)…

Organisation: It’s good to have all the things you need before you start. But if you haven’t got something, just improvise and use something else!

Inspiration: Look at all sorts of bits and bobs. What can you make them into? Challenge yourself and be inspired! I’m forever throwing things into the recycling bin thinking ‘should keep those toilet rolls for a rainy day!’ but never do. Perhaps a large plastic container from the $2 shop could store some essential items such as glue, pipe cleaners, jars, lids, trays etc.

Fun Factor: Think about inviting friends over to join in. Play music and have a story break. It makes such a difference. Try and not have plans around the activity. Time restraints can leave both you and little one feeling rushed and stressed.

It’s Bonding Time! Even though the activity is designed to keep your little one happy and occupied, it’s also a great time for you to sit down and help. Make your own play doh animals and play alongside your child! Get your hands dirty in that mud pie and watch her smile as mummy makes a mess! These will be memories that will last a life time (and vacuuming the house can wait!)

Making Mess: Art is messy business! Just put down loads of newspaper, relax and create. It’s worth it! I also love to use an old sheet that I keep in the bottom of the linen press just for this purpose.

Positive Attitude: We’re positive! We never say we can’t do something because we simply can! If something is difficult show her how it’s done and be patient. Don’t forget to keep in mind your child’s age as you may have higher expectations that aren’t realistic.

Encouragement: Encouragement is great for building confidence and creativity: one hundred per cent encouragement equals one hundred per cent creativity!

Making Choices: Children’s concentration is greatest when they choose the things they want to make. They make their own decisions from the start and they see them through.

Displaying: Displaying as well as talking about children’s art shows it’s important. Go on, put it up on the wall or on the fridge! If this really stresses you out, why not take a digital photo and create a special art album so your child has a record of everything they’ve created. Or you could even get a few large frames with plastic ‘glass’ to hang in their bedroom or play area. Your child can choose what artwork can be displayed and rotate the work.

24 May 2012

Time to Cuddle Up!

The weather in Melbourne is rapidly cooling down so I thought it was time I finished my HUGE collection of lavender heat packs I've had sitting on my sewing desk for months! I have just released a collection of around 50 new designs featuring beautiful 100% cotton fabrics from Australia and the USA. Many of these designs are one-offs so if you do like one in particular don't count on me being able to whip you up another if it sells out.

So here's why I love my cuddle bags... they are made with 100% quilting designer cotton and corduroy fabrics and filled with Australian grown wheat and lavender. I use lavender purchased from Warratina Lavender Farm in the Yarra Valley outside of Melbourne (this farm is a great place to visit and make sure you try Annemarie's lavender scones!)

 Ernie & Bird Cuddle Bags can be used as heat packs that are heated in the microwave or cold packs that are kept in the freezer.They easily mould to the contour of your body and are perfect to cuddle up on the lounge with, use while traveling or take to bed to keep your tootsies warm! As they are filled with lavender they are an excellent sleep companion and may assist in settling young children and relaxing adults!

Cuddle Bags are $15ea + postage. You can view the entire collection by visiting my madeit store HERE

17 May 2012

Ernie & Bird is now on etsy!

I've been working on some things other than sewing lately and have decided madeit isn't giving me as much traffic and I'd like. So I've opened an etsy shop but have only listed my newest range of Toddler Bedtime Routine Charts and Reward Charts for children.

Visit my etsy shop here...

The reason behind this is that I intend on selling my charts as digital files (once I've finalised the entire collection) which enables me to offer the product world-wide through the click of a button at my computer! Details are still being finalised and hopefully I'll have then available in the near future, however you can currently order these adorable charts in 'hard copy' which will be sent out to you.  

Toddler Bedtime Routine Charts

Ernie & Bird has a new range! My Toddler Routine Chart is designed to help young children learn the steps to bed and try help parents establish a routine before bed time. The Toddler Chart comes with a page of 'Extras' which includes both days of the week and weather conditions PLUS some little icons to move around the chart and have fun with!  Both the Toddler Chart and Extras are laminated. Simply cut out the sheet of Extras, stick a piece of magnetic tape on the back and keep the collection on the fridge to use every day!

Personalised Rewards Chart

Ernie & Bird has a new range! Being a mum, I am always on the look out for great ways to encourage my child to 'do the right thing' and provide an incentive for great behaviour! Rewards Charts are a fantastic way to help guide your child in the right direction while showing them what can be achieved by doing so!

Write your child's goals (or chores) in the first column along with their 'reward' at the end of the week if they acheive their goals. The Rewards Chart comes with a page of 'Extras' which includes both days of the week and weather conditions PLUS some little icons to move around the chart and have fun with! 

Both the Rewards Chart and Extras are laminated. The reason behind this is to not only keep your chart nice and clean but also for the chart to be reusable over and over again by simply writing on it with a WHITEBOARD PEN and wiping it straight off with a cloth when you want to change it!

Simply cut out the sheet of Extras, stick a piece of magnetic tape on the back and keep the collection on the fridge to use every day!