Monday, December 28, 2009

Beautiful Bug Party Part 2

I had planned on posting some Christmas craft but I'm still finishing one thing off. I know it's three days too late but that's just the way somethings go.

So instead here is part 2 of Rainbow's Beautiful Bug Party. You can find part 1 here.

Though I hadn’t planned on throwing a party, the best bit for me was how involved Rainbow could be. It inspired her craft for weeks. We had great shopping expeditions hunting down bug lollies and other party supplies and all the goodies were kept in a party box for Rainbow to ‘study’. And if she hadn’t have fallen sick she would have love to have been more involved in the decorating of the party food. So here’s part two of the ‘Beautiful Bug Party’.
On stir up Sunday Rainbow’s pudding wish was “I wish for fireworks at my party.” (from “A Princess’ Secret Wish”). So before the cake we had sparklers. Rainbow was very excited. This ended quickly though with a fiery mishap.

A homemade string piñata.
1. I taped a 1.25L bottle to the cardboard wings.
I then papier mached on a few layers to give it strength. I also cut out the bottom of the bottle for the goodies to go in and fall out.
2. We then papier mached all over using torn pieces of tissue paper and a runny mix of flour and water. Simply dip in the tissue paper and place on the piñata. I had hoped to do this with Rainbow but she’s not very keen on getting her hands dirty so after about 5 pieces of papier mache she was finished. I tried painting on the glue then just placing the tissue paper on top but Rainbow still wasn’t returning!
3. I then made little slits about 2 cm up from the bottom, all of the way around using a Stanley knife. I threaded a piece of curling ribbon through each hole.
4. The base consisted of 3 layers of tissue paper cut into a circle about 1.5cm wider than the bottom of the bottle. The tissue paper was tied with two loops of curling ribbon (one loop from top to bottom, one from side to side)
5. One of the pull strings was then tied to the loops (inside the piñata). I then pulled the ‘winning pull string’ taut so that the tissue paper was covering the bottom. Then I used the papier mache mixture to paste the tissue paper onto the bottom of the bottle. I also pasted between the three layers at the edge.

I borrowed the cool idea from Filth Wizardry of hanging it above the slide so that the Bertie Beetles would rain down the slide when the bottom opened. The piñata was comical with some children letting go of their pulls strings before sliding down and others clutching their pulled strings as wonderful prizes. Despite this they were enthusiastically climbing back up the ladder to have another go and equally enthusiastically clambering to collect the chocolates.

I had organised a craft activity to make pet bugs but decided not to set it up. I did however take it to playgroup on Tuesday and they had lots of fun with it. Here is one of Rainbow’s bugs - his name is Spider Winks and he resides in the Christmas tree.

I premade the bodies out of two half egg cartons with a hanging string. I also prepared a box of wing things (paper patty tins, strips of card, and squares of fabric, netting, cellophane and tissue paper) and a box of leggy things (chopped up straws, pipe cleaners, wool, curling ribbon, and matchsticks). These were set up with tubs of glue, a tape dispenser and Rainbow’s smaller craft materials for decorating (buttons, dyed pasta, little bits of foil and cellophane …)

The party bags
These paper leaf baskets were inspired by the felt tulip basket at Four Crazy Kings. I'm hoping to make a tulip one one day for the dress up box. It'd be so sweet for a little flower fairy.
These lollypop butterflies are a free download. There is even a choice of words. I hate lollypops - terrible for teeth but couldn't resist these. Strangely I didn't have enough lollypops to put in Rainbow's basket.

The baskets were filled with some bug themed treats – a chocolate Bertie Beetle, witchitty grubs, sour worms, a texta with a roller and some stickers. I made some simple little bug books to go with the texta and stickers. The pages are 3 ¾” squares stapled together. The covers are 4” by 8” rectangles (4 to a scrap booking page). These are then just folded and glued onto the spine of the book to cover the staples. The babies each got one of the bug bibs that I showed you earlier.
The grandmas and aunties each got a collaged flower.
And the mother got lots of leftover lollies to snack on! Hee Hee

If you missed the first post you can find it here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Baking

We normally have 3 Christmas dinners - all roast turkey! The first was the Tuesday before with Russell's Dad and his wife. The second was Christmas eve at our place. Here's desert - a fruit tart. The best thing about a summer Christmas has to be summer fruit - peaches, nectarines, cherries, grapes...

This tart was delicious - short crust filled with creme patisserie and fresh fruit.This was my second attempt at the pastry and the cause of my pre-Christmas tantrum! I'm not keen on making pastry and usually use frozen stuff. The first batch came together beautifully. On the second attempt I got it in the flan tin. Then blind baked and rebaked. Everything was going perfectly. Until I rushed getting it out of the dish. I was saying goodbye to Rainbow and giving shopping instructions to Russell and I rushed it. I knocked it as I lifted it out and knocked off two pieces of the crust. Even my naturally cold hand couldn't fight against the midday heat for the second attempt and it had to be refrigerated before it could be rolled out.

By 6am Christmas morning the presents brought by Santa were opened. Rainbow had raced around to check that Santa had eaten his snack and the reindeers theirs. Rainbow was bouncing on her trampoline and I was baking Nigella's Christmas Morning Muffins with Craisins. I had a head start sieving all the dry ingredients as I waited for Rainbow to fall asleep so I could do Christmassy things on Christmas Eve. These are now Russell's favourite muffins ever because they were crispy on the outside. I liked them warm with butter. Rainbow wasn't too keen and toothless Moonshine had difficulty with the craisins.

Now you may remember in late November I made the Christmas pudding to take to my parents. Well it's been a strange week. On Christmas eve both my father and Grandfather ended up having surgery so plans changed and we decided we'd have afternoon tea in the holiday for Christmas. So in readiness I decorated the Christmas cake to take.

Then Mum calls on Christmas morning and plans changed again. Both were released but turkey was still frozen. So we had a Christmas bbq and will have the turkey and pudding later this week. I had five egg whites left over from the creme patisserie so I whipped up a pavlova topped with cream and more lovely summer fruit. This is Jamie Oliver's recipe. It is amazing. It has the perfect crunchy outside and soft marshmallow inside. I'm not sure what makes his recipe so good. I think it's the 14 + minutes of beating. Don't be put off by the beating. It is a really easy fool-proof recipe. I wish Russell and Rainbow would eat it as I would make it all the time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Far Side of Christmas

I can't believe we're on the other side of Christmas.

I hope you had a wonderful one.
It was quite frantic in the lead up to Christmas. I was still wrapping presents and finishing one of Moonshine's on Christmas morning. I had hope to post some of the things I was working on but time didn't allow for blogging.

Shall I start with the girl's gifts.

Here's Rainbow's letter to Santa. It was actually edited. She wanted it to end with "----(Moonshine) has been naughty today. She has been crying a lot." Over December she considered asking Santa for a cow and horse, a doll and a cat but once she had decided on puddle stompers her mind was set. Now I had looked for rain boots early in spring and could not find any so this was a challenge. So this week I extended the search to op shops and 'designer' children's stores. Some staff even brought out winter stock but we couldn't find any to fit. Eventually I arranged to get a hand me down pair from a friend but at the last minute someone suggested the shop at the zoo and sure enough Ralph (R elf) went out and brought some. The day before Christmas they came up in discussion a lot. Rainbow decided she needed to make a sign with a three on it so that Santa would know that she was now 3 and needed 3 year old puddle stompers. She also became very concerned looking at a picture of the elf's working on toys in a book that none of the elves were making boots. Rainbow was predicting the boots would be red as that was Santa's favourite colour. Here she is with boots! She even wore the boots to the beach on Christmas morning.
To her left is her Christmas sack which I made for her for her second Christmas. (She was only 3 weeks at her first and I was really not up to sewing at that point!) Here's a better look. So this week I have been frantically sewing Moonshine's at every spare moment.

The girls received 7 dolls between them. Moonshine was particularly excited. Her eyes would widen with excitement at the sight of them and she said "Bubba Bubba Bubba". Here she is giving one of Rainbow's a kiss.

Rainbow was also taken with this doll and on I heard her saying to Bilby "There is a new baby at our house. She's very little so I'll have to carry her around a lot."
I also made some nappies and nappy wipes for Rainbow's dolls. Do you like the name?

For Moonshine I made a fabric ball with a shaker inside using the pattern from Grand Revival. (Look in the column on the left hand side. It is a very quick project.

and some stacking boxes. These are a variation of the stacking cups that you can buy. They are great for when kids are at the stage where they like to put things in and take things out and open and close things.
Moonshine's have been decorated on each side with paper and the occasional drawing from Dad such as the bird on the washing line. The little box is a domesticated house. The middle house is about self- sufficiency and the third is a romantic little cottage.
These can be fitted inside each other like matroyka dolls.

Or stacked up as homes for little friends.

Then when she outgrows opening and closing and stacking they will be cute little storage containers for her room.

The girls also got a 'bouncing bean'. 'We set it up one morning while Rainbow had a play at Nanny Janny's house. It was quite a feat keeping Rainbow out of the backyard for two days. Here she is bouncing with her cousin.
and little Moonshine squeezed between the wall and the bbq watching from the verandah. She loves crawling around on it. She finds it really funny when Rainbow jumps on it and the bounce knocks her down.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Elephant Rocks

We had a mixed weekend away. Russell ended up very sick and it was really to hot to be out in the bush. The favourite part for Rainbow and I was definitely Sunday morning at Elephant Rocks. It's a tiny bay next to the main swimming beach. It's perfect for kids. It is completely flat and a very gradual slope. It also has a lovely little freshwater stream that trickles from a spring into the bay (which the girls are playing in in these photos).
I tried very hard to convince Rainbow that they were real elephants wallowing in the shallows. To the extent of carrying her out so that she could pat an elephant for the first time. She commented "They're beautifully decorated." in observance of the sea grass and sea shells attached to them.
The best part was that for most of our stay at the beach it was just us and another little family sharing the bay.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ho Ho Ho Does my bum look big in this?

Tomorrow's advent is a little message saying "Look in the tree." Rainbow will find a little white box to go with her felt board and dolls. The dolls come from here and I simply draw around them to create clothes.
As we're heading off on our very long car trip I've made her a smaller felt board to go with it. "What's the easiest way to make a felt board?" you may ask.
  1. Buy a cheap frame from a second hand store or a discount store.
  2. Paint the frame if you like.
  3. Remove the glass.
  4. Glue felt on to a piece of firm card and place in the frame.
And "What should I do with the glass"
Hang onto it. It's very useful. When I get back from my holiday I'll share some ideas for art around a piece of glass.

Beautiful Bug Party - Part 1

Way back in June, Rainbow's cousin had a spider cake for one of his birthday celebrations. Since then Rainbow has declared that she too was going to have a spider cake. It has wavered a little at times, especially after seeing some wonderful cakes at parties but eventually returns to a spider cake. I also hadn't planned on throwing a party this year but Rainbow kept talking about "at my party" so I caved. So here it is Rainbow's bug party.

(Disclaimer - spiders, ants, snails... are not really bugs as they are missing a proboscis "True bugs suck.")

The invitation:
The flower swivels on the split pin to show the invitation.
The leaves fold back to show more of Rainbow's bugs.
The costumes:
These didn't really happen. Rainbow's grandparents brought her a cute butterfly costume for her birthday but she wasn't really interested in wearing it. Moonshine had a little spotty ladybug outfit but wouldn't wear her antenna hat. Dad did wear antenna.

The menu:

Spider cake - I used Nigella's birthday cake recipe cooked in a large and small pudding basin then iced with her fudge icing. The biscuit legs are held together with chocolate icing. Moments after I started cutting collapsed as the chocolate had melted on the warm day.
Pizza Snails - puff pastry rolled up with a filling of cheese and a tomato pasta sauce

Look What’s Landed on the Cupcakes - really just an excuse to eat lollies. One excited guest kept bringing them to me "Look ant ant!"
Butterfly and Dragonfly Cookies - this recipe then decorated before baking by brushing with milk and sprinkling with white sugar coloured with a few drops (it should still feel dry)
of food colouring Ladybugs - There are a lot of these out in cyber space. Mine are pretty simple - crackers spread with cream cheese, topped with half a cherry tomato with a slit through it and a quarter of olive. I then blended some cream cheese with olives and piped (haphazardly) on some spots.
Fruity Caterpillar Kebabs - popsticks are much more kid-safe though some fruit (eg pineapple) needs to have a hole stabbed with a knife first
Butterfly sandwiches (chicken and curried egg) - cut into triangular quarters then arranged so pairs of sandwiches lie with their points touching to make two triangular wings.

The decorations:
I didn't photograph the food table but it had
  • a dragonfly printed fabric as a tablecloth. Look under the fruit kebabs.

  • framed photos of Rainbow taken the first week of December 2008, 2007, 2008

  • giant lolly spiders hiding under and on top of the food platters

  • food labels (see fruit kebab picture above)

  • A jar of Rainbow's collaged flowers. Here are two.
The front and back are glued together with a skewer between them after Rainbow had decorated. There were others in a daisy and star shape but they were given away.
On the playground we tied bunches of balloons and a garland of butterflies. Rainbow did "blob on some paint and fold the paper in half pictures" I then cut out, accordion folded and secured with a pipecleaner. The pipecleaner is folded in half and twisted to form a tail. Then the painted body is added. The pipecleaner is then twisted some more to form the head and the ends spread to form antennas.

Here's how to get to part 2 if you'd like to read about the entertainment and party bag .

Not so beautiful bug

Little Moonshine and I are now sick with the virus that Rainbow had. Thankfully Rainbow's aunty has kindly taken her for the morning as her first question each day is "Where are we going today?" Moonshine is fast asleep and hopefully will stay that way for a little while. I meanwhile have an ear infection as well as a head cold. I've tried to sleep while Moonshine is sleeping but my body won't co-operate and I feel dizzy standing so I'm lying in bed contemplating a packing list. We're meant to be off tomorrow to Denmark (a beautiful hippy town on the South coast (about 5 hours drive) for our orchid clubs Christmas wind up. Russell's looking sick this morning but he's determined to go so hopefully Moonshine and I will be over the worse of it by tomorrow. For now even the thought of packing seems a little too much.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Happy Birthday my Beautiful Girl

Well Rainbow's birthday has come and gone. The day started well with pancakes for breakfast. Rainbow's first present was her birthday crown “It’s lovely. It’s what a queen wears.”

This is straight from refugee crafter's very clear and simple tutorial. I'm so pleased with how it turned out and I have made another one for Moonshine's first birthday.
She then got very excited when she saw there were lots more presents. The next present was a little wooden highchair complete with some little handmade extras - 2 sets of fabric bibs and flannels and a papier mache bowl and spoon.

Rainbow had to stop and feed her baby before opening anymore presents!
I'll add the bib's template soon. While I was at it I made some little bibs in lieu of party bags for the babies. They tie in with the bug theme. The middle one with the applique was for Moonshine to wear at the party. I'll attach the template for that soon.
The birthday song caused Rainbow much confusion during the day.
During the day when people sang “Happy Birthday” to her she would stop them saying “It’s not my birthday party yet.” For desert I'd made an ice-cream lady bug (It was melting too fast to stop for photos). After singing “Happy Birthday” she said in a quiet but calm voice. “I thought more friends would be at my party”.
After more presents and a sleep for Moonshine, I headed off to the zoo with the girls. We lasted about 90 minutes before both Rainbow was in tears and saying "I'm too tired to look at the animals." So we headed back to the car with Rainbow in the pram and Moonshine in the sling. By the time we got home she was feverish and complaining of a tummy ache. We then spent the afternoon in the doctor's waiting room and me dozing with her in her bed while Moonshine destroyed her bedroom
Despite all that she had "a lovely day". One of the things I most admire about my daughter is how positive she is. I also love how she has her own ideas and works her way through them. I love how she cares for and is patient with her little sister. I love how she get's excited and the sense of humour this brings out. I love that she's always asking. She's a lovely little one to be around.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Tree Day

Yesterday was our big Christmas tree putting up evening. I won't post a photo yet as it's still missing the addition of the train, teddy bear family and the sleigh of soft toys that live under the tree. The tree and it's zillion decorations was enough. We have a fairly traditional romantic Christmas tree with lots of twinkly lights and an array of ornaments, many of which were gifts or collected on our travels. Here are a few of my favourite (at the moment) decorations

This is a little Inuit on a sled that we brought in Banff, Canada. Doesn't he look joyful.
This is a beautiful hand painted glass ornament my brother and his girlfriend brought from the Christmas Markets in Belgium (I think). It's one of three and they are so light and delicate. There was some debate as to whether these should stay in their box this year with "Little Miss I want to pull myself up on anything" around.

This one (which is one of a pair) really surprised me as I didn't realise I'd kept it. Handmade by Rainbow aged 1.

Decorating the tree was followed by a roast chicken and a chocolate strawberry Christmas tree. Today Rainbow spent a large portion of the day undecorating the tree so that she could play with the decorations. She is so excited. Christmas gets better and better with children to share it with.

PS A friend made a suggestion regarding the pudding wish dilemma. Stay tuned until Rainbow's party on Sunday to find our solution.