So with much delight, we introduce our latest invention, the Milk Carton Skull Lanterns!
I really wanted to have a go at making some skull lanterns, and thought the milk carton would be perfect for this, and it wasn’t until I started planning the graphics for it that I realised how brilliant it was that the handle itself created two brilliant indentations that were perfect for the skull’s eye sockets!!
We’ve since made LOADS of these are they are so easy to make, you can either print off the FREE printable here, or use marker pens, like these * affiliate links which work really well on plastic bottles – for full instructions watch the youtube video here.
For the PRINTABLE Skull’s face template click here
If like us, the kids have got a bit bored of crayons, don’t despair – there are creative things you can do with them!
Did you know about the hashtag #kidscrafts101? Every week, Maggy @redtedart, Me, (ali) @incredibusy and Ana @babbledabbledo – set an instagram challenge, with a ‘theme’ and this week in question was rainbows – now, we have a few rainbow crafts on the blog that we can call upon, however, having teenagers and pre-teens in the house, it’s good to push and encourage their creativity, as they have become more and more drawn to staring at their screens and not wanting to be quite as creative as they used to be…
So we have FOUND A WAY and that is stop motion animation – so – check this out, we set up a tripod, take a series of photos, and make an animation! What fun…
For this particular craft, we took a square canvas* and some unloved crayons, and got busy, you can watch the stop motion in the youtube link below….
You will need:
Glue Gun (or tape, glue gun is quick and easy though!)
Watch the video here for instructions, basically, glue the crayons to the top half of the canvas.
Prop the canvas at an angle and start warming the crayons with the hair dryer.
Move the hair dryer to the top of the crayons, and start heating from the top so that they melt DOWN… note, the red didn’t melt as fast as the other colours, yet it still looks OK in the final result.
Lower the canvas to a smaller angle so that the crayons don’t drip off the end of the canvas, have fun, and don’t worry if the crayons ‘splatter’ that’s all part of the fun and creativity!
The one thing I really struggle to put into the recycling bin, is the toilet roll tubes, I can always think there is SOMETHING we can make with them, whether it’s planting seedlings in them, or making these lovely bird seed feeders. They are so easy to make, and the kids are tickled to be using peanut butter, to spread onto the loo roll tubes, cra-azy eh?!
So simple to do… basically, spread the peanut butter on the toilet roll tube, and sprinkle the bird seeds over the tube, pushing the seeds onto the peanut butter ‘glue’.
We do find some peanut butter a little dry, so – do as you do with toast! – paste a little layer of butter on to the tube before you spread the peanut butter onto the tube.
Then, slip the tube onto a thin branch, preferably in view of the window. We love eating our breakfast and watching the birds eat theirs – we have a favourite chubby blackbird in the garden, will try to get a photo of the bird seed feeder in action!
This week we have handed the blog over to the kids… it seemed appropriate – as this one is ALL about them, and we took them on the train to FlipOut in Wandsworth – really easy to walk there from the station, with a group of teenagers, and probably the most popular party destination for SW19 families it would appear! Lots of our friends had recommended it to us, so we were all eager to try it out… this is what they thought, over to Spike…
FlipOut IS AMAZING! last week it was my birthday, and having heard how brilliant FlipOut is from all of my friends I decided that FlipOut was the place to go; it didn’t disappoint, I have been to many other ‘trampoline parks’ but flip out was by far the best. It has a massive array of things to do such as the bouncy basketball court that was hilarious and we had loads of games on that and challenges like shooting backwards and shooting after a 360, and there was a MASSIVE foam pit that you could flip into, or just jump (that is just as fun) and you could have a race in the foam but because it was so uneven and soft we all ended up sinking. My favourite thing however, was the ‘valley’ trampoline, this was basically two trampolines opposite each other making a ‘v’ shape and you could wall run and bounce from wall to wall.
Another fun thing about FlipOutis that there is loads of space to just bounce from trampoline to trampoline and to play games like tag or stuck in the mud if you are with friends. There are trampolines on the walls at an angle as well so you can bounce literally ‘bounce off the walls’ and there are also SUPER bouncy trampolines that spring you high up into the air. There is a really cool wall with a super bouncy trampoline next to it and kids and grownups compete to see who can get the highest.
The atmosphere at FlipOut is brilliant, there are walls lined with graffiti that makes the place feel really atmospheric. There is also a battered black London cab that serves as a clock because the time is shown in red on one of the blacked out windows. Loud and energetic music also fills the air making it a really enjoyable experience. At the entrance there are two really long trampolines that act like lanes and some really fun trampoline races can take place. If ever you get tired you can just take a short time out for a drink of water and a snack and then bound straight back on.
FlipOut caters very well for all ages because it has a pro zone where pros can back flip and wall run without disturbing any less experienced trampoliners. FlipOut also has a large area which is designated for little children only and it has a mini foam pit. As well as this the pro area can be accessed by anyone as long as they can land a back flip. on top of this there are three super bouncy trampolines in alcoves at the edge of the building so you can jump alone if you feel like it. Also, all under fives have to be accompanied by an adult.
After leaving FlipOut I was really energized and enthused to do some more trampoline activities and come back again because after you leave the weightless world of FlipOut then you are dying to go back again. The time allotted is perfect because you are exhausted after all the bouncing that you feel that you don’t NEED to go on again, even if you want to. overall I really enjoyed the flip out experience and would rate it a 10/10!!
for any extra information visit the FlipOut Facebook page: @FlipOutwandsworth
We’ve had ourselves a full and active summer, we just didn’t want it to be over…
Youngest started at ‘bigger than ever’ school and we thought, that’s it, Autumn is on its way – And then, with great joy, we packed our tent into the back of the car and took ourselves off for a long weekend to North Wales. We were meeting my sister, husband and Gracie the dog, for an amazing family weekend at The Good Life Experience, and WHAT a wonderful family festival.
Located in the grounds of the Hawarden Estate, former home of Prime Minister William Gladstone and now owned by his great-great grandson Charlie Gladstone and his wife Caroline (they of vintage lifestyle brand, Pedlars). You may have seen us talking about Pedlars over on aGreenerLifeforUs.com too – as they’ve been one of our #sgiew (@sogoodineveryway) photo challenge judges.
It’s a stunning location, with a castle, rolling grounds, a lake… before you even start to take in the iconic helter skelter, the beautiful bell tents, and general loveliness that goes to make this such a fabulous spot for a family festival of Music, Culture, Food & The Great Outdoors.
The Good Life Experience was founded in 2014 by four friends Cerys Matthews, Steve Abbott and Charlie & Caroline Gladstone, and they’ve crafted a festival that is wonderfully entertaining, based around themes of slow living, hand crafts, and the great outdoors, with a bit of poetry and live music thrown in for good measure. Fabulous guest speakers, art & craft workshops, swing bands and lindy hop dancing, coffee stops, ceramics, archery, axe throwing, Jennie Maizels‘ sketchbook clubs, Alex Pole forge kitchenware, plasticine stop motion animation, bushcraft, a dog show(!) and so much more!
Between the six of us, we managed to cram a LOT into the weekend, listened to the amazing (and hilarious) Doctor John Cooper Clarke, adventurer Ben Fogle talking about his life, DJ78 with his classic wind up gramophones, and John Higgs, talking KLF and the spectacular Swing Patrol swing dance class… yes, I’ve looked them up on the internet, there IS a class near me!
We marvelled at Neil from the Harwarden Estate and his amazing pumkin carving, we danced and cheered for the amazing Stealing Sheep.
As Tim at Gather Outdoors said, it’s great to meet up with so many like-minded people all in one place (and many that we follow and interact with on the ‘gram!)
If delicious food, finding out about other cultures, and a love of peace sound like your perfect evening’s entertainment, book your place at Conflict Café, in the atmospheric tunnels underneath London’s Waterloo Station.
Here chefs including Imad Ghossain (pictured) from Lebanon and Ruby Kughanathan (pictured) from Sri Lanka will delight diners with food from their home countries, helping to show how much we can get to know about others and their countries simply by breaking bread with them and sharing a meal.
Both Imad and Ruby became passionate about food by watching their mothers at their stoves at home as they cooked for the family, and then joining in. They left their countries of origin for a safer life and believe very much in the power of food to help transform attitudes, hence their support for Conflict Café.
This pop-up restaurant is being run by peacebuilding charity International Alert for the third year running from 22
September – 2 October 2016.
Conflict Café was inspired by a tradition that is common to many cultures around the world: coming together and reconciling differences by preparing and sharing meals. Diners will sit at communal tables and enjoy traditional dishes while finding out more about issues facing countries affected by conflict. It’s hoped that strangers will be inspired to talk together and start conversations about building peace through food.
Rebecca Crozier, International Alert’s Head of Emerging Programmes, explains the reasons behind the idea: “Across different cultures and continents, food has the power to bring people together and encourage the act of sharing. In some Middle Eastern countries, it is custom for the perpetrator of a crime to cook a meal for the victim and their family as a way of fixing broken bonds. In Europe, too, we find ways of using food to calm domestic storms, to unite communities and bring neighbourhoods together. She adds: “We hope that Conflict Café will give diners a glimpse into the diverse cuisines and complex histories of some of the countries where we work, highlighting the positive role that food can play in peacebuilding.”
The organisers say that eating a meal may not obviously be changing the world but, if a diner is giving a thought to Lebanon or Sri Lanka in their hurried life, they believe that they are already ahead. The event changes – or creates – that person’s perception of that country. People will not often take three hours to read everything about world events. But if they go out for a great meal and hear someone from that country talk, they will be experiencing human detail from that country. They may tell their friends about it or write on social media and that’s how change can take place.
The initiative kicks off with Conflict Café: Lebanon, a country which ended its civil war just 10 years ago and is now hosting more than one million refugees displaced by the conflict in Syria.
The focus will then shift to the delicious flavours of Sri Lanka where, after nearly 30 years of conflict, more than a generation of Sri Lankans have grown up with no real experience of peace.
Conflict Café is part of the Talking Peace Festival organised by International Alert, a charity established by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other visionaries 30 years ago in a bid to secure an end to some of the world’s most bitter disputes. Once you’ve eaten you can take a look round the other tunnels in the House of Vans complex. These are housing other parts of the festival including the Create Syria multimedia exhibition.
This shows footage of exiled Syrian artists and cultural figures running workshops in Lebanon with refugee children and young people to help them to overcome their experiences of war.
The whole event is at the House of VANS, Arches 228 – 232 Station Approach Road, London SE1 8SW
Oh…what a summer it’s been… the best yet, and August has been marvellous, the weather fine, and family time together just so special as our boys get older – they are more independent and dare I say a little ‘feral’ this year? We’ve had the best of times and made new friends, made memories, and given us something to look forward to next summer too – why? what? how? you ask? Well, a week at Fforest gather, that’s what!
If you’ve not heard about Fforest gather – you’re clearly not following me on the instagram – or @coldatnight, which you should remedy forthwith – follow us here and here… It’s through instagram that I, and it transpires, chatting to fellow campers at Fforest gather, many others, have ‘met’ Sian and fallen in love with what she and husband James have been doing in Cardigan, Wales for the last couple of years…
A small intimate ‘festival’, not really a festival, but that explains the basis of the event – week long holiday with accommodation (optional, you can also bring your own tent/camper van) and daily workshops you won’t want to miss… a new kind of holiday in fact! Two family friendly weeks of adventures in nature, music, culture, creativity and simple pleasures.
We stayed in one of the ‘group tents‘ – our family in one end, in two bedrooms, and our friends and their three small children in the facing ‘tent’. We brought our own sleeping bags and pillows, and the shared bathrooms a short walk away were positive luxury compared to some campsites we’ve stayed in! The group tents have a communal cooking, and eating area in the centre – and an amazing view across the fields. However, after trying the first catered meal in the canteen, we decided that we’d ditch the camp cooking, and eat with the majority of the other campers – the breakfast and evening meals were just amazing – and the dining area was super conducive to socialising too.
The beauty of the Fforest gather is that the workshops, talks, walks, performances and activities are all included in the ticket price. Two sessions a day, one at a very civilised 10am, and the afternoon sessions start at 2pm – Between our two families, we tried Screenprinting, Nature illustration; natural dyeing, canoeing, Tamsin with her pencil and puppet making, Bees make honey with the honey farm, making bacon, smoking fish, making cheese, cooking with fire; axe & knife craft; yoga and wellness; drumming; beer cocktail classes; bird illustrations, silver ring making; forest school sessions; den building; tree climbing; wild swimming and learnt about foraging with Jade and coppicing with Bruce – woah, all in one week?!
The evenings were equally entertaining, with, Music from Eyre Llew, and DJs and chatting, and Fforest Island discs, and beer drinking at the adorable little ‘Bwthyn pub‘. Candle lit, and roaring fire – this little pub is located at the heart of the Fforest camp.
A brief selection of our favourite workshops: Natural dyeing with Hazel Stark – Indigo Shibori (a Japanese pattern technique) – we were so blessed with the weather, so a day spent outside in the Fforest vegetable gardens, patiently folding, pegging and dipping our canvas tote bags was well spent.
Bird drawing with Matt Sewell, such a delight; as was the glasses onto inanimate objects with Finn Thomson making faces and giving objects sight – such a fun workshop! Seeing objects – using wire, paper, glue, and a LOT of imagination, in the project barn.
Seriously, this is an event/holiday/week long party I would recommend – such a lovely way to spend time with your family.
We went with good friends, and came away with even more…
Time to plan for 2017… 14-27 August www.fforestgather.co.uk
A new kind of holiday.
Two family friendly weeks of adventures in nature, music, culture, creativity, making, growing & simple pleasures.
500 acres of bliss. Only 300 tickets available each week.
Week 1 – Monday 14th – Sunday 20th of August
Week 2 – Monday 21st – Sunday 27th of August
2017 EARLY BIRD TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE!
TO FIND OUR MORE ABOUT FFOREST CLICK HERE
Accommodation released on 29th of September 2016.
Community gardener and founder of yourspace.sutton Kevin Plicio runs local community garden nursery Seears Park Nursery in Sutton. This nursery runs on pure volunteer manpower and community spirit, running training courses and therapeutic activities in a calming and peaceful environment. He has been running the beautiful non-profit nursery for almost six years, transforming it from a run-down nursery to a social and stunning community hub which has just recently been opened to the public.
As his daughter, Hannah, I’ve grown up around the transformation of the park, seeing it go from overgrown and slightly wild, to open space and inviting. Perfect for family days out and picnics, the nursery offers scenic and photogenic open areas, free for the public to utilise.
Q- So, tell us about what made you want to run a community project? Well, the idea originally stemmed from me working at other projects, but these projects were all tailored to one specific group of people, or had one specific service, and I wanted to do something more socially integrating and open to all users, regardless of their background, age, or ability.
Q- What is there to see? Honestly, there’s so much! We have this really great pond that’s just teeming with life, frogs, fish, newts, and even in the evening we get the occasional duck family coming to stay – it’s such a sight! We also have vegetable patches, some art display inside the main classroom from a local artist Santiago Plicio, the polytunnels have a great plant selection, including a great cactus area. We’re also in the process of making smaller gardens as part of the garden nursery, where 6 out of the 16 planned are complete. We also have this really stunning willow circle, which is just beautiful.
Q- Tell us about your volunteers, and who helps run the nursery. We have quite a large group of volunteers here at the nursery, and without them, there would be no way that the place could be running. Some people volunteer for a month, and some have been volunteering for years, and we appreciate every bit of help we get. Their generosity and time is something I’m always going to be so grateful for.
Q- You’ve just opened to the public for the first time in almost six years, how does that feel? It feels amazing, we’ve been getting this place ready for the public for so long and now it feels as if our work is finally paid off, and we can do what we’ve always set out to do, create a community project that everyone can benefit for. We’ve been running training courses and school placements for years which is so amazing, but now we can finally make it open to everyone, which was always the plan. We now run a plant sale every Saturday from 10:00am until 4:00pm, and the nursery is otherwise open Monday-Thursday from 9:30 until 5:30.
Q- Got any last words or comments that you want everyone to know? I’d just love to see you there! Bring your friends, family, dogs, come and experience and enjoy the nursery, see what’s here, and if you want to contribute in any way then we’d love to hear from you too!
Seears Park Nursery is open to the public from 9:30am-5:30pm Monday to Thursday, and 10:am-4:00pm on a Saturday for the plant sale and general public use. Follow them on Facebook for events and updates here
Note from Ali – Thank you so much, Hannah, for introducing me to your dad’s amazing community project. Here’s a picture of a pond that my 13-year-old son made, with the addition of the Junctus that he bought from the Nursery!
The mini beast invasion is here! And you’ll love this wonderful FREE downloadable Butterfly Mandala colouring sheet – CLICK HERE to download!
If you like coloring, have a go at downloading this fun template – a colouring sheet with a fabulous repeat pattern of a butterfly, logo courtesy of ethical shoe brand Po-Zu.com
And perfect for a our instagram photo challenge theme this week – #bugsandbutterflies #kidscrafts101 theme with @buggyandbuddy ! Check out co hosts @babbledabbledo@redtedart and @incredibusy for more ideas too!
Find out more about the conservation of butterflies, moths and our environment over on the Butterfly Conservation website – formed by a small group of dedicated naturalists in 1968 following the alarming decline of many beautiful butterflies.
Most British butterflies remain a cause for concern, with three quarters of our native species in decline. Four butterflies and over 60 moths became extinct last century. We aim to halt and reverse these declines. Our vision is of a world rich in butterflies for future generations to enjoy. Butterflies are beautiful and intrinsically valuable. Together with moths, their sensitivity to environmental change makes them valuable indicators of the health of the countryside.
Falling numbers are an early warning to all wildlife that cannot be ignored. We have more than 25,000 members in the UK and 32 volunteer Branches throughout the British Isles. We employ over 50 people including many highly qualified scientists, making us the world’s largest research institute for butterflies and moths.