charity, create, education, gardening, gardening with kids, key stage 2, kids, life

Q&A with a community gardener

Q&A with a community gardener

Hannah and Kevin

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.

13118933_577749772401247_5145497625308435159_n13119073_577749822401242_8007960149422514965_nQ- 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.

photo-1465405269228-024e4723a8d9
thanks to Stephanie Krist for this photo

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.

sale

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!

13652431_980345098746058_2050378783_n

Written by Hannah Plicio-Keattch

create, life

Colour Lover YELLOW

Colour Lover YELLOW

MiniModernsHello – My name is Ali Clifford and I go by the name of @incredibusy, and I rather like the colour YELLOW.

I think this colour penchant is quite a recent phenomena  – if you look through my instagram feed, it seems to be somehow dominated with brights, and spots of yellows – I don’t really think it was intentional, it just seems to evolved that way!
We even had a ‘sogoodineveryway‘ theme a couple of weeks ago! #sgiew_YELLOW click here to read about that.

Ali Clifford Britmumslive ringsWhen I was a child, with red hair and freckles, my mother would tell me, “oh no Alison, you CAN’T wear yellow! It just doesn’t suit you….” so I started rebelling… From my eyeshadow at art school (seriously, not a good look, like a gone-wrong watermelon) to the frocks I wear today.
I’ve all sorts of outfits, and accessories in yellow now, and even have a small collection of yellow shoes.

yellow shoesI’d LIKE to be maybe someone who wears more muted colours – I love the style of friends like Ali Dover – we have similar colouring (oh, and the same name), and she just always looks so fabulous – denims, and stripes, straight out of the Toast catalogue… I do try, but the wabi-sabi in me means I’m better off multi-coloured (and a bit scruffy…)

My favourite flower in the garden happens to be yellow FORSYTHIA – to look out through the kitchen window on a rainy day and see that Forsythia bush shining like the absent sunshine, really lifts my spirits too.

Laying on a carpet of grass looking up at the blue blue skies… (#nofilter!) We have enjoyed our half term break; but it’s got us thinking about the SUMMER (and getting away from ✈️ flight paths!) – any top tips for festivals this year?? Late summer September looks like a weekend at the @goodlifeexperience – and we have August covered off with a week at the @fforestgather summer camp, a festival that’s not a festival (see blog link in profile for more on that!) but what about you lot? Anything early summer festival-wise we should check out? Anyway how about we celebrate the impending SUMMER with a new #sgiew hashtag? If you’d like to join in next week; this is a “heads up” that we will be looking for your #sgiew_goodlife photos; so tag us on your festival pics; school fête photos; tea in the garden; bunting on your tents; and how about we throw in a PRIZE TOO? We have two adult tickets with camping @goodlifeexperience worth £198 up for grabs – get tagging! Use #sgiew_goodlife to join in #sgiew #blueskies #laburnum #bunting #teainthepark #teaparty #festival #summerfete #belltent #greatoutdoors #goodlife #summer #simpleandstill #slowliving_nurture #underthefloralspell #theartofslowliving #aslowmoment

A photo posted by Ali Clifford (@incredibusy) on

Evening sunshines! 💛 Finally finished our latest mid-century-modern upcycle project with the help of @madebymrsm and her AMAZING fabric design… *windows*. Two #found chairs given some love. We appeared on #periscope today sharing this project and asking whether to chalkpaint the back-rest, or legs, and the result is just divine! What do you think? We have three further chairs, should we leave them unpainted or try yellow this time? #wildandwolf #retro telephone prop courtesy @4_living http://www.4living.co.uk/ Oh I have 25% OFF for you until Sunday MIDNIGHT with discount code *incredibusy* Colours: 💚peacock green 💛English mustard (seen here) 👤black 💙petrol blue 😺concrete grey #midcenturymodern #upcycle #AnnieSloan #ParisGrey #chalkpaint #london_by_incredibusy #homedecor #interior #design #capturingcolour #epig #abmlifeiscolorful #DScolor #yellow #retrophone #midcentury #textiles #upholstery #upcycling

A photo posted by Ali Clifford (@incredibusy) on


I’ve even started painting furniture in tones of yellow and grey, that combination really works well for me, you can watch me making some desk stationery below in some beautiful fabric by my friend Kate madebymrsm – (oh, and I appear to have a yellow telephone prop too… guilty!) And – really – you have to check out Kate’s hashtag – #100daysofyellowstuff

Rustic Chopping Board

And finally, I’d like to give a big shoutout to instagram, for helping me find my creativity again – after a long absence from my art school hobby of photography, I’m back in the game – finding the love of yellow peppers – probably my biggest ‘like’ on instagram to date!

Thank you Becky, for the prompt, loving all of the colour stories over on colourlover.co.uk!

crafts, kids, life

Anyone who knows me, knows what a massive fan I am of Jennie Maizels…

I became aware of Jennie’s iron-on patches when I was working with Green Baby – so quite a while ago now!

So when I found a love for instagram, I was delighted to catch up with Jennie again and to tell EVERYONE I knew to take a look at her fabulous visual sketchbook holiday diaries.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spread 3

Recently I have started a weekly instagram photo challenge #sgiew (more on that here) and asked Jennie if she would be a guest judge – we were delighted when she agreed, and I asked her to tell us a bit more about herself and her new #sketchbookclub:

Jennie in the StudioWe asked Jennie what had influenced her early days as an artist:

Jennie: I grew up just outside London, my parents are both Artists too, so it was a very creative childhood (we didn’t even have a TV!). Growing up with two artists could not help but inspire me. My parents run the Outsider Art Magazine, Raw Vision

My father is also an art collector, so our house was crammed with sculptures, paintings,
murals and mobiles. I cannot think of a more creative environment. My parents receive
coach loads of visitors who wish to see my father’s amazing Outsider Art collection, so I
feel very privileged to have grown up surrounded by such inspiration!

I am very lucky, I live in heart of the beautiful Hampshire countryside in a village called
“Braishfield’ with thatched cottages and a village pond. It is classically English and we love
it! I have a studio on a remote farm, it’s incredibly peaceful but very hard to find, we have
to string up balloons and signs every time we have a visitor so they can find us.
Primarily I am an illustrator but I also hold online courses and run my small business where we supply my Pop-Up Books, Stationery and Iron/Stick-on Patches to the world…

Jennie-Maizels-pencils

My studio is crammed full of sketchbooks, paint and of course pencils. I have always had a real love affair with coloured pencils and keep them in colour coordinated tins, I use a
brand called Prismacolor that I have shipped from the States, so I have a vast collection!
Sketchbook Club started as a result of my complete obsession with Sketchbooks.
I keep prolific holiday journals, I find them so absorbing, relaxing and fulfilling, I now can’t
go on holiday without completing one.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spreadI am a complete Instagram addict, I love how it connects people, an instant snapshot of
what people are up to, both creatively and domestically, I find it fascinating. (it also appeals to my nosiness!). Illustration can be quite an isolating profession, so being able to show the world your work in progress is incredibly positive and a great way to gauge future reactions to your published work.

It was through Instagram that Sketchbook began. I was posting images of my holiday
journals and also of the work I was teaching in my Sketchbook Club here in my studio and
was overwhelmed by peoples responses. This lead to an huge demand to hold an online
version, so the Online Sketchbook Club was born.

Jennie sketchbook studio
It’s been absolutely amazing, so fabulous to see the community growing. Each module has a hashtag so people can show/comment/advise etc. on pieces of work. Have a look at the first model #SketchbookclubHouses and you’ll see what I mean.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spread club

I actually get quite emotional when I scroll through the feeds, I can’t believe so may people
are taking part!
Sketchbook Club Course two is launching in a few weeks and I can’t wait to see what
people create from it.
I truly believe that given the right tools and guidance, anyone can draw.

It is all about having the fear of the blank page taken away, I never start to illustrate without knowing what I am about to draw, you wouldn’t bake a cake without a recipe, or play the piano without music, so I don’t see the difference. I am just giving people the ‘recipe’ to create something they will be enjoy creating and be hugely proud of.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spread 2

I have kept sketchbooks since I was a little girl and encouraged my children to do the
same. there is something a little bit magic about them. No pressure (just turn the page and
start over if you are not happy), portable (I never leave home without one) and completely
addictive.
People who have literally never drawn before, have got involved with my Sketchbook Club
and are now drawing as their main crafting hobby. It fills me with indescribable pride and
makes me happier than I have ever felt before in my career.

online club Jennie Maizels

Check out Jennie’s website here:
and don’t forget to follow her on instagram here @jenniemaizels, and me too!>> @incredibusy and fellow #sgiew host @redtedart

cooking with kids, key stage 2, life

With two boys, who seem to be growing bigger every week, we are doing that thing of contemplating extending the back of the house. When they were small, pre-school, it didn’t seem so crucial to have separate living and playing areas – Although, as they got to school age, establishing the sitting room as the ‘grown-up room’ gave back some tranquility and escape from the lego.
pozushoes
And now they are nearly as tall as me, we’ve had to buy bigger beds, with built in desk and wardrobe space, and had to rethink the downstairs living area…

As you know, we love ‘family cooking time’ where we bake and cook together as a family, yet these boys take up a LOT of room in our galley kitchen these days.

The kitchen is one area that we have not changed since moving in, and I LOVE our old Edwardian kitchen floor though, ridiculous as that sounds, these tiles make is so hard! It’s something I have been struggling to come to terms with inevitably having to say goodbye to these beautiful old tiles – unless we can find a way to incorporate them into a new layout!

Glass box kitchen extension, Richmond : Modern kitchen by Holland and Green

So we’ve been looking at LOADS of different kitchen layout designs, to find a way to do this, perhaps with a glass box extension, to let in more light, without taking too much of our small mid terrace garden?

Or shall I just bite the bullet and go for something completely different and accept that change is as good as a rest as they say? There’s always the option of finding some new rather lovely tiles to play with! – watch this space!
Modern kitchen by Pixcity
chinese new year, crafts, FREE printables, key stage 2, kids, life

Hand Coloured Chinese Lanterns

Chinese New Year PrintablesMy little blonde boys are both incredibly fascinated by the Orient, and at the beginning of every year are keen to go to Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year. We are lucky enough to be close to London’s Chinatown and a couple of years ago they bought some rather lovely window clings, graphic and colourful, but really too big for their bedroom windows in our Edwardian house.

Chinese-New-Year-Printables-KidsChaos-4Chinese-New-Year-Printables-KidsChaos-3 So this year, we came up with a fun way of making their own, from a template I created here (and if you click here and here you can download and print these Chinese New Year printables yourself too).

You will need:

Printable-Chinese-New-Year-graphics-KidsChaos-2-of-21) Print off the Chinese New Year printables template here and here
2) Packet of Sharpie Pens (*which you can get here in the UK  and here in the US)
3) Pack of Clear CD wallets or any plastic stationery sleeves
4) Blu tack

Instructions:

Printable-Chinese-New-Year-graphics-KidsChaos-1-of-21) once you’ve printed off the Chinese New Year printables template, blu tack the clear plastic cd wallet into position over the graphic and start tracing around the illustration with a black sharpie pen.

2) Then simply colour in with a selection of reds, yellow, oranges. Or if you fancy a change, try a range of greens and blues – that looks great too!

3) When you’ve finished, take the CD wallet and blu tack it to the window! voila!Chinese-New-Year-Printables-KidsChaos-5

To watch a video of how we did these Chinese New Year printables, pop over to Red Ted Art’s YouTube channel here where we have made a guest appearance (again!) showing you how to do this, you’ll notice that I got bored with the colouring in bit, and Maggy had to take over… as a Chinese inspired art project however, both of my boys LOVED doing these, and it kept them busy and quiet for AGES!
10 yo specifically asked for a sheep… as it IS year of the sheep!

Ali also blogs over on aGreenerLifeforus.com and FunCraftsKids.com and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

 *affiliate links for your convenience… 🙂

charity, kids, life, theatre reviews

Moomins Review 2014 – Polka Theatre

We do love Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre, and as the boys get bigger, I fear I may be toddling up there on my own to watch shows without them! We took them to see The Moomins ‘Moominssummer Madness’ at the weekend, and we are all in agreement that it was a most delightful show. We were enchanted by the characterisation of Snorkmaiden and Moomintroll, of Moomimmamma, Snufkin and Little My (the youngest boys’ favourite character by far – see handwritten review below!) of course, Misabelle was absolutely fabulous too. KidsChaos-Polka-Theatre-Moomins-Puppets

The show is based on Tove Jansson’s 1964 book Moominsummer Madness and as the boys and their Dad have read MOST of Tove Jansson’s Moomins Books they were chuckling along and all said that it was a great adaption.

Moomins Review

KidsChaos-Polka-Theatre-Moomins-Snorkmaiden-and-Moomintroll

Moomins Review

Tove Jansson’s much-loved Moomins are brought to life on stage with the ensemble’s fabulous puppetry, songs and and great humour. Moominsummer Madness is part of Tove100, celebrating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Tove Jansson.

To book at the Polka Theatre, SW19 click here.
Follow them on twitter here @polkatheatre.

Follow Ali on twitter as @incredibusymum and twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos for more posts like this one… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! and come say hello at instagram.com/incredibusy too x
Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com

 

charity, education, kids, life

see the childSee the Child: Change the System

I was lucky enough to be at Britmums Live 2014 and attended one of the INSPIRE sessions, “How to be an Agent of Change: Advocacy and charity campaigns” featuring Camila Batmanghelidjh, Kids Company; Lindsay Atkin, Lilies Are Like YouTuber; Hayley Goleniowska, Downs Side Up; and Chris Mosler, Thinly Spread.
Camila Batmanghelidjh
All very inspiring women indeed – and Camila Batmanghelidjh is the founder of Kids Company – the charity behind See the Child. Change the System.
Camila spoke of how vulnerable children in Britain desperately need our help. She movingly talked of how too many children across the country are suffering squalor, abuse and neglect. Most can’t get any help because the system just isn’t coping. Watch this video:WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP? Please help by signing the petition to show you care. This will help support an independent task force to redesign children’s services so that every child who needs help can get it. By voting, you too are helping to show the politicians that we’re no longer going to stand for this. Many of these children, and those who work with them, are being failed by a system in crisis, vote now by clicking here.
Visit the campaign’s website seethechild.org for more information.
Please do follow on Twitter @SeetheChild along with Facebook, G+, and instagram and search for the hashtag #SeetheChild and start sharing by commenting, and retweeting.
#SeetheChild are asking people to text I SEE to 63000 – (a standard network charge as a vote, not a donation). The text will constitute a ‘vote’ for change but you will also be able to sign up on the website.
see the child Ali CliffordFinally, in addition to voting, #SeetheChild would really like you, your friends, followers and family to post a picture of yourself as a child with the campaign messaging something along the lines of something like: “This is me as a child. Some children don’t have such happy childhoods. I’m supporting the #seethechild campaign to change Children’s Services in the UK. Share your childhood photo and sign the petition here bit.ly/1tfykF3.
Follow Ali on twitter as @incredibusymum and twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos for more posts like this one… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it! and come say hello at instagram.com/incredibusy too x
Ali also writes over on AGreenerLifeforus.com
father's day, kids, life

Robotic Anki Drive race cars powered by artificial intelligence (AI)

My new favourite Futuristic Toy! Launching this Wednesday at Apple Stores in the UK, the Anki Drive racing game was created in 2010 by Carnegie Mellon Robotics Institute graduates and robotics experts using the same criterion as Google’s self-driving cars.Anki Drive robotic race cars

The cars and the race mat (and the packaging for that matter) are beautifully designed. Pictured here is the yellow ‘KOURAI’ who has his own personality type, and as one of my friends pointed out on Instagram tonight, has a look of the Batmobile about him… Probably due to Boris Sofman, Anki’s CEO’s astute involvement of none other than Batmobile and Iron Man‘s facemask designer, Harald Belker.

So, grab your iPhone, iPad or iPad mini and pick a car! The player can race others cars that control themselves (AI) which spookily respond and adapt to the real player. As you get started racing (either solo with the AI or with friends) the cars’ technology realises where they are on the mat, and navigate the course (without falling off the track, which I do recall with some painful memories of the scalextric slot cars we had constantly falling off the track).

My boys love playing Mario Kart on the Wii… so I can’t wait to get racing with the Anki Drive with them – driving these funky miniature, AI robotic cars with bonkers personalities and upgradable armoury! (and even better, when you’re finished playing, you just roll the racing mat up and store it in its box!)

So watch this space for a review from the boys… I’ve had a great morning playing with these Anki Drive race cars, and I know what Mr. KidsChaos is getting for Father’s Day!

Follow Ali on twitter as @incredibusymum and twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos for more posts like this one… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x Like it? Pin it!

charity, life

What an amazing thing to be a part of… the #TeamHonkRelay – Team Honk is a collection of bloggers, Tweeters and Facebookers who come together to raise money for Comic Relief and Sport Relief.

Team Honk, set up in 2013 by Tanya Mummy Barrow, Penny from Aresidence and Annie Mammasuarus, have this year designed a blogger team honk relay challenge where a baton is being passed from Lands End to John O Groats. Bloggers up and down the country will be using a range of weird and wonderful modes of transport to pass the baton over.

teamhonkrelay badgeYesterday was London’s turn… Our leg of the team honk relay was an ingenious Monopoly theme – #Honkopoly! We covered every colour of the Monopoly board with a couple of extra iconic points of interest along the way. We walked, skipped, ran, skated, and pushed buggies. Armed with the baton and props including Get Out Of Jail , Chance and Pass Go cards as well as amazingly designed leaflets which we gave out to people with details of what we were doing…and tonight we find that we are on the leaderboard of Sport Relief’s ‘freestyle‘ fundraisers!

Bloggers who took part in the London leg included: Vanessa from HPMcQ, Sophie from Franglaise Mummy , Sarah from Grenglish, Swazi from Chocolate is not the only fruit, Alison from Not Another Mummy Blog, Me (KidsChaos) in my Hi-Tec trainers, Jennifer from Jenography, Gillian from A Baby on Board, Rosie from Mummy and Boo, Gretta from Mums Do Travel, Julia from I Carried a Watermelon, Stephanie from Was This In The Plan?, Jacinta from Jacintaz3, Maria aka @maniasmama3, Sachelle from Holiday Tots, Maggy from RedTedArt, Nell from the Pigeon Pair and Me, Kelly from domesticgoddesque, and Uju from babesabouttown.

London_WEB_RGB

ali clifford maggy woodley honkopolyWe had a great day being a part of the team honk relay.

supporting this worthy charity and raising money for a fantastic cause. So, we’d love it if you could sponsor us all here please. Thanks so much!

I think it’s worth it for Maggy, Red Ted Art‘s eyelashes, and our tutu and tights get-up from Delights UK – we certainly got some *HONKS*.

You can keep track of the journey by following the hashtags #TeamHonkRelay – and let us know when you have sponsored us, so that we can tweet about you too!

And if you’re interested in actively getting involved with Sport Relief, the first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Honkopoly-incredibusy-redtedart-teamAs one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.

key stage 2, kids, life

As a family, we like to play games together… we like the classics (of my youth)… Monopoly, Connect 4, and anyone remember ‘Sorry’?

My parents always bought a new ‘family game’ every year, and I’ve carried on this tradition with my own children.

pucket photoThis time last year, we bought Pucket – an amazingly fun game, you pull back the elastic to fire your wooden pucks through a gap in the middle of the board (the ‘gate’), and when all of your pucks have got through… before your opponents’, you’ve won! It’s manic, and massively funny to play. We can highly recommend this game 🙂

bridget-kidschaos-photo

Now the makers of Pucket, ETGames, have a new game… it’s called ‘Bridget’ and the boys LOVE it… 11yo opened it on his birthday, they figured out the rules – taking it in turns to add the bricks to get across the board with their ‘bridges’…they insisted we took it with us to the restaurant for Birthday Supper with Daddy… and excitedly explained the Bridge Building Strategy Game to him. “A three dimensional noughts and crosses” which I seem to lose to a 9yo and an 11yo…grrr.

bridget-kidschaos-square(When not playing the official game, they use the bricks to create characters and funny faces!!)

It’s produced following the same Fair Trade principles as the production of the Pucket game, and packaged in a small organic cotton bag, perfect for taking with you on your travels, and Bridget is carefully hand-crafted in the UK – in fact, it’s quite a thing of beauty!

I’ve recommended this to several friends who have already purchased the Bridget for Christmas pressies, and my Brother in Law will certainly be getting one from us too this year!

If you can recommend any other classic games you think my family, and the boys age 9 and 11 may like – please comment below, thank you 🙂

Oh, by the way, I’m also on twitter.com/MoreKidsChaos too… Erm, and funnily enough on Google+Facebook and Pinterest! Pop over to say hello x LIKE IT? Pin it!