We have always been big ‘bird’ fans (no, not BIGBird, as in the Sesame Street character, although that has always quite amused…) – As a child we fed the birds in the garden at home, with various bird houses, structures and fat and seed balls, watching to see if the naughty squirrels had somehow managed to nab the grub before the bluetits could get to it!
So we wanted to share this easy birdfeeder with you –
you will need:
half an orange
some peanut butter
some bird seed…
string – (we love the baker’s twine!)
Scoop out the content of the orange (we have a smoothie every day, so we added the orange to that).
Spread some peanut butter into the orange skin, and add the seeds.
Pierce holes in the side of the orange skin ‘cup’ – actually do this BEFORE you add the peanut butter and seeds!
Making a Dream Catcher using natural, found objects and at the same time ticking the boxes of three STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and the Arts) practices:
The Science (making dough with salt, water and flour for the beads)
The Arts (designing and sculpting the salt dough leaves, and assembling your dream catcher)
The Maths (geometry of weaving a pattern with a single length of twine)
This is such a fun project. And one that you could do either indoors or outside in the warmer weather – we really love a craft that all ages can enjoy – and this three sides dream catcher can be a bit of a challenge when it comes to the weaving, so we will link some YouTube tutorials at the foot of this article so that you can get acquainted with the dream catcher weaving geometry at your leisure.
Before you get started, make sure you have everything you need for your beautiful natural dream catcher – go on a nature hunt, look for feathers, acorns, pine cones, and lots of sticks!
You’ll need some cotton string, or strong yarn, and we also made some colourful salt dough beads and ‘leaves’ so that everything is biodegradable – this means you can eventually hang your dream catchers outside in the garden or the woods, for them to let nature decay them – hey, that may even be a bit of a science lesson right there too!
Salt dough leaves and beads recipe
1 part salt
2 parts plain flour
half to one part water
optional – some natural food colouring (if you are feeling ambitious – you could go as far as making your own dough dye with beetroot! hey – experiment, have some fun)
We mixed the dough into three bowls, and added three colours – subtle so that they would blend well with nature – and rolled small balls, pushing a skewer through to make a bead, we dried the beads by ‘stringing’ them onto metal skewers and propping up off the baking tray to harden in the oven on a very low 100 degrees temperature, checking on the beads after about fifteen minutes, and turning them on the skewers so that they didn’t stick.
The leaves we made by rolling the dough out to about 5mm thick, and used a leaf shaped cookie cutter and a knife to score the marks on the ‘leaves’ and push a hole at the top of the leaf to allow it to be attached to the dreamcatcher. Again, we allowed these leaves to harden, baking them at the bottom of the oven, for about half an hour to an hour, using a cooling rack from the kitchen. We made these beads and salt dough leaves in advance of our dream catcher construction to allow them to harden – word of warning – don’t let them get damp, they will go soggy!
The assembly of your dream catcher
Now you have everything you need, start to pull it all together. Make a triangle from three sticks of the same length, tying them tight in each of the three corners.
Make a ‘bobbin’ with one short stick, about 4cm long, wrap the yarn around and around until it’s full of yarn – (you’ll have to experiment, but you’ll need enough yarn to create the geometrical pattern on the dream catcher ‘web’).
Using the yarn on this bobbin, start by tying a knot next to one of the three corners of the triangle frame.
Get weaving that web
As you start to ‘weave’ your web the first row can be quite loose. Evenly spaced, start to work the yarn around the triangle:
Pass the end of your yarn around a stick.
Bring the end under the straight part of the yarn.
Bring the end up and pass it through the eye of the loop you just made.
Pull it tighter to complete a half hitch.
Tie the hitch the same at each intersection of the yarn.
Continue around the triangle, to ‘row two’ in the same way, see diagram (and the video links below)
The next hitch is made at the midpoint of the first loop in the first row.
As you tie these hitches you start to pull each stitch in the web a little tighter. Continue around the web tying a hitch and pulling tighter on each row until you are down to a small centre hole in your web. Tie it off in a knot.
Now tie three strands of yarn from the ‘bottom’ of the triangle and attach the beads, feathers, leaves – And tie a hanging loop at the top of the triangle and you are ready to decorate the trees by hanging your wonderful dream catchers in the forest – or, if you REALLY want to catch those dreams in your web, hang your natural dream catcher up in your bedroom for a real conversation starter!
Heart print wrapping paper, and gift wrap in general, can be expensive to buy, so we do make a LOT of home made paper – this heart print wrapping paper is so easy to do, and great for birthdays as well as Valentine’s Day.
We use the end of a toilet roll tube to do these (squeeze the end of the circular opening flat, and then bend in the top section to create a heart shape). Dipping the tube into the red and pink paint and printing onto the brown parcel paper, which can be bought fairly economically from office supply shops. Alternatively, we have also used metal heart shaped cookie cutters – (see photo, we used the same cookie cutter for our Plum Pie recipe) which works just as well… if a little less organically!
Using butcher’s string is another way to make the parcel look really special, particularly if you attach a home-made gift tag, which we created at the same time, using the off-cuts of the heart print wrapping paper… gently fold the printed hearts down the middle to cut a nice symmetrical heart shape and attach with the butcher’s string – lovely!
We created heart print gift tags, and greetings cards, at the same time as the heart print wrapping paper, to have a full set… and even print some extra to keep in the cupboard for that unexpected party or to use to send a pressie to Granny!
It could not be easier, in fact, we’ve even made a little video for you to show you how (make sure to watch right until the end as there are some outtakes of our new naughty kitten attacking the Porgs!)
To learn this basic paper cutting technique with paper Porgs that you can either colour in or leave as is to create your very own scene from The Last Jedi!
Print off these paper chain Porgs again and again, and glue them together to make longer paper chains. They will make great decorations for parties, classrooms and your home.
You can even get your pencils out, and copy off our Porg Paper Chain Design shapes to draw onto sheets of newspaper too – if you don’t have access to a printer – this is a great way to have fun with old broadsheet newspapers that would be going to the recycling bin…. whatever you do, please come back and tell us how you’ve had fun with these paper chains – we love to see what you’ve all been up to and we love paper crafts so if you spot any Star Wars paper crafts we’d love to see them too!
Porgs were probably our favourite characters from the Disney / LucasFilm team on The Last Jedi Star Wars film- so adorable, and just look so sweet – The Last Jedi had a lot of humour, and the Porgs were quite a surprise –
We’ve had a go at making little models with clay – more on that to come – meanwhile we can’t wait for these sneakers from Po-Zu to be delivered in April.
Watch our video here (with the naughty Kipper the kitten making a cheeky appearance at the end!)
KidsChaos.com is the Kid’s creative blog from Ali Clifford and sons…
Ali also writes at Incredibusy.com and had a hand in creating this template at the request of the boys!
As a family, Plastic Free July had us thinking – what can we do more to encourage people to be more aware of their plastic use, maybe going plastic free? Can we create a cleaner world for generations to come for July and the other eleven months?!?
Firstly – let’s remind ourselves WHY we are doing this:
“Crude oil extraction causes problems like deforestation, oil spills, pollution of toxic chemicals. From the 100 million tonnes of plastic produced each year, 10 million tonnes ends up in the sea. Plastic doesn’t break down like natural materials – there’s an area of floating plastic the size of Turkey* in the North Pacific.”
*source, Greenpeace via BetterShoes.org
Our family has made several changes over the last few years, so we’ve been carrying reusable bottles, going plastic free, and also reusable cups and cutlery (we love a Spork for the name as much as anything!) for when we are out and about.
At home in the kitchen, we’ve ditched the plastic and sponge pan-scourers, and started using coconut coir crocheted cloths, we order our milk and orange juice to be delivered every other day by the ‘milkman’ – and love that he collects our used (clean) bottles (he is a ‘he’ yes before we start dissecting whether to call him a milk-delivery-operative) – , and we’ve been saving the milk bottle aluminium lids to pop in the recycling kerb side collection box too – we post them into a pop can – as they are very small!
We’ve recently been given an espresso machine, which we were loath to use because of the plastic (landfill) capsules – however, you can now buy compostable plant-based capsules so that’s a winner!
Howdens have put together this helpful guide with some simple ways that you can make more sustainable choices in your day-to-day life. With the kitchen at the heart of the home, they share top tips for creating an eco-friendly kitchen and to explore how even small changes can make a big difference. click HERE
And – we’ve even extended the plastic-free policy to the bathroom, with natural deodorant in a cardboard tube, and bars of shampoos too… it’s been an interesting experiment, but so far, we are very fragrant!
And shoes, man – so many modern shoes contain PVC (polyvinyl chloride); polyurethane plastic, TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) EVA Foam (ethylene vinyl acetate) (found this all out here: http://www.bettershoes.org/home/material-selection so we’ve even been rethinking that too – you CAN get shoes made from natural materials, like cork and organic cotton, and wool – like Po-Zu and Baabuk.
A really good read is this book, No. More. Plastic. by Martin Dorey, the fella who brought us #2minutebeachclean – it’s a really easy read, perfect for kids and teenagers and supports behaviour change and helping others habitually #choosetorefuse shopping bags, straws, takeaway containers and coffee cups – just to name a few.
This post has been written in conjunction with Howdens – although of course all thoughts and words and photographs are my own.
Sign the petition to The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP to “Make coffee cups recyclable!” HERE
Do you have bread bags, polythene, toilet roll bags, bubble wrap etc you want to recycle? post it to Polyprint. http://polyprint.co.uk/recycling/ accepts recycling from the general public. Please visit their website for details.
This is Rocket Science – Science Sparks Book review
We have known Emma Vanstone for a LONG time now, and have been massive fans of her website and social media @sciencesparks – so when we spotted that Emma had recently published a new book – we couldn’t wait to get our hands on it!
From the cover design to the spreads, this book is so visually appealing – This is Rocket Science: An Activity Guide is jam-packed with fun experiments for children and adults each designed to show how mechanical science and astrophysics work from the inside out and really does so without you KNOWING that you are ‘learning’ which always puts my kids off these sorts of books.
The book encourages the reader to use upcycle found materials like bottles, cardboard, glue and tape to build awesome rocket ships, paper spinners and mobile rocket launch pads.
We love the photography and mix of genders in the book – so important to bridge the gender gap, as it is so crucial that we get more women into science.
Watch our full review over on IGTV here or below – and purchase your own copy of the book HERE in time for Christmas!
Well, what could be more perfect than an autumn night in with your favourite cat and teenager right?
As these teenage boys get older, they want to spend more time apart from me – hanging out with their friends, or playing computer games and chatting online with mates. Having a kitten changes all of that – (as you will have read in other posts this year!) Kipper the cat has been such a blessing and has really brought the family together.
Once you’ve settled on the sofa on a Saturday night in to watch Strictly or the X-Factor (or both) Kipper the cat will find his way onto a warm lap and curl up and pin you down for hours!
I’ll admit, I’m pretty sure it’s cupboard love, as he’s always a bit more loving at breakfast and supper time if Whiskas cat casseroles are on the menu, but needless to say – it’s got both RB and myself back into cosying up on the sofa together to read a book of an evening – with a mug of tea and a play ‘Russian Roulette’ with a box of chocolates, (to explain, you take it in turns to eat a chocolate from the box without looking at the little diagram, which is really fun, as long as you don’t accidentally get the Turkish Delight).
We generally have refreshments on hand for Kipper too – whilst we are supping our tea, we always have a bowl of water in the sitting room for him, as well as fairly close to his food bowl in the kitchen – we read somewhere that they like to have fresh water available in more than one location – frankly, for us, it’s simply a ploy to get him to hang out with us some more, ultimately, he’s turning into a bit of a teenager…
This post is in conjunction with WHISKAS® but all thoughts are my own
I have always wanted a dream pet which was created by my own imagination. This is why I jumped at the chance to have my own dream pet made into a real plushie.
My dream pet would always have to be some sort of a colour changing reptile or a chameleon. I have always loved chameleons because of their ability to change colour to suit their surroundings or environment which they are in.
It would sleep and live somewhere warm and comfortable because I would think that if I designed an animal, it would like to be in comfort wherever it can.
My dream pet would eat foods which are high in protein and carbs as it would be roaming free for most of its life and would need the energy to keep it healthy.
The creature would be intelligent enough to understand basic tasks and to know right from wrong to a certain extent, however, this animal is not a human so it cannot communicate with speech.
The dream pet would not need to have a collar or a lead to take on walks because the creature would be capable of finding its way back wherever it is. It would not need to be taken on walks either as it takes itself around without help from its owner (me).
Of course there is no need to get a pet anymore as we are currently happy with our young cat kipper.
You may well know that Mum finally caved in and we got a cat earlier this year who she’s sensibly covered with Pet Insurance from Petplan, but we do still like the idea of an exotic pet too. Maybe a stick insect or a lizard? Anyway delighted we had a go at drawing our dream pet, and Mum had them made into soft toys and awwww we love them!
This post has been possible thanks to Petplan, but all thoughts are my own.
Follow my mum @incredibusy over on twitter, insta, pinterest and facebook too….x
Ali writes: Having kids, as you know, messes with your sleep patterns – from newborn and no (night time) sleep, to toddlers trying to get into your bed at three in the morning – through to fretting about teenagers who stay awake longer than you do! Adult Life is a lot more stressy than advertised right??
And even Kipper the new kitten, acquired after research into how de-stressing a pet can be* for teenagers and perimenopausal mamas, drives us mad by jumping on our heads when he thinks it’s time for breakfast at five AM!!
As a freelancer, I find it really hard to ‘switch off’ and de-stress, my mind struggles to relax and unwind – I’m constantly ‘on call’ from clients, and all of the connections and social media app messages that seem to bombard me daily (and nightly!).
And as a family, we’ve been a bit lapse about allowing electronics into the bedroom – we had a rule that no mobile phones could be taken to bed, and had to be left on the sitting room mantelpiece – and that worked so well, what went wrong??!
So we are starting afresh, no more ‘reading a book on my phone’, no more ‘just checking Instagram messages’ – no more ‘oh I need my mobile phone for the alarm in the morning’ – we are making some changes!
So now, come bed time, we leave our phones downstairs, we’ve reinstated the old clock radio alarms in all of the bedrooms, we’ve banished the kitten to his own bed, on the landing in his home-made cat house (more on that here!)
And so to SLEEP…..
Sleep allows your mind to unwind and de-stress. This allows your mental and emotional well-being to be restored. Sleep helps your brain to recover and revive itself, helping it to make sense of the day, storing your memories and creating new ideas. Sleep gives you energy and boosts your immune system, helping your body recover from illnesses. While you sleep your body builds and repairs itself by making new tissue.
So plump up those pillows, grab a book (and your reading glasses – my eyes always need a bit of help at night!) and settle down into a comfy mattress for a good read at bedtime.
Aromatherapy oils can really help too, I recently put a call out on my Instagram stories asking for natural remedy advice for better sleep and was recommended these calming, relaxing aromas of essential oils: Try Lavender, Vanilla, or Jasmine. Essential oils can promote relaxation – perfect to help switch off at the end of a busy day.
As well as the calming scents of essential oils, a relaxing bedtime routine can also help you drift off. A warm shower or bath is a soothing way to unwind and as mentioned, swapping electronic devices for a good book can help your mind to switch off – and take note – try a bit of ‘facial pampering’ – thanks to suggestions from my Instagram followers (I know, it’s become my ‘go-to’ for advice!!) I’ve been using a night oil too – apparently skin repairs faster at night with the increased production of two key hormones: HGH (Human Growth Hormone) and Melatonin.
Massage a night oil into the face before bed to allow the ingredients to penetrate overnight, so that you can wake up with a glowing complexion and a jolly demeanor.
And a warm herbal tea can help too – make it a Fairtrade chamomile tea for ethical bonus points – and try jotting down a “to do” list for the next day which can organise your thoughts and clear your mind of any distractions.
And maybe some gentle relaxation exercises, such as light pilates or yoga stretches, which help to relax the muscles. Don’t exercise vigorously, as it will have the opposite effect!
Mental health awareness week highlights the importance of improving the quality of your sleep for your over all mental well-being during stressful times.
Stress is common and, like mental health, it need to be addressed and understood to ensure well-being isn’t compromised. We cannot eliminate stress completely as it is a natural driver in our body which people thrive on and use to push themselves in life but we can learn to cope with it and make it work for us. So let me know what you do to relax and get to sleep at night…
This post is in conjunction with Tempur but all thoughts are my own. TEMPUR® are supporting the Mental Health Foundation as their chosen charity for 2018.
The Mental Health Foundation have pioneered new ways of looking at mental health and improving the lives of people experiencing mental illness for more than 60 years.
TEMPUR® will be donating £10 for every mattress sold through the TEMPUR® UK website, or through a TEMPUR owned store (brand or outlet) throughout May 2018.
Tempur have worked alongside the Mental Health Foundation to produce a sleep guide, giving tips on sleep and how to get a good night’s sleep. These will be available in Tempur stores and on the Tempur website.
Tempur have a range of additional marketing activity to support this initiative which include: New TV asset, branding within the stores and fundraising for MHF by having their ribbons in Tempur stores – customers will be able to purchase a ribbon for a £2 donation
*Read more about how pets have been found to lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in our bodies, leading to a calmer approach to life and thus positively impacting our blood pressure. Simply stroking a pet can have health benefits.
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!
Over to Spike age 15:
If you’ve not heard about Fforest gather – you’re clearly not following @incredibusy on the instagram – or @coldatnight, which you should remedy forthwith – follow us here and here… It’s through instagram that Mum, and it transpires on 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 2018… 23 JULY – 5 AUGUST 2018 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 23rd – Sunday 29th of july
Week 2 – Monday 30th july – Sunday 5th of august