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!
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
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
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!)
So with much delight, we introduce our latest invention, the Milk Carton Skull Lanterns!
Spike age 14:
We 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 we started planning the graphics for it that we 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 my Mum’s incredibusyyoutube video here.
For the PRINTABLE Skull’s face template click here
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 old 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!