Monday, 25 June 2012

Lavender bliss bath bombs

Don't you just love sinking into a hot bath at the end of a tiring day? My whole family are addicted to baths, especially with the addition of a fizzy bath bomb. We have tried several bath bomb creations from the shop, Lush. They have a soothing effect as well as smelling delicious. Some have moisturising qualities, others are uplifting. There are heaps and heaps to choose from. When our local Lush store closed down we were left with no choice but to try making our own.

We have called our creations "Lavender Bliss". They are made using the following materials:
  • Apricot kernel oil (you can use almond oil instead)
  • 10 tbl spoons of bi-carbonate of soda
  • 3 tbl spoons of citric acid
  • aromatherapy oil - we used lavender
  • food colouring
  • flower petals from our garden
  • muffin tin and muffin cases
  • spoon
  • 2 small glass jars
  • mixing bowl
We bought our scented oils at a health food shop. I have also seen a number of websites where you can buy them online.

Step1: You start by pouring the bi-carb soda and citric acid into a bowl. Mix the ingredients together well.

Step 2: Scoop out about half a cup of this mixture and put it in into another bowl. This will make about one or two bath bombs (depending on the size of moulds in your muffin tray).

Step 3: Add the flower petals or body glitter to the base mixture.

Step 4: In a small glass jar, mix together 6 drops of your scented oil, 5 teaspoons of apricot kernel oil and about 10 drops of food colouring. We used two jars - one with blue food colouring and one with pink.

Step 5: Gradually pour the oil mixture into the half cup of the base mixture. Quickly mix it all together with a spoon. The mixture is ready when it stays together in your hands without crumbling too much.

Step 6: Spoon the mixture into the muffin tray, lined with paper muffin cases. Press it down firmly.

Step 7: You can use the rest of the mixture with other types of scented oil or food colouring to make more bath bombs. We stuck to blue and pink bombs - all with lavender oil and petals.

Step 8: Leave the bombs in the tray to set for a few days.

Step 9: Run a bath, hop in and drop a bomb. Watch it fizzzzzz!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Edible jewellery for breakfast

I have lost count of how often my children have refused to eat their breakfast. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day so I find it difficult to understand why you wouldn't want to eat it. We have tried toast, oats, muesli, rice bubbles, pancakes and eggs. Occasionally we have some luck with oats and toast but certainly not on a consistent basis.

This morning however breakfast was a big hit. We made necklaces using string with Quinoa Os and a nutri-grain equivalent. We used a few dried apples too. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw Alex and Jasmine eating spoons of cereal in between threading their necklaces.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Paper lantern mobiles

We finally made it to Reverse Garbage today. If you haven't been, it is a not-for-profit co-operative situated in Marrickville, Sydney, that sells industrial discards, off-cuts and over-runs to the public for creative and practical uses, reducing the amount of waste going to landfill.

We wandered past old furniture, industrial size boxes, metal tubs and a vast array of fabric and old street banners. I loved the furnishing fabric samples for sale. I could imagine making fantastic patchwork cushions or a wall hanging.

It was too funny watching Alex and Jasmine high five the plastic mannequins. Even more funny when one of the mannequin's arms fell off on Jasmine.

There were some piles of weird polysterene shapes and an odd assortment of lamp shades. I must confess I was very tempted to have a go at decorating a lampshade for our living room but the thought of carrying it, together with the kids and other stuff back to the car, was a major deterrant.

So, we managed to stay focused on kids craft bits and pieces. We bought some cheap cards, paper lanterns, paint and decorative rocks. Jasmine and I enjoyed making pretty mobiles with the paper lanterns we bought. Alex was more interested in playing with the rocks. I'll tell you what we made with the rocks in a future post.

To make these pretty mobiles you will need:
  • paper lanterns
  • ribbon, string or lace to hang up the lanterns
  • coloured, patterned paper
  • stapler or sticky tape.
Step 1: Tie a ribbon through the hooks at the top of the lantern so you can hang the mobile up.

Step 2: Tie a strip of lace through the middle of the lantern.

Step 3: Cut out some paper shapes.

Step 4: Attach shapes to the lantern with a stapler or sticky tape.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Soothing glitter in a jar

Ever since Jasmine was given a fairy glitter paper weight, she has been asking me how it is made. We decided to create our own version of her fairy paperweight using a jar.

We filled two jars with water and then Alex and Jasmine poured in a couple of different coloured tubes of glitter. We experimented with objects to add to the glitter such as a small fairy doll for Jasmine and a lizard for Alex and his beloved Diego figurine.

I thought the jars looked cool. It's fun to watch the glitter disperse across the jar and then settle slowly to the bottom. However, Alex and Jasmine were a bit sad to think they couldn't play with their toys if they were stuck in a jar. So, we took them out, washed them and decided to throw in a few old plastic farm animals instead. We also covered the boring green plastic lids of the jars. Have a look at the pictures below for what we ended up with.

For a similar project, using plastic water bottles, have a look at the Meditation Friends over at the Moonsprig website.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Quicksticks silver sticky tape for little people

At Mathilda's Handmade Market recently in Sydney, I bought some Quicksticks silver sticky tape. It is a tape created by two retired early childhood teachers to use for craft activities in early childhood centres and at home. Basically, it is an easy tape for kids to cut, peel and stick. Used with recycled boxes and rolls, kids can have great fun creating all sorts of things. Quicksticks tape is sold with an optional heart or star crimper. You thread the tape through the crimper and it comes out the other end stamped with a pattern. Have a look at for more information.

We used aluminum foil, Quicksticks tape and a bunch of different shaped cereal and other boxes and toilet paper rolls. First we made a robot.

Next we decided to make TV sets with a silver backing and white paper on which Alex and Jasmine drew a movie of their choosing. We also remembered to make a remote control using foil, tape and a cardboard jelly box. Alex and Jasmine had a great time sitting in front of their TVs with their teddies, dolls and a bowl of fruit.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Cubby house creation with a sheet and fabric paint

While Alex and Jasmine await their stylish wooden cubby house their dad is planning to build in the garden we thought we'd make an indoor version. We used an old queen sized white sheet and some fabric paint. The sheet is the perfect size to throw over our playroom table so the kids can hide underneath and get up to all sorts of "secret business".

We've had a few attempts at decorating with fabric paint in my household. This time we used the freezer paper stencilling method that so many people rave about on their blogs. Now we know why people love it so much. It is relatively easy and super effective. In previous activities I let Alex and Jasmine go crazy with glitter paint on a pair of their old jeans and a t-shirt. They had a fabulous time but used so much paint that their clothes became stiff and uncomfortable to wear. With the freezer paper method, you basically just cut out an image into the paper, iron it onto your fabric and apply a thin layer of paint. Once dry you pull off the paper and a beautiful coloured image awaits.

The hardest part is sourcing the freezer paper in Australia. Unlike the USA where I believe you can buy freezer paper at the supermarket, Australian grocery stores don't stock it. In Sydney, you can buy it at Spotlight. Just ask at the counter for some. It is like baking paper but has a sticky side which means you can cut out an image and then iron the paper onto your fabric, making a nice neat surface to paint.

I browsed some silhouette images on the internet and ended up printing a bat and a butterfly, in consultation with my children.

I traced the images onto the freezer paper and cut them out. I made several copies. Where possible I tried to keep the inside image intact too in case I wanted to do some reverse paintings of the image. I used scissors for some images and then an artline cutter on a board for others. The artline cutter was by far the more effective approach.

We decided to decorate two pillow slips too so the kids could sit on pillows in their cubby rather than on the hard wooden floor. I did the ironing of the bat and butterfly freezer paper cut-outs onto the fabric.

Jasmine did a great job helping me with the painting. She is very careful and patient. Alex prefers messier, free forms of painting so I did the bat prints for him.

It was too tempting to add some extra colour with some paint spatters too. I also painted on some little people, based on some cut-outs I had in the cupboard.

Here are some links to other inspiring freezer paper stencilling ideas and techniques worth checking out:

The Artful Parent

Julie Ann Art

Full of Great Ideas

Monday, 4 June 2012

Mirror mirror on the wall

One of my kids' favourite activities at the moment is to make their way over to the bathroom mirror and ask "Mirror mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?". The answer is themselves of course.

While I think this is a cute and harmless activity, I would prefer if they didn't put hand prints all over the bathroom mirror. But asking my kids to stop making a mess is really like asking them to stop eating. So I figured an easier and more fruitful solution would be to decorate a mirror especially for the kids' bedroom and to be used as they like.

While Alex was busy riding his bike, Jasmine and I set to work, turning a plain piece of round board and a round mirror that we'd bought at Riot Art and Craft Store into something pretty.

We painted the board a light blue / grey with some craft paint. Once the paint had dried Jasmine stuck shells and buttons around the outer edge with PVA craft glue. The shells needed a lot of glue and I must say it was a bit alarming to see white glue oozing everywhere. Thankfully excess glue was easily wiped away with a wet cloth and it dried clear so you can barely notice it on the finished product. Jasmine stuck the mirror in the centre (well it's not quite in the centre but close enough!). I think the combination of blue, white and green buttons and shells is fun and refreshing. We had collected some shells from the beach just before Xmas last year while holidaying on the NSW coast. However, I know you can buy shells at craft stores too if your next coastal holiday is a long way into the future.

The kids love their new mirror. They are always peering into the mirror when it is sitting on their bedroom mantlepiece and have even started bringing it with them around the house as they move from one activity to the next.

Friday, 1 June 2012

Playing with autumn leaves

Our garden is permanently full of leaves at the moment. I think the lawn looks a little messy but Alex and Jasmine think it's great. They love raking the leaves into piles and jumping like crazy on top.

For a more refined activity, Kris showed the kids how to make leaf prints on paper. We used blue acrylic paint, thinned with a little water. The kids used sponge rollers to apply a coat of paint to the leaves. They then put a clean sheet of paper on top of the paint-covered leaf and pressed it down with their hands.  When you peel off the top layer of paper, a lovely blue leaf print appears. Very satisfying!

The kids also experimented with applying the paint onto the leaf with a paintbrush and enjoyed seeing the white leaf design amid the blue paint, after removing the leaf.