Monday, 21 December 2015

Advent activities - week 3

We've missed a couple of days, but Bob and I have continued doing different Christmassy activities this week, from our activity advent calendar.  Here's what we've been up to:

Snowflake painting:
I found this technique on Pinterest (originally from TenKidsAndADog) and knew Bob would love the reveal part. I used masking tape to create a snowflake shape on a card pizza base I'd hoarded, then got Bob to paint it and remove the tape. I had expected that we'd hang it up as a big decoration, but Bob said he'd like it to be a Christmas plate for sweets, so we sprayed it with glittery lacquer. The lacquer has been open a couple of years and was quite splattery, so I still need to even it out with some glitter glue before Christmas day.

What we used: Card base from a pizza, masking tape, acrylic paints in blue, white and silver, Crafters Companion silver Spray & Sparkle
Crafting notes:
  • We mixed the paints together, but not smoothly, so we'd get a nice colour variation
  • After the painting was done, we patted the sponge onto the card, to get rid of streaks
Peppermint creams
These were another Pinterest find (originally from here), but we modified the recipe a little as Bob liked the idea of chocolate chips rather than dunking them in chocolate. 
What we used: 2tbsp butter, 2tbsp single cream, 2tsp peppermint flavouring, 4 4yo's handfuls of dark chocolate chips, and as much icing sugar as needed to reach a smooth, stiff, non-sticky consistency (around 3-4 teacups, quite a bit more than in the original recipe).
Crafting notes:

  • Creaming the butter, cream, mint and sugar together was a bit hard for Bob, so I got it started and then he had a stir. We added the chocolate chips last, kneading them in like bread.
  • We used ready made icing sugar, but we made a little icing sugar by crushing granulated sugar with a mortar and pestle first, to show Bob how it's made. The transformation is more fun if you use unrefined sugar, as there's a colour change from golden to white. I also had Bob taste the sugar before and after crushing to show that it tastes different.
  • Before cutting, we rolled the mixture into sausages, wrapped in clingfilm and put into a kitchen towel tube so they didn't flatten.

Fairy make-over
Since I discovered her in my parents' decorations box 10-15 years ago, my childhood Christmas tree fairy has graced the top of my tree every year. I have been soppily attached to her for a very long time - I remember my Mum adding some blue glitter to her skirt when I was in my early teens because she was looking a little old, but I didn't want to replace her.  Over the years I've tried to spruce her up by spraying her with shimmery paints too, but nothing has hidden the fact that her crepe paper dress is now well over 40 years old. This year I thought it was time to give her a proper makeover, and to let her become Bob's fairy, not Mummy's.


What we used: Rainbow crepe paper, tinsel, holographic star stickers
Crafting notes:
  • The dress is made as a tube, bunched together around the fairy's body and secured with an elastic band. The skirt is then flattened out.
  • We added tinsel around the top of the skirt to hide fraying on her bodice, and replaced the tinsel on her head.
  • We kept her original wings for now, maybe we'll replace those next year!
Reindeer fridge cakes
These delicious cakes were inspired by a recipe for mud pies in "The Cooking Book" by Jane Bull. 

What we used: 3oz Butter, 4oz broken chocolate digestives, 1tbsp cocoa powder, 1 of each of our hands full of mini marshmallows, chopped dried apricots. To decorate: melted chocolate, 6 glace cherries, 12 snowball decorations, dark brown writing icing.
Crafting notes:
  • We melted the butter and stirred in the other ingredients before squashing into paper cases. Next we poured over melted chocolate and decorated with half a glace cherry, and two snowball decorations with a little dab of writing icing.
  • Bob *loved* breaking up the biscuits with a pestle in a big bowl. We used a metal bowl because of the bashing!
  • This activity was great for talking about numbers and dividing. We made 12 cakes with 4 colours of paper case. The glace cherries were cut in half, and there were 2 eyes per cake. Bob wasn't sure about counting 24 eyes, so we counted the number of pairs instead.

Christmas present card:
We were supposed to have a craft party with one of Bob's best friends, but they were having such fun running around and playing that we only made one project - a card. Bob wanted it to feature a present, so we cut a square and added stickers and a bow. It was dark by the time they finished, hence the bad photo. Bob's is the one on the right.
What we used: Papermania contemporary Christmas paper, silver bows, Papermania foiled stickers, QuicKutz nesting square dies, Glue dots.
Crafting notes:
  • I had the children die cut the present squares so they could make them themselves, and because Bob loves using my Big Shot :-)
  • I didn't direct their stickering, just made a few sticker sheets available to them, so I thought it was interesting how similarly they decorated their presents.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

Advent Activities - week 2

As I posted last week, my son and I have been doing different Christmassy activities every day, from our activity advent calendar. We've been out a lot this week, and had visitors, so a couple of times we skipped or scaled down some activities. Here's what we've been up to:

Day 6: Lolly stick Christmas tree (from Pinterest)

What we used: Green food colouring, reclaimed lolly sticks, Craft Planet large lolly stick, Papermania teardrop and star gems, PVA glue
Crafting notes:

  • Instead of painting the lolly sticks, we soaked them in a strong solution of water and green food colouring.
  • The gems are not self-adhesive,  and are quite small and fiddly. I added blobs of glue to the lolly stick where Bob wanted them, then laid out some gems the right way up. Bob picked them up by licking his finger and dabbing on the gem. He got quite fast towards the end, but he'd had enough when he'd done the edges of the sticks, sadly I couldn't pursuade him to add any more 'baubles' in the middle!
Day 7: This project is top secret, as it's a present for Nanny & Grandad, who read this blog :-)

Day 8: Should have been making Christmassy cakes, but a visit from Nanny & Grandad was just too exciting :-)

Day 9: Tots group Christmas party. We didn't make anything at the party, but all the children decorated paper Christmas trees at the start of the month, to decorate the tree for the party. Bob loves my Crop-a-dile Big Bite, so he made holes in his tree and stuck thin paper behind to look like lights when hanging up.

What we used: Green card, thin yellow paper, Crop-a-dile Big Bite, Craft Planet mini glitter glue
Crafting notes: We sandwiched the thin paper between two tree shapes. We stuck the stalks of the trees together, cut the holes through both trees at the same time, then stuck the thin paper in between before sticking the trees together.

Day 10: Marshmallow snowmen
These looked better in my head, and I struggled to find full size white marshmallows, but we enjoyed making them, rummaging through the cake decorations for things to use, and of course eating them at the end!

What we used: Princess marshmallows, Cake Angels mini marshmallows, Tesco white designer icing (as glue), Tesco plain chocolate chips (eyes), Dr Oetker regal-ice, Morrison's mini dinosaurs with legs removed (noses)
Crafting notes:

  • The snowman is made from 1.5 large marshmallows, with a mini one in between to make space for the scarf.
  • The scarf and hat are regal-ice. The scarf is some of the swirly icing left over from Bob's birthday cake.
Day 11: Fingerprint reindeer baubles
I found this project on Pinterest, but it was originally from A Little Bit Funky, and we conscripted Daddy to make a family of reindeer.

What we used: Artiste acrylic paint "chocolate", black Sharpie pen, Papermania red adhesive gems, Craft Planet black glitter glue (for the eyes).
Crafting notes:
  • Paint on baubles is very slippy, so I held Bob's thumb for the print. I also held his hand while we added the glitter glue eyes.
  • I drew the main stem of the antlers, but Bob did the rest. I love how huge they are!
  • We used an egg box to hold the baubles still for decorating and drying.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Advent Activities - week 1

Last year I made an activity advent calendar for my son - a calendar with Christmas activities for us to do together. It worked so well last year that I've updated the activites for this year. Like last year we'll be doing a mixture of craft projects, cooking, trips out, and home decorating.

Here's what we've done so far:

1st: Christmas jellies

Our silicon gingerbread man mould didn't want to let go of this jelly, but that was a bonus as far as Bob was concerned, as that just meant there was more jelly to lick off the mould :-) He decorated jelly man using various cake decorations, including mini snowballs
2nd: Foam chains

Bob made one of these last year too, and got bored just as it was as long as he was tall, so I thought it would be fun to do the same this year too. Last year he couldn't make the links on his own, and didn't want to decorate them, but this year he was able to do it all himself, and added stickers to every link.
What we used: Craft Planet foam chain kit, Craft Planet Christmas stickers

3rd: Lolly stick reindeer
I found this project on Pinterest and, as last year's lolly stick snowflakes were so popular I thought it would be fun to make, and we weren't disappointed. Bob was able to do this pretty much on his own, with me just holing things for him. We stuck the sticks together with silicon glue dots, so we wouldn't have to wait for glue to dry.
What we used: Lolly sticks, Craft Planet pom-poms & googly eyes, holographic foil snowflakes, Stick It glue dots.

4th: Decorations

This activity kept us busy for ages, with sparkly stars at the windows, tinsel around the bed, and a mini feathery tree. I've never decorated this tree before, but Bob found some of my decorated baubles and hung them up. I really like it!

5th: Trimming the tree
Today's activity was trimming the Christmas tree. I normally spend ages trying to achieve a random, eclectic effect with the tree, but it turns out all you need is an enthusiastic 4yo :-)