Summer Baking

It really wouldn’t be a holiday from school without a spot of baking, and with the disappointment of not being ale to finish my dancing hippo, we needed some cake to cheer us up a bit!

We started off with some all-in-one vanilla sponge.  Alice was given a fabulous junior baking set for her birthday, all good quality utensils, not the usual kids plastic stuff.  It’s all silicon and stainless steel, just scaled down a bit for smaller hands – ideal for me too!  So we made some vanilla sponge mix, and made it into a victoria sandwich and 6 cupcakes.  The fun was definitely in the decorating (and licking the bowl).

The kit had an icing set with three different nozzles too, so we had a practice making some rosettes.

After the cake, we moved on to some cookies.  We’ve never really done cookies before, we’ve always stuck to pretty basic butter biscuits, but we fancied a change.  I had a look around the internet and found a couple of recipes that looked simple for us to have a go at.  We started with some peanut butter cookies, which were incredibly simple to make and very tasty too.

We finished with some chocolate chip cookies. This had a few more ingredients, but again it’s pretty simple to follow. We enjoyed making it, and it was great practice for Alice with measuring out. The really great part is not having to roll out a dough and use cutters, just taking a teaspoonful of the mixture and putting it on the baking paper means less washing up and it’s a lot simpler for smaller hands.

Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the finished cookies, but suffice it to say they tasted delicious and we had plenty to share with family and friends.

Happy baking
x

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End of Term

This year has absolutely flown by and I can’t believe that my little one is finishing Year 3 already. (No longer a little one)  It only seems like moments that she was starting school at all!

Anyway with the end of term comes all the regular craziness, mostly around the school fair, which was a little different this year as it was arranged by the parent group instead of the school staff.  As such it was mainly lots of games for the children to play and a barbecue.  I didn’t have a craft stall of goodies this year, but I did manage to bake some biscuits (my third bake of the weekend) for the cake stall.  Unfortunately the weather wasn’t too favourable, so most things had to be brought inside.

I was roped in to run the craft table and spent a good couple of hours with a steady stream of under 7s making bee deely boppers, flip-flop keyrings and decorating pencil cases (all from Baker Ross).  I’d recommend the bees, very cute and the kits include everything you need.  They are great for little ones, although they will need adult help in attaching the springs to the headband.  I also struggled removing the papers from the back of the googly eyes, but the kids didn’t seem to have any problem at all!

We also had the obligatory ‘pot goody’ stall and Alice made her’s this year filled with homemade paper windmills and decorated with paper grass, bees and butterflies.  She didn’t win her class prize, the winner made a sandcastle out of hers!

The school fair always signals the end of term, so after we had helped pack everything away, it was time for getting end of term cards and presents sorted out for the class teacher and teaching assistants.  This year we’ve had two teachers and two teaching assistants as they had swimming lessons and one of the TAs is a trained swimming instructor.  I’ve tried to stick to the same sort of thing each year for the teachers , so I made some new apple thank you cards, this time using a new die set I bought a few weeks ago.  It’s an apple from the Market Fresh collection by Spellbinders.  It’s certainly taken the hard work out of cutting out individual apples!  I think I will have some fun with these over the summer.

I also made four little knitted apple keyrings.  These are so cute and pretty simple to make too, just a ball with embroidered details, a crochet chain stem and a small knitted leaf.  

My daughter then made a little tag for each one with her teacher’s name and a personal message from her.  Very cute.

Well, it’s another year over and six weeks now to fill up with lots of activities, and I’m hoping for a lie-in or two!

Happy Summer crafting
x

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Good News!

This is going to be one of my last opportunities for a relaxing cuppa and blog as Alice is no longer going to be attending Explore Learning after the school holidays.  It was always going to be a temporary thing for her as she is doing well at school and doesn’t really need any extra help.  But she has loved going to the centre and has grown in confidence as well as speeding up her work rate!  I have suggested they run a holiday club with workshops over the summer holidays as I know that would be great for us and several other mums have said the same.  So I will be sending them a letter (or more likely an e-mail) to suggest it to their head office.

Anyway, today has been a complete wash out here.  I think the weather is obviously feeling like me as the Olympics have now finished.  I have Team GB and Olympic withdrawal and feel quite bereft without the amazing sports on the telly. At least I will be able to concentrate on my crochet again!

Roald Dahl Books

So with the weather being rubbish and our back garden once again a lake, we headed into Bury to do some errands.  Alice has finished the Big Friendly Read and collected the remainder of her Roald Dahl passport cards.  The library are going to send her certificate to school so she’ll get that in an assembly at some point.  We have our fingers crossed for her winning one of the lovely prizes.

The trip has also been a bit of a test for my foot.  I had good news last week at the hospital.  The bone is healing and I can start to get about a bit more.  I have to be careful and if I take my ‘Robocop’ boot off I have to wear stiff soled shoes.  But the hope is I should be back to normal in another four weeks.  Hoorah!  So I’ve walked further today than I have all summer.  I’ve even managed without my crutches, however, I have kept the boot on this time.  I wasn’t quite ready to risk my foot when I was going to be out all day.  I’ll get there!

Happy days
x

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A trip to Lytham

After last night’s cycling triumphs, I was feeling rather exhausted this morning.  But it was far too lovely a day to waste, particularly as we had plans.  And with hubby having the day off work, we were able to go out and do something different.

P1050467So following my plans from previous posts, I found a low cost event outdoors with the RSPB in Lytham-St-Annes.  I’ve been a member of the RSPB for almost thirty years now and thought it’s about time we started going to the nature reserves.  This is our second one this year!!  The event was £3 per child member (£5 for non-members) and accompanying adults were free. So I’ve been sat in the sun overlooking Fairhaven Lake, while Alice and her Dad explore the mudflats of the Ribble Estuary under the expert guidance of some RSPB and WWT volunteers.  They were apparently dipping for the creatures that live in the mud, although I’m still not quite sure what they did find.

P1050460I went armed with my binoculars, notepad and guidebook, but all I succeeded in doing was hobbling to the café for an ice cream and then having a doze in the sun! After an hour or so I decided to have a walk (rather a hobble) around the lake.  I need to move about or I get stiff, but I didn’t manage very far. I did catch the ‘mud-dippers’ making pictures in the sand though and it looked like they were all having great fun. I had to have a rest before heading back to the RSPB centre. I can’t believe how tired I am all the time – breaking a bone really does take it out of you!

P1050456The Discovery Centre is a little treasure trove of information and they have loads of activities on all year round, so it’s definitely worth a visit. I’d like to come back when I’m able to walk properly as there are loads of migrating birds that come to the Estuary. And I’ve still never found a mermaids purse when beach-combing and rock pooling, after over forty years of trying!

I feel like a tiny bird...

I feel like a tiny bird…

While the others went out in a rowing boat on the lake, I took the opportunity to browse the RSPB shop and I found some beautiful scarves which will do nicely for a couple of birthdays coming up. It’s also made me think there is more scope to make my little bird cards. I think I might have a go at turning them into robins for Christmas. I’m also planning to make some more masculine owls from a number of old OS maps my husband has donated to me, so there’s plenty to be getting on with for another couple of months card-making.

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But my focus for this next week has to be hubby’s birthday. So there will be at least one crafting session and probably some baking too! I did promise I would make him a batch of biscuits to take in to work. Mmmmmm, I’m getting hungry at the thought. Now, where are we going for tea I wonder?!

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Happy summer crafting
x

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Summer’s Here!

Summer has arrived at last!  We have wall-to-wall sunshine just in time for the flying ants to invade the patio.  How I love the summer.

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Actually I generally really do love summer.  There’s nowhere nicer than a warm sunny day at the beach in the UK (in my humble opinion).  I think my broken foot is taking it’s toll though this year.  Having a hot swelling leg and foot is just not much fun .  Anyway, I’ve managed to escape outside for a bit and it’s very relaxing to feel the sun on my skin again.  It’s been too long.

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While I’m out basking, I’ve been able to catch up on some reading and I’m thrilled to say that the Provident tips calendar has now been published.  And it’s a great read.  There are loads of ideas for the summer, ranging from things to do with children, to stain removal, crafts and baking too.  So do pop by and have a look, you never know what might inspire you.  For me it’s back to some more reading and the pile of work-in-progress while Alice does some nature work for her next Brownie badge!

Happy summer crafting
x

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It’s the Olympics

I don’t know about anyone else, but I am obsessed with the Olympics.  I always get swept up in the whole spectacle of it and nothing will ever come close to the enormity of London in 2012, but this year is just amazing.  It has certainly helped cure the boredom of resting my broken foot!  Mind you, it’s also making me itch to get moving again and looking at my wasting calf muscle is making me think I might give my bike another go (once the Robocop boot has gone).

I’ve been trying to spend some time on making things for the house.  The summer is always a bit quieter for making, so it seems the ideal time to do some home décor upgrades.  My problem is I can’t concentrate on anything but the amazing performances of all Team GB over in Rio.  Every time I start something, somebody does something incredible again and I can’t take my eyes off the tv!

I was watching the diving the other night and had to undo three rounds of crochet, so I gave up in the end.  I didn’t even get anything out yesterday. I was far too nervous watching Max Whitlock, Justin Rose and Jason Kenny to even pick anything up.  It’s so fantastic how all the athletes are doing and across so many different sports too.

Cyclist Birthday Card

I’m missing the ‘dancing horses’ this afternoon as I’ve managed to tear myself away from the telly and hobble my way to town so Alice can attend a creative writing workshop.  And I’ve just discovered I’ve left my phone at home!  So I’m itching to get home to find out how the Team GB representatives have got on.  I don’t know how I’ll go on next week when it’s all over if I’ve got withdrawal symptoms now, and I’m only missing a couple of hours!

Being out for a bit has made me remember the 2012 Olympics and how I was obsessed with red, white and blue in my card-making.

Red , white and blue birthday bunting

As Team GB are doing so well again, it may be time to resurrect the patriotic colour theme, although I’m not sure if I can concentrate for long enough this week to make anything!  Hopefully I will get a little bit of time to think and pull some designs together.  I haven’t done any bunting for a while and I’ve just bought some new wash tape, so that could be another theme to follow through.Birthday Bunting Card

There’s also the Olympics theme to carry on, and sports isn’t something I’ve ever really done anything with (except a few bicycles for hubby’s birthdays or an occasional football).  I’ve always stayed away from the traditional ‘male’ style cards, so it might just be time for a change of focus – at least for a little while.

P1250047Actually that reminds me, I only have a few days to make hubby’s birthday card, and then it’ll be time to turn my attention to Christmas makes

But there’s still plenty of Olympics to watch yet, so

Come on Team GB
x

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Unexpected Setback!

This is not how I anticipated spending the school holidays.  I’m sat on the settee having to rest because last week I broke my foot!  I can’t believe it, just as things were going really well and I hadn’t been in a hospital for over a year.  There I was at my regular tap class having a great time and practicing some steps for our ‘Mambo No5’ dance routine and the next thing I know I’m in a heap on the floor thinking I don’t want to look at my knee incase it’s a real mess.  I managed to get up and shuffle my way through the rest of the lesson but I was in some pain.  Fortunately I’d been given a lift to the class so I didn’t have to drive home.

My foot was starting to swell up but we decided it was a bad sprain, strain or twist so a couple of hours with frozen peas on it and a good sleep would cure the problem!  I hobbled my way to and from school the next day and thought I’d better get over to A&E as I hadn’t been able to do anything else all day.

They were brilliant at Fairfield Hospital and I was seen very quickly.  I had a couple of x-rays which confirmed I had broken the fifth metatarsal in the left foot (my knee was fine, not even a bruise!).  I was sent home in a cast with crutches and returned to the fracture clinic the next day where they removed the cast and gave me an equaliser boot.  At least I can put my heel down now.  Crutches are no fun at all when you have to hop!

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So I’m now trying to work out how Alice will get to do any of the adventures we had planned for the school holidays.  Moving around is getting easier, but I can’t see me hobbling to the park any time soon.

Wish me luck
x

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Outdoor Summer Activities

Since I was invited to write my blog for Provident, I’ve been spotting all sorts of other things to do that don’t cost a lot.  Of course, many of the activities are local to me in Bury, but there are plenty of national activities to get involved with too.

IMGP1267I was struck last week by an article I read in the latest Plantlife magazine. The new edition of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary has had several nature based words removed and replaced with modern technology speak. This doesn’t necessarily sound a travesty at first, but these are words like catkin, beech, fern, acorn, bluebell, buttercup and dandelion! Surely these are words that every child grows up with?! It really was a shock that they have been replaced by broadband, chatroom and blog. Isn’t it possible to have space for all of these words in a child’s dictionary? Plantlife are encouraging parents to spend more time outdoors with their children and this links perfectly (I think anyway) with the Woodland Trust’s campaign to get children to play outside. They have launched their ‘Tree Party’ campaign and you can send off for a free party pack to take on a picnic with your friends.

tree-party-montage

My pack arrived the other day and it’s great. Alice can’t wait to get outside and use it. The pack comes in a box made to look like a picnic hamper and is filled with games to play, face masks, straws, stickers, party invitations and even a bag to put all your rubbish in! The idea is that you invite a tree to your party and celebrate how important they are in our lives. I’m hoping we have some sunny days over the holidays and we can go for a picnic in one of local parks.

bury_d_treasure_2_sanvito_curved_displayIf we do get out and about, regardless of the temperature I will be encouraging Alice to have a go at a local initiative ‘Bury’d Treasure’. This is another activity to encourage children to spend time outdoors, only this time’s it’s about following clues to solve a puzzle. There are several set up around the local parks in Bury and some local primary schools have signed up to encourage their pupils to take part. I hope it’s a success and we don’t find they become targets for vandals.

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All of these outdoor activities will help with the annual summer keep active campaign run by the NHS and Change4life, the ’10 minute shake-up’. This year they have teamed up with Disney again and the free pack includes a Finding Dory poster and stickers. So we shall be aiming to do at least ten minutes of physical activity every day.

I am also hoping that Alice will be a bit more independent and I will get some crafting done while she runs, climbs, discovers and solves clues!

Happy holidays
x


www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

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School Fair

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It was lovely to see so many parents and family members at school.  The fair itself was as manic as always. being straight after school it’s always very well attended.  This was the first year they’ve really invited parents to have their own stalls and it was great to see the variety of items available.  I was next to a lovely lady from Artysan Gifts who makes bespoke framed gifts. It was her first ever stall and she did really well. I wasn’t surprised as her frames are beautiful. I wonder if I can find a reason to order one for someone?!

There were two Asian food stalls and another card maker too. Fortunately we weren’t quite next to each other and our cards were very different in style, so we appealed to different tastes.

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I decided to go with a ‘name the cat’ competition in the end. It drew in quite a few of the children (and staff). He ended up with the name ‘Garfield’ and was won by a little girl from year one. I sold quite a few cards as well and some knitted and crochet items. So all in all it was a successful fair for me, as well as for the school.

I hope they invite us all back for the next fair at Christmas!

Happy crafting
x

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School Summer Fair

Just as I started to see some time ahead for a weekend off, I received a text from school, asking if I would like a stall at the upcoming school summer fair. With only a weeks notice I was going to decline, however, Alice talked me into it as she loved to help set up. I’m not so sure she’ll be able to as she should be in class, but I’ve said if she’s really good all morning she can ask her teacher if she can come and help.

So it’s been all systems go again this week. I decided to make up a collection of mainly thank you cards, specially for this fair. I’ve gone back to some old favourites and there will be groups of ten cards in each design. I’ve gone with owls, birds and apples as my main ideas.

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I will also take my now dwindled stock, along with some fruit keyrings and rose brooches.

Rose Brooches

Rose Brooches

Keyrings

Keyrings

I’m also toying with the idea of running a raffle to win a collection of five ‘dangler’ cards, but I’m not sure I’ll have the time to make them beforehand, so if I do go down this route I might raffle one of my knitted cats instead. Actually I could do a ‘name the cat’ and donate the proceeds to the school. They are raising money to do some work on a rather neglected wildlife and pond area, an area I reckon my two naughty kittens (Lily and George) have begun to frequent (and the less said about that the better).

Well it’s back to my desk again for now, these apple cards are not going to make themselves!

Happy crafting
x

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