You crafty thing….

Despite only using it it for the past six months, Pinterest and I have had something of a bumpy relationship. I avoided it for so long because I worried that, once I jumped in I wouldn’t find my way back out! To be honest I have had moments like that, but all in all I have found it to be a great resource. I don’t tend to pore over it, looking at interiors I would never be able to replicate, and homes so tidy I’d be scared to breathe in them. Doing that tends to make me feel a tiny bit miserable. So instead I tend to use it to find ideas for specific projects, like when we redecorated our room, and the Pretzel Pumpkins I made at Halloween. Just lately I’ve been trying to be a bit braver when it comes to crafting with Oscar. I wrote recently about how he’s started to really enjoy play dough, so last week, with the rain pouring down and me without a car, I decided to pull my finger out and try some ideas for entertaining toddlers with cabin fever.

The first thing I tried was home made Moon Sand (using this post from the wonderful and I can’t tell you how easy it was or how successful it was. To make it I emptied one can of shaving foam in to my maslin pan and mixed in a few drops of blue food colouring in until it was evenly distributed. Then I mixed in one box of cornflour a bit at a time to make sure it was all mixed thoroughly. The end result was the texture of damp sand and smelt like my Grandad (I’d forgotten he used to use Gillette Sensitive until I squirted it out!).


I then dumped the whole lot into a cheap underbed storage box (wide and deep), covered the kitchen floor with a plastic dust sheet (I had no idea how messy this stuff might get, so thought I better play it safe), put a few of Oscar’s toys in it and called him over. I couldn’t believe I’d managed to prep and set up a craft in such a short space of time and with the boy in the next room!


He was a little cautious at first


Then he realised he could bury things in it


His favourite game was driving the car into the drift of moon sand. I think he was re-enacting the episode where Thomas (the Tank Engine to those not in the know!) gets suck in the snow!


We played together and when I tried to leave him, he came and got me and sat me back down – most unusual for the boy!

We had a great time together. He listened when I asked him to keep the stuff in the box and I loved making little sandcastles with him


He’d fill the ‘bucket’ and I’d press it down. He’d then shout Ready, GO! and I’d turn it out


His favourite thing to do was to pick up the ‘sandcastle’ and crumble it back down.

This stuff was amazing. Let’s forget for a moment that I got the recipe from Pinterest and it actually worked for me (Yay!), he absolutely loved playing with it. The sand stayed pretty much in the box and what did get on our hands, clothes and the floor came off so easily (I patted myself on the back for the bright colouring – it meant I could see it to clear it up!). It was easy to assemble, the ingredients were easy to get hold of and cheap. But the best bit was it is reusable. After we finished with it, I shook as much off the toys as possible and pored the sand into a smaller airtight container (you could leave it in the box you used to be fair, it was just easier for me to store it in a smaller container). Then on Sunday we set it all up again and Daddy got to have a play with it too!


Second time round he had just as much fun. As did Daddy!

Buoyed by my success with the moon sand I decided to have another crack at my own playdough, with a recipe I’d been given by our local Children’s Centre.


I didn’t use glycerine in mine and I coloured it red. I would say 1 minute was probably enough in the microwave for me, but your machines may vary so start with a short burst and keep checking it. It came out a treat. Wow! I can do crafting after all and the boy loved it!


I was so proud! Really pliable and not at all the colour of surgical stockings


Not sure Percy was so thrilled about the set up though! Looks to me like Toby is smirking in the background! Don’t worry Toby, your time will come!

I think I just need to be a bit braver when it comes to crafts (and mess). I’ve been looking into making my own paint and I found an awesome post of how to get any stain out of children’s clothes. I just need to find a good, reasonably priced craft supplier. Where do you guys get PVA and glitter from? I miss Woolworths!




Playing with dough

I love baking. Always have. When I was tiny I used to use cups and pots of water as ‘ingredients’ and mix them together. I knew what I was making, even if it was just, well, water. I also loved play dough for the same reason. I loved kneading it as if it were bread and cutting it like biscuits. I also loved the smell of the shop bought stuff. I still like playing with play dough now. I find it rather relaxing and The Boy seems to like it too, even if it is in rather short bursts.

I have to admit I’ve only had limited success with making my own play dough. I found one of the hundreds of recipes on the internet, bought a hundred weight of salt, I even bought food colouring to make it a bit more exciting. What I made was a difficult to work with lump, the colour of surgical stockings. Not my finest hour. I was so annoyed. The Boy played with it once then it went in the bin. After that I bought him the commercial stuff that smells that special sort of scent (what is that smell?). It’s lasted really well, nearly a year in fact, but I’m something of a playdoh fascist when he plays with it. I don’t allowing him much freedom to squidge things in to it, or to mix dissimilar colours together and from a toddlers point of view where’s the fun in that?

My first attempt at play dough. Not that pretty!

My first attempt at play dough.

This week, we’ve been to two groups run by the Tennyson Centre in Haslemere. Play dough was provided in each location and it’s been something of a revelation to us. The first lot was at Oscar’s Chatterbox session and was provided in conjunction with the story of the Gingerbread Man. While Oscar was in no way interested in the story, he was eventually drawn to the dough. Kate, our wonderful play worker, had provided little bags of dough and gingerbread man themed activity sheets for the children to make dough eyes and buttons etc to take home. So Wednesday afternoon found us playing with this silky smooth, custard powder scented dough. I eschewed the shop bought stuff and left the plastic cutters in their box. We made use of kitchen utensils and he loved it.


Wednesday afternoon


It might not be buttons, but it’s on the activity sheet and that’s a start!


He loved cutting it with his toddler knife

I then decided to try the toddler group at High Lane Community Centre on Thursday. It’s quite a small group and really activity focussed. We’ve been once before but I’ve not been back, after embarrasing myself by swearing, loudly, when Oscar nutted me in the eye. Ho hum. Anyway, I reckoned enough time had passed that people wouldn’t remember, so we gave it another go. All in all it was a sucessful trip. Oscar played with everything provided, at least once. But the thing he went back to again and again (along with the wooden cutting cake – that’s my boy) was the play dough. Again it was silky and sweetly scented, but this time came with all manner of ‘things’ to push into it, including lolly sticks, glitter and shaving foam. Well, he started small, with just glitter and more and more dough, but before long he’d moved on to plastic money, shaving foam, lolly sticks and wooden vegetables. He was so proud of his creation and I have to say, so was I. It was a beaut!

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Suddenly the shop bought, single coloured, strongly scented lumps I give him, seemed so very dull. This was a masterpiece. It was multi layered, exciting and unpredictable. It was him to a tee. It made me realise it’s not about how it looks at the end, it’s the fun he has along the way that matters. We as adults are so results driven in our lives. It’s how we work, it’s how we keep our jobs! But the outcome to children is kind of neither here nor there. It’s something I’ve been realising for a while now. The journey is more important that the destination – sound familiar 😉

There’s a recipe on the back of the activity sheet we were given. I’m going to have a crack at making my own again. And invest in some glitter.