play dough bakery

We made play dough on Monday and spent the next few hours using it to make play food for our bakery and shop. We haven’t used playdough for ages. I think I threw it all out..way past it’s life…when we moved. I fancied making some with the kids and found a basic recipe with lots of extra ideas for different ‘flavours’ on this blog .

The basic recipe is really easy. I knew I had cream of tartar in the baking drawer, bought accidentally ages ago. 

2 cups of plain flour, 2 tbsps veg oil, half cup of salt, 2 tbsps cream of tartar, 1-1.5 cups boiling water, 

food colouring (optional) ..or check out the blog for gorgeous more natural flavours such as oranges and lemons, gingerbread, lavender. On the to do list. Yum.

A few years ago I made some playdough when Keziah was little (where have those years gone!) and used a salt dough recipe but just found the salt content too much; even being in its presence made me really thirsty!

We had loads of fun. It was interesting doing something that was more pitched at a preschool age level, but the older two just took it a bit further with the bakery signs and money exchange in the role play. I think we were at it for a good three hours.

Thee was even music in the cafe. 

I loved being the customer and playing different roles. I get a little bit carried away. I ended up moving in with the chef, waiter and shopkeeper of the bakery to work with them. We also became pilots and midwives and had to fly around the house in our aeroplane helping women deliver babies (you can spot my influence, I think 😉

It was a great activity and will definitely be repeated.


the birds and the beads

Well hello…it’s been too long since I’ve written. I just wanted to update on a few small but nice things we’ve been doing over the past few weeks.

‘Feeding the birds’… Now, I don’t know if we’ve actually fed the birds, or in fact if many birds are still around; such is my lack of knowledge of wildlife. But we made these bird feeders, using yogurt cartons…inspired by Gillian’s blog. Basically, melting lard (which stinks!) and mixing it with seeds, oats and nuts, then setting it in the fridge. We made three; one fell apart removing it from the carton so we hung two outside. 

I feel like I should be following up with a photo of some beautiful bird feeding from them in our garden. But we haven’t checked much…after a couple of days, they were still hanging there, looking untouched. And as I write this, it’s dark outside so I can’t tell you. But it gave us an activity.

It’s been Hama Bead Central in the house. Again, inspired by Gillian’s blog. I have heard of Hama beads before but for whatever reason, just not ever tried them or caught the vision! Well, after seeing photos of some, I thought ‘patterns’…….

and that means ‘Numeracy’ people!! 

We ordered a box of 2400 and got through them in the first day. So I ordered a box of 6000 and we haven’t got many left. I think I’m going to put the remaining few away for a bit. Man, they are addictive. But so fab! The older two have sat and concentrated on them for ages. Initially, they have preferred copying some of the suggested pictures of penguins, sea horses and princess ladies, but have latterly moved on to making their own patterns. Matt and I haven’t needed any persuasion to sit with them and do it ourselves. We talked about shapes, repeated patterns and symmetry.


Here is a selection (yes, just a small selection) of our work this week…

We are really into reading chapter books with the elder two at the moment. We have finished ‘Pinocchio’ which was really funny, fabulously written…and a bit scary and weird at times to be honest! Something that helped set the ball rolling in reading a book with very few pictures, I found, was that at the start of each chapter, there was a sentence giving you an outline of what was about to happen. That really spurred us on to read the chapter and created excitement and expectation in the kids. I am thrilled we have finished it. We are generally reading chapter books at bedtime when Matt can read to Joseph and keep Rafi happy (who generally just likes to eat books).

We’ve now started reading The Famous Five, book 1. They got the whole Famous Five and Secret Seven series for Christmas (thank you Oxfam Bookshop) so I’m looking forward to sharing those adventures. There seems to be a ‘read aloud revival’ going on at the moment, especially among the blog world. Loads of brilliant reminders about how important and wonderful it is for children to be read aloud to….even older children and teenagers who can read independently….nurturing family life and relationships as much as their own language skills. I find this really affirming because it’s something we do a lot of and we all really enjoy. I’m hoping to build up the hours we spend reading together even more.

I have finally finished my first ‘smelly old book’ (‘Winds of the Day’ by Howard Spring)…it’s taken a ridiculous amount of time to read, partly because I just don’t have much free time and partly because, although it was a relaxing and enjoyable read, it wasn’t gripping at any point. But I’m happy to have read it and now trying to decide what to read next….a shelf full of smelly old books eagerly await.

Wintery colds and coughs had each of us wiping out at different points this week. We spent three full days at home without going anywhere, but I was reassured by how much time we can now happily spend at home. On each of these days, I successfully ‘threw the kids out in the garden’ (lovingly, you understand) for at least half an hour. They like me to set the timer on our iPad for this. Even on a wet blustery day, they went out (heading straight for the tree house, armed with a flask of hot chocolate and three cups…I’m learning people!). This gives me some quiet minutes to sit down and recharge a little….my aim this week is to spend absolutely none of this time wiping, tidying or cleaning up, because before I know it, it’s over! Just sit woman.

I am a frustrated knitter at the moment, with many projects I want to do and many obstacles in the way….lack of knowledge, skill or the right yarn. I really dislike not having a knitting project on the go. I should probably just practice something while I wait. I’m hoping to get on with it more this week. I had a knitting class booked last week and had to miss it due to feeling grim…a bit poorly but more just sheer exhausted with looking after a poorly Rafi who was very clingy and whingey all week. So exhausting. We are all much better now 🙂

Our week finished on a high. We skipped their swimming class, not being well enough I decided, but then on a whim, I took them to the Bristol City Library. I had sussed out the joint the previous weekend and knew it had a great children’s area and I decided it would be good to just get out somewhere. We stayed, playing and reading in the library for ages, then ventured to walking outside passed the magnificent cathedral and fountains and up the hill, exploring more of the city. The kids were on such a high and we ended up having lunch out…one of those rare times where everyone is on super form, happy to be living with each other… and Rafi slept in the pram! So our Friday film didn’t get started until about 4pm and I felt we had certainly earned it after all that illness and hard Hama bead work 🙂

Hope to see you here again soon, thanks for reading x


lemon curd

We made lemon curd this week. I was enticed by the photo in this recipe book, when we were searching for lemon cake. I love anything lemony and have never made it before. Separating eggs seemed a bit of a hurdle but was surprisingly easy in my hands. I have to confess I didn’t let the kids help me with this bit. Joseph was asleep on the sofa and missed the whole thing. 

It’s delicious!

I now have three jars which I need to find homes for. I can’t possibly eat all that after seeing what goes in it! 

So far, I’ve spread a couple of oatcakes, but I can only think of other terribly unhealthy ways of eating it…like dripping it over ice cream, meringues or layering a cake. As if it needs more fat and sugar! Would be tasty though…..hmmm.


Early on Sunday morning, I was pondering how to help the kids with drawing, having very limited skills myself. They enjoy drawing but can regularly become frustrated if their picture/object doesn’t look as they want it to. Shouting ‘it’s rubbish!’, screwing up their paper, that sort of thing. They believe that their own and others’ drawing is either good or bad and listen too carefully to each other’s comments and opinions. This hasn’t come from us….we treat everything they do as a masterpiece! Our encouragement to just enjoy drawing and making, to play with it and enjoy the process seems to fall on deaf ears.

So, I decided they needed to see me drawing, struggling, practicing, improving….and enjoying it. I felt in the mood for some sketching. I did a couple of very informal drawing seminars over the summer and learned some principles for drawing faces. I really enjoyed it and, while drawing is something that doesn’t come naturally, I realised I can learn some skills, improve and actually enjoy it! I particularly enjoyed drawing faces and it helped me appreciate the individuality of each person and how wonderfully and differently we are all made!

The kids really enjoyed me drawing them. I think they liked the attention and I used it as an opportunity to shower them with some love and praise. The older two sat still for ages and then joined in and drew some pictures of me and Matt. Here are a few of our masterpieces…

I love the crossed legs on that one!

Daddy’s head is the easiest to draw….

I feel a bit embarrassed sharing my sketches….because I have in my own head ‘they’re rubbish!’ (Don’t tell the kids I said that). But honestly blogging and all that. Who knows, I might share some more in a few months and they will be more realistic! Although it’s clearly not my primary gifting, or even close, I was quite pleased with them. There was something about each one that did actually resemble the child.

It was a lovely activity to be doing so early on a Sunday morning. I had to really look at their faces to draw them. It surprised me that I don’t have more detail of their faces imprinted in my mind. We look at each others’ faces all the time, but we don’t often really look at each other in that much detail. I encourage you to have a go with your loved ones.  

fairy cakes

The kids had their first attempt at baking without me. I had prepared for this with a very simple instruction list and list of ingredients. In fact, they only needed the measurements of ingredients and remembered the rest. I sat opposite and watched, offering advice if needed, but committed myself to being hands-off…

Keziah did a great job of weighing ingredients..

They all helped with the mixing…

An there was a LOT of this…

The most difficult part, which I didn’t anticipate was diving the mixture into bun cases. Its a fiddly job, difficult for young fingers. Sitting back and watching them at this point was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life….

After practising slow breathing for 5 minutes, I have to confess to ever-so-slightly getting involved to help out…

They did marvellously well!

My only job was Chief Taster…

Next week, Macaroons!