Saturday, 25 July 2015

Shell lady - summer crafts for kids

I love shells. Put me on a shelly beach and that's me sorted really. Helped along by happy memories of summers spent by the sea. But here's the thing, what to do with all those shells that find their way home? A lot of mine are still in a large glass bowl in the bathroom... scary to think some of the little cowries near the bottom have been with me for almost 40 years. But they're not all keepers, and there are plenty of other fun things to do with shells - Red Ted Art has some great ideas here. Making little figures and animals was my thing though, so I thought I'd share a favourite. The Shell lady.

If you'd like to have a go, it might be worth reading through first, so you know what to search for on your next beach trip. They're all common UK shells - periwinkles, whelks, limpets, banded wedge shells (we called them finger nail shells - wrong apparently!), and collect a good range of sizes and colours so you can try different ones together. Look out for any tiny shells too, or colourful shiny fragments to put in the basket.

Once you've got your shells, all you need is some strong, clear, all-purpose glue, like UHU, pens for face and hair (Sharpies are great for this) - and kids need a little patience... some waiting involved!

Start with the skirt, and either use one limpet shell on its own, or find a few that fit on top of each other, to give a pretty tiered skirt effect. Glue together.

The body is a small whelk shell. You want the opening to sit on top of the limpet - keep trying different ones until you're happy, and it stays put without being held in place - then glue onto the body and leave to dry. This is important, because if you plough straight on, bits will start to slide!

While the glue's drying, make a little basket. Use a small, flatish limpet shell, spread a bit of glue inside and add some tiny shells and colourful pieces.

My daughter made a few for her Sylvanians...

The head is a periwinkle, and again you're looking for one that fits snuggly on top of the pointy bit. Glue in place.

When dry, draw on a face and hair. Use a pen that won't wipe off, like a Sharpie.

Find two similar sized banded wedge shells for arms (or small mussel shells work well). If you want her to carry the basket, just glue on one arm...

....then glue the basket on the other side where the skirt meets the body. We propped ours up with a limpet shell while it dried.

Stick the other arm just behind the basket.

If you fancy a bonnet, glue a small limpet shell to the back of the head.

We didn't varnish ours, but it does help to protect the shells. If you don't have any, a good 'make do' tip is to use clear nail varnish instead.

The basket-less lady is looking a little left out, so we'll make her a pram to push next time!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Here we go again

The run up to him going away is always hard, but this time, as well as the usual mix of emotions, I felt angry. Angry we have to go through this again; angry there was nothing I could do about it. Maybe because I honestly thought we'd never have to face another Tour; or because I see the school holidays stretching out before me. Maybe because I've reached my limit.

So I shouted and yelled a bit - got the anger out, and he listened, on the whole quietly, which was wise. But even when I was in full rage I knew what a waste of time it was, and though I don't admit it freely, I understand why he's going; understand his sense of duty.

The anger covered up something else as well: fear. Not just for him, but fear I won't be able to cope this time; fear I'll lose the plot. We've done this such a lot, and yet that doesn't always make the thought of doing it again any easier. I'm finding with age comes anxiety - I worry so much more about everything. I've even been worrying about being worried. I miss the old me - the one who seemed to take most things in her stride.

Then, when he left, along with the sadness came a strange sense of calm. I could feel the extra weight on my shoulders, but it felt familiar; and it felt okay. A little of the old me still there.

It's early on, and I know it'll get tough sometimes and there'll be wobbles - the worries are just quieter at the moment; but now we're on our way I do actually feel better and stronger.
Now we can start ticking off the days.

Monday, 13 July 2015

Countdown to book release and video promo!

Not long now, just a month to go, and I'm feeling excited and anxious mixed up with occasional waves of panic that I should be doing something, though not quite sure what....

If I was a nail-biter I'd have no nails left.

But the Publishers, CICO Books are on the case, and have been brilliant at letting me know what's going on. They've set up reviews and potential interviews and generally spread the word. They have also put together this gorgeous animation to promote 'Make your own Zoo'. Hope you like it!


Make your own Zoo is available to pre-order on Amazon now. You can find it here.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Along came a spider... Sunday Photo

I haven't come across many bright green spiders in the garden, probably because they're usually pretty well camouflaged in the grass.

Apparently that's where green orb-weaver spiders spend most of their time.

This one obviously had his sights set a little higher...

Lots more lovely photos over at onedad3girls.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Red Balloon - Sunday picture

We've seen this hot air balloon the last few Fridays which has livened up the school run - though a chorus of complaints when I stopped to take the photo...

I wondered if it was something to do with Virgin's 30th anniversary celebrations? Maybe there've been others? Or maybe the balloon trip was a much anticipated, extra special present for someone. Whatever the reason, must have been an extra early start - I took this at 7.30.

Linking up with My Sunday Photo

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Egg Box Peppa Pig

Who'd have thought the Clangers and Peppa Pig had something in common? Well it turns out you can make both in a very similar way from an egg box!  Always good when one idea leads to another...

All you'll need is:
an egg box
red and white paint
black felt tip pen
red/pink felt tip pen
general purpose scissors
small scissors (straight edged nails scissors or similar)
(adult help/supervision needed with cutting)

1. Roughly cut out as much of the two middle cones as you can from the egg box. This makes them easier to work with.

2. Take one, and just above any joins at the bottom, draw a line around the cone. Cut up and along the line. This will be the body.

3. About 1cm from the top of the cone, use a pencil to draw a line across the side that's going to be the front. This is where the head will go.

4. Continue the pencil line either side, sloping it down (the sharper the angle, the more the head will tilt up). Don't go as far as the corners.

5. With the nail scissors, make a hole on the line (keep the scissors closed, press down firmly and twist from side to side). Then cut along the slot, and trim off an extra sliver of card if you can, to make it easier to push the head in.

6. For the legs, mark two straight lines (about 1cm long) near the corners at the front, and do the same on the back. Cut up, along the lines and either snip the square pieces of card off completely or, if it's easier, just fold them inwards, so they're under the body.

7. Now, draw lines from the top corners around the sides, keeping them level, but don't join them. Instead, leave a space in the middle of each side (1cm or less), and use small scissors to cut along the lines, just up to the gap, and no further. Try not to over-snip or you'll lose a leg!

8. Carefully fold, bend and press the flaps of card behind, either side, so they curve around (see picture). Your Peppa body should stand steady now. Trim if there are any wobbles.

9. For the head, take the other egg box cone and cut off the top 3cm or so.

10. Choose the side you want for the face and draw a short line in the middle, about 1cm from the open end. Then draw small, round Peppa ears either side, and keep them just on top. Don't draw over the corners. Continue the line around the back of the head.

11. Carefully cut along the line with small scissors - the little bit between the ears can be difficult to snip out, so, if you want, just fold it behind, before gently pushing the ears forward.

12. Painting time - paint the middle red for Peppa's dress and everything else pink (mix plenty of white with just a little red to get a nice pale pink colour). Don't forget to paint the top of the cone pink too, as well as part of the egg box lid, for the arms.

13. Once dry, cut a strip of card about 0.5cm wide from the painted lid, and cut off 2-3cm for each arm. Snip into the end a few times for fingers.

14. With the head out, make arm slots on each side. Use the small scissors to snip down about a cm from the sloped head slot. Wiggle the scissors in and out to make it easier to push the arms in.

15. Before putting the head back, paint two small white dots for eyes on top, in front of the ears, and dark pink circles for cheeks. When dry, finish the eyes with a spot of black felt tip pen and use a pink or red felt tip to draw a snout and Peppa's smile.