Thursday, 31 July 2008

T Shirt design

Well we had an exciting morning at the Millenium Galleries in Sheffield this morning. They held a t shirt design workshop for children. This was inspired by the exhibition being held there at the moment, by Vivienne Westwood.
The boys drew their designs on paper first, but were very quick to get started on their shirts.
J's had a monkey theme, also an animal caught in a cave-haven't quite worked that one out yet!
The first thing he did was to cut the sleeves. He likes the ragged effect. I'm not sure if he still wants to, but he was talking about adding some fabric leaves. The drawings were done with fabric crayons which were then fixed.
D's had a slightly scientific theme. He has an appliqued heart attached, made a "medal" from ribbon and a plastic disc and some fabric crayon writing and drawings, complete with spider web!
What made the morning really worthwhile, the boys were so happy and proud of what they had done. There is something so good about making things and being able to use them.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Long Stitch

When I was sorting out the storage unit in my bedroom a couple of weeks ago, I found this kit. I was going to keep it to one side for D, but J asked if he could have it. I was delighted.

D was busy with something else this morning, so J decided he was going to make a start. We had a cosy hour sat on my bed, J doing his stiching and me knitting D's jumper. I came in very useful for threading the needle.
This is what he was able to achieve this morning. It is all long stitch. J can't wait to get to the really long stitches.
After lunch, we went to the park. The boys were doing time trials running around and climbing trees. We even came home with bits of wood the boys had found. J wants to cut the logs up to put on the barbecue. I think they are looking for an excuse to have another one.

Some people are so generous

J has for quite a while expressed a desire to do carpentry. As this is not one of my strong points, I would have to look around and find ways to be able to help him.

The other day he was telling some friends what he wanted to do and they put him in touch with someone who does carpentry as a hobby. J spoke to him on Thursday and this person said he may be able to help him out with some tools.

This is what J came home with on Sunday. A good quality saw, a carpenter's pencil and a sawing block.

He was also shown how to use the saw safely, and here is the result of J's practice.

We are hoping he will be able to give him some more tips as time goes on.

Monday, 28 July 2008

A walk in the woods

This post comes with a health warning for Phyl-there is one photo of a spider in it's web!

As always the first thing the boys do in the woods, is to climb the first suitable tree. Whilst they were climbing I was admiring the bramble flowers. Of course, I was also thinking about blackberry and apple jam and how busy the boys will be in a month or two. Not sure if they believed me when I told them.

One of the purposes of the walk in the woods was to see how many butterflies we could see. This is for the RSPB Wildlife Explorers summer survey. The brambles were the ideal place to spot this one. Unfortunately, it didn't stay still long enough to get a decent photo.
This is a Speckled Wood and they feed high in the trees or occasionally on brambles. We saw them in both environments.

The boys reckoned this tree had a bad case of pimples! It did look very amusing.
This spider was very busy spinning it's web. We couldn't get a decent picture of the web as it was directly in the sun. It was horizontal to the ground but about six feet above the ground. It was beautiful, even if spiders aren't my favourite creature.
As we were sat on a stile just admiring the butterflies in the field and the bees on the clover, we had a visit from this pigeon. He was ringed so we assumed he should be flying home somewhere. We couldn't get close enough to see the rings, but he was soon back in the air,
This is the boys favourite woodland activity and this tree seems especially designed for climbing. All the boughs are conveniently spaced for getting from one to another.
While we were walking through the woods, we kept seeing a white butterfly with black spots on its wings. It didn't land anywhere close enough to photo and it wasn't until we got home that we could identify it. We knew it wasn't a cabbage white-we've had them in the garden over the weekend.
It turned out to be a Brimstone.
Just as we were leaving the woods, D spotted this one. It's a Comma and apparently these have been found further north than previously due to global warming.

It turned out to be a very successful butterfly spotting day and a lovely couple of hours enjoyed by us all.

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Horrible Science

D had a nice surprise this morning. Two books arrived for him from the Horrible Science collection. One was Blood, Bones & Body Bits which is right up his street.

This book has a wonderful format as there are sliding puzzles on each page with amazing facts under each piece.

He took the other book out with us today to read on the bus, he is absolutely fascinated with it.

We had a wonderful time at the cinema and thoroughly enjoyed Mamma Mia! We all had a great laugh.

The boys got some bits and pieces they needed to do their notebook covers and D also came home with a tie dye kit.

I had a really bad headache when I got back, so I didn't take the photos I should have. D started it tonight. First he rolled the fabric and tied it with die-infused laces.

This went into a bowl of hot water with dissolved salt. After 15 minutes or so this was removed and the fabric was rinsed in cold water. At the moment the fabric is hanging on the line drying.

Tomorrow I will take a photo and show you the results. I think he is going to make it into a teddy.

Monday, 21 July 2008

They're back

The boys arrived home as brown as berries and complete with a pile of dirty washing. Don't you just love holidays!

They brought back a couple of souveniers with them. The first was a bottle of Devon sand. There must be something special with Devon sand, but I am not quite sure what.

The other was this cuttlefish. This is the first one I have seen outside of a pet shop.

The first thing both boys wanted to do was get on the internet. Think 10 days without the computer seemed a long time.
J has set himself a new project. He is doing research on retired greyhounds. He is wanting to adopt one in the future and we were a bit disappointed there were no buses to go and volunteer to walk the dogs on a regular basis. I think it is a good idea for him to find out as much information as possible so he is aware of the care and attention these dogs will need.
D has started making a new magazine. He has called it MAD. I'll try and let you see it over the next couple of days.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Terrible Tudors

Well we had a fantastic morning today. We spent the morning at the Lyceum Theatre in Sheffield watching the Terrible Tudors based on the Horrible Histories series.

We enjoyed every minute of it.

The four member cast were able to describe the main features of the Tudor reign using songs, rhymes and 3D animation. I don't think the boys will forget about the Spanish Amada in a hurry, or the fate of the wives of Henry VIII. What was nice, they used the same rhyme D and I had done when we did a project on Henry VIII some years ago-divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survivied!

They are touring the country, so if you get the opportunity, it is well worth going to see. They are also performing the Vile Victorians, but we were unable to do both this time.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Water Play

Been a very long day today. We left the house today by half nine this morning as we needed to get crickets for the tarantula and food for the chinchilla and rat. It was then into town to get wool for a jumper for D and to get some small water pistols for water play at home ed.

With all the running around we still managed to be at Highfields by 11.45!

The boys had their lunch and then it was all outside to see who could get the wettest. By the time they had finished, I could wring water out of their t-shirts. It was a good job that I had a change of clothes for them both.

This is the last one the boys will be going to before the summer holidays, so we have swapped numbers with a few people and will meet up over the summer. Let's hope that we get some warm and sunny weather to enjoy.

Monday, 7 July 2008

J's Concoction

We had another of J's treats for dinner tonight, and it was delicious.

It was a tomato base to which he added turmeric, ground coriander and tarragon. He went through the herbs and spices and chose what he wanted to use.

To this he added sliced vegetarian sausages-mum doesn't eat meat

This was heated through as he boiled a pan of salted water and cooked the spaghetti.
Once it was cooked, he drained the spaghetti and stirred it into the tomato sause.

This is it all plated up, and it was delicious. It is so nice not to have to cook a dinner some nights.

J already has plans for his next dish, but I am going to have to wait for the pleasure of eating it. The boys are going away Wednesday for about ten days.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


It was a nice surprise today when J said he wanted pancakes, he wanted to make them too. So flour, milk and eggs were whisked...

Slightly too much milk was added, but it didn't affect the outcome as he coated the base of the frying pan.

We had a slight hitch, we didn't have any lemons for lemon juice, so the boys went to the village shop for a squeezy lemon, which they didn't have. So we improvised..
Pancakes rolled on a plate complete with a shake of sugar and orange juice.



There was a PULSE event at Hillsborough park today in conjunction with Hallam FM and Unison to mark the 60th aniverary of the NHS.

It had been raining all morning but it did dry up by the time we left. However, no sooner had we arrived at the event, the heavens opened. The shelter by the army paintball range was very full, not for customers, but for shelter from the rain. Ten minutes later it was glorious sunshine.

In the Unison tent they had a display of some old medical equipment

Not sure I would like my blood pressure taken with that!

You may remember a couple of weeks we went to the Green Fair and the rain we had then. The same falconry team was here today, and after the downpour they were able to enjoy the sun.

No wonder they were hanging their wings out to dry. The boys had their photos taken with two of the birds. They both chose owls to hold.

There was a group there teaching circus skills and the boys got involved with the rope climbing and trapeze. Here is J on the rope.

D went on the trapeze

J was also interested in the retired greyhounds that were there. Apparently they are always looking for people to home greyhounds after they are no longer able to race. We are going to look at their website. The boys have always wanted a dog, so once our cat population has dropped, I have said I would consider having a greyhound as I have heard they make great pets. The two that were at the park yesterday were lovely dogs.

The last thing we did before we left was to go to the colour dome. There is more info on their website at Colourscape. It was a series of tubes that led to a bubble where live musicians were playing. We found we didn't like the red tubes, but the light blue ones were very relaxing.

On the way to the bus stop we stopped by the memorial at Hillsborough Football Stadium. The boys had heard of the disaster that happened their, but this was the first time we have had the opportunity for them to stop and look.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Ginger Cookies

It has been a really lovely day today. D and I were up early and he had done his school work before 8 o'clock! Rest of the day left to be enjoyed. Didn't take J long to catch up, he was only about an hour behind.

As it was Independance Day in the United States they did a little work about it. They have been hearing so much about it on television.

D then decided he wanted to make ginger cookies. He used the recipe from the book "Kids can cook". As he used cookie cutters that left features on the biscuits, he didn't put the icing on.

He has rolled out the dough...

cut the dough....

cookies on the greased baking sheet...

and the resulting cookies!

They taste absolutely gorgeous.

Thursday, 3 July 2008

An Expert Fisherman

I had to go into the craft shop on the way to swimming, so while D and I went to have an explore, J went and sat in the park to read his book.

Just as we were coming out of the shop, I received a phone call from a really excited J. While he was reading, 3 squirrels came up and started to explore the bags. He was over the moon to be so close to them. By the time we got there, only this one was remaining.

We had enough time to go and sit by the pond before we were due at the leisure centre, so we sat and had our sandwiches surrounded by the geese and enjoyed just letting the world go by.

It took a little while to notice that a heron had come to the pond. He was sat on a piece of wood out from a wooden post and it looked as if he was standing in midair. We weren't really close enough to be able to get a decent picture but if you double click on the photo, you may be able to pick him out.

After about five minutes surveying the neighbourhood the heron started wading under the trees by the island in the middle of the pond. This was most appropriate as J had been asking how herons feed and we had a good demonstration by the bird himself.

Seven times his head went down into the water, and seven times he had fish to swallow! The most successful fisherman it has been our pleasure to watch.

J had been interested in knowing how herons behave and how they choose their partners, so I think we may do a little project on herons.

Swimming was very shortlived today as one hour after they were in the pool, a very large school party turned up. It was like an invasion. I think the boys were a bit disappointed they had to leave, but D in particular wasn't happy with so many in the pool. Never mind, they have had two three hour sessions the last twice they have been, so all in all, they've not done too badly. However, this is likely to be the last home ed swimming session they will be going to until September. The boys will be staying at their dad's when the next one is due.

That meant we were home a little earlier than expected-time to read the new books that arrived this morning. They are reading the Beast Quest series so will be interesting to see how they enjoy them.

J had his first trip by himself into town today. Mum sat at home worrying and he came home with a big grin on his face, he thought it was excellent and can't wait to be able to do it again. It's hard seeing them grow up and gaining independance, but good at the same time.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Fire Safety

Apparently I missed a layer of papier mache going onto D's cup, so today it got it's last layer. Tomorrow it will be ready for painting, though with swimming, I am not sure if we will have time.

Here is an updated picture of D's bog garden. I was really surprised that it has flourished as well as it has. Just a shame I don't know what is growing in there.

Today we did a little project on fire safety and what to do in the event of a fire.
The boys checked the smoke alarm and made sure the batteries were ok and they also practised opening the fire escape window. At least we now know that in the event of fire, that both the children will be able to open the window and get out safely.

They also have learned what to do if their clothes were to catch fire. The best thing would be that a fire didn't start in the first place so we discussed how to keep safe and the importance of not playing with fire. They even made their own warning posters.

I am going to see if it is at all possible to go and visit a fire station in the near future.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Custom Jewelry

Before we went to home ed group today, D put another layer of papier mache on his cup. Only two more to go.

I got a couple of presents at home ed today. It amazes me what the boys can achieve with a little imagination.

Part of the cherry tree had been cut back and there were some bark strips. My first present was from J. It was a bracelet. When he made this, the bark was soft and malleable. By the time I got home it had hardened up. Both the boys were amazed.

Since I had a bracelet, D thought it was only right I should have a necklace.

D also found this bit of cherry tree resin. It has now has a place on our trophy shelf.

This is D's start on Take a Stitch Tuesday. This is his first attempt at cretan stitch. He has done really well and we are going to develop it further tomorrow.