Saturday, 30 November 2013


"What's going on?"
For the last week and a bit something strange has been going on at night.

"What's that?!"

We wake in the morning to find our dinosaurs have been up to mischief!

We were a bit late to the party with dinovember but as soon as I heard about it I knew we wanted to join in with the fun!

"It's a happy birthday!"
For those that are in the dark, dinovember was started by a mum and dad who wanted to encourage a sense of wonder and mystery in their children. You can read more about it here. I hope it creates some fun memories for the girls and sparks their imaginations a bit!

"Uh-oh. Dinosaurs made a mess mum"
The first couple of days Poppet was just mildly amused by the dinosaur's antics. But soon she started looking forward to seeing what they had got up to in the night, and gently cautioning them before she went to bed - "don't be naughty".

Me: Is that those naughty dinosaurs again?
Poppet: No, them nice mama
I think her favourite one was when the dinosaurs made fairy cakes! Dada was still telling them off for making a mess with the flour, but Poppet admonished him 'No dada you have to say thank you". And we had fairy cakes for breakfast, which she loved!

Dino Doctors!
Little's reaction was the same every day, she would just growl at them. 

"It's a fruit-stealing dinosaur convoy!" (not Poppet's actual words)

A detail shot

"Look, dinosaurs tidy up!"
"'They dettin married!"

"Mum come see!"
On Friday morning we got up and the dinosaurs were nowhere to be found! Poppet thought maybe they had gone to sleep. But as the sun came up she happened to be looking out the window at the building work and spotted some dinosaurs making an escape attempt!

"What dinosaurs doin?"
I loved how the girls would often elaborate on the dinosaur scene they found each morning and use it as a basis for their play; we had a day of wedding play 'I detting married mum", a day playing with the train set, a day playing with all their toy vehicles (and eating satsumas!), a teaparty that lasted an entire day.... it was lovely to see. Poppet was very keen to help me clean the bathroom after the dinosaurs had messed it up. She even started to try and do it by herself, and seemed almost disappointed in the dinosaurs' behaviour!

The dinosaurs in general have been getting lots of attention since we started; Poppet has been playing with them lots, even feeding them - they have really become her favourite toys of the minute! Which is good timing for us as we got her a beautiful dinosaur dress for Christmas from the amazing Sewing Circus. She will love it even more now!

So now Dinovember has come to an end, and I am a little bit glad because as fun as it was I was running out of dinosaur scenes! I don't know about Poppet's but my creativity and imagination was certainly exercised a bit these last couple of weeks!

Poppet: 2yrs 10mos
Little: 1yr 2mos

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Bird Cakes

I got the things out to make these but then was distracted by a phonecall and by the time I was done I found Poppet had already begun without me. I found her trying to use the lard as a glue to stick pieces of twine onto the yoghurt pots. So yeah there was quite a bit of lard smeared about the place and over Poppet so it wasn't the best start to the morning!

Poppet playing with the lard

Is lard meant to smell horrible -or had I left it out the fridge too long? Either way it was a really yucky thing to work with and I don't think I want to buy it again. The birds will just have to make do with shop bought birdcakes in the future -not that they are even going near the bird cakes we lovingly made!

We followed the instructions on the RSPB website. We basically just squelched together birdseed and lard, it was pretty easy. Poppet got really stuck in and didn't seem bothered by the disgusting smell.

We then packed it into yoghurt pots. We had pre-threaded these with twine - I made a hole in the bottom of the pots and then Poppet tried hard to thread the twine through, but it was pretty difficult so I fed the twine through until it was just poking out, and then she would grab hold of it and pull it through.

We put it into the fridge to chill until the next day and then went out into the garden to find places to hang them. Which was surprisingly difficult as our garden has no trees in it. We hung a few on an old bird table, and the rest on the washing line poles and shed.

I have yet to see a single bird eat from one of our cakes.

Poppet: 2yrs 10mos
Little: 1yr 1mos

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

An Autumn Gardening Update

The foundations of our old second greenhouse (that has now gone on to a new owner) have been turned into a raised bed, giving us a lovely new vegetable plot to fill.

A bit of research online told me that garlic was the ideal crop for November sowing and we managed to pick up a bag at our local garden centre. This is my first time growing garlic but from what I read it is pretty simple so I am looking forward to when we can harvest it next June! Poppet loves the job of unpeeling the garlic and splitting up the cloves whenever I am cooking so I knew she would enjoy helping plant them too. I also found that you can plant early varieties of peas now for a June harvest, so ordered a packet of 'Douche Provence' online (we couldn't find any in the gardening centre).

It was a momentous morning as Poppet finally managed to get all her fingers in the correct bits of her gardening gloves! She couldn't actually do anything with the gloves on but that is besides the point.

It was quite a windy day so this is Poppet getting a bit worried about the the wind, but after some reassurance she was happy to continue.

I dug the trench and Poppet dropped the peas in, then 'put them to bed' by covering them over with soil with her trowel.

I got carried away and also picked up these spring cabbage plant seedlings at the garden centre so we put a row of them in there as well. I'm not sure if they will survive our icy weather recently, maybe I should have covered them with something!

So that summarises our morning gardening! We didn't even need to water everything as it rained all afternoon for us. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Loose Part Play: Dried Oranges, Pinecones & Coasters

The girls love having new play ingredients to use in their kitchen, and these loose parts fitted the bill perfectly. I originally made these intending them to become a christmas table centrepiece and wreath and so I didn't really want them played with and damaged. But Poppet must have really liked the dried orange slices as I would keep finding them missing from the bowl, and usually fed to her dinosaurs. She is being very attentive to her dinosaurs as of late, perhaps due to Dinovember that we are currently participating in! (blog post to follow!)

We collected our pine cone collection from the garden and laid them out on a baking tray. They were mostly all closed up, but after an hour or so on a very low heat in the oven they all opened up and are happily now free from all insects which is always good. I sliced up a couple of oranges into 1cm pieces and laid them out on a wire rack (apparently better than a baking tray as it helps prevent them sticking) and baked them at the same time until they had all dried out.

After a couple of days of Poppet stealing the orange slices I gave in and set up an invitation to play using them. I went for a natural theme with a wooden placemat, wood-effect coasters, a bowl of dried oranges and a bowl of pinecones (I was sticking to the Magic Three Formula of loose part play).

My pictures of them playing with them were mostly blurred so I only have one here, but I can vouch that those oranges got a lot of playtime! They did not touch the pinecones at all (have had some up on the windowsill all month so these are no novelty) but the orange slices were cooked, and served up, and cooked, and served up, time and time again. The coasters became little serving platters that Poppet would arrange the oranges on and then hand out to me, or to her little sister.

I will give you one guess as to what Little did with the oranges! Even Poppet had a little experimental nibble. I have now managed to rescue all of my precious oranges slices and have them up out of the way until we can try our hand at making some decorations in the not too distant future!

Poppet: 2yrs 10mos
Little: 1yr 1mos

Thursday, 21 November 2013

An unexpected snow day

Snow covered extension

On Tuesday morning we woke to find everything covered in a blanket of snow! It was the first snowfall of the winter and Poppet immediately requested that we "make a noman"!

We had toddler group in the morning and Poppet still naps in the afternoon so I wasn't sure when we would fit in some fun in the snow. We got home at lunchtime with Little fast asleep in the pushchair so we grabbed the opportunity, ate a chocolate bar each in lieu of lunch , and went to play outside

Poppet loves making footprints in the snow, but we noticed someone else had got there first (bloody cats!).

She dubiously followed my instructions to lay down in the show and make a snow angel. She wasn't that impressed with the finished result.

Unfortunately the snow was really powdery and we just couldn't get it to form a snow ball to make a snowman, so instead we made a 'snow-boat' (it was originally a snow car but then Poppet started questioning me on wheels so I quickly changed plans). She was very happy jumping in and out of her boat!

We dug all of the pine cones from Poppet's play garden up out of the snow as I have plans to use them in some Christmas crafts; Poppet really liked finding them - "there's another one!".

We did eventually return to our snowman building attempts; it took an age of shovelling snow into a pile to get this far. At which point Poppet called time on our efforts and requested a hot chocolate break, and I happily obliged.

Our snowman. Bit rubbish

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Monday, 18 November 2013

Collecting Autumn Treasures

Autumn is my very favourite season and I love collecting all the treasures that nature has to offer at this time of year.

So much so that my autumn wedding featured pinecone table centrepieces, I had twigs in my bouquet, and if I had thought of some way that I could have included conkers in the day then I would have!

I had been searching high and low for horse-chestnut trees in our hometown so that we could introduce Poppet to the joy of conker hunting, but to no avail. On holiday however, we came across a treasure trove of conker trees, which I was far too excited about to be considered normal.

We had help from some friends and together managed to collect a massive amount of shiny, jewel-like conkers. It was so hard to drag myself away from those trees, there was so many conkers on the ground just begging to be picked up! Poppet also liked using the leaves as umbrellas.

In the words of my brother, "it's like we're rich"! 

We also collected some lovely autumn leaves, in reds and browns and yellows and greens.

I've turned one of our windowsills into a display area for objects relating to the current season/celebration. Last month we had a Halloween themed display. This month's is Autumn. I picked out some books with an autumn theme and some fabrics in autumnal colours, and tried to arrange them in an inviting way. I also included all the autumn treasures we have collected - acorns, pinecones, conkers, leaves - plus some apples (real and wooden), tractors and Poppet's painted pumpkin.

Our Halloween and Autumn displays have both been really popular so I will definitely be continuing with this. Poppet is always spontaneously taking items from them to use in her play, and the apples don't last long as she eats them!

Poppet: 2yrs 10mos
Little: 1yr 1mos

Friday, 8 November 2013

Pumpkin Painting

This is the pumpkin that we managed to grow against the odds (it is the small green one on the left). It was a bit too small to carve and we didn't want to eat it as I wasn't sure green ones would taste very good.

So the only logical use left for it was to paint it. The idea appealed to Poppet a lot.

I gave her a selection of acrylic paints and brushes along with the pumpkin and left her to make it beautiful. She loved using the pumpkin as a canvas and was completely absorbed in making sure she painted every bit of it.

The finished pumpkin sits proudly on the windowsill for all to admire.

I don't know of any better use of the twinkling facility on my camera than this.

Poppet: 2yrs 9mos
Little: 1yr 1mos

Thursday, 7 November 2013

A Welly Walk

Day 3 of our recent holiday to Perthshire. It rained quite a lot.

What could be a miserable, dreary walk is actually an exciting stomp through puddles and streams for Poppet with her trusty wellingtons.

What toddler doesn't love splashing through puddles? The entire walk was a puddle for Poppet; it had rained so much that a stream had formed on the road so she just resolutely stomped her way through it. It is quite a serious matter, for her, puddle splashing.

To her delight, the road then turned into a ginormous puddle! Nana took Poppet and Little (in the pushchair) through the middle of it while I was left to squelch my way along the grass verge as I was not wearing appropriate footwear. "Have to buy you some!" Poppet said to me thoughtfully.

This puddle got a bit deep even for Poppet's wellies!

A blow-the-cobwebs-away kind of walk on a miserable but magnificient Monday morning.

Poppet: 2yrs 9mos
Little: 1yr 1mos