Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thank You's and Gift Cards for the Mad Hatters Tea Party

When the guests leave the Mad Hatters Tea Party, in order to thank their guests for coming, the girls have prepared some wee gift boxes for them to take home with them.

We found some printables online at "Don't Eat the Paste" blog.

We simply selected the design (there are a few to choose from and even another section with some Alice in Wonderland quotes, so we printed those too) and printed them onto some A4 card stock.

Cut the design out.

Because the oldest daughter takes forever to cut things perfectly and the younger one rushes (and therefore makes her own lines to cut along ...) after them each cutting one, I offered to cut the rest for them, which they readily agreed to. Otherwise I think they would even now, be cutting them out.

The girls then folded the cards into boxes and they did really well, I only needed to show them the first one and they were off. We used some double sided tape (like what you use in scrapbooking and card making) on the tabs to keep the boxes together.

On the day, so they remain fresh, we will fill each little box with four or five large lollies and place some curling ribbon around the boxes to keep the lollies secure inside.

Monday, February 13, 2012

February; the Mama's Second Card Class

After such fun last month I was itching to return for another card making session. My good friend "R" and her daughter "K", who are also a homeschooling family joined us, as did another new friend and Guide Leader.

The group gets split into two and it appears that whilst one group does a challenging card, the other does the simpler one. We then swap over to the make the other card. What is great about the simpler card, is that there are a few options to change things around a little to make it more individual.

I just love, love, love this card and with the red and black detailing I just know who this is going to be used for! The flower was challenging to make but the effect was worth it. It was interesting to see all the changes everyone made to their smaller Thank Your card and what was interesting is that they were all really nice.

Bring on March!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Conservation at The Little House on Lake Waikare

Last year we were approached by Environment Waikato (the local governing body who look after lakes, rivers, land, etc) who offered us some native plants, free of charge, as long as we were willing to plant them along our lake verge. Of course we accepted but, hadn't realised we'd have about 150 of them to plant!

When they arrived here, the land was really, really wet and boggy and there was no way we could get a car and trailer down there without becoming bogged so we put it off. We actually had a lot of rain right up until Christmas. So finally, after some nice weather, last weekend Iain and the girls packed all the plants onto the trailer and headed down to the lake to plant them out.

Agent Smelly in action.

The Fashionista doing her bit.

Here's part of the finished area.

In winter this area will be flooded so there are only two types of plants which they thought would survive those conditions.

At one stage when The Papa was pre-digging a pile of the holes, his little helpers got sidetracked and decided to immortalise our family in mud ...

Oh goodness I think I am the one on the right -
not sure about my hairstyle and I just knew I had to lose weight!

They went down at about 11am, came back up at 1pm for lunch, and an hour or so later headed back down til about 5pm. They got them all planted and I must admit I was really impressed with all their dedication and fortitude.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Being Appreciated ...

Whilst the girls were having their lunch break today, and I was in my room putting some washing away, they shut the double doors which leads from the lounge off my bedroom to the main lounge/dining area. They were in the main lounge so I couldn't see what they were up to.

As I walked towards the doors I remember thinking "what on earth are up they to now"?

Imagine my surprise when I opened the doors and they both were holding this sign that they had made ...

Aren't they sweet!

Kudos on spelling "appreciate" too ... great job their spelling teacher is doing ... lol

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Invitations to the Mad Hatters Tea party

Today the girls posted their invitations to their Mad Hatters Tea party. They have invited nine little homeschooled girls to the event which will take place on a Friday afternoon, just for a couple of hours.

These are the invitations that we designed and printed in different colours.

We all know how nice it is to get something in the mail, so despite two families having multiple invitees we made sure that each girl received their own personal invite in their own personal envelope addressed just to them. Thankfully those families live nearby so we popped their invites in their post boxes which saved the cost of stamps.

From what I understand each girl was overjoyed to receive something in the mail addressed just to them, which certainly makes that little extra effort worthwhile.

My girls meantime have learnt what to include on an invite, i.e., date, time, place, dress, RSVP etc. and where to place that on the inside. I even learnt something myself in regards to RSVPing. Apparently now it is acceptable to just put on the invites that unless you advise to the contrary it will be taken that you will be coming. I think I still prefer the old way where you receive confirmation or not. Also what if an invitation goes astray in the mail and you just assume they are coming?

I did laugh when a couple of the RSVP's were late, the girls were so anxious for me to follow the invitees up. I explained that you usually wait a day or two before following anyone up.

Because there are so many children with allergies and intolerance's, and some we haven't entertained before, I thought it prudent to add something about advising us on the back of the card, rather than them turning up and not being able to eat anything. Making gluten free, and such is not really too hard these days as long as one knows.

We have had a couple of girls respond with known allergies (pork products) so that's easy to accommodate. We are simply substituting ham and bacon with chicken in one of our recipes.

Thankfully most of the girls can attend, so my little hostess's are now at the next planning stage ... the activities. Let's hope there is no rain on the day!

Soul Surfer Movie Review

The girls and I recently purchased the DVD Soul Surfer as I had heard such good things about the movie and have been itching to see it.

It's the true story of a christian girl, Bethany Hamilton, who lost her arm to a 14 foot tiger shark in her home town in Hawaii. Bethany's feisty determination and her deep abiding faith in God, has her back on the board three weeks after losing her arm and then she goes on to surf competitively again!

We absolutely loved this movie. At times we got so excited (or when the shark attacked ... very gruesome filming there people) that we were out of our seats. We just couldn't sit still. The actors were great (Dennis Quaid and Helen Hunt gave outstanding performances), the music inspiring, the story just sensational and it left us all feeling great. Agent Smelly looked up at me when it ended and very emphatically said "Mum, I just loved that movie".

Amazingly despite the shark attack scene and Bethany's loss of her arm, it even left us all inspired to try our hand at surfing ... go figure, it's simply that kind of movie!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


On a "school day" after the children have had their lunch break, I have them start back by having some quiet reading time. I find it relaxes them if they have been being boisterous and also gives me a chance to prepare for their last lessons of the day.

Here they are today, outside enjoying the beautiful summer weather, reading on their bean bags.

Monday, February 6, 2012


Physical Education can sometimes get overlooked in a homeschooling environment so this year I have been looking at introducing a "formal PE curriculum" into our days. In the past we have been using fitness DVD's, horse riding, swimming and ballet to complete our fitness routine but this is generally done in the afternoons. Also the children then become proficient in one area but may be lacking in another, such as ball skills, or balance, etc. A good program should cover all aspects of physical activity.

I really like the idea of doing something first thing in the morning, so for the past week we have been using a free trial from Family Time Fitness which is a purpose made course for homeschoolers. This program was put together by Dr. Peter Minke, a Health & Wellness Expert, Mike Hanik, Professor of Kinesiology at Texas A&M and Youth Fitness Specialist and Jeremiah Knopp a Certified Fitness Trainer & Nutritionist.

Here they are doing some of the routine from one of the days.

You get an email once a month with all the exercises to do on that specific day, i.e. day1, day 2 and so on. They supply a program for five days a week but you can just pick and choose how many days you use it. The program differs each day of the year, so there is a balance of activities. They can be performed in the house and also outside on nice days.  They include a warm up and warm down which is great for children to learn as too often they just go into something without doing either.

The ropes got further and further apart and they tried to see how far they could jump.

Links are supplied to U-Tube showing how to perform some of  the exercises, which is fabulous as sometimes written instructions can be hard to work out. I like that they also give you a sheet to assess your child's fitness, stretching and jumping capabilities, etc. Then you can re-assess them them every 6-8 weeks to see how they have improved.

If you are in OZ or NZ you should be aware that measurements are all imperial (jump 6 inches, run 1/4 mile, etc) but hopefully they will look at introducing a metric system in the near future.

I don't think we will purchase it this year as it is very costly, US 99 even though they did kindly offer a US 20 voucher to be used on the program.

This year I will simply put together a program myself which will incorporate many different morning exercise and activities (trampoline, cycling, walking, DVD's) til such a time that we can afford this.

Family Fitness Time also sell some Discovering Physical Education work books which look great. "Examples of Activities can include: Alphabet Soup, Crossword, Decoding, Hidden Letters, Magic Square, Matching, Missing Letters, Spelling Challenge, Secret Trails, Spiral, Study Sheets, Coloring, Word Jumbles, Word Links, Word Search, Word Shapes, Framework, Alphabetical Order, Spelling Quest, and many more. These workbooks help with understanding not only the proper meaning of Physical Education, Nutrition, Anatomy and General Fitness but will also help with reading, spelling and Kinesiology." (taken from their website). The work books are based on age levels, K-1st, 2nd-3rd and 4th-5th and there are some samples on their web site also. These are quite affordable, especially if you purchase the four different books for the year level. We will definitely be investing in these.

If you are interested in either the work books or fitness program, you can find further details on their site

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Rocket Day

Rocket Day is held in Taupiri, in February each year by the New Zealand Rocketry Association.

Members from around the country get together to parade their stuff and swap information on rocketry and visitors are more than welcome.

"There are rockets galore from ready-to-go rockets for young kids to the largest ones going for 30,000 ft or more and everything in between. Rockets going at mach 2 (twice the speed of sound) is always on the cards. That's faster than a speeding bullet! Some are still works-in-progress so you can see just how clever some people are with their hands and brains. Upwards of 60 rockets can be launched on the day. More rockets than NASA!"

The Pig took the girls off to see the rockets and they ended up paying to make and fly one of their very own!

If the excitement that was evident when they got home was anything to go by, the whole three of them had a great day out. They are even planning what they will do at next years event.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Perfect Pita's

Today I made Pita's for the very first time. I have no idea why I have been putting it off. It simply sounded like it could be difficult ... well how wrong was I!

(recipe and picture taken from Pinterest)

1 tablespoon yeast
1 ¼ cup warm water

1 teaspoon salt
3- 3 ½ cups flour (I substituted one cup with wholemeal and that worked out fine)
Preheat oven to 220'C (or 425F)
Dissolve the yeast in the water for about 5 minutes in the bowl of an electric mixer. Add salt and 1 ½ cups flour and with the dough hook, beat to make a batter. Add additional flour until a rough, shaggy mass is formed. Knead 8 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic. Add more flour if it is too sticky.
Dissolve the yeast in the water for about 5 minutes in the breadmaker tin. Add the salt and all the flour and then set to your dough mix.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into six pieces for large pitas or ten for smaller. You could make all sorts of sizes to suit different snacks and meals. 8 suited us, as that meant 2 each.
Form the dough into balls and then flatten with a rolling pin into a thickness of about 6-7 mm discs. Try and keep an even thickness as this is what helps them ‘puff’.
Let rest on the floured surface 30-40 minutes until slightly puffed.
With a large spatula, flip the rounds of dough upside down on to a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes until light golden.

Apparently, we scoffed ours all up so I can't comment from personal experience, these store for up to two days well wrapped or frozen for three weeks. Good to know but, fresh from the oven ... oh my, oh my.

I'll leave you with a picture of one of my pita's that was a bit misshapen and overcooked from the second batch (I have now learnt that 10 mins is the max with my oven!), so here's what I did ... this from the person who tells the children not to play with their food ... we all laughed though, especially when I made his mouth snap open and shut ...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Friendship Bread - Book Review

I have just finished reading the novel "Friendship Bread" written by Hawaiian writer, Darien Gee.

It is a charming novel about long time resident, Julia Evarts, of a small US town, Avalon. Julia is still in the throes of dealing with the tragic death of her eldest child, whilst under the care of her sister, Livvy, who was also her dearest friend. Sadly this placed a wedge between the two sisters and Julia just doesn't seem to be able to move on despite having a supportive husband, Mark and beautiful little five year old girl, Gracie.

One day some "Amish Friendship Bread" is left on Julia's doorstep with a note saying "I hope you enjoy it". Also included is a bag of starter, some instructions and a request to share it with others. It's shared a bit like a chain letter.

She ends up meeting a couple of ladies new to town, an elderly widow named Madeline, who has shifted there to open tea rooms from her home and a famed cellist, Hannah who also moves to Avalon, expecting to start a new life with her husband. In actual fact Hannah's husband was was just removing her from his life, whilst he continues his career with the orchestra, so she is dealing with his rejection along with the loss of her career.

The three strangers forge a friendship at Madeleine's Tea Rooms which is really lovely. You also hear about Livvy's who really, really misses her sister, along with a couple of other characters lives sprinkled throughout.  

Throughout the novel the bread starter is passed through the town with everyone making bread with some residents actually sick of it, although towards the end, the town ends up uniting for a benevolent cause with the bread at the heart of it.

I enjoyed the book, it was sweet and interesting and had a cheerful and happy ending.

I am also now simply dying to try "Amish Friendship Bread", which by the way is described more as a cake than a bread (think banana bread). They have included a pile of recipes and information for your own starter at the end of the book. There's also a link up on Facebook and Twitter.

Check out link for the recipe for the starter!

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