Thursday, May 31, 2012

Button Trees on Canvas

As we haven't done any crafts in ages, instead of working on our famous artist study today, I thought it might be nice for the girls to make something.

I saw these on Pinterest (I am a Pinterest addict!) and knew we just had to give them a go.

They are quite simple, just grab a canvas and start drawing a tree and paint it (or freehand paint if you are confident in that area) and then simply randomly glue buttons on the branches. I grabbed some cheap buttons from a couple of second-hand shops yesterday, so overall it was a pretty cheap craft.

The Fashionista thought it would be nice for a branch to come across the canvass rather than a full tree.

Agent Smelly decided she wanted to try and paint her tree with her finger. It actually gave the trunk quite a nice effect. She did use a brush for the thinner branches.

The Fashionista decided to use her Aunt's favourite colour combination, purple, blue and green and make her canvas for her as a gift.  Aunty H is going to be so delighted with it.

Agent Smelly used all the various colours we had in the container.

I had some faerie buttons so the girls decided to include them in their pictures. Can you spot them?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Journaling their wee History

Today for history, just to shake things up a bit, instead of using their traditional text books I had them do a timeline of the history of their short lives to-date.

Agents Smelly's timeline. Love the latest pic of her doing gymnastics.

It was actually very funny listening to them trying to work out what they did each year that was worth drawing onto their timeline.

By The Fashionista; the little circle of girls she drew for when she joined Pippins (Guides) cute?

Once they finished them, I had them place them into their journals for prosperity.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

White Chocolate & Vanilla Biscuits

The Fashionista was simply dying to make something from her Girls Rally magazine and asked if she could make some White Chocolate & Vanilla biscuits for home economics this week. It was their Grandma's birthday so I agreed, as I thought it would be nice to pop down with a fresh batch of those and the ANZAC cookies her little sister was whipping up.

I have got to say that even though I am not a fan of white chocolate, and we found out later neither is my mother-in-law, we ALL (yes even the ma-in-law), absolutely loved these biscuits and just kept eating them. Which is lucky because there was no quantity on the recipe and so we ended up making a whopping 66 biscuits!

I really cannot recommend this recipe highly enough.

White Chocolate & Vanilla Biscuits

Makes; approx 5 doz

  • 375g butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 6 Tbspn condensed milk
  • 3 tspn vanilla essence
  • 4 cups flour
  • 3 tspn baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups white chocolate buttons (chopped)

  1. Preheat oven to 165.C
  2. Using an electric beater, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  3. Beat in condensed milk and vanilla essence.
  4. Sift over flour and baking powder and mix well.
  5. Mix in chopped chocolate buttons.
  6. Spoon walnut sized balls onto a lined baking tray - flatten slightly with finger tips.
  7. Bake for 10-12mins until firm and golden.

Recipe taken from Girls Rally Member Mag, No 2 - 2012

Monday, May 28, 2012

They're at it again ...

I have mentioned before how the little madams enjoy dressing up. Today they arrived in the school room dressed like this ...

Apparently this is going to be their new school uniform, am sure I have heard that before ... personally I think they look like those English nannys.

They wore these outfits all day until they had to get changed for Girl Guides, yes even the hats. I am not sure which school wears these skirts (we got them from a second-hand shop for a themed party) but am considering sending the little minxes there!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fantasy Party

Today the girls attended a lovely friend of their's 10th birthday party.

The theme was fantasy so they went as a couple of Harry Potter characters.

Agent Smelly as "Ginny Weasley"

The Fashionista as "Luna Lovegood"

We grabbed the school skirts from a second-hand store and they are wearing The Papa's ties ... The Fashionista is wearing his school tie in fact.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

SWAPS, Kiwi Style

As patrol leader of her Guide troop, The Fashionista had to take patrol time this week.  One of the clauses in her book suggested making something for a girl to give away at an international event she was attending.

Thus, she decided to have her unit make SWAPS.  SWAPS stands for Special Whatchamacallits Affectionately Pinned Somewhere or Share With A Pal and are a wee homemade item that usually represents the person giving them, or their unit or even the event, that ythey can pin to their hat (or vest, etc.).

So with the help of her brilliant mother ... ahem, she came up with these very Kiwi SWAPS.

She took some little brown pom poms, cut out some beaks and feet from gold felt and glued them onto the pom poms. She also glued on some plastic, twirly eyes and a pin to the back of the pom poms.

Some of the finished results that the patrol made, are very funny as the placement of the eyes really gives these little fellas a distinct personality.

You also usually pin a wee tag to the SWAP which tells your patrol number and name. The girls didn't add these as they thought the person who would be taking them overseas might like to do that.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Visiting Girls Rally

Today the girls attended their first Girls Rally session. Girls Rally is an international club (started in NZ) for girls between 7 and 16 years of age that is run under the umbrella of the local church.

Our local group meets in Waerenga, a bit further out in the country from us, about 5-10 mins. away, between 6.30 and 8.30pm each fortnight on a Monday evening. Boy's Rally meets the opposite week. It is a late night but one of the advantages of homeschooling is that they can have a wee lie in the following morning and we simply start learning a little later in the day.

The 'Aims' of the Rally Movement are to build children into worthy and useful citizens in the community, using three specific areas:
- building strong Christian character (Spiritual)
- increased knowledge and understanding (Educational)
- developing physical and team co-operation (Physical)

The children play games, make crafts (a cute fabric necklace at this particular session), earn badges and points for their team and have bible devotions. They also hold camps and have sporting days and outings.

Here the girls are wearing the fabric necklaces they made. Agent Smelly gave me hers as a gift straight away. She is very sweet like that.

The girls don't have to wear a uniform they do wear a sash to place the badges they earn on them. They also need to learn the rally motto and promise and say it at their third meet. Agent Smelly is quite concerned about this ... but I have assured her if she can recite Robert Louis Stevenson poems then she won't have any issues with them. The Fashionista, who is quite competitive, is already working out ways she can earn points and badges.

Both girls came home "uber" excited about their evening. It helped that they already knew a couple of girls that attend rally. It was simply supposed to be a visit to see how it was but both girls are so excited at the prospect of returning that I think it is a forgone conclusion that they will join.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our New Phones

Yesterday I installed my new phones, with all the bells and whistles, and patiently waited all day for my first call on it.

Then at about 8pm the phone went ... "if you want your husband back, put 11 million dollars at the front door" ... then two little girls giggling madly ... Oh that's right there's an intercom on them and one phone is in the guest room right next to their bedrooms!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Vegetable soup tales ...

Miss 7 just asked what we were having for tea.

I showed her the vegie soup I was about to reheat.

She said "er yuk that has too many vegies in it."

I pointed out that she was the one who had made it in the first place.

Raising her hands in the air, she looked at me and despondently said "I know ... what was I thinking", and turned and dejectedly walked away.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Caramel Biscuits

Today The Fashionista pulled out one of our "4 Ingredients" cook books and made some gluten free Caramel Biscuits. We have now also made these using regular self-raising flour. which worked well too. 

The Fashionista is becoming very confident in the kitchen and the only thing I had to explain to her to do was how to "cream" the butter and sugar.

"Caramel Biscuits"

Makes 24

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbs. golden syrup
  • 1 generous cup GF self raising flour
  • Preheat oven t0 180'C
  • Cream butter and sugar.
  • Add syrup and beat until fluffy
  • Mix in flour until texture is such that you are able to roll it into balls (about the size of a large marble/tom bowler).
  • Place the balls on a paper line tray and allow for spreading (we did two tray loads). Press each gently with a fork and bake for 15 minutes.

Monday, May 14, 2012

May; Card Making No 5

Tonight we made some animal themed cards.


This card was made with layers and layers of card. Very simple but, effective with the stark white and black contrast.

Check out this little fella looking through the tree hole. Not sure why, but there is something rather cute about owls don't you think?

We also stamped the inside of the card, which looks rather effective.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Lovely Mother's Day

Today the girls treated me to the most lovely Mother's Day.

I jumped out of bed (OK slowly hauled my fat butt out bed) at 7.00 am and jumped into the shower, thinking that I'd better get moving and feed the girls cause Daddy was at work. When I emerged I was made to get back into bed by my two bossy little girls (where do they get that from I wonder?). I was then served, luke-warm / cold baked beans on soggy toasted muffins served on one of their plastic toy box lids, as they couldn't find the breakfast tray, along with a really lovely cuppa (Miss 7 may have a new job!), while both of them propped on my bed intently watching me eat every bite. I made the appropriate yummy noises for them (cold baked beans grow on a person ... ;) ).

When I finish my cuppa, they escorted me down to the lounge for another surprise ... wooohhooooo. A lovely homemade card, beautiful homemade new bookmark and under a big pink sheet I found a new wireless printer, copier, fax, scanner. So love MY family, just what I wanted and need!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Science Week; Day 4

Today Agent Smelly did her final experiment in order to earn her badge. I think both girls played with this for over a week, they just love ...


You will need
  • bowl
  • cornflour
  • water
  • food colouring (optional, but highly recommended!)

1. Pour some cornflour into a mixing bowl.

2. Stir in small amounts of water until the cornflour has become a very thick paste.

3. To make the slime the colour of your choice, thoroughly stir about five drops of food colouring into the mixture.

  • Stir your slime REALLY slowly. This shouldn't be hard to do.
  • Stir your slime REALLY fast. This should be almost impossible.
  • Now punch your slime REALLY hard and fast. It should feel like you're punching a solid.
Cornflour slime is a special type of fluid that doesn't follow the usual rules of fluid behaviour. When a pressure is applied to slime, it becomes thicker. At a certain point the slime actually seems to lose its flow and behave like a solid.

You can keep your slime mixture covered in a fridge for several days. If the cornflour settles, just stir it to make it work again.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Science Week; Day 3

Today was a bit of "Harry Potter" day ... magic potions and invisible ink.

"Magic Potion"

You will need
cauldron (medium sized container)
baking soda

1. Place 2 tablespoons of water in the container and stir in a tablespoon of baking soda until it dissolves.

2. Have 2 tablespoons on vinegar ready in a separate cup and then pour it into the container all at once and watch what happens.

I then explained that what appeared to be one reaction was actually two, happening in quick succession. The acetic acid in the vinegar reacts with the sodium bicarbonate (in the baking soda) to form carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is unstable, and it immediately falls apart into carbon dioxide and water. The bubbles they could see from the reaction came from the carbon dioxide escaping from the leftover solution.

This is such a simple and popular experiment but still my girls nearly 8 and 10 were excited at the outcome. A reminder to me to still do experiments that they may have already performed when they were younger as they tend to understand and notice more as they get older.

"Invisible Ink"

You will need
  • lemon juice from a lemon
  • toothpick or small stick
  • piece of plain paper
  • iron
1. Squeeze the juice out of a lemon onto a saucer.

2. Dip your toothpick (or small stick) into the juice and use it to write a secret message on a piece of paper. When the "ink" is dry the words disappear.

3. To see the message again, all you do is iron the paper. I closely supervised the girls with the iron so would recommend an adult do this bit if your child is not familiar with an iron.

I was not allowed to photograph their messages as they were "secret"!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Science Week; Day 2

Today we worked on the following experiments;

"Ice Cube"

You will need
  • an ice cube
  • paper towel
  • a piece of string
  • salt

Place the ice cube on a paper towel and your piece of string across it. Make sure there is equal string on both sides. Now sprinkle the salt over the string where it touches the ice.

Wait a few minutes and then you should be able to lift the ice cube holding each side of the string only.

When you sprinkle salt on to the ice cube the salt molecules dissolve and join the water molecules thus changing the water’s rate of freezing. The rate of melting is now much faster than freezing hence causing the ice to melt. However, to be able to restore equilibrium, the water’s freezing point drops causing the ice to freeze out of the salt water. The salt starts to crystallize and ice refreezes around the string. This causes the ice cube to stick to the ends of the thread enabling you to pick it up just by lifting the string!

Sadly neither girl  could get this to work. It was a good opportunity to discuss why. We think we may have used too much salt which formed a barrier between the string and ice cube.

One of the experiments in the Brownie book was to make "Hokey Pokey" (honeycomb) which worked out well as Tuesdays are our home economics / baking days. Nothing like doing two subjects at a time!

We grabbed a random recipe off the internet and made some Hokey Pokey. Both girls were fascinated to see it "sizzle" (Agent Smelly's description).

I explained that the acid in the baking soda reacted with the liquid which causes gases which made the bubbles and the item to fizz. I really don't think they cared ... there was hokey pokey to be eaten!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Science Week, Our First Day

The girls both love doing experiments but sadly when I am in a hurry they often get set aside to do later and sometimes that never happens. This week I decided to concentrate on doing a simple experiment or two a day.

I noticed there was a Brownie patch called "Science Wizz" in Agent Smelly's Brownie book so we decided to do those experiments so she could earn herself a Brownie patch.

The first experiment we did was called "The Magic Balloon".

You will need
  • a glass bottle
  • a balloon with the thick rubber ring cut off the neck
  • water
  • large bowl or saucepan to stand the bottle in
  • ice cubes (optional but the greater the temperature difference between the hot and cold water the better the experiment will work)
1. Fill a glass bottle with hot tap water and let it sit for a couple of minutes before tipping it outand then quickly stretch the neck of the balloon over the bottle; check out the concentration on those faces.

Place bottle in the bowl of cold (iced) water and wait and wait.

What happens to the balloon when you stand the bottle in the cold water?

It gets sucked into the bottle. Success! 

Why did this happen? Well when hot water is added to the empty bottle it begins to heat the glass. After the bottle is emptied, the warm glass heats the air inside of it. The heat causes the air molecules inside the bottle to move more rapidly and pushes them further apart from each other. The air in the bottle expands and inflates the balloon. When the bottle is placed into the bowl of cold water, the air inside the bottle is cooled. This causes the air molecules to move slower and closer together. The air contracts and causes the outside air to rush in. This pulls the balloon inside the bottle and inflates it. Ours didn't really inflate that well but the girls were happy with watching it get sucked into the bottle.

Next we did "Pepper Away".

You will need
  • pepper
  • a bowl filled with water
  • toothpicks
  • dishwashing liquid

1. Sprinkle some pepper into a bowl with water in it. Most of the pepper will float on the water. Dip a toothpick into the water and you will see nothing happens.

2. Dip a toothpick into some dishwashing liquid then dip the toothpick into the water again and voila! In the wods of Agent Smelly the pepper "retreated from the toothpicks. (They were in the middle, they just moved them to the sides to see the pepper move again).

When you add detergent to the water the surface tension of the water is lowered. Water normally blulges up a bit, but when the water flattens because of the detergent, the pepper that is floating on the top of the water is carried to the outside of the bowl as though by magic.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Flying with Amelia

This week we made some more inserts for our Amelia lap book and then I had the girls make some paper aeroplanes using some fantastic instructions off the Internet.

Agent Smelly putting together one of her "many" designs.

As you can see the Fashionista was having a ball flying one of her planes.

The Papa got home as we were flying them and had to show us all one of his designs and then they all went outside to see whose would fly the furthest.

Seriously, this plane accidentally landed in my hair, which had the girls nearly wetting
themselves laughing.

A very successful and fun lesson on Amelia today.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Snickerdoodles with Agent Smelly

Today for home economics Agent Smelly wished to make "Snickerdoodles". I have been making these biscuits for the past 10 years now (although not as frequently as the family would like apparently!), and they are always such a hit.

What is it about breaking eggs that is so much fun that children basically fight to be the one to do it. Actually when I think about it I quite like breaking them too ... it's quite satisfying really.

Agent Smelly doesn't usually get as much time in the kitchen as her older sister, so today was all about her. The Fashionista was on another bench making our dessert for the evening, an apple crumble. This recipe has a few odd measurements so it was a great opportunity to work on some fractions. If something calls for a cup, I often give the girls a smaller sized one so they can work out how many times they will need to use it to make a whole cup. Both girls are pretty good with fractions and I am sure it is down to cooking and playing with measuring cups.

They are as delicious as they look. By the way they aren't burnt the darker colour on the outside is from the sugar and cinnamon the dough is rolled in before you bake them.

There are loads of different versions of the recipe but here's the one we use.


Makes 4-5 doz depending on the size

250gms butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 3/4 cups (350gms) flour
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt

Topping; mix together 2 Tbsp sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon (to be honest we often run out and end up making more topping but this is what the recipe recommends.)

1/ Heat oven to 200 deg C
2/ Mix together butter, sugar and eggs
3/ Blend in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt
4/ Shape dough into balls - we have found about the size of a tom bowler (one of those large marbles) works best
5/ Roll balls in the topping (which is easier when it's in a small bowl) and place them on ungreased baking sheets. Leave at least 4cm between the balls as they will spread.
6/ Bake for 8-10 mins. Again it will depend on how big you make your balls as to how long you will need to bake them for. Just make sure they are still light coloured (under all the cinammon) when you take them out. They will be very soft and so it's best to use an egg flip, etc to place them on a baking rack to cool or they will probably crumble.

Just thought I'd share this picture of The Fashionist who I had just advised how to rub the butter into the flour and sugar for her crumble. She was a little surprised by the feeling!
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