Tuesday, July 30, 2013

It's all about Agent Smelly


My baby turned nine this month. 
Isn't she gorgeous!
Just love her soooo much.
She brings so much fun and laughter into our home.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

er that's Bliss Balls dear!

Earlier today I told the girls that I was going to make us some "nut free Bliss Balls".

The Fashionista looked at me in horror and said "really?"

Anyway to cut a long story short ... she thought that I had said that I was going to make "nut free Piss Balls" and was understandably a little horrified at the thought ...

Bliss with a B ... Balls
(Makes approx 30 balls)

  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup dried prunes
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 tsp Acai Berry Powder (optional)
  • 2 tsp cacao (or cocoa)
  • approx 1/3 - 1/2 cup dessicated coconut for rolling the balls in.
  1. Whizz all the ingredients together in a food processor until it becomes sticky (takes a while, so be patient) and is easy to form into balls.
  2. Roll the balls (about the size of large marbles) in coconut, and then put into airtight container in fridge.
  3. Hide them from the husband and kids who can't believe they are healthy!!!

You don't need to stick too carefully to the recipe. You can substitute dried fruits quite easily and also sometimes your dried fruit can be juicier than other times, so it can be a bit of a guessing game.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Ahoy Matey ...

As we don't have a big family in New Zealand, and the girls are getting older, we let them choose somewhere special that they'd like to go either on their birthdays or just after. Am not into birthday parties with lots of friends every single year ... what's that about? Family and close friends yes but not the entire neighbourhood or school yard...   When Agent Smelly was younger, she adored picnics and would choose one of those, which was really hard considering that her birthday is in the dead centre of a NZ winter!

These days both girls prefer to do something active on their birthday's, IE rock climbing or bowling  and so on. That really appeals to The Papa who is an active sort too. This year she chose mini golf, so we headed off to a new one called Adventure Golf in Auckland which has a pirate theme.

There's a hole for you to play on the ship!

The poor Papa has to pass this each day to and from work and we girls have seen it quite a few times ourselves but never been in. Isn't funny how you can travel miles away to some places but never seem to stop at ones you see all the time!

You have to play around the pirate headstones ... check out these two hamming it up!
Anyway this place would have to be the best mini golf place we have been to. You have to hit the ball over some little water things and even have the option of hitting a ball into a stream which carries it down to the hole! Just clever. There are two courses, one has the pirate ship and the other you play through a cave. The holes from both courses are all mixed up over the venue. So you might be playing hole 7 (yellow signs) and right next you might be hole 12 (black signs).

This beautiful man-made lake runs through the middle and a waterfall feeds into it. There are signs warning of the shark in there ... we laughed to note that a plastic bag had caught on the sharks fin that goes around and around in circles!  There's also a wee "explosion" (canon blast?) that goes off in the water near the pirate ship every so often. The Papa and I weren't expecting it and both of us jumped in fright much to the girls amusement!

This lot are quite competitive, so it's rather fun playing mini golf. Thankfully no-one gets grumpy or disappointed or anything but there is a lot of good natured ribbing going on.We all yell and throw up our hands and try and distract each other all in the name of fun.

So if you are ever near the Auckland and need to kill a couple of hours (one hour on each course), try this place, it's quite good.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Card Making June

I thought I would share some of the cards that I have made over the last six weeks at my social card making club. Such a useful hobby!



And we made these cute little gift tags and bookmarks.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Phoeneys Courageous Combat

Recently I started following a page on Facebook called Phoeneys Courageous Combat. Phoeney is a just a wee baby girl who at 18 months old was diagnosed with an aggressive childhood cancer, Neuroblastoma.

Only last week this little darling went through a ten hour surgery, (was only supposed to be six) to have her tumour removed! I seriously do not know how her Mama and Papa survived the day. She came through the op and all went well but has since suffered a little setback with something called Chyle Leakage, which means staying in hospital for another 4-6 weeks.  

This little bubba has quite captured my heart and her Mama recently mentioned that her little one loves horses ... hmmm, what two girls do you know that also are mildly horse obsessed?

So I showed my girls Phoeney's facebook page and then suggested to them that they might like to gift some of their horsie stuff to Phoeney. They were absolutely thrilled with the idea and took off to their rooms like shots. They got very excited and bought out some things for Phoeney. I popped down to the Post Shop to grab a post bag and got the biggest I could find (stuffed horses are a bit bulky). Imagine to my surprise when I got home and found even more stuff on the floor. I did laugh and make them put some aside as we couldn't fit it all in.

There was not even time to get out of their PJ's ... packages had to be wrapped. We went with tissue paper, after checking that Phoeney was up to unwrapping pressies.

Whilst I was nearby in the kitchen and the girls were brushing and plaiting pony hair and wrapping them, I overheard The Fashionista say "You know this is a lot of fun" and Agent Smelly replied, "Yeah, you know doing it for another person is cool". I was so very pleased that they were learning so much from this simple excercise.

Once the package was packed and all ready to go, TF said "we should do this more often" and then they both asked if they could to which of course I said yes.

If you'd like to follow Phoeneys-Courageous-Combat then just click on the page link. I am sure her Mama would appreciate the extra encouragement and strength that people around the world share with her.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Studying Jupiter

There is a Great Red Spot on Jupiter which is basically like a massive hurricane on earth. We made a "hurricane in a bottle" as an example of what a hurricane on Jupiter might look like.

We got 2 plastic soda bottles and a plastic bottle joiner. If you don't have a plastic bottle joiner lying around like I did, place a washer between the two bottles and then use duct or electrical tape to seal the bottles together.

They absolutely love doing experiments but always look so serious when doing them.
Cracks me up!
The Fashionista filled one bottle with 500mls of water and then Agent Smelly connected the bottles with the connector.

Just like an egg timer you flip the bottles over BUT you must move them in a circular motion, to get the water swirling in order to form the hurricane-shaped funnel.

The little madams played with this for ages. They added some glitter and watched the glitter move through it but that wasn't enough so The Fashionista suggested adding food dye, so it ended up blue! That looked kind of cool actually. Then they added another 500mls to see if it went better with more water. I was a little surprised by how something so simple kept them amused for so long.

Said giant timer currently is residing in their bathroom and they give it a flip each time they go in there.

We were supposed to do this experiment ages ago but I had to go buy cheap soda especially so we had some bottles to use. Then someone who shall remain nameless, but puts the rubbish out, put them out with the recycling bin so I had to go through it all over again. It ended up taking us about 3 weeks to simply get 2 bottles to use!

Monday, July 8, 2013

"Who Dunnit?" - Chromatography

This was one of the "experiments that the girls did in the forensic workshop. The Fashionista just loved doing this one and determining who the culprit was. She worked with Agent Smelly and they did get it tight ... yeah!

Chromatography is the process of separating small amounts of substances from a mixture by the rates by the rates at which they travel through a medium. Ink is a mixture of coloured dyes, so chromatography can be used to separate the mixture of dyes. 

The tutor pretended that she had just received a call from the police saying that they had received a bomb threat at the local supermarket and that they needed the children's help to work out "who dunnit?"

She held up the note with the threat on it and the bomber had used a black marker to fix one of the words on their typed bomb threat ... did my heart warm to know that we had a grammar conscious bomber.

Apparently 5 suspects had been detained with black markers, which were all different. It was up to the kids to determine which black marker wrote that letter so they could determine the culprit and stop the bomb going off. They had 30 minutes!

Each group of two children were given a test tube rack with 5 test tubes, 5 long strips of paper, some methylated spirits and water and a strip of paper, that had already been tested and matched the marker used on the note (similar to one of those pictured below).

There were 5 different markers, all numbered. The children placed one dot from each marker on each of their strips, about 2cm from the bottom, and wrote the corresponding number on the top of the strip.

The Girls Samples
(Should have written down what type of marker 140 was, it didn't run at all!)

They then placed 10 drops of the methylated spirits and 10 drops of the water in each test tube and then placed one strip of paper in each of them. Then they waited ... and waited ... and waited ... they worked on something else in the meantime.

The strips absorbed the liquid and slowly the dots started to change and in most cases run. The children then matched their strips to the strips of evidence they had been given and (well most of them) determined that it was marker 131 ... IE the supermarket butcher was the culprit.

Apparently said butcher had gone vegetarian a few weeks back and now hated his job so much that he wanted to blow the place up!

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Flippies with Love

Look what arrived in the mail, for us girls, all the way from Australia today.

These "flippies" were hand knit by one of my dearest friends of over 25 years, who simply made them for us because she "lurves" us. Aren't they the best pressies, just those one's that say "thinking of you". Right back at yah babe!

Are they not gorgeous and perfect for this cooler weather? Bet you are all "totes" jealous now of our toastie tootsies!

Not to be outdone, Scruffie had to have his photo taken in a pair. That dog; such a camera hog!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Shakespeare for Kids

Recently I saw a book at the local library that had been highly recommended by Kendra who writes the fabulous and informative homeschool blog, Aussie Pumpkin Patch. It was the "Usborne Stories from Shakespeare" and because I had placed it on my wish list after reading her recommendation. I decided to borrow it to see if it lived up to my expectations.

Little Agent Smelly re-reading Shakespeare just for fun!

Well people let me tell you, forget my opinion, although it did turn out to be a very good book, a certain 11 and nearly 9 year old were over the moon with this book! I ended up reading them a story a day!  In this book are the plays, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Hamlet and it finishes with a short biography, The Life and Times of Shakespeare. The plays are of course written in language that the children can understand, with the occasional Shakespeare quote thrown in for good measure. The most perfect introduction to Shakespeare for young children.

This delightful book has inspired my girls to want to read more, and more and more of Shakespeare's works and luckily I managed to obtain 3 books, Leon Garfield's Shakespeare's Stories, Othello (The Young Readers Shakespeare) and Shakespeare's World - Health and Disease (a book on Tudor times through the plays and poetry of Shakespeare) from our local library on the sale desk for just 50 cents each. What a score!!!  We have started Garfield's book and it is also very good, it's just the next age group up from the Usborne book I think. The stories are a little longer and more detailed, which is perfect as they are getting more of actual Shakespeare's original works in this book but they aren't quite as easy to read as the Usborne one and they don't have the same lovely illustrations.

We also came across two of the girl's Grand-dad's books (the ones in red in the above photo). We think he may have used them at school as his name is written in the front and there are pencil marks and notes throughout them. The Fashionista was pretty excited reading all her Grand-dad's notes. The girls never got to meet their Grand-dad Doug, as he passed away before they were born and would be in his 90's if he was still around today so it is lovely that they could share in the same books that he used.

We also listened to these lovely audio versions of three of his plays as told by Jim Weiss. We love listening to Jim's story telling. He makes any story sound exciting.
We also watched Much Ado About Nothing, the Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson version, which I keep getting asked to rehire as they both thought it hysterically funny. I was actually rather surprised that they understood it to be honest. Note; For parents with young children there is a brief "uncomfortable scene" but it is integral to the plot. 
I do not like to spoil the enjoyment of a book by making them write book reports or laborious stories on what we've read but I did think that it might be nice to add Shakespeare to their Inspirational and/or Famous People journals. So I had them do some brief details on Shakespeare, details on his family, career, birth, death and their thoughts on him lap book style. We included a pocket with quotes (I was surprised at how many I knew too, although I didn't necessarily know they were his) and also another where we put pictures cards of his plays that I downloaded off the net. I put the play name and the year it was written under the picture. We haven't done it yet as I have only just purchased some star stickers, but they are going to pop stickers on those cards rating the plays that we have read with stars out of three.
I have got to say, although I hadn't planned to do Shakespeare this term, that it turned out to be so much fun, for us ALL. There was moaning, but it was for more of his works! We still have some plays to read but we'll take our time getting through them, now that we have some books of our own. We also plan to include some of his poetry in our poetry class next term.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Forensic Science for Kids

One of the things I LOVE about homeschooling is attending science workshops, the girls do too ... thankfully. This week we had the opportunity to attend a 2 1/2 hour Forensic Science workshop taken by a former science teacher, now homeschooling parent. 

Before we went along the teacher kindly emailed out a handout for the children to look at and could complete if they wanted to. The first part read "WHAT IS A FORENSIC SCIENTIST" and this was the reply which really amused we three gals ...

"A forensic scientist is a scientific super sleuth who single-handedly, in about an hour and using the tiniest smidgen of evidence, can solve a seemingly insolvable crime and once they get out of their lab coat look like they have a modelling contract with a major fashion house."

The hand out then went on to explain that that's just on TV, in real life a forensic scientist is NOT multi-skilled and usually highly specialised in just one particular area or discipline. I am afraid this news has ruined all those CSI shows for me forever.

The girls then had to look up some of the types of forensic scientists listed and write what these experts specialised in.

There were forensic entomologists, forensic musicologists, forensic vets, forensic knot specialists (how cool is that for your title), forensic polynologists, forensic podiatry, forensic engineers. Forensic dactyloscopy is the study of finger prints ... who knew? There are loads of areas and if you are interested in looking up more check this site. Your kids will love you for it. I read the titles and the kids had to guess what they were ... we weren't even close!

In another post I'll let you know all the wonderful things we did at the actual event. Right now it's late and I hear biscuits beckoning to me from the pantry.
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