Why I won’t be in a hurry to use plaster of Paris again!

For Christmas Emily received a make your own fairy snow globe.  It actually was a late Christmas present and by the time she received it we were planning her fairy birthday so we thought it would be a good activity to do at the party.

It was sitting in a box and then I realised I should get onto making the models for the girls to paint at the party as they took a couple of days to make.  I blithely followed the directions without starting at a clean OUTDOOR space.  The liquid I had mixed promptly filled the model, dripped out the bottom and into the kitchen sink.  Do did the second lot!  I fear for my kitchen sink now (I sent down ALOT of HOT water).

After this I decided it was time to pack it in and try again another day after some research.  This research showed me that it is about 2 parts powder to 1 part water.  Further research decried the product, saying waste of money etc etc.  Anyway heart in mouth I tried again, OUTSIDE, with a tablecloth (plastic) over the outdoor furniture.  I then mixed with half the amount of water listed in the instructions and IT WORKED! Yay!  So after a big mess involving plaster setting  before I could pour it into the mould and just plaster everywhere I ended up with enough moulds for the party.

Plaster of Paris Plaster of Paris Mess Plaster of Paris finished

The kids had fun painting – some put more effort into it then others.  Next time I think I will just buy a kit where the plaster is already made and the kids can just paint.  Though now I have the moulds I am thinking I will make the bicarb dough and press them into the moulds and then bake.

2 c. baking soda
1 c. cornstarch (cornflour)
1 1/4 c. cold water
I wouldn’t recommend using plaster of paris with young kids.  I made all these without assistance because of the risk of breathing the dust in and just the plain mess of it all.  I think EMily may have stirred one batch but that is about it.

February 23, 2013 at 12:03 pm Leave a comment

Recount and Museum Visit

Cake in the oven, trying to convince the kids that Quiet Time is QUIET time, lots of shouting going on between the two rooms and not always fun shouting.

Well tomorrow is the first day of Kindy for Alexander, a big day so on Friday I thought we would go to the Australian Museum because it is the last day we could do something on a weekday in a school term and I was hoping the museum wouldn’t be too crowded.  They were showing an exhibition of Alexander the Great so we HAD to go.  The day turned out cold and windy and rainy, completely unlike the day before.  After a spot of bother trying to find where my husband had left the keys the day before we were off, after a detour to pick up my mum.

Someone had been surprised that I was taking the kids to see it, commenting they wouldn’t get much out of it.  While I was at the museum I thought of this as I was dragging the kids back so they wouldn’t leave mouth and finger marks all over the glass.  The exhibition was crowded and it did try my patience juggling the two kids.  There was a great app for kids that we got about half way through and then the hints seem to disappear.  The kids had to find specific items to “pack” for Alexander the Great.

After the exhibition mum headed to the museum shop and the cafe to meet up with my brother and sister-in-law but I took the children for a further exploration of the museum.  Emily was pleased to find they did have a giraffe (skeleton) at the museum, that was what she was wanting to see.  We didn’t see a woolly mammoth but they did have an elephant skeleton.  They also had a skeleton of a person on a bike and you got to ride a bike next to it to see how the bones moved.  We then headed upstairs and found minerals and futher upstairs we found dinosaur bones.  Emily didn’t like this room too much, the dinosaurs were too big and the lights flashed and thunder rumbled (effects) and cast shadows she didn’t like so we went to look at the stuffed birds and mounted butterflies.  We explored the kids exploration room where there is lots of things for them to touch (YAY!) and we visited the under-5’s museum as well.  Because it wasn’t too busy I thought it didn’t matter if Alexander came in too.  That is a great space where kids can touch, dress up, move things, read books.

Then we headed downstairs to the cafe.  I think they loved this bit the best because their uncle and aunt gave them free play on their iphones.

When we got home (after a horribly way too long drive in the car due to congestion – I forgot about city traffic and back to school and the streets were already clogged at 3pm! – inclement weather and TWO broken down cars in one stretch) we chilled out.  When their daddy got home, he asked them what they had learnt about Alexander the Great.  Their response was coins!  There had been lots of coins that we had looked at and next to the coins was a fun touch screen where you could get close ups on the coins and even rotate them to look at both sides!  So I could see why this would stick in their memory.

Alexander’s teacher last week, after his Best Start Interview, had commented about his recall and we have noticed this at home, in that he needs prompts when recalling events or stories.  So on Sunday I printed off the photos I had taken (none in the Alexander exhibition because no photos allowed).  I hadn’t taken a heap due to that line of – being involved with them/stepping back and taking photos!

I had a photo book (one that takes 10 x 15cm photos) that I had bought on sale so I put the photos in there and wrote a story about their trip.  I alternated the photo and the text. I based it on a book we had been reading – “Maisy Goes to the Museum”.  I won’t write the whole book here, just a couple of pages.

“One rainy day Emily and Alexander went to the museum with their Mummy and Grendy.”

Alexander exhibition(this photos was actually taken at the bus stop with the advertising as we couldn’t take photos inside the exhibition)

First they saw an exhibition about Alexander the Great.  They saw coins, jewellery and statues that were over 2000 years old.  They saw pictures of horses and elephants.  They also saw breastplates and helmets.  (Trying to help them recall what they saw)

DInosaur bonesThey saw lots of skeletons.  They even tried to make one ride a bike!  There was a giraffe skeleton, an elephant skeleton and a snake skeleton.  Look at the enormous bones on this dinosaur skeleton.  Look how small Alexander looks!

dionosaur skullWe got up and close with the skull of a skeleton belonging to a dinosaur.

My what big teeth!

Brightly coloured birds Brightly coloured butterfliesLook at the brightly coloured birds and butterflies!

And so on…

They loved it – it helps them remember and they love looking at photos of themselves.  Their daddy also likes it because he can see what happened while he was hard at work!

I am  hoping this will help Alexander’s recall and he can start writing one with me next time.

Here are some books we read to get us ready for our museum trip (or are still reading now)



There are some great ones out there, these are just the ones we currently have borrowed from the library.




February 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm Leave a comment


Here is the original post about this organiser.

I put this under sewing but there was no sewing involved! There was material though!
I went to the hardware store and bought cup hooks in two different sizes. I debated how many hooks to put on and in the end decided every space between ribbons I would put a hook. I put the two larger at each end and the smaller ones in the middle. We ended up filling all the hooks with her bits and pieces.  All I did was wiggle the hook to create a hole and then I just screwed it around and around (sorry no pics of this)

Here is the finished result hanging in her room.  She has enjoyed taking the bits and pieces off and wearing them and then resorting them to different hooks!





I hung everything on it and then Emily took everything off to wear.

I hung it on the wall with the Velcro strips that supposedly come off the wall when you are done.

Luckily I have an idea of something to make for Alexander’s room since he requested one but a boy one. I also wonder do we need more hair clips to go on it?

January 27, 2013 at 8:12 am Leave a comment

Entering Food at an agricultural show

Again I say I am definitely no expert.  This is just what I learnt on the weekend and I have more to learn.  I should have put the cooking first as that was the exhibits we did first.

One thing I taught a friend on the weekend was the difference between entries and exhibits.  Entries are the entry form you fill out and give to the show office so they know which categories you are in. exhibits are the actual items.  So this week our entries were due by Thursday but our food exhibits were due before 11 on the Friday and flowers were due before 830 on the Saturday.

We were given perforated stickers, the small left hand side with our entry numbers were to go on the exhibit, we kept the larger part for identification at the end of the show.  Of course I didn’t find this out til Thursday morning so I was trying to juggle plates of food and the stickers.  Thankfully a friend had come to help.  The official notice said use cellophane to wrap the food as plastic makes it sweat.  I had just got the cellophane wrapped because I didn’t know what to do with the stickers.  When we picked up our exhibits they were in plastic bags with freezer ties wrapped around them.  Probably put on after the judging?  Next year I will know what to do with the stickers so I can have a twist tie to make them easier to transport.  The stickers were supposed to go on the right side at the front, so the judges would know what was the front.

We were in the junior cooking section 12 years and under.

Alexander made pikelets for the first time.  I was trying to help him make them round so we used egg rings but they were too large.  Found out afterwards they should be petite.  I think the other problem was we were using an electric fry pan and the heat is not constant, perhaps we should have used the gas cooktop ?  I was nervous enough with him around the frypan let alone the stove so not sure about that one.


Alexander practising pikelets for next year

pikelet making

Both kids entered the six arrowroot biscuits, iced and decorated, 7 years and under. (this is the only cooking one where it was divided into two age groups – perhaps because they have so many entries)  Emily came 1st!  Unfortunately Alexander didn’t place with a 1st, 2nd or Highly commended.  This is a difficult one to find out how you can improve.  I was asking the steward and she was saying it is the judges personal opinion and can differ year to year with judge to judge.  I think they were looking for creativity and difference, not all the biscuits decorated the same.

sprinkling milk arrowroot biscuits decorating milk arrowroots My milk arrowroot

Prize winning biscuits Albion Park Show 011Ooops I don’t have a photo of Alexander’s finished work – his consisted of 4 faces (albeit using different lollies but still faces) and 1 castle and 1 garden that didn’t really look like a garden (similar to Emily’s with the candy cane).  I decorated one biscuit towards the end (my little man see above) but I let the children decorate how they wanted to.  Trying to make sure it was their work and not a parents. 😉 To make life easy I bought royal icing from the shops which needs just water added to it.  I then divided it into two bowls and the kids stirred in the colouring.

The next was 6 muffins, packet mix.  Unfortunately I overcooked Alexander’s, had the temperature up too high.  The kids did a good job mixing it up themselves and greasing the muffin pan and spooning the mixture in.  Emily’s we were running late with and I had to take it out of the oven and put it straight into the car and let it cool on the way.  She received a highly commended – perhaps because they were still warm and fresh?

Muffins - packet Alexander's packet muffins

The last entry was for Four Decorated Cup Cakes.  Emily received a second.  When I saw the other entries I wondered if they were all supposed to look the same or all look different.  The kids had made the cup cake mixture themselves, excited about cracking the eggs and beating up the mixture and spooning it in.  I realised later they are judging on the decoration and not the cake and we could perhaps have done a packet mix for them. Now I know for next year…. When they are in the 6 patty cakes, iced but not decorated I think they are looking at the cake and it has to be from scratch but while they are young, to make it easy on myself I will buy packet cake mix for the kids to make.  I made cream cheese icing but I think next year we will use royal just like the biscuits.  It was so humid when we were making it that the icing was too runny, I probably needed to compensate for the heat with more icing.  I was trying to teach the kids to pipe but because it wasn’t holding but melting we ended up just spreading it with a knife.  The kids had free reign again with decorating.  I had bought Emily some cup cake silicon holders in the shape of a teacup.  They came with saucers but there was not enough room on the plate for them.  (we were told to provide our own cardboard paper plates).  Probably the casing is what helped her win second prize.

Emily's cupcakes CupcakesThese are Alexander’s and Emily’s together.  Hers are the larger pink ones, he had the smaller lavender ones.

There were two other categories we didn’t enter.  One was a novelty butter cake, decorated with soft icing, birthday theme.  That would use too much supplies and effort to get my kids to make and decorate two different cakes.  If we did that I would probably just make one for the adult section.  The other category was decorated gingerbread men, 2.  I don’t have a large enough gingerbread man cutter.  Here is the winner from this year.

Albion Park Show 022I planned on entering 6 muffins and banana cake, iced.  Unfortunately I wasn’t sure if it should be a round cake or could be in a square pan or rectangle.  It also was a hot day and I am not sure what else went wrong (Planets not aligned?) but my fail safe banana cake failed, I used a round tin and it sunk in the middle.  SO I decided not to enter it.  My mother suggested I make my pear and pecan muffins which she has enjoyed in the past and so I did.  I cheated this time, usually I cut up the pear myself but this time I bought pre chopped pear so then I had to guestimate how much pear to put in.  Anyway from what I gather the judge had a hard time choosing between first and second.  Mine were quite large (I cooked them a silicon muffin pan since you couldn’t have them encased in paper) and the ones that came second were smaller than mine.  I don’t think they taste them, so I don’t know how they decide just looking at them.  Anyway when we were looking at the cakes, we were with some people we know – a preschool mother (her son goes to preschool with my two) and her 13 year old daughter who had won junior champion sash because she came 1st in 3 categories.  Anyway I looked at my muffins, there was a 1st prize in front of them but not my name and nothing on top of mine so I was like oh well I didn’t win.  Then I looked to see what the muffins looked like so I know for next time, anyway there was my name on the second place card.  Ooh was I excited I got second!! Then I thought hey but they aren’t my muffins, so the card has fallen onto the wrong lot.  My friend’s mum was a judge and she was like – you have  a blue sticker on your plate, you came first.  So the chief steward came in and my friend argued my case, I didn’t feel I could push too much as in I didn’t want to look like I was saying I should come first.  They worked it out and I received a first place card!

My winning muffins!

The other section we entered in was handicraft.  I was going to enter a novelty article in for the needlework but I didn’t get it completed to my satisfaction so I thought it could wait to next year (turned out there was only one entry in that class!).

Alexander entered in the junior classes – a lego model under 8 yrs, no bigger than A3.  I thought he did quite well for his first time.  He only received his first lego for his birthday last year and for Christmas he received plain lego – ie not a kit so he could design his own.  I made him come up with the design himself.  We had been playing the first week or so together, building together but he did his exhibit by himself.  The day before we took our exhibit up I found some kids were entering kits so Alexander ended up with two entries, one from a kit and one he made himself.

Alexander's lego exhibit The winning entry I was pleased to see was one not from a kit.

Winning lego modelThe second place though was obviously a kit base and then they had got all their minifigs and staged them all over.  Perhaps they got kudos for their staging ability?  SO next year more minifigs!

I entered in the wall hanging, any medium.  You are allowed work that has been completed with the last 2 years so I entered the Noah’s Ark wall hanging I made Emily for her birthday last year which is technically still in complete because not all the animals have been made yet!  There were 2 other entries as well as mine and I managed to place second.


The other sections I debated were scrapbooking and handmade special occasion card… but I didn’t have anything completed and didn’t want to stress myself out making something.

I noticed some areas didn’t have many entries – such as Bear any size (one entry!).

The other area I might keep a thought about for next year is pencil drawing, any subject, 8 years and under, drawing, any subject or medium, primary school student only.

We had lots of fun and we can’t wait til next year.  My only worry is that next year we might be in the new house with no roses to enter!

January 14, 2013 at 11:49 am 2 comments

Tips for entering shows – with flower arranging in saucers and mugs

I am no expert. I am writing this partly to help me in a year’s time so I remember the things I learnt today. This weekend was our local show so I thought it would be fun for the kids and I to have a go at entering. I downloaded the programme and went through it deciding what we could do.
I then scoured the Internet but got little help there and so this is also why I am writing this.

The first section was decorative, free expression is allowed with choice of material, design and any foliage, adornments or embellishments.  Only fresh flowers to be used.

They had entered floral saucer by exhibitor 8 years and under so we have a few years to get this right.  After a little research we found some sites that mentioned using sand so I used a little in the centre and wet it. The saucer was sloped so I couldn’t get it to the edge.

Preparing the sand saucerThe hint I was told today was to heap it up, cover the whole saucer and then wet it, make a mound of sand so then you have something to insert the flowers into.

I tried to be as hands off as I could, so I only made a few suggestions and let the children have fun designing their own.  We had had a practice earlier in the week where I had been a bit more – this is how you do it but since they were entering I let them design.

Flower arranging sand saucerSo here we started – a good start and then this is the finish.

Alexander's sand saucerNot quite the circular pattern we started with but he was happy.  Unfortunately in the transportation to the show it got a bit messy but Alexander was disinclined to fix it.  This is when I was told that with the sand it wouldn’t move around as much.

Here is Alexander’s finished product.  I think it looks quite pretty and colourful.

Alexander's completed sand flower saucer

Emily’s finished work

Emily's sand saucerThis is what they were looking for

Sand saucers More sand flower arrangement saucers IMG_4952I was told that the leaves cannot extend too much past the edge of the saucer.  There was definitely a theme with the circular pattern and you can see the difference esp with Emily’s which is just a massive pile up (then again she is only 4 and I allowed her free reign with what she wanted to do)

We also entered flower arrangement in a mug (though there was some confusion whether it was egg cup or mug.  There were only about 3 entrants in this one and my two had their large mugs and one had a tiny teacup and saucer)  Alexander got first, the teacup got second and unfortunately there is no third.  The steward told me that Emily’s was too bushy.  It needed to be cut down, items should be max 1 1/2 times the size of the cup.  This was also for children under 8.

flower arrangement in mugs Alexander's winning mug

We were very excited Alexander won the flower category because his sister had done very well in the cooking section and I had also done well and though when we entered I had talked to the children that being our first year we probably won’t win but it is hard when he is the only one who hasn’t won.  So phew!

The other section was Cut Flowers and they were in the junior class which is 16 years and under… so many many years of practise.  Flowers were to be arranged in bowls, vases or suitable stands.

We also entered three leaves in a container, a collection of flowers and a single rose.  All were supposed to be from your own garden. I don’t think I will enter the collection again, wrong time of year for our garden and too hard for me to help both of them find a large enough collection.  Compared to the others, ours were sweet but too small.  The steward was encouraging about the roses and said we should try again next year.  I wondered if ours were too small as the others were on long stems in large vases and he said no we had presented them correctly.  The issue was they hadn’t fully opened.  When we picked the flowers up on the Sunday he commented how nice they looked but the judge can only judge on the time they are looking at the rose.  The winning rose was wilting by the Sunday while ours were still looking fresh.  He said best to pick the night before the show and put in water in a dark cool place.  Next time I will encourage the kids not to pick a bud, but one that is more open.  It has been a hot dry summer so it was hard to find ones that looked good and fresh.

THree leaves in a containerEmily’s leaves are the small ones at the front.  They could be leaves the same or 3 different leaves.  You can’t really see Alexander’s, his are in a glass and are three tall ones.

RosesMore roses Our roses

The children really loved doing this and after our practices kept wanting to have another go.  I think we will perhaps continue this as an activity throughout the year, depending on flower availability.   The good thing about the saucers and the mug is they don’t have to be your own flowers, you can buy them, we got ours from our neighbour and some from mum’s garden.


This has been a long entry so I think I will do another one about our cooking entries.


January 13, 2013 at 6:43 pm 2 comments

Girl’s hair accessory and jewellery organiser

I was at a friend’s little girl’s birthday the other day and one of the presents made by her sister-in-law inspired me so I came home and googled it and while I could find some pictures I could find no tutorials on how to make it do here is my attempt.

Start with a canvas. I had one in the wardrobe which had come in a three pack when I had done the sibling tree craft with my kids. I had purchased it cheaply from our local discount shop The Reject Shop. I padded it with quilters batting (already in craft supplies).

Then I found some fabric that I had recently bought with Emily helping me ie She chose it.

I glued the batting down, lay the fabric right side down and placed the canvas on top. I then used packers tape to hold the fabric taut as I tried to figure out the corners. If I make another, I still have to work out the best way to cut the corners. I just sliced off the corner but not convinced this was the best way.

Especially since it was a bit raggedy.
Once I had it all taped to my satisfaction, I turned it right side up to work out how I wanted the ribbons to look, what colours, what patterns.

That’s Emily’s hands “helping” me.

Once I had chosen the colours I had Emily find a ruler so I could try and work out even spacings. More or less.


I purchased an upright stapler used for stapling to walls from an office supply shop. I bought the cheapest one and it did work. The staples aren’t in all the way but they are holding the fabric and ribbons down.


I can’t say this is the finished article as I need to get to the shops to buy curtain hooks so we can hang her hair bands, necklaces and jewellery from it and I also need to hang it on a wall at her height.
Here she is putting her clips on it.



She thinks it is a great game to play with it, good fine motor skills but I really need to get it on a wall.  She has trodden on it once and the canvas has ripped but thankfully not all the way through the batting or the material on the front.


January 13, 2013 at 6:01 am Leave a comment

Christmas ornaments

I stumbled across this recipe on Pinterest and will try to link to it. I was planning on making salt dough ornaments when I went into the kids’ preschool so they could be painted but then I found these and thought they looked prettier and would make a smoother surface for painting.

1/2 cup corn flour
1 cup bicarbonate of soda
3/4 cup water

Mix in saucepan over medium-low heat until mixture binds together (lumpy porridge texture).
Remove from heat and place mixture in bowl and cover with damp cloth.
When cooled put on corn floured surface and knead well.
Roll out and cut shapes from it. Use a straw to create hole to put ribbon in after baking.
Use fingers to make prints or rubber stamps.

Place in preheated oven of 80•Celcius for an hour. Turn after half an hour.

I placed mine in the fridge to hold shapes like when I am baking biscuits but they still curled at the edges. I think the website I found this on said don’t roll out too thinly to stop this happening.

Here are some pictures of some cut out shapes from when I did this craft at pre school.




I tied thin Christmas string and used them as gift tags on their teacher’s presents.
I used craft paint that we have used in the past for painting plaster of Paris figures. The website recommended a clear lacquer to Jo over the top but I don’t have any.

December 13, 2012 at 6:54 am 3 comments

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