Saturday, August 27, 2011

Lots of cakes!

It's birthday season in our family, and yesterday my little Jasmine turned 6. Somehow 6 sounds so much older than 5, doesn't it? Definitely means school and the big, fast changes that happen when they are thrust out into the world for the first time. Our Jazzy is such a quirky little character - I think it will take me about another 66 years to work her out, but I'll have fun (mostly!) on the way! Right now she's super into skipping, very glad to have finished her season of soccer, is often surprisingly thoughtful (like insisting we take some jelly snakes to school for her friend with an egg allergy who can't eat cakes), and has a really really great laugh.

Cupcakes for school, family dinner, and a little party with 4 friends and 3 sisters have meant lots of cake baking for me! Jasmine seemed pretty happy with all of them, though she's only into them for the effect - she doesn't actually ever really eat the cake. I went for a small party, making pizza and watching Mary Poppins. There was a brief moment in the middle of the party when I thought "this is all going bad!" but then somehow it all calmed down, the children started asking for water and pieces of apple, and actually sat down and watched a little bit of the film.

Jasmine and Madeline are now 'camping out' in the lounge room, and have totally crashed within about 30 seconds of the light being turned out.

This is my current favourite chocolate cake - yes I did the same one for Lucy's birthday - by Nigella Lawson in her book Feast which I'm enjoying looking through and drooling over at the moment.


Here's Lucy having a good long go at standing ALL BY HERSELF! Hmmm maybe presents are a good motivator for her....

And here is the party - pizza's were made, donuts were bobbed for, Mary Poppins cake duly accompanied by singing and a bit of Mary Poppins viewing....

 Mmm, check out that lopsided cake....

Happy birthday Jaz, love you lots!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Great Artists .... maybe one day

At the moment I am loving the  book Discovering Great Artists: Hands on Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters  by MaryAnn F Kohl and Kim Solga.

Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters
I was originally put onto it by the amazing Amy Karol otherwise known as the angry chicken. The book itself isn't that exciting to look at - just black and white with small pictures, but the ideas in it are just great. For a "not so creative but into doing art" kind of person it's excellent! Each page has a bit of a blurb about a different artist, and some simple but fun ideas for doing your own artwork, inspired by the style or subject matter of the particular artist.

We haven't got to do too many yet, but our first few have been pretty successful and good fun - although I have had to try and bite my tongue and let the girls just do it themselves.

Our first attempt was in the style of cowboy CM Russell, who painted "authentic western life", especially sunsets. Here are our attempts - we looked at sunset pictures and talked about what colours are and are not in sunsets - this mostly for Madeline's benefit who is very keen on black and brown in all pictures at present! We then set to work with watercolours to make our masterpieces. When the sunsets were all done we added a scene cut out of black paper as a silhouette. Pretty good results all in all!
 by Jasmine, aged 5 1/2
by Madeline, aged 3 1/2
Pretty cool I say. Will get onto writing about our other projects soon!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pasta success!

The last few months my gorgeous Emma and I have had a special time watching Masterchef together. She was pretty happy with the whole scenario - she got to stay up late, have time with me by herself, and watch TV! She has taken quite an interest in cooking - now asks whether dinner is plated up - and seems particularly concerned about the salt and sugar content in the food we eat!

For some time I've been thinking about the fact that most of the cooking I do with the kids has tended to be baking sweet things, and wanting to change that so that they can be more involved in making savoury food - like dinner! In that vein, I decided a little while ago to borrow a pasta machine and have a go making pasta with Emma. It was great! And so yummy! Here we are with our first attempt, I think I'll have to invest in my own pasta machine now....

Of course Madeline and Jasmine needed to be involved in cooking as well - it was a great way to spend a quiet Saturday afternoon. Maddie got in on making Anzac biscuits, and Jasmine made merringues and a Play School inspired "Mishy Mashy Egg Surprise" - looks revolting but she loves it - hard boiled egg, yolk scooped out and mixed with mayonnaise and tomato sauce, then spooned back into the white. Mmmm, tasty. Apparently.

With Jasmine's merringues we ended up making a dessert called an "Eton mess". We just called it a "mess" which the girls thought was a great name for food. Here they are looking very happy with the whole situation!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A New Venture

Hi! This is my new venture in blogging land. I'm not too sure what I'm hoping to do here - other than create a record of some of the things I like to do. Things I like to do with my 4 children at their different ages and stages, things I like to do for my children, and things I just like to do myself.
I like to click around online and see what other people are doing. There are lots of crafty bloggers out there who do things way better than I do, but I like to have a go at lots of different things. I'm not very creative in a having the ability to make it up myself kind of way, but I'm pretty good at following a pattern or a recipe. It is my hope that I will be able to teach my children, and maybe even teach myself along the way, how to be creative and express themselves freely as well as the discipline of following a recipe or pattern.
One of my big challenges when doing craft with the girls is to let them do it how they want to do it and not be so worried about the end result but letting them enjoy and learn through the process. Of course sometimes I think that stepping in and whisking away a beautiful drawing before it is destroyed is appropriate! But all to often I find myself saying "No that's not how you're supposed to do it!!" Once again it's a matter of finding a happy balance between giving direction and helpful advice, and actually letting them do it!
Anyway, we'll see how we go, hopefully it will be a fun ride as we eat, paint and sew- for me and my girls, even if noone else!