German Cinnamon Star Christmas Cookies

The squiggles have been learning a lot about Germany these last few months.
In every book we pick up there seems to be at least one page about Christmas, and they always include illustrations of star-shaped cinnamon cookies called "Zimtsterne". 

Even though it's Summer we thought we'd share our recipe for these special treats with you!

Ingredients

Dough:
300g ground almonds
180g icing sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons Cinnamon
1 1/2 egg whites

Icing:
75g icing sugar
1 egg white

Mix together the ground almonds, icing sugar, and cinnamon.

Add the egg whites and mix it all together with a dough hook until you have a nice dough. Chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Dust a surface with icing sugar and roll out your dough to be about 1/2inch thick. Cut out shapes with cookie cutters, stars are the traditional shape.

Beat one egg white until it is very stiff. Gradually add icing sugar while whisking. Paint the icing onto the cookies.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 150C, let them cool down before eating.

 

Enjoy!

Earth Day Craft

Hey lovely people! Our big George has been enjoying some time off from school, so we've been taking it easy around here! We wanted to make sure to celebrate Earth Day in some way, so we downloaded this neat free Earth Day Craft from Teachers Pay Teachers .

Cai and Little each wrote down their Earth Day Promises onto the hearts and then cut them out.

We glued them onto some string, a heart on each side, to make it look nice from both sides.

Cai's promises are : "I promise to not use sprays.", "I promise to reuse things ", and "I promise to not litter."/ Little's say: "I promise to only use recycled paper." ,"I promise to buy local.", and "I promise not to litter." 

It was a quick and fun activity, so I just thought I'd share it with you in case you are looking for a last-minute thing to do with your tiny people to celebrate Earth Day!
 

Painted Pebbles

Friends, we are back! 
We have had the flu for over a month now, and are still working on getting back to being healthy, but with the first sunny days sneaking into the British weather (and into my temperature blanket!) we felt we wanted to add some springtime cheer to our home. We thought some painted pebbles might make a nice addition to the spring bulbs that have started to bloom in the colourful pots on our windowsills.

We googled "painted pebbles" for inspiration and used some sharpies and acrylic paints to decorate some lovely white pebbles we picked up on our beach during a windy walk.

As well as adding these cheerful rocks to our flowerpots, they have also become story stones,

and little decorations spreading happiness and colour throughout our home.

These sweet pebbles were just what we needed, and I see another windy beach walk in our near future, the tiny people have already made plans for new stone designs!

A golden heart.

This is about miscarriage, so please only read on if you feel comfortable with this. 
I held on to this for quite a while, but our baby's due date has come and gone, and I now feel like maybe this is something we should share. 

When we returned to sharing in this space many months ago, we had hoped to return with happy news.
A little while ago we were expecting our fourth little one.
Sadly things did not go as planned, and we were told that our sweet baby had stopped growing.

We waited a few awful weeks for the miscarriage to start, drinking raspberry leaf tea, praying for both a miracle and for things to finally be over.
I had envisioned a natural miscarriage as part of the healing process to help grieve the loss of our baby, but sadly my body never did realise. 
My body kept growing, kept holding on to a little life that would never live, that little heart that would never beat.

After sleepless nights and long, long days of waiting, we finally decided on surgical management of a missed miscarriage, which meant having a D&C. 
I was so scared about the procedure, as I couldn't find any personal stories about it, so I wanted to share how it was for me.

I went into the hospital for an early appointment, and I was the first person to be seen that day. Everyone was very gentle and caring, there were no pretend smiles and everyone spoke very quietly.

My doctor, nurses, and anaesthesiologist all introduced themselves to me and showed me the room where the D&C would take place.
I was then given some paracetamol and the anaesthesiologist said that he would give me something to feel a little bit more relaxed. That is my last clear memory before I woke up in tears.
I have since read that it's quite common for women to wake up crying after a D&C.
While I felt a huge sense of relief that this long journey of waiting was finally over, I also felt so, so sad. We were all so excited about this little one.

We had involved the children from pretty early on in this pregnancy, as we wanted them to be able to bond with their unborn sibling. Georgie had a rather tricky time after sweet Cai's birth, so we wanted to make sure everyone felt included. We would often talk about what it would be like with the new baby around, and everyone was very excited. 

Because of this we wanted to find a way to grieve that was accessible to the children, a way to get some closure, to know that it was ok to be sad, but ok to move on, too.
We decided to paint some stones with chalk and leave them on the beach, so they'd be swept away by the waves. We imagined their journey just like we imagine what our baby's journey might be like, letting go of something we created with love, trusting that it will be not lost forever, just on a different path.

We collected a special stone that day, and painted a tiny heart onto it. It now sits in a beautiful handmade bowl on our sacred space, a tangible memory of the little soul who should be with us by now.

Goodbye, baby Maya.
We wish we could have met you.

A Mindful Space & Rumi Printable Quote

We needed a little change during these rainy January days, so we thought we'd create a little mindful space, somewhere full of light and positivity.

We filled it with our favourite affirmation cards and one of my absolutely most favourite paintings by Asha Pearse.

The book in the centre of this little space is Heart Thoughts, we turn it to a new page every morning, and try to keep the affirmation in mind throughout our day. 

web-3.jpg

I also wanted to add some inspiring thoughts to our little space. I absolutely love Rumi, but I couldn't find a picture that matched two of my favourite quotes, so we made our own.

I thought I'd share them with you, as I do love them so! Just click below to download the PDF.
I'd love to see a picture if you add these to your home!

Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.
— Rumi
Open your hands, if you want to be held.
— Rumi

Enjoy!

Crochet Temperature Blanket

I wanted to share the start of my 2017 temperature blanket with you.
The idea is really simple, each day I add one row to my blanket, in one of seven colours, depending on the temperature on that day! 

There are a lot of colour suggestions online, but I thought I'd share the details of my blanket here with you, in case anyone else wants to make one! I started with 300 stitches, and all my rows are single crochet.
The weather here on the South Coast of the UK does not get very hot or very cold, so I picked small temperature variations for the colour changes:

0ºC and below: Cream
1ºC-6ºC: Storm Blue
7ºC-12ºC: Duck Egg
13ºC-19ºC: Saffron
20ºC-25ºC: Raspberry
26C-31ºC: Pomegranate
31ºC and above: Lipstick

So far I have only needed Storm Blue and Duck Egg, but I can't wait to see the finished blanket next year!
It has been really great, committing to adding one row to this blanket each day, because it means that I make sure to do something mindful each day, something for myself.
It only takes about 20 minutes to add a row while drinking a cup of tea, but even after just two weeks I am already finding myself looking forward to that little ritual!
I plan to add a special row of colour for everyone's birthday, but I have a little while yet before I need to decide.
For now, more duck egg!
 

Our word for 2017

Phew, what a month! Mister George has kept us on our toes, hence the silence!
It's good to be back! 
Have you all picked a special word for this year? Last year our word was "play", and we made sure to honour it as much as we could, trying new games, making sure to make time for our weekly board game night, and playing as much as possible in general. We really did need that whole year to adjust to our new life. This year, though, we were ready for a more busy kind of word.
Our word or 2017 is "create'. We plan to craft, make, build, and create as much as possible. We have some new hobbies which we can't wait to try out, too.
We wanted to display our 2017 word somewhere in our home, to make sure we see it all the time, so we made a quick and easy no-sew bunting. You can make your own, for your very own awesome intention word!

You will need:
Felt
Scissors
Glue
Burlap fabric
String
Glue stick
Scissors
Pen
Printer (optional!)

Start by printing your word onto paper. Cut out the letters and trace them onto the felt. Alternatively you can just draw them directly onto the felt. Cut out your felt letters.

Cut your burlap fabric into rectangles which are big enough to fit your letters. Use a glue stick to attach the letters to the burlap rectangle. 

You can then use a glue stick to fold the top of the burlap rectangle over your string. Let it dry and display your new awesome and inspiring word wherever you will see it often!
(How cool is Caillou's drawing of a centaur, and the brilliant rainbow menorah the squiggles made for Hanukkah?! So in love!)

I'm really excited to see how this year's word will help inspire us to do more! I'd love to hear your power word for this year, and whether you have picked a family motto, too!
Our motto for this year is "Nothing but happy." !
Much love, friends! 

Please don’t stop inviting us. (Even though we keep saying no.)

As you know, we took a year-long break from sharing our adventures here in this space.
The old blog, all our crafts, tutorials, recipes and so on, they are all stored safely in an archive, but there are just a few favourite ideas to which we couldn't quite say goodbye.

As we still very often get messages from people asking for specific articles, we thought it might be nice to share one old favourite here once in a while. This one from December 2014 was recently requested on Facebook.

Some of the information is a little out of date, but we wanted to still share the sentiment of the post. Georgie was first suspected to have Angelman Syndrome, he ticks a lot of the boxes for it, but genetic testing ruled out that diagnosis for us.

Our sweet boy is now eight years old. He is still non-verbal, but he has changed in a lot of way. He now attends a beautiful privately run school for children with profound learning disabilities. We are still working towards a "proper" diagnosis with the help of Georgie's geneticist and the many professionals who care deeply about our little guy.

Right now his diagnosis includes severe autism, sensory processing disorder, severe learning disability, and a whole long list of other things, but none of those things come even close to describe the beauty, sparkle, joy, happiness, and love that is our sweet mouse. 

I don't know how you found your way to this page, but I want you to know that you are not alone. If you are a parent of a newly diagnosed child, hang in there. Your child is so much more than their diagnosis.


I have been hesitating about hitting that publish button. This one is personal.

Parenting a child with special needs can be very lonely.
I don’t just mean the 2am bedtimes and 4am mornings, but everything in between. The little things. Very few people want to hear about cloth diapers for your six year old, or just how many times you had to change him today. In the middle of all the beauty and chaos that parenting can be it feels good to know that you are not alone, to know that our friends are thinking of us, and most important of all, to be invited to play dates and days out. And yet somehow, we all keep turning down these invitations. We all keep saying no.
It’s nothing personal, it really isn’t.

For the parent of a typical child, a trip to the park is no big deal. You ask your little one to put on their shoes and coat, and off they go to get dressed.
If you have a child with special needs its not that simple.
Dressing a child with special needs can be a two person job. Squeezing uncooperative little feet into shoes and putting any kind of clothes onto the most ticklish child in existence or a child who really doesn’t like clothes is tricky and can be time consuming.

We also need to remember a whole lot of things to bring along. Spare clothes, cups from which our children can drink, things our children will eat and drink, wipes, medication, favourite toys…

Now you think that once we have dressed our little one and packed our bags, surely we can just go to the park. Easy peasy! But it often really isn’t. By the time most little ones are old enough to walk they will be aware of basic road safety or at least understand the word “stop”. George doesn’t, and I know he’s not the only one.

There’s another thing.
It is really difficult to find a park that is accessible for disabled children or children who have special needs.
If the park isn’t enclosed, within two minutes my very speedy Georgie would be either in the road or the duck pond.
Now, did I bring that change of clothes?

Sometimes it is tricky even just going to someone else’s house. In our own home we can make sure that there is nothing fragile within reach, that anything small enough to fit into anyone’s nose is put away and that the fridge is locked. Our home works for us and allows us and our child to live a relatively normal life. In other people’s homes it’s a bit more tricky.
To be fair that vase did look spectacular when it shattered into a million pieces..

Food is another important thing to remember as a parent of a child with special needs. With special needs very often come very special eating requirements or habits, allergies and sensory problems.
Do you have any grain free pasta? Two kilos? Yes, all of that, please, oh, and can I use your blender?

And even if you plan the most inclusive, amazing, accessible and easy-to-get-to day out, even if we have been looking forward to it all year, our little loves may still end up having a particularly difficult night, a medical problem or just a really difficult day, leaving us to cancel last minute.
Now, you see why we say no very often, why it is hard for us to say yes, to do all the things that seem easy to so many people,
but even though we say no so much, please don’t stop inviting us.

We are so blessed with an incredible circle of friends who love us just as we are, who understand how hard and frankly impossible it can be some days to even just go to the park, and these friends, they keep us afloat. They just keep inviting us. And no matter how many times we say no, we know that they will keep inviting us to all their trips, parties and events. They never make us feel guilty or bad for not being able to come along. They don’t hold a grudge.
This makes us feel so loved. It makes us feel wanted and cared for and accepted unconditionally.

The special needs parents in your life, don’t let them down. Don’t forget about those of us who can’t make it to every (or any) meet-up.
So many days when we are down here in the trenches of parenting a severely disabled child, a “Can we come over for a cup of tea tomorrow? We miss you.” is my saving grace. An invitation to an impossible event, with a note attached “Don’t worry, I know you can’t make it, but I didn’t want you guys to feel left out!“, that means so much to all of us.
Parenting is hard, it is hard for all of us, not just for those of us who have children with special needs, so please, let’s lift each other up.

That lady pushing her ten year old in the swing at the park? Ask her if she wants to have a cup of coffee with you.
That friend you have who never sends you a message first? She probably doesn’t want to start a conversation knowing she won’t be around for longer than two minutes because that’s when her child will have his next seizure or need help stacking the building blocks just right. Send her a message. “Thinking of you” is enough. “Hi” is enough. Anything is enoughjust please, don’t stop inviting us. 
(We do sometimes say yes! )

(About Angelman Syndrome)


Originally posted - 4th December 2014

Elving

We have been busy during these rainy weeks, crafting things for loved ones and ourselves for the holiday season.

It is so special to sit down with my sweet Little while it is stormy outside, lighting candles, sipping tea, and working on our WIPs, our Work In Progress. Little is working on a crochet blanket for Cai, and I'm making an enormous basket weave afghan for us. I can't wait to sit under it and read stories together! 

In between working on our blankets we have been busy crafting decorations for Hanukkah and making clothes for some wooden gnomes who will be part of our gifts for our friends this year.

I do so love the holiday season, because really, there is very little that is more fun than spending time together and creating lovely things!
What are you crafting this year? 

The Return of the Young Prince - Review and Craft

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is a book that is very special to a lot of people. We read it together many times, learning the same lessons as the Little Prince on his magical journey. I was excited to read The Return of the Young Prince by A.G. Roemmers. The foreword, written by Bruno d'Agay, a member of the Saint-Exupéry family, praises both the author and the book highly, which was important to us, it's never nice to read a sort of sequel with which an original author disagrees!

The book tells the story of a man who, while driving through the desolate landscape of Patagonia, comes across a young man sleeping by the side of the road. He immediately notices something special, almost princely, about this stranger. Knowing he could not leave this traveller stranded in the middle of nowhere, he scoops him up and carries him to his car.

During their journey, their conversation shines a unique light on everyday situations. The driver explains our world to the Young Prince as best as he can, the Young Prince's questions helping him challenge his own views and ideas. 

The people the Young Prince encounters on this journey are a lovely way to show us all about human nature, the way we often jump to conclusions and sometimes expect the worst from people.

I know you must be wondering how this book compares to The Little Prince, and I'm so happy to say that we thought that the gentle, inquisitive, and kind nature of the Little Prince was captured beautifully by A.G. Roemmers' writing. An experience changed the Young Prince's view of the world, but it has not changed his kind soul, or the way he sees the good in every person.

The Return of the Young Prince is a book aimed at older children and grown-ups, it is a great book for young people who are just finding their space in the world, who might be re-evaluating their values and questioning the way they interact with the people around them. It is a book that highlights the importance of forgiveness, of friendship, love, and compassion. 

As you know, we like doing crafts to remind us of the books we love, so we wanted to make a special Young Prince lantern. You can make your own, it's easy and fun, and it glows in the dark, too!

To make your own you will need:

An empty glass jar
Yellow paint
Glow in the dark paint
Glitter glue
Light blue tissue paper
Purple felt
Red ribbon
Scissors
Paintbrush
A mixture of 2 parts PVA glue and 1 part water

Start by using PVA glue to attach your tissue paper to the jar. We only did one layer, as we wanted the light from the LED candle to shine through easily.

Let the layer of tissue paper dry. When it is dry, cover your lantern in glitter glue! Let it dry completely again.

Cut out a planet from purple felt. It doesn't have to be an exact circle, I think it's kind of cute that it is a bit wonky! We added details with a felt-tip pen, but you don't have to.

Glue your planet to the jar with some of the glue mixture, then add tiny stars with your yellow paint. Let the whole lovely thing dry completely!

Add glow-in-the-dark paint to your stars!

When all the paint is dry, tie the red ribbon around the jar like a scarf. Use an LED candle to light up your jar, it will sparkle beautifully! 

We really enjoyed reading The Return of the Young Prince together. It was very special to see the Little Prince as an older child, and learning new wisdom from him has felt very much like catching up with an old friend. The Return of the Young Prince is a beautiful tribute to a book that means a lot to many people, including us, and I am so glad we read it.

Ancient Greek Plaster Mask Craft - Percy Jackson Inspired

We have been loving reading the fantastic Percy Jackson books by Rick Riordan together. We are only on book four, so don't give anything away! Reading these awesome books has inspired us to learn lots about Ancient Greece and Greek Mythology, too! 
I thought I'd share what we are learning and crafting, as we enjoy doing a Book and a Craft. There'll be lots and lots of fun Ancient Greece and Percy Jackson inspired crafts coming up!

Today we made these super cool and slightly creepy Greek theatre masks! 
They take about 45 minutes to make, and you'll need a patient tiny person to volunteer for this one!

You will need:
 Plaster Rolls (Buy these two days before you want to do the craft, so that you can do an allergy test!)
Scissors
Face lotion
Warm water

Make sure to do an allergy test before doing this, you don't want your little one to have an allergic reaction to this! Cover your brave volunteer's face in lots of face lotion. We used Nivea and it worked fantastically!

Cut your plaster rolls into thin, small strips. 

Dip your plaster strips briefly into the warm water. Don't let them get too wet, or they'll drip everywhere and take ages to dry!

Start placing the wet strips of plaster on your child's face, smoothing them out with your fingers as you go. Keep going until every part of their face except the eyes, nose and mouth are covered. Be careful with the eyebrows, don't plaster over them! We did about two layers, three in some places like the nose, to make sure it's extra sturdy. It's important that the person under the plaster does not move their face, so no giggling, though we did manage some chocolate milk drinking through a straw! PLEASE remember to leave plenty of room to breathe, don't plaster over anyone's eyes, mouth or nose, be responsible and use your best judgement.

Now comes the boring part! You have to wait! We waited about 20 minutes before our plaster was dry, but we did have a heater on. Remind your mask-wearer not to move their face too much,

When the mask feels dry on top and starts to feel itchy on the inside, ask your child to scrunch up their face a much as possible to loosen the plaster. Pull a lot of funny faces under there. You should be able to gently lift the mask away from the skin! If any part of the mask is stuck in hair, you can try to use a wet cloth to remove the plaster.

If you like, you can use paint to decorate your mask!

We used watercolour paints with not a lot of water, but you can use acrylic paints and even varnish your mask, add glitter, sequins, feathers and so on.

That's how to make your super creepy and awesomely fun Greek Theatre Mask!

I can't wait to share more crafts inspired by the awesome Percy Jackson books and our big Ancient Greece Unit study, it has been so much fun!

Please keep in mind that our crafts are only suggestions and things that worked for us, do your own research and be responsible!

Horse-Chestnut Garland

Collecting horse-chestnuts is one of our Autumn traditions. We usually have big bowls full of them filling the corners and windowsills of our little home.
The other day we went for a walk and came home with over 6kgs of horse-chestnuts (!) but funnily enough George recently decided that he really does rather enjoy pouring out bowls of these lovely things, so we needed to find a different way to display our treasures. 

My friend Karina made a beautiful little garland with her children, and we thought it looked rather great. It's easy to make and lots of fun, especially if your tiny people are old enough to use a drill by themselves! 
We started by gathering our supplies, a drill, horse-chestnuts, some string and a small piece of pipecleaner.

We used a tiny piece of pipecleaner and tisted it in half to create a sort of giant needle. We then tied one end of the string to the pipecleaner. This really helped to get the string through the holes!

Little had lots of fun drilling holes, and Cai enjoyed stringing the horse-chestnuts onto the string with our giant needle. It didn't take long to make a pretty long garland! 

We love how rustic this looks, and I think we will make some more soon, maybe adding orange slices and cinnamon sticks for the winter months!

Yarn Pumpkins - Two Different Ways

We love a bit of autumny reading, and Pumpkins by Mary Lyn Ray is one of our favourite pumpkin themed books. It's about a sweet old man who sets out to save a field.
We wanted to make our own field full of pumpkins, so we needed a quick way to make a lot of pumpkins! We came up with two different ways to make them.
So, let's make yarn pumpkins!

Method 1 - Just Yarn:
 

You will need:
Yarn in orange and brown
cissors

Start by wrapping the yarn around two or three of your fingers, the more fingers you use, the bigger your pumpkin will be. Pinch the yarn between your hand and your thumb to keep it in place.

Keep wrapping until you have about this much yarn around your fingers:

Snip the end of the yarn and then slide the yarn off your fingers gently and carefully place it on a length of brown yarn. Tie a knot with the brown yarn right in the middle of the orange yarn.

Twist the brown yarn to create a stem and knot the end! 

Now just gently shape your pumpkin and fluff it up a little bit, and you have made your own tiny pumpkin, in less than five minutes!


Method Two - Big Pumpkins With Stuffing:

You will need: 
Yarn in orange and brown
Toy stuffing
crochet hook, though not essential
Scissors

Start by wrapping two fingers in stuffing. Hold it in place with your thumb! It's really important that you only use two fingers next to each other for this version!

Now wrap the stuffing with the yarn. Make sure you don't wrap the yarn too tightly, you need to be able to spread your two fingers apart slightly still!

When all the stuffing is covered by orange yarn, snip off the end of the yarn. Pull brown yarn through the gap in between your two fingers. Using a crochet hook will make this a lot easier, but it's not essential.

Pull the yarn through. Tuck any uncovered stuffing underneath your orange yarn.

Now tie a knot in the middle of the orange yarn and stuffing, like so:

Slide your fingers out of the stuffing gently and tie the knot tightly.
Keep tying knots to add a cute pumpkin stem!

Snip off the end, and enjoy your new pumpkin!

We love this way of making pumpkins, it's easy to make a whole bunch of them, and make them lots of different sizes, too! 

Apple Bunting

We are celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, at the moment. To decorate our home for our special holiday we made this lovely apple print bunting. We make it every year, it has become a tradition for us, but of course it's also a brilliant decoration for Autumn all around, really!
It's easy to make, and you'll only need a few things!

You will need: 
Jute String
Burlap Fabric
Glue Stick
Watercolour or Acrylic Paints
Apples
Scissors
Paintbrushes

Start by cutting your apple in half!

Pat your apple dry with a towel. Cut up your burlap fabric into rectangles.

Paint one of your apple-halves with plenty of red paint, but make sure that your paint is not too watery!

Carefully stamp your apple onto the burlap fabric rectangle, a little closer to the bottom than the top.

Lift up your apple!

With some brown paint, draw a stem onto your apple, then add a leaf with green paint.

Make lots of apple prints and let them all dry.

When they are dry, place them apple-side-down onto your table and start spreading glue near the top of the rectangle. Add your string! A regular glue-stick worked for us, but if you want this to be extra strong, hot-glue might work better.

Roll the top of your rectangle over the string and squash it down.

Repeat it for all your little apple flags and enjoy your beautiful autumn decoration!

Wishing you all Shana Tova, Happy New Year!

The Wolf Wilder Book Review and Wolf Print Necklace Craft

As you all know, we love books. We spend the majority of our time reading together, and we never go on any adventures without at least a handful of books in our bags.
Sometimes we come across a really special book, a book that moves us, changes us, and becomes a part of us. 
The Wolf Wilder is one of those books. I need to tell you about it. Read it by yourselves, read it with your older children, but definitely, very much, read it. 

The Wolf Wilder is a book that is set "a hundred years ago" in Russia.
Feodora, called Feo, lives with her Mama in a little cabin in the woods. Together they un-tame wolves that are sent to them by aristocrats once they tire of the wolves or the wolves eat a finger or toe that, technically, belonged to someone.
One day, some of the Tsar's soldiers show up at their cabin, and Feo's world changes forever.
I don't want to give away the story, of course, but Feo, desperate to save her mother from the evil and cruel General Rakov, finds an unlikely friend, and, together with her wolves, starts a revolution. The Wolf Wilder is a story of fierce bravery, of friendship, of dreams, hope, and of how it only takes one person to start changing the world.
This book reads like a fairytale, like a classic story that needs to be told. The characters are beautiful, and delicately crafted.

The Wolf Wilder
By Katherine Rundell

Our favourite quote from the book was: "And I don't know where courage comes from. But I do know that if you can scrape together just a bit, more of it comes without trying."

I started out reading this book to Little, who is ten. Cai, who is six, joined us after the first chapter. There were moments in the book that made him cry, that made all of us cry, but he never once wanted to stop listening. There is death, and there are scary moments, but even those are told in such a captivating way that they weren't too much, even for my gentle boy. 

The Wolf Wilder is something so genuinely special. It has joined our list of books that we will keep recommending to friends, giving it for birthdays and holidays. 
Share it with the brave people in your life, with stormy girls, revolutionaries, with wild people, and, most importantly, buy a copy for yourself.

After finishing this book, we all felt we wanted more. We wanted a reminder of Feo's bravery. We decided to make a wolf paw print necklace, so we could carry a part of the book with us on the outside, too.

To make your own wolf print necklace,
you will need:

Leather cord
Air drying clay
Beads
A paintbrush and a little water
Something round (We picked a tealight.)

Start by rolling a small amount of air drying clay into a smooth ball.

Squash your ball down until it is flat and about half a centimetre thick. We did this on baking paper, as it helps the clay not to stick to table.

Use your round object to cut out a circle shape.

Now gently use your fingers to create a wolf paw print in the clay!

We used the end of a paintbrush to create the smaller prints of the wolf's nails.

If your edges are dry, brush them with some water. Use a pencil or the end of a small paintbrush to poke a hole through the top of your clay disk, so you can attach the cord!

Let your clay pendant dry completely!

When your wolf print is completely dry, carefully pull the cord through the hole in the top.

String the wooden beads onto your string.

Now all you have to do is tie your necklace to the right length and snip off any excess leather! Make sure your necklace fits over your head, as you can't take a bath or shower with it!

You can of course make these for any animal you like, but for my own brave wolf wilders, a wolf print was very much the right choice. 

The Wolf Wilder
By Katherine Rundell

We really love being able to carry a part of this book with us like this, and we know that The Wolf Wilder and Feo will stay with all of us for a very long time, a girl with a braid down to her knees, and two wolves flecked in gold, starting a revolution to save her Mama. 

Hello, Harvest Moon

We love the Harvest Moon and all the magic it brings. Each year we go to our beach to see it rise. This year's moon was spectacular. We arrived just as it climbed silently above the Isle of Wight, gently rising beyond a few white clouds while we sat, in our pyjamas, reading one of our all time favourite Autumn books, Hello, Harvest Moon.

We played in the cool sand and watched the black waves come in, and when it got too shivery and little hands got a little bit too cold, we returned home for hot chocolate and more cosy stories. 

I do so love this season.
Good night, Harvest Moon!

Five-Minute Wet Felted Acorns

We are still working on filling our Nature Table with lots of autumny goodness.
Wet-felted acorns are easy to make, and they only take five minutes to make, so you can make lots of them and fill your nature table!

You Will Need:

Acorn caps
A bowl
Water
Dish soap
Wool roving in lots of different colours
Glue

Start by filling your bowl with warm water and a bit of dish soap. Make sure the water is not too hot for little hands!

Pick a colour of wool roving and tie two or three knots into the middle.

Snip off (or gently pull) any excess wool, leaving about half an inch of wool either side of your knots.

Now it's time for the fun to start! Dip your roving into the soapy water!

Start rolling the wet wool between your hands to form a ball. Roll it for a few seconds, dip it back into the water and roll your wool again. Keep doing this for about two or three minutes, until your wool roving has turned into a little solid ball with no cracks and no bits sticking out.  Rinse your felted ball under really cold water and roll it dry in a towel.

When you have dried your acorn, find it a matching acorn cap!

Spread glue over the top of your acorn. We find glue-guns do the best job, but glue-sticks are much safer for little hands!

Squeeze your acorn into the cup and let it dry.

Make lots of beautiful acorns in different colours to add to your Nature Table!

Happy Autumn! 

Nature Table - Step by Step - Step One

This week it has been beautifully rainy outside, and cosy inside. We felt it was time to change our Nature Table from Summer to Autumn. If you have been a reader of this blog for a little while, you'll know that Autumn is our most favourite season, and our Autumn Nature Tables are usually full of crafts, colour and nature treasures!
We thought it might be fun to put together a little step-by-step idea for creating your very own Nature Table in your home, so this is Step One for creating your very own Nature Table.

First of all, pick a space. This could be anywhere in your house. We wanted to move our Nature Table to the living room, so we will be starting with this little space. It's not exactly cosy just yet, but I can't wait to transform it into our new Autumn Nature Table! 

Before

We like our Nature Table to be a little bit more, well, natural, so we started with a furniture board to fit the top of our shelf. 
You can find furniture boards in most DIY stores, they are really just untreated wooden boards, and you can usually get them cut to any size you need. We opted for an unstained one as we wanted to stain it ourselves.
To stain your wooden board, all you need is some instant coffee! 
Mix up about a tablespoon of instant coffee with about a cup of hot water, stir it well and let it cool down completely.
 

Paint your wooden board on all sides with the coffee and let it dry. Don't forget to paint the edges!

While your wooden board is drying, it's time to paint a little sign for your Nature Table.
To do this, all you need is some white card, some watercolour paints and a paintbrush.

Paint your white card with a gradient of colours. We decided to just paint one half yellow and then gently blend it into an orange colour. Straight lines will be fine, it doesn't have to be fancy, but if you like you can add details like leaves, acorns or trees!

When your paint has dried, use a darker colour to write the word "Autumn" onto your sign!

Now it's time to put your Nature Table together. Secure your wooden board to the area where you want your Nature Table to be.
Make sure it's super safe and won't increase the risk of your shelf falling over. It's usually best to secure it to the wall, especially if little hands might be exploring!
When your board is up and your sign is on the wall, it's time to add some lighting! 
We love our Himalayan Salt Lamp and our Moroccan Fairy Lights. Pick something that will give your room a gentle glow!

While your Nature Table is still a work-in-progress, consider decorating it with your Autumn themed books! (You can find our favourites here.)
I am a huge fan of decorating with books, it makes it easy to find them, and already makes the Nature Table look lovely and cosy!

Now you already have a Nature Table! I hope you'll join us for Step Two, where we will create some lovely decorations and crafts for our Nature Table! 
 

The Hundred Mile an Hour Dog - Master of Disguise by Jeremy Strong - Review and Craft

As you probably know, we absolutely love books. There's nothing better than a rainy day spent on the sofa with a few good books and a cup of tea, and we really enjoy doing crafts related to books, it makes for even more fun! 
The other day we read The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog - Master of Disguise by Jeremy Strong. It's about a very speedy dog called Streaker, and his clever owner, Trevor. 
In this book, Streaker gets into trouble and Dad wants to send her to Boot Camp. On top of all that, dogs in the neighbourhood keep disappearing. Trevor and his best friend Tina have to come up with a plan. 
The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog - Master of Disguise is a fantastic book for children from about age 7. Cai loved this story, there was a lot of actual laughing out loud when people or things got knocked over by Streaker's speedy running, and plenty of guessing about who may be behind the mystery of the disappearing dogs! 

In the story, Trevor and Tina have to disguise speedy Streaker to save him from Boot Camp, and there is currently an awesome competition going on over here where you can download a picture of Streaker to disguise, so we thought it would be fun to create our own speedy dog, and disguise him, too!

Wall Runner Dog in Disguise

It's simple and fun to make your own speedy dog. Make two and have a race!

You will need:

White card
Yarn in different colours
Pens or Pencils
Glue
A Straw

Start by drawing the outline of a dog on your card. It doesn't have to be perfect at all, but if you'd like to use a picture of Streaker, you can find one at the moment over on the competition page of Jeremy Strong.

Cut out your dog!

Now it's time to decorate your dog. Give him a nice face and add some details like spots, stripes or other fun details.

Of course we will need to disguise our dogs! Start by cutting the yarn into short strands. Spread glue all over your dog and attach the yarn. You can also give your dog a cool pair of sunglasses, we simply coloured in some white card with a black pen and then cut out the glasses.

When your whole dog is covered in fur you can add other details, we added a red felt tongue, but you can add things such as bows or a shiny collar.

Now we will turn our dog into a super speedy wall racer! Cut two small pieces from your straw and tape them to the back of the dog.

Thread the ends of a long bit of yarn through the straws, keeping the middle of the yarn at the top.

Hang the wall racing dog on a hook and, with the dog near the bottom, hold both ends of the string tightly, one in each hand. Gently pull first one side, then the other. Your speedy dog will start to move up on the string! 
Make two and race together with a friend!

We had lots of fun reading this brilliant book about The Hundred-Mile-An-Hour Dog, and we loved creating our very own super speedy dog in disguise! I hope you do, too!

Here are some other fantastic Jeremy Strong books, really worth trying if you like books with just enough action to not be too scary, but still be entertaining and super funny!