Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Return of the icy marbles

I did these last year. I loved them. I loved them so much I got a canvas of them for the wall.  I was pretty excited to do them again this year so I am not sure why or how we managed to get over halfway through January before doing so. Between this year and last year, I heard of people who found that they didn't work. Perhaps this delayed me - fear of them failing me, disappointing me as I try to find joy in below freezing temperatures.

Last year, I said that I had learned a lesson about water splooshing out after filling the balloons and removing them from the spout of the tap (the faucet, if you wish). I must admit that it turns out it was a short-term lesson and I should have revised this year to avoid the same again. Having said that, I did not need paper towels at any point this year so I have made progress.

The Zeds needed some persuading to actually come with me and place them outside. This is why they are not wearing coats, a fact which was remarked on by Husband and a neighbour. In my defence, they were only out for a few moments and it was only about -5C or so and I thought it would encourage them to come back inside once they had placed them and I didn't want to hang about out there. Also, they didn't wear coats for this last year so let's call it tradition. (It was a positively balmy 13C when we did it last year.)

Instagram, ice, winter, balloonThe big reveal happened the very next day. There was snow falling so I wanted to get to them before they were buried. Also, I am impatient. One broke when I went to check on them the evening before. Still beautiful.

So, without further ado as there has been quite enough ado so far, here they are! Oh, and note how the purple dye, in particular, seems to become encapsulated rather than remaining diffused  - it did that last year too - this is art AND science.

ice, balloons, craft, winter, colour

Friday, 17 January 2014

Life gave us mangoes (so we made not-banana bread)

baking, banana bread, mangoes, fruit, mango bread, chocolate
This cakey bread delights me for a number of reasons:
  1. When baked in a loaf tin, I consider cake to be somewhat wholesome and I put it in Z1's lunchbox with pride
  2. I have a very lovely friend who hates bananas. Really, really hates them. This means that any time I bake with bananas, I feel a little like I am betraying her. This is irrational, particularly given that she is very unlikely to pop in for a cup of tea and be repulsed by my offer of banana-based baked goods as she doesn't live on the same continent as me. For this cakey bread, I substituted mangoes for bananas in the recipe so I didn't have to betray her at all.
  3. By substituting mangoes, I was able to use up the tinned mangoes that I thought would delight the Zeds but, unfortunately, were rather tasteless and not really worth eating. Using up things like that fills me with quite a lot of happiness (see here for a previous example of this )
  4. It tasted nice and the Zeds and even Husband gobbled it up which, as I have mentioned before, doesn't always happen in my house.
You may also be interested to know:
I used a recipe for "chocolate banana cake" (but put my drained tin of mangoes in instead of the required banana) from the BBC recipe website but the page isn't loading at the moment so I can't link directly to it.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Post-Christmas present

buttons, craft, kindergarden craft, glue
My mum is one of the unfortunate people who has her birthday rather close to Christmas. For her, it means people may have run out of gift-buying stamina (and money). For me, I always feel I want to get her something very lovely, as she is my mum, but I need to get organised and inspired quickly in order to get it to her on time.
Z1 said she would like to make her a brooch so I thought that, with a bit of supervision from me, we could make something that would be mum-worthy, personal and mailable. It would also be something that could occupy Z1 for a bit while I worked from home in the lazy, post-Christmas, huddle-in-from-the-cold-and-let-the-Zeds-watch-Arthur-Christmas-again-and-again days.

saftey pin, badge, buttons, jewellery, craft, gift, kindergarden
I discovered the craft section in Walmart in preparation for the great conquering Christmas craftathon of 2012. Generally speaking, I head to Dollarama for our craft needs but I felt for a real, proper birthday present for my mum, we could splash out on quality Walmart goods. Also, Walmart is near a lovely park with an ice rink so we could do skating before or after the dratted and dreaded shopping centre (ok, ok, mall, I do think of it as a mall, my assimilation to North America is well underway). I was hoping for brooch backs of some description and Z1 was going to choose the decorations for the brooch. I was going to steer her clear of anything too gaudy in the hope that my mum might actually, really want to wear the creation.
Sadly, Walmart did not provide a brooch back for us and so I made do with a cut up cereal box and a safety pin secured with sticky tape. It did, however provide some nice colourful buttons. I did try to convince Z1 to choose the darker colours rather than pastels but she would not be swayed. I had intended on covering up the back with shiny paper or something but we couldn't get the glue to stick well so I just let it be.
Z1 took charge of the size of the brooch and was planning to just stick the central button on after a careful selection process. Not only did this leave a not-so-attractive area of naked cardboard on the brooch, it was also only going to take a mere moment to complete so I encouraged the use of more buttons. I think that the finished object is good enough to be worn with pride by my lovely mum. I am sure she will receive it gratefully, graciously and with grandmotherly affection so I will keep my eyes open to see if she wears it at all, indicating that she truly likes it, when we next see her in the summer.