Sunday, 5 July 2015

We've been playing Scientist ...

It's our mid-year school break for 2 weeks at the moment.  I love school holidays ... the not-rushing-around in the mornings, seeing movies and enjoying lunch dates with my girls, catching up with little friends (and their Mummies) and of course some craft and playing.  Well, these holidays I decided to make it a kind of science-theme.  Hannah has been doing a few science-type activities at pre-school this term (like making slime and they had a professional scientist come in and show the kids some experiments).  Well, she has absolutely loved this stuff.  I was terrible at science in school, but you're never too old for an experiment or two, hey, so I thought we'd have a go ourselves.

I went to old-faithful Pinterest, and found a squillion different science ideas for kids, lots of which I've pinned in my Kid's Activities board.  I decided to do one experiment each day.  So, here's what we've done for week 1 (you can find the source of each of these on my Pinterest board).

1. Using paper towel and 2 glasses with different coloured water.  Place an empty 3rd glass in between and watch the water soak up the towel, drip into the middle glass and change colour.  This one took longer than we expected, so we didn't actually see the result until the next day, but the girls were very excited with what they found.

2.  Celery dying - Place sticks of celery (with leaves on) in a glass of brightly coloured water....

...wait a few hours and you get this ...

 The red and the blue were our 2 best results.  The pink went a kind of brown colour, and the green was interesting, but not as exciting as the others.

My favourite part of this experiment was when we chopped the ends off the celery sticks and looked to see the channels where the liquid soaks in.  Hannah's been asking lots of questions lately, including "Mummy, how do plants drink?", and this was a great way to show her.

3.  Our next experiment was a tornado in a jar.  This was really a favourite, but is much more impressive in real-life ... it's hard to snap a shot of the tornado before it stops.  Basically, you fill a jar with water, add a tablespoon or so of dishwashing liquid, put the lid on and give the jar a vigorous shake.  Can you see the little tornado? 
We found this one works best if you shake back and forth rather than up and down.  We also added some sparkles to one of our jars so we could watch them fly around the tornado, and imagine it was the wicked witch on her broomstick next to Dorothy's house ... it took me hours to get that wicked witch themed music out of my head!!

4.  Thursday's experiment was Jellyfish in a bottle.  You use a plastic bag, fill a corner with water and tie it off.  Then cut the rest of the bad into long thin strips for the tentacles and push it into a bottle full of water.  If you turn the bottle upside-down you can watch the head slowly float the the top, with the tentacles following, and with a bit of imagination you could believe it's really a jellyfish.    If your bottle isn't coloured like this one, you could also add a spot of blue colouring to make it look more ocean-like!

The girls have refused to part with their "little guys" so far!  I think they'll be part of the family for a while yet.

5. And for day 5 .... drum-roll - Homemade Gak.  Now I looked a tonnes of different recipes for this, mostly using glue and Borax, but in the end I couldn't find Borax anywhere, so I searched Pinterest again and found this one.  Just 2 ingredients ... cornflour and hair-conditioner (plus the optional colouring of course).  
It has a tenancy to be a little messy, and we all had a blue tinge to our hands for the rest of the day, but the girls had an absolute ball with this one.  And yes ... ahem ... we were still in our PJs.  What are holidays for if not the odd PJ day!?!  Do you remember Hannah's PJs from here
 This gak had a great fall and stretch consistency, but then it was interesting to watch it kind of dry out and crumble a little.  It easily balled up again though, and we even managed some shape-cutting with it too.  Such a quick and inexpensive one.

Anyway, so I haven't figured what science goodness we'll sink our teeth into this coming week. Does anyone have any good ideas for me?

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Pattern Test: The Nina Skirt

I was lucky enough to be included to test the Nina Skirt and Culottes pattern for girls by the very talented Marte of Compagnie M.     She has some great designs, and I felt very honoured to be included to test this new one.

This pattern will be available in the Compagnie M pattern shop from 24th June (and there's a discount if you're quick, plus an even better discount if you want the Women's version of the Nina pattern.  This is definitely a great pattern to add to the stash.  It's very easy to follow, and you can tell this pattern is tried and true ... the amazing Ninas shared by the other testers are so inspiring ... there are some very clever ladies out there!

This versatile pattern includes options for an invisible zip or a fly-front zip, and this is for both the skirt and culottes.  For the fly-front you can also choose between a large button overlap (like the one I did) or a smaller overlap.  So, really there are tonnes of ways to make this one up, and with a different overall look each time.  Love a versatile pattern!

Anyway, at the time of the testing call, Marte specifically noted that she hadn't seen many fly-front skirt options tested.  So I decided that, in my continued effort to cure my zip-phobia, I'd give the fly-front option a go.  I'm so happy I did ... for my first ever fly-front I'm so thrilled with how this came out, and I definitely credit that to Marte's pictures along with the instructions.  It was very easy to follow, and I was surprised how easily this came together.

Given it's winter in Australia currently, I chose to make a winter-weight Nina for Bethany.  I had just enough of this gorgeous purple spotty corduroy left from a previous project, and thought this would look great as a Nina.  So, I made a cup of coffee and got to cutting.  I chose 2 sparkly gemstone buttons, because, well, they're sparkly.  Enough said, right!

Instead of hemming the skirt as per the instructions, I decided to use a piece of jumbo ric-rac from my stash, to make a kind of scallop-look hemline.  This ric-rac was totally meant-to-be.  It matched perfectly with the pink spots in the fabric, and the piece I had fit perfectly around the hem.  Can't get much closer than that, though I'll admit there was a moment of panic at the half-way mark when I realised I hadn't measured to check it would fit ... whoops, then phew!

In terms of constructing this hem, I totally just made it up as I went along.  It was about mid-night, and in true What's Mummy Up To style that's when some of my best ideas happen.  I'm really happy with how it looks.  To do this hem, I:
- Overlocked the raw edge of the skirt hem.  
- Then, with the ric-rac on the right-side of the fabric, I sewed it along the egde, lining up my stitching with the top edge of the overlocking stitching, and sewing along the middle of the ric-rac.  
- I then turned the ric-rac under to the wrong side, and topstitched about 1/4" back from the edge on the right-side to hold it in place.  

Pretty simple and quick, and a nice change to a plain hem.  I also liked that it added about an inch to the overall length of the skirt, seeing as this is a winter Nina and all.

I made a size 8 for Bethany, and was really happy with the fit.  Marte gave a suggestion of adding adjustable elastic to the waist, but given Bethany's measurements I decided not to do this.  The fit is great!! 

So Bethany is happy with her skirt and coupled with a pink top, and her matching pink coat, and some winter boots, this has made a cute outfit for these cold days we've been having.

I think my next Nina will be the Culottes ... for Hannah this time!

Saturday, 6 June 2015

Recipe - Family Favourite Apple Crumble

Yep, as the name suggests, this is a real family favourite for me.  My Mum has made this Apple Crumble for as long as I can remember and now my girls love it too.  This crumble is not the same as you might buy ready-made, or even as I've had it in restaurants before.   The crumble is much more ... well ... crumbly, which I love.

Anyway, when I recently had some spare granny-smith apples that were going to spoil if I didn't do something with them, I decided this was the perfect use for them, and Daddy and the girls didn't complain one bit!!

Here's how I made it ...

This makes 4 individual-sized servings.

For the apples:
- 6 Apples ... I used Granny-Smiths, because that's what I had, but I have used pretty much any apple for this recipe and it works great!
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar (depending how much of a sweet-tooth you are!)
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- water

For the crumble:
- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- Optional extras: 1/2 cup desiccated coconut, or 1/2 cup flaked almonds lightly toasted 

To prepare the apples:
1. Peel and core the apples, then dice and place into a medium-sized saucepan.  Add the sugar and cinnamon, then enough water to just cover the apples.

2.  Simmer the apples over a medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced and the apple is cooked soft.  It will look something like this when it's ready...

3. Spoon the apple evenly into 4 ramekins or other oven-proof dishes.  You can totally use 1 large dish instead of individual portions.  I have a square pyrex dish that works great for this.

For the crumble:
1.  Place oats, sugar and almonds/coconut (if you're using them) into a medium sized bowl, and mix well.

2.  Stir through the melted butter until well-combined.  The mixture will still be relatively dry, and that is fine.

3.  Spoon the crumble evenly over the apple in each dish, and flatten the surface using a spoon.  

4.  Place the ramekins on an oven tray, and bake in the oven at 200C for approximately 15 minutes, or until the crumble on top is just lightly golden.

5.  Serve with ice-cream or custard.  We usually eat it as a warm dessert (great for our wintery weather in Australia at the moment), but this is also really yummy as a chilled dessert.  Just refrigerate after baking, and serve it cold!  The crumble soaks up some of the apple goodness, and it's just divine!  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

The Boho Trousers and Shorts (and a discount code)

I got to do another pattern test last week ... and we all know how much I love pattern tests.  This time, it was for the lovely Heidi from Elegance and Elephants.  She contacted me to ask if I would be interested in making a pair of shorts or pants to test the pattern for her ... Ahhh, let me think about it for a whole 100th of a second ... YES!!!

Heidi puts together great PDF patterns.  You may remember these ones I did last year.  Anyway, I love that feeling of knowing that a pattern will most likely work out exactly as it should, and that's always the case in my experience with Elegance and Elephants ... I've never had one go wrong!!

Anyway, here's what I made ... Boho Trousers in Size 4 for Hannah.  She loves them as much as me, and I think this bright floral cotton poplin works great for this design.  Hannah specifically requested "butterfly" fabric.  Now, with a stash like mine, you'd think I could easily find one, but it actually took some hunting to find the right weight fabric in my stash with butterflies ... can you see them?  I promise they are there!  Ok, so  there aren't many butterflies I'll admit (maybe a total of two on this whole pair of pants), but Hannah can see them, so she's happy, and really that's all that counts, huh!
This was a super-quick sew ... took me less than an hour once I'd cut the pieces out, and I love a quick project like that.  The pockets are super-cute, and I love the way the waist-band was designed as it completely solves that annoying elastic-twisting issue.  And those shirred ankle sections ... be still my beating heart!!!  Hannah particularly enjoyed blinging herself up for this shoot ... funny little munchkin!

Now, you're wondering how you can try this one out for yourself aren't you?  Elegance and Elephants are offering a 15% off coupon code, but only until 22nd May, so be quick.  You can get the code, here, and here is where you buy the pattern.  The shorts are gorgeous too, and are on my to-do list for next summer!

Oh, and just so you know I have done this post voluntarily.  I was provided with the pattern in exchange for my testing of it, but I have decided to post about it too because I really love this pattern!

Now, to make a pair of these for Bethany too ... I'm off to do some fabric choosing!