The 10 minute superhero cape

posted in: Craft, Dressing up, Quick and cheap | 2


These capes are amazing! Made from just one t-shirt, you don’t have to do any sewing (unless you want to) and they can be ready within 10 minutes. Plus they’re upcycled so you can feel extra green and pious. Thanks goes to eastcoastmommy for this and she has loads of other costume ideas on her blog too.




First find your t-shirt. This is one of the husbands old ones that we’ve decided to re-purpose (aside: why does he insist on keeping t-shirts that have holes in them?). Lay it flat and then cut the sleeves off. This is really easy to do, just follow the seams round. Cut up both sides of the shirt so that it can be opened out. Finally, separate the front and back, following the neck line around the front and leaving in tact.



The shoulders on this one weren’t sitting quite right so I trimmed a little more off. Then I sketched out a superman style S on red fabric, cut it out and sewed it onto the centre. Pretty sure fabric glue would work just as well and make things even faster. For safety I plan to add some velcro to the neck when I get a couple of minutes.


super s


I presented R with his new cape first thing in the morning and he was stoked, especially since we’d watched the new Supergirl trailer on ManVsPink half a dozen times. There are no good photos of him wearing it because he refused to stop doing fly bys and I got tired of trying to snap him! And he’s already put his order in for a Thor version – anyone got Thor costume ideas up their sleeve?


Flying with cape


Monkey and Mouse



Book review: Tyrannosaurus Drip

posted in: Books | 0

Tyrannosaurus Drip

Julia Donaldson and David Roberts

Tyrannosaurus Drip

The story:

Drip is a duckbill dinosaur who has the misfortune of being born into a family of duckbill dinosaur eating, war loving Tyrannosauruses. His adoptive family is cruel and when it becomes apparent that the vegetarian drip isn’t fierce enough to hunt they leave him behind. Drip runs away and by serendipity finds a herd of duckbills playing in the river and eating delicious water weeds. But his happiness is short lived and that very night a storm throws over a tree creating a bridge that the Tyrannosaurs can use to cross the river and reach the duckbills. The Ts get their comeuppance when Drip tricks them into thinking their reflections are river monsters in the water below.

The illustrations:

So beautiful that I’ve considered having some of the pages framed as art for R’s bedroom. The dinosaurs are highly stylised and the whole book is detailed without being that kind of chaotic that gives me a headache to look at. I love that the pages with the duckbills in their swamp are dominated by greens giving their pages a lovely lush feel, and the T-Rex pages are angry pinks and reds, lacking foliage and dotted with fleshless bones.

What we loved:

Julia Donaldson’s words are perfect. Especially when they’re read aloud. I’ve read this a few times just to myself because the tempo is so pleasing (this will come as no surprise to those of you that are already Julia Donaldson fans). The idea that Ts are bullish meat eating thugs and the duckbills are gentle vegetarian and joy-filled is cliche, but it’s a kids book and its other merits more than make up for the slightly predictable division of characteristics. Also, I’m willing to bet that this is the only picture book to contain the word ‘compsognathus’. Practice saying that before you get to it!

Undersea soup

posted in: Fine motor skills, Nature, Sensory | 0


R isn’t exactly a water baby (washing his hair is a regular ordeal) but he does love splashing around when I make him a big bowl of play soup. This one had an underwater theme because we had just come back from our holiday and a visit to the Scottish Sealife Sanctuary.

An apology – I somehow lost the pics of him playing! I’ll have to update if I come across them again.

For this invitation to play I put out a big bowl of water and included our sea creature toys. I added some blue and clear waterbeads that had been soaking a few hours. If you’ve never seen water beads before they’re amazing! They start off as tiny hard balls, soak up water to become squishy bouncy balls about the size of an M&M, they’re non-toxic and perfect for an extra sensory element of play. We also had some turtle shaped ice cubes in the freezer so I threw those in too.




I also put out one of my favourite photography books: Fish Face by David Doubilet. It’s full of the most amazing close up shots of undersea creatures (the blurb says “from the beautiful to the ugly” but I’ve yet to find anything ugly on it’s pages!). The images are full pages and there’s very little text, so It’s great for kids to flick through until they find something that interests them. R will quite often pick it up and find a page he likes so that we can say the names and then google for more info.

Add some utensils for scooping and that’s it. R loves this kind of open ended play and it’s amazing where his imagination will take him. This time there were seals catching sharks, the octopus took a bath, and all the other creatures took rides on a seahorse!


Watercolour ice painting

posted in: Art, Sensory | 0



I love the effects R got using this technique, and it’s so quick and easy to set up. You can even have it sitting in the freezer as a rainy day backup.




Freeze watercolour paints in an ice cube tray – warning it was stained by the paint so you might end up with a multicoloured tray. I used tubes of ready mix paint (there’s an affiliate link below) and added a little water to each before I put them in the freezer. Take them out a few minutes before you’re ready to paint so that they can soften a bit.




Use the frozen paint on thick paper or card so that it doesn’t tear. As the cubes melt the colours swim together so it’s a good chance to talk about colour mixing. When they’re solid the cubes can almost be used like crayons to draw with, but R really hated the sensory element! He was not into getting his fingers cold (and maybe I can’t blame him!). Instead he did some grabbing and rubbing with the kitchen tongs, and then set to smashing the ice with a metal spoon. Anyone who knows him will recognise smashing stuff as a favourite activity and he didn’t stop until every last speck of ice was obliterated.





The result was so colourful that we used it as a birthday card for Moma!



Sensory play rice – using washable paint

posted in: Fine motor skills, Sensory | 0



Until now we’ve steered clear of dying rice or pasta. For some reason I got it into my head that it was a bit labour intensive or messy. But I saw this ice cream activity on happy hooligans (it uses dyed rice as ice cream sprinkles) and knew it was time for me to take the plunge. Guess what? It’s super easy, so easy in fact that I tried out something new.

All you’ll need is your rice, a splash of white vinegar, a tub with a lid or ziplock, and the paint you fancy using.

I quite often use washable ready mix paint when instructions call for food colouring – check out any one of our play dough recipes – the colours available here are more varied and it’s less likely that I’m going to make a mess.

Put your rice into the tub or ziplock you’re using along with a good splodge of the paint. You can eye it but I put in approx. a cup of rice and a tablespoon of paint and give it a good mix. Drizzle over some vinegar, a teaspoon-ish will be plenty. This, I’m informed, sets the colour. Then close the lid and get shaking! Let the kids do it for some rattly fun. Then tip everything onto a baking sheet or bowl and set it to dry. It really won’t take long.

Once it’s dry it can be stored as rice would be (i.e. in an airtight container) ready for your next sensory play session.So far I haven’t noticed any paint coloured hands when using it, but I’ll update you if I do.

Easy peasy!

The first rule of no screen day: don’t talk about no screen day

posted in: Parenting | 0



The past few days I’ve come to realise I’ve made a bit of a mummy faux pas. In an effort to maintain communication with R I kind of forgot that he’s three. Every day starts with us talking about what we have planned, and I started to slip in that we wouldn’t use the screens. Then instead of putting them quietly away I piled them up and left in full view in the lounge. Of course, it was like I’d given the bloodhound a scent to follow and he was desperate to get at them. He just wanted to watch one Ninjago. It would really help him have quiet time if he could just watch one Bo on the Go. He really, really wanted for us both to sit together and watch something (he knows that the suggestion of snuggling under a blanket is almost certain to make me crack).

Maybe you’re all rolling your eyes and asking ‘why didn’t she see it coming?’. Well I don’t know. I just figured that talking it through would help him understand why I’d decided to limit our screen time. But skipping TV shouldn’t be a big deal, so don’t make it a big deal, dummy!

Now that I’ve figured out what is probably obvious to everyone else my new action plan is: try to limit screen time, but don’t let him know that’s the aim.

Egg smash painting

posted in: Art, Gross motor skills | 0

egg smash pin


This is our number 1, all time favourite painting process! It’s great messy fun, and so easy to set up. All you need is egg shells, paint and paper.

The set up for this is a bit long winded, but really very little effort goes into it. You’ll need egg shells, as many as you want to smash, and for us that’s usually a lot. When you’re cooking try to break just the top of the eggs, leaving most of the shell intact. Give it a rinse otherwise they will stick together and break when you try to separate them. I find it’s easiest to store the empty shells back in the egg box until it’s painting day. When you’re ready to paint fill each shell with washable ready mix paint. With a bit of experimentation we’ve found that half full is a good balance.



Either let your little one choose which eggs to use or place them all out on the paper. I’ve been wondering whether we could start arranging them in a pattern to expand the activity a bit. Then get smashing! Use kitchen utensils or anything else you fancy to smash the shells. They make a satisfying sound and a great splash of colour. I don’t recommend letting the kids use bare hands or feet to smash – the shell fragments are sharp and might cut.


DSC_0042 (1)

DSC_0046 (1)


As I said, this is our favourite process, we do it every couple of months (whenever we’ve eaten through enough eggs!), but it almost didn’t work out the first time. I set it up and suggested R threw or poured the paint from the shells. It wasn’t until (and I should have known, really) that he realised he could smash them that he really got into it. Now we have a variety of things to smash with, his favourite being a ladle.

The effect is lovely and bright. Layering different coloured paint into the shells works really well, and there’s a surprise element when unexpected colours splash out.

A word of warning – it’s very messy! The paint sometimes travels much further than expected so make sure you have a good exclusion zone around your art space.





Happy smashing!


Seasonal spice play dough

spice play dough

Adding spice and seeds to dough makes for a wonderfully scented sensory activity. Here I used a basic play dough coloured with bright purple paint (see here for instructions if you want to make your own). Then added whatever spices I could find in the cupboard. We had sticks of lemongrass and cinnamon, fennel, caraway and black onion seeds, nutmegs, a variety of leaves, and best of all star anise. It smelt amazing! The purple of the dough was really beautiful against the green and yellow spices.




The scents gave an extra sensory element to the play and we spent a long time exploring the different spices, breaking them up and rubbing to make the smells stronger. Some of them we had a bit of a chew on (fennel seeds – yum!). We used the different pieces to make monsters and woodland creatures.


dough creature


And made furniture from the dough so that we could feed lego people a dinner of spices and tea.




Dough and the spice leaves are pretty handy for making nests that can then be filled with nutmeg dragon eggs, and of course anything vaguely long and pointing is always transformed into a sword.

It goes without saying that you need to be careful if you have little ones that are still putting everything in their mouths, especially if you use more pungent spices. Once you’ve finished playing, fasten the dough into a ziplock bag and it’ll be good for a few days. Enjoy!

dough bag

No screen day 1: cold turkey

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

On no screen day number 1 I gathered up our devices. Laptop, ipad, two e-readers that can access the internet and my phone on top like a cherry. That was just after breakfast. By 8.30am R had asked to watch something no fewer than 6 million times, or at least that’s how it felt. He’s never usually quite so persistent, he must have developed some sort ESP during the night.

I did find it hard not to just have a quick read of the news when one of them was asleep and the other was happily playing by himself. But, I realised, there’s news every hour on the radio so there’s really no need.

Other than that it was a pretty much ok day. And we got so much more playing done than usual. Real actual playing together where we’re interacting. We did some crafting. We read twice as many books as usual. Sure I was flagging by the time the husband got home from work, but we’d had a brilliant, fun filled day.

100% something will happen to derail us on day 2…

Knitted toy baby carrier



I’ve been carrying our little chunk around constantly for the past few months and sometimes the Monkey wants to get in on the action. For obvious reasons I can’t let a three year old carry around the newborn. So when I came across a knitting pattern for a toy sling I HAD to try. Even though my knitting skills are almost non-existent, and my previous projects have mostly ended in a pile of unpicked work and a lot of swearing. This pattern is relatively painless, even for a novice knitter like me. You can find the original on barefooties. Mine doesn’t look exactly like the ones on the blog because I…er…was following my creative urges (ok, I made a couple of mistakes, but it came right in the end).

Here’s what I did:
9mm needles
Two colours of yarn knitted together (a bargain at 3 for £1 from Poundland!)

Cast on 24st
Knit first 3 rows
Stockinette stitch until it measures about 7″

Right side Kfb1 *K1 M1* to last stitch Kfb1 to make 48 stitches
Purl first row then stockinette stitch for approx. 8″

Right side K2tog to decrease to 24 stitches
Purl first row
Stockinette stitch to required length
Bind off and use a darning needle to join the ends together

Now Monkey can carry around his bears/toys/cars and still be hands free. He loves it. Thankfully, because I think it might have pushed me over the edge if he didn’t!




Monkey and Mouse


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