Frozen-themed play dough [Sensory play]

Elsa and ElsaLike every other Mama, Elsa and Anna are honorary members of my brood. It’s tailed off a bit in recent weeks. I believe I’ve actually gone a whole 7 days straight without watching the movie or listening to the sound track. But the power of the icy pair remains strong. MoonMunkie loves it all and totally wants to be Elsa. She sings the songs and dances beautifully, dramatically throwing an imaginary crown at the appropriate point in the song.  MamaMunkie and MisterMunkie both prefer Anna – she more sensible, girl-next-door and much less neurotic-snow-strumpet than Elsa.

MiniMunkie wants to be MoonMunkie. That’s it. She just wants to be her big sister. She trails around after her, wearing a tiny blue costume and singing “…’et it gooooooo…” It’s so adorable I could eat her with a spoon. She thinks the movie is called ” ‘nowman” and that Elsa is called Anna. We don’t correct her. She’s so happy with it all and it’s of no real consequence. Watching her twirl and sing is one of the pleasures of my life.

Of course, this fandom spills over into our other activities and this week we wanted to make play dough. So Frozen play dough was the order of the day. I took our basic play dough recipe and added silver glitter, blue and green food colouring to get that perfect “Frozen blue” and a dose of American peppermint flavouring to give it a scented element too. It looked and smelled heavenly and my Munkies played with it for about 3 hours. Next door’s little Munkie also popped in to play and was so overjoyed with it that we just had to give her some to take home.

There are a bazillion-trillion recipes out there for play dough. Cook, don’t cook, edible, scented, you name it, there’s a recipe. And this is ours. The basic dough is based on a 500g bag of flour and makes enough for 4 children to have a great big lump each. This recipe doubles and triples very easily. I don’t have  bowl big enough to test beyond that!

Ingredients for basic play dough

500g plain flour

1 tbs cream of tartar

1 tbs of oil

4 drops of glycerine

200g salt

hot water to bind.

Method

  1. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. If you have dry additions to add, this is the place to do it. We’ve tried all sorts of things in the past: tiny silver stars, sequins, glitter, seeds, dried lavender and sand all give different textures and characteristics.
  3. Add the oil, glycerine and a little hot water,  and mix.
  4. If you want to add colours or flavours now is the time. We’ve used natural oils like peppermint and lavender; food flavourings such as lemon, American peppermint, liquorice; and we’ve also added cocoa and coffee to the hot water in order to flavour the dough
  5. Continue to add hot water until the dough comes together.
  6. Knead on a floured counter top for 10 minutes until the dough comes together and is elastic and shiny.

20150926_110146240_iOSThe dough keeps in the fridge for a long time. It’s not edible, but a taste will not do anyone any harm. Leaving it out in the sun will dry it out – it becomes hard like
salt-dough if you leave it to dry for long enough.

MoonMunkie made herself a shrew. She’s been very interested in shrews since we found a dead one on our patio. MiniMunkie’s cat brought it to us as a gift, we think. The cat isn’t really MiniMunkie’s. But she desperately wants a cat and then big big tortoiseshell started to visit and it was as if her wish had been  granted. Ours too – a cat that visits daily, but we don’t have to feed it, clean up after it or worry about it when we’re not here. Perfect cat!

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Mermaid Bay [Sensory Play]

Mermaid Bay This summer was all about the mermaids here at Munkie Towers. My dear friend and her husband returned to live in town after being away for several years. In the meantime we had both managed to produce 2 small girls each, of surprisingly similar ages and temperaments. Her little ones were crackers for mermaids and so, Munkie-See-Munkie-Do (as the saying doesn’t quite go…) my little ones were crackers for mermaids too.

But we didn’t have any. And MamaMunkie was reluctant to spring for new dollies until we were sure this was a phase that was here to stay. Also, we have dollies. Our dollies have dollies. We are not short on dollies.

Instead, we converted some of our pocket-money dollies (£1 from Tesco) into mermaids with the cunning use of silver foil.

It actually worked quite well. By wrapping the foil around the dollies’ legs tinfoil tailsand then scrunching it tightly to the ankle, a pretty convincing tail was made. I then trimmed the fin shape with scissors below the feet, and voila – tinfoil tails.

The addition of some play sand, seashells collected at the beach, some slates that our turtles are no longer needing in their tank and some water that we dyed with blue food gel an a very nice sensory bin was complete. I also tossed in some Jelly Sea Life Creatures that I’d been dying to try out. They’re made from the same compound as water beads and grown to 8x their original size in water.

It was brilliant. MiniMunkie was entranced. The mermaids dived and swam and rode the turtles. The sand mixed into their hair and muddied up the water. The sensory bin looked like a scene from CSI Atlantis. In the future I’m going to exchange the sand and water for blue Water Crystals . I think it will be less of a disturbing clean up!

Time for Tea [Sensory Play Idea]

At the beginning of the summer I tidied out all of the kitchen cupboards and disposed of all the extraneous items that I’d gathered over the 5 years we’ve been here. I’ve been trying to destash the entire house, but it’s taking years. Literally. I’m a hoarder and so it’s hard and emotional work. But I digress.

The kitchen is now as near to perfect as a working, home kitchen is ever going to be. Which is to say that I’m going to have to find another way to bump off MrMunkie, because things no longer fall out of cupboards as we open them.  However, my enthusiasm for the clear-out waned when it came to the tea and coffee  cupboard. I opened it, quailed in  fear and then closed it again. But tonight I found the courage and attacked it with vigour. The outcome was as I expected: 3 click-its of out of date sweetner; 2 half used jars of decaff coffee; 3 boxes of flavoured tea with 2 teabags left in each; a packet of loose tea that went past its BBE in 2013.

20150830_150957624_iOSAfter sorting and re-stacking the shelves, I was left with about a dozen tea bags that were unsuitable for human consumption, along with a packet of breakfast tea leaves and about 2 tablespoons of my favourite  Jasmine Pearl Tea that was stale and sad. The smell in the kitchen was heavenly though and it gave me an idea for a sensory activity for MiniMunkie.  She’s all about the “hot tea” at the moment. This is the way she distinguishes between teatime and a cuppa. “Hot tea” has been inspired by her Godmother and her children who sit together and drink tea a couple of times each day. MiniMunkie is very taken with the whole activity20150831_174236766_iOS. When she’s not drinking tea for real she’s making pretend cups – in the gorgeous Cath Kidston tea set, given to her by the same friends.
So waiting for her when she wakes up is an invitation for tea. The sensory bin contains the loose leaf tea and also the few left over jasmin pearls. There are some boxes with a couple of tea bags in each. Her tea set is ready and there’s a little “cafe” waiting too, so that MoonMunkie can join in if she likes. I don’t advocate going out to buy these things for play  – good tea is expensive and not to be wasted! But this lot was going in the bin anyway.20150831_174250416_iOS

I’m pretty sure she’s going to love it, because she’s so keen on tea right now. But watch this space and I’ll let you know.

More sensory activities coming soon!

 

In the faraway land of Once Upon A Time, they all lived happily ever after.

Moon Munkie has been living up to her pseudonym. Sleepless nights when she just wants to be close to Mama Munkie. And stories. She wants me to tell stories. At 3.30am, I don’t want to put on the light and find a book to read.  Lying in the dark, with my eyes closed and my Moon Munkie cuddling close I begin, “Once upon a time in a faraway land there was a princess;  there was a castle; there was a wicked queen;  there were three bears, three little pigs and a big bad wolf; there were two small children; there was a little Munkie who didn’t want to go to sleep.”

It’s awoken my inner Anderson. I want to help Moon Munkie make her own stories. So I’ve been creating the cast of “Once Upon a Time”. And here they are in the  shade of the carrot bed. So far we have the King and Queen of Once Upon a Time, 2 princes and 4 princesses. Given Moon Munkie’s fascination with the Frog Prince story, I also made a frog and a lily pond. We found a little yellow pom-pom (or “ponpon” as Munkie calls them) to be the golden ball. She told the story to Daddy Munkie after tea, using the new dolls. Then we set to making a tower for the princess from building blocks, but got distracted because Munkie thought they each needed a throne. The frog had to have one too. A green one.

If you want to make peg dolls of your own, I can recommend Lil Blue Boo and her wonderful tutorial. I didn’t follow it very closely because I wanted more than princesses, but I was grateful for help with the hairstyles. And the King of Once Upon a Time looks suspiciously like Burt Reynolds, does he not

I’m just going to go and make 20 eiderdowns and 20 mattresses so we can play the Princess and the Pea tomorrow. I’ll probably scale it down to just 5 of each. And after that I’m thinking maybe Snow White and then Cinderella. Dwarves and Fairy Godmothers could be quite good fun to make. I hope that after some time Moon Munkie will start to inter-mix the characters from different stories to make her own. I hope they all live Happily Ever After!

Strumpet Barbie

A friend bought Moon Munkie a Barbie-esque dolly back from her holidays. I feel ambiguous about these toys. On the one hand pretty dollies are a mainstay of childhood. They encourage imaginative play; life skills like hair brushing, face washing and getting dressed; they assist with development of fine motor skills as tiny fingers learn to dress and undress, do up and undo; and generally they make little ones happy. One the other hand, they seem to promote a type of beauty that is unachievable for most women; reinforce an unhealthy focus on appearance, hair, clothes and weight; and I feel that they encourage a materialistic and consumer-orientated approach to life too.

So here’s my dilemma. As a kid I wanted a Sindy so badly. I asked for one for months. My Mum eventually capitulated. I was so excited as I opened my Christmas present, knowing there would be a dolly in it for me.
And there was. A freckled Sindy with long chestnut hair. And a trench coat… A long, toad-green, trench coat.

Here’s a cracking photo of me, having just opened it, before I got my “polite face” on, holding the dolly with an expression that clearly says, “What the Dickens is that? ” Of course, in my 4 year old naivety, I hadn’t specified that I wanted a dolly with a pretty dress, it just seemed obvious.

[Edit: Having re read this, I’m concerned that I sound like I’m whingeing. Really, I’m not. With hindsight my Mum probably had similar ambivalence towards the pointy-plastic-breasted ones as I have now. My life was not ruined. I am not emotionally scarred! I learned to sew in order to make new clothes for her. It’s just a funny story.]


That’s part one of the dilemma. I wanted one, so badly that I don’t want to say no out of hand. Part two is that Moon Munkie fell instantly in love with what I’ve come to call Strumpet Barbie. Of course she did. She’s a dolly with blonde hair to her knees and a “pretty” [read: slutty] gold and red dress. With gold metallic decoration. What’s not to love when you’re 2 and a half?
Anyway, I’ve decided not to make too much of a fuss for now.  Trollop Barbie can stay, although I’ve made her a new princess dress which is altogether more demure and  pleasing. I got a lovely and very easy tutorial from Miss B Couture. Given that I think she’s writing in her second language, this tutorial was easy to follow and easy to adjust to a slightly different doll. Also, I wanted it to be a long dress right to the floor.

It was a quick make, just a couple of hours. The top fabric was sheer and hard to work with. I was toying with making Moon Munkie the same costume. But I don’t  know if I physically could. I’m not good with slippy fabrics.

And that should be the end of the story. But after I’d taken the photos for this post, I presented Princess Barbie to Moon Munkie, full of motherly pride and creative joy at having made something so lovely for her. She gave me a look reminiscent of trench coats and said, “I want red one.”

*sigh*

Streetwalker Barbie is back.

Nappies for Baby dolly

 

Today Moon Munkie was playing with Baby. She wanted to change her nappy but the disposables I have were WAY too big for the 14″ dolly. She was having the best time, but the big girl nappies were less than satisfactory. When it was time for Moon Munkie to go to bed, we convinced her that Baby needed to stay downstairs tonight. And I spent a pleasurable hour stitching up 3 little reusables. They are so sweet and I managed to design the pattern, cut, stitch and finish off in about an hour and a half. So if your little one’s little one needs a clean bott, as we say in the Munkie Household, then grab the Reusable nappies for baby dollies template and photo tutorial.

This is my first photo tutorial, so I’d be really grateful to hear what you think. If it’s not useful, how could I do better? If you decide to try, don’t forget to send me a picture and let me know how you get on!

Cutie cupcakes

Moon Munkie loves baking, but there are days when there’s no time, it’s not practical or when further sugar consumption is A Very Bad Idea. Hey presto, felt fairy cakes were formed. I have had no end of people ask for some. They’re so quick and easy to make: from cutting the felt to completed cupcake is less than an hour. And here’s how:

You’ll need :

  • a piece of mid brown felt for the cake (1 A4 sheet made 5 cakes)
  • a piece of pastel felt for the icing (I used pink and white)
  • handful of polyester stuffing
  • corresponding thread
  • a needle
  • cupcake pattern

Instructions:

  1. Use the templates to cut the cake top, bottom and sides from the mid-brown felt.
  2. Use a blanket stitch to attach the bottom od the cake to the shorter edge of the cake side. Just ease the cake side around as you stitch. Felt is very forgiving. It stretches a bit and you can trim it at the end if the edges overlap. You should end up with a cup shape.
  3. Stitch the edges of the cake side together on the inside of the cup, again using blanket stitch.
  4. Now attach the cake top to the top of the cup, again with blanket stitch. Remember to leave a little gap to put the stuffing in.
  5. Fill up the cake with polyester stuffing. It should be firm, but not hard.
  6. Stitch up the hole. Cup cake is finished. Now to ice!
  7. Use the templates to draw and cut out the icing top and the icing swirl from the pastel felt.
  8. Using blanket stitch, attach the icing top to the centre of the top of the cake.
  9. Do a loose running stitch along one long edge of the swirly icing strip. Oversew a few times at the beginning so that the thread won’t pull out.
  10. Slowly pull the thread from the end which is not fastened. Shuffle the felt down the thread until it begins to ripple and then curl around on itself. You need to decide how swirly you want the icing to be.
  11. Curl the icing swirl around on itself and stitch through the centre of the swirl a few times to hold it in shape.
  12. Attach the swirl to the top of the icing circle, I used blind stitch but you could just do it like you’re sewing on a button.
  13. Ta da.

I bought a set of 6 silicon muffin cases and a 6 hole yorkshire pudding tray for £1 each from Poundland. Moon Munkie loves serving them up to us with a cup of tea. And as she would say, “Be careful. Hot.”

Play kitchen

Last Christmas I fell in love with this toy kitchen. I ummed and ahhhed about getting it for my Munkie, but it was £60 which felt  too extravagant for a 1 year old. Also, it’s less than half a metre tall, meaning that by the time she’s 5 or 6 it will be too little to play with properly. But the image of the pretty blue oven with the red gingham oven gloves continued to creep into my daydreams until I couldn’t resist any longer: I either needed to buy the oven or create a substitute.  

Searching the internet for tutorials, I found no shortage of build your own toy kitchen instructions. But none really matched my rookie woodworking skill level. Then suddenly it came to me. Upcycling. My favourite way to make. It’s cheap and sustainable and gives you a warm glow when you’re done.  A quick google revealed all manner of possibilities, from an entertainment centre (too big), to a stool  (too small),  to a bedside cabinet (just right).  Seriously, there are a lot of talented Mummies and Daddies out there in Internet Land.  Mr Munkie selflessly donated his bedside cabinet to the cause and we were all set to go.

Except I had no tools. Or experience. Or any ideas of how to begin. So a few months of heavy pondering were in order. In the meantime Granddad Munkie had blessed me with a powerdrill as a birthday gift. Armed with this and girlie thoughts of pretty pastel kitchens I headed off to B&Q for a sheet of MDF.  (Have I mentioned before how much I like the people in this place?  I’m a novice DIYer. I have grand ideas and no abilities. They never fail to support me whilst gently suggesting more reasonable ways to achieve the effect I’m looking for.)

A woodworking friend cut the straight edges on his table saw. And he used a router to inset a piece of perspex in the over door. I sprayed with aerosol paint. I attached all the bits together with little white plastic doo-dahs which I now know are referred to as “modesty blocks”. I went to town with the hot glue gun. And whipped up some accessories from the red gingham I loved so much. A few felt cupcakes later and my Moon Munkie was overjoyed to receive Mama Munkie’s version of the Honeybake on her 2nd birthday. Seriously fun to make and seriously fun to play with. I find myself “tidying” it while she’s sleeping.

FREE to a good home – sad sock monkey baby.

Can anyone rehome this sad little baby? He was made on request for a friend who wanted a brown and orange stripey monkey. Sadly the only socks I could find in brown and orange were rather cheap and unravelled faster than I could sew them. So he’s got a few seams in places where seams should not be. He’s not  well made enough to go for sale, but he’s too cute to just go in the bin. If anyone would like him, he’s available for free. Probably better if he’s allowed to sit quietly somewhere without too much playing. Poor little baby monkey. I hope someone can help him out. Comment on the MoonMunkie facebook page if you’re interested.