Thursday, 25 May 2017

Liquorice Strap Stockist in Australia

If you are making a child's birthday cake that requires liquorice straps then I hope this post is of use to you. I've just been able to purchase Darrell Lea Liquorice Straps at Coles. You might need to visit a large Coles store for them though. When I was about to give up on finding liquorice straps, I thought about using black, ready-to-roll icing as an alternative. It would have worked well for my particular cake.

Hope your cake turns out splendid :-)

Darrell Lea Liquorice Straps are available from Coles




Tuesday, 13 December 2016

DIY Baby's First Christmas Ornament

Make your own Baby's First Christmas tree ornament with air drying clay
When my first child was born a few years ago, I went looking for a Baby's First Christmas ornament to hang on the tree but I couldn't seem to find one that wasn't cheap and nasty or just plain ugly.  So I decided to try and make one myself.

Some time earlier I had been excited to hear about air drying clay so when I stumbled across it one day while I was at Spotlight, I bought it.  I'd since forgotten what I was planning to make with it when I bought it, but this project seemed like a good use for it.  From memory it cost around $10 at Spotlight.  If your kids are into Mister Maker, I'm sure you will find lots of other uses for it as well as it is constantly being used on the show.  The brand I bought says it is non-toxic am always heartened to find when I know my kids will be using it.  I first opened the tub in 2014 and it is still in good condition 2 years later for me to make another one for my second child.

You can also paint the dried ornament - I decided to leave mine plain though as I really liked the natural look of the dried clay.  If you would like to try to make your own ornament then here is how to do it.

Equipment:
  • Air drying clay (try your local craft store - I purchased mine from Spotlight)
  • Rolling pin (or something similar like a round drinking glass) to roll the clay out nicely
  • Toothpicks
  • Plastic knife
  • Aluminium foil to protect your work surface and to prevent the ornament from sticking to the work surface
  • Yarn (or ribbon) for hanging the ornament

Equipment for making your own Baby's First Christmas ornament
Method:

  1. Roll out some air drying clay to a thickness of approximately 5mm on some aluminium foil.  There is no need to be worried about being too exact with the thickness, however, the thicker it is, the heavier it will be and the harder it will be to hang on the Christmas tree.
  2. Cut your desired shape out of the rolled out clay.  If you choose a circle you can use a mug or something as a template.  Other ideas for shapes are stars and bells.  Cut the shape out by pushing the knife into the clay every 1-2 cm.  You do not want to drag the knife as this will cause the clay to bunch up and ruin your smooth surface.
  3. Smooth over the top and side surfaces with your fingers.  You can wet your fingers a little bit to help do this if you wish.
  4. Use a toothpick to make a hole in the top of your ornament so it can be hung. See the picture below.
  5. Cut out Christmas tree ornament with hole for hanging ornament on the tree
  6. Personalize your ornament with a toothpick (for writing) and plastic knife (for patterns like dots from the serrated edge or straight impressions using the tip of the knife).  Do not drag as this will cause the clay to bunch up - press into the clay instead.  This is why I have formed the words with dots.
  7. Allow the ornament to dry - this will take around 2-3 days.
  8. When dry, peel off the aluminium foil and thread the yarn through the hole and make a loop to hang the ornament on the Christmas tree.
Decorated ornament - it takes 2-3 days to dry.


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Life Hack: Emergency Lint Remover

Sometimes you misplace the tool you need to do a job and so you put the job off.  But if that job requires a lint remover, it is often something that can't be easily put off such as cleaning pet hair off the clothes you are going to wear to work that day.

Emergency Lint Remover 
That's where this handy little idea for an emergency lint remover comes in.  I was inspired by the sticky washable lint removers and thought what else is sticky that could do the job.  Sticky tape of course!  Simply wrap sticky tape around your fingers a few times sticky side out and drag or dab your fingers over the fabric.  When the sticky tape looses its stick, cut it off your fingers and wrap some more around your fingers.

Emergency Lint Remover After Use
You will need to do it a few times to get through most jobs so it doesn't replace a real lint remover, but it is good enough to get you out of a bind.  How effective it is will also depend on the material - I found it didn't do a great job with interfacing as interfacing quickly makes the tape ineffective, but for  clothing like work pants it does a good job.




Sunday, 13 November 2016

Homemade Paper Mache Kid's Glue


Homemade Paper Mache Glue
My 2 yo has been super excited every time she sees paper mache so today we decided to try it. But with only a glue stick in the house, I had to make up some glue for the project. There are various recipes on the web but here is the one I used.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons of salt to preserve
Method:
  • Sift flour to help remove lumps
  • Add water and stir until smooth
  • Add salt and stir
  • Thin with water if desired
I just loved this glue!  We made a mess but because it is just flour and water it is REALLY easy to clean up.  The glue on my 2 yo's clothes dried up and flaked off. And glue spilt on the table cleaned up with water and a cloth.  As parents we are always time poor and the idea of making anything that we can buy fairly cheaply from the shops seems like a time consuming hassle.  But this is one thing that is really worth it for little kids. 

This glue won't be suitable for all projects but here is why you should consider it.
  1. It is non-toxic and made from cooking ingredients which is good if your kids like to put their fingers in their mouths or taste it.
  2. Your kids can help make it.
  3. It is super cheap to make.
  4. You probably have the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard right now.
  5. It is very quick to whip up and don't need to be made in advance of your project.
  6. It is very easy to make.
  7. It is very easy to clean up - its water soluble.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Why Trump will Fail


As the dust settles on the US presidential election we see the world transitioning to a wait and see approach with Donald Trump.  But Trump will fail to be the President that many hope for.  This is not a Republican vs. Democrat argument.  This is not a feminist argument.  This is not an argument for an experienced political leader.  This is not an argument for an inclusive President.  This is about our expectations of an ideal country leader and how we will only ever be disappointed when they are set so high.

The world has been transitioning from innocence.  We know that the people who should protect our children, sick, and elderly do despicable things to them.  We know that many people are only out for themselves and don't care who they hurt along the way.  We know and expect most politicians to be in it for the power and not for the betterment of the country.  And yet we expect greatness from the next country leader.  We have grown up and know that the world is not a nice place but we still hang on to our childish dreams of a leader to look up to.

Who was the last truly great world leader?  I can't think of one truly great one.  Often those considered good have flawed personal lives.  Often those who perform well in front of the camera are obnoxious to staff and colleagues behind the scenes.  Those that look promising seem to always fail to deliver when given a chance.

Obama is a recent example of a leader who the people had high hopes for but proved to be nothing spectacular.  But not all blame can be placed with the leader themselves.  They are part of a party and a system that forces them to act in certain ways.  Their plans need to go through the system and their party needs to approve of their plans.  Both the system and political parties regularly get in the way of change.  And if either of these put up too much resistance, it doesn't matter how good the leader is.  Unfortunately resistance is often only due to politicians trying to ensure themselves a political future.  These days this is achieved by leading by opinion poll which ensures that all politicians are carbon copies who change their mind with every opinion poll and stand for nothing.




So Trump will fail to be great  He will fail because he belongs to a party.  He will fail because he is in a system.  He will fail because too many people in that system are only there for themselves.  He will fail because politicians ultimately no longer stand for anything except the current opinion poll.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Blob Painting with Kids




My eldest is now 2 years old and our activities are now encompassing cooking, science and art.  I am constantly on the lookout for ideas and I'll be posting the good ones here.

Today was our first foray into paint.  Yes, very scary with a two year old, but this activity can be very controlled - well ... relatively speaking!

Activity: blob painting
Category: art
Age tested: young 2 yo
Verdict: great results and very easy

Equipment -

Paper for picture - printer paper works fine
Paint - non toxic and washable is best for younger kids
Plastic spoons - my paint comes in pots
Newspaper - to lay out completed paintings and for covering tables and putting spoons down on
Baby wipes - great for cleaning hands and little accidents before they turn into bigger accidents
Art smock



Method -

1. Fold paper in half and the open it again.
2. If your child is young, pour portions of paint into spoons. Older kids might be able to do this themselves.
3. Encourage child to put the paint on to one half of the paper.  Don't worry if they don't quite get it right or if there are any splashes as this is a very forgiving painting - mistakes won't be noticeable and will probably look like they were intended!
4. Repeat 2 and 3 for as many colours as you like
5. Fold paper in half again
6. Smooth paper with fingers
7. Open up and enjoy the results!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Book Review: What to Expect When You're Expecting: Heidi Murkoff & Sharon Mazel

What to Expect When You're Expecting  Book Cover - Australian & NZ Edition
What to Expect When You're Expecting Book Cover - Australian & NZ Edition
Who hasn't heard of this book??!!  Surely no one!  But is it any good?  Read on to find out what I thought of this book.

Prior to reading this book, I read the prequel - What to Expect Before You're Expecting.  I've also put up a review of What to Expect Before You're Expecting if you are interested.  One of the criticisms I had of that prequel is how it is a bit over the top with the cutesy just-wait-till-that-bundle-o-joy-is-in-your-arms-and-you-are-complete language.  But I am glad to say that while it is still present it this book, it isn't a problem.  I suspect this is because there is so much to cover in this book that they don't have the room for it. With the prequel it felt like they were using it to pad the book out a bit.  So it is well worth considering this book even if the prequel wasn't to your taste due to the cutesy embellishments.

There is also a bit of overlap between the two books - clearly they are attempting to cater for the "surprised" audience who never got the chance to read the prequel!  However I still do think the prequel has enough in it to justify reading it.  But it is a shame that they don't combine the two books together into one slick, all inclusive reference book - but perhaps that isn't so profitable!  So I found myself skipping over some of the earlier repeated content.  When I read this book I was pregnant and needed to get up to speed on the relevant chapters ASAP thank-you very much!

This book is designed to be a reference book for all - so there will be sections that just don't apply to your - for instance multiple births when you are only expecting one.  When I read the prequel I had all the time in the world and I was truly interested to know just what women with/who <insert disease/lifestyle> could expect to have happen.  But with pregnancy / labor / child-rearing ahead of me for the very first time I preferred to only focus on the relevant topics and skipped the irrelevant sections.  And it is here that I have to add a criticism of the book.  The book tries to be a reference book AND hold your hand as you go along. So it gives you a month-by-month breakdown of what to expect and adds a few extra topics it deems you may now want to know about at the end of each month.  But by doing so it puts reference material in hard to find places for you to read at the time it deems you should read them - which doesn't necessarily match up to your information needs.

The book covers labor in a very matter-of-fact style.  I came away from it feeling like I was still quite unsure about what I may want to do even though I knew what would happen in a labor.  For instance I had read about pain-management options - but was really no clearer on what I might like to use.  I also felt like there was a whole world around my mental state (e.g. Hipnobirthing) and birth positions that could perhaps help with my labor but again I didn't gain much information apart from the basics from this book.  I ended up having to look elsewhere for these topics to be covered.

I have since read some other books and have found that this book offers a very middle of the road opinion that is probably designed not to offend anyone - a good financial move perhaps?  For instance it will say that breast-feeding is best - but that formula feeding is very okay too.  Other books will tell you that breast-feeding is the absolutely best thing you can do and that formula feeding can never hope to be as good. What to Expect When You're Expecting goes to great lengths to ensure what it says wouldn't possibly offend anyone when other books aren't ashamed to put forward their point of view.

I purchased my copy of the book from iTunes.  By doing it through iTunes I was given the Australian and NZ edition because iTunes is smart enough to know I need the local edition - which was great because I ordered the prequel through The Book Depository and ended up with an American edition.  These books contain lots of references to local bodies to contact for more information / help so it really is a disadvantage to not be reading the one intended for your country.  So if you are purchasing online - do try to make sure you get an edition relevant for your country if it exists!  I assume if you are purchasing it from a physical bookstore they only stock the local edition if it exists.

Unfortunately there is a bit of an issue with the references in my iTunes copy - which is really bad for a reference book!  The page numbers in the index don't match up - if you try to look up any of the page numbers listed, you will be taken to a random spot in the book.  Perhaps this is just a fault with the iTunes version or just the Australian & NZ edition of this book?  Either way it is disappointing for something that cost ~$20.  You can still do a search for words in the book and find the matching pages - but it isn't anywhere near as convenient.  Also, these references are not links - you have to look them up by hand. And when there is a reference to another section only the title of the section is included - there is no link to follow. Perhaps consider the paper version if you want a book you can come back to reference after you have read it cover-to-cover.

All in all it is a pretty good book that covers a lot of ground to settle down the expectant mother with information.  It is not an exhaustive reference - should your health care provider tell you that you have an elevated / lowered level showing in XYZ pathology test then chances are you will be running to the internet to find out more.  But it is still a worthwhile read.  I give it 7/10 .. if you buy the paperback version!
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