Time for cooking with kids

Somehow, during school year we don’t have much time or imagination for cooking. It’s mostly cupcakes. This summer break we have done some more adventurous (for kids) cooking, and most of it was initiated by Mya. So far – she wanted to learn how to cook potato chips, two-colored shortbread biscuits, sugared rose petals and marshmallows.

I really like the break from cupcakes.

For Potato chips (it was late dinner and I didn’t take any pictures) – she independently peeled a potato with ceramic peeler and I showed her how dicer works. She was very exited about it and immediately peeled another potato to slice it into rings! We’ve put it in a zip-lock bag with a bit of oil and herbs and she really enjoyed shaking it before pouring the contents on the baking tray. She then helped by topping and tailing runner beans with her ceramic knife. Mya was very proud of making contribution to the dining table.

She saw a picture of sugared rose petals and wanted to make her own. We cut a couple of the prettiest roses from the garden, then I found a recipe that used syrup instead of raw egg and she enjoyed making it, but in my opinion it didn’t turn out well – the petals stuck to the baking paper and completely lost their shape. If anyone have a good recipe for that – please share.

When making two-tone shortbread I managed to squeeze some maths on measurements and fractions. Really loving this trio of books Kitchen Table Maths by Dr. Wright . Really good guide for teaching maths for someone like me who was never very good at it.

Today we made marshmallows (cheating and using a kit from Sainsbury). Surprisingly – it didn’t have any unusual or difficult ingredients, so we might attempt these again from scratch, and Mya suggested that next time we could experiment by putting some flowers or berries in it.

On the crafting front – Mya has asked me to make her a map-printed dress. I’m onto it. I think I have to research digital printing on fabric. It sounds like it might be cheaper than buying fabric with prints that interests me..



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The brightest dress she owns!

Mya picked out of my Craft box these polo shirts and stated that she would like a dress from all of them…


I have accepted the challenge.


I picked a Polo shirt with the smallest collar to use as my base for the dress. I planned to make the top out of it, then attach all the other bits to it – skirt, sleeves. I turned it inside-out and traced the outlines of my t-shirt template onto it (see my previous post on how to make easy template).


I cut it out but unfortunately the length of the top was finishing just where all the logo’s on the shirt were. The logos were embroidered so they wouldn’t have behaved well in a seam or with another applique over them – and I didn’t want any logo’s on the dress. So I cut the strip with the logos off on the front and back of the top, then traced the cut-off strip on the sleeves of the blue polo shirt and stitched it to the top of the dress – this is how it happened to be two coloured instead of one colour.

I wanted a long-sleeved dress, so I cut the sleeves of the orange shirt and used the whole length of it including the hem. Then I traced the rest of the sleeve on the blue polo shirt and stitched the blue bit of the sleeve to the seam of the orange sleeve on the inside using zig-zag seam on my machine.

I opened up the top of the dress and stitched the sleeves to it, then starting from the cuff of the sleeve pinned the sleeve and side together and stitched each side.

Then I measured the waist width and cut out a rectangle for underskirt from an orange Polo shirt – this is where all the ruffles would be attached. I had quite a few orange shirts – they were used for uniform, logos were cut-out, and fronts were heavily stained and unusable, but the backs were perfectly fine, so I used a few of these on this project.

To make ruffles a bit puffier I used 3 widths of a T-shirt for each colour. I used a straight stitch on my machine then gathered it by pulling one top side of the thread as I did here, but I divided the width in two and pulled from both sides to avoid putting too much stress on the thread, so it doesn’t break when gathering.

I then attached the first ruffle to the top of the skirt rectangle, and pinned the skirt to the top of the dress. I used zig-zag stitch to attach the skirt and also a straight stitch just to make sure. I was helping myself with a screwdriver to flatten the ruffles and move the material along because it was stalling sometimes and not moving along in the machine.

I wanted ruffles to gradually get longer so to each new tier I added 1cm in width. I then attached ruffles to the skirt to make sure that the top of each ruffle was about 1cm under the bottom of the top ruffle.AS you can see from the picture I was helping myself along with a screwdriver to flatten the material and help it move in the machine when doing ruffles, it was stalling a bit.

I only hemmed the ruffles with cars as it was not a knit so it was fraying at the bottom, the rest I left as they were – these knits don’t fray at all.

My daughter likes cars and trains a lot, so I bought a piece of fabric with cars which I used for the top ruffle. Then I found this nice applique of a camper van and I hand- stitched it to the top of the dress.

The dress was ready. One happy little girl wore it for a few days in a row after school!


Gooey Stretchy stuff

We went today to a Science Zone workshop Gooey Science today. Girls were reluctant to go (in a funny sort of mood, not sure why) but enjoyed it at the end. They did a few experiments there – girl’s favorite I think was Elephant’s toothpaste. There were a lot of ooohs and ahhs and general screeching, which always means success. At the end Mya excitedly told her dad “we were making foam from living creatures!!!” – I am not revealing any more, you have to go to their workshop!

Gooey science at Science Zone UK - little scientists at work

Gooey science at Science Zone UK

One of the experiments, however, reminded me something we made about a year ago, and I never actually published it on the blog, so here’s a copy of my old Facebook post.

We made this slime today.

We played with it for 2,5 hours! I had as much fun as Mya

This is really streeeeeeetchy And rolly and really glittery! Glitter galore!

We were watching how gravity was stretching it. We tried wrapping it round things

And were experimenting how long it will stretch before breaking off

This is what we made it from. I didn’t give it to the toddler she still puts things in her mouth.

Glittery slime supplies

Glittery slime supplies

We put it in a empty butter spread plastic tub and played with it on many occasions. It is still playable, 1 year after.

It doesn’t stick at all, the only thing that stays on the hands is glitter and it’s difficult to wash to washing liquid off the hands – they keep being “soapy”

The only fail with this is it smells a lot with washing liquid, I wouldn’t give it to a younger child due to it being made with washing liquid – prolonged contact might be not good for the skin. I chose to use Formil Non-Bio washing liquid as most of the recipes of that type call for Borax or Liquid starch, and none of them appear to be available in UK to general public nowadays, so it was interesting doing the recipe with Borax at Science Zone to see the difference. The one we made at Gooey Science today was more rubbery (some of it even bounced!), easily tear-able and less stretchy and was sticking to the hand much more initially, but still was lots of fun.

What is your slime recipe? Please share your pictures and links!


Toothpicks and packing peanuts

We spent a few minutes constructing from packing peanuts and toothpicks (supervise your child – they are quite sharp). I was hoping to give a little lesson in maths – you know, count vertices, edges and faces – have a go with building different polyhedrons, or try to get Mya to work out how many toothpicks/peanuts she needs to build something and to compare with our set of Geometric solids. I brushed up on my geometry knowledge here – Math is Fun


Packing peanuts and toothpicks

Packing peanuts – excellent building material

I was the only one who was thinking that way. Neva enjoyed breaking the packing peanuts apart and poking them with toothpicks (they make a great popping sound when poked or snapped), then asked me to build her a cow. Mya was building her own something which she refused to identify and wanted to pull apart the shapes that I’ve build for them.

Ah, well – all fun and games. Some other time maybe…

We’ve also made some rockets – expanding our knowledge on Space after visiting Science Museum in London yesterday. We visited exhibition Cosmonauts: Birth of the Space Age Mya was really captivated by a talk delivered by (alas) an actress, playing role of Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova – the first woman in space. So today when building her rocket Mya asked to give her few pieces of rope “to tether Belle, Rapunzel and Hello Kitty” characters because they needed to go on a Space Walk, and she didn’t want them to float away into space.

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Posted by on April 10, 2016 in Crafts, Maths, Uncategorized


Pajamas Science – Rainbow Jar

Most of the times I manage to do set up anything educational with my kids nowadays is happening either on holidays or weekends, and mostly in the mornings. When pajamas are still on and there’s no need to go anywhere fast.

Yesterday the day started slowly with lots of books and playing, then I remembered about a Density of Liquids Rainbow Jar experiment I wanted to do with girls. Found on Playdough to Plato

I couldn’t find some of the ingredients in UK (I think the blog is American), so I substituted them with what I could find. Some thing worked, some didn’t but at the end it turned out not so bad!

Here is what we used and how we started the experiment

I put out all of the supplies and scales and explained that we are going to do a little experiment and make a Rainbow Jar (I showed her the picture, so she was interested in the end result)

  1. A tall jar (I think ours was too big, choose taller and narrower one, so you don’t have to use too much materials.
  2. Honey
  3. Clarke’s Carob Fruit syrup (closest I could find to Corn Syrup)
  4. Fairy green washing up liquid
  5. Olive oil
  6. Water
  7. Absolute Vodka (closest I had to Rubbing alcohol)
  8. Food coloring
  9. A dropper


I gave Mya 2 jars with only a few marbles in one and full of marbles in the other and asked what she can tell me about them. She said that one had less marbles and other had more. We weighted them and came to conclusion that the one with more marbles was heavier.

I explained that everything is made from molecules – just like these marbles, but so tiny that you can’t see them. All our liquids that we are going to use are made of molecules too, and some of them have more molecules in them so they are heavier than the others, and the heaviest things will stay at the bottom.


We started with honey (no measures of how much of anything you should use – just enough to have a nice thick layer). Then we colored Carob syrup purple and poured that in – carefully, right in the middle. It was difficult for Mya not to pour it down the sides so I had to guide her hand (in pouring most of the liquids, as I didn’t want to spoil the  result of experiment and put her off the future ones). She wasn’t very happy with that. I don’t know why I didn’t think of using a funnel.. Duh!

Next – in went dishwasher liquid, followed by some water in colored blue. After water- we poured in some Olive oil and last went in Vodka colored in red. You’re not supposed to pour that one down the middle, but instead drop it down the sides with a dropper. Mya tried it first, but it was going everywhere, so I took this one over as well. This one didn’t go well – no matter how I tried – it went under the layer of oil and didn’t want to stay on top. My guess is – it wasn’t a good substitute for Rubbing alcohol, and was probably heavier than needed, or we weren’t careful enough pouring it in. Nonetheless – it turned out not so bad, and Mya has a basic understanding of molecules.

Be careful not to shake the jar – this will spoil the carefully arranged layers.

During the experiment Mya enjoyed mixing food coloring in and pouring liquids, Neva (2,3) enjoyed opening all the bottles, pouring marbles from one container into another, eating cheese and anything else I put on her plate for distraction and singing Rainbow song we made up. She wasn’t bothered by the rainbow jar. She wanted to drink Vodka…

I put the bottle back into the cupboard. I might need it for cleaning up courage….





Sunny spring day – and they are indoors!

We had a busy day today. It was bright and sunny, but for some reason – no one wanted to go outside today. Too busy doing other things.

There was a bit of playing with bubble dough made from dishwasher liquid and corn flour (if I remember it correctly it was from here Creative Playhouse Bubble Dough although ours was sticky and messy, more like Gak, but still soft and silky to the touch). I used red dishwasher liquid, which made the dough pink. We had this stored for ages – it’s still good. I do like food – safe slimes and goops, but these spoil very quickly and you have to store them in the fridge and most of them don’t last more than few weeks – this is when I remember that I still have them :-)So I just have to watch smaller person closely.

berry goop

Very Berry goop

Girls enjoyed playing with it: first tried to roll it with a rolling pin, then tried cookie cutters, all of which didn’t work, cutting with a knife was a success, then reptiles came to play with a random otter and a panda – they were leaving wonderful foot prints which we talked about and tried to make prints with other things. Meanwhile reptiles sunk in and we had a giggle trying to prise them out! Tidying after that was fun – a bit of water makes dough bubble, so everything was covered in soft fragrant foam. I think we’ll try this one next: Even better Bubble Dough

Then it was time for a bit of writing practice. Mya needs to work on her writing which is her weak point at the moment, and is unwilling to do any wipe-erase or other practise books I bought for her, not even this amazing one (Pencil Control, similar one here First Pencil Practice). So I have to be very creative with pencil control exersises and teaching the correct way of writing (she even rejects Colouring books!). Teacher from Mya’s school kindly printed and laminated some big cursive letters for her, so I layed them out for her to discover with a box of Wikki Stix – she couldn’t walk by!

Wikki Stix writing practice

Wikki Stix writing practice

As you can see though – she didn’t pactice for long (at least something, huh?) and started to create with them. For the smaller person I layed out shapes mats to trace (on the left) and she did a fairly reasonable triangle and a circle, then just started playing with stix. which was ok.

And some destruction of audio tapes (yes, I was holding on to them – just for this occasion) after an explanation about storage of music, files and videos and how it progressed over the years.

Then we made some muffins in Easter Shapes silicon mould, which I couldn’t get out of but they were still tasty (I cheated and used Madeira Cake mix)


Then I finally hearded everyone outside and we had a lovely afternoon climbing, sliding, trampolining, riding toys, making toys mucky, wahing toys and cloud-watching.

Hope your Easter break is going well.

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Posted by on April 2, 2016 in literacy and writing


Polo shirt dress

This long-sleeved Armani Dockers shirt was waiting for its hour for a while as well. I really liked the feel of fabric and its texture, the neck line and long sleeves.

I had to be a bit braver than with the previous dress because: a) the neck was too deep and wide; b) I wanted to make something on the front of the dress to bring out the fabric more and “spice it up” since there aren’t any other colours; c) It had some imperfections that I had to hide – i.e. – I had washed it with something not so colourfast and it left stains and d) the design of the bottom of the shirt was short at the front and longer at the back. You see how much I loved the fabric – I had to cut it up to bits.

I couldn’t trust myself to just trace the old shirt on it, so I traced the old Mya’s T-shirt on a piece of paper – body and sleeves separately. Then I cut the sleeves of the polo shirt off.

I cut the seams of the Polo’s shirt’s shoulders off – didn’t want to bother unpicking them. Then I put the paper template (without the neck) on the back of the polo shirt and close to the shoulder, traced it and cut it out, adding 1 cm for the seams.

The front was trickier – because I wanted to make the pin tucks and reduce the size of the neckline. So I didn’t put paper template directly against the shoulder of the shirt but lowered it a bit, making sure that when I connect the front and the back the neck trims will align. I then cut it off horizontally where I thought the bottom of the front will end.


For the sleeves I placed the paper cut out on the sleeve slightly at an angle to the fold of fabric as I needed a bit more material on the top to make pleats. Cuffs of my polo shirt sleeves were ruined so I placed my paper cut-out closer to the top – but if your cuffs are still ok – place the bottom of your paper cut-out to the edge of the cuff – it will save you making cuffs yourself. It would be best to measure the correct length of the sleeve on the child (place your sample T-shirt on your child and measure the length of the sleeve you want on it, then transfer on your paper template) as it would be difficult to adjust the length of the sleeve if you are keeping the cuff.


Then I looked up how to make pin tucks – it was easier than I thought (I have an excellent book I bought recently – “Sew it up” – it’s got answers to any sewing tricks) – you measure and draw vertical lines 1cm for the pin tuck 2 cm for the space between them. This shortens the width of the fabric, so I didn’t cut the front out at this point, just the bottom line – so I don’t have to drag remains of the polo shirt everywhere.

I pinned and sewed them up, then laid out the material and traced and cut out the front of the dress (make sure you keep the buttons on the placket closed at all times, and if you already cut them off – pin the two bits of placket together. I have to say – for some reason the pin tucks had affected the  length of the material as well (don’t ask, I’m not an expert) so I had to cut a bit off the back part of the dress to make front and back even length. Next time probably I should not cut the length of the front and just deal with leftover material. I added some yellow ribbon on the front from my craft box (probably saved from some present wrapping). I sew the back and front shoulders together.

I then hemmed the cuffs, pinned both sides of the sleeves to the front and back of the armpits and to the shoulder so I know how much material I have to work with and when start making pleats for the puffed sleeves. When I worked it out I pinned the pleats and the rest of the sleeve and sewed the sleeves to the top of the dress.

Then I sew the sleeves from the cuffs to the armpit and closed the side seams of the top of the dress.

I had to turn the material for the skirt on the wrong side – the good side had colour run stains on it. So I cut the side seams off and the bottom seams as well because of the shirt’s design, sew the seams back again on the good side and done up the hem (I tried to match the stitch of the original hem as it looked nice). I then pinned the sides of the skirt to the sides of the top and also marked with a pin the centre of the material on the front and back of the skirt – this way you know how much material you have to work with on each side. Then I folded some pleats and pinned them on the skirt and to the top. Then re-arranged directions of the pleats and size and amount of them few times to find the best look (turn the dress on the good side to see what it’s going to look like and re-arrange pleats if you don’t like them).

Then the top and skirt was sewn together, same way as in previous post. Make sure you go round twice so it doesn’t come apart easily.

I steam-ironed all the seams, added some buttons and made a decoration from some scrap ribbons.


When Mya was trying it on she spied a ribbon in my box that she liked and she asked for a belt from this ribbon, so I added the belt.

She was quite happy with the outcome, but I think it looks a bit big  – maybe because the template T-shirt was not a tight-fit. She’ll grow into it.

Girls’ doll has got an outfit out of that too.



If you are making one – I’d love to see your final pictures in the comments or email them to me and I’ll make a gallery.

Now that Mya has figured out how things work – she went to my bits and bobs box, pulled out these and requested a dress made from them. I’ll see what I can do🙂 Watch this space.


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