Thursday, April 30, 2009

Make Bubbles!

You can make your own bubble solution using things you have at home. We used dish soap, corn syrup, and water. You can always find lots of recipes on-line, but we had fun experimenting and coming up with our own proportions. If you prefer a recipe I will put one at the end of this posting.

Just mix a big squirt of soap with a bit of corn syrup (which makes strong bubbles,) and thin with a touch of water. We have some child's nail scissors in our was wonderful for blowing double bubbles.

What can you blow bubbles with? Does it have to be round? We used the top of a plastic soda bottle,

a canning lid ring,

a noise-making tube,

a copper wire Easter egg dipper,

the nail scissors,

and best of all, our fingers.

Now clean up the sticky mess with some warm water.

And save the leftover bubble solution for another sunny day.

Here is a recipe for a vat of bubble solution:

2 cups Joy dishwashing detergent
6 cups water
3/4 cups white Karo corn syrup.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Monkey Twins Don't Want a Nap

The house was noisy, very, very noisy. The Monkey Twins played all morning with some friends. They ran this way...

and that way.

They wrestled.

They got underfoot in the kitchen.

They begged for chestnut bars when the Acorn Scouts came by selling cookies.

Grandpa Bear was very tired after such a noisy morning.

"Time for a nap, Monkey Twins," he announced after lunch.

He tucked them in and kissed first this one....

and then that one.

As he started to leave the Monkey Twins jumped up and tried to get Grandpa Bear to stay.

"No, Monkey Twins, it is time to rest." He tucked them back in and turned to leave.

"Oh me, oh my," he sighed to himself as he bent to pick up a toy.

"I sure hope they stay in bed this time. I could use a nap myself."

When Grandpa Bear got downstairs to the sofa, he hesitated. The blankets looked awfully lumpy.

He gently sat down. Indeed they were lumpy, very lumpy.

"Hmmm," he said. "This sofa is very uncomfortable." He tried to smooth out the lumps. He heard a little bit of giggling.

"Yes, indeed," he said, "This is a terribly uncomfortable sofa!"

"Let me see if I can get rid of these lumps," he muttered. He heard some squealing and giggling.

Two little brown heads popped up.
"Ah-hah! No wonder this sofa is lumpy! It has Monkey Twins in it!"

Grandpa Bear hugged and kissed his naughty little Monkey Twins.
"Alright, Monkey Twins," he said gently. "It is time to settle down. I'll sing you a little lullaby."

He tucked the Monkey Twins under the covers and wrapped his arms around them.

"Shh, shh, shhhhhhh," he told them softly. They wiggled for a few minutes, but as he sang about all the pretty little horses, they started to calm down.

Soon, they were still. Everyone was breathing deeply.

The house was quiet, very, very quiet.

Copyright 2009 Elizabeth F. Curtin

To hear some beautiful lullabies, click the link for Renee and Jeremy's wonderful website for their CD "It's a Big World" in the column at right. My favorite lullaby to go with this story is "Powder Blue."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Scilla for Nicholas

Make a Mossy Felted Rock

The fairy girl and the sea captain are posing on a fence next to some mossy felted rocks. Here's how to make one. Start with some dyed wool roving. Many knit shops carry roving now for people doing needle felting, but you can also order roving online. Ashford, a New Zealand company, might be a good place to start. They make spinning wheels and looms and many colors of New Zealand dyed wool.

You also need some dish washing soap, and some water in bowls: we put out a bowl of hot water, (the children are going to put their hands in it, so it mustn't be too hot,) a bowl of cold water, and a bowl for filling the water rocket.

You also need some nice smooth rocks. We collected these on the beach.

The children are picking out the rock they want.

Pick the colors of roving you want. A mixture of greens is nice for a mossy rock. Tease the fibers apart a bit. That will help them to interlock with the other pieces of wool. Start to wind the wool around your rock in every direction until it is covered the way you want.

Now carefully put the covered rock in a piece of stocking, like this mother is doing,

and fasten it in tightly with a rubber band.

Time to wash them in the hot water! Use lots of soap and pretend you have been playing with mud pies all afternoon. Wash, wash, wash and scrub, scrub, scrub. Do this for a while.

As you wash and scrub, the fibers of wool will start to grab onto one another and make felt.

Rinse and scrub some more in cold water. A parent can give the felt a good "shock", which accelerates the felting, by running it under even hotter water in the sink, and then some cold water.

Now take the mossy rock out of the stocking. The fibers should be well stuck together. If some pieces are sticking up, that's okay, that's like real moss. But if you want it smoother, you can felt it more.

Your mossy rock probably still needs rinsing. Rinse and squeeze, rinse and squeeze in cold water. Change the water when it gets too soapy.

After they dry you can play with the mossy rocks and make a scene. Here is the sea captain and the fairy sitting on some mossy rocks having a chat.

If you like these tiny little people and want to make some yourself, read Sally Mavor's wonderful book, Felt Wee Folk.

Eat Your Weeds

Unless you live on a golf course, you probably have edible wild plants growing in your backyard. Here's how to make a salad from two of the plants which are easiest to identify. They are nutritious, and if you pick them right before you eat them, they are about as fresh as can be. If you have any doubt about the identification of a plant, don't eat it. And only eat plants which do not have any chemicals on them. Do not eat anything from a treated lawn.

This is violet. It smells nice and you can eat the flowers and leaves. We like to decorate spring cakes with the pretty flowers.

This is dandelion. The leaves are too bitter to eat once any shoots with buds or flowers have begun to grow. Dandelion has a strong taste grownups will probably like more than children will.

Rinse your leaves and flowers well. Dribble some virgin olive oil on top. Sprinkle salt and grind pepper to taste. Toss. Now add a bit of lemon, not too much. Lunch is ready!