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Loo Roll Zoo – guest poster in the hoouuussse!

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Oof, have I got a TREAT for you lot. I’ve gone and got a Guest Poster, ain’t I?! Maggy is the Empress of Kids Crafts and is one of the five of us who have made it to the finals in the craft category of the MAD awards. I love how completely involved her kids are in the crafty shenanigans and how they often involve plunging through the recycling bin. Here she is with some feral loo rolls- WOOT WOOT!

I am so pleased to be visiting here over at Lulastic AND to have the honour of being the very first Guest Poster! How very exciting!!! My name is Maggy and I am a mum of two (Red Ted – 4yrs and Pip Squeak – 2.5yrs) and I write over at Red Ted Art where I do a lot of classic kids crafts, but also love to do recycled crafts. I am very passionate about recycling – mainly because I hate waste (and the huge landfill problems we are creating), but also because I feel things always still have a value. Plus I love being thrifty! And it is amazing what you can turn something old into!! (I particularly like my jeans recycling craft – making a brand new skirt out of an old pair of jeans – go me!).

When crafting with kids, recycling becomes particularly important – a) because they go through so much materials but b) because I feel I have a responsibility to them to teach them about recycling and re-valuing.

So today I would love to share our Loo Roll Zoo! We LOVED making it and we LOVED playing with it!

We also love combining our crafts with a book…. So… this one was totally inspired by:

Who is Hiding, by Satoru Onishi. I bought this book ages ago for Red Ted, who was less interested in it. Maybe it is an age thing,  I don’t know? Pip Squeak (coming up to 20mths at the time) adored it and had for quite some time. The books is simple: each double spread page has 24 animals depicted (you can see 12 on the cover). They are drawn in a simple colourful style. As you turn the pages, the background changes in colour – e.g. blue, so that in that case the bunny and pig “disappear” as their body colour blends into the background colour (see cover, they are blue) and the child is asked “who is hiding?”… To mix it up a little, there is also a “Who is sleeping?” and a “Who is crying?” page etc. And the page that mine like best:  “Who is backward?” For some reason, in our house this translates into “Who is showing us their bottom?”… and Pip Squeak loves tapping her bottom and saying “Po-Po” (in German). Very sweet, simple book with appeal to “design geeks”.

On to our craft.

It dawned on my one day (as we were reading the book AGAIN), that some of the animals were perfect “loo roll shapes”. Trim a bit at top and bottom for ears and legs and hey presto….

Materials: empty toilet paper rolls, paint (I confess to liking acrylics, as they don’t crumble, but you could varnish your finished animal), bits of felt or card, glue , black pen for features and very favourite googly eyes (optional) (check out our Handprint Alphabet to see all our googly eye fun!)

The kids painted

 Pip Squeak loves painting so much she kept signing “more”… “more more more paint”.

Once dried, I cut out some ears and some feet. Red Ted helped me stick on googly eyes and other features. E.g. for the lion’s mane, we cut a circular piece of felt with squiggly edges and cut a whole in the centre… For the elephant and rabbit we had painted an extra blue loo roll to cut ears from. The rabbit’s ears we glue on the elephant’s ear’s we “slotted” into “slats” we cut. And for example the cat’s ears are part of the original roll – I just cut the roll “down” – leaving two triangles. And don’t forget the bottoms (Po-Po)…

Now you have your own Zoo! Start playing!

I do hope you enjoyed our craft. We have PLENTY more TP Roll Crafts over at Red Ted Art, so do stop by if you ever need more inspiration!!

Thank you for having us.

Maggy, Red Ted & Pip Squeak!

PS- Alright, ‘sLucy here again. Isn’t Maggy awesome? Inspired by the above craft I whipped up a wee duck for Ramona (she is obsessed – remember that crazy ole duck hat I made her?) Unfortunately she is mostly concerned with picking off his eyes/beak/wings so he is now just being ornamental and she doesn’t get to do the playing bit.  (Whaaat?? That’s what she gets for being a rascally picker.)  Here she is doing some picking, wearing her little duck dress.


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Vintage Toys and a mother’s second hand strategy

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As soon as Ramona and I enter a charity shop or a jumble sale I zoom straight to the kids section and pick out the nicest (by nicest I mean oldest/ most wooden/ cheapest) toy or coolest kids book and place it into her hands with an excited exclamation of “LOOK- this is just the ticket!!”  I then move straight away from the kids section, out of danger territory. It may seem a bit mean, or a bit against my “child-as-unique-independant-person” philosophy but I simply CAN’T take home another giant, ugly, fluffy toy circa 1998- and this IS the thing she will choose if left to her own devices.

It is something we have to face, as parents. Kids toys ain’t often pretty – or perhaps often too pretty; pink, beribboned, cuddly. They can take up a lot of space and ruin the aesthetics of a room. I’m sure many of you don’t care, and I wish I didn’t.

But I do. I just dooooo.

Fortunately, the world of second hand provides a mountain of eyeball pleasing kids options. I am always on the look out for retro looking, vintage play things and have found some gorgeous numbers that Ramona loves too.

We have one area where the ugly (by ugly, I really only mean new. Why are new things so damn ugly?) things live, in an ancient deep drawer hidden to the side of the sofa.  And I have just recently launched an Exhibition of Old Children’s Things, on quite a prominent shelf, that all three of us enjoy looking at.

Apart from the Ukeleles, which were gifts,  all of these are second hand. I picked the abacus and clock up from a charity shop in Blackheath a couple of weeks ago for One Squid and found these little playmobil bike riders on that Legendary Farham visit. Eeek, I just love ’em.

I always keep my eyes peeled for little music instruments so that when Ramona’s chums come over we can all have a bash and a sing. We have an immense Salvation Army heritage- all my 3 generations on both sides, my parents, Aunties and Uncles are all ministers in the Barmy Army and Ramona does them proud as she tinkers with this “timbrel” (tambourine) I got for 50p last week at a Bootie.

She is singing “Wind the bobbin up” -which mostly just involves her saying “Pull, Pull” over and over and over. It is her favourite song, she bursts out in it approximately six times an hour but it also sounds a lot like her sound for “Poo” which results is us spending lots of time each day on unnecessary but tuneful potty visits.

And finally, just a couple of weeks ago at my local car boot in East Dulwich I found this pretty ancient skipping rope with a couple of scary mushroom guys for handles.

PS little while ago I posted about some other vintage toys and included some secondhand toy pillaging tips – have a broose. (That’s Scottish for browse.)

PPS Have you found any thing retro for your kids recently?

PPPS I am linking up with the magical Magpie Monday over on Liz’s blog – if you get a chance do go and have a squizz at all their wonderous second hand goodies.

PPPPS Have you noticed my new header? Can you tell me why it is blurry, the blithering, bladdy, blurry &a*t%r&!

PPPPPS If you enjoy reading this old blogaglog of mine, have you had a moment to put me up for a MAD blog award? There are loads of catergories but you could especially vote for me in the “Most Over-Vintaged Up Photo Editing ever” or “Most amount of Made Up Words In a Post In The World”.  No, seriously, I reckon Home/ Thrift/ Craft catergories are possible themes of mine? Muchos Gracias.

Vintage handmade cards – cowboys, swallows and deers

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When I was nine I sent an anonymous card to a girl in my class that I didn’t like much.  It said “You and your family smell like egg.” Obviously I failed at the disguise-your-handwriting bit and they totally busted me and I had to miss Neighbours while I wrote her an apology letter.

My cards don’t tend to be so cruel these days. They are mostly non existent, which is a bit better, but still rubbish. If I am going to see someone on their birthday then they are lucky and get a nice hand crafted number. But out of sight, out of mind- well, in mind, but not in envelopes or hands which is really more important. This is a problem as half my family live in New Zealand so they are never in sight. However, this is the Year of Change and I have pledged to send a little summin’ on people’s special days.

To make this Actually Happen, and in most thrifty of ways, in a spare half an hour yesterday I cut up some of my vintage Twinkle kids books, placed the images onto some ancient sewing pattern (this is the BEST craft resource – if you don’t already have some sewing patterns, do pick some up in a charity shop for 20p. Great for all sorts) and sewed it onto card.

Well simple but the graphics are cute and retro enough to work mostly by themselves, I reckon. And the old sewing paper just adds an abstract element- those random lines and letters and numbers, and texture. As for the sewing, I only really do this because my sewing machine is so big I can’t lose it where as keeping track of Pritt stick is beyond me.

Cutie little deer, a bit twee, but wouldn’t you like him as a pet?

Love soldiers, hate war.

Got a thing for cowboys? ME TOO!! Check out my Cowboy and Indian jars.

Swallows make my heart sing. Nice poem too- but did you know they had Twitter in 1974? NEITHS!

Needless to say Ramona is in LOVE with this duck card.

Ah, retro adventures.

Got any good quick, thrifty card making tricks?

If you like the look of these kids book graphics – have a squizz at the other things I whipped up with them.

PS If you get any of these cards sent to you anonymously saying you smell like egg IT WASN’T ME.

Old Soldiers and things in jars – a few thrifty toys

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THRIFTY! Den, den, deeeh, de den den dehhh!  (To the tune of “FOXY!” as sung by Wayne and Garth)

It is due to a mixture of cheapskateness and environmental consciousness that I have yet to buy Ramona a single new toy. She does have some new things, bought for her by loving friends and family, but only a handful. All the rest have come from charity shops, around the home and the side of the road. When I see the jawdropping cost of toys in real shops I am not surprised that the average spend on a kid in their first year of life is £9000. When you really needn’t spend a penny.

The BEST kind of toy for me is one that she, er, likes (such a loving mother) but also one that is nice to look at. Give me wood and old over plastic any day. (I know, I know it’s not about me.)

We have found some absolutely beaut things over the last few months and fortunately these are also some of Ramona’s favourite toys. I think she loves the pure simplicity of them. Here are a few:

Abacus- 50p from charity shop in Essex

Rainbow thing- £1 from car boot sale

Big Soldier – £5 from OXfam in Streatham

Soldier train – £5 from Kids Fara in Pimlico

This vintage pull along dog was sent to us from our lovely famdamily in NZ. And yes, the soldier doesn’t have all his bits.

This is my fave of Ramona’s toys- he actually plays his xylophone as he is pulled along!Puh, who needs an Ipad?

He was £5 from a charity shop. (Steep I know, but a musical duck!)

TIPS FOR COOL VINTAGE TOYS

They are often in a different part of the charity shop. These soldiers were only £5 but for some reason were behind the glass under the counter.

Car boot sales – you are less likely to find vintage toys in amongst other toy stalls but more in amongst other antiquey/ junky stalls.

They may seem a little pricey, but compare it to buying new, and think about how long it has already lasted so therefore how much longer it is likely to last. Also remember you won’t need to spend any money on batteries.

When you get them home give them the driest wipe you can with either alcohol or Dettol – water will likely cause some damage.

HOMEMADE TOYS

I am surprised at how often Ramona spurns her fanciest toys in order to play with some thing that is, frankly, rubbish. The main reason I think she does this is because that something is fitting perfectly with her stage of development. When we flew home from NZ last month I packed an entire pull along suitcase with the coolest little toys. She spent most of the time just posting pegs and other small items into a drink bottle. She was intent on it – posting them in, tipping them out, posting them in again.

I have tried to do some googling on the stages of development and play but can only seem to find very commercial pages which aren’t very comprehensive. (Although I did find this excellent and immense resource all about learning through play.) I guess the best way is to observe what they most enjoy doing and then build on that. So with Ramona’s obsession with emptying and filling things, stuff that is working well for us at the moment is:

  • A few little (ahem, nice looking) containers around the house with a selection of random things in- some little animals, finger puppets, a music box, some fabric, juggling balls. I put one down on the carpet and she’ll look through it, take it all out, put it all in, add some extras in, chuck a few things in to the bin, try to eat it, y’know.
  • Jars with filled with stuff she can pour all over the floor – chess pieces, scrabble letters, dominoes, ribbons. Basically lovely things I find in charity shops and keep around the place. It fits with the style of our lounge but also a big treat for her.
  • When I am doing the dishes I also get her a bowl of warm water and plastic cups etc. This is quite messy in a watery way but she loves it. (In fact this week she chose to sit inside her little bowl of water which was sweet and comical but Next Level Watery Mess)

I would genuinely LOVE to hear the thrifty/ home made things that you have found your little ones love.

(Part of the wondrous Thrifty Families Blog Carnival- check out loads more ideas over at Baby Budgeting!)

Why the Occupy LSX protest is the perfect place for kids

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I really believe in activism. I am absolutely sure that protesting changes things, so bringing the baby on board was always gonna happen. But today I realised that sometimes a protest is the perfect place for the baby. Not just as there is an extra amount of people she can woo and then phones she can steal and chew.

We had a wonderful time with the nippers up at St Pauls for Occupy LSX today– facepainting, parachute games, poetry, juggling, one of the dads even turned up with a bouncy castle. While some of the older kids reflected on and drew their ideas of utopia all around us debate, speeches and conversation took place about how we can change the utterly bankrupt society we live in right now.

I’m no stranger to the shaper edge of protest. In fact (don’t tell my mum this) the first protest I took Ramona on saw us sitting down to breastfeed in a cafe just as a Black Bloc walked past- they picked up a bus stop and smashed the entire front window with it. About 3 feet away us. I have also been in peaceful, sitting down crowds as riot police have bought their truncheons down on heads.

I realise it is not always balloons and bubbles.

But the cost of our younger generation NOT being there is higher than the tiny, one in a million chance of them actually getting hurt.*

For it is here that the little ones learn that there is HOPE – that people do believe in an alternative to the economic apartheid we currently live in. Here they see true, live,  democracy – people listening to each other and voting together. Here they hear the melody of diverse voices, discussing problems and solutions.

But it is also the perfect place for them as it reminds us why we do it. Because they are the generation who will either inherit all this- greed (and the inequality greed gives birth to) – stretched and bloated, many time worse then we have even now, or they will inherit a much fairer and more beautiful society. It is completely up to us.

Someone told me today that there are over 900 occupied cities in over 82 countries. There is an incredible global connection happening that is totally unprecedented. The Occupy movement is gathering momentum and could become enough to change things. As a friend pointed out this week, anti-apartheid protesters couldn’t envision the world beyond apartheid- all they could do was say ENOUGH, enough of this injustice. It doesn’t matter that Occupy LSX doesn’t have a list of policies, we are simply saying ENOUGH.

We have had enough of a world where FTSE 100 directors experience a pay rise of 49% on average compared to 0% increase in the public sector. Enough of a world where CHEESE is the top shoplifted item, because people just literally need to eat (baby formula is the FIFTH, the FIFTH!!!!!) and ENOUGH of a world where one years worth of bankers bonuses could pay for 23 years of the youth service being shut in every poor community in the UK. (More on all this in Polly Toynbee’s excellent article here.)

For our children’s sake. We have had enough.

If you’ve had enough too but weren’t sure about bringing your baby along to Occupy London, please get in touch and I can introduce you to some of the coolest parent and kid activists in town.

There.

I’m sorry, all seriouspants once again. I promise my next post will be about poo.


* There are safety measures you can take, I for one would almost certainly leave with my baby at the first whiff of the riot police or other violence.

**Also, beware of the haters who can be equally vicious. Someone told me off today for taking Ramona to Occupy LSX, suggesting I was teaching kids about squatting and oppressing the rights of others. (Eh?!)  Thankfully it was only on Twitter so I was able to take a breath and graciously respond about how we were actually teaching kids about equality, justice and a loving, fair society. (While mentally taking his 140 characters and flicking them at his ragey right wing eyeballs of course.)