Saturday, 31 October 2015

Toddler Halloween Costume // Literary Inspiration


One of the most popular picture books for our family story time is The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat. This whimsical story is loosely based on the nonsensical poetry of Edward Lear's own Owl and the Pussycat. Written by Coral Rumble and illustrated by Rumble's daughter, Charlotte Cooke, this delightful rhyming story tells the tale of two children who imagine themselves as the title characters, embarking on a magical adventure on the sea. They build a cardboard boat and make plenty of interesting encounters along their trip. My two children love to read this story over and over and they've heard it enough times that they now like to recite along as I read the tale.



The first page reads...

The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
In a box on the living room floor,
They sailed away for a year and a day
And these are the things that they saw... 

I always prefer reading a kid's book that has a lovely rhythmic flow to it, like this one! And this story just so happens to feature two children who clearly have a soft spot for DIY & handmade (did you see all those craft supplies?!), so really, how could I not fall in love with this book?! 

As I was thinking about the kids' Halloween costumes, I was so excited to see that one of the most amazing creators out there, Brittany Watson Jepsen, from The House that Lars Built, has been recreating children's books as part of her Halloween series this year. She's already created 6 costumes, including two of our favourite books, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and Chrysanthemum. Everything Jepsen does is perfection and once again, she nails Halloween with these great options! Definitely give her website a view- you'll be thrilled you found her!

So with inspiration by The House That Lars Built's literary inspired costumes and by the gorgeous illustrations in Rumble's book, we set out to recreate the first page of The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat as a Halloween costume.


For the Pussycat
Materials: Hairband, Cardboard, White and Pink Paper, Glue Gun, White Tube Sock, String, Stuffing, Blue Top, Telescope 


1. For the cat ears:
Cut 2 small triangles from cardboard.

Line the triangles up to create a diamond and trace the shape onto white felt. Repeat.
Cut a slightly smaller triangle from pink felt. Repeat.
Glue the cardboard triangles to the headband.
Wrap the white felt diamonds under the headband and glue to the cardboard triangles.
Glue pink felt onto the white felt.
2. For the cat tail:
Fill a white tube sock with stuffing.
Tie off the sock and attach to child's waist with string.




For the Owl
Materials: Blue Round Glasses, Feathers, Ribbon, Glue Gun,  Striped Top, Orange Paper, Zots Glue Dots

1. For the feather headband:
Cut a strip of ribbon to fit the child's head.
Use the hot glue gun to attach the feathers to the ribbon.
2. For the nose:
Cut a triangle from orange paper.
Bend the triangle in half.
Attach a Glue Dot to the bottom side and stick to nose.





For the Boat
Materials: Cardboard Box, Leatherman, Sharpie Marker, Blue Posterboard, Glue, Broomstick, Green Cloth

1. Cut two holes with the Leatherman in the front panel of the box for portholes. 
2. Use the Sharpie Marker to draw the circle around the holes and add black dots for bolts. 
3. Cut a strip of blue posterboard to create the waves that the boat floats on.
4. Tie the green clothing to the top of broomstick and place in center of boat to create the boat's sail. 
5. Place box on blue blankets, like a boat floating in the sea. 




For the Extra Accessories: Map in a Bottle, Anchor, Bunting, Pirate Flag, Ship Flag
Materials: Cardboard Tube, Map, Lighter, Colored Paper, Ribbon, Scissors, Hole Punch, 2 Plastic Bottles, Washi Tape, Chalk 

1. Using an old map, light the corners on fire and burn a few holes and brown spots to give the map a vintage feel. Roll and place halfway in an empty bottle. 
2. Cut several triangular pieces from your colored paper. Add hole punches to the top, and string the triangles onto a ribbon to create the bunting.  
3. For the anchor, cut slits in the bottom of an empty water bottle. Cut anchor hooks from cardboard and place in the bottle slits. Glue a straw about a third down. Attach string. 
4. Pirate flag is a sheet of black paper with a skull and crossbones drawn with chalk. 
5. Boat flag is a blue sheet of paper attached to a cardboard tube with washi tape. 



How adorable is this little setup?! In addition to being perfect for dress-up playtime, it doubles as a Halloween costume too! But even if you don't recreate these costumes, you still must have a read of The Adventures of the Owl and the Pussycat. A little bit of magic and whimsy before bed is always a great end to your child's day! What are your favourite bedtime stories? Are your costumes inspired by a literary character? Wishing all our readers and friends a very Happy Halloween! 








Monday, 26 October 2015

Spooky Halloween Village // Cardboard Craft


It's the Monday October bank here in Dublin, which means we had a lovely three day weekend, but it also means that this upcoming week the kids are off from school. That's a whole week of extra hours to fill up with entertainment, but luckily I've prepared for it with plenty of playdates and more Halloween events to check out. I am also looking forward to some extra time to play and craft with the kids! For this blog post, I'd like to share a really fun craft that will hopefully act as a handy filler for some of that extra entertaining you might need this week, or whenever! 

This Spooky Village started as a single house that I created from an empty Goldfish crackers carton. My American friends know the one I mean, it's huge and the crackers went stale before we could eat them all, but it just so happens to be THE perfect shape to use as a haunted house. Once I'd completed the house, it seemed a little lonely, so I added a hotel. Next thing I knew, there are 5 pieces to our village and I can guarantee we're not finished just yet!







Items Needed:
Empty Cardboard Boxes, choose a variety in different shapes and sizes
Chalkboard Paint
Black Craft Paint & Paint Brush
Fun Chalk Liquid Chalk Markers
Paper
Tape
Straws
Scissors
Scotch Tape
Utility Knife
Sharpie Marker
Glue Gun & Glue

Discarded tissue, ice pop, medicine and fruit packaging
To Do:
1. Be sure your boxes are empty and cleaned of any remaining food particles

2. Arrange your containers to create the buildings
(Our Lighthouse is a combination of 3 containers stacked on one another. Others are simply one box on its own. Use your creativity to come up with the structures.)

3. Draw the doors and windows on the packaging

4. Using your utility knife, carefully cut the doors and windows out

5. If your building has multiple parts, use the glue gun to attach the boxes to one another

6. Apply a base coat of black craft paint

7. Once first coat has dried, add a coat of the chalkboard paint

8. Apply another coat of chalkboard paint where (& only if) needed
(On the lighter coloured containers with a lot of text, I found I needed the second coat of chalkboard paint in some of the whitest areas)

9. Once all the paint is dry, add the decorative drawings and embellishments using the Fun Chalk Markers

10. Draw ghost shapes onto white paper, cut out the shapes with scissors and use the Sharpie markers to add outlines and faces

11. Attach the ghosts to the straws with the Scotch tape to create ghost puppets

12. Draw bats on black paper and cut the shapes out with scissors

13. Attach the bats to the straws with Scotch tape and use glue gun to attach to the building

14. Use paper, glue, straws and the Sharpie to create extra signage, especially if  small text is required
(See the Laundromat sign for example)

You'll get the best CUT in town at this Butcher Shop!

No vacancies this week!

Those Watching Machines can see you!

Enter at your own risk!

We've used their Lego Minifigures to set up for a Halloween celebration...


Move the buildings outdoors for a fall fest with the ghost puppets...



My daughter took her Duplo figures trick or treating at each door...


Or set them up on the floor and really test out their durability (my son always aces this test!)...


As you can see, my kids are already getting great mileage out of this project. To stretch their interest even further, I'm planning to have them decorate and color their own buildings this week while we're on break. I chose to work on this project on my own, leaving the kids to a new play toy, but I know they'll love making their own versions too.  I'll cut and paint the boxes the night before and they can each decorate a blank one. 

I could also see this village working as a decorative mantle piece or even as a festive table centerpiece. The house looks great with a tea light in the center. And if I can be honest with you, this house building is pretty addictive! I am already envisioning a Christmas Village too! 


Fun Chalk markers were perfect for this project. If you've never used them before, they're liquid chalk markers that come in a great selection of 8 bright, bold colours. The markers can be used on any non-porous surface and they have a super quick drying time! We use them on windows, chalk boards, mirrors, plastic and lucite containers, and dry erase boards. The chalk easily wipes clean with a wet cloth. You could draw on pumpkins or leaves with them like Meri Cherry did- such gorgeous activities for kids!  For this village project, they were especially great because they don't smudge, dried fast and are easy to handle (I'm dreadfully slow with painting details like these buildings required so it would have taken me triple the amount of time to make these!)

So, have I convinced you to check your recycling barrels for some empty containers yet? Let me know how you get on with this project and I'd love to see photos of any of your buildings! Happy midterm week and best of luck getting through it :) If you need more crafty ideas, check out a previous post with 5 fab fall projects to make with children!

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Dublin, Our Playground // 10 Halloween Happenings



Last year was our first time celebrating Halloween since moving to Dublin and we had a memorable holiday! One of our favourite places to visit was Scalp Wood Nurseries in Kilternan. Scalp Wood is a retail nursery and garden centre specializing in home-grown plants and shrubs, with a team that loves to celebrate Halloween!


With several activities on, including a hay bale maze, a spooky themed witches room, and a faux cemetary, it's easy to get into the SPIRIT here. There is a duck water race created from gutters and an old water pump that the kids played with over and over. And if you're looking for that perfect Instagram worthy photo, there are plenty of opportunities here, including one with Spookley, the square pumpkin. Farmer Joe is a real TREAT too, offering sweets to the kids and encouraging them to explore the premise.



Running through the hay maze

Which duck will win the race?

The main attraction is the Poly-tunnel that's been converted from an ordinary plant growing structure to a Halloween themed event space. Inside the tunnel you'll find lots of tables & benches for kids to decorate their pumpkins, there's chalk boards to draw on and colouring pages to fill in. Walk through the tunnel where you'll discover a pumpkin patch with plenty of choices for your Jack-o-lantern. Scalp Wood has staff on hand to carve your pumpkin too, so you can leave the nursery with all the hard work done for you!

Lots of fun inside the poly-tunnel

Blackboard drawings with over sized chalk

And from the sounds of Scalp Woods' recent Facebook updates, 2015's event promises to be even better than before! With a very reasonable entrance fee ( €5 covers a family of up to 4 people), your group gets access to all the activities. It appears there will be an opportunity to purchase ice cream and sweet treats from Enniskerry's Sugar & Ice mobile unit too this year. One tip from our family is don't be TRICKED by the weather, be sure to wear your wellies and be prepared to get a little dirty!


We'll be heading back to Scalp Wood again this weekend, and we plan to make time for visiting Meath Pumpkin and Wooly Ward Farm soon too. We are all looking forward to another fun-filled Halloween and with so many happenings in and around Dublin leading up to the occasion, here's a list of 10 family friendly activities that sound like great fun! I really hope you can CARVE out some time to make a trip to any of these activities!

Scalp Wood Nursery
Location: Kilternan, Co. Dublin
Dates Open: Oct 17th & 18th, 23rd - 31st
Entrance Fee: Family Ticket for up to 4 People €5, Family Ticket for up to 6 People €7, Pumpkins Available for Purchase
What's On: Hay Bale Maze, Pumpkin Carving, Blackboard Drawing & Colouring, Meet Spookley the Square Pumpkin, Haunted Witches Room
Want More: Dine in nearby Johnnie Foxes Pub, the highest pub in Dublin

Kennedy's Pumpkin Patch
Location: Julianstown, Co. Meath
Dates Open: Oct 24th - 28th
Entrance Fee: No Entrance Charge, Pumpkins Available for Purchase
What's On: Pick-Your-Pumpkin and Enjoy Halloween Treats

Meath Pumpkin Farm
Location: Collegeland, Summerhill, Co. Meath
Dates Open: Oct 3rd - 31st
Entrance Fee: No Entrance Charge, Pumpkins Available for Purchase
What's On: Pick Your Pumpkin, Spooky Tunnel, Face Painting
Want More: Make a day out of going to Meath and explore the nearby Hill of Tara

Wooly Ward's Farm Halloween Event
Location: Whitestown, Oldtown, Co. Dublin
Dates Open: October 24th - 26th, 28th - 31st from 2pm - 5pm
Entrance Fee: Adult €6, Child (12 & Under) €15, Child (Under 2) €7, Family Package Available
What's On: House of Horrors, Reptile Lab, Hold the Owls, Carve Your Pumpkin

Airfield Estate
Location: Dundrum, Co. Dublin
Dates Open: October 27th - 30th
Entrance Fee: Adult €10, Child (Age 4-17) €5, Child (Under 3) free
What's On: Halloween Storytelling, Monster Crafts included in admission with additional paid events available through their website
Want More: Pop into nearby Dundrum Town Centre for any costume needs

Alright Pumpkin
Location: Girley, Fordstown, Co. Meath
Dates Open: Weekend of Oct 16, Week of the 24th - 31st
Entrance Fee: No Entrance Charge, Pumpkins Available for Purchase
What's On: Corn Maze, Decorative Hay Bales for Photo Ops, Pick-Your-Own Sweetcorn
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Dublin Botanical Gardens
Location: Glasnevin, Co. Dublin
Date Open: Oct 18th at noon
Entrance Fee: No Charge
What's On: Decorated Pumpkin Competition (submit your pumpkin on the 17th to be included for prizes), Giant Spider Web Spinning, Witches in the Garden

Make and Boo Workshop
Location: dlr Lexicon Library, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
Date Open: Oct 23rd from 3pm - 7pm (4 sessions, each beginning on the hour)
Entrance Fee: Free, no booking required but first come first served to 40 people per session
What's On: Children ages 3 - 10 years can make Samhain attire for the walk in Marlay Park

Samhain Haunted Forest Walk
Location: Marlay Park, Rathfarnham, Co. Dublin
Date Open: Oct 25th from 3:30pm - 8:30pm
Entrance Fee: Free entry but wristband required to enter (Wristband pickup on Oct 17th & Oct 24th)

What's On: Haunted Woods Walk is a 1.7 km trail with ghosts and goblins to frighten folks along the route

Rathwood Halloween Train
Location: Rathwood, Co.
Dates Open: Oct 23rd - 31st
Entrance Fee: Children (aged 9 & under) €10, Adults €6
What's On: 1 hour includes train ride through haunted forest, pumpkin carving and hot chocolate


Please let me know in the comments section below if you stop by any of these places and what did you think?! Happy Halloween, friends!

Updates: We visited Scalp Wood on Sunday, October 18th and it was another fantastic event, with a bigger hay maze and lots of pumpkins to choose from! Check out Pies & Gents Facebook page for the 2015 photographs! 

Dun Laoghaire Rathdown events team put on a superb show with the haunted Samhain walk. It was quite a spectacle, with everything from a butcher's shop, an electrocution, dragons, graveyards, chain-saw wielding mad men and a giant spider about to attack! With two young children we went for the earliest time slot at 330pm, but it was still dark as we were strolling the wooded trail. A well organized, free event!

Wooly Ward's Farm impressed us with a great afternoon out on the 24th. Included in the admission price was a pumpkin to carve there, a petting shed & separate reptile area, train rides through the field, chocolate covered apples to decorate, a massive Fuinneamh drum session, bouncy castle, spooky trails, fairy wood, a funny interactive theatre show and much more! Great spot for a family day out!

Friday, 2 October 2015

Autumn Leaf Projects // Kid Crafts


Woohoo, it's October! We are totally in autumn mode here in Dublin and are feeling inspired by the crisp air, colourful foliage and the return to comfy sweaters. To celebrate the beginning of fall, we spent this week working on several seasonal projects, and this post will show you how to create all of them!

On your next trip outdoors, gather leaves for some crafting. Make a game of who can collect the biggest, most colorful, or perhaps the strangest looking leaves. Talk about which trees produce certain leaf varieties or explain where the acorns and conkers come from. Or just get outside and enjoy the weather while it's still bearable to be out without your winter layers on!

The discovery is as great as the final results! 

Nature Crowns 
Make these while out on your next outdoor walk! Just bring a strip of paper (cut to size of the child's head) and some Zots (or glue or tape) in your bag for the project. 
- Collect items in nature as you explore- leaves, seeds, flowers and small sticks all work well
- Attach the items to the paper with Zots glue dots
- Once all items are attached, tape the crown together 
Want More? Check out the Nature Crowns by Maya Made where she cleverly uses reversed duct tape to attach the leaves. 

Carefully adding all the pretty bits to make her crown
Queen of the Forest in her Nature Crown

Leaf Puppets 
Super simple craft that is perfect for a simple game of peek-a-boo or a bit of puppetry. 
- Find some big, colorful leaves and press overnight to prevent them from curling
- Using a marker, draw different faces on the leaves 
- Attach the leaves to some sticks with tape
Want More? Take a look at this All Things With Purpose blog post where they use contact paper to create an adorable longer-lasting version.

He picked out the sticks and showed me exactly where the tape should go
A strip of Scotch Tape on the backside holds the stick in place
The finished project
Peek-a-boo has never been so hilarious
Too much fun with Leaves!

A Forest in the Fall  
Cardboard paper towel rolls are transformed into trees by adding real leaves.
- Cut slits at the top of the tubes for branches and smaller cuts at the bottom for roots 
- Mix blue, yellow & red paint to make brown paint (Optional step if you find yourself out of brown paint like we were!)
- Paint the cardboard with the brown paint, allow to dry 
- Use Zots to affix leaves to the branch pieces 
- Group the trees together for an imaginative setup
Want More? I first saw this simple idea on FamilyFun Magazine's Facebook Page. They have so many fantastic projects!

Some serious concentration here!
The kids loved mixing the colours to make brown paint
Before we added the leaves
Bear cub and rabbit wandering in the woodlands

Leaf Crowns  
Your kings of the forest deserve to wear these crowns on their next adventure!
- Using scissors, remove the leaf stems 
- Press the leaves overnight to keep the leaves from curling
- Fold your leaves a 1/4" from the bottom of each leaf, to create a straight edge
- Using Zots, gently place one glue dot on a leaf and stick the next leaf to it, repeat 
- Continue building your crown to fit the child's head
Want More? Here's a gorgeous leaf crown tutorial at Clickin Moms that uses a cool weaving technique.

Love the detail and colors that the Maples produce
Little poser in his crown of leaves
Vibrant yellow poplar leaves all lined up 
A view of the front and back of the crown 
Pretty poplar leaves circle her head in a crown 
Conker Soldiers
You can always tell the fall season is upon us when conkers become the sought after outdoor collectible! Every walk ends with pockets overflowing with conkers. So as much as autumn = leaves, it also means conkers! This craft was inspired by the natural spikiness of the conker shell capsules. When we looked closely at them my son declared they were like a viking's helmet.
- Collect conkers and their outer shells
- Determine which conker shells fit which nuts (we did not manipulate the shells or break them open, the squirrels broke them into pieces for us!)
- Poke a hole in the conker with a toothpick
- Using tacky glue, attach the shells to the nuts to create the helmets
- Paint on faces, attach googly eyes
- Add leaves for the bodies with a Zots dot
Want more? Here's a super cute chestnut worm craft by Artsy Ants that I know my kids would love!

Not very threatening, is he?!
Having fun with faces on conkers
Conker shells, nuts, toothpicks, leaves and googly eyes 
Guarding her collection from her brother 

I referred to Zots a few times in this post. If you aren't familiar with Zots products, they are clear adhesive dots. Basically, they're glue, without the mess!  I find Zots easy for the kids to use- you simply separate the plastic liner, pull the sticky dot off and place the dot onto the paper. They come in an assortment of sizes and are also available on rolls. If you're interested, here's an Amazon link where you can find a similar option.  (Note: This is not a sponsored link, I just really love this handy craft item and wanted to share!)

Zots are a great kid friendly craft item

For more leaf craft inspiration, check out Red Ted Art's sensational roundup. Loads of awesome autumn ideas to keep you going until winter! 

Do you have any great seasonal crafts you'd like to share in the comments section below? I hope you get a chance to get outside and go for a walk soon! Even if you don't find any spectacular leaves, you might just discover a sweet little moment between siblings... ;) Happy Fall to you all! 


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