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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Cooking for children

Finally here is the big-ish project that has been keeping me busy for part of the summer. Not that it is very long to make as such, but it was hard to find the time between naps, meals and playtimes with litte N. (cannot call her Baby anymore, she is 1yo!).

So let's have a look at what a present my niece and my goddaughter got for their second birthday:
  A cooking play-set! Including a tin of three different sorts of pasta, a herbs&spices tin, a box full of biscuits and mini-cakes and finally a mini-sponge to do the dishes once everything has been eaten and cooked :)
Making the labels

The herbs&spices tin
 I first bought the tin without any idea of what would come inside, then I thought about cinnamon sticks, maybe some of those star-shaped spieces etc. But my cousin J. had a fantastic idea: leaves! So we made mint, basil and bayleaves. Fairly easy to cut them, embroider a tiny bit and done! J. made the cinnamon sticks herself, they are all different. She inspired herself on a bag of real ones that we have in our kitchen. No need for any pattern there :)

The biscuits and cakes box
 Here I am giving you some links. I can unfortunately take absolutely no credit for any of the ideas ;). My own imagination only helped to choose the flavours of the mini-cakes:
- Banana and Kiwi
- Vanilla and Raspberry
- Strawberry and Chocolate
- Peach and Mandarine 
- Blueberry and Lavander 
I leave you to guess which one is which! (Just a quick remark: the beads are both sewn AND glued for more safety).

In the box, you can also see a doughnut (one is without beads at the mother's request), two round chocolate biscuits and two long-ish biscuits, those are called "barquettes" in French. To get to the websites where I got the ideas and patters, simply click on the words. 

 The Pasta tin
 There are many tutorials about making felt pasta. We (my cousin and I) made:
If you pay attention the pasta and the small herbs (leaves) are attached with a thread. The reason is quite simple, the girls are still quite young and putting things in their mouths. So it is just a question of safety really, as soon as they are old enough, their mothers will be able to cut the threads and the girls will be able to use the pasta individually.

And finally to fit everything in and play pretend-shopping (who knows, maybe even to go shopping with their mothers!) here is:
The shopping bag
This I can take credit for :) no pattern! I just asked my sister back in France to measure the small "Shoppi" bag that we've since I was a little girl and I worked from there. I made a few mistakes on the first bag (the blue one), but I hope I will be forgiven by the little one who gets it.
 The end measures are:
25cm x 25cm x 10cm (the sides are 19cm high).  The hole for the handles is 9,5cm large and comes 4cm underneath the wooden stick.
I did cut (after learning from my mistakes) a 70cm long and 29 cm large stripe of fabric (which by the way needs to be quite strong). Two sides bits 23cm long and 15cm large. Two wooden sticks 24cm long and 1cm diameter. [Note: all measures are now with seam-allowance). 
As you can see on the above pictures, I have turned my fabric twice all along. I did that on all three pieces of fabric so as to allow the inside of the bag to look clean and tidy in the end:
Here is what I did for the hole under the handles. I do not know if it is the best way to do it though... If anyone has suggestions I would gladly read them!
Then was just left to put the sticks in - which is not so very easy since they need to be in when sewing (I did not want the girls to be able to take them out later on!)
 Aaaaand Tadaaaaaaam:
 There we are, all done. The bags took about 2 hours each (all steps included) which isn't that much really. Now the question will be: how long will they last? ;)

Anyway, that is it for today. If both girls enjoy their play-set, then I know already what to make at Christmas! And I plan on making a similar set (including the bag, hers will be red). 

What do you think?Do you like it?

Saturday, 25 August 2012

My first swap :)

Some weeks ago I was searching for recipes containing "Carambar" (French sweets). In my web-travels I found this blog: École et Bricoles hold by a French primary school teacher, Steph. It all started with me leaving a couple of comments, carried on with Steph sending me those lovely home-made soaps:
 I am very pleased because my hands (usually quite sensitive to new soaps) did not react at all, quite the contrary, after using this soap they are quite nice and soft.
Anyway, since then we have been getting on knowing each other a bit more via emails and I have put together some things to send her next week:
- A recipe (translated in French from my blog)
- A guide of my town
- A kit to make a felt-doughnut
I hope she (and her family) will enjoy it!

 I actually still have two more swaps in mind with Rachael from Little Red Farm and with Cristina from Yencamade. One would be a cultural swap, Rachael asked me to talk a bit about the country where I live. The other one still remains to be decided :)
I do like the idea of exchanging ideas, objects etc. with other people from other countries! Thanks a lot Steph for my first swap experience!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A teddy as big as a thumb

Isn't he sweet and tiny?
I just could not resist presenting you my cousin's first job on her own without asking anything, without help. She just took some fabric remains, a thread and a needle... and some time later this little guy was born :)
He isn't perfect as she still needs to acquire sewing techniques, but she made it especially for my daughter N. So this mini-teddy bear is  very special.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A new game

A friend of mine used to work in a Kindergarten and she told me of a very simple game that became a huge hit among the children: a simple box with lid, the lid slightly cut open and some corks. The children then just have to push the corks through the lid and make them fall down in the box. It sounded just like the kind of thing Baby N. would love and I happened to have the appropriate material to make it. So there it is:
 Time required to make it? Hmmm... let's think: about 5 seconds to get the box, another 10 seconds to gather the corks, maybe a minute to wash them properly (they are doomed to be put in Baby N.'s mouth at some point, without the taste of wine is better). Then maybe another 10 seconds to get the cutter, 30 seconds to cut the lid open... Soooo that brings us to a grand total of (drum rolls!) 1'55'' :) I bet we can all spare that much time to make a toy for our children, can't we?
Baby N. tends to find it boring to put them one at a time, so she practices pushing three or four together. She also seems to think that lifting one corner up is a lot easier... Something tells me that the plastic lid isn't going to last very long, but nevermind. As long as she is having fun :)

Incidentally: once the box filled with the corks, show your child how much noise it makes, that should delight him/her and the corks will not be flying around thanks to the closed lid.

The work of a day

Finally I take the time to write a post, it is about time! Especially since I am going on holiday very soon and will not be able to post anything (apart from scheduled articles) for a whole month!
Several projects have been on for a month now. One that I cannot show you yet as the result is a present for two lovely girls who are turning two this summer. The other things I can talk about and post pictures :)

 A summer sleeping-bag
Days have been pretty hot for weeks now, nights too. Baby N. has been so warm and sweating so much that I finally decided to make her a very very light sleeping-bag. I had tried to make her sleep simply in her body, but just like her mother she needs something to cover her otherwise she sleeps badly. So, I simply copied out the shape of her sleeping-bag on an old bed sheet, drawing the contours with a piece of chalk that I have found in my Grandma's sewing-box. Cut out the three pieces, fixed them together, trimming in the inside with notching scissors (hoping it is the right word). I fixed bias tape around the arms and the neck and for the very first time in three years I MANAGED without making a mess on either side!!! I am SO PROUD of myself ^^. As you can see on the pictures though, I started the zipper far too low, which makes that she could get out of the sleeping-bag if she got the idea of doing it (I am not telling her!). When I have a little time available, I will probably fix some buttons or something to close the top part better.


A sleeping Mask
Now, this one wasn't done by me, I only participated in the finishing outside seam. My young cousin, J. (14 yo), visited us for almost a month and she got on helping me with some sewing projects and this mask is her very first attempt at the sewing-machine. I would say she did a pretty good job. Don't you think?
We got the pattern and explanations from this blog.
 Baby shoes
In this post, I have already shown home-made shoes. This time I needed bigger ones but I also wanted them to be stronger. I have recently ordered a lot of things from VBS, among which a bag of 500gr of leather remains. So I decided to attempt making leather shoes. At first I thought the sewing-machine would not be strong enough, but it did go fairly well. It just took me almost three times the expected time (which was two hours on the pattern). And to be perfectly honest, it wasn't quite just the work of one day since I finished the second one on the next day. I made a mistake on the second shoe and was too annoyed to finish straight away (was also far too tired and it was dinner time).
The yellow marks on the soles are antislips that you simply iron on your fabrics.

And finally after so much hard work, our hands and eyes were aching and my lovely husband prepared for us this delicious tomato, mozarella and basil salad. It was so refreshing and tasty! I dare say that we deserved it :)