Keeping the Kids Occupied on a Wet Bank Holiday & Loom Bands Giveaway

As the previous weekend had been so lovely the kids had plans to spend the half term holiday playing outside in the paddling pool. Unfortunately as the holiday loomed the weather forecast had other plans. I know that given the chance the kids would spend the entire holiday glued to the screen of a computer or an iPad so I wanted to find something to occupy them that wouldn’t cost the earth but didn’t need plugging in!

We decided to have a shopping trip on Saturday with a strict budget of £5. The only rules about what they could spend it on was that it could not have batteries or a plug.

The girls had come home from school with bracelets that their friends had made for them from Loom Bands so they decided that they would get some of these. We managed to pick some up really cheaply and we also visited the pound shop and purchased a plastic compartment box to keep them all in. It is possible to buy more expensive packs that contain peg boards and other bits and pieces but these are not necessary to make basic bracelets and necklaces.

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Each pack came with 300 bands, a hook and a pack of S clips to join them together. The first job when they got them home was to sort them all out into the box and this took them the best part of half and hour.

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Once they had them all sorted they started creating. No 4 started making the simplest type of bracelet using her fingers. To start it off you twist one of the bands and put it over your index finger and middle finger. You then place another band, without twisting this time, above the first and pull each side of the first band over the top of the second band and into the gap between your fingers. You then add another band above the one on your fingers and repeat until the band is the desired length.

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This type of band can be created really quickly and No 4 loved making patterns using different colours. You finish the band off by hooking both ends of the last band onto one side of the S hook and hooking the other side onto the twisted band that you started with.

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No 2 was busy making the slightly more complicated version that results in a thicker band. To make these, instead of just having two bands at a time on your fingers you use three. After twisting the first band and placing it on your fingers you then place two more untwisted bands above it and pull the bottom band over both of the others before adding another band.

I had a go at these and my fingers very rapidly grew tired (The girls never complained though so I assume this is just because I am getting old!). To avoid this the bands can also be made using two hooks instead of your fingers.

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No 4 was also soon making the more complicated version and by the following morning she had created several bracelets, some ankle bracelets, some rings and a hair band.

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If you are feeling more adventurous there are lots of tutorials on YouTube that tell you how to make all sorts of objects with the bands but in terms of keeping the kids occupied the simple bracelets are great.

No 3 didn’t fancy making himself any bracelets so he decided to buy himself a Scraperfoil set. I remember having these when I was a child and I hadn’t seen them for years. Now No 3 is not known for his patience and immediately after opening the box he was scraping away at the picture without using the little piece of the card to practice first. It wasn’t long though before he realised that maybe he should have practised making narrow lines with the scraper first and the results after this were much more delicate!

Scraperfoil

The kids had a lovely time for a fairly small amount of money and I was really pleased that they had not spent all day in front of a screen.

If you fancy having a go with the Loom Bands yourself or would like to keep your kids entertained for a while I have three packs of 300 bands with hooks and S clips to give away to one winner. Just follow the instructions in the Rafflecopter to enter.

Giveaway is open to UK residents and all entries will be checked.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Elemis Competition Prize Review

I was really pleased to get an email earlier in the week informing me that I had won an Elemis goody bag from a competition at the Resident magazine, http://www.theresident.co.uk/

I received the email on Tuesday and was really impressed to find my prize waiting on the doorstep when I got home on Friday. The prize was sponsored by QVC who are offering the set at £62.76, which was a great offer considering that the retail price of the set is £173.60. If you want one of your own you can find it here

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Living with Anxiety

I have suffered from anxiety, low self-esteem and bouts of depression for as long as I can remember. However, the first time I realised what it was that I was suffering from was when No 1 was very small and I had a panic attack which resulted in an emergency visit to the doctors followed by a course of anti-depressants and beta-blockers.

At least I then had a label for the irrational way that I had been feeling but the treatment only succeeded in masking the problem and it has returned repeatedly throughout my adult life. Thankfully though that was the only occasion that I have had a full blown panic attack and I have the deepest sympathy for people that go through this on a regular basis.

Anxiety is a debilitating condition that is poorly understood by people that do not suffer from it. My anxiety usually manifests itself in irrational fears about my health but I also suffer from generalised anxiety and feelings of inadequacy and there is rarely a moment when I feel completely relaxed. It prevents me enjoying myself in a wide variety of situations as I am constantly plagued by irrational thoughts. There is a social stigma surrounding many mental health conditions, anxiety included, and I have always felt ashamed of my condition and do not discuss it with anyone other than to a small extent with my long-suffering DH. I have also experienced stigma when going to the doctor about the condition and have felt patronised on a number of occasions by the people that are supposed to be there to help. This has resulted in a severe reluctance to visit the doctor for any reason.

I have got to the stage now that I do not want this condition to plague my life any more and I want to be modelling a healthy mental attitude to my children. I need to do something to tackle the underlying problems and find better ways to manage the condition. There is much that has been written about living with anxiety but the advice is of very variable quality and has variable effects. I intend to use this section of my blog in a positive way to record the strategies that I am using to help me overcome this condition and to share what is successful for me and what is not.

I appreciate that a lot of my readers will have little interest in this subject and if you don’t then feel free to ignore these posts but I know that I am not the only person out there that suffers from this condition and I hope that my experiences may be of some help to someone else.

Junk Mail Plantpots

A few days ago I received a pack of tomato seeds from Heinz from a competition here: https://www.facebook.com/HeinzKetchupUK/app_300380653443730

I decided to plant them this weekend as the kids love growing their own plants, but when I went to get the seed trays they had all broken over the winter. Not to be deterred we decided to make some pots of our own from stuff that we had lying around the house. The first plan was to make some paper mache pots from a pile of old newspapers. Unfortunately this plan was thwarted as someone had thrown them away! All we could find was a pile of junk mail so we decided to have a go at making some from that instead. First we gathered together some PVA glue, some plastic cups to use as moulds, some vaseline and a bowl. We covered the outside of the cups with the vaseline, watered down the PVA glue and tore the junk mail into small pieces.

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It was then time to get dirty! No 4 had a lovely time dipping her hands into the mixture and plastering it all over the cup (I quite enjoyed it too – there is something quite addictive about peeling dry PVA glue from things)

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When we had coated the cups with a thick layer of paper mache it was time to leave them to dry. It had taken us the best part of an hour and at this stage we only had two pots.

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We decided that we would never have enough pots to plant all of the seeds at this rate so needed a quicker method of making them. I remember seeing small pots made of newspaper and looked up a method for making them. Unfortunately most methods required pieces of equipment that we didn’t have but we did find one method that used a wine bottle. We made one of these but the pot was far too big for our purposes. Having search the crockery cupboard for something smaller that had a big enough hole in the bottom we were almost ready to give up when we thought of trying to make them using the inside of a toilet roll. We were really pleased with the results so I thought I would share how we made them:

Step 1

Cut a thick strip of the junk mail that is long enough to go around the toilet roll middle at least twice. Place the toilet roll middle on the strip, leaving enough paper at the bottom to tuck into the end to make the base.

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Step 2

Roll the paper around the tube and tuck the loose paper into the end.

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Step 3

Turn the pot the correct way up and flatten the paper inside to make a base. (We used the end of a spoon to help with this).

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Step 4

Remove the tube and there you have it!

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We had far more fun than taking a trip to B&Q, we reused some of the junk mail and it didn’t cost us any money.

Hopefully the paper mache pots will be dry tomorrow as we are going to paint them before planting the seeds. I will post some pics of the finished product when they are done.