Sock Nativity

Moving to this village implied changing the kids school and, as now Mafalda is attending a public school and Teresa and Sofia are in a private cathoclic day care and pre-school. One big difference between this new reality and the one we knew before is precisely the effort that is required to Parents. In private schools there is a big financial effort but the school does everything, buy everything, prepares everything, accompanying the study of the kids, correcting homework, it’s all included in the monthly fee (with very few exceptions).

In our new reality the effort is not financial but time demanding: there is a great deal of time (which I have as much or less than money!): Parents do everything, prepare everything, buy everything. You need to bring food for party snacks, every week you need new materials for a new project, the Christmas party is also made by parents, and a lot more food to take to the party. Plus 3. Sometimes it is good to be part of the school community and be more involved in daily school life of the girls, but there are times when the requests are so many that it feels like a full time job. And I, unlike a good majority of this school community, already have a full time job, which takes me the time to be a more active part of this community.

One of the “challenges” of this Christmas season was a Nativity contest that Mafalda wanted to participate. Of course, after 7 years watching her mother “do things” the monster is more than created (mea culpa) and it was not easy to choose a project that is feasible in terms of time and materials that I already had. She wanted to make a very elaborate thing and I understood that the project should be done largely by her, even if it was not eligible for any prize. She wanted hair made of wool cloths in fabric and of course dolls were born!

The dolls were made with baby socks that have lost their peers. It was a good way to make disappear 6 unpaired socks! Mafalda stuffed the dolls with wool filling, cut card bases and felt bases and glued eyes. I made her sew the hais of one doll, only for her to realize the work it takes! Of course she did not get to finish but got the idea of the work involved in this, and above all I wanted her to realize that mommie is no magic that take rabbits out of a hat or a fairy with a magic wand that brings up things!

And it was only by her insistence that this Nativity had the kings, because for me was the sacred family would be enough!

My nativity end up quite funny despite all the goofy look. But I couldn’t have done this 3 times, could I?

Violetta Birthday Cake

This year the Disney character Violetta in on the top of Mafalda’s preferences so she wanted a Violetta birthday cake.

After last year trend with the Monster High dolls I’m ready to do anything! And a Violtetta birthday cake I made!

She wanted the cake to have the characters figures but it was out of question to mould then in sugar paste. So I ended up buying some prints in edible paper like wafle. Then I used icing sugar to make the medallions. The cake ended up with more icing sugar work because of the quavers and the treble clef.

Well, she was happy with her violetta cake, she made a uge successs in her school with a 2 layer cake and had a great birthday!

At home a simple cake was waiting for her but still in Violtetta theeme!

Modern Crochet

Crochet was one of the few things that my grandmother had patience to teach me and I’ve always liked the way I always figure out what I had to make to get a certain result.

I’ve always find it versatile and easily adjustable to every need, besides being very quick and can be done either in wool or in cotton thread and even with other materials such as fabric strips and plastic.

But for many years, for me, crochet was all about wool blankets, afghans and doilies for every room of the house, from the kitchen to the bedroom, going through all furniture, desks and tables that stay along the way. In my parents’ house the doilies were changed religiously every fridays, as the bed sheets were!

And my grandmother always had a crochet project in her bag, which she worked on her leisure hours when she sat in front of the television. Because of her I have a bag full of doilies, carefully studied for each division that I never use but I am totally unable to get rid of them.

But nowadays the crochet is more than doilies, and it is in this discovery that I have been entertained since the beginning of the year.

These photos were taken in a place called Constância in May this year and left me surrendered to the charm of the color. The initiative is part of a social project to combat loneliness and the work was done by those who wanted to join the initiative.

And you know what? I would love to have a boat “dress” this way! And I’m totally surrendered to the colors and this new crochet. After all crochet isn’t all about doilies!

Story of a Life Birthday cake

September is like January but quite harder. September is the real beginning of the cycle: say goodbye to vacations “see ya next year”, back to school they go, reorganizing routines, organize school supplies and backpacks and clothes and shoes and everything they need. Start thinking about the cold to come and in the heat that still wants to be arround, articulate fresh mornings and late afternoons with the scorching heat of midday.

September is also the month to return to the blog … August is so boring … And write a blog in August is much the same as talking in a huge desenrted room.

And the truth is that with this new beginning I have a lot to share with you!

And I’m starting with a cake! There is no sweeter way to start, is there?!

It is not just any cake! It is a cake with 1.2 meters length divided into 3 “attachable” parts. This was the way I found to make a cake that could be transported to the party location! This cake tells the story of the life of the birthday boy with some milestones on significant dates, and of course, it was impossible to put there everything! Still has his birth, the birth of his siblings, his children and grandchildren, his marriage (and his kids) his trip to Africa to fight in the war and his return of the former Portuguese colonies, the deaths of his parents and other details that help tell this story. And to summarize 70 years of a full life is not easy!

This cake has three different cake dough: vanilla with chocolate filling, vanilla with strawberry filling and “dulce de lette” cakepop, all homemade and so delicious that there were almost none leftovers 🙂 It is a cake with a lot of detail work and has a lot of cake so it’s heavy which makes the selling price to be around €200 but it’s well worth it because it is not only a delicious cake but also it is an unique gift that no one will ever forget, not even my father in law who was so very touched by the cake and so surprised by the way I transposed his life on a cake! Not only for the cake, but also by the presence of the whole family, this is a birthday that none of us will forget, and thankfully, because at the end of the day that’s what matters.

Crafts for kids

We went to the countryside with a mission: draw scary monsters to ward off evil critters from grandparents backyard!

We walk the hills and the woods catching stones, and while searching for the perfect stone to draw a mosnter we walked and talked and saw plants, herbs and insects.

With many stones available to paint, they had work for several days, depending on the will and creativity of the moment.

Even hubby helped and Sofia made us company!

Once painted, the stones were used to make a flower bed in the backyard of grandparents.

And still there were many rocks to paint!

This activity is perfect for these hot days, it’s almost inexpensive and can be run almost independently by children. It keeps kids occupie enough time and is a good way to keep them busy during the dead hours of the day, especially while the smaller ones take a nap or while waiting for lunch or for dinner. Another good aspect is that stimulates the taste for walking in the countryside and in the woods, looking at nature and learn it in a fun way. And best of all, it’s an activity that extends in time, they will always want to paint so every day they picked the brushes and painted more stones. You know how it is: happy children = rested adults!

If you take beach holidays you can enjoy the sea stones, some are quite interesting to draw monsters or animals that can turn into a wonderful gift for Christmas or build a small fairy garden with the tiniest stones.

We should have used acrylic paints to paint the stones, but it was impromptu and so there was no where to buy. We bought the a kind of tempera paint, washable with water and we added some white glue, in a ratio of 2 parts of ink to 1 part glue. After drying we should have applied one layer of white glue to fix the ink or even varnish. We did not have time for that so if the water washes the stones next time we’ll have to paint them again! But I think they will not care and I’m sure Sofia will want to help!

The good part is that there was not a single spot of ink on clothing!

I’m so glad for these days of sunshine and warmth … Fells like summer!

DIY Easter Ideas

This year I wasn’t on the mood for Easter celebrations. If it wasn’t for the girls I think I would have ignore it, but Mafalda insisted on making gifts for family and little by little there she ended up convincing me.

After a long period of indecision about what to do they eventually choose a game of checkers. Very fast and simple to make, and almost without my intervention .

To make the board we used canvas and the squares were made ​​with adhesive tape. It can be done in two ways and I think both ways are ok. The first way is to make a grid with the adhesive tape, we made it 5cm squares (the width of the adhesive tape), then we paint and let dry, remove the tape and glue more tape over the painted squares to make the remaining part of the grid and then paint again. This method forces you to do the painting twice which can be good if it’s only one child painting this way doesn’t get bored so quickly .

In the second way you glue 7 lines of adhesive tape and with a ruler and X- Act cut perpendicular columns over the tape with the same width. In this version the mother has more immediate work because you have to remove the tape squares to construct the grid. But it has the great advantage that it’s ready to paint and then dry and take the rest of the tape out and then cut the margin and it’s ready. I used a zig- zag scissors to prevent fray, but you can use white glue, as also gonna use for the game pieces.

We made 4 checkers games and the girls were entirely responsible for the choice of colors. The boards are made with 7 rows and 7 columns .

The pieces can be made ​​in many ways using materials you have home. You can use metal coffee capsules, plastic bottle caps, and so on. We used felt and old buttons and glue the buttons with white glue on the felt. Each player has 12 pieces, so the full game has 24 pieces of two different colors . We use different colors in the pieces but always chose white buttons and dark blue or black buttons , to keep the white and black pieces .

But there was still a gift we did not want it to be the game of checkers. And if you think the drawings of children do not make good gifts you are sadly mistaken. A drawing in a frame looks completely different, and if you change slightly the materials then it becomes even more special. They draw on a piece of canvas I cut with the same size of the frame I wanted and then they draw with Giotto fabric pencils, which are fantastic for these things and that you can use for other crafts with them.

Our gifts were put in baskets made ​​of small wooden boxes (boxes from the strawberries we bought for jam). In addition to these gifts our baskets also had orange cake, coconut cake or lemon and coconut cookies, chocolate bunnies and chocolate eggs and gums we made at home.

And this time it was their turn to make my Easter special. Thank you my precious girls!

DIY baby hat

In the begining of March, in our Carnival holidays, we took the girls out for a few days and, as you can imagine, with the 3 girls and the two of us, it is increasingly difficult to keep organized and not leave anything behind! This time we forgot Sofia hat. And we really need it…

Was there a problem? Not at all! I gorgot her hat at home but a made her a hat! It could have been made of wool but at the time I was working on felt and felt was what I udes for the hat!

It was quick to make and exclusively with the materials I had on hand. No fancy fabrics or pretty wools, no sewing machine and with zero cost and I sure had fun making it!

Horse Birthday Cake

She asked me a cake and I baked a cake. She said it must have horses and horses I made. I’ve never made a horses before, not even had drawn horses. Horses are not part of my world! But it was a good challenge and I’ve overcome it and I’m happy with the result. It was the first cake I beked that left my house (and got to its destination in one piece! Yay!)

The 11th years old girl was also happy.

And equally important was to bake a delicious cake: vanilla cake with chocolate filling, my secret recipe and absolutely divine!

This cake has 6.5 Kg! And it would have been enough for about 60 people. I could have used a false layer (styrofoam) but I think the height of this false layers make ugly cakes. I like tall cakes! But I have to explore this alternative, after all, 6 kg of cake are 6 kg of cake… although it can be frozen and eaten when you feel like having a piece of a delicious cake!

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