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Muddy boots and signs of spring

2 Mar

Things have been a little busy in real life so I hope to catch up on my blogging soon. Thankfully, we had some nice moments this week to slow down and cut through the mania with some mud and signs of spring.

We’re lucky that our local park has some great puddles to splash about in at the moment:

Boots in puddle

Nothings beats a bit of a splash about. I think my daughter will be glad to get walking so she can join in the fun instead of watching from the sling! Happy wellies are muddy wellies:

Muddy boots

We were on the hunt for signs of spring so were delighted to find some snow drops:

Snowdrops

These delicate little beauties are truly one of my favourite flowers. It always gives me a little thrill to see their graceful heads nodding, reminding me that the days are lengthening and nature is springing back to life.

We also found a lovely bank of crocuses. Another subtle sign that the seasons are turning.

Crocuses

Today we headed off to the Maple Sugar Festival at the Great Swamp Outdoor Education Center in Chatham, NJ. It was a tremendous amount of fun. My associations with maple syrup were all with Vermont and the like (basically places I’ve never been!) so it was wonderful to realise that our New Jersey patch also has a fine tradition of maple syrup (I guess I now understand why our town is called Maplewood!).  There were some great nature tables for my son to explore as well as crafts. Here he is sporting the rather dashing mask he made: Mask

We also saw a plant new to me:

Skunk cabbage

I thought it was beautiful, with its scarlet fronds creeping through the swampy leaf litter. My husband recognised it immediately, the striking (but stinky) skunk cabbage. It’s a good reminder that beauty comes in all shapes (and smells!).

Happy dough

22 Feb

Happy dough

This happy face is the result of a lovely afternoon making happy dough. Aka salt dough. My boy thinks that “salt dough” sounds like “sad dough” and he, very sensibly, thinks that happy dough is a far better moniker!

The lovely Rosy Mammy over at Rosy Little Cheeks recently shared the great time she and her big boy had with salt dough. Her description of how much fun her 3 year old had with his diggers in the dough crumbs had me reaching for the flour!

The recipe is beautifully simple:

1/2 cup of salt

1/2 cup of water

1 cup of flour

Mix them altogether and knead into a dough. Then roll out, cut your shapes and zap in the microwave on high for 3 mins and voila, salt dough shapes ready to paint!

Salt dough

The painting was fun.

Painting salt dough

But if my son could type then he’d explain that it was what I did with the trimmings that was the real success here. Sure enough, Rosy Mammy was right – (nearly) 3 year olds can be absorbed for hours with some salt dough crumbs and diggers!

Diggers

The box of crumbs is still being enjoyed 24 hours later. The only downside is that I have to keep the box off the ground so his crawling sister doesn’t get her hands on it (she will attempt to eat anything and this is definitely not for little mouths). Honestly, preparing meals has been much easier as my usual little helper is absorbed in playing with diggers rather than insisting on “helping” me cook!

And here are the finished products.

Finished salt doughThe hearts are for his granddaddy, who had open heart surgery just a few weeks ago and is, happily, healing brilliantly. The happy faces are for me and my boy, momentos of this lovely activity. The rest were an attempt to make tea cups & saucers – I know, they’re not hugely “recognisable” as that but I guess that’s where imagination comes into it!

My boy is all about tea parties at the moment, so I may take this as a hint to make him a “proper” tea set for his birthday next month.