topbella

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Chalkboard Flower Pot Gifts

It was two weeks before the end of the year, Christmas is looming, as is my daughter's last day of daycare before big school begins next year.  (moment to freak out over that!)

Last year, my mum and I made these gorgeous cookie jars for the teachers and they were just fantastic.


(I might blog that “recipe” soon to link here)

 











So naturally, I couldn't finish up daycare with just any old gift...so I started to Google and discovered this really cute idea. Pot plants, with chalkboard paint. Super excited with the idea, Muffin and I made our way to Bunnings for supplies. 

Making our way to the nursery area, I was pleased to find some beautiful, yet colourful flowers that would be perfect for this gift for only $7 a pot. 

Rounding the corner, I found just the right size terracotta pots for only $1.49 each!! Sweet. 

The paint section however, was not so easy.

According to the paint specialists at Bunnings, you can't just paint on terracotta ...I'm not sure I believe them but whatever. 
As a result of this new found information (not that my memory bank was very full with painting or terracotta info in general...), I also had to buy this pot sealer spray stuff as well as the paints. Which is blue. And leaked all over my passenger seat on the drive home! *facepalm*

Reading the instructions once home, it said to spray two coats, leaving 4 hours between coats, then leave to dry properly for 48 hours!!  There goes my idea of painting all day. Although in hindsight, I see that this was not a 1 day job!

Anyway, I did as instructed and then a few days later, I was ready to paint them.  

I started with the rims first but then had no idea what to do next or how to paint the black part without touching the already painted bits. 


Needless to say, I figured out a solution by using an old plastic cup for assistance. 


 

With my first coat done, I then had to wait another 16 hours before I could apply the second coat. 

The yellow didn’t look quite as yellow as I'd hoped it would be but knew that should change once dry after the second coat.

So day two of my crafty gift making expedition saw the pots were dry and ready for their second coat of paint. 

Now in all my wisdom whilst at Bunnings on the weekend, I just assumed my dad would have turps in his garage for cleaning my brushes. So when I text him and asked "where can I find turps?"
You can just imagine my delight when he replied  "Bunnings". Thanks dad.  *facepalm*

Suffice to say - I just went to woolies and bought another 2 paint brushes...

The woolies ones were not quite as good as the Bunnings ones. If you're going to do this, I recommend stocking up on your paint brush supply in the first instance...or at the very least, buy turps! 

Awesome Bunnings Brushes!










                                           
                                       
                  Shit Brushes from Woolies





Anyway, as a result of these poor quality paint brushes, they made teeny, tiny little air bubbles as the paint was being applied. I was hoping it wouldn't be too much of a big deal for the finished product.
It doesn’t seem to have been an issue.

I also spontaneously decided to paint the inside rim of the pots. 2 coats, one after the other. Wet paint on wet paint.
It looked a bit messy at the time but I figured, once the flowers are in, it will add a radiant glow to them (or something to that effect).

Off to dry for another 16 hours....

Two days passed and the time to start drawing the ruler effect was nigh.

I was nervous about this part, I have terrible handwriting and even contemplated hosting “handwriting auditions” and paying someone to do it for me, but I bit the bullet and did it anyway and I think it’s turned out alright. 

To get the measurement right, I taped my tape measure around the rim as a guide to keep it fairly even. 

The tricky part was writing the message – it was harder with chalk than using a pen but I guess it doesn't have to be perfect. 















This afternoon, Muffin and I made the short trip back to Bunnings for the last of the supplies – the flowers.
Muffin chose 3 different colours, stating which teacher liked which colour. Drove them safely home (they tipped once during a round-a-bout...whoops). Muffin signed her name on the back with love, in multi-coloured chalk, while I watered the plants in preparation for the transfer.

To say I have a green thumb would be an absolute, total, untruth. I’m about as handy in a garden as a gnome...And even then, the garden gnome would have the upper hand!

Swiftly and smoothly, I easily managed the plants free, one by one, plopping them (quite literally) into their new homes.We found some cute “Hand Made With Love” Christmas gift tags at the store for Muffin to write on before attaching to the flower label.
And voila – just like that, my chalkboard flower pot gifts are complete and ready for dispatch tomorrow. I’ve got them soaking in a few mils of water to keep them from drying out (as per the label) and will transport them to daycare in the morning.
I really hope her teachers like them.


(click to enlarge image)




3 Pots, 3 lots of flowers, paint brushes, 250ml tin of black chalkboard paint, 250ml of yellow paint and pot sealer, all up $63.45. Approx $21.15 per gift per person. Worked out nicely.

Merry Christmas and farewell daycare. It’s been a wonderful journey and while I may not yet be
ready for the next chapter of our lives, it’s happening whether I like it or not.

Much Love

 

Poached Chicken with Grilled Asparagus and Satay Prawns

Makes 1 serve
Total Prep & Cooking Time: 20 minutes


Ingredients
(can be modified to larger quantities for more servings)

1 Chicken Breast, sliced in half lengthways (so it’s not so fat)
4 Fresh Asparagus Spears
Approx 12 Prawns, cooked and peeled (if you’re lazy like me)
2 Teaspoons Peanut Butter (smooth or crunchy, whatever you prefer)
1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped (or squeeze some blobs out of those fresh herb tubes)
Fresh lemon juice

2 Cups Chicken Stock
2 Cups Water
Olive Oil
3 Teaspoons Thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste
Bearnaise Sauce

Method

Mix peanut butter, 2 teaspoons olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and ¼ of the garlic in a small bowl. Add prawns and mix till coated. Cover and refrigerate.

Prepare 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon of thyme and 1 teaspoon of the stock liquid in a small bowl and set aside. Preheat grill.

Combine stock, water, thyme, S&P and the rest of the garlic in a sauce pan. Bring to the boil. Add chicken, return to the boil.

Reduce to low heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Remove from heat. Stand chicken in liquid for 5 minutes. During this time, evenly spread chilled prawns on a sheet of baking paper in one side of the grill. Place asparagus on grill tray in the other side. Lightly brush asparagus with oil and thyme liquid.

Grill for 5 minutes – turning each item halfway through.

Drain chicken, spread with a thin layer of béarnaise sauce.

Layer with asparagus and prawns and serve.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

TESTING

Just checking something out...

Friday, January 31, 2014

The Modern Child. It's Really OK!


You know, it is really starting to get quite old, all this anti-technology/anti-internet hate hype that is constantly circulating around…funnily enough, the internet, when it comes to “new age children”.

There’s an array of pictures, memes, instagrams, tweets etc that all follow the same kind of mantra.
Kids today are all loaded with iPhones and iPods and iPads etc. When I was a child, all I had to play with was some chalk and a skipping rope outside in the fresh air!

Well woop-de fucking doo!

When our parents were children, they didn’t even have chalk! They just stole some coals from the bottom of their fire place to draw their hopscotch markings out in the street. But you didn’t see them complaining about our coloured chalk.

Images of children playing with game consoles versus images of children holding birds. With slogans about how kids these days are messed up and should spend more time outside in nature.

What an absolute crock. This kind of absent minded, negative attitude is what will be sheltering your children from an added learning source that their peers will already be well advanced in by the time they hit primary school!

My child has an iPhone, which she uses as an iPod. I hooked it up to our wifi connection, installed a handful of educational games, and a few non educational games and she uses it when she feels like it.
She also has coloured chalk and a skipping rope. And believe it or not, she still plays with both.

At some stage throughout an average weekend, she might chose to sit in a quiet spot, grab her iPhone and start playing some of her games. 20 minutes later, she is outside in the back yard, IN THE FRESH AIR, WRITING HER OWN NAME in coloured chalk on the concrete. She has only just turned four.

On other days, she might go into her room, switch on her iPhone’s music playlist and blast Katy Perry from the speakers as she sings in front of the mirror. And she knows every word.
When she’s finished this, she will set up a picnic blanket under a shady tree in the back yard, IN THE FRESH AIR, and have story time with me as I read to her. The books we borrowed from the library. Each week she memorises at least one book, so that she can “read” them to me.

Another time will see her playing her dentist game on her iPhone, she says she wants to be a dentist when she grows up. Then moments later, when she’s done playing dentist, we will sit and practice her sign language. She can sign the alphabet. She can sign her own name.

At times she sits and opens her numbers app on her iPhone. 1 + 1 is 2. 1 + 2 is 3. And so on and so forth.
After she’s had enough phone time, we discuss, using parts of our lunch, the way mathematics works. She demonstrates the equations she has just learnt on her phone, using grapes and shows me, that 1 grape plus another 1 grape, does in fact, equal 2 grapes.

“Look mummy, I learned something. I love learning.”

Wow… yeah… I totally see how her owning an iPhone, or to be more specific, using my old iPhone as an iPod, has totally messed her up. She really should go back to the stone ages and just play with chalk and stones and pebbles like they did way back before technology, when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Technology is the way of the future. Whether you want to admit to it or not, it’s here to stay and the best thing you can do for your growing child, is educate them on the advances of technology.

Just because modern children of todays world are using iPhones/iPods/iPads as part of their growing and learning activities, doesn’t mean they are worse off than our generation or our predecessors. It simply means they are moving forward with the rest of the world.

So long as you continually educate your child in all aspects of the technological world, on an age appropriate scale, then their use of such gadgets and resources gives them a greater ability than we had growing up. They can start learning more and more at a younger age.

Keeping in mind as they become older children, young teens etc, it is of the utmost importance to educate them on the dangers of the internet and how to be smart with the device that’s at their very fingertips, but that is something that every parent will need to do at some stage throughout their lives. Regardless of whether or not their young children learnt to use an iPod as a toddler.

A child using an iPad or other such device doesn’t make them lazy, or stupid, or missing out or whatever it is that is implied with all these anti-device bandwagons.
It doesn’t mean that they don’t still read books.
It doesn’t mean that they don’t still play outside.
It doesn’t mean that they don’t still use interpretive play with their peers/siblings/family.
These devices don’t replace everything else the child has and plays with. These devices join the child’s collection of toys and learning activities.

We are so lucky that our children have this opportunity. They have a world of knowledge at their fingertips. With the right guidance from their parents/guardians, they can learn great things.
They can achieve greatness.
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Welcome to my blog. I hope you enjoy the intricate workings of my mind as much as I do. Love Betty xXx
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