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Geocaching – 5 Handmade Swag Ideas

Over the last two months we have been spending a lot of time exploring our local area through geocaching.

The exchange of swag is definitely one of my favorite parts of the process, and in my limited experience I have also found that it seems to be a fairly neglected aspect by many geocachers.

In addition to topping up the kiddie swag in caches, I like to leave some handmade items as well, and that’s where my crafty skills come into play.

Besides it just being really nice to find something out of the ordinary, my hope is that as more people find these things they will maybe be inspired to think more about whatever it is they are leaving behind as well.

Below I’ve outlined the first 5 little projects that I put together recently to pop into the caches we find on our travels.

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Raising Painted Lady Caterpillars

For our third year of butterfly rearing I decided to go with our first round of mail order bugs in the form of Painted Lady caterpillars.

I purchased a caterpillar voucher for our daughter’s 6th birthday from Insect Lore. They arrived via post in sealed jar containing everything they required up to the point of pupation, which I am still left with mixed feelings about as it felt sort of cruel. However we saw the process through to the end anyway, even if I don’t feel 100% great about it.

Below I’ve detailed our experience and observations. (with lots of photos) Read more…

I Made A Kracken Shawl

Just a quick post/review on a pattern that I bought recently called the Kracken Shawl.

I started following Two Hearts Crochet a while back when a crochet friend of mine started making the c2c princess squares.

When I first saw the Kracken Shawl I was instantly inspired to make one because cephalopods are amazing, clever wee beasties. Also it reminds me of Cthulhu and Lovecraftian horror which is always a big bonus. So I purchased the pattern in April. Two weeks later, it was completed!

The instructions and graph were easy to follow. It shouldn’t have taken me two weeks, but unfortunately I had to rip out my stitches enough times to literally make a whole other shawl! (my own fault) If even one stitch is missed it throws everything off, so wanting to make it perfect, I did a lot of pulling back my work. The pattern was also a really good introduction to this sort of crochet technique using boxes to create a picture and it’s absolutely simple enough for a beginner to complete, so not intimidating at all.

I am looking forward to eventually applying the same techniques to a design of my own creation someday.

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Will Seed Bombs (Balls) Made With Air Dry Clay Germinate?

Seed bombs/balls are spheres of soil and clay with seeds inside. When dry, the sphere of clay and soil protects the seeds within. When they get wet, the seeds are stimulated to grow and they will break the sphere apart as they push out, giving the seedlings a perfect start.

They are ideal for throwing into places where people can’t really get in to plant, and can contain any sort of seeds, however wildflower seeds are the best for helping the bees and butterflies in your local area.

I received my first introduction to seed bombs via a recent random conversation with a friend, and I thought it would be an excellent idea to make some of my own with wildflower seeds to spread on our adventures walking through the countryside.

So of course, I consulted the Google with my query and found many pages with recipes for how to make seed bombs/balls, but they mostly seemed to involve clay powder, which I was having trouble sourcing. Then I remembered that I have a brick of non toxic air dry clay in my craft hoards, so I started looking for recipes using air dry clay.

I found a few which basically walked me through how they made the balls, but none of them seemed quite right to me, and it made me feel fairly sceptical when I couldn’t find one actually confirming with photos that the balls germinated. I mean… anyone can chuck a few seeds in some clay and take photos, but the important thing about a seed bomb is that it actually facilitates the growth of the seeds inside.

Below I’ve outlined what I did to create my own seed bombs (which are all sprouting nicely) using easily sourced materials in the UK.  Read more…

Developing Our Garden Space

We have been in our current house since October 2010. Upon moving in, like most of the back gardens in our area, ours was just grass. Tidy, but totally lacking any sort of love or character.

Initially, I had no plan, so I started experimenting with different things on a very small scale. I grew up around people who were very passionate about flower and vegetable gardening… surely some of that must have rubbed off on me, right?

Well, yes and no… Yes, I did discover that I actually enjoy growing things very much, however, I’m not a natural. In fact my gardening style is probably best described as a clusterfuck of dumb luck. In all seriousness, the plants choose to live in our space more than we choose them to live in our space. I’ve gotten to the point of sprinkling some seeds around and basically just waiting to see what takes. And it works for the most part.

Over the years I have been primarily focused on bringing plants into the garden which have strong personal significance to me. Plants like lilacs, forsythia, violets, dahlias, and gladiolas. Slowly character has been building as the boring patch of grass becomes bordered by an ever increasing variety of texture and color.

More than the plants though, I love to study the wildlife that has made a home in our garden. I nearly had an outright joygasm one day when I found three different species of snail.  I tend to get inordinately excited about critters, especially invertebrates. People who know me very well, know that if you give me critters to observe, I’m in my element… and then I’ll rattle off random facts about the critters (that no one probably wants to hear) until I turn blue. I really can’t help myself. This is an enthusiasm I must have been born with as I can’t remember a time without it.

Now that our oldest daughter is starting to become very interested in nature and science I can pass on my dorky outdoorsey knowledge, and I think it’s time think outside (or rather inside) the garden borders to add some character to the rest of the space because what we have right now, is still more or less a patch of tidy grass.  I’m finding that the more I think about how to do this, the more focused I become on how to make our patch of earth do more for us as a family from both a recreational and an educational perspective.

So this post is all about the plan I’ve been mulling over in my head to bring about these changes. Some will happen this year, some next, a few, when money allows.

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Geocaching As An Absolute Beginner

Geocaching is basically a treasure hunting game that you play in the real world using GPS to locate “caches”, which are usually containers that have been hidden by other players filled with small items or toys in addition to a log book for players who find the cache to sign.  Caches can also be very small (micro or nano) with only room for a logbook. The appeal in the smaller caches is that they’re even more of a challenge to locate.

I’ve known that Geocaching was a thing for about 16 years, and I’ve had an account on www.geocaching.com for a while, but it never really occurred to me to give it a go until a couple of weeks ago.

The pieces all sort of came together when my husband reminded me that he owns a hand held GPS device (my phone is garbage), and I realized that our girls are finally at an age where going out and exploring more is a lot easier than it used to be with a baby in tow. Read more…

Pork and Prawn Wontons for Soup

I’ve always been very fond of wonton soup, however I’ve only recently been brave enough to attempt my own dumplings.

My Auntie started me experimenting with wonton wrappers when I was about 13 years old frying them and baking them, but for some reason I never felt confident in my ability to tackle wonton soup.

So after a visit to the local Chinese supermarket a few weeks ago, I decided to do what I do. I looked up a recipe, adjusted it to suit my taste, then tried it and adjusted it again… and here it is :D  Read more…

Gallbladders Are Highly Overrated

This is a bit of a rant, so I apologise in advance.

In an effort to try to lose weight and be generally healthier this year I started counting calories. I counted them religiously, being very careful to avoid crash dieting by eating enough every day to lose a steady 1-2lbs a week. I figured, over the course of the year, if I was very careful, I could lose the weight I wanted to. And it worked… in fact it’s still working very well, however I’ve hit a snag.

At the beginning of February I had a gallbladder attack in the middle of the night. It was excruciating, but I’d had one about 10 years ago and I recognised the pain immediately, so it wasn’t as scary as it could have been. If giving birth is a 10 on a 1-10 pain scale, I’d give a gallbladder attack an 8 or 9 easily. Read more…

Playing Elder Sign With My 5 Year Old

Elder Sign is one of my favorite games to play. Not only do I like it because it is oozing with Lovecraftian goodness, but also because I can play it by myself.

It is a game that is part luck (dice) and part strategy and it is marketed toward people aged 14+.

Before very recently I would have never considered playing it with a young child. It is not an easy game to win, The subject matter and artwork can be a bit scary and the gameplay requires fairly focused attention as there is a constant fluctuation of variables to keep track of. There is also a lot of reading which is above my daughter’s head at the moment, though it won’t be long before she’s able to read the cards on her own.

HOWEVER, I could not face another round of Candy Land … I just couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Candy Land is a great game for kids, and it is actually a lot better since they introduced the spinner in lieu of the cards (which basically predetermined the entire game, blarg)… but yeah… too much Candy Land isn’t good for anyone.

So with her little sister sound asleep I saw an opportunity, and knowing full well that I would probably regret it, I asked my eager 5 year old if she would like to play “Mommy’s special monster game.” Read more…

3D Print Painting Part 7

Here is another batch of 3D prints that I’ve painted and embellished.

I’ve separated this post from the last one as this post features 3 different designers, whereas most of my other 3D printing posts feature designs exclusively by Kijai. :)

I’m only featuring three different models here, however one model I’ve painted three different ways, so I’m covering a total of five models. I’ve also provided the links to the free STL’s for all of the prints.

All previous 3D print painting posts have been filed into their own neat and tidy category in the “3D printed models” menu above.
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