Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Simple Rituals: Tea Time

The working parent and her/his kids are pulled in many directions at once.  When I noticed that the relationship between my toddler and I was getting strained -- the mommy stuffed animal in all our games was always saying "I have to go to work! I can't play!", I decided that I would make a conscious effort to make the time that she and I had together count. We developed a set of  Simple Rituals to stay close.

Tea Time was the first.

What you need

A designated teapot, can be anything clean, heat-proof, and water tight. We use the bone-china teapot my Grandma and I used for our tea when I was a girl.
Caffieen-free "tea" ours rarely has anything do with real tea, we use herbs or Karkade.
A tray - I use a ubiquitous cookie sheet.
Tea cups - Child size is best, but any will do.
Hats (not optional)
A small table- We use a mini-trampoline (the kind you might jog in place on while watching TV), it is the perfect height for a toddler tea-table when all the guests sit on the floor.  It is water-proof and can seat as many guests as you want.
A pretty tea towel
Guests - stuffed animals, toys, relatives, friends.

 Most nights no matter how late we get home, she and I make tea, drape the cookie tray with a pretty towel and load it down with crackers, fruit or little sandwiches and diminutive tea cups. We put on our hats, plunk down the trampoline, arrange the guests, and then set out the tray. For as long as it take to drink a whole pot of tea, one ounce at a time as the little cups allow, we giggle and talk to eachother.

I learned the hard way that Grandma's teapot was very fragile, luckily the break was in the lid so a little superglue saved the day. I think it is important to use precious family items like Grandma's teapot to emphasize that this time is special. However, to cushion our teapot against future breaks, I crocheted at tea cozy for it using this  Crafster tutorial. The yarn I used also belonged to Grandma.

Having small tea cups forces you to spend a proper amount of time. We use china cups as long as there are any still whole.

I ask Alex to tell me a story about what we are doing. Often we are on a mission to the moon and the trampoline is also doing double duty as a rocket ship. One must have a lots of tea and bunny crackers on the way to and from the Moon. Sometimes we are on a pirate ship. Sometimes we are just at tea.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Fairy Gardens

The UT Gardens had a workshop in March about  building Fairy Gardens. We were not able to attend the workshop but my toddler has had the pleasure of finding the example Fairy Gardens form the workshop tucked all over the Garden. So far we have discovered three! If you are wondering, a fairy garden is a diminutive landscape, often in a flower pot, which includes a small residence for fairies.

Here is our favorite one from the UT gardens:
The other two are amazing so you should go hunt for them if you are in the area! 

Inspired by these examples, my daughter wanted to increase the fairy real estate in the grater Knoxville Area and she was very bent on doing it quickly after the first time we noticed the Fairy Gardens at UT. 

So upon arrival home we threw this together: The recycled Fairy Garden (for the eco-concious fairy).

Made of 99.8% post consumer material. 

We used a planter that was made from an old tire and painted purple with spare house paint-- I cleaned the paint roller we used to paint our back door by rolling it on the finished tire planter- fabulous and easy results from paint that would have been discarded otherwise. Making the planter, which we did about 5 years ago,  is another story--It required cutting the top rim off a tier and then flipping the tier inside out, which will be a quick process for you if you routinely wrestle alligators. We already had snap dragons and a mini pine tree growing in the planter. Alexandria found some shells from vacations past  and stones from our drive way to make the path and yard ornaments. The house is made from a small disposable purple plastic flower pot and a large shell. We used a sharpie pen to draw on the windows and flourishes on the house and I cut a door in it with garden sheers. This residence is already occupied and it was on the market for less than 2 hours!

With results like these it was clear that Knoxville was due for a fairly housing boom. So we decided to go into mass production-- we scheduled a Fairy Garden Party to occur on the anniversary  of Alex's birth and have invited several little builders ages (0.5 to 7).

These fairy houses are modular homes made out of little unfinished bird houses which my husband spent several weekends sawing doors in with a tiny hand saw.  We will provide paint, stickers, shells, glue and ribbons for the little builders to finish them with. Then each little builder can install the fairy house at his/home garden.

Modular Fairy Homes 

Alex and I built a model home to help advertise the Development. We painted it red and white like a Mario mushroom. We bought succulents from the famers market and put it all together in a little rock pot with some fancy stones and wine bottle corks. I used a smashed-up pine cone and rocks at the bottom of my pot to cover the drainage hole without clogging it. We also found some doll house fences to make the small lot size less noticeable. (There will be a community pool rather than each house having its own!)

The components.

Here it is all assembled. It is going to be the center-peace for the Birthday table and then it will be moved to its permanent residence next to one of our roses.

The Seawind Unit
I will update this post with pictures of what the kids make and the aftermath of having 10 to 20 kids painting fairy houses at my house. Rain Rain stay away!

The Rain did stay away. We had a perfect day.

Our little builders had a good time personalizing their own houses. 

Paint and things to glue on were all well used. 

No Fairy house is complete without a blue glow in the dark Spider.