Playing with Food: Making Pizza

Last week, Little E went on a parent-accompanied school excursion to Doughworkz, which is basically the kitchen of local Italian restaurant Pastamania, in order to learn the secrets behind their tasty, tasty pizzas.

We went to the Pastamania branch at Singapore Management University (SMU) and the chefs who conducted the three hour session were friendly and extremely patient. I can see that this pizza workshop would be an awesome idea for a birthday party!

It’s so much fun to play with food! I mean, why play with playdoh, when you can play with real dough that you can actually eat?

P.S. Watch our first episode of Playing with Food here.

Wax-resist Easter egg decorating craft (and 15 more kid-friendly projects!)

Easter is just round the corner! If you are scrambling around for some last minute Easter or Spring-themed projects, or you are planning to throw an Easter Egg hunt and are looking for ideas, here is one simple egg decorating craft for you which can be done with your preschoolers (or kids and grownups of any age!).

HOW TO MAKE WAX-RESIST EASTER EGGS

First, colour patterns or draw pictures over cool boiled eggs using wax crayons. Pick bright or light colours like yellow, orange, pale green and pink. Younger kids can just scribble lightly over the eggshell. If you use brown eggs (which is what we did), don’t be worried if you cannot see the patterns right away – they will show up later, as you will soon see.

Scribble away

Step 1: Scribble with wild abandon

Prepare the egg dye in a deep bowl. We used 1 cup of plain water and a 1/4 cup of plain white vinegar, along with half a teaspoon of liquid blue food colouring. I chose blue because it would contrast with the yellow and orange crayons that we used.

Step 2: Prepare the dye

Step 2: Ensure that fingers are perfectly manicured

Using a spoon, we dropped each egg into the bowl until they were the desired colour. The longer you soak the eggs, deeper the resulting colour will be and the more brightly your wax design will show up. We used a long handled spoon to rotate the eggs in the dye to give it an even colour.

Step 3: Drop in the eggs one by one

Step 3: Create Egg Spa with Spoon Massage

Don’t be afraid to put the eggs in the dye for a second round if the colour isn’t deep enough. We used brown eggs, so each one came out a slightly different shade of turquoise, but if you use white eggs, the colour will be more even. Experiment with different patterns and let your imagination be your guide!

Step 4: Make different patterns

Step 4: Oooh and Aaah

J and Little E really liked how the food dye made their patterns appear as if by magic! J made a few eggs inspired by the Lego Movie’s Good Cop-Bad Cop character, whilst Little E was much more abstract in her designs.

Good Egg-Bad Egg

Good Egg-Bad Egg

If you need some more ideas, here are my 15 favourites from around the web! These are all kid-friendly projects so you can do them alongside your kids too.

Picture credit: Scissors Paper Stone

Picture credit: Scissors Paper Stone

1. Resurrection Eggs tutorial and free printable from Scissors Paper Stone This is a very simple tutorial – kids can practice their scissor skills to cut out the ovals from the free printable designed by Jasmine of Scissors Paper Stone, and you can even string the eggs together to make a bunting decoration! You can put your own messages on the paper eggs or print out the accompanying symbols and Bible verses to teach kids about Easter. There are also a ton of really simple tutorials for very pretty Easter decorations on Jasmine’s blog that you can do together with your kids!

kids-easter-bunny-celebration-face-paint-fun-1

Picture credit: Sakura Hakura

2. Easter Bunny face painting from Sakura Hakura I really like this creatively done Easter bunny costume! The bunny ears are simple to make and the bunny face paint can be achieved with simple blusher, eye shadow or powder and eyebrow pencil – so you don’t have to rush out to the store to buy special face paint. 7055478635_65ab1a9141_z 3. A brilliant list of Easter book recommendations and colouring pages from Princess Dana Diaries With the symbols of Easter – eggs, bunnies and chicks – plastered over every store window, kids may wonder what it all means. It’s worth checking out some of the books from the Princess Dana Diaries booklist – which are all available at any public library in Singapore! There are also some free colouring pages on there – great for keeping kids occupied if you’re planning an Easter party this weekend.

easter resurrection

Picture credit: Olimomok

4. Hot Cross Buns from Olimomok Debra and her kids made those delicious looking hot cross buns together. They seem rather straightforward and easy to do – and I bet they taste REALLY good when smothered in butter and jam!

kids-craft-bunny-rabbit

Picture Credit: A Juggling Mom

5. Upcycled Easter Bunny Tutorial from A Juggling Mom I have a soft spot for upcycling things around the house and turning them into fun toys for the kids and this craft is entirely made from bits and pieces around the house! I especially like the use of the shoebox – you can decorate the lid and then turn the whole lot into a portable playset.

6. Suncatcher Eggs from Life is in the Small Things This is a really quick and easy craft and is perfect for Easter Egg Hunt parties. This tutorial features little foam shapes and stickers on laminating paper, but I think it would work just as well with torn up coloured tissue, crepe paper or cellophane which would give a really pretty stained-glass effect!

Picture Credit: Sew Country Chick

Picture Credit: Sew Country Chick

7. Yarn egg garland from Mod Podge Rocks This particular craft uses regular 12″ balloons to make giant Easter eggs, but you can also made it using tiny water balloons filled with sweeties – pop the balloon afterwards and the sweeties will remain inside the yarn egg, making it a cute candy gift for kids.

Picture Credit: Artists Helping Children

Picture Credit: Artists Helping Children

8. Easter lily handprint bouquet from Artists Helping Children This is a very lovely paper and pipecleaner bouquet which kids can make themselves, using a rolled up handprint on plain white paper! I think it would be very pretty and meaningful as a Mother’s Day gift or even a Teacher’s Day gift!

Picture Credit: Glooshmoo

Picture Credit: Glooshmoo

10. Towel bunny from Glooshmoo I really like this cute little towel bunny – my 3 year old can make it too! Use a very thin, short pile face towel to make it easier for little fingers to manipulate. The tutorial calls for coloured push pins to make the eyes and nose, but I think you can get an even cuter effect with googly eyes or paper eyes stuck on with double sided tape – and you won’t run the risk of getting pricked in the fingers either.

Picture credit: Home stories A to Z

Picture credit: Home stories A to Z

11. Easter Bunny Bunting tutorial and free printable from Home Stories A to Z I like the idea of making this into an edible bunting with chocolate eggs. That would be just yummy. Just make sure you hang it in a cool area so that the eggs don’t melt! If  chocolate eggs aren’t your thing, you can even replace the eggs with a fluffy cotton ball tail  or turn the bunting into a ‘pin the tail on the bunny’ game for your Easter-themed party!

Picture Credit: Spoonful

Picture Credit: Spoonful

12. Cotton Ball Lamb from Spoonful This is a great one for preschoolers, using just cotton balls and a paper plate – simple and straightforward and it looks really cute too! Download the template from the link so that you can trace and cut out the sheep’s head and legs onto black or pink paper.

Picture Credit: Willowday

Picture Credit: Willowday

13. Clucking Rooster and Bunny from Willowday This is a really brilliant toy – which doubles as a rattle! Willowday even has a short tutorial video to show you how to put it all together.

Picture Credit: Dagmar*s Home

Picture Credit: Dagmar*s Home

14. Clothespin hatching egg from Dagmar*s Home The picture is pretty much self explantory!

Picture Credit: Inhabitots

Picture Credit: Inhabitots

15. Leaf print easter eggs from Inhabitots I really like these very pretty nature themed egg decorations! The edible dyes used to make these are all homemade from various vegetables and the recipe is included in the link.

ENJOY YOUR EASTER WEEKEND!

How to Catch a Star by Oliver Jeffers (and a SUPER giveaway!)

One of the very first books that I ever bought for J and Little E was ‘How to Catch a Star’ by Oliver Jeffers.

Oliver Jeffers is an artist, raised in Ireland, who makes picture books (amongst other things) – and these pictures books are favourites here at Owls Well. We love his books for their deceptively simple illustrations, quirky humour and underlying themes of curiosity and discovery.

Oliver Jeffers actually recently documented his trip to Bologna Children’s Book Fair, where he celebrated the 10th Anniversary of ‘How to Catch a Star’ with the release of a new edition which has some previously unpublished drawings in it! I am not surprised that the book has already become a classic.

book-kids-star-jeffers-picture

Picture Credit: Oliver Jeffers

The story itself is simple and sweet, about a boy searching for a star of his very own and finding a friend. He tries several different methods to obtain his goal, and just when he is about to give up, he finds out that special treasures can be found in unexpected places.

When J and Little E found out that their favourite book had been adapted into a stage play by Blunderbus Children’s Theatre UK, they were both really very excited! The flyer for the play, which has been brought to Singapore by ABA productions (who also organised KidsFest 2014), is still lying underneath J’s pillow, along with all his special treasures.

I had the opportunity to conduct a brief interview with the lead actor, Benjamin Sbuttoni, and Simon Sanchez, the Blunderbus Outreach Co-ordinator.

1. What inspired you to choose this particular book to adapt into a play?

 ‘How to Catch a Star’, jumped out at us straight away. The story is funny, beautiful, and the little boy is a wonderful character who is determined to achieve his goal…to catch his star.

The story gave us lots of ideas for what we could put on the stage. There are epic moments like travelling through space in his space rocket, and there are intimate moments like when the little boy is all alone with just his teddy bear for company.

We look for a story which will engage children (and adults) on different levels and ‘Star’ does that and so much more.

2. What were the major challenges that you faced in translating ‘How to Catch a Star’ from page to stage, and how did you work around them? 

We see challenges as opportunities. Opportunities to be more imaginative, more creative, and push ourselves to create the best story we can. For example, in our show we use puppets, and if there is any a point that an actor can’t do something, then we get the puppet to do it.

We find that by seeing every struggle as a possibility to excel, then we end up with a show that the children will love.

3. What message would you like children to take away at the end of the show?
To never stop dreaming and one day you’ll reach the stars!
blunderbus theatre stageplay

Picture Credit: Blunderbus Theatre

The play opens next week, on the 24 April 2014 at SOTA’s Drama Theatre, and my whole family is going to be there!

I cannot wait to see it!

A Special Surprise for Owl’s Well Readers: ABA Productions is kindly sponsoring a giveaway of a Family Set of 4 top tier Category 1 tickets (worth SGD$248) to the Opening Performance of How to Catch a Star on Thursday April 24th at 5pm, right here on Owls Well! Huzzah!

To take part in the Giveaway just:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook page
  2. Share this post on your Facebook page and tag a friend – make sure your post is set to public
  3. Leave a comment below telling me your favourite kid’s book and the name of your Facebook account that you used to like the page. Don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open to readers in Singapore and will end at midnight on 20th April 2014. Winners will be picked via Random.org - just make sure you complete all 3 easy steps!)

Good luck!

Playing with Food – a vlog

parent-child-activity-kitchen

With all the parents and kids at My Private Pantry

Last month, I was invited to attend a cooking workshop for children conducted by My Private Pantry and hosted by Nestle Koko Krunch Cereal!

The kids really enjoyed it – I brought their grandparents along who enjoyed cooking alongside them.

Here’s a video I made of J and Little E working hard in the kitchen with all the instructions so that you can try out the recipes at home!  The recipes we used incorporated Nestle Koko Krunch cereal as one of the main ingredients, and the end result tasted pretty good, but if you have issues with the high sugar content then you can probably substitute it for another wholegrain cereal of your choice and add a dash of cocoa powder for that chocolaty flavour.

No…. Energy… Brain… Dying…

I got back from my holiday to discover that one of my lecturers had decided that we were all slackers and, as a method of motivating us to study harder/do more, has given us less than a week to complete a 1250 word essay.  This would normally be a cinch for me, but I have also recently been given a promotion at work.

Between the data migration and the insanely long essay…

I.  Am.  Completely.  Flat.  Out.

Therefore, I’ve decided to share with you my current playlist of 5 happy songs about being pathetic.

As these are all Youtube videos, I have placed them behind this read more bar so that you’ll only load them if you need them, but if you don’t want commentary, you can find the complete playlist of these songs on the OwlsWellVlogs channel.

Continue reading

Online Shopping with Paley & Love (plus a giveaway and discount code!)

When I was growing up, I had a large collection of Barbies that were either given to me as presents or handed down from my older cousins, but I never really understood how to play with them. My friends who came over on play dates had much more fun with them than I did, and I would watch them uncomprehendingly as they dressed the dolls up and fussed with their hair. I was much more interested in pulling off the dolls’ heads to see what was inside. [1]

Now, however, I have TWO LIVING DOLLS of my own and I love dressing the both of them up! Every piece that I purchase for J and Little E has to be extra-special in one way or another – mostly because I look for heirloom quality clothes that will last more than one generation.

However, I hardly ever shop at the local brick-and-mortar stores in Singapore because I don’t really have the time or the inclination to drag the kids round the malls, or the budget to afford some of the really classy clothes in the shop windows. Additionally, I want my children to stand out and not be wearing the same clothes as everyone else.

This is why I tend to buy most of the children’s clothes overseas (usually from the UK) during sale season or from online retailers who carry a carefully curated selection.

Like myself, May (one of the two homegrown mum-preneurs behind the new online children’s clothing store, Paley & Love) is also very particular about the clothes she buys for her kids, looking for high quality materials and cool designs, but she also does not want to spend a bomb on clothes that will soon be outgrown. Between working long hours in the office and trying to be there for her two boys, the only time that May had a chance to do any shopping was from blogshops during the morning commute. This is why she decided to start her own online retail store, carrying only stylish yet affordable children’s clothes that she would be proud to dress her kids in!

I was really excited when May contacted me and gave me the opportunity to choose some gorgeous togs for J and Little E from Paley & Love! The shop updates once a fortnight, so there were so many lovely pieces to choose from. Here’s what we ended up with:

dress-girl-shirt-boy

On J: Dark Blue with White Polka Dots Long/Roll Up shirt (SGD$29.90). On Little E: Tri-colour Shift Dress (SGD$32.90).

J really likes his polka dot shirt, which I think will also be a great piece for Little E in the future! I really like the contrasting pocket and the mandarin collar. The sleeves can also be worn long which is great for J because he often gets cold in air-conditioned places. This shirt really does wash well and it is very easy to iron!

frozen-style-norweigan-inspired-dress

Box-pleats and embroidery!

Little E’s Tri-colour shift dress is really gorgeous – the style of the dress with bolts of colour hidden within the pleats as well as the embroidery along the hem, reminded me of the rosemaling and pleating of the Norweigan style garments in Disney’s Frozen. It’s very versatile too – I think it would look cute with a long sleeved teeshirt underneath and tights!

I would recommend that this dress be pre-washed separately as the colour does bleed a little bit on the first few washes.

kids-tee-dark-blue-aeroplane

Silver Plane Tee (SGD$19.90)

J chose this cool tee-shirt by himself! The silver foil plane is very shiny and stands up well to repeated washes. The tee-shirt itself is a very soft cotton, which is light and thin – very nice for our summer weather. I personally prefer a thicker cotton which I feel will hold its shape, but my son really likes the airiness of this tee-shirt.

Little E also chose a dress for herself – the Calliart Ink dress that you can see in the picture below.

calligraphy-watercolour-print-dress-kids

Calliart Ink dress (SGD$32.90)

This is a very pretty cream coloured dress, with a lovely print of flowers and butterflies all over it. I especially like the tie at the back which can be adjusted to give a more customised fit or loosened so that the dress can be worn pinafore-style.

Paley & Love ships both locally and internationally, and there is free local shipping for orders above SGD $80! May’s fussiness when it comes to clothes is definitely in your favour, as she scrutinises every piece that enters and leaves her hands, making sure that there are no stains or marks on them. This means that your order is sure to reach you in great condition.

Bonus for Owls Well Readers: Paley & Love has offered an exclusive discount code for all Owls Well Readers! Just enter the code PaleyMA at checkout to enjoy 10% off anything in store. (Promotion code is valid until 30th April 2014)

Paley & Love is also generously sponsoring a giveaway of $20 worth of shopping vouchers for FIVE Owls Well Readers! Hurrah!

To take part in the Giveaway just:

  1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook page
  2. Be a fan of the Paley & Love Facebook page
  3. Like and share this Facebook photo and tag a friend – make sure your post is public!
  4. Leave a comment below telling me what you look for in choosing clothes for your kids and the name of your Facebook account that you used to like the page. Don’t forget to include your email address! (If you would like to send me the email address privately, leave a comment for the other answers, then email me at 4owlswell [at] gmail [dot] com)

(Giveaway is open worldwide and will end on 30th April. Winners will be picked via Random.org - just make sure you complete all 4 easy steps!)

Good luck!


1. Conclusion: Barbie is an airhead.

Games with James: Munchkin Deluxe Gag Reel

So International TableTop Day is just over, and I have this one last video from our Games with James series – the gag reel from our last episode featuring Munchkin Deluxe!

J really hopes that this series will inspire more parents to play games with their kids as part of family time. If you have any favourite games that you think we will like and that we should feature in future episodes, do let me know!

Meanwhile, here is the complete playlist of all our Games with James episodes – do please like, share and subscribe!

Do check out Geek & Sundry’s TableTop for some grownup gameplay. This is the series that inspired our J to make these videos in the first place – All Hail The Great Wil Wheaton!!!