The Sprout by HP feature we were most excited about trying out was the ability to create a stop motion animation. We thought this would be particularly cool for Talitha to do with Laurence.
Feeling festive, we grabbed our nesting doll nativity set (from Tigerlilly Quinn’s shopped – closed now but do check out her blog as there’s so much pretty over there) since we wanted to make something with a Christmas theme. The downside of this was that they are rounded so didn’t stay in position on the mat. A little white tack gently helped with that.
Talitha was a bit trigger happy with the scanning so we ended up having to delete loads of slides with Laurence’s hand in. Playing it back every so often meant that she got a real sense of the process and understood how it all worked.
I can imagine that, given enough time to really play with this on her own, it could become a highly creative, high-tech version of her everyday puppet shows, turning any object into a potential character.
We’ve been getting to know the new Sprout by HP for the last few weeks. It’s a desktop PC which comes with a mat that acts as a second touch screen and, using the scanner above the conventional screen, allows you to capture objects in 3D.
Sprout by HP’s main focus is capturing, creating and editing photos and video, allowing you to simply move objects around, cut around them and generally bring the physical and digital together.
As a blogger, I have to try my hand at a lot of design that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me. Sprout has the potential to simplify so much of that. I’d love to see what professional designers like the one I’m married to make of it once Photoshop launches a Spout version, which apparently is in the works.
Even if design doesn’t come into your work, though, creativity is a part of all of our lives. From Christmas cards to promotional posters, stop motion animations to 3D printing, I’m sure most families could find a lot of use for Sprout by HP. In my introductory tutorial, I was shown a tiny 3D printed shoe which had been taken from a 3D scan of a baby’s first shoe. It was a touching demonstration of what Sprout by HP could offer.
As a home educator, my main interest in testing this computer was to see what my kids and I might be able to do with it together. From this perspective, there are so many possibilities.
Something which intrigued me from the outset was that though I struggled a little bit to get to grips with how it all worked (I haven’t used a PC in a long time), 4.5-year-old Talitha found it no trouble at all. She’d sat with me in the tutorial and clearly absorbed it all but I think her uncluttered mind finds it pretty intuitive to operate too.
On their own, both girls have been having fun playing Crayola Draw and Sing which plays music as they colour, allowing them to choose different images, tools, tunes and musical instruments. Crayola DJ has been another favourite. They’ve had fun using it to mix sound effects with backing tracks.
Together, we’ve been bringing together images and objects and they’ve had a lot of fun manipulating them and moving them around. We’ve talked a lot about how animation works and she even had a go with drawing a cartoon we’ve titled: “Four-year-old doom and destruction”. It would have worked more smoothly if she’d scanned it a stroke at a time but I don’t think she has the patience for that just yet.
Talitha especially loved making a stop motion animation with our nesting dolls, which I’ll blog about in a separate post.
For more on what Sprout by HP offers, check out Sprout by HP presents “Jane”:
Earlier this year, Talitha had a super hero party to go to. As we talked about who she could go as, we realised that she wasn’t familiar with many female super heroes. I mean, the super hero thing isn’t hugely on her radar even now but she at least had some awareness of characters like Batman.
More recently, she’s started donning a cape, flying about and saving people. I don’t think that she’s particularly thinking of herself in gender when she’s playing these games but I’ve felt that if she wasn’t exposed to female heroes, she might begin to absorb the message that the business of power, rescue and adventure is better left to the boys.
In this new show, DC reimagines its female (and some male) characters, like Wonder Woman and Supergirl, as teenagers attending Super Hero High.
I have to admit that I found it a bit goofy and maybe even cringey in parts but I think that’s possibly because it’s not the mostly serious, tense, action-packed stuff I grew up with. I’d love to introduce her to those comics and videos at some point but for now this is probably more age-appropriate for her as I doubt she’d be able to deal with the suspense they’re laced with just yet. I was also pretty surprised to find Poison Ivy and Harley reimagined as heroes!
Talitha loved watching these clips and has gone on for ages about how strong they are and that they can save people, asking about their different powers. I like that there’s also an emphasis on friendship between them and that they’re all so unique, there’s a favourite for any child to latch onto.
This cowl has pretty much made the season for me. My friend Tash crocheted it and it’s a real testament to her craftsmanship, quirky personality and joyful dedication. She recently launched her crochet business Lori & Lumps Lace and there is lusting a-plenty to be had over the collection there.
There are dragon shawls, swirling scarves, children’s cardigans, mermaid tails and much more, all exhibiting her careful stitching and beadwork. Many of her pieces are made from beautifully hand-dyed merino yarn.
You can probably tell I’ve been drooling over her shop for a while! I kept saying that I would buy something and I finally have. I’ve ordered two of her My Little Pony hats for the girls for Christmas. Talitha, for some reason, has decided that Coconut Cream is her favourite and I couldn’t resist choosing Rainbow Dash for Ophelia.
In the meantime, this beautiful, crazy cowl is brightening these chilly, grey days and garnering lots of compliments. She’s named it her “Serendipity Cowl” as it was the product of a happy accident! From the moment I saw it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it! I was actually planning to buy it but she ended up offering it to me for the purpose of this review.
Her prices are extremely accessible (the cowl is valued at £29), especially when you consider how much work goes into each piece. I love giving gifts that are handmade, added bonus if it means supporting an independent business. So as our thoughts turn towards Christmas *hint hint*, I suggest you take a look here.
I’ve been trying out the new PacaPod Idaho-Marine changing bag and wishing this is were the changing bag I’d started out with. My changing bag history began with ugly but functional changing bags I’d been given and moved on to non-changing bags that ticked the boxes for me aesthetically but didn’t allow me to find a blessed thing.
I love that PacaPod combines both style and functionality. There are so many pockets! There are also two pouches inside that pull out and can be opened to lie flat. One for food and bottles (if this is what you need) and one for changing stuff. I could see that being particularly useful on a flight when you want to nip to the loo with just your changing bits.
My only gripe is that the changing mat is too small, in my opinion and the changing pouch can just about fit a couple of cloth nappies if they’re on the smaller side.
Other than that, the bag itself is very spacious and, provided that you don’t overpack, it’s brilliantly comfortable when worn across the body, which has worked well for me when I’ve had a baby in a hip or back carry in a sling.
The bag comes with hooks you can leave attached to your pushchair. They’re really rather useful if a bit fiddly. You can attach the pods on their own or the PacaPod itself.
This is a bag I happily use when I don’t have small children in tow. I could see myself continuing to enjoy it long after a changing bag is needed. The Idaho-Marine has a laid back look which is perfect for the every day but smart enough for situations that call for it. Read more about it here.
Thanks to PacaPod for sending me this bag for the purposes of this review.
A few weekends ago, I enjoyed trying out a Makey Mamas workshop to learn how to make simple, natural skincare products for the whole family.
I first heard about Makey Mamas in the various Bristol Facebook groups I’m on and was intrigued. Offering creative classes specifically for mothers, from newborn photography to crocheting booties to sewing harem pants, they sounded great fun and value for money with most classes costing around £25 and less.
I love the ethos of the company from the idea of getting mothers together to create to their commitment to using repurposed and organic materials. The Makey Mamas Facebook Page, which also doubles as a blog is often a source of entertainment and education.
We tend to avoid using harsh chemicals in our home and on our skin but “natural” products can be pricey and, honestly, a bit hit and miss in terms of how well they work. So I was intrigued to try making my own.
A weekend class suited me well with Laurence dropping me off and taking the kids to the central library for the morning.
We started by introducing ourselves and saying a little bit about what brought us to the class. One participant mentioned that she just loved learning alongside other women and this really resonated with me, especially once the class was over and I was positively radiating with what an informative and empowering experience this turned out to be.
That’s the thing, on the face of it I might have thought, “Oh, but I can just Google stuff or buy a book and whip up something”. Some people might but actually sitting down and exploring natural ingredients and essential oils, talking about their benefits and the care you need to take with them then actually making stuff right then and there has helped me walk away knowing that I can confidently do this.
Misty Tunks who runs the workshop is a wealth of information about skincare, essential oils, making and even beekeeping (so we learned some fascinating stuff about beeswax and bees hives!)
All the materials and equipment, including portable stoves, were laid out. We made three very different products: a bar, a balm and a cream. We specified whether it would be for us or our babies to decide how many drops of each essential oil would be included. We also had a list of essential oils and their benefits to help us personalise the products to our needs. I’m including a teething bar recipe at the end that I made for Ophelia, who’s been teething hard at the moment.
In addition to the products we’d made, we walked away with a surprisingly thorough pamphlet of notes about making skincare products. I’m looking forward to making more at home. I left the workshop buzzing. If I were pregnant, I’d totally be doing the bump casting workshop next. I’ll certainly book on to another class in the future.
Check out the Makey Mamas creative workshops available here. They even have a couple of Christmas gift making sessions.
Combine all ingredients except lavender oil in a double boiler. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from heat and stir in the lavender oil. Pour into molds (we used cupcake liners and a cupcake tin). Allow to cool completely before removing from molds. Makes 1 bar.
I was invited to attend this workshop for free but I’ve gone on and on about it because it really was that good.
There’s lots of spooky fun about this week in the lead-up to Halloween so it may just be the perfect time to introduce your kids to a classic from our own childhoods, Scooby-Doo! It’s as silly and amusing now as ever but kids aren’t just watching it on TV anymore. Now you can watch videos, play games and download printable activities on ScoobyDoo.com and The Warner Bros Youtube Channel makes it even easier for kids to watch the mystery squad, on-demand, and from any device.
Scooby-Doo! is now giving away a £100 gift card for Amazon, so this is a great time to check it all out. Watch the video then enter for your chance to win.