Homemade Play Dough – Perfect for little hands and rainy days!

Homemade Play Dough

Today I treated four kids to a homemade play dough experience, something a trip to the shops to buy the potted variety just doesn’t compare with!

The weather was awful so this was the perfect morning activity to keep busy hands occupied. I discovered homemade play dough through my daughter Eabha’s creche. She loves nothing more than a big ball of play dough to make into a million different imaginitive things.

It is simple to make, economical and environmentally friendly. Keeps well for three to four days in the fridge. For storage use a sealed bag or if you make more than one colour you can use recycled glass jam jars. Great for family bonding starting with getting the ingredients and cleaning up afterwards.

It also has many positive benefits for kids which include:

  • Fine motor skills work out, stirring, spooning, manipulating, scraping.
  • Sequence development an early maths lesson for toddlers and pre schoolers, learning how to follow steps in order.
  • Language development talking about what is happening.
  • Creativity & Imagination some very interesting statues and cakes are created.

Getting organized & ingredients needed:

  • Plain Flour (as organic as you like)
  • Water
  • Salt (needed to prevent consumption)
  • Non toxic paint (doesn’t stain little hands)
  • Mixing bowl (non toxic paint washes off and is safe)
  • Spoon
  • Kids baking toys (rolling pins, shape cutters etc)
  • TIP: I use shower curtains for art and craft activities they are cheap and can be washed in the washing machine!!


  • Use as much flour as you want play dough. (3 cups will give you a good sized ball of dough but experiment as you go)
  • Add in the salt just one or two pinches
  • A good squeeze of paint
  • Water just enough to bind the flour
  • The dough should be easy to handle, add more flour if it is too wet.

Have lots of FUN!

First hand or second hand – ask yourself the question?

First hand or second hand – ask yourself the question is a piece to focus on the excellent services provided by charity run thrift stores, second hand shops what ever they are called in your area. Second hand shops support people and families in need through so many ways, and are staffed by caring people who are mostly volunteering their time and effort to a great cause.

There is also an important environmentally responsible side to second hand stores all over the world. Without them all the items on sale in these stores would more than likely end up in a landfill somewhere! Instead there is a valuable cycle where old clothing, shoes, toys, books and all the other finds are available for recycling and up cycling for a fractional cost, the proceeds of which fund a charity. Win Win cycle.

(Cute wooded puzzles I purchased second hand for my two year old little girl Eabha)


We live in a consumer focused society where the majority of us living in the first world (I hate this term) have too much “stuff” clogging up our homes and of course our lives. Did you ever notice how lighter you feel as a person when you clear clutter from your wardrobe or home! A startling fact that “20 % of the worlds population consumes 80% of its resources” – Home a film by internationally renowned photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand. World resources such as cotton for jeans, tees and so many other clothing items, carbon fuels used to make the product and transport it by container ship to be purchased, materials used for packaging. Packaging plays a vital part in the selling process and sometimes costs more than the end product. For what purpose? Only than to make you think you need something you don’t!

Second hand stores to me provide a refreshing take on the way I would love things to be:

  1. No pressure to purchase as everything is post consumer cast offs – “One mans trash is another mans treasure”
  2. Cheery people around, staff are there for a cause and customers enjoy the excitement in what treasures could be lurking around the corner
  3. No packaging – carrier bags are donated also!
  4. The knowledge that the money you are about to spend will be put to good use, most charity shops have a single charity they support.
  5. Recycling & Upcycling – items are used and reused and might even do the cycle again. Isn’t this better than waisting resources and then burying it in the earth.

I have a two year old little girl who absolutely loves to play – what child doesn’t? Eabha has so many toys, books, games and everything else a child could want. Even though I am a mother who limits the amount of stuff she has it still gets out of control, especially around birthdays, Christmas etc. A benefit I find when using second hand shops is the ability to bring some no longer played with toys back and buy some more. Creating space in your home and getting Eabha used to sharing! A good scrubbing with Milton and the toys and books are good to go. Kids love helping out with the cleaning process and they earn the toy in the end of all the scrubbing!

Claire Lewis hopes you will support your local charity shops & thrift stores either by donations of items you no longer need or want or by purchasing you never know what you might find! Enjoy xx

(Some lovely examples of toys Eabha picked out on one such shopping trip)

Home; a movie that will put it all into prospective!

Home – a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth’s climate.

The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being.

For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.

Home watch it here.

My friend Robbie got me to watch this film and it really spurs my quest to make Claire Lewis a household name as the original and first Environmentally Responsible Education & Lifestyle Co. – ‘Making it cool to care about the earth and to have fun doing it.’

Photography is amazing and the facts are gripping, please watch this and tell everyone about it, you will be glad you took the time.

Terracycle and the quest to eliminate the idea of waste.

Heard about Terracycle yet?

‘TerraCycle’s purpose is to eliminate the idea of waste. We do this by creating national recycling systems for the previously non-recyclable. The process starts by offering collect programmes (many of them free) to collect your waste and then convert the collected waste into a wide range of products and materials. With over 14 million people collecting waste in 11 countries together we have diverted billions of pieces of waste that are either upcycled or recycled into over 1,500 various products available at major retailers ranging from Walmart to Whole Foods Market. Our hope is to eliminate the idea of waste by creating collection and solution systems for anything that today ends up in landfill.’ – from www.terracycle.ie

Terracycle was founded by a like minded eco-entrepreneur Tom Szaky, who’s initial business was set up in his Princeton dorm. He collected organic scraps from the dorms and fed them to worms to make compost. To bottle the compost, two forms – liquid and compost, he collected discarded plastic bottles from the campus and began the initial company that has now grown into one of the fastest growing green company in the world.

It is a simple concept, if you are Environmentally Responsible like most Claire Lewis fans are, and want to start collecting one of the waste streams that Terracycle collect, you do the following simple steps:

1. Log onto www.terracycle.com – choose your country and you will find out the different products available to you to start collecting.

2. Register with a local brigade or start a new one.

3. Start collecting and fill a box or two. Print out a label and start gaining €0.02 per item. You can use this money to purchase products that are up cycled from the trash you send back or you can cash the cheque into a local charity.

If you are a school or creche you can also avail of this money collected and put it back into your school.

Tom is one of my idols! Amazing guy it is a goal of mine to work with him some day 🙂

Breast Feeding and the latest research findings.

I am very careful when I speak about breastfeeding as I don’t want to offend any women who are all very entitled to choose what they feel is the best for their babies. For some women it is a straight out choice not to do it. For others it is something they really wanted to do, but for so many reasons this was not possible, and this must be very hard to deal with. For me it was something I never considered other wise, but I always said if it didn’t happen then I wasn’t going to stress about it – I would have enough to deal with, with a new born baby. I was drawn to breast feeding even more because of the environmentally positive benefits. No formula (manufacturing, distribution, etc), boiling kettles and sterilizing bottles, and it was cost friendly too.

I grew up in a household where breastfeeding was a very normal activity, my mother had 5 children. I was 5 years old when my brother was born and because there was never a bottle in the house I used to breast feed my dolls!! This may seem strange to some of you, but as children we mimic what we see around us, so in my mind this was the method to feed a hungry baby.

My Daughter was born and I found it easy – probably because of all the practice early on in life 🙂 The first three nights were the worst but once your udders!! heal then I found it to be such a rewarding experience. I was the only one who could feed my baby and the convenience of it was great. Night feeds happened in the blink of an eye and Eabha thrived on my milk. Human milk is by composition very different to cows milk. I do like cows milk, but more because I am from the culture that believes it is super good for you. I don’t see the need to drink cows milk or follow on milk after weaning, with a healthy balanced diet and water as the main drink babies and toddlers (unless medically specified) should get all their nutrients in a balanced diet. Humans are just another species of mammals and you don’t see cows looking for goat’s or any other mammal’s milk to feed their calves or vice versa! Calves also never drink cows milk again after they are weaned.

Picture curtsy of The HSE Cork University Maternity Hospital, Cork, Ireland.

There is a study in Ireland called the Growing Up in Ireland study which follows the lives of children over a number of years. New findings from this study show that breastfeeding has long reaching impact on our children’s weight. The research, conducted by the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, show that children who have been breastfed for three to six months are 38% less likely to be obese at nine years of age compared to exclusively formula fed babies: children breastfed for six months or more are 51% less likely.

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Ireland), Ms Frances Fitzgerald, TD, said: “This research adds to the growing evidence that the benefits of breastfeeding extend to later life, If we are to reverse the worrying trend of childhood obesity in Ireland, promoting and increasing rates of breastfeeding must be part of our policy response”. I agree 110%, there needs to be a stronger support network for mothers who would like to breastfeed but fail because of lack of support from their immediate family and beyond.

The reason I founded Claire Lewis as an Environmentally Responsible Education & lifestyle Co. was because as a population we need to look to mother nature for the answers to our questions and queries about every aspect of our world. Human nutrition is a very important topic and we need to be more supportive and encouraging for mothers who breastfeed. It is after all the most natural thing in the world, but as a society we have moved away from the natural choice but I can feel a change coming! I hope it involves breasts and lots of them, discreetly of course 🙂

Pedal Power

As Bike Week 2012 began yesterday the 16th of June and ends on Sunday 24th, I urge you all to give give cycling a go!

It might only be a quick dash to the shops, or instead of your afternoon walk you might try a cycle. 

From a fitness and wellbeing point of view, you can’t bet cycling to work. I used to cycle to work, gosh almost three years ago now and even though the weather never helped, the fresh feeling in the mornings and the 15min commute compared to a 45min bus ride made it all worth wile. I bought my much loved bike on the cycle to work scheme. I also was at my fittest and had the ability to fill out my skinny jeans in a flattering fashion. I had to give up the cycling when I became pregnant and I really did miss it.

I now use cycling to keep my fitness and weight in check and as time is never on my side I find it is ideal for exercising my two dogs in half the time it would take to walk them. It also gives us all a far more beneficial cardio workout.

Ireland may not have the most ideal climate for a biking culture but we certainly give it a good shot. Purchase the best waterproofs you can afford, and of course your safety equipment. And with a little understanding from all road users including cyclists, we could follow our European neighbors, particularly the Dutch, in creating a more sustainable cycling culture in Ireland.

“UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said he hopes biking culture continues to grow in cities as it is not only a low-carbon transport method, but also beneficial for people’s health” – Dutch Cycling Embassy.

As the fella says guys and girls – get on yer bike!!