Project Tree House – Stage 1

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For my entire childhood I have wanted a Tree House, somewhere to call home. My Dad, who is very capable of building one, didn’t commit as he is the type to obsess over safety – anyone who knows my Dad is probably laughing right now! The thoughts of young children climbing ladders and being up high with ropes would have given my Dad many years of sleepless nights. Instead, when I was young, I used my Dad’s shed as my place to get away. This actually worked out well for me, as the lessons learnt about carpentry and nail driving, screwing and salvaging were useful when I decided to build my daughter a Tree House.

The reason why I have called this post ‘Project Tree House’ and have put it into stages is to make it more achievable to you. It is, and always will be an ongoing project, and will evolve with the child and when I have spare time to work on it.

I first thought about buying a complete swing set and tree house combo. This thought didn’t last long, as the prices are extortionate and the lure of constructing a tree house out of left overs, making it with all the love in the world appealed more. So what I did was, go on the internet and learned about what was available and the different models out there. I had a vision in my head about what I wanted to do for Eabha, it was a deconstructed Pirate ship with a flag pole, the tree house being the ships bridge, and a sandpit underneath to bury the treasure!

It doesn’t always have to be the pirate ship as there are some clever idea’s I have up my sleeve to make this area any child’s dream. I love to tap into a child’s imagination so my sewing machine will be involved, creating an area that can be a pink girly castle or a stage to perform. I will give you all the info with pictures once I have the time and the finished product. But, above all, I want to get parents actively hand making things instead of shop buying you get a whole different level of satisfaction and your children will light up like Christmas!

So stage 1 for my tree house was:

  1. Mark out (use twine and sticks to see scale) the section of your garden you want to give over to a child’s play area. You will need to take off the top soil and depending on the size purchase bark mulch in bulk which will act as the cushion to break any falls.
  2. Track down a pallet or two for constructing the tree house. I used the pallet in which our sandstone patio paving came in. It could be a good thing to call into a landscaping yard to see what they can give you. It is amazing how friendly people are when you ask nicely!
  3. Buy 4 fencing posts and you will need some cement to make these secure.
  4. Visit your local chandlery (shop that sells sailing and boat stuff) for some rope and bolts and hooks to make the flag pole and the barrier for the entrance.
  5. Any flag will work on the flag pole you may have to sew some hooks. What my Dad did was, took the cotton handle of one of those really high quality bags, made two loops and sewed on a loop at each end of the flag. Then you can attach it to the rope of the mast. I will do a separate blog on this as it needs to be explained better.

Here is a picture of the initial stage of the tree house:

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The Amazing Sunflower.

SUNFLOWER

I love Sunflowers they are the skyscrapers of the flower world, sunny by name and sunny by nature. They are bee loving plants and my lord have they some history and science behind them! These facts might help you out some time, somewhere and you might least expect it…

  • They were brought to Europe in the 16th century, and are native to S.America and Mexico.
  • They are the most economically important plants – Oil, animal feed, paper, latex – yes sunflowers produce latex!
  • The pattern of the sunflower’s florets (the circle containing small flowers crowned together) actually have a mathematical model, expressed in polar coordinates. This model was devised by H.Vogel in 1979.
  • There is a sun flower with the name ‘Irish Eyes’
  • In 2009, the tallest Sunflower stood at 8m in Germany and was recorded in the Guinness book of records.
  • The most astounding fact I discovered about Sunflowers was they are used for Phytoremediation to extract toxic ingredients from soils. Such as lead, arsenic and uranium.
  • And they were used to remove caesium-137 and strontium-90 from a nearby pond after the Chernobyl disaster and a similar campaign was mounted in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

Amazing facts for an amazing plant. I love to teach children about nature, and for me Sunflowers are the best plants for showing children how versatile nature is. They also show children how plants grow and can introduce them to gardening in a fun way. You can also explain about bees and honey as the sunflower will attract bees from miles away.

I had a sunflower plant in my garden this year, I saved the heads and dried them out to preserve the seed. This will give me a free crop of sunflowers for next year saving me a few bob and giving satisfaction – once they grow!

Find out more about the Sunflower Here.

Peter Rabbit Soup?!

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What is this I hear you ask! Well I have a little girl who likes a certain few veggies but wouldn’t be a fan of things like onion, mushrooms, tomatoes etc. but, loves the soup version?!!

For me I love nothing more than seeing her polish off a big bowl of vegetable soup and it is great for clearing out the vegetable drawer saving on waste. And I find for the winter having a stock pile of soup can keep the weight down on mum and be a quick healthy option for tea for the kids.

Recently Eabha started to watch Peter Rabbit on CBeebies and loves it to bits. This love affair with Peter Rabbit is great for me as she is much more willing to try new veggies, I tell her that Peter Rabbit loves this particular vegetable, and she believes me 🙂

So my Peter Rabbit soup is simply a combination of any vegetables left over combined with an Organic stock cube, garlic, thyme, ginger and salt and pepper.

I hope this works for your little bunnies!!

 

The Seal and The Shot Gun…

seal

This summer while on holiday in county Cork, Ireland. I had the joy of watching a seal that was resident just inside the harbor. I think it was a he, as he was quite large, but I could be mistaken! He was so nimble and agile and it was so lovely to show the children a seal from quite a close range. I grew up in this village and spent each and ever summer here, living just a stone throw away from this very beach. I can never remember a seal living in the bay and so I loved the familiarity his presence brought. The village in itself is a typical fishing village, with lots of different types of fishing, including crab and lobster pots in close to the shore.

When I think of seals, I immediately think of the words, wild, free and fish. They are able to master the hazards of the sea and triumph. They have lots of predators in the wild that they can do their best to outrun and outwit but one predator they seem to be defenceless against, time and time again is MAN.

I was recently so saddened to learn that this very seal had been found washed up on the same beach with a shot-gun wound to the head……He is DEAD.

I cannot speak of my sadness, but all I can say is not only am I sad that he is dead and left to rot, but also the way of the world that we now find ourselves in, is so out of touch with the earth and nature. I always look to the Native American people for inspiration as they were masters at sustainability and being with one with nature. They killed only the buffalo they needed to survive and ate in season. Until, men with guns came and shot all the buffalo for sport and left them to rot.

Seals are wild creatures that feed on shell-fish and fish, they cannot change this as they are wild and their natural habitat is the sea. I completely understand the need to fish and make a living for fishermen all over Ireland. Fishing is big business with huge money to be made. But, when fishermen fish with the intensity that they do there will not only be no fish in time but are we going to allow all the wildlife that threat the fishing industry to be killed? Also the fishing industry is so industrialised it is unsustainable – they actually dump fish or risk being fined. Whats natural about fishing with quotas? What about the natural food chain? Are we going to affect this to the point of alteration? Will we keep killing animals until they are extinct and we have to go to the zoo to observe them?

The alarm bells are going off, we cannot keep going at the pace we are going. We cannot have the core of everything we believe to come back to MONEY. There is a natural order for a scientific reason. Animals are killed by other animals, but eaten for survival nothing more, not shot and left to rot for interfering with MAN and man’s need to earn money. It makes me sad to be a human and fearful for those who believe in reincarnation!!

There is a high chance that if you are reincarnated as an animal – man will probably kill you in your animal form for sport, kill you to throw you in landfill (1/3 of all food is wasted), or kill you to make money!!

More bad news here:

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/fishermen-condemn-sick-killing-of-seals-26862200.html

Check out the great work the Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary do to save seals in Ireland. This gorgeous picture of the seal above comes from the sanctuary. Next time I am in Dingle I will be sure to pay a visit.

Dingle Wildlife and Seal Sanctuary 

A Drop of Blood all in time for the Bram Stoker Festival.

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The Bram Stoker Festival takes place the weekend of – 26th to 28th of October.The three-day festival will peel back the layers of the city to reveal Stoker’s Dublin. Prepare for a weekend for all the family with walking tours through the lane-ways and hidden steps of the Victorian macabre aspect of the city; literary workshops exploring horror writing with award winning authors for both teens and adults; Stoker-themed theatre, lively discussions on all things vampire, and a highlight being an evening of spooky spectacle from renowned street theatre company Spraoi in the majestic surroundings of Dublin Castle.

To celebrate this fab and spooky festival and highlighting Dracula’s love of Blood. I have pulled out one fab book that I picked up for my little girl in my local charity shop when she was really young but I just knew it would come in handy some day. The book first published in 1968 by Adam & Charles Black – London,  with the fitting title ‘A Drop of Blood’ written by Paul Showers and illustrated by Don Madden. It is from a series of Let’s Read And Find Out which covered a wide range of scientific subjects in a very clear manor for children to understand. My daughter is not yet 4 and she was recently asking about what was inside her arm and why when she cut her knee red “stuff” came out, so I thought it was time to read this lovely book.

The illustrations are great, the story is really simple, yet scientific. I even brushed up on my biology myself!

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It gives insight into what makes up blood, how scabs form and what they are for, and how the circulatory system works.

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The book has been reprinted and re-illustrated with a more Vampire theme you can purchase it on Amazon Here. But, I must say, I really loved the classic illustrations compared to the new vamped up style. At the end of the day they both teach a really great lesson about what is inside ‘A Drop of Blood’

adropofblood new illustration

Another review was by Curious Pages Here.

Enjoy the book and be sure and check out the Bram Stoker Festival, looks like a lot of educational fun for Halloween. Baawww Haaa Haaa!

I have made it to the Finals for The Blog Awards Ireland 2013…Yippie!

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Yes, I have made it to the finals of The Blog Awards Ireland 2013. I was short listed for a few categories but made it to the final under the Best Science / Education Blog. I need to get a little greener for next year to make it into the Eco/Green category LOL., but I feel totally privileged to have made it to any category at all, even after only one year of blogging.

The Science / Education category is very strong and to be honest I haven’t a snow balls hope in hell of winning, but what it has done is made me concentrate even more on where my direction should be. I was a bit confused how I made it to this category and not the Eco/Green category, but I am sure the reasons will become clear to me. My goal is to educate the world that we can all make a difference in caring for our planet, and it can actually be a very pleasurable experience in doing so. I also want to become a really great children’s author in writing about Environmental Responsibility and getting children interested in the earth from a young age. So, I suppose, that is the educational aspect covered. I am also an earth scientist, so that is the science bit covered too!!

It is funny how things happen, but only on Monday I was walking the beach and I was thinking about another children’s book that explains about how science is pretty much everywhere. It was the waves breaking on the beach that made me think of this. Actually it is pretty hard core scientific stuff that goes into the process of what seems to be a simple wave breaking!

I always say that people are not to blame on the most part for a lack of urgency for the earths welfare, but it needs to come from the top down. It is education that will get people back into the swing of things again, and I hope to be at the fore front – educating the world about the Earth, the Environment and how to live with a positive, responsible attitude towards it. We all don’t need to become radicals, but just a little bit more conscious that the earth is also a living thing that needs a caring bunch living on her! Not some reckless teenagers (sorry teenagers you are not all reckless) – it’s time the responsible parents (sorry parents you are not all responsible) came home to stop the wild party…LOL but I hope you get what I mean 🙂

Wishing all the finalists the very best of luck 🙂