Thursday, 31 January 2013

Weekend at TCP, Moshi

Following the fun of the previous weekend, I went away for the weekend again, this time to TCP in Moshi. TCP is a crazy place: it's an enormous sugar plantation with it's own factory, train line, gas station, accommodation, golf course and canteens. We went to stay in the 'First Class accommodation, which was basically a big house. There are 6 rooms and 12 of us went. The house was really fifties looking:

It had the most wonderful private pool, in which I spent almost the entire weekend!

It was really beautiful and a wonderful break from Arusha. Best of all it only costs $34 per person per night, including breakfast. They've got big plans to make it available to tourists, so the prices are bound to go up soon. If you live in Arusha or Moshi and want a great weekend break with friends, it's the perfect place!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Felt Cakes

I made some felt cakes a while ago whilst living in Finland, but never blogged about them. Since I'm having a bit of a crush on felt food in general recently, I decided that the time had come to share them with you.

To make these cakes (my first venture into felt food), I bought some handy chinese 'DIY Cake Kits'. I bought them from a shop called Blippo, which has a website but no longer stocks the felt cakes. In fact I am having a hard time finding the kits available anywhere. Since I'm moving to Asia soon I hope to have better luck there.

 The kits took 2-3 hours each to make and came with all the patterns, felt, threads, etc. If anyone knows where I can get some more, I'd love to know about it!

Next on my felt food agenda
This sandwich, the pattern for which is available from Jeanette Lim's etsy shop:
Its looks simple enough to make without a pattern though. I'd also like to make fruits and pizza!

Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Leopards, Lions, Hyena, Cheetah. I took these in the Serengeti and in Ngorongoro crater.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Environment Day

At our school on Thursday we had an environment day. Year One had a fabulous time doing some junk modelling: check out all this cool stuff we made!
A Robot Named 'Nei'

Musical Shakers 

A giant aeroplane!

There was also a whole-school contest to design an environmental slogan and logo to be printed on a metal bottle for all the students to buy. Here are some of our entries: we are eagerly waiting to see who will be announced the winner!

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Beading Weekend: Day Two

Day two of our beading weekend was not quite what we imagined, since our teachers had a big, all day event at Church so couldn't instruct us. In the morning we went on a looooonnnng walk. I don't love walking under the hot sun but it was almost worth it because we saw a baby camel!

After the walk we came back to Mkuru training camp and decided to have a go at beading BY OURSELVES. 'Who needs teachers?', we thought. 'We already know everything there is to know about beading, because we learnt it yesterday!'

Many rude words we exchanged as we realised we did not, in fact, know everything there was to know about beading, and we missed our teachers desperately. But after an hour or so of swearing and sighing things sort of clicked into place and we each enjoyed some small degree of success. I made this pendant:

I had the idea of making some jewellery for the wedding, but I think I'd need to get a bit better at it before then! Nobody else wanted me to take photos of their inferior-to-yesterday results, but here are some pictures of what people made the previous day. Allison and Maja combined their mad skills to make this necklace-and-earring combo:

And Liz made these two pairs of earrings. (Almost all of us wanted to make earrings. They were the easiest).

Those of us on the beading weekend decided to meet up once a month for a beading and gossip lunch to expand on our skills and have fun.

Should you want to go on a beading weekend yourself you will need at least two participants (I don't think there is a maximum). For a two-day trip including food, accommodation, transport and activities we paid $90 per person. They also offer a three-day trip. You can contact Tanzania Maasai Women Art for more details.

I want to leave you with this final image: it's the view from the Kilimanjaro Toilet at Mkuru Lodge: the best view of any toilet in the world, owing to it's large, missing wall from which you can see Kili whilst seated early in the morning.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Beading Weekend: Day One

Previously I posted about a beading weekend that I was going on with some girlfriends. We had a great time and I wanted to post some pictures from the experience! This is Day One.

We had three teachers, all employees of Tanzania Maasai Women Art. They were very fast and we had to ask them to slow down so that we could keep up! We worked for about three hours and in that time most of us made one or two items, depending on the size of the things we made. I made (with help, especially in the middles of the circles) two pairs of earrings, pictured below:

And here's the longer pair upon my ear!

We stayed overnight at Mkuru Training Camp in West Kilimanjaro, which had beds in tents on stilts (I always enjoy those). Great food and great company!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Making Frozen Dinosaurs

This half term my extra curricular activity for the young kids is 'Dinosaur Club'. We've been doing some really fun activities, such as excavating the chocolate chips from cookies using a toothpick. But nothing could match the excitement that was present in my classroom today when we discussed the ice age and I presented them with loads of blocks of ice filled with frozen dinosaurs.

They're really easy to make. Just get some tubs and fill them with water and dinosaurs. Then freeze them. I borrowed a friend's freezer because ours is only big enough to fit three samosas inside.

I wish I had thought to take some pictures of the kids with the frozen dinosaurs. But there was TOO MUCH EXCITEMENT and I just got caught up in it.

I asked the children how they thought we should get the dinosaurs out from the ice. One boy suggested we held them in our hands until they melted. We did that for a while, but our hands got too cold. Then another boy suggested we smashed them out with stones. So we put them in the water tray and did that. It was so exciting that some children nearly cried!

After all the dinosaurs were out of the ice, we filled the water tray with water and pretended the remaining ice pieces were icebergs and the dinosaurs were floating on them (I'm not sure of the historical accuracy of this particular activity!)

If you've got kids under seven either at home or as a teacher in school I'd recommend you freeze some dinosaurs one night and play with them the next day. It might well be the most fun thing ever! If you had the means you could also add glitter and food colouring to the ice to make it extra exciting.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Wedding Invitations

My friend Liz hosted a craft night on Thursday, which was fun. I always wish crafting was more social and I got my wish! 

I ordered some stuff with which to make wedding invitations from Hong Kong, but it never arrived, so now I need to start thinking of other ways to make them. I had this idea of doing pairs of something with a watercolour wash background. It took me about 2 hours to do 16 of them: I hope the real invitations don't take that long!

These are some of the designs:

On Friday I showed them to people and most liked the turtles or the fish or starfish. I liked the ghosts. 'They're not very weddingy', said everyone. (I had thought that the ocean creatures matched the fact that it's a beach wedding). But then I got home. 'I like the ghosts', Jouni said. And then I smiled, because I knew it meant people would be getting ghost invitations whether they liked it or not!

On Saturday morning I messed around with some ideas for the text inside the invitations. I'm not sure yet which I like best:
As a person who is neither very organised nor very weddingy, these invitations probably won't get sent out for another month. We need to buy card and I need to paint all the little pictures. Theres so much stuff to do! It should all pay off though, because I think on the day everyone will have a lot of fun.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

I made a felt bamboo plant!

 10 days ago I wrote excitedly about a felt cactus I had made, following a pattern in Janette Lim's book 'Big Little Felt Universe'. I have now made something new: a felt bamboo plant!
It was hard to make and took a while but I really like it. It looks more sculptural than anything I've made from felt before and It looks great with the cactus!
I actually think it improves the overall aesthetic of the cactus, too. Two felt plants down, one to go: the African Violet. Although I don't actually have any violet felt, so it may turn out to be an African Magenta.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Review: Wonder by R.J.Palacio

I don't very often write book reviews on here: this is partly because I read so many books that it would mean I'd barely write about anything else. It is also partly because I appreciate that not everyone enjoys reading almost exclusively children's and young adult fiction. But you know how every now and then you read a book which is so wonderful that it changes you? This was one of those books.

Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, is about a boy with severe facial disfigurement. It's told from his perspective and that of other people around him. In the beginning of the book he's never been to school before, but then he starts middle school. I didn't want to read this book for a while, because I didn't like the cover and it sounded kind of depressing. But it's not. It's funny and sad and uplifting.

All of the characters in the book are completely believeable, and there's a strong message running throughout the book to choose kindness. This really resonated with me, because this past year, for the first time in my life, I see kindness as the most important thing. In fact, when I recently came to the 'other achievements' section on an application form, it's what I wanted to write: this year I have learnt to be kind.

It's funny, because it's not something which is ever really valued by society: being kind won't necessarily win you any awards, or other people's respect. But reading this book is the first time I've really seen the message written down (besides in religious texts): cultivate kindness.

After having read this book over the past 24 hours I am left feeling humbled and with a sense of how beautiful life is. I implore you to read it, too.