30 November 2011

Boy vs Wild Party - How To's & Printables

Creepy Crawly Birthday Cake
This was so easy it's not funny. But when we brought it out all the boys went, "Ahhhhhh!" I think that was the Chocolate Flake Effect. Here's how to do it...

  1. Bake a double mixture of basic Chocolate Cake in an oblong cake pan. Then pop a chocolate swiss log cake from the supermarket on top. Mix up  a batch of thick buttercream icing. Separate into two bowls and add green food colouring to one, and cocoa powder to the other.
  2. Get your mama to help if you have a headache.
  3. Ice the bottom (oblong) level with green (grass) and the log with the brown. Apply it thick and rough so it resembles bark.
  4. Cut/break up Cadbury flake bars into lengths and stick all over the log. Mmmmm.

5. Add a little black food colouring to the leftover chocolate icing and apply at the base of the log with a piping bag, so it looks like mud. Cut snake sweets in half and have them emerging from the mud. Create a spider for the top of the log with a Ferrero Rocher RondNoir ball (body) and slivers of licorice for legs. Use leftover chocolate icing to glue legs into place.
6. Stick on some other "grub" sweets e.g. huhu grubs and flies from here
7. Have the huhu grubs emerging from the cream on the log
8. Attach some fly sweets to wire and poke them in, so they buzz around the log.
See what I mean? Easy.

Boy Vs Wild food is simple and as wild as possible. Here's a few of the "wild" food ideas we used...

Jelly Worms
I don't know what happened to my worms. I think my straws were too narrow. I didn't add enough cream. Or green food colouring. I ended up with a squiggly mess and stained-red fingers from squeezing out the jelly from the straws. So I won't bother giving you my instructions, because my worms sucked. But this lady's worms turned out fab. So go visit her and find out how to do it properly. Good luck!

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
  • Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add the water slowly to form a soft dough
  • Knead the dough until it doesn’t stick to your fingers. You may need to add a little extra flour for this. The dough should be smooth and flexible
  • Separate the dough into golf ball-sized portions
  • Cover the dough and leave in a warm place for at least half an hour.
  • Roll each dough ball out into circles about 3mm high.
  • Heat a frying pan with a little oil and cook each side for about 20 seconds or until the first sign of bubbles. Sprinkle a little salt over the finished pile, for added flavour.
    {It would be even more fun cooking in a pan over a fire...}

Snake on a Stick
This was loads of fun to do as well as easy and extremely delicious.

A brazier, firepit or charcoal BBQ (essential)
500g beef, cut into long thin strips
500g pork or other meat, cut into long thin strips 
Bamboo skewers

I displayed the meat in a foil dish, with signs jabbed into each type of meat: "Python" (beef) and "Rattle Snake" (pork)

Simply wind a strip of meat onto a skewer and place on the grill over a low flame. Allow several minutes to
cook on each side. Then bite into it and let the juice run down your chin. Mmmmm.

Hessian Pouches - Sweet Bags
These were so easy to make, and looked great with the printed "thank you" card attached.
I filled my pouches with sweets and chewing gum - but wrapped them in a serviette before placing them in the pouch, as the fabric tends to "shed".

1 metre of hessian/sacking fabric
Brown shoelaces (e.g. from Emporium)
a dinner plate
a crayon
sharp scissors

  1. Trace around the dinner plate with a crayon onto the hessian. Cut out the circle.
  2. Thread the shoelace through the holes in the rough-woven fabric, about a centimetre from the edge
  3. Continue all the way around, threading the shoelace through the existing holes.
  4. Draw the pouch closed and Voila! A cute hessian sweet pouch.

These are all designed by me in Photoshop. You are welcome to download them and use them for your party. have fun :)

Thank You Labels
Printable "Thank You for Coming" labels... (click on the image to go to Skydrive and download it)

Water Bottle Labels
Print these labels to put on water bottles at your Boy vs Wild party. I bought a six-pack of budget water bottles, removed the sticky labels and replaced them with my own.
(click on the image to go to Skydrive and download it; it is set up on A4)

Survival Juice Labels
Print these labels to turn lemonade into Survival Juice at your Boy vs Wild party. I bought budget lemonade, removed the sticky labels and replaced them with my own.
(click on the image to go to Skydrive and download it; it is set up on A4)

Points Tally Sheet
A printable Points Tally sheet for the games we used at our Boy vs Wild Party is available to download here.
It is formatted in Excel, and is adaptable for your own party - just replace the details as needed.

Countries: For Word Hunt Game
Laminate letters and cut out. Staple a coloured feather to each letter - one colour for each word. Staple string to the back and then hide around the garden in tricky places for teams to find.
(click on the image to go to Skydrive and download it; it is set up on A4)

Party Invitation
Here is the invitation I designed for Dash and printed out on magnets. You can get it personalised on my Etsy Shop... (with your child's photo added in, your party details and party name e.g. Girl vs. Wild, Kids vs. Wild etc)

There is also a free ready-to-print version on my Kids Party invitation website, which you can simply print out and then fill in the details the old-fashioned way. With a pen.

29 November 2011

Boy vs Wild - A Survival Party

Dash and his pals are all mad about Bear Grylls, TV's "Man vs Wild". Haven't seen it? Ahhh, you should. It's great entertainment, and boys especially love it. Surviving in the wild, challenging yourself, eating bugs and snakes... what's not to love?

So with Dash turning Nine and the prospect of nine boys let loose in the garden, it was always going to be wild. Here's our Boy vs Wild Survival Party.

Decorating for this party was lots of fun - and cheap'n'easy too...

Planning an outdoor party at this volatile time of year is always a risk, and all week the weather reports looked iffy. But would Bear Grylls stay inside if it was a bit windy and rainy? Of course not! 

So with no Plan B, we turned the garden into Boy Heaven. I collected tin cans, foliage, ropes and old tyres.

Created labels for water bottles and Survival Juice {HomeBrand lemonade with the labels peeled off}...

We designed a series of team challenges, based on three teams of three.
Teams were chosen by picking a coloured "buff" from a satchel...

One of the guests arrived late, so Miss Fab stood in for the Brown Team and proved her worth. So awesome was she at the challenges that when the late arrival eventually turned up and joined in, Miss Fab's sporty teammates asked me, "Can we have Abby back on our team???" Yeah, my girl is pretty great alright. She can hold her own with a bunch of boys.

The first challenge was an Obstacle Course, in teams, timed. Two rounds. Hilarious.

Mr G created the obstacle course and did a fab job, using rope, old tyres, ladders, wooden horses and plenty of imagination.

{The Brown Team whipped the other teams' butts, thanks to the speedy Miss Fab.}

Then it was time to make slingshots. Sticks + bike inner tubes + string. Sounds simple right?

Eventually most of the teams had made something vaguely resembling a slingshot. Now it was time to put them to use...

...with mixed results... At first we blamed faulty design and manufacturing for the lack of success...

...but when Grandad managed to make the slingshots work, we had to acknowledge it was just lack of skill that was to blame for all those wide shots.

Righto, moving on. Time for another challenge, boys? A Word hunt.

Hunt all over the garden for colour coded letters. Six in total. When you have found all six, race back to base and assemble your word. {Clue: It will be a country or place that Bear Grylls has been.}

This time the Black Team were triumphant. The poor Brown Team were lost without Miss Fab and couldn't even find all their letters. Never mind.

Of course it wouldn't be a Bear Grylls party without eating disgusting stuff, right? Right.
This was the part the boys were all waiting for. Which is kind of ironic when you think about it. How often do they sit at the table refusing to eat the broccoli because it's "disgusting" but call it a Disgusting Food Challenge and tell them Bear Grylls eats it? They'll even eat snails.

"Sit at the table, one from each team," we told them. Here comes round one... and out we came carrying a tray with three plates of Snails...

I wish I could show you the clip of their little faces chewing and eating what they thought were snails. Of course they weren't really snails. I got giant {empty} escargot shells from Nosh and poked a couple of slimy looking anchovies in. They looked very snail-like. Oh their faces. the gagging. The heaving. But they chewed up those "snails" for the sake of the team.

 Then it was the mussels. In the shells of course, but steamed. I wouldn't make them eat raw ones - truly, I'm not that mean.

This guy was a legend. Chewed that mussel right up, even while he gagged. Right about now the brown team were really wishing they had Miss Fab. She loves mussels.

And here's Dash with his cockle. Ugh. Like slimey snot aren't they? I couldn't eat it. But my fussy eater Dash slurped it back for the team in record time. Unbelievable.

{This was so much fun. Mostly cos I didn't have to eat any of it. And yes, I did tell the boys that they hadn't actually eaten snails - eventually.}

Food time was a little bit different. We made damper, sausages, steamed mussels with lemon and coriander and Snake. Strips of meat (beef and pork) which was woven onto a bamboo skewer and chargrilled over the fire. Delicious, I tell you.

Would you believe that we ran out of time for dessert?
We'd been partying for four hours and in the end we had to just do Birthday Cake, skipping the Bowl of {jelly} Worms I had laboured over...

Never mind. It didn't turn out quite how it was meant to. But the cake was good...

Since the parents were starting to arrive, we cut the cake, offered around Snake Skewers and Mussels {surprisingly unpopular with the boys...?} and poured a glass of wine.

Then we sent them home with one of these cute goody bags.

It was overheard, by me and others, that one boy remarked to his buddies, "This was the best birthday party I've been to. Ever. The decorations, everything."

Now that's what makes it all worth it.

Creating an Adventure Party
  • Boy vs Wild Party How To's and Printables Click Here
  • Boy vs. Wild FREE Printable Invitations Click Here

28 November 2011

Excuses Excuses

Simoney regrets her absence of late and wishes to make the following excuses for her blog-absence...

  • She has been working from morning til night on another fab fun party {all will be revealed shortly} 
  • She has been trying to be a "good mother" and only blog when kids are absent {the kids have not been absent lately}
  • She has been afflicted with the mother of all headaches for the past four days {the last thing she's felt like doing is sitting at the computer}
  • She has been fighting off the dust bunnies who planned to take over the house {thankfully their plan was foiled at the last minute, in spite of the mother of all headaches}
  • The cat ate her blog post

If none of the above excuses suffice, she begs for your understanding. 

She realises that it is poor form/bad blog technique to write a post which is simply making excuses for not blogging, but beggars can't be choosers and today it was this pathetic excuse for an excuse-post or wait another day til Scrag is in kindy and we have some blog-time to write up a proper post.

Simoney promises to be back soon with...
  • A new party post: "Boy vs Wild" {woop woop}
  • Mrs Readalot's Recommended Reads for Christmas {gift ideas + linky}
  • A Wee Odyssey
  • A new Christmas linky for 2011
  • and other cool stuff you know you wanna read

In the meantime, we thank you for your kindness, loyalty and understanding, as Simoney heads back to the couch with a cold compress on her pounding head...

See you soon. Tomorrow, even. Promise.

24 November 2011

What the Heck's a Cinquain?

Homework is not my strong suit.
Actually, no. When I was a kid, homework WAS my strong suit. I was a homework-geek.
But as a mother, I completely suck at homework.
I forget to inquire about it, I neglect to check it, it doesn't get done.
I'm sure my teacher-mother friends are gasping in shock right now.
I know. I am a shocker.

This is why I am a stay-at-home mother, right?
To be there for my kids. To do the stuff stay-at-home mothers do - which includes nagging kids about doing homework.
Miss Fab is easy. She is like I was, a homework geek. If I neglect to do reading with her, she reads anyway. She fills in her own reading log. She reads to Scrag. She writes stories just for fun.

But that other guy, the sporty one, he is the ultimate slacker.
I'm just not used to that! It is beyond my comprehension that a kid would not want to do their best for their teacher, and bring them a shiny-cheeked apple each morning.
But my kid is the one who suddenly remembers at 8.30pm a.k.a. bedtime, that he has to write a "Cinquain" and hand it in tomorrow or his strict-new-substitute teacher is going to keep him in at lunchtime.
That's what did it of course - the threat of losing his football-playing time.
Otherwise I would have never heard about Cinquains.

He's sitting on the couch with his bottom lip quivering at the thought of being kept in at lunch to write poetry, and he's wailing, "And you can't even help me cos you don't even know what a Cinquain is!"
Well, what is it then?
"Its got syllables... it's like... syllables... um... I don't know! See I'm gonna be kept in at lunch!"
Daddy of course is not impressed that he left it until now to mention this.
He is also not impressed that {yet again} I seem to have neglected my homework-nagging duties.

Consumed with guilt, I pack the kid off to bed and turn to my friend Google.
I type in "poem syllables what is?" and hope that I'll find something that sounds like the word Dash was saying; some kind of poem with syllables.
{Because of course he wouldn't know how to spell Cinquain, would he?}

I found it on my first go, a list of poetic devices, styles and rules...

cinquain – SIN-QUAY-N The poetry form devised by Adelaide Crapsy around 1910, supposedly based on the tanka, in which five lines are filled with the syllable count of 2/4/6/8/2.

Alrighty then.
Now I know what a Cinquain is, I can help the kid figure out how to write a poem before breakfast.

But what is not so easy is getting myself to be consistent about these things.
What has become of my homework-geekness?
Honestly I am rather shocked at my lackadaisical procrastinating self.
I could get away it when school was all about folk dancing and finger painting, and bad spelling was cute and a story attempt with unreadable writing was still frame-worthy.

But not any more.
Year Five is breathing down our necks.
My husband is right. This is my job.
Making sure my kids are learning what they should be in school.
Not assuming that the school will do it all.
We can't afford assumptions at this point.
You know what happens if we ASSUME {it makes an ASS out of U and ME}.

The old Simone, the one who was the homework-geek with world-saving tendencies could have handled this no problem. That Simone would have been riding Dash's ass from Day One.
She would have found creative ways to get him learning his times-tables. She would have insisted that he tidy up his sloppy handwriting and practise his spelling words.
People described Old Simone with words like Diligent, Reliable, Conscientious.

Old Simone, where are you now?
Gone. She fizzed out years ago.
The now-Simone is more like Often-late, Last-Minute, She'll-Be-Right.

With all the best of intentions, I fear that I am so easily distracted.
I wander off-task. I lose track of the days.
I tell myself, "It's just this once..."
And consistency escapes me, again.

But I have to work with the Simone that's left, I have no choice.
Oh I fear I am not up to the task.
Really, can you hear me crying inside?
I am quivering, anxious, worried that I will fail at this my most important task - preparing my children to go out into the world.

It's not that I can't do it, when I remember to.
I mean, the Cinquain we came up with this morning was pretty great, I think.

I wrote up the syllable count on a blank bit of paper: 2/4/6/8/2
Then I asked Dash what he wanted to write a poem about.
Christmas. OK. Cool.

I showed him how to Brainstorm. Write down everything that comes to mind.
No, don't try and write the poem straight away, put all the ideas down first, then find words to fit.

I prompted him with questions. What words are to do with Christmas? What do we do at Christmas? What is the meaning of Christmas?
Presents. Santa Claus. Hang Stockings. Star. Angels. Shepherds. Jesus birth. Merry.

Here's what he ended up with:

Open Presents
Jesus birth, Angels sing
Santa Claus is coming to town

OK, so it's not Wordsworth, but it works.
He did his homework - even if it was at breakfast - and he won't have to lose his lunch break.
He went to school relieved and just a bit proud of himself.
I helped him. He learned something. And I learned something too.
I can do this, can't I?

Photos are taken up Mt Albert, my maunga, my place. Decoloured in Photoscape and with the contrast pushed up to make the blacks blacker.