Top 20 Cheap Summer Activities for Kids

Summer is nearly here and that means warmth, holidays and fun. What could be more summery that finding lots of cheap or free fun things to do during the long summer days of holidays.

The kids don’t need to be indoors with their iPods, Wii or any other technological marvel. Get them interacting with nature and their friends.

  1. Go swimming — a ocean, lake, river or creek or even a pool will do
  2. Go on a picnic even if it is under the washing line tent in the backyard. Drape a couple of bedsheets over the lines and turn it into a tepee or marquee!
  3. Invite some friends around and camp in your back yard – use the tepee or marquee idea of the picnic suggestion
  4. Be part of a TV studio audience. Funniest Home Video tickets are free
  5. Try star gazing and see if you can find the Southern Cross.
  6. Go for a scenic or a bush walk.  The Manly to Spit Bridge is one I can recommend, though it is 10km each way!
  7. Have a water balloon ‘fight’ or contest
  8. Get a family pass on the train and see how far you can go in one day. Family Funday Sundays are just $2.50 per person
  9. Visit a museum or science centre
  10. Have a Mom & Child bake off day
  11. See what programs are interesting at the local library or community centre and go to as many as possible
  12. Make some popcorn & have a movie – a –thon.
  13. Grab a tarp and make a slippery water slide, even better instead of water, spray a can of shaving cream all over the runway then hose it down when no longer viable.
  14. Make a billy cart and have races
  15. Arrange a scavenger hunt
  16. Have your kids prepare a skit and then record them & post on You Tube or Funniest Home Videos
  17. Catch some yabbys.
  18. “Decorate” your driveway with chalk
  19. Make some Christmas Crafts or other crafts
  20. Make some slime and have fun with just some cornflour and water.Add some food colouring for a bit of colour

There are no excuses to say “I am bored” with all these wonderful ideas.
When my kids were growing up, I had a list of fun things for them to do.
Then if I ever even heard a hint of something like “I’m bored” then I solved that quickly by giving them a chore to do like washing the car or my windows! They soon learnt to keep themselves occupied!

Click here for Chewy Popcorn Recipe

What wonderful summer activities are you going to do this year?

More Craft Inspirations from Christmas Past

I thought I would share with you and maybe inspire you with some of the Christmas Tree Ornaments that I have made in the past. If you click on the most of photos, they will take you to the tutorial or a page which is similar that may have inspired me.

Drizzle PVA glue and sprinkle glitter is a super simple way to add that touch of sparkle to your baubles
Or you can personalize your baubles for your loved ones

Every year I get excited to rummage through my Christmas Storage boxes. Many of the items bring forth memories of Christmas past. Making ornaments with my kids has been a big part of it. Kids love to make things for themselves as well as for gifts.

Kids love to make paper baubles
Beaded canes are super simple for the younger kids

Occasionally I make something that is a little more challenging, like these baubles below, however the waterfall one lower down does not have a tutorial as I made it up as I went along being inspired by a set of fancy bauble that my mother splurged on one year more than 40 years ago. I made a set of 6 for each of my family members and my sister as a memento of my mum.

Beaded sheath for baubles

Each year I love to make something new to add to the Christmas decor whether it be a wall hanging, a Christmas Tree skirt like last year or ornaments.

A 80's cottage style crafted Christmas Tree
The Christmas Tree Skirt I made

Where to get your inspirations from. 

Inspirations can come from many sources. Mostly now I have stopped buying magazines and I now surf the internet when I want some new ideas. The last couple of years, I have begun to save lots of creative ideas and inspirations on Pinterest. It’s fabulous.

It is a virtual pin board to 'pin up' the things you love. It can be anything you like whether it be crafts for the grand kids to do, caravan & RV trips, home decor ideas, whatever you would like to reserve for future reference. If you haven’t heard about it yet, you have to check it out! It is better than ripping out pages from magazines and popping them into concertina files. (Though I still keep mine just in case!)

Have fun decorating your home for this Christmas!

Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt Tutorial

I have started on my Christmas planning for this year. That's how I found this that I hadn't posted this Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt, which I made last year!

I know I first saw it on Pinterest, maybe in the early days. Don't you just Pinterest? I collect ideas faster than I can make them up! Anyway though I couldn't find the one that inspired this skirt, it is just of those ideas which stayed in my mind. What I ended up doing is working it out from making a twirly skirt for myself for a fancy dress up one year in ages past, similar to the twirly gathered skirt I made for one of my grand daughters. The tree skirt is something I had wanted to do for a long time and finally last year, I bit the bullet and just got in a did it.

Ruffled Tree Skirt Tutorial

Step 1: Cutting

Cut the largest circle from a large piece of scrappy material that I was never going to use for anything really – it was from a practice piece of fabric printing done some 10 years ago (Yeah, yeah, I know, I keep stuff for far too long!) If you are starting out with a new piece of fabric or just want a ball park figure to start you off with then may I suggest you buy or cut a piece to 115cm (44 inches) thus utilizing the whole width of a 115cm piece of cheap cotton. Feel free to use whatever material you have on hand, even an old bed sheet or a valance that is no longer being used. I remember when we all had valances on our beds. Now they just look so fussy. You could use some fleecy, or an old blanket would work too. If your material is only 1 metre wide then use that. You’ll just have a slightly smaller tree skirt or you could sew on a deeper strip on the end. It is all up to you and the resources you have on hand or what you choose to buy. Now where was I? You’ll just have to bear with me when I run on and on. My family often tell me to ‘get to the point’. I try... but it is so jolly hard for me!


Step 2: Marking

To draw a circle, I first fold the material in half and then half again from mid point on the fold line. This is just quartered, but I like to fold it just one more time keeping that same mid point as the pivoting point See Diagram 1
Pin one end of a string or tape measure to this mid point and measure to the other end 56cm (22″) if you have managed to have a 115cm material to start out with. Otherwise just mark your circle to the longest length you can. Us the string or tape measure and draw your circle.
While I have got the material all folded and neat I also mark out circle at 10 cm intervals up to the inner circle. You can get a better idea from Diagram 4 even though this is jumping ahead a little. I also like to mark each circle into half, quarters and eighths now (like a giant pizza) – the purpose will become clearer in Step 6.

Diagram 2

Step 3: Cutting the base skirt

Cut on the largest line. Don’t open it up just yet, however if you did you would see that you have a nice circle.
Now I want you to cut out the inner circle. An alternative is to use a small cake plate and mark out the inner circle for cutting as per diagram 2.

Open up the fabric and you will have a circle with a hole in the middle as per diagram 3. Diagram 4 is a closeup for you to see the lines better.

Diagram 3
Diagram 4 -  a close up
One more thing to consider at this stage is that if you are unable to place the tree inside the hole for example you use a fresh tree each year, then you might want to consider cutting up one of the fold lines from the rim to the centre hole as per diagram 4c

Diagram 4c

Step 4: The ruffles

Consider any material you have on hand that might fit the job then go out and buy whatever you need to make the ruffles for your Christmas Tree Skirt. I like to play with the way different fabrics look in the rows. This would look lovely done in an ombre colour themes to suit your colour palette. You may even decide to go with a single colour such as bright white to emulate snow. It would also look lovely in rustic homespun or unbleached calico too.

Diagram 5

As a guide you will need something like the following fabric lengths. I calculated using the maximum widths of the material (minus the edges) in multiples of 15cm (6 inches).
  • Two – 15cm x 112cm (6” x 44″) strips for the first centre ruffle
  • Four – 6″x42″ strips for row 2
  • Six – 6″x42″ strips for row 3
  • Seven – 6″x42″ strips for row 4
  • Eight – 6″x42″ strips for row 5 

If you look at my finished skirt, you will notice that both my greens were a bit narrower as I used fabrics that were on hand from my stash I just purchased the two larger reds, even the smallest red was from my stash. I had to use the red as my centre as it was the smallest fabric I had on hand. I played around and nearly went all various shades of red as per diagram 5 but in the end I decided to use some greens I had in my stash to break up the reds.

Step 5: Finishing the edges

You can leave the edges raw, (pinked would reduce any fraying), finish one edge with a rolled hem or you could overlock (serge) it like I did. See Diagram 6. Never use pins when overlocking! It will break your cutting blade!!!

Diagram 6

Don’t forget to calculate the hem allowance if you are going with a rolled hem. You don’t want the underskirt peeking out, esp if it is ugly like mine!

Step 6: Gathering

Most people would tell you to gather it by sewing a long straight stitch on one edge and the pull either the top thread (or the bottom) until it gathers to fit in the smaller area you require. I might do this if it were a skirt to be worn, but I like to cheat and skip a few steps if I can to speed things up. What I do is pin every inch or so and fit it as I go. I do mark the strip into quarters and eighths and pin it to the corresponding spot on the skirt base. See Diagram 7.

Diagram 7

Step 7: Sewing

I start with the outer ruffle and work inwards insuring that the skirt base is complete covered even if I have to move my circle marking to accommodate my narrower green strips as was the case. See Diagram 8. I sew right over the pins removing them as I go over them.

Diagram 8

Step 7: Bias tape 

I apologise that I do not have any diagrams for this last step. However I finished off the raw edge of the centre circle with some self made bias tape. The easiest way would be to buy a co-ordinating or contrasting cotton bias and sew it on. Calli has an excellent step by step tutorial on how to encase a raw edge with bias binding.

Looking back, I think my darker green strip was a bit too stingy with the gathering of the fabric. I might be inclined to replace it one day. But for now it stays. You hardly notice it when it is full of pressies anyway.

The finished Ruffled Christmas Tree Skirt

The Christmas Skirt adorning the base of the Christmas Tree.
What Christmas decorations have you made?

Past Christmas Craft Tutorials

Christmas time is one of my favourite times of the year. I especially love making things for Christmas.

Each year I like to make a Christmas ornament and often if time and health allows, I often make extras as gifts for family & friends. Once again, I am making something, this year it is a cute little felt angel though I am not quite ready to publish this just yet.

So I thought I would point you towards some past Christmas craft tutorials, while I recover from my operation and finish my angels. (Edited: Due to finding out I had cancer requiring 2 operations close together and just prior to Christmas, I was unable to complete the angels this year! I expect to get to it next year!)

Chocolate Poinsettia Flowers make lovely table or gift box decorations.

Crochet a small Christmas Stocking just perfect for lifesavers or other roll of lollies.

I haven't bought a Christmas Card in something close to 20 years. Below are just two of my past handmade Christmas cards. You can purchase some handmade cards or explosion boxes directly from my Zibbet Shop for that someone special in your life


What have you made for past Christmases?

Saving Berries For Later Use

My mulberries have been fruiting well and faster than we can eat them. I hate to see them go to waste.


None of us are big on jams so there is no real purpose in making many jars of this. However we do love our smoothies, muffins, buckles, cakes and pies. So it would be great to save the berries and be able to use them later.

Mulberry Pie

I have been busy experimenting and making various mulberry pies, muffins, tarts etc. I have an operation scheduled for this weekend and I certainly don’t want to spend a lot of time cooking any more berries. So I decided that I would freeze the remaining berries. Our tree is still quite young and the season is coming to a close.

Mulberry Muffins recipe

Frozen berries work wonderfully in making jams, pies, cakes, sauces etc. Did you know that you can freeze it whole without the need for cooking it up into the final product? Yep, you can even freeze them without blanching them too! This is especially helpful when your harvest is going faster than you can pick and use them all. Of course your neighbours would love to share in your bounty too!

Freezing the Berries:

We harvested what was nice and ripe each day. Sometimes we’d eat them or use them all up and other days I would…
  • lay the fresh berries out on cookie sheets and pop them in the freezer for a few hours.
  • Then when the berries are frozen solid, I would bag them up into freezer bags. Of course you could use containers too! 

The advantage of this is that the berries won’t clump together into a giant lump and you can remove just as many or as few as your desire, whether you are making a smoothie for one or a pie for the family. Just open the bag, grab what you need and re close the bag and place it back in the freezer as soon as possible before they have a chance to start to defrost.

Frozen berries bagged

Of course you could pack the berries into portion sizes and then grab a bag or 2 as needed.
So this way we get to enjoy the berries for a long time to come. I love this idea especially when one would normally have to pay a small fortune for berries and I can indulge myself and make my wonderful mulberry muffins.

Family Favourite: Mulberry Buckle recipe

A cochlear implant recipient has an MRI

I decided to write of my experience of having a MRI as there is very little information available for people who need to undergo an MRI head scan for whatever reason. Most of what I had been told was very negative even by 'experts' and the people at the Sydney Cochlear Implant Centre. My own personal experience is somewhat different to what I expected but certainly not as bad as what was perceived.

So let’s start at the beginning:

What is an MRI?

MRI stands for Magnetic Resonance Imaging. It is an scanning technique that uses a magnetic field and low-energy radio waves to take pictures of the soft tissues without the obstructions caused by bones. It is an important diagnostic tool for detecting abnormalities of the brain, spine and musculoskeletal systems.

Metal implants, pins etc are a problem with MRI as the magnet used is inclined to attract metal objects and as such has a big impact on people who have any type of metal inserted into the body such as pins, artificial hips and of course cochlear implants.

I have a Cochlear Implant and I needed an MRI.

The type of implant you have will determine the strength of MRI you can be subjected to or whether you need to have the magnet surgically removed temporarily. So long as Cochlear’s procedures are followed, an MRI will not damage the electronics of the implant. Cochlear produces a booklet called " MRI for Nucleus implant recipients: Radiographer's instructions" to assist you and the radiographer as to what type of cochlear needs surgical removal of the magnet & which just needs a bandage. At the back of the publication is the personal experience of a bilateral (2) implant recipient. Her experience mirrors mine in many areas. Still I have recorded my experience and have not white washed the pain at all. Do remember every person has a different pain threshold. I have been told any times through various experiences that I have a high pain threshold. That would not seem to be the case with this procedure.


My personal experience of an MRI

Warning: I have gone into quite considerable detail especially of the time in the machine. But first, let’s start right at the beginning:

When I was asked to have a MRI, to ascertain the extent & details of my vascular nasal polyp (blocked sinus), my surgeon decided to tried to get enough information from a CT scan with a dye. This gave him insufficient information in preparation for surgical removal. He consulted with my cochlear surgeon and discovered what type of cochlear I had and what MRI I could possibly undergo.
I was fortunate in that I did not need to have the magnet surgically removed which research indicates is a possibility. However the cochlear’s magnet implanted would still be attracted to the magnetic field and this will cause some considerable discomfort.

My ENT surgeon procured the information package from the cochlear people on what to expect including specific information for the radiologists. I was also given crepe bandage and some padded dressings to apply at the radiologists.

What to expect


I had never had an MRI and I had no idea what to expect. When I arrived the nurse made sure that I knew what to expect when we went into the scanning room. He explained carefully that there would be some pain or at least discomfort involved. We discussed everything beforehand and he made sure I understood by having me repeat back nearly everything he told me, to make sure I heard and understood everything that was going to happen as once he starts to wrap the bandage around my head, he knew I would be totally reliant on lip reading as I would not be able to hear much without my cochlear and my hearing aid.

All jewellery, belts and metal objects had to be removed. I was also asked if I had dentures that could come out. My head was very tightly bandaged with the padded dressings placed directly over the cochlear and encased within the crepe bandage. It was very tight but not painful. BTW - As I had been told it was a very painful procedure I decided to jump the gun and I took 2 Panadeine Forte (strong pain killers) just prior to the bandaging.

I was then asked to lie on the padded bench, with my head towards the machine. A cannula was inserted into my right arm on the inside of my elbow. First they injected a little saline and then later after maybe ¾ of the scans they injected some type of contrast dye and proceed to take some more pictures. I did not feel the saline or the dye but I hear that some people will notice a slight burning sensation or even a form of hot flush.

I had a type of helmet put over my head. It comes down to about the tip of my nose but there are ‘holes’ so that you can see through the helmet. The nurse also inserted a piece of foam just forward of my ears to help ‘hold’ my head still. Then they rolled my bench into the machine. I had already been instructed that the whole procedure will take 15-20 minutes where I am to keep as still as possible. I am also told that there will be loud sounds and vibrations mostly the type accompanied by the sounds that deaf people in particularly are aware of. As I do have some hearing of the lower frequencies, I heard quite a lot of the sounds. It must be very loud to a hearing person as it seemed quite loud to me. If anything the constant noise bombardment was annoying – the noise, if I had to live with it, would drive me crazy! By the way, the noises changes frequently, some time it is a pulsing sound & vibration and others it is constant. It is also in different pitches.

Yes it is painful. I would rate it as bad as 8 out of 10 with ten being unbearable. It is bad but not the type to make me cry - it was more like a very bad ache.

The first thing I noticed is that it felt like my head was laying on a rock that was really sticking into my head, at the location of my cochlear plate. I felt like I just wanted to lift my head off it and find a more comfortable position. The pain part is more like my head was in a helmet that was like a vice that was extremely tight and constantly squeezing ever tighter. The pain covered the area from the middle of the top of my head right across to the neck and shoulder of the same side as the cochlear. It is possible the neck and shoulder pain were the result of tension  and lack of adequate neck support rather than directly attributed to the MRI.
Part way through, I was temporarily removed for about 1 minute to have the dye injected into the cannula and then I was slid back into the machine for another 10 minutes. All up, the scans took 20 minutes.

Once I was out of the machine I had a light headed moment where the room spun but soon all was back to normal. We removed the bandages from my head and I was sent on my way. The pain killers I think were a blessing as I didn’t really have a headache – I just had the ‘memory’ or rather it was like an imprint left in the sand – the pain was gone, but you still feel where it was just recently.

I drove myself to and from the radiologist (only about 12 km – 15 minutes drive – I felt good enough that I even stopped on the way to pick up some fresh bread & a few groceries!)

After about 30 minutes I just had a tinge of a headache. I reckon the painkillers were doing a fine job. I did need to take some more painkillers after 4 hours. I also had a sleep after lunch but that might be more to do with the poor sleep I have been having due to not being able to breathe through my nose! I notice that tonight (10 hours after the scans), I probably could have a simple paracetamol as I have a touch of a head ache but I don’t like to take tablets generally, so I am putting up with it.

I know I have gone into a great deal of detail but it is just so that you know what you could expect if you need to undergo a MRI if it is really necessary.


It is painful but with some strong painkillers and the knowledge that it is all over and done with fairly quickly, less than half and hour, it is do-able. I certainly don’t want to do it again, but I could and I would do it again if the doctor deems it important.

Post script: 

Three days later and it is more or less a distant memory, but one that has given me a constant headache since. I am still not keen to wear the cochlear. The area feels slightly bruised to the touch and I seem not to tolerate the sounds/sensations well at the moment.
The doctor has the information he required and now I just have to wait for the cancer operation which thankfully is less than a week away.

18 months later:

I was diagnosed with a head cancer (Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma) just 18 months ago and I did have a lot of problems with a MRI because having a cohlear is not MRI friendly as it tries to rip the magnet of the cochlear right out of my head - it was extremely painful even after advice from the cochlear centre to reduce the power and bandage up my head in a certain manner. My doc tried to avoid using an MRI but he just couldn't 'see' the affected area needed prior to my cancer operation with the other diagnosis imaging tools. The MRI dislodged the magnet of my cochlear and sadly it didn't go back into place so that effectively I have been unable to wear a cochlear in the 18months since. I get frequent headaches and the area around the implant is touch sensitive as though bruised.
I have just started the process to have an operation to put the magnet back into place so that I can recommence wearing my cochlear. The good news is that I can replace my cochlear implant with an MRI friendly Cochlear implant that has only just been released in the last year or so.This is truly a blessing as the type of cancer I have will never go into remission and a yearly MRI is one of the diagnostic tools available to keep 'watch' on my cancer.