Kids’ crafts: How to Make Environmentally Friendly Birdfeeders


Claire and Heidi are really in love with the birds we have living in our garden. We’ve hung a beautiful Bakuli Blue bird feeder in the tree just outside the window in our dining room, and the girls love watching the birds eat their breakfast, as we eat ours! One of Claire’s bedtime stories is about a boy who hangs a bird feeder outside his bedroom window, and she’s been asking if she can have one of her own. So I thought it would be fun to make an easy, homemade bird feeder of her own!


This homemade bird feeder is about as simple as it gets. All we needed was an empty toilet paper roll, some peanut butter, some bird seed, and some yarn or string. Claire loves to help in the kitchen, so this project was perfect for her! I remember making these bird feeders when I was a Girl Scout, so it was also fun for me! :)


First, Claire spread a very thick layer of peanut butter all over the roll. (She also took a few cheeky tastes, because Claire loves peanut butter as much as birds do!) She rolled it around in the seed, pressing the seeds into the peanut butter layer. Heidi even got in on the fun!


Once the rolls were made, we just strung a length of yarn through the roll and hung it on a hook I put outside Claire’s window. You could just as easily stick the roll on a branch!


It took the birds some time to decide the roll was safe to approach, but once they did, the peanut butter and birdseed were very popular! (Impossible to catch them on camera, because the bird feeder is so close to the window, I kept scaring them off!) Claire loves watching the birds outside her window, just like the boy in her story book…


This was a really fun way to get our kids to get to know which birds are living in our garden! We’ve got bronze manikin, firefinches, streaky seed eaters, and robin chats checking out our feeders. What birds do you have in your garden?

PS – We’re off to the beach to celebrate American Thanksgiving! If you celebrate, have a happy one! See you all next week! XX

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Crafting for the kids: DIY fairy mobile


When we were visiting a new kindergarten for Claire a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a lovely mobile hanging in a window with little bits of fabric tied in nondescript fairy or angel-like shapes. A couple of weeks later, I saw a similar mobile for sale in the Ziezo tent at the Bizarre Bazaar.


Noticing the cute mobile the second time, I thought it would be a fun project to make for the girls’ bedrooms. I did some Internet research, and it turns out that these simple fairy mobiles have been around forever! There are dozens of tutorials out there, all featuring the same simple pattern. I followed this tutorial from Beneath the Rowan Tree, and give it some Kenyan flair by using kikoy fabric.



I have a drawer full of kikoy scraps at home from other sewing projects, and I also happened to have a bag full of wool stuffing, so I was pretty good to go for this project. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need:

  • 12 x 5 inch squares of fabric
  • Some wool fiber, or cotton balls
  • thread
  • needle
  • scissors
  • a hoop or even a branch from your garden
  • Yarn or ribbon to hang your finished mobile

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After selecting the kikoy fabrics and cutting them into 5″ squares, I gathered the rest of my materials and got started. I cut a 24″ piece of thread, knotted the end and threaded my needle. I took a bit of wool and rolled it into a small ball (think the size of a marble). I placed the wool in the center of a fabric square, and gathered the fabric around it.

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Pinching the fabric at the “neck,” I inserted the needle and wound the thread around 3-4 times. Once the thread was wound, I inserted the needle just under the thread “collar,” and pushed the needle up through the top of the head. I gave the thread a little tug to tighten everything up. I kept the thread long, and will use it to hang the fairies from the mobile. Voila! A kikoy fairy!


I really wanted to hang our fairies from a ring, so I could make a cascading spiral. I didn’t have a wooden hoop on hand, so Jesse went into the garden with the kids and picked some soft, green branches and bent them into hoops to string the fairies from. All we had was masking tape to fasten the hoop, which wasn’t very pretty, so I wrapped the branch with some batik fabric I had in my scrap drawer.


Hanging the fairies in a cascading spiral was honestly the hardest part of the project! I wish I could say that I did some simple calculations and got it perfect on the first try, but in reality I just winged it. I had to undo it a couple of times before I got it more or less right.


We hung the finished fairy mobile in Claire’s room by the window, next to her bed. She gets lots of great light in her room in the afternoons, and with the open window the breeze makes the fairies swing and sway! It brings a little bit of color and wonder to her space!

(Note: If you’d like a fairy mobile like this, but you’re not up to the DIY challenge, you can get one locally from Andrea at Ziezo. (Check out a photo of Ziezo’s lovely dyed silk mobile here!) Andrea makes tons of beautiful hand-made goodies for kids. I once bought a pair of gorgeous silk butterfly wings from her, which Claire plays with to this day!)

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A fun (but ridiculous) project: 3D princess carriage cookies


A friend visited us from out of town recently, and she brought gifts for the kids. She handed them to the girls and whispered to me, “I hope you don’t kill me!” I was puzzled when I saw Claire open this fun-looking princess-themed sugar cookie kit. Making 3D princess carriage cookies! Sounds fun! Well, it was fun, but a 3D princess carriage cookie was not in the cards for us. Continue reading

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Fourteen Falls


This cold, rainy weather is reminding me of a chilly day we spent at Fourteen Falls a few years ago. Claire was about two years old – just a little older than Heidi is now. On a whim, we packed a picnic lunch, and drove up Thika Highway to the famed Fourteen Falls. Continue reading

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Learning to swim at Swim Africa


This summer we signed the girls up for swim lessons while we were in the US visiting family. Both girls made such amazing progress in such a short time, it was incredible! I came back to Kenya full of inspiration, ready to sign them up for lessons upon our return. Continue reading

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Is play school the answer to my toddler’s sleep problems?


As you guys know, I’ve been looking at schools lately. This week I’ve been taking Claire to a new school for a trial visit. (Incidentally, she is LOVING IT – more on that another day!) The teacher invited me to stay and observe the class, telling me that it’s a great opportunity for the parent to learn more about the curriculum and see how the children learn and interact. I had Heidi with me, and I was worried she would get in the way, or get too tired and need a nap. But she LOVED toddling around after the big kids, so we stayed. Perhaps the best part of these trial classes is the effect it has had on Heidi’s naps! Continue reading

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Nap trick: keeping your baby awake in the car


Do your kids fall asleep in the car on the way home and ruin their naps? Heidi is famous for this. It amazes me how quickly she can fall asleep in the car – usually before we even drive out of the gate onto the road. Even a 10 minute kip in the car can wreck her nap. I scoop her out of her car seat asleep, but the second I try to put her in her bed, she snaps awake, and it’s impossible to get her back down. Goodbye, nap… Continue reading

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Ages and stages: terrible two’s


Grumpy muppet…

Heidi is now 20 months old, and she has firmly entered oh-so-inappropriately titled “terrible two’s.” (Both of my kids magically turned into toddlers throwing tantrums at precisely 18 months.) She is mostly a happy go lucky baby, until she is not. And a few weeks back she started pinching us when she was angry. Continue reading

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What’s in a name? World Moms Blog


I’m over at World Moms Blog today, writing about the lovely Kenyan traditions of naming babies. Our girls’ middle names are Nyambura (meaning born during the rains) and Makena (meaning the happy one). Click through to find out more about the meanings behind traditional Kenyan names… Continue reading

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Happy Halloween: sharing an American tradition


This past Saturday was Halloween, and my neighbor Laura and I decided to throw a Halloween party and organize trick-or-treating in our neighborhood. Halloween is by far one of my favorite American traditions – it reminds me of chilly Autumn nights, coming up with the perfect costume, and getting to run around after dark with friends and neighbors. And of course, there’s the candy. Lots and lots of candy. :) Continue reading

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