art · Cool places · history · Nature · stories · Travel · Videos · weather

It’s a mystery! What happened to “Twig Palace”?

Do you remember about two weeks ago, I wrote about the “twig palace” my kids and I found while walking in Hillsborough, North Carolina?

Well, guess what? My son and I (and Blackjack) went back to Hillsborough yesterday, and the twig palace was GONE!!





What happened? We decided to look for clues as we walked down the path toward Gold Park. My son pointed out all the broken twigs. I noticed that lots of the grass was flattened. The river seemed pretty high, too. He took photos to keep track of the clues…

We came up with a theory for what happened to the Twig Palace.

  1. Beavers took twigs from the Twig Palace to build a huge beaver dam — this is why there were so many broken sticks and twigs lying around.
  2. The beaver dam caused the river to flood — this is why all the grass alongside the river was flattened.
  3. The flood washed away the rest of the Twig Palace.

We decided to inspect the place where the palace used to be. We found tire tracks and a row of twigs stuck in the ground…very mysterious!

Then we heard two ladies talking as they walked past saying something about the “roof caving in.” Were they talking about the Twig Palace? What happened to it after all? Was it the beavers? Did a big truck come and take the palace away?

Check out our video and let us know what you think happened to Twig Palace!

art · Cool places · Nature · Things to do · Travel

Exploring a palace made from twigs!

We were walking in Hillsborough last week when we stumbled across a giant sculpture made from twigs! In fact, it was more like a twig palace…

twig house 2

So, of course, we had to go inside and explore! It felt like we were inside a giant bird’s nest! All the twigs are swirled and woven together. Our dog Blackjack was in stick heaven!

It turns out that this palace was created by North Carolina artist Patrick Dougherty. Mr. Dougherty has created giant twig sculptures across the United States (and in other countries!). If you go to the North Carolina Zoo, you will see one of his sculptures outside the KidZone!

Here’s how you get to the twig palace that we found in Hillsborough:

  • Park in the free parking deck beside Weaver Street Market.
  • Walk over to the wooden walkway/bridge behind the parking deck.
  • Follow the paths toward “Gold Park” (this is a cool park to check out as well!).
  • You will stumble upon the Stickwork palace on your left!



animals · Book review · Kids' books · stories · Travel

We read Old Tom’s Holiday!

IMG_2689Have you ever met a crochety old cat who likes to snarl and doesn’t care what anyone thinks? Well, that’s Old Tom! Only his owner, Angela Throgmorton, thinks he’s wonderful. But even she needs a break sometimes!

In Old Tom’s Holiday by Leigh Hobbs, Angela wins a dream trip around the world, but it’s only for ONE traveler. She tells Old Tom he must stay at home and clean up the house!

What do you think will happen? Will Old Tom stay home and clean up? Here’s a clue…

IMG_2690Check out Old Tom’s Holiday at your school’s library or at your town’s library. The author, Leigh Hobbs, is Australian and has written TONS of books for kids, including more Old Tom books!

Illustrators · Kids' books · stories · Videos

Do you like the Mr. Men books?

We love reading Mr. Men and Little Miss books! I bought all of ours during visits home to Scotland – we find them in the secondhand shops.

Here’s me reading Mr. Tickle to my son – he is doing some sound effects! Mr. Tickle was the first book in the Mr. Men series by the writer Roger Hargreaves. He wrote it many years ago, back in 1971!

Mr. Hargreaves died in 1988, and his son Adam began writing and illustrating the books. Thank goodness he did because now we have Mr. Cool, Mr. Rude and Mr. Good, Little Miss Scary, Little Miss Bad and Little Miss Whoops.

If you can’t find any Mr. Men or Little Miss books, don’t worry. We’ll be posting more videos of our favorites soon!

art · Crafts · Science · Things to do · toys

Art attack with chalk paint!!

Need a quick, fun thing to do outside? Have you tried “chalk paint”? We got some for my son’s birthday, along with this cool paint roller:

But you don’t have to buy paint chalk from the store — or a paint roller! You can make it, and then use paint brushes. It’s easy! Here’s what you need:

  • colorful chalk – can be sidewalk chalk or regular chalk
  • ¬†Ziploc (or plastic) bags
  • something heavy to smash the chalk (if you use a hammer, make sure a grownup is there to help!)

First, separate the chalk into different colors — put all the blues together and all the yellows together, for example. Otherwise, all your colors will get mixed up and may look brown and muddy!

Second, put one color of chalk (for example, all the blues) into a Ziploc bag. Close the bag tightly.

Third, smash the chalk into powder!

Fourth, pour the powder chalk into a container (a bowl or empty yogurt cup works well) and then add about half a cup of water. (The more water you add, the lighter the color will be, so it is up to you how much water to add.)

Fifth, stir the chalk powder until it is mostly dissolved into the water (there might still be some powdery chalk at the bottom, but that’s okay!)

Now, do the same thing with all your chalk colors. Once you’re ready, dip a paintbrush into the “paint” and start painting! (Try mixing colors to make new ones if you like.)



art · Crafts · dressing up · Things to do

Super-easy Halloween costumes!

Do you celebrate Halloween? If so, are you going to dress up? Here are a few quick costume ideas in case you don’t have a costume yet!

A bunch of grapes –¬†blow up about 10 purple or green balloons and stick them all over you! Then cut out a “stem” from green paper to stick on your head!

Photo by Melly Kay

A “punk” rocker – hang your head upside down, and ask a grown up to spray your hair with hairspray until your hair is messy and sticking up. Then find a tee shirt and turn it inside out. Ask a grownup to help you stick some safety pins onto the front of your shirt. If you can find a tie and black boots, put those on, too!

A birthday present – cut holes for your head and arms in a big cardboard box. Then wrap the box with fancy paper. Tie a ribbon into a bow and stick it on your head!

A donut – cut out two circles from a big cardboard box. Then decorate the circles with pink tissue paper (or brown if you want to be a chocolate donut!). You could also glue confetti on the paper to make “sprinkles.”

You can also stick an empty coffee cup on a plastic hairband to make a “hat” to go with your donut!