Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Craft Secrets: Can't Cook - Still Crafty

It's no secret that some people can cook up a storm, whilst others can make lots of mess but not much to eat.  I'm in the latter category.  I can cook a decent tuna mornay, several pasta dishes and stir fry meals I have are usually successful, and whoever invented simmer-sauce in a bottle is my best friend.  Anything that requires following a recipe however means success is uncertain, and 'winging it' is near impossible with my skill level.

I'm not concerned - the great thing about 'being crafty' is that you can improvise, invent, and best of all, build upon pre-made treats.  For the Beautiful Ballerina Party Craft Ebook I've been working on today, I bought a packet of ready made biscuits, and with the aid of a 'icing-pen' and a few sparkles, I was able to make two pairs of ballet slippers.  They're not perfect, but my two daughters thought they were terrific, and in my house where much of what I cook for dinner goes uneaten by the children and becomes tomorrow's lunch for Mum, their thumbs-up is a big deal!

(PS - there's lots more ballerina party craft projects where this came from!!)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Craft Secrets: Beared Ladies

It's no secret that things rarely go as planned, and that includes crafting with kids.  So it was fairly predictable that my 'classy craft' photo shoot of a mermaid montage (for my Magical Mermaid Ebook) was not going to be as neat as I would have expected... but what I wasn't prepared for was the outcome.

As I photographed Mimi (3 and a half years old) with texta in hand I watched her stick on stars, then draw circles around the mermaids.  Suddenly she started colouring in all the mermaids' chins.

"What are you doing?" I asked.
She replied; "giving them all beards."

I knew that mermaids were famous for their luscious locks - I just hadn't realised it was on their faces!  Never mind, she was having a good time.  The photos however may or may not make it into the Ebook... we'll all have to wait and see.

(PS - my website is now up and running, so pop across and see more Mermaid Party Theme Ideas.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Articulate Tempers and Hello-Pullups

It's no secret that in Fiji everyone says "Bula!" as a greeting which means everything from 'hello' to 'have a great day, go with peace, be happy and healthy.'  It's a lesser known fact that to a toilet training two year old, it sounds as if everyone is saying "Pull-ups! Pull-ups!"  No wonder then that this little toddler we know was so excited and confused that everyone seemed to be sharing in her progress towards the world of the Big Girls' Toilet.

I love little anecdotes (mine or other peoples), that reveal the universe through the alternate eyes of our children.  Their funny take on language helps us to slow down and re-look at the words we otherwise take for granted and what they mean, sound like, and could sound like...

A couple of months ago Happy Husband said to Mimi, "can you say articulate?"  She replied; "yeah sure; a-tickle-face."  Only last week, after learning about the concept of having a temperature, she decided to put it on a bit, and told me "I need to go lie down, my temper's a bit high."  I nodded and replied; "sure darl, we all have moments where we feel like that!"

Monday, June 20, 2011

Witch Bad Hair Day?

It's no secret that we all have a dream, an inner-vision of something that keeps us going (or keeps us from going mad at the very least).

For as long as Mimi has been able to talk she has always answered the question; "what will you be when you grow up?" with the same answer; "a princess."  And why not; it's worked for plenty of other girls (Aussie Mary and English Kate come straight to mind).

This weekend we got a new answer; "a princess... no wait... I think I want to be a wicked witch."  Well!  I know I shouldn't say it, but I was perversely proud of this new development.  I don't want my darling to be wicked, but at three and a half she is ready to buck with tradition, break the spell, and rewrite the fairytale... good for her; I'm almost positive that a wicked witch is much more relaxed about bad-hair-days!

We're all entitled to dream big - or dream quirky - and I believe that the only difference between the success and failure of our dreams is attitude (ok, opportunity and support help too).  So here's hoping you all dream quirky and make it big... and if you don't - no drama - who needs a castle anyway?!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Treasure Chest

It's no secret that things take time... but wow... some things seem to takes up a lot of time.  Not that I'm complaining, it's just that I feel sometimes as if I'm in an episode of The Twilight Zone... not one of those creepy ones where people have no mouths... more of a wrinkle in the timesphere sort of episode where the kid-free time I have to manufacture, photograph and upload my party pictures just zips away, but an afternoon when Mimi is cranky drags relentlessly until Happy-Husband comes to the rescue, and a night when Lotti is coughing stretches even slower... into... an... eternity...

On the bright side - a lot is getting done.  The web designer is designing, the lawyers and accountants are busy preparing their bits and pieces to make me an official entity, and I'm of course making digital templates (more pirate-plunder today), printing, cutting, glueing and and and you get the picture.

Good things take time - so too the treasure chest of party packages coming your way soon... I say that a lot I know... it's that twisted-time thing again... sorry!

(PS - see more Pirate Party Printables on my website.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Craft Secrets: Imaginary Friends

It's no secret that the most powerful force in the universe is a child's imagination.

Mimi's preschool is talking of installing a Fairy Garden and it got me rejuvenated about my fairy Ebook (still frantically fussing over everything - including photos of Mimi's dancing feet).  It's one of my favourite themes - fairies in the garden.  As I say in the introduction of my Ebook, when I was a little girl my mother told me all about the fairies that lived in the bottom of our garden (just as her mother had told her all about the fairies that lived in her childhood yard).  I love that the tradition continues and that my daughters are now excited about the prospect of little people hiding in between the winter leaves.

Mimi is particularly enamoured by invisible friends, and has been for some time.  Her favourites (twin sisters with pink hair), called Africa and Bunny have only just been partially usurped by Maddy and Moo.  We've learned to live with these imaginary visitors, although Little Lotti remains bemused by the whole talking-to-air phenomena!

Keep well over the weekend - and keep imagining.

(PS - click here to see more Fairy Magic now!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Monster Surf

It's no secret that inspiration can strike any time, in any form, especially through words - my favourite way.  A week or so ago, while listening to someone talk about the great winter waves we're having here during the storms, I heard the phrase 'monster-surf' and I had one of those light-bulb moments; "party theme!"

So in my most recent set of 'moments' that I'm forever eking out of my day, I put together a set of printpapers.  I tweaked the phrase and drew up some pictures of monsters on surfboards, but couldn't get it to feel right, so instead I started thinking about the most famous wave-graphic I know; "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" by the Japanese woodblock artisan Hokusai.

Using the woodblock idea to get me started, I created a choppy sea, and some giant squid in monsterish shades of blue-jelly, seaweed-green and dawn-gold.  Then I mashed them all together to generate a monster-laden sea at dawn... it's a little bit lateral, a little bit alien, and hopefully just a little bit different to the more traditional hibiscus-surfboard motifs we associate with surfing stuff.

So start thinking of all the things you could make from monsta-surf printpapers and let me know if a themed Ebook is in order!

(PS - you can now buy printable templates for invitations, bunting, bkeepsake bag-tags and more; party printpaper packages.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wonder Woman

It's no secret that you're either a computer wiz or you're a computer-whatter?  Currently, I'm somewhere in the  middle, madly swimming upstream, learning all I can to be more wiz less what-the.

I met with the web designer today - yay - and am feeling optimistic that I'm well on the way to designing my own little piece of the Internet.

Lotti meantime is still tearing at my heartstrings, misting up when we head into her lovely little day care centre... I have to admit that her tears (which they promise me dry up the minute I'm out the door an they've distracted her with Bun (the pet bunny)) make it hard to stay committed.

The little photo vignette today is of a cherub in the middle of swirls and whirls.  I took it on my honeymoon in Italy, and it sums up how I'm feeling today - excited, and full of dynamic, artistic energy, and yet still conscious that right in the middle of it all is a little tiny person I can't overwhelm.  I'm sure it's nothing new to working women the world over... but it's new to me.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Happy Home

It's no secret that trips O.S are great, but in reality there's no place like home.

Happy-Hubby came back to us yesterday from China, tired and inspired, and ready to cuddle the kids then take a nap.  So, while he was playing Dad, I grabbed the opportunity to knock up a fun set of "Oriental" printpapers.  With lots of lucky red and gold, they're filled with feathery-fans, lanterns and blossoms... The aim was to strike a balance between the familiar 'Oriental Icons' and the mysterious allure of the 'Exotic East' that first appeared as Shangri-La in James Hilton's novel 'Lost Horizon.'

I vaguely remember a black and white film of the book from my youth; a lost and weary traveller stumbles up a remote mountain path and discovers a secret utopia, an isolated land where equality was normal, there's no angst, no anger, ageless beauty, eternal happiness, serenity and tranquilty... sounds like Heaven to me.

With luck, the web designer and I get to meet tomorrow, and then we're on the way to creating a site where I can publish my Ebooks and printpapers for you to download... soon, soon, so very soon... until then; keep designing your own little piece of Heaven.

PS (Partycraft Secret Post Script) - there were no china ponies in China - boo hoo - it was pandas all round for childrens' gifts as suspected!

(PS - have a look at other pages from the Happy-Hideaway printpaper package for a; Oriental Party Theme.)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The LONG Weekend

It's no secret that wet weekends are not so fun.  Craft is a lifesaver, no doubt, but toddlers can only make so many 'welcome home daddy' posters out of glitter glue.

It's easy to fall into the taxi-trap of parenting during the week, such that the weekend by necessity becomes a time when we try to share the role of parenting a little more so that we can all recover.  Sadly, Happy-Husband is still O.S. so the parenting role continues on for me... long week... longer weekend... and not much Free-Ebooking happening... but here's a "teaser" - the cover!

This is just a quick blog to say - well done - to all the mums and dads out there who solo-parent on a regular basis; you're amazing!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Frantically Fastidious

It's no secret; time is scarce.  When you do 'find a moment', that's all it tends to be... a moment.

With Mimi at Preschool today and Lotti at Nana's, I'm frantically yet fastidiously, churning out Princess Printpapers, cutting, gluing and creating everything from glamorous goblets with faces and ruffs to mini bunting and dressable paper dolls to photograph and put into my Princess Party Ebook.

Next week I meet with the web designer to convert my ideas into reality - an actual business rather than a hobby.  As with all moments (more moments!) of anticipation, I have a sense of excitement and nervousness - what if he says "yes - but..."

We'll see... celebratory free printpaper all round when we're finally up and running!

(PS - click here for more Princess Party Printables.)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Made in China

It's no secret that children have a unique take on the world - and it's those moments of miscommunication that can act as either a tantrum-trigger or the magical memories we treasure ever-more.

My Happy-Husband left this morning to go to China for a trade conference. His two little girls got to see him briefly before he was bundled off into the taxi with the 'nice man' who was 'taking him away.'  "Daddy come back," Lotti (2y2m old) said hopefully as she air-kissed him goodbye.  "He'll be OK," Mimi (3y8m) added, "I hid a pink teddy and one of our plastic biscuits in his bag."

When he asked them last night what they wanted him to bring back as a present, Lotti settled on a panda - real or otherwise was fine by her.  Mimi was definite about "no rice" and finally advised she'd like a "china pony." After much questioning, we realised the inspiration was a magical porcelain one that comes to life and saves the day in one of her bedtime stories... China-china-same-same when you're little.

I look forward to seeing what Happy-Husband brings home from his journey.  The box will inevitably be a hit as the cliche goes!  Moreover, I suspect that after 5 nights away, 'Daddy' will be the real gift... assuming customs don't get him in the 'what's that?' moment as they're searching his grown-man's bag and pull out a tiny teddy and plastic love-heart biscuit!

Travel safe everyone.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Little Person - Big Milestone

It's no secret that a first birthday is a big milestone. It's a chance to celebrate how far our precious baby has come; from that emotional roller coaster of the original birth-day, to this day, where the party person is toddling along as best they can to the applauding masses.

We went to a lovely park-party today for a dear little girl-friend who just turned one. There was a warm(ish) winter sun, face painting (as Lotti is sweetly demonstrating in the picture to the right), yummy morning tea, a cake that little hands kept wanting to touch, a few tousles over the ball, lolly bags and laughter; everything you could hope for!

Happy Birthday R - and congratulations to your lovely family for sharing your special day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Big School

It's no secret that parenting doesn't come naturally... you expect it to; but it doesn't.  All your predetermined ideas about what you'll do and how you'll do it, get folded up into a succession of tiny, dirty nappies and tossed away.  When at long last you say goodbye to nappies, and hello training-pull-ups you're still, well, training.  When they go, and it's big-girl time, you're still not all the way there!

My two sisters wrote me an "all we know about parenting" letter before Mimi was born, which included plenty of helpful memos (don't buy too much baby-powder and you can't buy enough nappy-wipes), as well as anecdotal evidence under headings such as 'you're not a bad parent when' (your baby chews on the bills before you get a chance to pay them and so on).  I remember reading it with a smirk - surely this was all just another case of motherhood conspiracy at work - guess who's smirking now?

Today at the third of a four-part parenting-seminar ("BIG-big-school" as Mimi calls it) I was humbled as always by the responsibility that parenting entails, slightly shamed when they talked about why it was unhelpful to shriek at your children, and enthused by how far we'd come as a little family and all that lay ahead.

Here's hoping that school or no school, we all enjoy our field trip together - because life was meant to be colourful. x

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Working Out Social Networking

It's no secret that social networking is taking over our lives, and from what I can tell, that means you need to be three things; social, a networker, and technologically savvy.

I'm not a social person by nature. By that I don't mean that I'm anti-social, simply that I'm more of an introvert; I like my own company and am happy crafting away on my own. Since the glorious arrival of two daughters, I've had to become more 'out-there'. Whilst working in the city, I would almost never have spoken to a stranger in the lift, or at the deli counter while waiting for my lunch. Now, I say hi to just about everyone as I'm pushing the pram, pushing a shopping trolley, or pushing a swing at the park. Perhaps in my old life, everyone was just too busy pushing paper or their own agenda to be friendly?

In terms of networking; I can tick the box. I think that you have to establish contacts, alliances, affiliations and the like with other people to succeed in business.

Which leaves the last point - 'technologically savy'. Trouble. Whilst I'm very good at creating digital art, Ebooks and the things I know how to do, I'm pretty certain my three year old Mimi would have a better chance of figuring out how to blog, tweet, skype, facebook... sigh. The high price of staying connected!

None the less, with a success rate of 1.5 out of a possible 3 points, I'm working hard. Hopefully by New Years Eve, I'll be able to include gadgets, polls, Ts Fs and other buttons to make my life seem more credible.

And the photo?  I made a whole series of photos by placing drinking glasses just against the lense of the camera, and got a variety of effects.  This one, was taken of me by Happy Husband - pretty clever huh?  Click: experimental photographs for more images we made on a more recent post.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Party Pack Ahoy me Mateys!

It's no secret that boys love a pirate party, and as the mother of two daughters, I have to admit that I have spent all my recent energy ignoring their needs while getting four gorgeous girl-parties planned (Princess, Fairy, Ballerina and Mermaid).

So today was finally the day; a more matey-day, as I madly finalised more partycraft projects for the Pirate Plunder Party Pack - now that's a mouthful! Good news is, that's the hardest part of the whole pack, I assure you it'll be plain sailing from here on in.

OK, so the Pirate theme is not so original... but then again, there is a thing called classic, and I'm a big believer in the notion that: 'fads come and go, but classics are forever,' and that's why I've focused on creating a new take on the popular themes first.

So back to buccaneering - I can't tell you what fun I had today in the company of famous ruffians, researching all about their pieces of eight and pet parrots, whilst designing perfect printpapers and keepsakes to stash all that lolly-loot! With any luck, we'll have some sunshine here next week and I can dress up some scallywags in my costume creations for a fun photoshoot.

What does the future of party planning hold? well, boys and girls (and their mums and dads) still love the classic themes, schemes and pink-sheathed queens, but they also want a party that stands out from the rest.

Which is where I come in! The parties I want to plan next are a little different... there's a "Shangri-La" (Happy-Hideaway) theme loaded with the much-loved cherry blossom motif, teamed with gilded fans and precious paper lanterns. I'm also secretly obsessing about a "Monsta-Surf" party which is a new take on the Hawaiian Luau Party... oh and so much more... but I don't want to give too much away - yet.

(PS - read more about pirate party printables.)
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