Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Free Fathers Day Printpaper

It's no secret that Dads are the best thing ever... mine, and now my husband (father to my two beautiful daughters).  It's also no secret that everyone loves a freebie - and I know it's oh so late... but for those readers in Australia who celebrate Fathers Day this weekend (and all my other readers who want to stash it away for next year) I have made a set of printpapers for dad; filled with nautical stripes, draftsman's wheels and a few love hearts to show I care.   

I've made a set of 9 printpapers and 10 templates (including bunting, nametags and wall decorations) that you can use as a last minute accessory to any craft project, present or party you might be having for your own dear Daddy.

If you would like a free set, simply send me an email: linda(at)partycraftsecrets(dot)com and I'll send the pdf straight over...!

Don't forget to keep an eye out on our (FREE)CRAFT page on this blog - I remember to post freebies there, even if I forget to post blog-articles about them!

Tiger Mom Craft Failures

It's no secret that craft can fail.  Check out the 'CraftFail' website where brave souls post pictures of good ideas poorly executed... you'll  feel instantly better about your own fabulous failures.  Not that you should ever be sad... I'm a big believer that even bad craft is good fun.  I can feel myself channeling my mother now; "just try your hardest... just trying makes you a winner... better to try and fail than never try at all.."  It's true.  Children's craft projects in particular should be designed to be very forgiving... and if theyre not, then their parents should be.

To determine age-appropriate expectations, you may (or may not!) want to refer to the controversial scene in Amy Chua's Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother in which her daughter presents a 'sub-standard' birthday card.  It's a tough scene to read; poor little daughter gets her card handed back while her mother says; "you didn't try hard enough."  There is a (small) part of me that can relate... I have seen my own eldest daughter pick up a texta, scribble random lines, and say; there I drew a picture of you and dad and wrote my name underneath."  In my mind I'm thinking; "you so did not!" out of my mouth come the words; "not bad... maybe if you spent a bit longer here and here it would look even better."  I can't advocate total rejection, but I do think that if you know they can do better and you can see there's room for improvement you should let them know.

My postcard-stamp image today is of my own craft-bake failure.  Not that I actually baked anything, all I had to do was pull the two halves of the biscuit apart so I could stick a lolly between, to make a mermaid clam biscuit.. Problem was the biscuits kept breaking in half.  I had to be a little crafty and position them so that the cracks weren't too obvious for the photo.  What do you think?  Did I pass or fail?!?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Awkward Family Photos

It's no secret that we all have awkward photos in our files, and truth be told there's something quite cathartic about releasing bad photos for general view... ok so I didn't run this past Happy-Husband and he might not be quite so enthused to see his face up in my postage-stamp corner... still... it's there now!  We took this photo on auto for Mimi's first Christmas.  Hubby was due to head off on the Sydney to Hobart (or one of the many other overnight offshore races that take place over the Australian Summer), and was trying on his wet weather gear.  Mimi meanwhile was trying on her Christmas hat.  I was trying hard not to fall off my chair laughing.

Silly as they are, they're a sweet keepsake for the next generation, although undoubtedly a long cry from the staid formal portraits of my grandparents, or great-grandparents standing in the photographers studio in front of draped curtains and seated stoically on chairs while the camera took long minutes to expose the film.  Now we can take a million a minute, and toss the vast majority into the computers recycling bin.  Are we better or worse for it - you be the judge... until then; read our how-to photograph children guide to see if you can minimise the awkwardness!

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Fun of the Family Photo

It's no secret that a family photo is a joy to behold, in part because we all appreciate how hard they are to capture.  Children are tricky critters to pin down, dad's are often away on business, and mums are busy people... and that's why family-shots are often few and far between, mostly taken at bigger events when someone else can grab you all together, or else they're fully set-up (perhaps slightly overly contrived) affairs, fully funded and therefore expectations are high.

Following on from my facebook/twitter news of a great site I found showing 12 unique ways to photograph the family, I went back through my files and made a special Family Photo Album.  It includes photos from the hospital on the day Mimi was born (our first family portrait), and goes through all the formal birthdays and impromptu picnic shots, as well as some crazy self-portraits such as the one on our back lawn included above.

There are certainly plenty of 'awkard' family photos; group shots are always destined to have one person snickering, blinking, winking, or yawning... but then there's those shots for which 'awkward' barely covers as a description.  Here's one website that celebrates those awkward moments.

Don't be afraid of the family photo, in my opinion even an awkward one will be treasured in years to come... and let's face it; it would be hard to rival some of the shockers on the Internet!

(PS - we've now created a "How-To Photograph Children" Guide on our website to help improve your family photo album!)

Friday, August 26, 2011

How to use Print Papers (or Fairy Happy - Part 2)

It's no secret that we all want our children to have a happy happy birthday.  That's why we throw a party.  Most of us don't always have 'enough' time or money, but we make it, because our children deserve a celebration (and so do we).  Even the most low-key party should have a few decorations to set the part mood.

A few posts ago, I blogged how I had designed a set of Fairy Happy printpapers for Lotti's first birthday... which were doubly special because they were the first set of papers I had designed.  Once printed out, the printpapers act like wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, or specialty decorative paper, and can be used in all the same ways.  I used my spotty-dotty-fairy papers to make paper chains (substituting every second piece of coloured paper for a piece of printpaper), as well as paper-lanterns, amongst other things.

for the paper lanterns, I made many pastel-coloured lanterns in the standard way (ask your school-aged children how to do them or else there's plenty of how-tos on the web), and then to make the you-nique I glued strips of my printpaper to the top and the bottom of the lanterns.  I then went even further, and added a scrapbooking button and brad to the top, and some thin strips of streamers out of the base (not shown in the picture).

Once you realise that printpapers are simply decorative papers, you can cut and paste them into any of your favourite paper craft projects.  If you have any questions or suggestions, comment below, or send me an email (linda(at)partycraftsecrets(dot)com); I'm here to help! 

(PS - don't forget we're giving away the fairy happy printpapers as an attachment to our first newsletter in September, so sign up on our website... everyone who signs up before the newsletter goes out gets a themed Ebook of their choice - yay!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Party Planning

It's no secret that planning a party is either the best or worst thing about entertaining.  For some (ok, me); the fun is all in the imaginaing, researching, discovering, designing, crafting; putting it all together.  For others, the prospect of a party is all a little overwhelming.

"How to plan a party" is a very common dilema.  There's a whole industry of party planners out there who will happily take your money to answer your queries!  Or you can arm yourself with plenty of free facilities offered by the web; read as much as you can, from as many different sources as you can and chose the ideas that seem achievable to you (and your available time and budget).  If you're feeling brave (we know you can do it!) pick a party theme, it's a fast way to pull everything in your party together, it makes all your decisions easier, and your photos will look stunning!

If you're about to host your first children's party; get excited!  Parties are the wonderful occasions that mark the milestones events of families and friends.  A party is also the perfect opportunity to express yourself; your style, creativity and generosity.  Nothing reveals a big-hearted spirit more endearingly than the handmade, so borrow some of our crafty ideas to make your party you-nique, or give the projects to your guests as great boredom-busters.  Craft is a terrific way to showcase your skills and spoil the ones you love.

 Go on, read our free "How To Host a Themed Party" ebook, or the How-To guides, be brave, and make your party memorable.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Make a Mask: activities for toddlers

It's no secret that within all of us is the desire to hide behind a mask from time to time; whether it's as simple as makeup or as elaborate as a Venetian masquerade mask, it's nice to appear to be something other than ourselves sometimes.  And we learn this desire young; toddlers in particular seem to love the craft of hiding.

While I was typing on the weekend, I laid some old magazines and plain paper out for my two toddlers to craft with.  Finding activities for toddlers which is safe and engaging is always tricky, but ripping and tearing up an old magazine and sticking the bits on paper seems to be a winner at our house.  Happy-Husband soon came in and got involved.  To his credit, he invented a fun (OK, slightly creepy), craft activity for kids, as follows;
  • Find a full-page photo of a man or lady modelling cosmetics, face-cream etc.
  • Cut or rip the face out of the magazine (make sure it's your magazine and not a brand new one!)
  • With adult help roughly snip or rip the eyes out of the photo.
  • Hold the picture in front of your face for a mask.
The photos are sized just right for toddlers, and although both eyes rarely meet up exactly they can still peek through one hole and see themselves in the mirror.  So next time you've got cabin-fever from wet-weather... make a mask!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Fairy tails

mirror mirror on the wallIt's no secret that there's often a sting in a fairy tail.  Fairytales live largest in our imagination, and if you spend too long, thinking too hard about them, they become increasingly disturbing.  The family fighting, the cruelty to children and women, the sheer brutality that lies in the nasty details...
 
Reading fairytales of old (even new renditions) is a tricky tightrope; teaching children resilience is important, letting them know that bad things can happen to good people, but we must be brave, and clever, and trust our instincts are all good lessons, but...
 
It places especial pressure on parents to read every edition before purchasing or borrowing, and no doubt I'm not the only one who's suddenly been left blabbering some made-up mess about why the Little Mermaid was supposed to stab her beloved prince to save herself.  You can only skim-read ahead so far, and even if you're quick-whitted enough to skip the scary bits, the pictures (often gloriously depicted (our favourite mermaid illustrator right now is Ian Beck)) reveal the tell-tale signs of 'bad things.'
 
I love fairytales, and they deserve their longevity and adoration... but be warned; bad things can happen to parents as well as mermaids and other damsels in distress when you enter the misty world of make-believe!

... and of course I love a mermaid / fairy party!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mermaid Craft

It's no secret that toddler-infatuations about mermaids (or anything) can last a long time.  Princess-power is alive and well, but we're still deeply entrenched in the Mermaid-love-fest at our house.  We have a Mermaid Lagoon in Mimi's bedroom (a pile of blue cushions), there's a magical mermaid mirror (a little handheld one with sticker-gems all over it), and mermaid necklaces (lots of beads with 'seaweed'-ribbons attached), as well as a mermaid lei (made of pattypans and printpaper flowers / lily pads) which get almost daily workouts.

Every morning little Lotti wakes up (too early for my liking) and says; "frog-flowers?" meaning; 'can I take out some coloured patty pans, arrange them on a table and put little plastic frogs on each one?'  When Mimi saunters in, up to an hour later, (and at a much more civilised hour), she asks if she can add a few fabric flowers to the mix, and they play happily for a long time arranging, and rearranging their lotus-flower-cupcakes and frog friends on their little low round pond-table.  It's a pleasure to see discount-dollar-store items being loved day in day out.

So, thank you Mermaids and Dollar-Stores for inspiring our little girls, teaching them how to make classy-craft and giving me some peace first thing in the morning!

(PS - our Mermaid Ebook has lots of other mermaidy-ideas!)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jungle Animals

It's no secret that boys aren't big on princesses... except maybe when it comes time for marriage... and even then, I think they're worried about the maintenance!  So, it's time I rectified the obvious numerical unevenness with my party themes.

Being the mother of two girls, it was easy to put together four books perfect for pretty princesses, beautiful ballerinas, fabulous fairies and magical mermaids, and of course, I know plenty of plundering pirate gals, so that really makes five fun party packages they can choose from.  Boys on the other hand are a species I'm yet to understand (I'm still trying to work out the one I married!)  I was once told that toddler sons wear their mothers out physically and daughters wear them out emotionally.  From what I've witnessed at playgroup, I think there's a lot of truth in that.

Back to blokey parties; I'm half way through the Jungle package, the surf package is underway (you've already seen the printpapers), and there's a set of circus printpapers all ready to release in September.  So stay tuned lads; your turn will come!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Favourite Find: Iron-On Transfer Paper

It's no secret that 'creating' things is lots of fun.  Sure, it can go wrong sometimes, and your 'creation' doesn't always live up to your mental image, but then that's part of the joy of the self-made; that little piece of something special that has all the inconsistencies of handmade rather than mass-machined.

I recently 'discovered' iron-on transfer paper.  I'm probably one of the last people in the universe to find out about this stuff, but just in case someone else out there is looking for the next 'great thing' to experiment with, have a go at this; you take your favourite printpaper (digital graphic) and instead of printing it onto normal paper, you print it onto the transfer paper, then you iron it onto cloth (fabric swatches or clothes).

I used one of my Mermaid Magic papers and turned it into a doll for my girls.  They liked it so much, I went back and included it as a keepsake project in the Ebook.  You can also see the Pirate Party shirt that I made for the Pirate Plunder Ebook in an earlier post, worn by Mimi Woo-hooing.

PS - I don't sew, so the fact that the doll worked out even with my rather rustic approach is testimonial to the genius of printpaper!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

FAQ – What are printpapers?

It’s no secret that new concepts need to be explained in a meaningful way, which is why I humbly apologise for talking and writing as if everyone knows what printpapers are.  Only a couple of days into trade and we already have our first two FAQs from crafty-mums; one we’ll blog today, and the other shortly.

Printpaper is the name given to pages of digital graphics which can be used in full (A4 or A3) sheets as wrapping paper, table mats or backdrops for craft projects, or they can be cut up to make invitations, decorations, or any other crafty thing you can think of.

Printpapers can be printed out in one of four ways: 1) In coloured ink onto white paper, 2) In coloured ink onto coloured paper; 3) In greyscale (black ink) onto white paper; 4) In greyscale (black ink) onto coloured paper.  You can also consider printing patterns onto cardboard, t-shirt transfer paper, adhesive or magnetic paper – just check your printer’s capacity first!

For more information on how to use printpapers, go to our website for a step-by-step tutorial showing you page views of what you’ll see when you open one of our printpaper packages, and how to use the items you print out.

(You'll find the information in the Help section as the second How to Guide.)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Dear photograph

It's no secret that a picture tells a thousand words, and that an old photo is a gateway into a treasured past. This twos-day post includes a favourite website.  I recently 'stumbled-upon' a wonderful website called Dear Photograph in which people submit an old photo held up against teh same backdrop in the present context; deceptively simple, but profoundly moving.

The ones that refer to mothers move me most, so here's a photo of my mother 'from the past' superimposed onto a blog for the present.

You can see all the wonderful Dear Photograph submissions on their website.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sleep Sleep

It's no secret that now that my party-craft business is open for trade I'm supposed to be blogging more about parties and crafts, but I needed to share something far more topical - sleep sleep glorious sleep.  Yes, after nearly two and half years since Little Lotti has been born, she slept through for the first time ever!  From 7pm until 5.30am she did not whimper, whine, or wander around the house!

Better yet; to prove that the Sleep Angel was truly blessing us last night, Mimi also slept through, and so did Happy Husband!  I'm so shocked, I almost don't want to write about my 'perfect night' in case I jinx it!  On the other hand I want to scream; Hooray!!!

To all you other exhausted mother and father's out there - sleep will come - somehow, sometime, and please oh please, benevolent Sleep Angel, let it come again and again and again.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Fairy Happy - Part 1

It's no secret that fairies are happy little people, and why not; you can fly around, sprinkle magic dust over everything that isn't working for you, and you get to look so darn cute to boot!  As I've posted before, fairies suit children's parties perfectly; they're small, magical, mischievous, and they live largest in our memories... so much like youngsters!

When Lotti turned one, I found a vintage advertisement, which was copyright free.  So I used it as a template to make invitations to her birthday invitations, printpapers, and decorations.  (I'll post images of each of these in future posts.)

If you'd like a copy of the printpaper package that I made, I'm going to give it away until the end of Sepetmber, so send me an email here or subscribe on our website, as we'll attach it to our first newsletter.

Until then, let the magic happen, kiss your kids, and enjoy what's left of your weekend!

(PS - Don't forget to check out our other Fabulous Fairy Printpapers: here.)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

PARTYCRAFT SECRETS OPEN FOR BUSINESS

It's no secret that we're open for business!

Download our FREE Ebook
and companion FREE Printpaper

Subscribe to receive a monthly newsletter issued with free projects, printpapers and more.  The first issue will include the "Fairy Happy"printpapers as promised.

In the Community Section you will find Paige and her friends and lots of FREE craft projects which we will update regularly, just click and it's yours.

The Help page includes helpful How to Guides.

Of course, there's also all the party packages; we've got 45page themed Ebooks for ballerinas, fairies, mermaids, pirates and princesses, and more underway.

You can also follow us on facebook and twitter, and of course - stay reading with us here.

So start exploring the fabulous world of party-craft and go on... get crafty!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Party Trick - Quality or Quantity

It's no secret that if you've spent a long time making something spectacular (whether it's a knock-out birthday cake or an extraordinary Ikebana floral arrangement) you want it to be admired; and that means giving it plenty of room to shine.  Place your 'Spectacular' on its own table or sideboard, raise it higher than everything else on the buffet table, or use streamers or bunting to form a 'canopy' over it to draw attention in its direction.  For items such as keepsakes, a single homemade biscuit lovingly wrapped will be much appreciated come home time.

That said, there's still room for 'cheap and cheerful' especially when it comes to children's parties.  Young children associate generosity with volume rather than value.  A 'mosh-pit' of balloons will be eye-poppingly adored, as will an entry hallway filled to overflowing with suspended 'jungle' streamers to set the mood straight away.  A loot bag with store bought sweet treats will be welcomed open-armed (by children if not parents who get the lolly-hangover in the car on the way home!)

Be assured that there is a place for quality and quantity at your next party - it's simply a matter of choosing the best fit for you, your budget, your party person and your guests.

(PS - for other top party-craft tricks, turn to Page 4 of our Free Ebook: here.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Princess Games

It's no secret that every little girl wants to be a princess, and that every big girl wants to party like one!  As the 'go live' date beckons... maybe tomorrow?!... I'm getting ready to throw a web-party.

Mimi overheard a conversation with Happy Husband that involved the word "party" and automatically assumed we were talking about her and her upcoming 4th birthday.  I asked her what theme she wanted; mermaid, ballet, fairy... "now mum," she said, "you know that I would only ever want a princess party and that's the truth."

When Happy Husband tried to convince her that pirates have lots of fun, she became indignant; "Dad; stop being silly; only princesses have parties... and they're the best thing ever because they don't have to do anything; everyone else has to do it all for them."

Sounds good to me... again; it's no secret that girls, young and old, could handle being a princess for a day.


(PS - you can now check out more Princess Party Ideas on my  website.)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Jungle to jungle

Escape from the JungleIt's no secret that leaving home to go to the zoo is a bit like travelling from one jungle to another... but, what can you do; children do love a day at the zoo.

Happy Husband and I took our two girls yesterday and had a grand old time.  Highlights included the tiger-feeding, the Oh-No boy (a tiny toddler that followed us around saying oh-no over and over), and the announcement by Mimi that the Cassowaries (odd birds no doubt) had platypus-hats on their heads (the platypus being, of course, another strange Australian creature - google them if you don't know what they look like and you'll be amazed how spot-on my little lady was!
If one important thing came out of the visit, it was the reiteration that so many of our quirky creatures are under threat.  Mimi was very concerned about the notion of extinction, and even knowing that certain animals were endangered got her thinking hard about the animals in our neighbourhood.  Let's harness their concern and help "save the world" as she's always saying... for the children if not the animals.  

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dress up who

It's no secret that innocence is fragile and youth short lived... so why the need to make our little people grow up so fast?  I'm not prudish, not much anyway, but I, like plenty of others feel a little disappointed that a ten year old girl was 'dressed-up' for French Vogue and made to look like someone so much older.

I don't want to rant and rave about the dangers to child models' psyches, parents living out broken dreams vicariously through their children, or the risk of images being misused on the web, I'm just saying that it would be nice to celebrate simple pleasures associated with being young... seems ironic that society wants to make children look like adults, and as adults we'd all love to look a little more like we did when we were younger!

I put the photo of Mimi on this post to show that the best party intentions can go a little astray... the lovely lady who face painted Mimi to look like a princess at a recent park-party, made who look a little more like Prince (the androgynous retro rocker)!  Even Mimi looks nervous!  Bless her; little people love makeup, but call me old fashioned; I love little people best just as they are and in a big smile!  (See the picture in yesterday's post!)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pirate Theme

It's no secret that I'm lucky to have two beautiful girls.  I'm especially lucky to have two girls that love dressing up.  The final photo of the Pirate Party Ebook was done yesterday to much fanfare by all.

Mimi happily woo-hooed for me as I took her photo in the shirt that I made (by transfering my printpaper designs onto iron-on transfer paper).  We attached the Pirate Pete brooch (another project in the Ebook) and off we went to celebrate in the backyard.

I'm so looking forward to going live in the next week or so (final testing underway) and then we can all woo-hoo together!

(PS - check out the pirate party package: here.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Ready set go

It's no secret that typing on someone elses iPad can be tricky if you're not used to it... But I decided that it was important to post my website link; http://www.partycraftsecrets.com/ 

We're so close to going live and I'm so excited!

More later.
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