Monday, October 31, 2011

DIY Book Spine Bookmark

It's no secret that whilst reading is a vital part of childhood education, toddlers and books don't always mix well.  Until very recently the only books within reach of my children at home have been board books, or 'hardies' as our family calls them.  'Softies' as in books with rippable paper pages, were on shelves out of reach.  My design books, mostly from my architectural and retail-design days, were in a separate room tucked out of the way.

Not far enough out of the way however...

Little Lotti, who's about two and a half, and therefore not really that little anymore, decided that a slightly torn spine of an old book of mine looked delightfully inviting.  How she pulled out such a big book which was well wedged in between it's neighbours is a mystery, although, as I write this, I suspect she pulled at the already torn spine, and that's how she got the book off the shelf and how part of the spine ended up on the floor in two pieces.

My girls have a habit of walking around the house with their hands over their eyes (Lotti), or over their ears (Mimi) when they've done something wrong and they suspect "Mummy get cranky."  When I saw Lotti hiding behind her hands I knew something was up.  I'm about as patient as any mum can be when her husband's stranded in China due to aeroplane strikes, who doesn't get any sleep, and is way behind in her washing... I'd like to say I deep-breathed my way through the moment, turning it into a loving learning-opportunity, and I did.  After I had a moment of ranting and raving, which explains Mimi's ear-covering maneuver!

When I realised that the broken spine couldn't be stuck back together I gave myself a 15 minute challenge (I do a similar thing on Polyvore and with card making), to turn the pieces into a bookmark.  I laid the pieces onto 4 green scrapbook pages, chose the one I liked best, and using the gilded embossed letters and the title of the book '100 Great Lives' as inspiration, I popped on a gold crown sticker, star and tassel.  I used a white self-adhesive ribbon to pull the design down the full length of the bookmark, and I was done; the bookmark is now well embedded in the book that I'm reading at the moment, a book about Einstein and time, suitably enough!

So along the lines of 'got lemons? make lemonade' - got a broken book - make a bookmark... just don't deliberately break the book to make the bookmark... please.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I love Fabergé

I love faberge
It's no secret that beautiful objects are.. well, beautiful.  In an industrial world, craftsmanship is generally lost.  We all love a bit of easy-assemble flat-pack in our lives, but there's something so wonderful about touching something old, vintage, ancient, or even brand new if you know it has been hand-crafted.  The girls are resting in a rare, simultaneous mid-day nap... I'm literally holding my breath, typing as quietly as I can; the rareness of the moment heightens it's importance, making it more special because it is so unexpected... enjoy what's left of your weekend everybody, be crafty, share your gifts with loved ones, and get rest where you can. x

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Fabulous Photo Cakes

It's no secret that owning a camera doesn't make you a photographer.  I am the first to admit that I only dabble with photography, playing, tweaking, experimenting, and yes, giving advice from time-to-time; but without a doubt I'm no professional.  None the less, when presented with the opportunity to combine digital art, a photograph of my beloved first-born daughter, and a giant chocolate mud cake - how could I resist?

I used one of the mermaid-pirate printpapers I designed for Mimi's 4th birthday party (if you want a FREE set - subscribe before the end of the month and I'll send them out.)

Into the middle of the frame I added Mimi's photo, and then took the j-peg to my usual photo developing place where they printed it out amongst other favourite photos I put up on display for the party.

For a mere $20 the local cake maker scanned the photo into their super-duper machine, and printed the photo out onto an icing panel.  This was then placed into the middle of a BIG chocolate cake.

I added fish candy and candles (the photos are in the Gallery), and the cake was complete.

It was strangely sooo rewarding to see my artwork being eaten!
We still have Mimi's face in the freezer; we just couldn't bear to eat her.

So then - jump on line, subscribe, get your printpapers, and then you can print a page out, glue on a favourite photo, scan it into the computer, save the jpeg, and turn it into a cake spectacular at your next party.  Sounds a bit involved I know, but it's really so easy, and sooo worthwhile - ahhh... pity it's all gone, I could use a bit of chocolate right now...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mini Aquarium Keepsakes Tutorial

It's no secret that food that looks good helps it to taste better.  It's the same for keepsakes, lolly-bags, or take-home treats... call them what you will.

When Mimi had her fourth birthday last weekend, we came up with the idea to hand out mini-aquarium keepsakes.  I tried putting bath toys in plastic lunch bags, with and without water, but Mimi kept asking; "what can we eat?"  OK, so when it comes to making sweet-treats, remember that children think 'sweet' has only one meaning.

Back at my (digital) drawing board, I designed some printpapers, which I blogged before, showing 4 mini deep-sea pictures to be used as the backdrop to the edible aquariums.

If you want to get your hands on the papers, subscribe with us for a monthly newsletter (issued in the first week of each month), and I'll send them out to you with the November newsletter.  You can also use textured paper, new wrapping paper or even scrapbooking papers as a substitute.

Here's how I made our bags;

  1. Purchase clear cellophane gift bags approximately 15x25 cm (6"x9") in size.
  2. Cut a panel of your chosen printpaper into A5 panels or slightly smaller, to fit into the bag.  
  3. Place a strip of blue cellophane and some shredded paper into the bag - always ensure the pieces are large enough to see and safely separate from the food.  If you are worried about young children eating the paper, do not put it in, and perhaps consider using pieces of blue candy-floss instead.
  4. Put large items into the bag first; I suggest a balloon, and a large gold coin.
  5. Place the smaller items of candy into the bag; I went with sweets to suit the watery theme, such as sour worms, frogs, snakes, coral coloured jelly-rings, and bubble-like candy-covered chocolate drops.
  6. If you can get your hands on a fish-shaped treat, place that in last, ensuring it is at the front of the bag and visible. 
  7. Turn the bag over and fold the excess bag end into an envelope shape and seal with a themed sticker.
  8. Stack the bags somewhere cool and dry.
  9. Enjoy!

Form more pirate and mermaid party ideas, look at the gallery images on this blog from Mimi's birthday, pop across to my Partycraft Secrets website, or check out my Pinterest Pirates Love Mermaids board! 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Super Hero Printpaper Package

It’s no secret that all parents have a touch of the super-hero about them; stamina is the super-power that springs to mind most, followed, for some parents, by super-patience, and of course unending sources of infinite love.  If given the opportunity to pick some super-powers I suspect many dad’s would select super-strength, mind-reading and maybe xray vision.  Mums on the other hand wouldn’t turn down the ability to teleport at will, invisibility could come in handy, and hypnotising children to sleep would be high on my covet-list.  The ability to zoom through the air, cape or no cape, would also have to be a favourite dream of mine, it has no particular parenting benefits, but I’ve always wanted to fly...

Which brings me to mini-masked avengers and the latest party-theme printpaper package...  All the wonderful people who subscribed in the first weeks of Partycraft Secret’s unveiling were given the choice of a free printpaper package.  One mum, Despina from Greece, replied “I would like a super hero party theme.”  Well, until then I didn’t have a super-hero theme... but after two weeks and three or four different versions, with requests for less eco-warrior and more cartoon-kapows and masked kids flying about in capes, Despina and I came up with a printpaper package we both love. 

The last email she sent through announced; “Perfect!!!!  I am very very happy to say that I have NO further comments !!!!! Thank you so much for creating a tailor-made party for my girls!”

Despina’s two lucky daughters will be having one ‘super’ party early next year, so keep an eye out for some fun photos of what crafty things they might come up with... until then; fly cross to the PartycraftSecrets’ website and see some more images from the Super Hero party printables!

Lastly, I want to say "hello!" to everyone who's reading this in Greece, and extend a BIG thank you to Despina; the process of co-designing the package was more fun than I expected, she was honest, inventive, patient and... a real super hero Mum.  x

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Favourite Find: the cellophane gift bag

It's no secret that I was making 30 aquarium keepsakes for Mimi's fourth birthday party last weekend; I just haven't blogged the how-to as yet.  What I wanted to blog today is how to use any leftover cellophane bags.

Here's one idea that could be used for a save the date, invitation, keepsake, or home storage of a favourite photo.

  • Insert a photo into a cellophane bag (look for bags that will suit the photo size, or cut the photo to suit.)  I used one of my most favourite photos from Mimi's Fairy Party photo shoot.
  • Alternatively - textured paper, a drawing done by the children, a party invitation cut to A5 size would work, or even a postcard with someones address and your message on it could be fun.
  • Pop in some sparkle-confetti; I used some pretty ponies, flowers and horseshoes, but stars would also suit the chosen photo.
  • Turn the photo over, fold the end of the bag into an envelope/triangle shape and seal it closed with a sticker.
  • If it's to be mailed consider sticking a stamp straight onto the cellophane bag and making sure the address is visible (I suggest you mail one to yourself first as a test!)
  • If you're not mailing it, then consider adding other embellishments to the front such as mini pinwheels or umbrellas, fancy stickers or miniature scrap-booking dolls.

Not sure it's right for you?  Then take a short cut and simply cut a piece of scrapbook paper to fit the width of the bag and about 1" / 3cm wide and fold it in half over the open end of the bag.  Once the bag is filled with the invite or treats, staple it shut.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Still Eating

It's no secret that your Mum was telling the truth when she said; "if you eat too much sugar you'll make yourself sick."  Well, it may be true, but the definition of 'too much' is open to interpretation... besides, I think it's completely reasonable to eat left over biscuits for sustenance while cleaning up after the party's over.

That's a bit of a lame excuse, given that there's not much cleaning left to do... in fact, I'm already thinking of ideas for the 'next big thing'.  I'm assembly scraps of wrapping paper to cut up and turn into decoupage, what exactly I'll decoupage I'm not sure yet.  I've flattened a few of the chocolate gold coin wrappers, because they're the perfect size for fake 'wax seals' on envelopes.  Lastly, I've set aside the one left over cellophane gift bag from teh aquarium keepsakes I've blogged before so I can make a tricky star-confetti-filled photo invite... I'll blog them all eventually I promise.

Little Lotti just walked up to me saying "my tummy's sore."  Oops.  I guess we just found out Lotti's threshold for party leftovers!  Either that or she's been reading over my shoulder...!!  Warm milk will fix her up and then it's off to finish eating... I mean cleaning!

PS - the photo is of the Pirate biscuits I made for Mimi's party; I simply bought two different versions of standard chocolate biscuits, and then using a white icing pen, I drew a simplistic skull and cross bones on them to replicate little Jolly Roger flags.  In the Pirate themed craft ebook there's a more detailed version, but I ran out of time and the kids loved them regardless!

Memo to self; be a perfectionist by all means; but remember kids just want to eat chocolate... see more party photos in the gallery.

Monday, October 24, 2011

After the Party

It's no secret that Mimi turned 4 on the weekend; I've been blogging my progress for a while now, and still have plenty more how-to blogs to come detailing things you can make.

Here's the short story; Mimi and Lotti were overly excited so slept badly the night before, and were then up at the crack of dawn and ready to get going.  Mimi was convinced she heard the Fun Fairy up in the loft the night before so we let her climb the ladder for a look, and sure enough, to both girl's great amazement (Lotti had to climb up to confirm what Mimi's "nooo way!" was about) the Fun Fairy had left a couple of parcels; a new beaded party dress and a bubble machine.   Mum and Dad did the last of the housework and shop runs.  My parents arrived for lunch, and to help distract the children while we laid the food out on the Pirate-Mermaid buffet table.  We dressed up as a mermaid Mummy and daughter and a Pirate Dad and daughter (note Happy Husband even wore the partycraftsecrets Pirate Parot Pete!).  No sooner had the fun family photo been snapped than the guests started rolling in...

Highlights included;

  • Mimi's face when the first big bubbles started pumping out of the bubble machine.
  • Lotti's face when Mummy appeared in a candy-pink wig.
  • the oh's and ah's from everyone when Mimi's photo cake was unveiled.
  • the pirate hats and Captain funny hook-hands running everywhere and ah-har-ing.
  • the all in tug-a-war (it's debatable whether my prediction on who would win the pirate game was right because the mermaids dropped the rope which set the pirates on their bottoms!)
  • fancy fish and chips were a big hit with the kids, and sushi platters were all cleaned off by the parents.
  • watching the kids make lots of variations of the Happy Oyster and Mermaid lei's was very rewarding.
  • the happy faces on all the children when they left with their aquarium keepsakes (I'll put a how-to blog up shortly.)

Thanks to all my family and friends who came to help celebrate our 'big girl' growing up.  And thanks to all of you for still reading!

Off to clean up... I'll post photographs progressively on the Gallery section of this blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fancy Fish and Chips

It's no secret that I'm a craft-crazy.  I always go a bit over the top when it comes to party preparations.  OK, I go a lot over the top.  There.  I admitted it!  But you know what; it's just so much fun!  I know that the young guests, and plenty of their parents, will be oblivious to all the effort that's gone into the day.  If I'm totally honest, I suspect even my own family doesn't realise how much I do... hmmm... now I'm sounding like every other mother I know...

Ok, so here's my latest brainwave for this weekend's party; and time is running out, so I must be brief.  Mermaids and Pirates live in/on the sea, so of course seafood has to be on the menu.  How to serve it?  Well, when I think of the fish and chips of my youth, I recall it being wrapped in newspaper.  That in itself doesn't seem 'classy' or crafty enough for me, so why not take the newspaper and make mini cornucopia cones and serve the food in those?  Then I think that the newspaper ink might come off the paper and onto the children's fish fingers, so maybe I'll photocopy the newspaper and use the copies to make the cones.  And now's when it gets dangerously close to being labelled OTT (over the top)...

Before Mimi was born I asked my father to buy the newspaper on her birth-day for her future memory box.   Being as diligent with tasks as I am, he purchased all 5 local newspapers.  And I still have them.  So, being compulsively crafty as I am; I've photocopied the headlines from her real life birth-day and am frantically making paper cones for Sunday.

(In case you're worried; I'm making them hygienically on the table, I just laid the test pages and cone on the floor for the photo!  All you have to do to make these fancy fish n' chip cones is cut an A4 paper in half, then wrap each piece around itself into a cone shape, glue the edge to hold it in place, then place a strip of clear tape over the join to strengthen it enough to hold the food.)

Alright - I'm mad; I know.  At least my friends at Paperblog see the upside; they made me "blogger of the day" - wow - thank you Paperblog - I'm so proud of my crafty, crazy self!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Inviting DIY Invitations

It's no secret that the first step to a successful party is creating an inviting invitation!  The invitation provides a sneak-peek into the party theme, a foretaste of what’s to come, and drums up a sense of anticipation.
The key here is how many invitations do you have to make?  This will let you know how intricate (and therefore time-consuming) your invitations can be.
If several are required, you might consider making one and having them colour-copied to save you time.  If there’s only a few, then hand-made is always a lovely way of showing people how much you love them.  Emails are earth-friendly but can get lost in the spam – besides, I'm passionate about paper and just love the excitement of receiving something special in the mail, or being handed it, especially by a young party-person!

For Mimi's 'Pirates Love Mermaids' party this weekend I made some special printpaper which combined the mermaid and pirate skull-and-crossed-bone motifs.  I love a 'scroll' invitation; it's like an old fashioned proclomation; hear-ye, hear-ye, and a treasure map all in one.  For your invitations, you can follow exactly the same idea, simply using the printpaper invitations of your chosen theme / design.  Here's how;
  1. Print out the template with the 3 DL invitations and cut them out.
  2. Roll them up into thin tubes and slip them inside a costume-jewellery ring.
  3. Push a mini-swizzle stick (or something similar, such as a mimi-umbrella or mini-pinwheel) into the ring.
  4. Push a plastic pirate coin in behind that until it is firmly wedged in place.

Our young girl-guests loved the fake ring and put them on straight away.  The boys took to the pirate treasure coin, and the swizzle stick whilst a little redundant, helped to hold the whole thing together and add to the sea-worthy presentation of the invitation.   

To try the idea out, download the FREE printpaper package on the Partycraft Secrets website, and print out page 11, or purchase a themed party printable package; all of them contain the DL invitation template, again always on Page 11.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pirate Party Games

It's no secret that children tend to be contrary... when Happy Husband was singing 'you are my sunshine' yesterday, Mimi, aged almost-four, said; "why don't you ever call me moonlight?"  It's a valid question, especially since the song still holds up rhythmically... and now I can't get the tune out of my head!

About ten minutes before she went to preschool this morning she announced that she'd like to play tug-a-war at her party this weekend.  I told her it was a great idea, and I'm happily imagining her Daddy (who has agreed to dress up as a pirate) with 8 little pirate boys on one end of the rope, and me (who will be a sort-of mermaid with candy pink wig but no bikini top) on the other end with 23 little mermaid girls.  I suspect Daddy's team is still going to win!

For another game, I found a bag of twenty 'ocean-animal' bath toys on special at the supermarket, so we're going to use those for a sea-creature treasure hunt in the garden if weather permits.  The single rule which Mimi and I devised is this;  you find a toy and you get a lollipop.  Simple, and effective, because it means once children have found a treasure they'll get busy eating and leave the other (usually younger) children to find their own treasure uninterrupted.

To make the mermaid and pirate party lollipops, we'll give out as prizes, we;

  • bought small cheap and cheerful individually wrapped lollipops, 
  • printed out mermaid and pirate bag tags, 
  • cut them in half and punched a hole at the base of each one, 
  • threaded them onto the lollipop stick (keeping the ingredients side of the candy wrapper visible for parents who need to check allergy warnings),
  • adhered them in place with a piece of double sided tape,
  • and then stuck on a dollar-store sticker.

Phew - sounds a mouthful but we turned out 30 of them pretty quick smart... come on weekend; I think I'm getting more excited than Mimi!!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Enough Time for Craft Time

It's no secret that time waits for no mother... no matter how crafty!

As I've mentioned before, time has a quirky nature; an hour lying on the floor beside a toddler's bed in the middle of the night to get her to sleep seems to last forever, whilst the time that has passed between the birth of my first 'bubba' and her fourth birthday has been a blink.

As I once summarised; every day seems an eternity, but the years are flying by.

Similarly, waiting half an hour to see a dentist is another 'forever' moment, and one I'm deliberately avoiding, whilst trying to maximise the half an hour Daddy is on duty to check emails and type something meaningful is a half-blink moment...

The whole wrinkle in time thing is nothing new, and certainly way beyond my powers of observation or description... my kitchen clock says it's time to log off for tonight, and count down the long moments before I get some short kid-free time, and then it's CRAFT TIME - I want to finish beading the party dress for Mimi... only days to go til "showtime!"  Yay!

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Happy Oyster

It's no secret that when you're onto a good thing you should stick to it, which is why I made yet another cupcake-liner / patty-pan craft for next weekend's mermaid-pirate party.  It's a craft activity for kids, which is fast (which kids like), affordable (which party-hosts appreciate), and super-safe because there's no cutting involved.

What you'll need:
Cupcake liners in different colours and sizes.
Google eyes (or a marker)
Stick on gems.

Here's how to make them;

1.Select 2 large and 1 small patty pan (cupcake liner) in different colours.
2.Stick the 2 large patty pans together (so that the colours are visible on both sides).
3.Stick the smaller patty pan on what will be the inside colour.
4.Fold the shape in half so that the small patty pan is inside.
5.Stick or draw google-eys on the outside.
6.Stick a gem or pearl on the inside.
7.Use your hand to open and shut the happy oyster and make him sing!

As always, click on the image for a better view,
or visit my website for more inspirational images for mermaid parties.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mermaid Party Decoration Idea

It's no secret that I have a love of bunting, garlands, strings of mini flags and the like.  They're such festive decorations they instantly make a place say 'party-time'.  They are also generally fast to make.

For Mimi's 4th birthday next week, she and I have been busily preparing three sets of bunting.  There will be a set of nautical semaphore flags to go over the food table (they're picture is in the Mermaid Party Ebook gallery).  We've already done the Jolly Roger pirate flags (you'll see their photo in the gallery for the Pirate Ebook) to go over the pirate craft table and the clam shell bunting for the mermaid party craft table.

Here's a tutorial on how-to do the clam shell bunting, and when I say 'we' I mean Mimi and I, because this project is so easy she was able to assist.
  1. Buy a packet of large cupcake liners (also called patty pans or paper cake trays) - we used all 100 to make 4 lengths of bunting.
  2. Fold each one in half and leave under a pile of books for awhile to help them stay flat.
  3. Measure and cut a piece of coloured twine, string or wool about 1 meter (2 feet) LONGER than the distance you need to drape between.
  4. Using glue, stick the cupcake liners along the length of the string, making sure that the string is right up against the fold - you can place the cupcake liners close enough to touch, but we left them at intervals approximately a hand-wide to make our liners go further.
  5. Carefully fold the bunting so that the clam shells are resting on top of each other, wrap the excess string around the bunting, and leave it back under a heavy book to fully dry flat.
  6. Closer to the party day, hang up using the excess string to make bows or slip knots as preferred.

I considered sticking google-eyes onto the clams, or drawing them on with markers, but decided to leave them plain - you might want to elaborate the idea further - send me photos if you do!  Don't forget that you can make the colors random as Mimi and I did (for ease and speed), or you can make a pattern for a more uniform look (such as red-green-red for seaside Christmas bunting.)

In the photo you'll see our Mermaid Mirror in the background - it makes for a pretty family of craft projects... ah... I can't help but think that the best thing about a cupcake isn't the frosting; it's the versatile liner!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Creating Keepsakes

It's no secret that a party is not complete without a killer-keepsake.  Children love lolly bags, parents probably don't.  So what to do?  I'm a fan of thank you gifts; whilst you have put a lot of effort into the organisation and catering of the party, the guests have all made an effort to travel to your venue, often great distances, they have more than likely purchased presents, and they have certainly gifted you with their time.  So then; keepsakes are a must.

Beautiful bags, pretty accessories, or my personal favourite, books, are all perfect thank yous for young and old alike, but for children I think there should be an element of sweet about the treat, and by sweet I mean edible not cute.  To do this without rotting every tooth in every head consider giving out one home-made and decorated biscuit, a single glamour lollipop, a bag of popcorn or a shaped chocolate treat.

Whether you're using a theme or a colour scheme to pull your party together be sure to use it to inspire your choice of take-home.

For Mimi's upcoming 4th birthday, all her guests are young children for whom quantity is usually more important than quality.  I am however going for a small lolly bag with minimal edible items inside.  To make it look more spectacular I'm turning the bag into a mini aquarium.  I'll post the full how-to shortly, but many moons ago I saw a simple clear cellophane lolly bag with a beautiful patterned paper insert.  The bag had a few boiled treats inside, the top was rolled shut and pegged.  It was so simple and beautiful, and it inspired me to make the pirate-mermaid printpaper pictured in the top corner, complete with fish, seaweed, bubbles and pirate treasure.  I'll cut the design into 4 panels and insert them into the bags as a back drop to some themed-candies and blue tissue paper 'water'.

Lastly; don't forget that make-and-take craft projects are always welcome; what child doesn't love to linger in front of their creation proudly and reminisce about good times... ok, maybe that's more me, but my girls do love to see their works displayed and admired adoringly by their parents. 

Feel free to email me your favourite keepsakes; one's you've given or received.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ballerina Party Decorations

It's no secret that sweet music tames the most savage beast... even childish ones. A good dance around the lounge room gets my two daughters back in a fun-loving mood, no matter how bad the weather outside.  When Mum and Dad join in, it's even better, and for us it's often the perfect 'last activity' that burns off dinner energy before we start the wind-down to bed.

When I was younger I played classical flute (badly, but with a desire to be good) and I remember clearly the reverence with which I held sheet music.  Imagine being a young person knowing that someone like Mozart had scribed those very notes onto paper, or vellum, at an age younger than I was then.

I don't play now, except the occasional poor rendition of Twinkle-Twinkle on an old recorder to amuse the girls.  I still love listening to music however, and I've kept my passion for paper-music.

On Pinterest I've got a running pin-board of images called Sheet Music Creations and it shows the very many beautiful things that crafty people have used music to make.  Many of the craft projects appear to have stained the paper to age it (there's a How-To stain paper guide in the "Help!" section on my website), but there's another way that you can make 'ordinary' music sing - and that's to photocopy it onto colored paper.

The picture in the corner is a photocopy of beginner recorder tunes I made onto hot-pink paper, and I think it would be perfect for a Ballerina Party Theme.  It makes a great table mat in it's own right, laminated or not, or it could be concertina-folded into a fancy dress fan, rolled into keepsake cones, cut up to make wreaths or garlands, or wrapped around votive glasses and back-lit by candlelight; perfectly sophisticated enough to decorate any glamorous ballet-birthday girl's soirĂ©e!  

Oh go on... make some ballerina party crafts out of sheet music and then send me the photo-link so I can post it on my virtual pinboard...!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Princess Party Craft Ebook

It's no secret that there's a book and TV series called "The Little Princess" created by Tony Ross.  My girls LOVE the cheeky little princess with her strange smudgy eyes and plain white dress (or nightgown?).  Truth be told I'm not so keen.  She's got too much attitude.  I'm all for young ladies asserting their personality, but foot stamping temper tantrums are bad enough in real life without having to sit through another episode on your telly or at snuggly book time before bed.

Good news however is that not all princesses are like that.  Take Kate Middleton, now Mrs Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; you don't see her throwing a hissy fit about having to eat a salad... at least not that we get to see!

Anyway - all little girls love to dress up as princesses, and a little bit of spoil-the-royal behaviour is ok from time to time.

If you have a little girl's birthday party coming up and can't decide what to do to celebrate; go the princess theme.  Buy lots of pink and white, add sparkly bling to everything with stick on gems, have all the visitors make crowns and tiaras for a craft project, and play games like pin the kiss on the frog, treasure hunt for the little princesses' lost golden ball or a silver slipper, or hide a pea in a bowl of popcorn and ask the girls to find it.

If you want more ideas; and what parent isn't looking for a little helping hand; jump onto the Partycraft Secrets website and see images of other Princess craft ideas or download the ebook for printable art and craft templates.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hand Made Craft

It's no secret that craft projects can quickly get expensive - but it doesn't have to be that way.  Even if you only have a basic sense of being-crafty you can get imaginative.  I've already blogged the great fun you can have making smiley-faces in the garden with leaves, and the project where you make a family-flower out of overlapping adult-children hands, the first costs nothing, and the second can be done with surplus scrapbook bits and bobs.

Here's another hand-made-craft (ha ha) which would cost less than $5, free if you're a regular crafter with basic materials lying around.
  • The child traces their hand, wrist and some of their arm onto coloured paper.     
  • You cut it out; you now have a paper hand, or 'glove'.
  • Measure the width of the arm-section and cut a piece of paper doily out to match the width.
  • Stick this to the base of the 'glove' to act as a lace frill.
  • Add real or scrapbook buttons to the base of the glove.
  • Use scrapbook embellishments, pencils and stickers to decorate further.

If you want to take 'the glove' further, make some finger loops to the back of the glove so they can 'wear' it.  You could also tape a craft stick on the back to turn it into a sort of puppet.

With Halloween coming up you could easily make this craft project super-spooky by using the right coloured paper and embellishments, and by swapping the lace frill for something more gruesome.  Go on - give it a go.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Party Food Ideas

It's no secret that you need to serve food at parties.  Whether it's a sit down meal, buffet table, or a few plates of nibbles you’re providing, I’ve got lots of ideas to get you into the kitchen (or the supermarket at least!)  If you're thinking of hosting a Deep Sea party, think fisherman, mermaids and pirates, here's some quick and easy points to try;

Young pirates love adventure, so why not bring an element of danger and suspense to the dining table?  Line up small bowls of pretend “blood and guts” for a yucky buffet.  Encourage everyone to take a spoonful of something, but don’t push anyone if they’re not keen.  For the truly reluctant, make sure you explain the real identity of everything.  Go for a castaways BBQ or a rebels banquet, or a DIY pizza bar (ok, that's not so piratey - but it's fun!)

For mermaids play it safe and serve seaworthy fish foodfish fingers, fish cakes, tuna salad or fish and chips!  Put especial effort into making everything look petite; little girls feel special when served little food on dainty dishes.  Decorate standard cupcakes with accessories such as edible flowers, piped blue icing, or little decorations such as ribbons, bows, umbrellas or shells in the colour of your party. 

Fisherman love fishing, so it's more of the same, plus sub-sandwiches, clam bakes and other hearty meals, or serve family favourites in take-home lunch boxes.

And if your kids don't like fish?  Then find a cookie-cutter in the shape of a star-fish or fish, and use it to shape everything from biscuits to jam sandwiches.

For the main cake there's still more ideas.

Consider Devil’s Food Cake or anything covered in lashings of dark chocolate for 'wicked' pirates.  Mermaids can try an ice-cream cake to stay in the mood, or you could buy or bake the family favourite then pipe blue frosting around the base (or all over!) and stick on chocolate-shells, or other sea-worthy sweet-creatures (jelly frogs, stars, pearl-mint balls).  For a fisherman theme try a standard cake and then cut out a scalloped corner as if the fish-that-got-away took a nibble before it swam off!

Don’t forget the adults (they get grisly too); splash out (ha ha) and provide oysters and sushi or make prawn cocktails and fish cakes or adult-sized serves of fish and chips.

And what's on the menu for Mimi's upcoming 'Pirates Love Mermaids' 4th birthday?  Probably sushi and tuna salad for the adults, and fish cocktails and chips served in little newspaper cones for the kids, followed by decorative clam-biscuits for the girls and chocolate jolly-roger biscuits for the boys.  Lolly bags will be mini-aquariums... you'll see!

Can't wait; then jump across to Partycraft Secrets for more birthday party ideas... the ebooks have detailed menu ideas for each party theme - mmmm.... it's making me hungry!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Smileys

It's no secret that sunny weekends are happy weekends.  If you're blessed to have a garden; use it.  Use it ways you don't normally use it.  Go exploring, have a treasure hunt, collect leaves, sort them into similar shapes or colours, or make funny faces with them on the terracotta tiles.

That's what Mimi and I did while Lotti was resting.  The top left face she did all by her own.  I suggested a bendy leaf for a happy face, which was her second (top right).  The next face she made she wanted happy-eyes, and the last, still hers, is the happiest face of all because of its happy eyes, ears, nose and mouth - yay for happy faces!

If it's the weekend and you're thinking of things for kids to do; get crafty... get crafty in your garden if the sun is shining, or get crafty in your usual crayon and paper ways... if you have access to a printer, download some free historical-art coloring pages and get to it... time is short and kids doing crafty things is all about happy faces!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Birth-Days and Birthdays

It's no secret 'other people's' parties are great; you get all the fun without the preparation and cleanup... but then you also miss out on all the preparation; and call me crazy but that IS the fun part!

After Mimi was born I joined a local Mothers' Group, and 4 years later, we still meet on a regular basis.  As they were all born a month apart, their birthday parties also come crowding in.  Today's 4 year old look ed a treat in puffy pink.  It was a BYO-scooter park party, and after decorating the scooters the children zipped around, played pass the parcel and ate too much sugar.  Hooray!

At our house we're still busily making clam-shell bunting for mermaids (I'll post the how-to shortly), and Jolly-Roger mini flags straight out of the Pirate Party Ebook, so that there can be a place for Mermaids and a space for Pirates and "no mixing up," says Mimi.  We'll see.

And now a short moment of nostalgia; if birthdays do anything, it's to remind mothers of birth-days; the good, the bad, the super bad, and the sheer bliss of holding our newborns; that's my first angel in the corner; ahhh.... memories.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Housekeeping Horror

It's no secret that house-keeping is boring stuff.  If I were a millionainaire it would be the first thing on my to-do list to go.  I'm not, so I get to clean house like everyone else.  Cleaning up after toddlers is a particularly relentless and thankless occupation.  Every now and then however, you get to laugh.

Take the example of one Mummy (me) who gets to make lots of fun crafty projects for kids as part of her party-craft business.  Mummy always tries to photograph the things she makes straight away.  Mummy then lets her toddler daughters play with what she's finished with.  Toddler 1 (Mimi) is very good at playing with paper.  Toddler 2 (Lotti) is not so good, as I've posted before in Sticky Business.

Exhibit A: in the picture on the left you can see the Halloween printables which went out with Partycraft Secrets Newsletter 2.  

Exhibit B: the picture on the right shows the same paper crafts after 10 minutes of unsupervised time with Little Lotti.

I couldn't help but laugh to see my hard work TRASHED.  Needless to say had the craft not been photographed, or still to be used for something else... grrrr...

If you received your Newsletter and made the templates - send me a picture - linda(at)partycraftsecrets(dot)com!  Oh, and I forgot to say in the newsletter that you can turn the dice template into a keepsake box with secret horrors inside simply by not gluing the last tab down.

If you didn't receive the Newsletter and wish you had - subscribe to become a loyal friend of our Royal Family and you'll receive your own batch of FREE printable goodies in the first week of each month.

Last bit of housekeeping is to say a big CONGRATULATIONS to the four winners of the competition Kathy Barbro held on her site 'Art Projects for Kids.'  I hope the four of you enjoy your themed ebooks and printpaper packages.  And what themes did the 4 lucky people choose??  Ballet, Fairy and Pirate x2... ya-haaar for the pirates!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Pet Rock

It's no secret that pet rocks are cheap to feed.  The fad of keeping decorated rocks seems to come and go... sometimes they have googly-eyes, shaggy hair dos, or bright painted stripes.  Whatever the characteristics of today's pet rocks, they still make rock-solid friends.

While walking beside the river near my parents' farm, Mimi and Lotti had a great time collecting odd-shaped and pretty coloured rocks.  Granddad found a particularly special one; it was small and round and had another paler rock poking out of the end just like a nose.  Voila; pet rock!

Simple and sweet, I was thrilled that Mimi took to her new friend.  It even seemed a step up from imaginary friends Africa and Bunny who usually hang around, but were apparently having a holiday of their own while we were away from home.  When it was time to leave we had to load our luggage with a dozen pet-rocks... I was sooo hoping the lady at the airport-checkout would ask; "wow, your bag's so heavy; what's in here, rocks?"

Back home Mimi went to play with her cousins and took the bag of pet rocks with her.  When she came back, each and every rock had a texta face on it.  I'm not sure why, but it made me feel queasy.  I love a pet rock, but for some reason, seeing all those perfect river rocks with childish smiley faces made me think 'vandalism.'  Am I totally alone on this one?  Let me know.

I've since calmed down enough (sort of) to write a blog-post on how to make a pet rock.

  1. Find a suitable rock whilst respecting private property and heritage listed National Parks!
  2. If it's dirty clean it with soapy water; pet rocks love a good bath as much as toddlers, but not at the same time if it's super dirty!
  3. Decorate your rock; I recommend a permanent laundry marker for a quick solution, you may have more time; let your own imagination soar.
  4. Name your rock with a suitable celebratory name such as (Rock) Hudson, Rocky, or RockAFella.
  5. Provide it with a nice place to sleep; I hear they're partial to bowls of potpourri, small handbags so they can travel with you, or decorated cardboard boxes... no rock music please.
  6. Encourage your friends to adopt pet rocks of their own; then you can all get together for a party!

If that's not surreal excitement enough; try a Salvador Dali downloadable craft project off my website.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rock Art

trapped in historyIt's no secret that we can all get stuck in a groovy-groove from time to time, and I'm still digitally manipulating photos for fun... more 'real' craft soon I promise... it's just so nice to do 'adult' things from time to time.

Polyvore, which I've spoken of before, allows you to upload images you find on the web (including your own sites) and then digitally manipulate them; letting you lay one on top of the other, two images deep or several images layered one after the other.   My thank you balloons were an example of multiple images layered one on top of the other, top right is an example of using only two images.

(The provenance of the bubble-blowing picture was just posted, and the stone carving photograph from Italy I also used on this blog while obsessing about how to balance children's needs with those of my own... nothing new; it's called parenting!)

As for craft... I'll do a post about crafty rock art of a different sort tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fact can look stranger than Fiction

It's no secret that invention is often accidental.  Before our children were born, Happy-Hubby and I were experimenting with a cheap camera.  Don't ask me why, but we placed a variety of glass cups and bowls against the camera lens and took photos of ourselves and each other.  The texture, shape and colour of the glass warped the image of the person beyond, stretching, fracturing, duplicating them... wow; what fun it was to see the different images we could make from different glassware.

Time is always limited, but sometimes, it's fun to try new things with everyday objects... you might just create something altogether unexpected like we did.  I'm going to try it again with my kids... when time permits!

(PS - if you enjoy experimenting with photography; check out some of the popular posts on this blog or pop across to my website for the photography how-to guide.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Having a Rest in the Interest of Pinterest

It's no secret that too much of a good thing can be bad for you.  My latest addiction (pinterest) is proving problematic... I'm collecting and collating things instead of making them.  Whilst other people's ideas are a good thing; I love inspirational images as much as the next person; it's good to reinvent old classics, come up with new takes, be you-nique.  The only way to be unique is to experiment, and experimenting means doing.

So then - I love pinterest, but I'm considering a rest... a short hiatus while I get back to being an inventive mother out of necessity and desire, rather than a hoarding collector gatherer.  I'll be back; it's far too useful a tool to make instant mood boards which perfectly capture a design intent, making wish lists and even gathering the sources of how-tos for later reference... but that's when I aim to address them; later. 

We'll see...  In the meantime, I'll keep the dream alive, and keep referring back to the multiple mood boards I've made... feel free to do so too!  Or better yet; download some crafty things to CREATE rather than covet!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Freebies From The Farm

It's no secret that a short trip to the country is a perfect soul restorative.  After busily making two types of bunting (mermaid and pirate) for Mimi's upcoming party, sending out theme party invitations and working up a seafood menu (what else would pirates and mermaids eat?) it's been great to have some R&R with my parents in rural NSW.

The migraine-inducing trip here on the little plane was not so fun, but camping out in the lounge room while it rained for the first 24 hours was surprisingly joyful; think books, puzzles, games, and two little girlies chasing ever-patient grandad through the house to retrieve his hat.

Back to business - Kathy Barbro from the site "Art Projects for Kids" is offering my books in a giveaway competition - jump across, leave a comment, and try your luck!

 Good luck and enjoy what's left of the weekend- I'm off to go cow-hunting while there's a break in the weather!
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