Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I Love Valentines Craft

It's no secret that Valentines Day is coming; and whether you're into the mass giving of class-cards, writing a simple love-note to that 'special person' or simply enjoy sharing love around because you can; trying a little heart-craft is good for you.

To celebrate the diverse nature of crafting, I'm going to try to make 14 arty-crafty projects from different materials over the next 14 days.  I'm going to make it up as I go along, so don't be surprised if some work better than others; I'm sure there will be something that motivates you to get crafty.

If you feel like joining in; I've put 14 'materials' to use to get you inspired; click on the picture in the top right to make it larger.

I haven't nominated particular materials for particular days; the stress of conforming within time limits can dampen the most inspired souls!  I will however try to follow my own list from top to bottom.  If you do have a go at using 'something new' 'something blue' 'buttons and bows' 'stencils or stamps' and so on; feel free to post a link in the comments section of this blog post, or any of the next 14.

And don't forget that my girls will be selecting the 4 winners of the personalised Silhouette Printables on the 15th  of Feb, so share some Partycraft Secret love, and "join this site" on the right hand side of this blog so your photo turns up, or go 'like' us at facebook.  

Good luck and lots of love to my fellow-crafters,
Linda. x

Monday, January 30, 2012

Mini Party Anyone?

It's no secret that we don't always celebrate a birthday with a party.  As you get older, sleeper and busier, the thought of celebrating with anything more than a nice bit of cake and a good lie down can be a little overwhelming.  Is there an alternative to the big-party or no-party choice?  Sure -

Have a mini-party!

This year, Happy Husband's birthday fell in the middle of other holiday activities, and risked being lost in the rush to do, be, have, go... but the girls hated the idea of missing a party.  So we decided to make a mini-party.

We decorated the dining table with his favourite colour blue; we put out balloons, streamers, whistle-blows and bubble-bottles.  We added some blue cups and plates, the girls even added their favourite blue toys to the ensemble, and used blue paper to help wrap his birthday presents (a sticker book and barrel-of-monkeys - didn't he love those - LOL!).  We then baked some cookies and added a blue candle.  I can't tell you how proud they were of their efforts, although the crazy-smiles in the photo probably give it away.

When Daddy came home he was thrilled to find his party-table, cards and presents all ready to go.  His parents came over and we all sang happy birthday and ate birthday-biscuits.

Quick, simple, easy to clear away, and best of all well-received.
Go on - celebrate your next birthday with a party... even a mini-party will do!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dress Up Delights

It's no secret that my little circus clown is a delight.  Most of the time.  Little Lotti turns three in April, and she's becoming more of a 'big girl' every day.  After quarantining her at one end of the house so that her disrupted nights didn't disruptive everyone, we've finally decided that sisterly love is the way to go and moved her in with her big sister.

Mimi thinks it's a great adventure to be in with her sister, and Lotti seems much calmer now that she knows she's no longer alone.  A new night-light each (colour-changing plastic shaped as a dinosaur and an egg!) helped to seal the deal.  At the end of each bed we turned a tiny set of drawers into a beauty parlour by topping it with materials we had around the house; pretty paper swatch as a tablecloth, mini mirrors, framed pictures and a music box.

Lotti still takes up to an hour to go to sleep with lots of hand-holding, and teeth-nashing (mine and hers), but once she's down, she's been sleeping through til morning - ye ha!

To celebrate her new sleep (and mine) we've been to the movies, been allowed to have green cordial on a whim, and wearing dress-ups at the dinner table got the go ahead.  I decided the costume she put together was worthy of a photo and a blog post.  If you're going to have a circus party, consider her style; a pretty shirt, topped with a shiny leotard, with wings on top of that and a lovely paper-hat.  If you're not having a party, consider it anyway... we're all loved up and well rested here - so hey - anything goes!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Touchy-Feely Baby Rug Gone Wrong

It's no secret that when we experience a craft-fail most of us lament for a moment, then move on.  Perhaps we pull the item apart to cannibalise the pieces for a new project, or maybe we accept we've lost enough time already and just bin it.  Occasionally, our eternally-optimistic partners might encourage us to store it away so you can 'try again later.'  As a last resort, you can always boast about your failure!

I can't sew.  I've admitted that before, and I'm admitting it again now.  Fix a button to a shirt; sure.  But that involves a needle and thread, what about a sewing machine?  Hmmm... let's find out.

When my first baby girl came along I got clucky and nesty like plenty of mums.  It was then that I decided that learning to use a sewing machine would be a good bonding experience with my mother-in-law.  (I had learnt as a teenager, but that was so long ago the skills were lost.)  Happy-Husband's mum was pleased to oblige and showed me the basics of her machine.  Excited by her encouragement, I said; "leave me to it."

The idea was simple and elegant - I stand unswayed in my conviction - the idea was a good one.  I was going to make a "tactile stained glass window."

Using an old black sheet and some wadding, I was going to make a square 'blankie' or quilt.  On top of the quilt, I was going to attach 25 squares of coloured materials, arranged in 5 rows of 5 squares, roughly like a linear rainbow.  Each square was to be a different material; felt, terry toweling, satin, suede, faux fur and so on.  Onto some of the patches I sewed buttons, ribbons, felt stars, fabric flowers and applique butterflies, the idea being that the end result would be stimulating in both a visual and tactile way.

I cut the squares out to equal sizes, decorated some of them, and created a cardboard template to ensure that I could quickly and easily pin the patches down at equal intervals. So far so good.  What I didn't realise was that sewing around a square is not as easy as it seems if you're new to sewing machines.  Furthermore, every type of fabric is a new learning experience - the worst was definitely the faux-fur.  By the end of red-row-one I was worried.  Row-two was confirming my suspicions, and row-three sealed the deal; it was time to go home.

Sometimes I wish I'd gone through with it and finished the blue and purple patches; after all I was designing for a daughter whose love was still unconditional.  Other times, I'm glad I ditched and just played with my new baby instead.

What do you think?  Did the idea have merit?  Should I have given up?  Do craft projects have to be a work of art or is 'near enough good enough' when there's lashings of love involved?  

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Noisy Box

It's no secret that making music is lots of fun... but it's noisy.  As I'm prone to migraines, I tend not to love toys that bang or beep, however, as a young person I used to play classical flute so I very much appreciate the value of learning to play an instrument.  If you're facing the same love-hate dilemma, what can you do?

Make a Noisy Box.

Our Noisy Box is a plastic container filled with musical instruments and offensively noisy toys.  When I'm feeling up to it, the box goes outside on a picnic mat and the kids go crazy.  I always join in the band performance at some stage, but can retreat at other times.

The Noisy Box is a big hit when friends come over for a play date.  You can set them up, their eyes bug out at all the choices, and then you run inside for coffee, biscuits and a chat with the mums.  When everyone has gone home, throw everything back in, close the lid, and put it away.  The fact that it's not readily accessible all the time seems to heighten the joy of opening the box.

Music doesn't have to be self made either.  Putting on a movie soundtrack is a great idea for parties.  Pick a movie that has a similar theme, feel or genre; such as nautical / magical / super hero / romance / adventure.  Then look for it's sound track.  The bubbly / mystical / dynamic / lovely / fast pace of the songs will create a fun backdrop when you're eating, playing or mingling... go on... make some music!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Australia Day

It's no secret that the 26th of January is Australia Day; a day of contemplation, celebration and leisure.  It's a day when we commemorate our unity, celebrate our sense of identity, recognise our history, and consider our future.  For many, it's a day to worship the great outdoors.

For as long as I've been with Happy Husband, Australia Day has also been a day on water.  Today is different.  It's raining cats and dogs, bats and frogs, and any other animal you can think of.  Oh well.

I've attached a photo from a previous boating trip where Mimi's steering and Lotti's lounging.  I love the lollipop and milk bottle... they look like "true blue yobbos" as we say 'down under.'

Happy Australian Day everyone.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Make your Floral Emblem

It's no secret that Australia's floral emblem is the Acacia pycnantha or golden wattle.  It's a gorgeous plant with long thin green leaves and a blush of yellow pom-pom like flowers.

To help celebrate Australia Day (tomorrow), the girls and I made some wattle.  It doesn't look anything like the real thing, but when you're young I think that the idea of something is more powerful than the technical details, and their imaginations fill in the gaps better than any text book could.

To make the 'floral wands', we found some silk flowers in my craft stash, and stripped off the sets of three-leaves.  The ends have small holes in them where the flower / plastic stem used to go, so we were able to push the leaves straight onto the ends of bamboo skewers.  We stuck yellow pom poms onto the leaves in a variety of sizes.

To photograph them, I stood the handy work in a wicker ball.  Arranged in this way, with a few more 'stalks' of wattle, I could imagine a cheerful party table centrepiece that the kids could pull wands from, add to, or simply admire.  Taken back out, they also make pretty magical wands or dance accessories, which if coloured to suit could be great for ballet or flower fairy parties.   If you do something similar, be sure that the pointy end of the skewer is cut off or safely concealed under a pom pom so there's no accidental eye-poking while the wands are being enthusiastically brandished about.

If you don't know already, do some research to find out what the floral emblem of your country or state is and then figure out how you could make it.  Could you use the craft idea as a school or party project, or a rainy day indoor activity?  Try it and if you blog it, leave a link to the post in the comments section so you can help inspire others!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fortune Cookie Craft

It's no secret that fortune cookies may be a more accurate way to determine your future than the newspaper horoscopes... at least you can eat as many as you want until you find the fortune that most suits your hopes and aspirations!

Before I had children who think a jam sandwich is gourmet, I used to host some rather nice dinner parties.  If the menu was remotely Asian I would often set a single fortune cookie tied with a piece of red ribbon or yarn, on each entree plate.  Perhaps they're better served at the end as a desert, but I found them the perfect ice-breaker; everyone had something to fiddle with if they were nervous, they'd read their fortune, laugh or sigh and then agree or disagree with who had the brightest future while I finished plating the first course in the kitchen.

While pinning on pinterest I realised that fortune cookie craft is alive and well.  Good.  It's a fab idea.  So I decided to give it a go.  I did a search for a video and followed along.  I'm often writing about activities to do with toddlers.  This is not one of them.  I found the tutorials challenging, and I like to think of myself as smart, albeit sleep deprived.

I started photographing the steps but it's almost impossible to show you the way to fold the fortune cookies shut.  The basic system is; trace a circle onto paper (I used an old CD as the guide as it's the perfect size).  Cut the circle out and fold it gently in half so you get a bit of a line where the middle is.  Now fold it the other way, sticking a bit of double sided tape in as you do.  Got that?  Hmmm... as I said; a picture tells a thousand words, and moving pictures are even better for something like this.

Once I had figured it out however, I got faster at it, and decided to experiment with different materials.  I used plain colours while I experimented, to save on more expensive paper and because the folds etc are more obvious when you photograph them.  Of course you can use whatever textured or patterned papers you like, but I do recommend practicing on recycled paper first.

So then, the 4 materials I used were; paper (in orange), card (yellow), felt (dark red) and foam (bright red).  If I had to pick my preferences, I'd say;

  • The paper was my favourite; it was easy to work with and the result was fine.  It was also the only one that stayed in shape for more than 24 hours.
  • The foam was also great; lovely and tactile, and even resembled the edible material.  
  • Felt was lovely too, but if you decide to go this route, look for the felt video, as there is an additional step with a ribbon covered piece of wire to hold it closed, and as such, it's more fiddly and time consuming.  I tried without the wire and it worked, but it needed more tape... perhaps a glue gun would work.
  • The cardboard was tricky to work with and needed a lot of tape to hold it in place, it came close to being classified a craft-fail.
Find your own favourite material and colour; these 'cookies' would look great as table-settings, keepsakes, or a fun desert alternative for weight watchers.  Practice makes perfect on this project... so go practice.

While the rest of the world celebrates Chinese New Year, I've got other holidays to craft for, so I'll be moving right along; there's Australia Day, then V-Day, and Easter not far behind... at least I'm assuming Easter's only days away since my local supermarket has been FILLED with tempting goodies for some time now.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Chinese New Year

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Chinese New year, and so are the girls.  We've had a great week playing with different 'oriental' ideas, parading around the house, reading books about dragon-dancing and dragon-carved temples and talking about other countries in general.

Happy Husband went to China a couple of times last year for business and bought home panda bears, mini chopsticks, china-doll dresses and some other odds-and-ends for the girls.  These have all been revisited, and replayed with.  Chopsticks are still impossible for tiny hands, but the panda bears are a new love.

To make the oriental fan shown pictured, we used some shiny red paper, covered it with a collage of joss-paper squares, then concertina folded it.  I punched holes in the bottom but didn't thread a ribbon through; the girls went off with it before I could finish, playing as Mimi called it "My Fine Lady."

Making a fan is a fun activity for toddlers; the collage can be as complicated as suits their age and patience, and then you simply help them fold it.  Fans make great costumes for a party or dress-up games, and if you made enough of them, they'd make fabulous decorations, for the table, or hanging against the walls.

  • For a more detailed tutorial on how to make the fan - download the free party craft book for a blue version (it's on page 53).
  • To read more about collaging with kids, there's another blog post where the girls made a blue collage poster.
  • Lastly - if you haven't already; please join this site and/or facebook for your chance to win a set of personalised silhouette printpapers!  

Happy Chinese New Year everyone - let the next 15 days of celebrations begin!

I've got one more 'oriental' post tomorrow where I'll let you know about my attempts to make fortune cookies out of a variety of materials... and then it's back to normal party blogging... with perhaps a couple of nationalistic posts to celebrate Australia Day... but for now; the washing beckons...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cherry Blossom Craft

It's no secret that the cherry blossoms are fashionable as well as beautiful.  They have been used as a motif in fabric, stationary and housewares for 100s of years, and rightly so.  As the unofficial floral emblem of Japan, and symbol of spring, the blossoms are venerated and celebrated for their glamour and fragility.

As I'm doing a series inspired by the upcoming Chinese New Year, it would be remiss of me not to share the eastern flair of the cherry blossom with my toddler daughters.  So here's what we did;

  1. Take small cupcake liners in red, green and yellow (but any colour will do).
  2. Turn the cupcake liners inside out, so that the colour is inside the cup (skip this step if yours have colour on both sides).
  3. Put a sticker-dot of contrasting colour in the centre of each 'blossom'.
  4. On some of them, stick a green 'leaf' on the underside.
  5. Now experiment!

Over the course of about 45 minutes we tried; 
  • Suncatchers - sticking them back to back on fishing line, weighted down with a bead at the bottom.  You could add beads in between the blossoms to catch more sun, or add bells to jingle.  Make lots and fill the whole window or a doorway.
  • Tree branch - we found branches in the garden and stuck the blossoms on the branches, then had a parade of sorts down the corridor.
  • Chopstick decorations - these were my favourites, and I think they'd look great with a ribbon or crepe-paper strip.  The girls weren't as enthusiastic... moving right along...
  • Wall decoration - we put some temporary tack on the back of the blossoms and made a garden on the wall.  The girls thought this was great, and loved having their photo taken under the cherry blossom 'bough'.  Then they decided to break small twigs off the branches and shove these behind the paper flowers... now it was my turn to be unimpressed...
If you want more decorative blossoms, fold the cupcake liners and trim the edges in different shapes, and layer cupcake liners of different colours and sizes on top of each other, such as the ones I made for the Mermaid Mirror, and the tutorial for Mimi's mermaid party.  These cherry blossoms are a great activity for toddlers, with lots of scope for ability, patience and time.  The craft can take under 15 minutes (which I love), but the uses can go on and on... and best of all; there's lots of great learning experiences to have along the way as you discuss materials, nature, cultures and cuisine.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Inspiration - La Oriental

It's no secret that from little things, big things come, and from tragedy new beginnings are possible.  This positively ancient saucer was passed down to me many years ago, and tragically, the fragile cup was smashed a few years ago when some busy boy tenants I co-shared a house with, lumbered past, and somehow clipped it.  They say you see accidents happen in slow-time, and strangely it's true, even the smashing of crockery.  I wept real tears of loss and shame that night, after ranting and raging against them, accidents, fate, and myself for being so silly as to leave it in 'public' space.

I still feel loss and shame when I think about it, and the idea that something so old, that I was 'looking after' wasn't protected and respected as it should have been.  All I can do is treasure what's left as best I can, and do my best to enjoy it's stand-alone beauty.

Today's post is to remind you that inspiration can come from any treasured item; inspiration for parties, craft, activities for toddlers, or a journal exercise.  Take the plate, if you use Stream of Consciousness (or writing quickly without censorship), here's the first 10 or so things that spring to mind;

Cherry blossoms, Oriental, birds, China, fragile, loss, beauty, old-age, springtime, seasons, eternity, dawn, new beginnings.

Now I can easily imagine an oriental party theme, with birds and blossoms as the motifs.

If I was going to write a journal entry I might use the ideas of old-age, seasons, eternity, new beginnings as strong places to start.

A scrapbook page could be built around springtime, seasons, fragility, or new beginnings.

Craft ideas could be sourced for cherry blossoms and birds, decorating china plates, or in fact anything oriental or China-themed, again, use stream of consciousness; pandas, rice, bamboo, dragons... to create a new list of ideas to try.  Yesterday I did a post on birds, tomorrow it will be blossoms.

Ok, so the cup is gone.  Boo hoo.  And I mean that in the most respectful, heartfelt way possible; I'm sad, and I always will be when I think of it.  But.  Life goes on, and from both little things and loss, new beginnings, new ideas, eternal inspiration, even activities for toddlers can all turn negatives into positives.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Favourite Find: Baby Birds

It's no secret that decor and craft magazines have been featuring the cutest little fake feathery birds forever.  I've loved looking at them perched in floral displays, on vases, or atop gorgeous gift wrapping.  It was only the other day however that I stumbled across several sets in my local dollar store.  Hooray!  The price per bird was about $2 and the hardest decision was how many to buy and in what colour.

In keeping with the Oriental shades of the Oriental party printables I designed, and this week's Chinese New Year theme, I arranged a few lucky red and gold ones on a decorators ball of woven wood.  You can also use them to decorate paper lanterns, suspend them from fishing line, or perch them on mantelpieces and book shelves.  It wouldn't matter what party theme or colour scheme you use; these fine feathery friends make a gorgeous and whimsical addition.

PS - the best thing about these fellows is they're silent.  One of the nicest things about my house is that it's surrounded by trees.  Birds love trees.  Which is nice for them.  I just wish they could wait awhile to announce their joy to the world.  Bless them.  Ordinarily I don't have an issue with their sing-song-ways; usually my toddlers are up before the sun pokes his head over the horizon... but sometimes, just sometimes they stay asleep, and of course it so happened that the day they do, some large, strange, and excessively noisy bird arrived in our backyard and heralded his arrival with a squawk which was far from musical.  Sigh.  I love birds.  I do.  But today I love fake ones best.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

DIY Decorated Chopsticks

It's no secret that Chinese food tastes better when you eat it with chopsticks.  Sure, they're tricky critters to control; but a noodle is much more fun when it's wedged between two bits bamboo.  To help celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year, I decided to decorate some chopsticks for my family to (perhaps optimistically) use.

The most important this to remember here is that you use chopsticks to eat food, so please, be very mindful to keep a clean and hygienic work space.

  1. Acquire some basic bamboo chopsticks; it's best if they are individually pre-wrapped, but if they are not, be sure to wrap them in cling wrap to protect the foody-ends.
  2. Dip the joined ends into a tin of house paint and hold them upright over the tin to let as much paint as possible drip off.  Craft paint will work, but you won't get the same dense, rich colour.
  3. Rest them to dry on something such as a large roll of sticky tape, being sure to leave the painted ends projecting, and the wrapped ends clear of any cross-contamination.
  4. Decorate the ends further with another coloured paint if desired.  I used purple and white paint, and a skewer to add dots.  I did this while the paint was still wet so that the dots would bleed out in a nice marbled way.
  5. While the paint is still wet, add a couple of pieces of shiny confetti if desired.  Stay away from glitter since you don't want it falling into your food later.

When you break the chopsticks apart, the paint will obviously break, and the look will be partially destroyed.  For this reason you may decide that these chopsticks are for display purposes only, and use them to set the table, and then hand out additional ones (and forks!) when it's time to eat.

Enjoy your food with flair, and don't forget to love Partycraft Secrets by 'following' on the blog and on facebook before the 15th of Feb 2012, for your chance to win a set of personalised silhouette printpapers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Year of The Dragon

It's no secret that dragons are amazing creatures.  When I was young, I loved the idea that they roamed the earth at the same time that princesses were still living in castles made of stone (rather than pink plastic) and knights on shining armour were the heroes of the day.  Of course now I have to explain to my two year old who looks slightly horrified when a dragon comes on TV that "there's no such thing" while telling my four year old that she has to be tough enough to look after herself rather than wait for some guy on a white horse to save her.

Chinese New Year is celebrated next Tuesday, and it's going to be the Year of the Dragon.  Starting on New Year's Eve, each day of the following fortnight has a special significance and traditions attached, with Day 1 being a day to worship ancestors and visit family, Day 5 is for cleaning the house, Day 15 is the Lantern Festival and so on.

According to Wikipedia, being a Dragon is pretty cool, and more babies are born under that sign than any others.  Their positive characteristics include; being generous, intellectual, artistic and loyal leaders.  The downside is that they can be domineering tyrants.  Get ready for a baby boom of bossy crafters people!

Now - to craft.  The other day I showed you how you could use coloring-pages to make a silhouette.  Today I'm going to show you another use; turn them into a collage base plan.  I printed out three copies of a dragon drawing one of my sisters did some time back, and then cut up lots of squares of decorative paper in lucky shades of red and gold.  (Try joss paper from Asian Supermarkets, wrapping paper, and scrapbooking scraps.)  The result was three collages; mine is top-right, 4 year old Mimi is bottom-left, and nearly-3 year old Lotti is bottom-right.

Interestingly - just before typing this post, I saw a craft programme on TV where they stuck clear book-covering contact over a coloring page, then glued torn tissue paper on top.  When the glue had dried they were able to peel the collage off the contact and hang it in the window.  I'm slightly dubious as the picture was literally tissue-thin, but I'm keen to have a go... one day!

PS: In case you're wondering, I'm a pig, my dad's a pig, and my eldest daughter is a pig too - and I say that in the nicest possible way... we're thoughtful, patient and hardworking, but can be naive and gullible... of course I only agree to the good stuff!

PPS - there's some pretty nifty maths that goes into having generational sameness; given that the signs come around every 12 years, and assuming that you're not 12 or 48 when your child arrives, then you can guess whether Dad and I were 24 or 36 when we were parents... I'm not sure which age I'd wish for Mimi to be were she to gift me a piglet for a grand-kid.. I might leave that discussion for another blog post...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Oriental Name Plaque Tutorial

It's no secret that a name is a powerful thing.  We use them to identify ourselves, our family, our homeland, our friends, and our favourite things.

Chinese New Year (the year of the dragon) is celebrated on Monday the 23rd, and to help celebrate, I'm going to do a whole week's worth of craft projects inspired by the orient.  To get started, I looked at ways to turn a group of names into a piece of art.  Here's what I came up with;

  1. Cut letters of each name out of an old magazine (I recommend you look for letters the same colour; I chose red, black and white.)
  2. On a piece of plain or textured A5 card, arrange the letters coming down the page, not across.
  3. If one of the names is too long, see if you can re-size it with smaller letters, or continue the name as a new column coming down beside the first.
  4. Once you are content the names fit, glue them down.
  5. Frame the picture in frameless glass cover, and set it up for all to view.

Alternatively - instead of writing family or friends' names, spell out a favourite phrase, or saying.  You could also try the same idea with letter-stamps instead of cutouts.

Don't forget there are Oriental Printpapers for purchase on my shop-site, and lots of other ideas to get you inspired.

Monday, January 16, 2012


It's no secret that silhouettes are back in fashion, and that I'm in love with them as much as the rest of you.  Traditionally made by cutting facial profiles out of black card, the idea has been extended to other shapes (such as yesterday's black cat) and techniques including screen printing and of course, the digital medium.

The silhouette (named after an austere minister called  √Čtienne de Silhouette) was originally an economical way to capture someones likeness before photography was invented.  Today, using people's photos is the fastest way to create a silhouette.

To help personalise your party printpapers, and take your pretty parties to the next level, on the 15th of February I'm launching the silhouette printpaper package.  You get to chose from 12 different colour ways, and send me the photo of the party person (or photos of your family), and then I'll turn their photos into silhouettes, and their silhouettes into 9 template papers and 10 printables for you to use at your party, to make scrapbooking pages, or to frame and hang on the wall; whatever crafty thing you can think of.

The 12 colourways I created include;
* Party Dash         * Aqua Splash
* Super Sweet      * Ice-cream Treat
* Racing Cars       * Falling Stars
* Clearing Skies    * Irish Eyes
* Peaceful Dove    * Endless Love
* Asian Spice        * Berry Nice

When you chose which colour way you want, consider matching in with the person's favourite colour, your house decor, party theme, colour-scheme, or the holiday season (e.g. chose red and green for Christmas, or lots of red, pink and purple for Valentines).

To celebrate the launch on the 15th of next month, I'm giving away a package to a follower of this blog, and another to a follower on Facebook.  I'll get my daughters to choose from the pictures on each site; so if you're receiving update via feedburner or Networked blogs, please hit the 'join this site' for the google-friend connect button so that you can be in the running.   Good luck everyone!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Wear a Mask Day

It's no secret that 'wearing a mask' is liberating.  From primitive fireside dances, to elaborate Venetian costume parties, to more modern dress-up games, people have always enjoyed hiding their true selves, if only for a moment.

As an incentive for toddler-toilet-training, we took our two year old, and her big sister, to the movies.  Upon the front counter were some promotional paper masks.  I handed one to each of the girls and after explaining what to do, neither would put it on.  Admittedly they were large and probably claustrophobic with me waving them in front of their faces.

After turning to face the corner of the theatre lounge, I discreetly put one on myself for awhile, and was able to convince them to have a go.  The youngest took hers off a few minutes later; it was a tad super-sized for her dainty noggin.  The four year old on the other hand was transformed into a chipmunk for the rest of the day.  Needless to say, the Mummy-Chipmunkette combo got plenty of smiles and smirks as we walked the strip shops, made a couple of purchases and then made our way back to the car.  Thankfully, she did agree to take it off to bathe and sleep.

Hooray for masks... I think.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

How To Make a Black Cat Silhouette

It's no secret that black cats are considered unlucky.  Personally, I think they're rather beautiful; they're silhouette in particular is graceful and striking.  So how do you make one?  There's plenty of silhouette vinyl-art stickers you can buy, black cats included; but they can be quite an expensive investment, especially if you only need the cat for a day or two rather than as a constant companion.  You could also download a clip art graphic, blow it up to A4 and print it out; but that's a lot of toner gone.  

There's one other way I came up with, and here's how to do it.

  1. Find an A4 sized colouring-in page of a cat; it will have bold black outlines, no colour or shading, and minimal detail.  I used my own graphic from the free Halloween dice printable, but anything large will do, regardless of whether it's cartoony or sophisticated.
  2. Print it out or photocopy it on to scrap white paper.
  3. Cut around the outside of the shape; cutting wide around skinny details like whiskers.  This is now your 'template'.
  4. Lay the template on top of an A4 piece of black cardboard and either hold it steady or use a few dots of temporary tac to keep it in place.
  5. With a white pencil (hooray - finally a use for these things!) trace around the template.
  6. Now cut around the white line you drew; again, being careful with things like whiskers.
The project is simple and relatively quick, but is admittedly fiddly with two lots of fussy cutting to make one shape.  The upside is that you can use the template multiple times to make more silhouettes (to decorate Halloween goody-bag or create a spooky procession down your corridor).  Keep young kids away from this craft project, but older children will enjoy experimenting with different colouring-pages for different silhouettes to make a menagerie in no time.

Now.  Yesterday I promised both a black cat project and some exciting silhouette news.  I've done the black cat, here's the news; on the 15th of February, straight after Valentines Day, I'm going to launch a new set of printpapers for sale; personalised silhouettes; they're perfect for parties, scrapbooking, or framing.  To celebrate, I'm going to get my two daughters to pick out a picture from the followers pages of this blog and facebook.  So for your chance to win one of 2 sets of personalised silhouette printpapers, with you or your family's silhouettes; simply join the Partycraft Secrets blogspot and facebook page.  Good luck!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Black Friday Tutorial

It's no secret that humanity is a superstitious lot.  Today being Friday the 13th, I thought I'd share a little black magic with you... craft magic that is.  I was going to do a how-to make a black cat, but I'll do that tomorrow when I announce some other exciting silhouette-news.

So then, today's tutorial is on how to make a beautiful spiderweb for your window;

  1. Find a drawing of a spider web that you like.  I found a beautiful vintage one on the graphics fairy website; look for one that's bold in it's design and relatively simple in it's detail.
  2. Print or photocopy it in black and white, and stick it on the outside of the window or glazed door, in the location you desire the finished product; I suggest in a corner or near a handle.
  3. Using a whiteboard marker, or similar, draw a small test line in a remote corner of the window, leave to dry, and then be certain that it will rub off before proceeding.  My marker came off some time later with the swipe of a serviette, but I take no responsibility for a permanent marker remaining permanently on your window!
  4. Using the photocopy as a guide, start tracing the design onto the glass.  If you press your hand, or drag a finger across the drawing and smudge the texta, I suggest you wipe it all off and start again.
  5. Once you're happy with the detail, remove the template from the other side of the glass.  
  6. Lastly, add a spider sticker nearby (or if you're spider-phobic like my four year old daughter Mimi, make a friendly furry fly or other bug.) 

The photographs show that this is a great project for toddlers, although you might be tempted to add a few flourishes to their drawing, as I did for Mimi.  It's a fairly subtle result, which shows up best when you see it against a plain background (such as a closed blind.)  Mimi was quite happy to be photographed trapped in the spider's web (apologies about the half-eaten grape in her mouth!)

This simple idea would be fun for Halloween, and remember you don't have to stop at spiderwebs, the same process can apply to any design you like, such as a person's name, or birthday graphics.  It could also work instead of a photo-booth; get all your guests to stand behind the web for their oh-no-I'm-trapped-photos, and issue copies to them later as "so pleased you could stick around" thank-you cards.

Take care... and if you're suspicious about the date; take extra care!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Digital Photography is Child's Play

It's no secret that photography was changed forever with the invention of the digital camera.  My earliest memories of having my photograph taken include my father with a contraption hanging around his neck, walking this way and that in the garden, trying to find enough light to take a decent photo of myself and my sisters.  You then had to wait until the roll of film had been filled, then wait some more for the photographs to be developed, and then finally, you got to open the envelope and see how many of the photos had turned out alright.  The process seemed long and involved in my mind, and I certainly remember thinking that cameras were expensive, fragile and totally off limits.

By contrast, today's children have got it so good!  Photography is now more immediate, cheaper, even free if you don't print anything out, and lots of fun.  On our recent holiday to my parent's farm Mimi and I went on a photography-walk.  She held the camera and took the shots, I merely kept her moving so we didn't end up with multiple shots of the same thing.  We talked about the option of taking long-distance shots of scenery, close-ups of details, and discussed how shadows and textures can also make interesting photos when you get used to working with sunshine.

At the end of our photo shoot, she derived so much pleasure from looking through her photos, getting excited over the ones she liked, realising that some hadn't worked out so great, and chatting about what she'd like to photograph next.

It was a fabulous way to fill an afternoon and so informative to see the world through the eyes of a four year old.  What's more, we're both thrilled that we came home with a photographic record of her time on the farm and a collection of her favourite things and places of interest, all of which will enhance her holiday memories.

I highly recommend letting your children have a go at being a photographer for an hour; the results may surprise you, and will certainly thrill them. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Amelia Earhart Day

It's no secret that today is the 11th of January.  What you may not know, is that today is also Amelia Earhart Day.  On January 11, 1935, Amelia became the first person, man or woman, to fly solo across the pacific.  Hooray for her.  She's been an inspirational person for me since I was young, and I thank you Amelia for having the courage to break barriers; to enter the male-dominated world of exploration; to find your fulfillment far from home; to continue to live-large in the minds of those of us who dream big.

Long, long ago, before I wanted to be a mum or an Architect, I wanted to fly.  Not flap-your-wings kind of flying, or put on a cape and jump off the roof flying either, but strap yourself in, and take off for the clouds... or the moon... but being an astronaut's another story.  

At the risk of showing my age, I was in high school when "Top Gun" first aired at the local movie theater.  (For movie buffs, I mean the 1986 release of the movie, not the 1955 movie of the same name!)  I remember clearly all the girls swooning over Tom and his volley-ball playing mates on the beach, while I sighed and ohhed and ahed over the F14-TomCats and MiGs as they swooshed past.  I napped while the blokes sang "I've lost that loving feeling" but sat bolt upright when they "felt the need for speed."

I'm a different person now.  I'm older, and a mother, and for both reasons, I see the world through 'risk-assessment' eyes, and suddenly the idea of flying has lost some of it's luster.  I don't mind the idea of jetting off on a holiday, but there's no adrenaline-rush any more... 

So then, no post about parties or craft today, but there is a tentative link back to yesterday's post and the idea of rejuvinilia, and I confess that even writing about youthful ambitions, long-ago movie moments, and inspirational women who went further than mere dreaming, has made me sit a little straighter, and put a smile on my face.  Thanks again Amelia; enjoy your big day, from whatever cloud you're flying!

[PS - to make this image I photographed her page from my book of "Legends", (the original photo was from Superstock), and then I uploaded it to www.funny.pho.to and applied the 'charcoal' filter.]

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Rejuvenate the Juvenile in You

It's no secret that we all want to stay young; young in looks, and more importantly, young at heart.  And why not - kids seem to get all the fun...  

As Mimi, my 4 year old said the other day; "it would fun to be a princess; you don't have to do anything, everyone has to do it all for you."  She has a point.  Although, I'm still not sure I'd swap places with a real princess, thanks anyway.

But, back on the point of not growing up. I recently came across the term "rejuvinile" a sort of composite of rejuvenate and juvenile... there's a whole book about the idea if you're interested in reading more.

It got me thinking that there aren't enough adult themed parties.  Sure, you hear about the occasional racy one I can't really blog about on my kid-friendly pages, and the occasional Pirate party for big boys, but that's about it.  Why aren't there more Peter Pan parties for 40 year olds, where everyone dresses up as the Boy who won't grow up, or as the Lost Boys, Captain Hook, Wendy in her nightie, fairies, mermaids, Indians, the great dog, or the prim n' proper Victorian parents... really there are plenty of dress up options for this party theme!

Adult "dressing-up" doesn't have to involve fishnets, Santa-suits or black-ties; there's plenty of scope for a little rejuvinile fun... and I should know.  (I was a mermaid once you know; check out my pics in the blog Gallery!)

You know what... I'm so keen on the idea of relieving a little of the simple pleasures of childhood, that I'm going to throw down a challenge... don't wait even wait for a party - just frock up in something a little crazy this weekend, get into character and prance about your house for the day... I'm sure you'll feel like a new, improved, younger, you... and it'll be cheaper than an overseas holiday and less painful than botox!

Monday, January 9, 2012


It's no secret that we all love a bit of recognition.  That's why today's blog post is to say thanks for 2 awards I've received this week.  Now I have to be honest; I was THRILLED to receive these awards, but when I started reading there were "rules" attached, I started to feel that choking feeling I used to get as a school student when I received a chain letter... thankfully there are no threats attached to the awards; I won't fail any exams or self-destruct if I don't pass these awards on to 100 people in the next 24 hours... it's just a bit of blog loving... phew!

The first was from Lisa at Criss-Cross Applesauce who awarded me the Versatile Blogger Award.  The rules require me to acknowledge and thank her; taa; display the award (done); tell you 7 things about myself, and then pass the award on to 15 fav blogs.  If you're interested in the origin of things, as I am, I think the award originated here... but it's unclear.

The second award was from Twinkles, Tutorials and Tutus who presented me with the Leibster Blog Award for blogs with under 200 followers that deserve some extra loving.  The rules of this award are to; say thanks for the recognition; thanks x; display the award (done); and nominate 5 blogs to pass it on to.  The origins of this award are completely impossible to trace given the viral nature of the pass-on effect...

OK - so let's get to the 7 things about me;

  1. If I could be an animal I'd like to be a cat.
  2. If I was a colour, I'd choose white.
  3. If I could swap places with anyone in the world I wouldn't.
  4. 4 is my lucky number.
  5. I'm a pig, so is my father and my daughter (according to the Chinese New Year system).
  6. If I could have less of something in my life it would be migraines.
  7. If I could have more of anything, it would probably be sleep... or kisses from my kids... I can never get enough of those!

Last obligation, if you can call it that, is to nominate 5 and 15 blogs... well I'm gonna double up a little here and start by giving 5 people 2 awards for being doubly special and having under 200 followers;

  1. eat, read, love - for her beautiful photography
  2. mamas (goody) bag - for her early support (the blogs greek, so I can't read it, but I keep in touch by looking at the pictures)
  3. Auntie Louisa - for staying in touch
  4. Jack Sprats Wife - because I love the name and where her blog is headed
  5. The Mommies Made Me Do it - a new follower I'm following back

I haven't included links, as many of the blogs are of a more personal nature - but I'll update with links as their owners permit it.

Another 10 blogs all receive the Versatile Blogger award (if you have it already see my note below - I truly would love to read every page of your blog to confirm if you have previously received it, but as there are only 24 hours in the day - alas - I can not!)  In no particular order I give the award to;

  1. O.Alouette - a beautiful blog
  2. Desire Empire - coastal chic
  3. Gluesticks - fun
  4. The Kurtz Corner - cute as
  5. Sasse Life - linky heaven
  6. Art Projects For Kids - inspirational and educational
  7. Sew Blessed - makes me wish I could sew
  8. Mama Pea Pod - for her love of outdoor play
  9. CraftoManic - wow
  10. Fireflies & Jellybeans - another linky heaven

So then - this post is a bit long winded, and sort of off-topic, but it was a fun way to create a bit of an impression of who I am, and where I blog hop!  I'm sure I'll think of more blogs I love the second I hit "publish" - but you can always see who else I follow in my profile.  At least I think you can.  

Now I'm off to tell all 15 people I love them!  Wow... awards come with alot of responsibility - but thanks again to the 2 blogs who loved me!

PS - if you got the award and want to wear it with pride, here is the 'original' source file for the award images the best spot is to go back one step to the blogs that gave them to me - use it as an opportunity to stop by, join up, leave a comment, share some more blog love!

PPS - if you have already received the award above, feel free to puff out your chest, and leave it at that, or refer back to your prior post where you complied with all the rules - I would hate for you to be overly polite and dutiful and write up another 7 things about yourself and a whole new list of fav blogs just because an invisible presence in cyberspace made you feel like you had to.

PPPS - if you haven't won an award before, but aren't feeling in the mood for any blog love; don't worry - do nothing... you won't self destruct; I promise. x 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Elf off the Shelf - Part 2

It's no secret that Sunday is a day for rest, so today's post is short and sweet, and a clean up of lose ends.  I recently blogged "Part 1" of the Elf off the Shelf  story, a story about turning two small dolls into Fun-Fairies.  After making them, I positioned them on the presents that the Fun-Fairy was giving to my two daughters, and photographed them with the intention of making Christmas cards.

Well, the cards got made, but were not exactly swooned over.  Sigh.  I'm not sure whether it was due to the fact that my girls are still quite young, or there was just too much anticipation to get presents unwrapped.  Whatever the case, the cards were glanced at and unceremoniously tossed aside.

I salvaged them from the mounds of wrapping paper (so that I can make a scrapbook page using paper, just as I did with Mimi's 4th birthday wrap).  I put the cards on the shelf and when things were a little more subdued I explained to the girls that now we knew what the Fun-Fairy looked like.  Both girls nodded, unconvinced, and then I realised I had made a fundamental error.  I thought it would be fun for the Fun-Fairy to give the girls fairies as presents.  The girls did indeed love their new toys, but now that they had 'real fairies', there was no longer any need for dodgy dolls with paper wings and pom-pom hats masquerading as Fun-Fairies!

I'm not sure whether to bless or curse Tinkerbell and her all pervasive merchandise.  I guess I gotta go with it... I mean her... and all her flower-loving friends, whose predecessors jumped off the shelf, and were never to be seen again.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Post Christmas Party Ideas

It's no secret that Christmas is all about get-togethers, parties, celebrations, soirees... call them what you will; there's plenty of food, drink, and laughter involved, and if you're a little crafty, then there's also a fair amount of home made goodies to be had.

Last year, our family had two parties, one the day before Christmas, and another on the day after.  Both had lots of fun ideas to tinker with, and since this is a party-crafty blog, I had best let you know what I got up to before Christmas is just a distant memory and we all move on to alternate holiday projects;

Decorations - the girls stuck the cupcake-snowflakes I recently made onto the louvred windows so they could flutter in the breeze.  I believe that fresh flowers are a must for any party, so we had both Christmas-bush and poinsettias, and I placed some fake-flames before a real life candelabra and clay angels (which I gilded many years ago) to illuminate a side table.

Activities - the girls helped me make chocolate cupcakes on the morning of one of the parties and we later turned them into edible reindeer.  There was the help-set-the table 'game' which involved a lot more prancing and dancing than help, but made them feel especially grown-up and involved.  We made necklaces together by stringing small baubles ("ball-balls" as Mimi calls them) onto dollar-store necklaces.  Lastly, there was a concert where the girls sang Jingle-Bells together and then with their cousins.

Tableware - We pulled everything red, white or green out of the cupboard as well as unloading our 'Christmas stash' of crockery, and loaded the table with the whole lot, where they served as dinner plates, cake-plates, or merely as decorations while they hovered as spares.  We pushed poppers inside crackers so that everyone got double-the-bang.  On the (coincidentally) red and green plastic kids' tables we placed (not coincidentally) red and green plastic plates, cups and serviettes, and popped treasures such as bubble-bottles inside for the kids to find.  For the adults I popped Christmas decorations into the cups for a festive touch.

Food - there were big slices of watermelon which were perfectly coloured, and the edible reindeer the girls helped make were a big hit.  Inspired by the melting snowman craze on the net, I had to have a go; the idea is a perfect one for an Australian Summer where we're still fixated by the idea of snowmen at Christmas!  Lastly, I used an icing pen to turn licorice allsorts into a plate of edible presents which the adults enjoyed.  

So that's my post-Christmas wrap-up... although I'm sure to find something else to blog about... now I'm off to a 4 year old's party... bye for now.

PS - I'll be sending the monthly newsletters out over the next 24 hours, so if you haven't already done so, subscribe on my website for your copy, which includes a Silly Season Craft Game with 9 out-there ideas to try, and a template to help you keep track of all the craft ideas you want to try next Christmas.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Stars in Jars

It's no secret that I love to experiment.  Being crafty is often about trial and error.  I'm often awake at night patting a two year old's hand "shhh... you are feeling sleepy... go back to sleep... sleep... pleeeeeease."  It's driving me insane.  But.  The upside is if I can stay calm, I can also get a bit of thinking done.  Don't ask me why, but a week ago the phrase "stars in jars" kept repeating in my head.  I thought of all the DIY snow domes I've seen in magazines and blogs and I wondered what else you could do that would be similar but different, and could any of them end up as party crafts for kids to do.

Using clean spice jars I tried three different designs for stars in jars.  None of them was particularly great, but I could imagine kids being at least semi-satisfied with the results.  I'll list them in order of most toddler-friendly to least;
  1. Cut plastic star garlands into pieces the length of the jar.  Using tape, stick the ends of each garland to the underside of the lid or inside the jar's rim-top.  Screw the lid on.
  2. Push a rubber animal or toy into a jar (it's helpful if it's flexible and slightly wider than the jar so you can get it in, and it will hold itself up mid-jar), I used the decoration off a novelty bendy straw.  Pour water in almost to the top.  Add some glitter and stars.  Screw lid on tightly and shake gently.
  3. Pour watered down glue into a jar.  Add some glitter and foil stars, and gently roll the jar so that the glue coats the inside of the jar and the stars and glitter stick.  Leave to dry overnight.  Find a tiny toy, and put a sticky-dot on it's base.  Using long tweezers, push the toy inside and hard against the base of the jar.  (Mine fell over but with a push with a pencil-end got back in place.)  Screw the lid on and enjoy.
Christmas may be done and dusted for another year, but that doesn't mean we can't stay inspired by the great Chrissy-Craft we've seen.  Go on... try something different-crafty today!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Maze Child and the Labyrinth

It’s no secret that labyrinths and mazes are eternally appealing.  If you were read myths and legends as a child, as I was at bedtime, then the story of Daedalus building the maze in ancient Crete will be well known.  Daedalus fashioned a huge underground maze to help conceal King Minos’ step-son the Minotaur, half-beast half-man, from the world.  When the Greek Hero Theseus sets out to slay the beast within, his success rests on the crafty wit of a young woman, Ariadne, who lends the hero a ball of red wool.  As he travels further into the subterranean darkness, Theseus unravels the wool and once his enemy is dispensed, Theseus retraces his steps back to a hero’s welcome and the loving embrace of Ariadne. 

There are also plenty of real labyrinths and mazes too.  You may have seen labyrinths set in the paving stones of Medieval cathedrals of Europe, walked the hedge mazes of England, seen woven versions in Native American baskets, or any other replicas the world over. 

As a maze child from way back, imagine my pleasure when I came out of my parent’s farmhouse to find my father had created a maze out of two ropes and two hoses upon the lawn.  It took a couple of goes to explain to the children that “walk to the centre” meant between the ropes not over them, but once they mastered the concept they took great delight in racing through the winding corridors to find their way in and then out.  I promise that the idea would make the perfect party game or boredom buster. 

You can do this too.  If you have a patch of grass large enough, or perhaps even access to a park, oval, sandy beach or snowy lot, inscribe one pathway or many, and let the children walk or race their way around.  You can search for labyrinth/maze templates, or simply create your own.  Keep it simple by creating a single spiral, or make it more complex by experimenting with several interlocking curved paths... my suggestion is dream big but practice small.  If this seems to hard, then stay home, and print out template mazes to play with, draw them on stones with permanent markers, trace them with your finger in a bucket of sand, or make miniature ones out of blocks, as I mentioned before; the appeal and applications are endless.

PS – for those who are interested in definitions; labyrinths are made of a single, albeit winding path, the only choice you make when you travel is forward or backward, to proceed or retreat.  The primary purpose of a labyrinth seems to be based on contemplation, meditation, and the reenactment of a journey such as pilgrimage.   A maze is different, whilst also a winding path, there are many dead ends, whether to trap or entertain, the design is intended to deceive. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Welcome to 2012

It's no secret that holidays with the family are fabulous.  We've returned from five days on my parents' farm, and I can't tell you how blessed I feel to have such a wonderful sanctuary to retreat to.  It takes five hours to drive to the property, and that is the only deterrent that stops us from going there more often.

When you say 'Australia' most people automatically think of Summer heat, bush-land, flies, barbeques... and whilst there's so much more to my homeland, funnily enough, those words are all too apt for what the family farm is all about, though this year we were spoilt with days that never went above the high 30's (100°F) and almost no flies.

The girls love the wide open spaces of the farm, the pockets of native bush, and the enormous trees under which we carved magic rooms with some proactive pruning.  There's a tree house, a permanent mud-making kitchen, a frog that lives in one of the bathrooms, neighbourly cows which visit, and endless adventures to be had if that list isn't appealing enough.  I suspect Happy Husband enjoys the ride-on-mower best, but there's also something else; he feels free.  I feel it too.  Perhaps it doesn't matter where you holiday, or with whom, you're on holiday, and by definition you're free from housework, homework, work-work, and the ruts and routines you're escaping from, however briefly.

The last months of 2011 saw the start of this party - crafty blog, and I have so many more party ideas, games, activities for toddlers, craft projects, experiments, failures and inspirations to share with you in 2012; the draft blog posts and half-way finished projects is already enormous!

For now though... there's no place home, and the pull-down of all our Christmas paraphernalia.

(And before I forget - with 80% of all votes, the most popular answer for the poll I conducted in December for 'what material makes the best Christmas tree?' the answer was "whatever makes you happy" followed by paper and chocolate - good job everyone!)

Happy 2012, and here's to a crafty year ahead with all of you. x
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