Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Year Balloon Craft... with Frogs

It's no secret that today is that magical day for Leap Year.  When I was little I felt so sorry for anyone who was born on leap year; how sad that they missed three birthday's in a row... no I'm rather in love with the idea of being forever young; without giving too much away; I'd be about 10 years old right now!  But no; I wouldn't change places with anyone.

I thought I'd share a froggy-craft idea with you today being leap-year and all.  And in case the title of this post scared you; no real frogs were hurt in the making of this craft!

To decorate balloons (or paper lanterns if you prefer), you need to make some eyes and feet.  You could cut these out of paper, use magazine pictures, or do as I did and use the printable template in the Princess Party Craft and Activity Ebook.  My girls loved making these, it's hard to see in the picture, but we also used permanent markers to add noses and a smiley-mouth.  The frog-faces and feet are also great fun when stuck to helium balloons as you can pull the string down and then release it to make the frogs 'jump' to the ceiling.  'Bouncing balloons' are a fun party decoration, and anything 'animated' makes a great party-trick to keep children entertained.

I love helium balloons at parties, and it always brings a smile to my face when I see a car drive past, filled to the roof with pretty helium balloons all pushing at the windows, trying to escape.  Of course, I always stay well clear as we all know how hard it is to see out the rear view mirror with even one party balloon bobbing around on the back seat, let alone a whole car-load.

What do you call a group of balloons?  I guess it's a bunch.  Any other ideas?  Anyway... gotta hop off... Happy Birthday to Lucky Leap-Year people!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Which Came First; The Chicken or The Egg?

It's no secret that the egg came before the chicken.  The first chicken appeared out of an egg; whatever laid it, was whatever laid it.  It was probably an almost-chicken, but even if it was a dinasaur, the first chicken, strange, wonderful, alternative creature as it must have been, hatched from an egg; so the egg came first.  Debate it all you like; I'm 40 years old; I've had plenty of time to think about it; and no matter that greater minds than me have deliberated; I'm done.

Moving on.  Easter means Eggs, and by default, chickens are also part of the familiar child-friendly motifs and emblems we associate with Easter.  I'm a little bit of a tweaker though, and whilst I love a fluffy chick, I think other more exotic birds are equally gorgeous.  If you're a crafty-decorator, and thinking of putting together some decoratins; consider a bird and egg ensemble.

Have a look in your cupboards; what do you have that's a bird, and what do you have that's either egg-shaped or round?  Once you have those two elements, you can experiment with different ways of putting them together, using different materials to make a nest and placing it in different locations to enhance the collection.

I'm a bit of a fan of the nesting idea, so I often experiment with the idea.  In the picture (as always, you can click on it to enlarge), there's the decoration I made for last Christmas, to go on my snow-white desk, where iIused a glass bowl with gold 'ball-balls' in it and a gilded angel sitting in contemplation.  Another option is the pretty purple glitter bird sitting on an assortment of shiny eggs and a sheet of Easter Printpaper.  The clay birds are on my mother's mantelpiece at her farm, and the nest is a real one, found on the farm, the 'eggs' are pebbles from the river.  The last one, I made for Chinese New Year with my favourite find for January,  happy decoration for a side table.

The bird-nest-egg decoration is a versatile one, as well as using the idea for Easter, Christmas and Chinese New Year, but they'd also be great for a baby shower... hmmm... although you might scare the expectant mother off, given that some of those eggs are cringe-worthingly too big for some of those birds, but hey; perhaps she's just babysitting!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Editing Digital Photographs

It's no secret that photo-developing tools abound.  One which I recently tried out was photobucket.  You upload your photos, to a location which is presumably safely and secure, and then you can 'tweak' them.

In the picture on the right you can see the original cupcake photo on the top left, then there aer three different alterations;
Cross process, Blueprint and Cartoon.

There are plenty of other tools to help you make the photo more 'retro' 'beautify' or add a splash of colour.  It's a lot of fun, and one good photo can be used in lots of ways; invitations, school assignments, even download, print and frame it as a gift or for yourself.

My only caution is that it is time consuming.  You will soon find yourself experimenting with every button and option, and each adjustment takes a moment to download (with a video-add to keep you company), and those random moments and downloads quickly add up.

The upside is that it's free; you don't have to be a computer wiz or a professional photographer, just have a go.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Reusing Preschool Art

It's no secret that many of the paintings preschoolers bring home are blobby messes.  Occasionally they get focused and create a house, family, rainbow or something else instantly recognisable, but we've also had plenty of pinky-purple streaky things that when you say, "that's lovely, what is it" you get the eye roll and the "a princess castle of course."  Very occasionally Mimi is honest enough to admit "it's nothing; just colours I like."  I'm secretly living for the day she comes out with, "oh that horrible thing; I was simply trying to clean the paint brushes when the teacher ohed and ahed and hung it up to dry; hmph!"

What do you do with all this art?  At our house big sheets are set aside to use as wrapping paper.  Small wonders are framed in a rotating gallery in their room.  Others are hung on wire in the kitchen for a month and then stored in a special box.  Not so-great ones we reuse as drawing paper.  Seriously uninspiring ones are immediately slipped discretely into the recycling bin.  (Admit it - you do it too!)

Mums I know also photograph them, place them in plastic sleeves and binders, and/or frame the best of the best.  All of these are great ideas, especially if you have the space and time to curate a gallery or archive a library.

Another alternative is to get crafty.  Some of the messiest paintings that come home, are also filled with wonderful colours; uninhibited, dense, free, and thickly applied.  Whilst the painting in it's entirety is not that pretty, when cut into thin strips, the strips are gorgeous!  These strips can then be added to birthday cards, Christmas cards, collages, scrapbook pages or woven into any other craft project you can imagine.

So next time you're headed to the recycling bin, ask yourself; would this look cool cut up, is there another way I could recycle this?  If the answer is maybe; have a go and see what you get... you can still go to the bin later!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Having eyes in the back of your head

It's no secret that our mothers told us they had eyes in the back of their heads, and we generally believed them.  I say the same thing to my kids, and they believe me.  Sometimes I do 'see' them without looking straight at them.  I see their reflection a shiny surface, or see their shadow and know what they're up to.  Other times I can hear what they're doing, and am especially astute when I think they might be doing something I just said 'don't' to.  Other times it's simply a good guess.

Today's brief post is about the opposite - those times when you're busy focusing on one thing and miss out on something else.

Like this photo I took of Mimi wearing bunny ears and pulling a face.  I took a few of them, and when I uploaded them to the computer, I later realised that in the background Lotti was climbing onto the baby-doll bassinet, across the table and then up the book shelves.  I never realised.

"Really?" you scream at your computer; you didn't see you toddler climbing the furniture equivalent of Mt Everest.  I did not.  My only defence is that she must have been up and down very fast, and yes, the camera lense captured it all even if my weary eyes and ears did not.

So then; be careful how you boast to your kids; perhaps you can tell them instead "be careful; 'cause when Mummy's eyes on the front of her head are switched off, she's got a spare set round back hidden under her hair, and when those aren't working too well, there's always the secret video camera installed in your bedroom cupboard."  Hmm... that's a bit creepy, so perhaps not.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Dying Eggs with Onion Peel

It's no secret that Easter is coming, and that the supermarkets are already selling chocolate by the tonne, about which; I have a confession.  My oldest daughter was about two years old before she found out that behind all that gold paper was something edible; I had her convinced that the eggs and rabbits were decorations similar to the 'ball-balls' and other decorations we put on the Christmas Tree.  The first time someone unpeeled the wrapped and popped a chocolate in their mouth she nearly fainted.  My gig was blown, and her youth was all that saved me from a withering death stare, which if you're wondering, she perfected aged-four.

For last year's giveaway Easter gifts we tried the old fashioned, more eco-friendly approach to dying blown-eggs: using onion peel.  There are plenty of 'recipies' on the web, but the three ingredients are water, yellow/brown onion skin and vinegar.  You brew it all up, then strain out the leaves, pop in the eggs and let them stew for awhile.  It was quick and pain free, but even with an olive oil rub they never went the rich red colour I was hoping for... perhaps my onions were more brown than yellow... I also hear red cabbage can dye eggs blue - how fascinating!

When our eggs were done we then laid them (haha) in a nesting bowl, lined with shredded paper and raffia, added a blue paper butterfly on a stick.  They could easily be accompanied with a few candied eggs or a cheeky chicken on top.  Ours were given as gifts, but something similar could be used as a party decoration, rainy day activity, keepsake, or even a save-the-date alternative.

If you have any eco-friendly ways to decorate eggs, leave a link in the comments.
Until next time... I'm off to the supermarket to face-off with all those tempting chocolates.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

DIY Swizzle Sticks

It's no secret that many party books show swizzle sticks in drinks.  I'm not convinced they're very practical, especially for children's parties where they're only swizzling cordial through water... but they DO look great.

I saw a picture recently of some very pretty swizzle sticks with short ribbons on the end.  The ribbon ends were cut with a missing triangle, so they looked like tiny flags fluttering on the miniature masts of invisible boats hidden amongst icebergs on a mint-tea sea... what a perfect party decoration for a sublime sea-side theme!

While wondering if there was anything I could do to add to the idea my eyes fell upon a big bag of pom-poms... perfect!  Using a small strip of double-sided tape, I tied the ribbons in place first, then added a small pink pom-pom on the end, and they're ready to go.

Lotti turns 3 in a few weeks... ok, many weeks... and I've started experimenting with ideas for her birthday party, at the same time as I'm excitedly building up images for Baby Shower and Easter party planning and rainy day craft ebooks.

When coloured correctly, DIY swizzle sticks with pom-poms would be perfect for almost any party theme.  Imagine bright red 'clown-nose' balls with multicoloured ribbons for a circus party.  All pink is just right for princesses and ballerinas, or a warm and fuzzy baby shower.  Beautiful blues, gorgeous greens, even sunny-yellow all conjour up a multitude of possibilities for me... hmmm... I do so love party planning!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pirate Flag Bunting for a Pirate Party

It's no secret that the Jolly Roger flag, with it's skull and crossed bones beneath, is a motif that screams 'pirates!'  If you're holding a pirate party, or a sailor, mermaid, or fairytale themed party for that matter, then a little black pirate bunting is a sure fire way to add an element of danger to your do.

In the pirate party ebook and craft activity book I made, you'll see there are flags ready to go, all you have to do is print them out, cut them out, then stick them onto a piece of red string, jute-twine or black ribbon, remembering that even the wool or other material you choose for this decoration should suit the party theme.

To save on toner, and a little time, you can take a shortcut and simply use rectangles of black paper in between the pirate printuots.  For Mimi's party last year, we used one flag, then three pieces of black paper, another flag, three papers, and so on.  On the middle of the three blank paper flags, Mimi stuck a pirate sticker.  In this way, the bunting alternated; plain, printed, plain, sticker, plain, printed, etc.

The flags were stapled in place on the red string, so they wouldn't blow off with the wind or her enthusiastic sticking, and because it was quicker than glue or double-sided tape, and lastly, as I decided the 'industrial' look of the exposed staples seemed more appropriate than concealed fixing.

Getting toddlers and preschoolers involved in party preparations is often a difficult task; but this was one activity that she happily helped with and the results were great; she very proudly showed off her handiwork to her friends at the party, and they all loved watching them sway in the breeze.

If you're trying to chose some decorations for your next party, then paper bunting is a quick way to create interest.  Go on - have a go; try the triangular paper pennants in the free printpaper package, cut some out of wrapping paper or sew up some super special ones.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


It's no secret that sisters rock.  I have two younger sisters, and the only thing as good as that, is being lucky enough to have two daughters.

Today's a short post.  A love letter if you like, to remind you all to treasure the good times your family brings you... quirks and all.

Mimi loves pink.  As a result, much of her wardrobe acquisitions have been pink.  Lotti, 17 months younger, has started to asert her own take on teh world, adn of course she doesn't like pink.  She likes blue.

It's a good thing in some ways - it's easy to differentiate between their things,

When I asked Lotti what theme she wanted for her party in April she asked for "pink and blue."  Being a meddlesome mum, I asked; "what about a circus or jungle party?"  "No, just pink and blue."  Stay tuned... I'm inclined to throw her a surprise Ballet Party... I told you I was meddlesome!

And if you think pink and blue's an odd combination, or too much of a girl-boy associations; remember that the only thing that seperates them on the colour-spectrum is purple... so add some of that to your colour scheme (as we did in their bedroom), and harmony is bound to exist... right sisters?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Cherry Blossom Craft - Take 2

It's no secret that Chinese New Year was a few weeks ago.  For the celebration, my daughter's and I made paper cherry blossoms.  Here's a second version of a cherry blossom craft for you to try.
  1. Find a branch in the garden, preferably one that's no bigger than A4 page, and with lots of sticks at the end.
  2. Trace around the branch with a texta (it's harder than it looks, so you might have to help out).
  3. Colour in the silhouette with crayons or pencils.
  4. Now decorate!  Use whatever 'flowers' you like; we used stamps, stickers, pom poms and scrapbooking embellishments.
You could also trace the shape of the branch onto black or brown paper and cut it out, then decorate the silhouette branch with embellishments.  You could also use a larger sheet of paper and trace several branches to make a tree.  Enjoy!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Google Hide and Seek

It's no secret that we all want our children to grow up happy and healthy.  Polite and intelligent would be good too.  I recently came back to my desk to find Lotti, my nearly-three year old hitting buttons on my computer.  I nearly fainted.

Firstly, I was swooning because she was meant to be having her day time nap and I was surprised she had not only got up, but found her way to my desk, climbed the swivel chair, and hovered over my computer all in the time it took me to make a cup of tea.

Secondly, because Lotti loves her dummy-pacifier, she has unfortunately turned into what her sister calls a "slobbery dog".  The (perhaps irrational) thought of her or my computer dying as a result of a freak acccident combining saliva and electricity was a shocking one (haha).

Thirdly; once I had assured myself that she, and my computer, were safe and dribble-free, I then came close to fainting again, because into the google search-area she had randomly typed "Yrj c gj".  "Hmmm... not bad," I thought, "maybe she knows more about computers than I realised."

Lastly (yes there is an end to this story!) I almost passed out when I saw the results of her search.  The top four results included; the Armenian Holy Bible; Dynamical Systems; Abiotic stress Adaption in Plants; and Advances in Electrochemical Science and Engineering.  Wow.  Not a bad internet search for a toddler!

As a parent you often have to eat Humble Pie, but it's a proud day when you discover that your two year old can do more than just dribble on the computer!

(I'm headed to a wedding this weekend - so I'll be offline until Monday... but good news - the Jungle Party Craft & Activity Ebook is now online to look at... so until we meet again... go wild... you know you want to!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Beautiful Butterfly Party Theme

It's no secret that butterflies are beautiful, they are gorgeous in real life, and as a motif.  It was an absolute joy to go to a party some time ago where the 4 year old guest of honour had chosen butterflies for her birthday theme.  Together with her mother, she helped make many of the butterfly accessories for her party.

In my free book "How To Host a Themed Party" I explain that the best thing you can do with a motif (design element or idea) is repeat, repeat, repeat!  And that's what this party did really well, in a lovely, understated way.

Here's some ideas that you can borrow from the party - and remember, you don't have to have a butterfly party (although if you can't think of a theme, it's a goodie!), you simply have to replace your theme for hers;

Invitations - hand made and adorned with themed stickers.
Decorations - the birthday girl and her mum had made lots of butterflies out of coloured paper and pipe cleaners, and these were stuck amongst the streamers and balloons.
Craft - there was a craft table where the children could make their own butterflies, as well as sparkly masks.
Party Dress - made from butterfly fabric, with butterfly wings and headband as well - so cute!
Food - there was a giant butterfly shaped cake made colourful with a giant candycane body and lolly covered wings, "oh, I'm gonna love this cake, 'cause I loooove lollies" said one little guest.  There was also plenty of garden-fresh treats and some butterfly cupcakes.
Games - as well as pass the parcel and plenty of running around there was a toy that blew tiny twists of paper into the air, and the children ran around with small nets trying to catch the 'butterflies'.  There were also lots of bubble-wands left about for everyone to play with (and then take home).
Keepsake - the take-home gift was a handmade fabric bag (from themed fabric), with themed notebooks, rubbers, pens, and stickers inside.

It was the perfect example of how a simple idea can make a lovely party theme, and a little bit of planning and careful purchasing can pull it all together.  A great idea, wonderfully executed.  Get inspired, and at your next get together, no matter how big or small, put a little bit of themed-magic to the test!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


It's no secret that today's the day we announce the winners of the 4 personalised Silhouette printpaper packages.  Each package contains 9 different designs, both traditional and contemporary, in the colour-way of your choice.

As outlined in the competition announcement, Mimi (who can't read) helped me randomly select 2 winners from the pictures on facebook and blog followers, and then she picked another one for each site for good measure;

The winners are:
  • Blog follower 1 - Ashley
  • Blog follower 2 - SugarM
  • Facebook follower 1 - Maryel R
  • Facebook follower 2 - Amy W 

Congratulations to all of you!  I'll be sending emails to you, so we can start making a set of printpapers for you.  Remember you don't need children to make silhouettes; you, your pets, your partner; anyone can be immortalised and then printed out, snipped up and crafted with!

For everyone else who missed out; thanks for joining in, and remember I give away stuff every month with my newsletter or you can have a look at the personalised silhouette craft and party printables which are available to purchase online.  Any questions, suggestions, or feedback, feel free to write to me - I love a bit of cyber-chat... but don't forget to say who you are so I can write back!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Break My Heart - then craft it back together again

Its no secret that Valentines is today - so happy Valentine's everyone - I hope you're feeling all loved up; and if you're not; I love you.

Today is the last day to go in the running for the personalised printpapers competition, which I'll announce tomorrow, so if you haven't already done so, be sure to join this blog &/or facebook for your chance to win.

Today is also the last day of my I love Valentines Craft challenge.  The last category I had to craft with was 'something broken'.  Seems a funny one to finish on, especially as today is 'the day' but it's also kind of appropriate as mending hearts is often the first step in a new relationship.

I decided to group a few things together for today's craft.  I took the store-standard cuff links that come with a purchased shirt and stuck one pink love heart button on each cuff link with a sticky dot.  I could have used real glue for a more permanent solution, but I'm pretty sure that Happy Husband won't wear them for more than a day.  I also found an old 'Guinness Book of Records' dated the same year that my husband was born.  Lastly, I used an old love heart and chain that came with a charity-toy, and placed a sticky gem over the brand name that was on the heart.  I'll make a quick trip to the shops for a bottle of Guinness beer and loop the heart-chain around the bottle neck.

Not exactly broken, but the idea was to take something discarded, forgotten or neglected and give it some new life in a meaningful way.  I think I did ok.

Happy Valentine's everyone; hope you had some crafty fun during the 14 day challenge, and if not, store away some good ideas to try out next year... and good luck for tomorrow's announcement!  

Monday, February 13, 2012

Warm and Fuzzy Valentines Craft Tutorial

It's no secret that girls tend to accumulate hair accessories.  Most girls that is.  Sadly, both of my daughters have been "hair-pretty-phobic" since they were born.  Whenever I tried to put anything in their hair, be it clips, elastics, headbands, even the humble comb or brush they wriggled their way away.  Every cute little accessory I purchased and pleaded with they denied me.  And then.  Suddenly.  Inexplicably.  Both of them wanted to "look beautiful."

Perhaps it was seeing another little girl with something amazing going on.  Maybe they saw something on television.  Possibly it was a passing dinner conversation we had about another girl who got dressed up to go to the theatre with her mother.  The chat prompted Mimi to say "oh Mum, please can you take me to the ballet Swan Goose," perhaps that wayward idea swayed her towards fabulous hair.

Regardless.  Whatever the reason, we're suddenly on the page of too many hair pretties is never enough.

To help get their treasures organised I whipped up this heart shaped strawberry with Mimi's help in under 15 minutes.  Here's how to make your own felt hair-clip holder:

  • Trace a heart shape onto a piece of red felt and cut it out.
  • Trace a smaller star shape onto a piece of green felt and cut it out.
  • Cut a piece of pretty ribbon long enough to loop over a door handle and leaving short 'tails'.
  • Find a large button to suit.
  • Stack all the parts on top of each other - heart, then star, then ribbon, then button.
  • Sew it all together.
  • Top with a sticker gem to conceal the stitching if you please.
  • Hang your strawberry on the bedroom door with all the hair pretties attached.

Mine is warping slightly, twisting under the weight of too many hair clips and the occasional snatchy-yank, but I think it will hold up... at least as long as the girl's current hair-pretty-obsession.  We'll see...

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Pretty Paper Heart Craft

It's no secret that I don't believe everything I hear on television; even when it's on a crafty kid's show.

About a month ago I blogged a craft project which involved decorating a coloring-in page of a dragon for a Chinese New Years Craft Project.  In the post I referred to the TV show idea where they placed clear contact over a sketch, and then laid torn tissue paper over the top, sticky it in place with gloopy-glue (watered-down runny white glue).  When the tissue paper was dried, they peeled it off, and the craft was ready to frame.  I was dubious about something so literally paper-thin holding up.

So I tried it with my girls - and it worked a treat.

Here's how YOU can do it;

  • I traced 2 heart shapes onto a piece of white paper.  
  • Cover the shapes with clear contact - making the contact size larger than the template you're covering.  
  • Create a pile of squares made from coloured tissue paper for the kids to share.
  • 'Paint' the contact-shape with the gloopy-glue, then start laying your squares on top.
  • Once the shape is covered, 'paint' more gloopy-glue over the whole shape to ensure everything is stuck together, and effectively coated with glue.
  • Leave it overnight to dry.
  • Trace the heart shape (or whatever picture you're using) with a thick black marker, while everything is still stuck down.
  • Gently peel the finished product off the contact.
The great thing is that because of the 'skin' of glue under the paper, the heart stuck straight to glass making a sort-of stained glass window effect, and the template was ready to go again.  We've since made more hearts in more colours, and are hoping to have a rainbow rose window sometime soon.  Turns out TV was telling the truth after all... fancy that!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Love You Just the (Crazy) Way You Are

It's no secret that Valentines is all about sending a little love to family and friends... but sometimes, there just doesn't seem to be enough time to get all loved-up and crafty... even a trip to the post office to mail a card can seem too much effort, let alone crafting something spectacular.

Sometimes love just is.  Like now.  Time is tight, so today's post is short and sweet like my daughters - who are calling out for me...  They remind me every day what it is to love and be loved... and while loving me unconditionally, still manage to deprive me of much of my sleep, time and sanity... thanks.

So how to share some family love for a Valentine's craft challenge when time's run out?  Take a photo.  No; take lots.  Photograph the ones you love laughing, having fun, being silly, being themselves.  Throw in some heart-shaped props and go for it.  Use a digital software such as free picasa, and make 'a collage' and then print it out.  Add the picture to a card, or cut it into strips so it looks like it came from a photo-booth and turn them into bookmarks.

Keep it simple.  Fast.  Fun.  Goodbye and good luck!

Friday, February 10, 2012

I Love Crafting with Something New

It's no secret that children do some dreadful things... this morning I caught my youngest daughter, Little Lotti who's almost 3, wiping her nose on the tea towel hanging on the oven.  Yuk.  I've decided the only thing worse than finding out that your child has done something bad, is not finding out.  I don't even want to think about how long this nose-blowing ritual has been going on in my kitchen.  Super-yuk.

Just as Lotti discovered a new use for tea towels, I wanted to remind you for today's I Love Valentines Craft Challenge of the joy of turning one thing into something else.  Which is what craft is all about; turning paper into planes, fabric into skirts, flour into cakes and so on.  But today I mean quirkier, and quicker, tricks and turns; like making plastic pirate coins into earrings, and felt coasters into brooches.

Dollar Stores have their fair share of trash and treasure; the trick is trying to decide which is which.  During my last saunter through my local I came across a set of 4 bright purple felt coasters.  They were cheap enough to take a punt on, and no; they don't make the best of coasters - but - they are gorgeously coloured and tactile objects in their own right.  So of course; I crafted with them!

Whilst I hope to put the floral-butterfly edge to good use for a future fairy-party, in the meantime, I hijacked one of the coasters for a slightly different Valentine's craft.   Firstly I added a pirate coin and heart-shaped sticker gem onto the middle of felt coaster.  I love that you can still see the cross-bones poking out from behind the heart, sort of like a cupid's double-crossed-arrows.  I then placed two more two heart shaped sticker-gems onto plastic pirate coins ready for earrings.  All I have to do now, time permitting, is attach a brooch-pin to the back of the felt coaster, and stick the coins onto blank studs which I'll pick up on my next craft-store visit.

A new set of Valentines jewelry in under 15 minutes - gotta love that!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Rubber Stamping Close To My Heart

It's no secret that "stampin'" is a growing craft.  It's fun, reasonably priced, and if you're not a confident illustrator and don't have a neat handwriting, then a little stamp magic can go a long way.  For my Valentines stamp & sticker challenge I made a piece of framed art.  Here's what I did;

  • I selected one good quality rubber stamp which read "friendship comes from the heart."
  • Then I selected some cheap dollar-store foam stamps.
  • On a piece of practice waste paper I designed a sort of square pattern around the main quote.
  • When I was confident with the layout, I laid a piece of lined writing paper under a piece of tracing paper, and used the lines as a guide to arrange the stamps, I recreated the desired pattern of stamps.
  • I left this to dry overnight for good measure, then used markers to trace the words and hearts.
  • Behind the tracing paper I laid a white rose-patterned  doily on top of pink card.
  • On top of the tracing paper I used some sticky-backed ribbon and a butterfly sticker.
  • Then placed the whole thing into a deliberately ornate and super feminine frame.


It's in the girls' shared bedroom and they love it; pink and blue are their favourite colours, and they love that it's "so pretty."

Not long to go now until V-Day - but there's still time to make something beautiful - so go on; get crafty!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Valentines - All Wrapped Up

Its no secret that newborn babies are the most precious things you'll ever hold.  For those of you lucky enough to get a 'newbie' this Valentine's, congratulations, savour this wonderful loved-up time with the best new-love there is... of course, the reality is, if you've just landed a new bub, you won't be reading blogs!

Today's 'I heart crafting with buttons and bows' project tries to recreate the same sense of precious reveals.  It makes the perfect gift to give to a grown-up child, a nostalgic happy-husband, or your own mother.

I found a favourite photo of Lotti when she was a baby, all swaddled up in lilac and pink.  While playing with ideas of what to give everyone for Valentine's Day, I thought this might be a sweet present for her.  We've worked really hard over the Christmas holidays to toilet train her and improve her sleeping, and we're so proud of her being "a big girl" now, that it will be nice to remind her what a precious little thing she used to be.

I placed some purple silky material into a blue box (her favourite colour), laid the swaddling photo inside, and then popped a pretty candy treat and love letter next to that.  I laid the purple fabric over the surprises, then for the lid I added a purple fabric flower, a purple ribbon, wing and rose-button embellishment.  Lovely.

You can of course change this project to suit any holiday or party theme.  Put a picture of a newborn inside a plastic egg as an Easter present to replicate a rebirth.  Put a picture of your child pulling a horrible face in folds of black cloth as a Halloween surprise.  Turn it into a party-craft by letting your guests wrap themselves up for a Winter Wonderland party and so on... the idea has lots of potential!

Less than one more week to go til V-Day arrives - so there's still a few more craft projects to go in my I Heart Craft challenge, and there's still time to join here and facebook to win the silhouette printpapers.  Good luck.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Do I Love Thee - let us count the ways.

It's no secret that keeping young children busy is a constant challenge.  My two are currently playing next door with a couple of old tissue-boxes out of which they're making a chicken-house and a caravan.  

I can hear them now; "this is where they sleep... this is where they eat..."  "Chicky sleeps outside?"  "No... she sleeps with you Dorty."

Mimi's current nickname for Lotti is "Dorty."  It took me a while to figure out what she meant.  It's short for daughter.  And why that?  "Because I'm the big sister which means I get to be Mum when we play... she's the little sister so she's my daughter... and you're Grandma."  Thanks.

One of my 'to do' craft challenges was to use a cardboard box to make a Valentines' craft.  I decided to use an old tissue box.  After a bit of consideration about cutting it up to turn the side panels into cards, or creating a love-robot that predicted long-term compatibility (it was a show in the 80's), and so on, I decided to make a sensory-box.  I've seen lots of tactile trays and hands-on-bowls where kids can squeeze and feel different objects made of different materials.  Inspired by this touchy-feely time of year, I decided to try the same idea, but with a twist - by putting the bits inside a box so that they were hidden, the kids had to guess what they were feeling inside.

To keep it Valentinsy, I added a strip of my Valentines printpapers (you can use any tissue box and any strip of wrapping paper, printpaper, or the the like).  I added a vintage frame from Graphics Fairy onto which I put the words "how do I love thee - let us count the ways."  It's a sort-of quote from the Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem.

Inside I placed 'lovely' things such as;

  • a button (you're as cute as)
  • a felt star (you'll always be my star)
  • a patch of pink faux-fur (I love you warm and fuzzy)
  • an egg (I've loved you that long)
  • a chicken (because I'll always be your mother hen)
  • and so on.

It was a fun way to generate a conversation on the different ways we love each other.  Use your own ideas, word associations, or tactile ideas to add your own versions of love to your box.

PS - I'd love to attach the Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem but I'm uncertain about copyright issues - feel free to google it - it's beautiful; my favourite lines (I'll risk it) are the opening ones;

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach..."

Doesn't that summarise mother-love?  And isn't it amazing to think the love we feel for our children is so unique, and yet so bonding, in that we all love our children that much... doesn't it make you feel instantly closer to other mums... sigh... I love love...

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tie the Knot with Hugs and Kisses

It's no secret that keeping things simple can generate rich rewards.  "The Sound of Music" was on television on Friday night, and it reminded me of the song about favourite things, which included brown paper packages tied up with string.  Which reminded me that today's post was meant to be about "I love crafting with string, ribbon & twine."  Like dominoes falling, this in turn reminded me that one of my favourite things is to play with words.  Which made me think of games, which made me think of games I could play with Happy Husband and then...

Here's today's craft:

Inspired by word-games, I chose - "Tie the knot" - why not (ha ha) find a favourite photo of your loved one on the day of your marriage, and then tie it up in string.  (I added letter beads I found to spell "FEB".)

To fill the box I tied up, I turned to "Naughts and Crosses" - which to me look a lot like "Hugs and Kisses" - so I made my own version out of craft sticks, old bangles, and other objects, which I then covered in red wool.  I followed the same double-sided tape approach I used in the how to make a woolen bangle tutorial.

The result is a sweet little box, topped with a personal photo, which includes a game of hugs and kisses you can play together!

(Speaking of games - don't forget to join this site and facebook for your chance to win a set of personalised printpapers - you gotta be in it to win it!)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Something Blue From Me To You

Its no secret that red and love go hand in hand.  It's only right in many ways; red is so vibrant, passionate, hot and fiery.  It conjours up hearts and roses, lipstick kisses and wax seals on love-me letters.

But what about the fact that 50% of valentines are supposed to be for boys?

Perhaps it's time to rethink your wrapping paper choices; instead of rosy-red or pretty-pink chose baby-blue instead.

Not sure you can go blue for V-Day?  Then remind yourself that there's one brand that sells dreams a plenty wrapped in blue boxes and tied off with a white ribbon.  Why not replicate their style, only go for a dollar-store white box and add a blue ribbon.  For my present to Happy Husband I added two shades of blue card to the top, and a plastic toy that reminded my of a key.

Blue is beautiful, whether it's for Valentines Day, party keepsakes or gift wrapping birthday treats.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Thanks for all the Sweet Times

Its no secret we're always telling our kids not to play with their food.  Today however, I'm going to break my own rule to make a fun Valentines card, which would work just as well as a thank you, invitation, or birthday card.

While looking through photos for another craft project I'll blog about soon, I came across one of Lotti eating a lolly-pop last year.  I remembered seeing a Christmas card somewhere (I wish I could remember where, but I'll try and find something similar and pin it for you on pinterest) where a clever crafter had snipped a hole on either side of a fist in a photograph and pushed a candy cane through.

I decided to try it for Valentines.  I found a picture of Lotti when she was a newborn, and because she was wearing a 'Dad Rocks' onesie and had her fist in just the right way, I gave her a lollipop to hold.  I put the more recent lolly-licking photo with the first in an envelope, added a love letter from her to Daddy, and sealed it all up for her to give him on the day.

It's a fun way to play with old photos, and yes, you could certainly improve it by staging the photo and getting the hand in the right place, adding text and so on... but I kind of like the impromptu nature of this fist full of baby-sweetness!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Something Borrowed for Valentines

It's no secret that sometimes you can find a new use for an old object.  By old, I don't mean antique, vintage, or even second hand; just something that's been hanging around and generally overlooked for ever.  Plastic cups and takeaway tubs spring to mind for me; they seem to lurk, forgotten and unloved in the back of the cupboard, never there when you need them, multiplying relentlessly when you don't... well here's a way to help love them up again.

Place a heart-shaped doily inside one of the plastic cups, then very gently, slide the second cup inside the first.  The doily may scrunch a little, depending on it's size, but it should still look fine.

The same applies for the food tubs; simply lay three hearts into the first tub, and slip the second inside.  Remember that the lid and food are in the upper tub, so the food isn't touching the paper and if the bottom falls off, you will lose the doilies, not the food - all good.

You can use the tub to put some Valentine biscuits inside and give as a present and serve some pink lemonade in the cups for a mini-party at home.  It's fast, simple, cheap, and personally, I think it looks rather pretty!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Helping Hands (Parent Submission & COMPETITION)

It's no secret that my two daughters suddenly feel helpful when they think something crafty's going on.  While crafting for V-Day, my eldest daughter Mimi came in, leaping about, chatting away about heart-this, heart-that... and then she volunteered to make me one.  I expected paper or crayons, but instead she simply held up her hands in a heart shape.  It looked pretty good, so I asked her to make another one, this time in front of a sheet of red foam.  I took the photo, tweaked it in picasa, and can now use it as a Valentines card to put in her memory book.... more on that some other time...

I have to go get my car window fixed after 'the impossible' happened yesterday.

After picking my daughter Lotti up from preschool we went out to the car and she pushed the button on my car-key to unlock the car and let everyone in.  While I was loading her backpack into the boot she must have hit it again and locked the doors (although a couple were still ajar so it was not apparent).  After buckling Lotti and Mimi into their car seats, taking the keys of Lotti and throwing them onto the front seat, I closed their doors, and went to open my door.  I realised it was locked.  A split second later, I realised it was worse than that; the kids were locked in the car on a Summer's day (albeit overcast and in the shade).  Then the problems started...

Problem 1 - because the child-lock was on Mimi couldn't open her door.
Problem 2 - because the keys weren't in the ignition they couldn't open the windows.
Problem 3 - because I keep their harnesses tight and have deliberately never taught them how to undo their seat buckles, they couldn't get out of their car seats, not even by trying to wiggle out between the straps.
Problem 4 - because of the age of the car, the door locks are sticky and even if the idea of manually unlocking the door could work, Mimi just couldn't pull the lock up no matter how hard she tried.

After 45 minutes of a dozen neighbours, parents and teachers trying to break in to get them, the Fire Brigade was called and they tried to break in to the car - turns out it's not as easy as TV makes it seems.  When Lotti started to take her clothes off (we'll never know if it was from overheating or plain boredom) we smashed a window.

I travelled a dozen different feelings in that hour, from frustration, concern, embarrassment, serious concern, number-crunching, a bit more embarrassment, plenty more concern, and then relief and gratitude.

It's all over now, and I'm annoyed at myself for letting the kids fiddle with the keys, not hearing the click, or keeping an eye on the doors before I shut them.  I'm frustrated that emergency-roadside-assist-companies say it will probably take over an hour to attend your emergency.  I'm wondering if it would have been better to get someone to mind the kids while someone else drove me home to get the spare keys.  I'm grizzly about all the vacuuming I had to do to get the glass out of the car (there's more than you'd expect for a small triangle window).  But most of all, I'm proud that my girls stayed calm, tried to help as best they could.  They missed their first ballet lesson for the year, but they were pretty pleased about the story they had to tell.

Oh, but before I go - I have exciting Competition news to share.  Vicky at Mess for Less just posted the party favours she made for her daughters 2nd birthday - and they included my Fairy Printpaper bag tags - hooray!  Thanks for the shout out Vicky - pop across and leave a comment on her blog post for your chance to win a set of the papers and the crafty ebook, and then view the rest of the fairy printables on line at the Partycraft Secrets Store.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vintage Valentines for Vampires

It's no secret Valentines Day is actually an old tradition, celebrating Saint Valentine.  What you may not know is that Valentine was an early Christian Martyr, buried in Italy on the 14th of February.  (Although, confusingly, Malta claims to have his relics.)  The details of Valentine's life are long lost, but it seems he was a priest who refused to denounce Christ before the Roman Emperor and was beheaded.  Not nice.

Strange then that 'Valentines' is generally a super-sweet celebration these days (possibly due to a poem by Chaucer - but that's another post).  A quick look at Valentines-craft on the web shows lots of pink, red, frills, and lace... But what if you or your loved-one, is more of a teen-twilight-theme kind of person, and Valentines is so sickly sweet it gives you a toothache?

When I was a teenager we had our own vampires to love.  With Vampire-novels tucked under elbows, we were all swooning over the Vampire Lestat and quaking at Salems Lot.  'Our' vampires were a dusty crew, they would never have shimmered like diamonds in my day!

Today's "I love hearty-craft" challenge is for 'something old.'  It takes inspiration from dangerous-love, disturbing books, and some old-fashioned artwork.  The three items could be given together or each on its own.

The first craft is the heart-in-a-bottle.  The idea came to me while reading a strange book to my children called "The Heart and the Bottle" by Oliver Jeffers.  Print out a heart-graphic, place it in a mason jar or decorative bottle, and 'give your heart' to the one you love.

Craft two comes from the classic love story of Snow White who was done in with a poisoned apple then kissed back to life.  This V-Day you could recreate the romance by giving a 'posioned' apple to the one you love, then help resuscitate them after the first bite.

If that's all too 'eew' for you, simply get a cute-as card (I stuck a printout of a vintage postcard onto blood-red card stock), and then set fire to it.  Yep.  You read right.  Set fire to it.  I highly recommend you do it over a water-filled kitchen sink as you might be surprised how quickly the flames take off.  I burnt two corners, then dipped the card in water to put it out.  The water made the red paper 'bleed' onto the postcard which enhanced the overall effect.

You'll find the 'heart' graphic and vintage valentines card on the graphics fairy website, and the 'poison' label came from the royalty-free DoverPictura "Label Art" book with CD.

If none of this was to your taste - ha ha - fear not - there's lots of feminine craft to come over the next few days.

The Valentines Printpapers will go on sale shortly at and don't forget to join facebook for your chance to win a personalised set of printpapers. 
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