Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Art of Controlled Choice

It's no secret that children love to control things.  Fair enough too.  It must be so boring listening to parents say "do this, do that, not that, come here!"  As much as possible, when it comes to inventing activities for toddlers or projects for preschoolers, I find that if you can set it up and walk away they'll love you for it.

Recently, my girls took the round blue rug in their room downstairs into the lounge room.  Together, we collected some dry bath toys, fake flowers, and other odds and ends, and made a 'help-yourself pile'.  From this 'help-yourself pile' the girls could pick and choose what they wanted and set about making a Mermaid Pond, in which all sorts of fabulous games took place, for nearly an hour, if you can believe it.

The advantage of a  'help-yourself pile' is the apparent sense of freedom.  How liberating they must have found it to pick and choose, arrange, sweep away and start again however they wanted (subject to current sibling rules and rivalry).  The other advantage, is that there's still parental-control.  You still ultimately control the choices; no real water was allowed, including bath-toys that made 'swishy' sounds when we shook them.

Parenting is a humble experience, for me at least; I feel like I'm always learning.  One thing I have learnt though is that controlled-choice seems to be a winner; at least for my girls.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Bring Back Lace Food Covers

It's no secret... as I was typing that I missed the space and wrote "it's nose cret" which sounds like some horrible toddler snot-monster... anyway.

When I was growing up I always thought there was something cringe-worthy about the lacy food cover... but now I'm wondering why.  Sure it's Nanna-like, but now that I'm older, I've come to realise there's nothing wrong with Nanna-stuff.  Like linen hankies.  Where once I thought they were a hideous idea (carrying a bundle of bile in your pocket), now I see that whilst they remain hideous, they're far more environmentally sound than a tree being chopped down, pulped, pressed, transported, blown on, tossed out and slowly decaying as landfill.

Back to ladylike lace.  I recently bought 2 charming pink covers at my local dollar store, for a top secret project I'm working on (i.e. a surprise party), and topped them with tiny cheeky chicks.  It got me thinking that they really are a rather cute kids' party accessory and we ought to see more of them.

The downside of the lacy food cover, is that whilst it does keep flying beasts at bay, ants of course march right under, and the food covers offer no protection against sneezes...  Hmmm... this blog post has turned out to be rather yucky... still... it should give you plenty to think about next time you sneeze over your food.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Yarn Bottle Tutorial

It's no secret that I love rainbow-wool craft, whether it's a colourful bangle or a wearable Christmas wreath wrap.  Since then, I've tried other craft projects with the wool, but one of my favourites is wrapping bottles.  Whilst the photo is not the greatest, you can see that a simple wrap of wool or yarn can transform a plain bottle into a quirky decoration or table setting.

  • Wash and clean the bottle you want to use, removing all traces of the old label (I'll post a helpful link on my facebook page).
  • Add a small strip of double sided tape vertically down the side of the bottle where you want the wool to be.
  • Push one end of the wool vertically, up and down, the sticky strip to hold it in place.
  • Start wrapping the bottle in horizontal loops (from the top down or visa-versa; it doesn't matter.)
  • As you wrap, be sure that the wool sits as close to the piece beside it, but doesn't overlap.
  • When you get to the end of the tape, cut a small woolen tail of a few centimetres (an inch or two).
  • Using a bamboo skewer or needle, push the tail of the wool in behind the wrapped wool - remember that if you only partially wrap the bottle you will be able to see this through the glass, so keep it as straight as you can.
  • Add whatever lightweight embellishments you like; such as pretend gems, brooches, gift-wrap ribbons and so on.
You can wrap as much or as little of the bottle as you like; I went for small stripes to complete both bottles under my preferred 15 minute time limit.  Wrap big bottles to hold flowers, old jars to hold cutlery, or tiny bottles simply as decoration.  Mix and match wool types and colours, or do several bottles of different shapes in the same colour... experiment and have fun!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Perfectly Pink Easter

It's no secret that when you have two young daughters, pink is a part of life.  Whilst I rarely wear it, and can't imagine Happy-Husband living in a house with pink walls; I do so love crafting with it.  All shades from the softest blush through to the hottest look-at-me hue are fun.

Whatever party you're planning; whether it's a big thing, or even dinner with your immediate family for the upcoming holidays, why not get colour co-ordinated.  Pick a colour that you love, the family votes for, that suits your dining room, or selected from the view out your window right now, then get crafty.  Buy napkins, make paper balls (I'll post the how to in the April Newsletter), find accessories at your local Discount Store or your craft supplier.  If they all have the same colour in common, you can pretty much put any item side by side; be they hand-made paper spheres, marshmallow bunnies, crafty chicks or fabric flowers... it'll work.

Go on; get colour-organised and have some rainbow fun... still not sure how to?  There's a guide on How to Choose Colour and more info in the Free How To Host a Themed Party on my 'other website'... so I'll say it again; go on!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Horizontal Pinwheel - Tutorial

It's no secret that pinwheels are ever so desirable.  There are so many sublime ones floating around the blogging world, made of seriously gorgeous papers, held by equally gorgeous children.  Problem is, I'm impatient.  The idea of having to use a glue-gun, doweling, rotating spacer beads and waiting for it all to dry is outside my "15 minutes to complete a craft" objective.

15 minutes as a time frame is the aim because I have young children, too much washing, and a desire to get a return on my craft-time-investment fast.  That's why I've invented a pinwheel alternative; I've named it "The Horizontal Pinwheel."

Instead of making a paper pinwheel where the pinwheel is vertical, or upright (spinning like a windmill), I've turned mine around so it spins horizontally, or flat (as are the ones on top of a helicopter).

Without glue, the beads seem to stay in place on the skewers for awhile, and my girls were able to move the single-paper pinwheel by blowing on it.  The double-thickness (2 coloured pinwheels) didn't rotate as well, even when I made the holes larger.  The great thing about these pinwheels however is that you can spin the stick and the pinwheels spin... kind of makes me wonder why they're not called 'spinwheels'!

Here's what you'll need;
  • A packet of origami paper (it's the perfect size, already cut square, and comes in a variety of colours).
  • A packet of bamboo kebab skewers.
  • Some 'pony beads' (type it into your image-search engine and you'll see what I mean).
  • Other beads you have that might suit (you won't know what works best until you try - the aim is to get a bead with a hole big enough to push onto the spiked end of the kebab stick but small enough that it fits snuggly enough to stay put).

Here's what to do;
  • Prepare the paper as if you were making a normal pinwheel (I'll  blog the how-to in the subscription-only April newsletter - feel free to join up before the end of March.)
  • Push the pony bead onto the timber skewer; it should go down past the spike, but not too far down.  You might have to experiment with different beads to get one that sits where you want it to.
  • Push the centre of the pinwheel paper onto the skewer, fold the corners over into the traditional pinwheel shape.
  • Push the decorative bead onto the end of the skewer to hold the paper in place.

If you've ever made a pinwheel you'll knock these little beauties up in no time and they'd be perfect for party decorations, keepsakes, as table-settings or even accessories to go out with invitations.  If you haven't made one, read my up-coming detailed how-to, or surf the net for a tutorial, and then follow it to make the paper part, then ignore the complicated rest!

PS - thanks to Michelle, of Michelle's Craft Blog for awarding me the Liebster blog award; pop across and check out all her clever crafty-posts and browse her list of other inspirational blogs!  Thanks Michelle; stay crafty!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Magical Princess Mirror

It's no secret that little girls love the idea of being princesses for a day.  I remember my 4 year old saying; "I'd love to be a princess, just playing all day, while everyone else has to slave around doing everything for me."  I had to bite my lip, as I was just a tad too tempted to say; "how's that different to any other day of your life so far as a child?!?"

Anyway.  After reading a bedtime story one night, I decided to make a magic princess gazing mirror so my daughters could ask; 'mirror, mirror, on the wall; who's the fairest toddler of them all?'

Using a vintage crown graphic I found on the Graphics Fairy website, I added some red love hearts (I did this digitally, but you could do it with stickers on a print-out, adding any design you like).  The crown was then temporary-tacked to the mirror, and the girls took turns admiring themselves in their new headgear.  Sure, I could of also stuck a cardboard strip across the back of the crown and turned it into a costume hat... and I may just do that... but there was something fun about being 'normal' one moment, and 'regal' the next.

It's the simplest thing you can do to create a princess moment, but there are plenty of other ideas in the Princess Party Source Book ; simply download, print the templates you like, as many as you need, and use them any how you like; simple, fast, easy - yay!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Party Hat Decoration Ideas

It's no secret that the humble party hat is a much overlooked piece of party apparel.  Often considered cheap and dodgy, I have a bit of a love of the store bough party hat... but with a twist.  On it's own, the party hat is indeed a little 'common,' but with the slightest of effort, you can transform these hats into little themed wonders.

Here's just a few things you can do to dress up a dress-up hat;

  • Easter - add a foam egg to the top of each hat, green raffia to the base and flower and bunny stickers to finish.
  • Halloween - add dried flowers, plastic spiders, or cobwebs to turn them into witches' hats.
  • Christmas - add plenty of tinsel to the base, a Christmas star on top, and consider some baubles hanging down from the sides.
  • Country / Outback - add wine-corks on strings around the edge to create a fly-free swagman in party mode.
  • Circus - go the pompom on top!  Alternatively, cut short strips of tissue paper and make your own 'fluff' to go on top.
  • Ballet - push feathers into the top of the hats for a Moulon Rouge feel, and add beads around the base.
  • Princess - slide some long ribbons into the hole at the top of the hat and tape them in place inside, add fake flowers and gem stickers to the front and sides.
  • Jungle - add a set of printpaper eyes to the back of the hat so that everyone has eyes on the back of their head for a bit of a laugh.
  • Quirky - tape the string of a helium balloon to the top of the hat.
  • Printpapery - cut out any of the designs in your printpaper package and stick them onto the party hats; as shown in the party hat picture in the Princess Party Planning Package... phew - that's a lot of p's... no wonder there's a tale about the princess and the pea!... which, as an aside, always worried me as a bedtime story; the last thing any mum wants to think about just before going to sleep is finding pee in the bed!

So then; everything and anything can be added to party hats - tape the embellishments down if you want the hats to be wearable, or simply use the hats as table setting props, and slip bracelets, beads, rings, or other fun accessories and gifts onto the hat.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Mad Mummy Moment

It's no secret that when computers are good, they're very, very good, but when they go bad, they're wicked.  Regardless of whether you're pro or anti using a quick 'hello' (smack), my computer definitely deserved a whack on it's digital bot-bot this week for driving me mad.  Log in; ok.  Launch Internet; ok.  Open an email; ok.  Open email two; crash!  Launch blogger; ok.  Start to write something; crash!

So, if you've been wondering what I've been up to recently while I've been off-line, and even if you haven't, here's the top three parenting screams of the moment;

The computer.  Enough said.  I don't want to show any fear, lest it boot me out again and wipe all my files for good measure.

The garden.  The builders working on the repairs to our rear boundary wall (which partially collapsed when the neighbour's palm tree had a growth spurt), have been on holidays so the garden is a boggy mess of dirt and carpet-like strips of grass... and then there's the tile sealant that seems to have leaked into the fish pond...

Lastly; chocolate.  The girls are obsessed with chocolate.  I know it's that time of year and all, but really?  More?  Threats of gut-ache and tooth-rot don't seem to deter them from eternally pestering me for everything from the sublime to the extreme; rainbow-balls (Easter eggs) and reindeer poo (chocolate sultanas).  If I try to convince them a hot cross bun (let alone an apple) would be a sweet alternative they scowl and 'chuck-a-wobbly.'  The only thing worse than the guilt trip that goes with feeding kids chocolate is the cleaning that follows behind them; melted into the upholstery, wiped on walls, or sitting in a lovely diorama on the kitchen bench beside a tiny pony and a plastic rat, and considerately within reach of the hand sanitiser!

Deep breath.  Life's good.  More craft tomorrow... Computer willing.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Easter Nest Egg Tutorial

It's no secret that chickens hatch out of eggs, and that their mothers lay them, and that everyone ponders the which came first... so why not be a little quirky and place an egg inside a nest inside an egg.

Here's what you'll need - experiment with all the same colour, or complimentary shades;
  • Paper cupcake liners in two sizes, 
  • Craft chickens,
  • Chocolate eggs, &
  • Shredded paper. 

To make the craft ensemble;
  • place a small cupcake liner inside a large one.
  • Inside the large liner, (and around the smaller one), place some shredded paper.
  • Inside the small cupcake liner place a chicken and a chocolate egg.
  • Resting over the top of the whole arrangement place another large cupcake liner so that the 'nest-egg' is closed.

When visitors arrive at their table setting, or children arrive looking for sweet treats, they can lift the lid, (or hatch the egg), and there inside will be a nest bearing gifts!

This is a quick and easy craft which toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy making as much as eating... so go on... make an edible nest egg with your own cheeky chicks!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Easter Printables

It's no secret that Easter is almost here, so pop across and try the Easter printables.  There are templates for invitations, bunting-pennants, bag tags, food flags, and of course, there's always the A4 pages of patterns ready to turn into whatever crafty thing you can think up.

If you're not sure what printpaper packages are or how to use them, feel free to download a free set of digital print papers and a party planning ebook which will give you plenty of top tips and how-tos!

As always; if you make something, feel free to send us a photo and have a good old digital boast!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Embellishing Easter Eggs

It's no secret that sticking things onto other things is great fun.  Inspired by the beauty of Faberge Eggs, I piled an assortment of embellishments onto the craft table, as well as some sequined eggs from my local Dollar Store and announced; 'let the games begin.'

First, I asked the girls to sort the embellishments into piles of matching colours; all the reds here, blue there, and so on.  This was a great game which lasted longer than I expected, and even generated some lively debate between my two daughters; if an angel-doll has a green skirt with blue dots on it does she belong to the green or blue pile?  Is gold more orange or yellow? and so on.

Next I gave them a big blob of temporary-tack each, and let them chose a sequined egg.  With the temporary-tac they then started to stick the things in the matching coloured-pile to their egg.  We ended up with some pretty eggs, and some pretty weird ones too.  (We made a whole rainbow of eggs, but I'll use that picture another day.)

Decorating eggs for Easter, of just because, is a fun activity for toddlers and a great preschool project.  Of course, if you use temporary-tack instead of real glue or sticky dots, you can pull it all apart when the game's finished and do it all again!

Don't forget the Easter printpapers are available, with templates for invitations, cards, food flags, bag tags, 3 designs of bunting-pennants, and more!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Stamp Happy Napkins

It's no secret that I only recently realised you can stamp much more than paper.  (I did a Valentines tutorial on how to stamp onto tracing paper, and two days ago, I stamped organza bags).

Today I'm stamping party serviettes.  Of course you can buy special napkins printed with names and dates, but why not make your own if the party isn't too large.

Here's what to do;

  • Choose napkins in a colour to suit your party theme.
  • Select a stamp, or several stamps, that suit your theme (keep the design bold as fine details will be lost.)
  • Set up your stamp selection on clear acrylic blocks.
  • Choose a dark coloured ink.
  • Line up all the napkins you'll need, and 
  • Start stamping.  

The only negative I found in this process was that you had to re-ink the stamp after each serviette, as the napkin sucks up the liquid (as its designed to do!)

Negative aside, it's a perfect way to be quick and crafty this Easter, or for any party theme you choose... as far as craft projects go; this one gets my stamp of approval!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is that a Bird on Your Head?

It's no secret that we love our books in this house.  Mo Willems is a favourite bedtime writer-illustrator of ours, with his crazy stories such as 'Don't let the pigeon drive the bus' and 'There's a bird on your head.'

While playing around with some of my craft things, the girls came up with a game where they clipped my faux-birds onto their heads and then laughed at the idea that the birds might bring a mate, build a nest and lay eggs (as happens in the book).

It's so rewarding to know that reading is making a difference, and that simple ideas can have a big impact.  Sure, having a pretend bird on your head might not be a qualification many employers will be looking for in future job interviews, but I'm a big believer that the best attributes you can pass onto your children are curiosity,  imagination and creativity... but then I'm a crafter so I'm biased!

Next time you're looking for a dress-up idea; go to your bookshelf (real or digital) for inspiration.  Pick out a favourite book and have a look through; I'll bet that with a little creativity, you can create a costume that's quirky and original!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Teacup Centrepieces

It's no secret that a vintage teacup is a fine thing, and simply saying the word tea party is enough to conjure up childhood memories of white rabbits and dainty cupcakes.  That's why using a teacup for a centrepiece for your party table is such a cute idea.

You can make your arrangement as clever, quirky or quaint as you like.  Find the teacup of your choice, add a saucer (matched or otherwise), tie a ribbon around the handle of your cup, and pop in real of faux-flowers.  I made this Easter centrepiece out of a bunny-cup I had as a child.  It's handle broke many, many years ago, but a sky blue ribbon hides the worst of it.  The saucer, though nothing like the cup has yellow roses which seem to work, especially when you add a fabric rose and some gold and green eggs around the cup.

A teacup centerpiece would also work for a baby shower, or any girly-party.  You can even use the teacup centrepiece as the starting point of your party; looking to its patterns and design to inspire your colour and motif choices you can use elsewhere in your decorations.

If you're looking for more girly party inspiration, don't forget to have a look at the party planning ebooks for princesses, mermaids, ballerinas and fairies.  

For now, I'm off to playgroup with my two pink princesses!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Stamping Organza Bags

It's no secret that some craft ideas are obvious in hindsight.  Don't ask me why, but I only thought about stamping organza bags a few days ago while thinking of a way to finish off a wedding keepsake.
The how-to couldn't be simpler; 
  • Purchase organza bags in a size and colour to suit your needs.
  • Choose a stamp that suits your theme.
  • Select an ink colour which is dark (red, navy blue, dark green or black all work well).
  • Place a piece of scrap paper inside the organza bag (blank is best so you can see what you're doing).
  • Place all the bags you're going to stamp in a row on a table or bench where they can stay while they dry out (you need to leave them longer than when you stamp paper to fully dry).
  • Start stamping!
To finish these keepsakes off I made gold paper gift tags, using the same stamp (I like how the border turned into brackets), and added a golden crown sticker.  They're super sweet, fun, fast, and the results look fabulous.  Simply add your preferred contents, whether its potpourri, sweets, rice, birdseed, or Easter eggs... makes me a touch frustrated I didn't do this for my own wedding instead of hand sticking a gem to every bag, which was beautiful, but time consuming.  Hindsight's a wonderful thing...

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Pleasure before Perfection

It's no secret that I love to go all out when experimenting with decorations.  I recently tried to pull together an assortment of turquoise 'things' to see if I could make an Easter decoration.

Going from bottom to top, I used; an empty laundry-soaker container and lid, another lid, a broken string of beads, half a plastic Easter egg, a sparkly pipe-cleaner, a Christmas bauble and then a feathered hair clip from the races... all those years ago...

The result was an over the top Spectacular that wouldn't suit every one's taste, but hey; when it's your house, it's your taste that counts!  The girls enjoyed it's flamboyance, and I was happy to let them play with unbreakable-broken-things.  Besides, none of it was stuck down, so it can be made for a moment, then pulled apart and reused elsewhere.

So go on... get quirky; forget the rules, forget fashion, forget those pinterest projects that haunt your sleep with unattainable awesomeness... just go make something!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Girlish Chocolate Flower

It's no secret that children say the darnedest things.  Mimi came up to me yesterday and said, "I'm pretty awesome with a handbag."  I assumed she met she looked pretty awesome.  No.  She meant she was awesome at using one; "I can swing it, twirl it, spin it on my arm, and look how I pirouette with it..."  Uh huh.  Truth be told, she was pretty awesome with her handbag.

After she had gone to preschool I got to thinking about what a girly-girl she was.  Domino like, ideas began to tumble and pile up, and I came up with a ultra-feminine place setting for an Easter party.

Pop a nice full, petaled fabric flower in a decorative teacup or glass.  Now nestle a small chocolate egg into the centre of the petals.

The same idea can be used for a ballet, princess, fairy, or other girlie party, simply look for a sweet treat that will fit into your flowers and is wrapped in a colour to suit.  Ahhh... makes me wanna go twirl a handbag!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Making Family Photo Stick Puppets

It's no secret that when it comes to kids, the simplest things often have the greatest impact.  Take a recent craft project I made with my preschoolers; "the family photo stick-puppet show."
Here's what to do;
  • Select a photo of each family member (use the ones where the face fills as much of the photo as possible - ours were all from the 'reject' box of shots that were so unflattering they would never be framed - but of course you could stage some family photos with hats and crowns especially for the purpose).
  • Cut the face out, including hair, but no neck or shoulders.
  • Tape a craft stick onto the back of each photo (we used red sticks for Mum and the girls and a blue stick for Dad).
  • Using your new family stick-puppets, put on a show (use the end of the bed, or go behind the couch or dining table.)
It was seriously funny watching the girls play themselves and each other, and hilarious to listen to them act out Mum and Dad.  The craft took minutes to make, and even the slow part of searching through old photos was an enjoyable activity in itself.  Once the puppets were made, the perfomrance went on and on... and on... and even now, when they find their stash of 'stick-faces' they run around acting out some new scenario; their favourite game seems to be making mischief, and then explaining that 'mummys-stick-face' is to blame.  

Next time you go to throw out a photo that's not so good... don't.  Be brave, and instead of binning it, turn yourself into a stick-puppet celebrity!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Parent Submission: Mermaid Party

It's no secret that mermaid parties are fabulous, for children and parents alike.  I was thrilled when Jemma and her mum sent me photos of her 5th birthday party.  Using the Mermaid party planning ebook and printable templates, they made everything from invitations, decorations, fun edible craft projects, and keepsakes.  

Here's what Jemma's mum wrote to me after initially confessing that this was the first themed party she'd ever hosted, and that she had been excited but nervous about whether she was going to be crafty enough; "This party would never have happened if it wasn't for you, somehow you have pushed me into being more than I thought possible.  Your ebook gave me lots of ideas and more importantly the confidence that I could do something fun, memorable and magical for Jemma, I was really proud of what we had all created. The girls probably would have had fun regardless but it may never have happened without your ebook to give me the structure and the inspiration, so thanks!!!"

So then, if you had any doubts that you couldn't pull of a themed party, fear no more; Jemma's mum gained a new found confidence in crafting with her family, and within herself, and I'm certain you can too! x

(Don't forget you can buy your Mermaid Party Planner by PayPal with plenty of party printables, shopping list, make & take party-crafty projects and much more, for just $20 - just click here.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Jungle Safari Party Craft and Activity Ebook

It's no secret that Jungle / Safari Parties are wild.  Whether you hold them indoors or in the great outdoors, it's fabulous fun to dress up as either a jungle-explorer in kahkis, turn yourself into a feathered member of a lost tribe, or release the animal in you.

It is with great pleasure that I announce that I have finally released the Jungle Party Craft and Activity Ebook for you all to enjoy.

The ebook has plenty of inspirational ideas, as well as templates for you to print out and use, including a headdress, fob-watch, telescope, goodie bag and more.  The beauty of a template is that you can print out 1 or 100, depending on how many guests you have.

Of course, there's also the Ballet Birthday Book, as well as themed party craft ebooks for Fairy, Princess and Pirate parties, and my family's favourite; the mermaid party ideas ebook.

Don't forget that you don't have to have a party to use the books; parents say they're perfect for rainy day activities, or are boredom busters for housebound toddlers and preschoolers.
So go on... go wild!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Pin The Tail on the Whatever Party Game

It's no secret that "Pin The Tail" on the whatever is a fun party game for kids.  All those years ago when I was young, party people were always sticking donkey-tails on donkey-behinds, but these days you can be more creative.  There's plenty of ready-made options you can buy, but why not get crafty and make your own party game.

Here's a few alternatives to get you thinking;
  • Hosting a Lego party?  Build a giant square block out of blue blocks, with one red block in the middle, then let kids blindly stick yellow blocks on the tower to get as close to the red as they can.
  • Got pirates?  Find a colouring-in page of a big boat, photocopy it to A3 and give everyone a skull-n-cross-bones sticker to be the pirate flag; aim for the top mast - winner takes all.
  • Room full of princesses?  'Kiss' a spinning frog balloon with sticker-kisses.
  • Print out one of the free kids' art templates at Paige's Place for an arty party, and let children decorate their picture with their eyes shut as a game with a quirky take home keepsake.
  • For a Hollywood-do, find a poster of a favourite movie star and let people put gold stars on it; you decide what you're aiming for!
There's really no limit to how you can use this game.  My only recommendation is to keep it simple.  Kids can't stand to wait too long for their turn, and complicated blindfolds can slow the process down and irritate kids and parents alike.  If party guests are wearing paper hats, pull those down over their eyes, and take for granted that peeking is the norm.  Numbered stickers are helpful, but if kids can't read, simply celebrate wins, or near-hits as you go.  Perhaps let kids go two at a time as they did at a recent party we went to, and accept that it'll get messy.  Whatever happens; as with all party games; remember it's all about having fun!

Lastly; a big thank you to Michelle's Craft for awarding me a Liebster's Blog Award; as nice as it is to have my family tell me how great I am, it's always super exciting (and humbling) to receive messages from 'out there' that tell you you're funny (in the ha-ha sense I'm hoping!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Whimsical DIY Wreath Ideas

It's no secret that wreaths are in vogue, whether they're made of Christmas 'ball-balls,' felt flowers, or vintage ephemera.  Surrounded by so much inspiration, I recently saw a gorgeous one made of paper-flowers.  The canny crafter had punched the flowers out of a variety of papers, then pinned the paper flowers together with pretty brads, then hot-glued all the flowers onto a particleboard wreath shape.  The quirky selection of colours and shapes, combined with the sheer variety of it all got me in the mood to try something even more 'whimsical'.  Here's what I did;

  • From a piece of coloured card, trace two circles, one inside the other.
  • With scissors cut the outer circle out, and the snip through to cut the inner circle out.
  • Reseal the slice where you cut through with tape, front and back.
  • Collect everything and anything that you want to use for decorations; I went with pink and silver 'things' and laid them all out in piles, roughly graded from large to small.
  • Starting with the largest items first, start sticking the items down (I used glue for the paper, and then double-sided tape for the more '3D' items.)
  • Progressively add items, on top of each other, or slipping them underneath petals and so on, to create a layered effect.
  • Leave to dry overnight.
  • Hang it up.
If you can.  And here's the catch.  My wreath idea was a bit of a 'wobbler'.  Perhaps because I included some overseas silver coins, the composition got rather heavy, and way too heavy for the type of card I used as the base.  Furthermore, some of the 3D items didn't love being stuck on and started to flop off.  Sigh.  Not all ideas work; but the concept of a whimsical party wreath is still a fun one; maybe next time I'll use a thicker base, stronger glue, more time and some extra patience.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Airy Fairy Terrarium Project

It's no secret that when you're feeling inspired you ought to keep going!  Yesterday I blogged about the fake aquarium (post-party craft-conversion) I made for my house which my eldest daughter calls 'Sea World.'  After making the original one, I made three more, in a variety of styles, shapes and sizes, and there's another one in the planning, waiting for the rain to stop long enough for me to go outside.  Since people seem to be enjoying this quirky new craft obsession of mine, I thought I'd show you how Fairy Land turned out.

The bubble-bowl (which was originally one of several candle-vases I used for my wedding reception) includes soil from the garden, topped with native violet planted in a nest-like ring around a purple quartz stone.  A little fairy doll (broken out of a music-box (naughty Lotti!)) reaches out to a glittery bird who guards the shiny rock.  Some silver and pink beads are scattered around the perimeter of the bowl to add some magical shine, and the whole thing happily sits on the bathroom counter in diffuse light, living contentedly off steam and an occasional spritz.

In my photo, dirt is still visible on some of the leaves (click to enlarge) which is a shame, and the quartz rock is not as shiny as it is in real life, but still; you get the idea.  The children think it is wonderful, but of course, being glass, I'm always trying to keep them away... for an older child however, I think this would be a great project for a primary-schooler, a gorgeous gift for any occasion, a perfect table centrepiece, even a place-setting if made tiny enough to sit upon a dinner plate.  Of course the best thing about DIY terrarium craft is that it can be forever tweaked to include materials on hand; be it the plant life in your garden or the ephemera in your craft box.

It could also be tweaked into a memory jar (such as the one I made a birthday party memory jar after Mimi's mermaid party last year), where you fill a pickling jar with soil and plants and then add the items of your party or holiday around it.

My number one tip is to 'tell a story' when you assemble the parts to make a whole.  Decide whether you're making a Sea World, Fairy Land, Spooky Place (you'll see soon enough), or simply a decoration for your dining table, and then do your best to select a vase, plant, soil/sand, and decorations that work well together to enhance that miniature world... go on... get outside and get your fingers muddy!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Magical DIY Terrarium Craft

It's no secret that for my daughter's mermaid party last year I made a mini fish bowl table decoration (scroll down in the gallery to see it).  Well, as I'm a big believer in recycling all things crafty, I recently turned this small pretend-aquarium  it into a larger terrarium with succulent plants.

Inspired by a wonderful book "Terrarium Craft" (the link takes you to the book's page and includes a video on how to make a terraium) I filled a larger bubble-bowl with sand, then included some succulents, and repotted, if you like, the dried coral, shells and fish-swizzle-sticks from the party decoration.  I also added a few beads to act as bubbles, and did my best to make the bowl encapsulate the beachside.

From some angles the contents appear underwater with fish swimming past the glass, and from others it seems as though you're upon the tideline and a wave has washed ashore treasures to collect.  It's still very much a work in progress, but thanks to my friend at Twinkles, Tutorials and Twirls whose post on Beachside Treasure Hunting reminded me to blog this craft project!

I think I'll go make another one; I already have an idea to turn the smaller bubble-bowl into a mini fairy garden with some flowering native violet, a quartz stone, some magic-sparkles and of course a fairy!  Ohhh... I think I feel a new craft addiction coming on!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Golden Angel Baby

It's no secret that my four year old daughter has imaginary friends.  Last week as we were reversing out of the drive she said; "I don't have any of my big-girl invisible friends with me today, but I'm going to take Angel Baby to school; she doesn't have skin, she's made of gold."

After nearly running into the neighbour's letterbox I recovered enough to drive to school.  I'm used to having invisible 'twins' Africa and Bunny hanging around (thankfully they no longer have pink eyes which always spooked me out a little), and the other girls that come and go are generally well-behaved, although Emily is always slow to get into the car and often makes us late.  Angel Baby is something new, and for whatever reason, she only lasted one day, and then, as all good angels do... she disappeared back into thin air.

A few days later, I found a box of tiny glow-in-the-dark plastic angels... After wondering about how well they would really glow (yet to be fully tested), I thought "ah ha!  Golden Angel Baby here we come."  I bought the box, and took one of the angels out.  The string was broken; not a good start.  I grabbed hold of her wing and dipped her in a pot of gold paint.  Probably not the best way to go about it, as I then had to stand around waiting for the gloopy-paint to slooooowly drip off her.  Next time I'll use a paintbrush.  Regardless, my golden Angel Baby and a dozen or so of her sisters are destined to make a show at a future party, probably on an invitation or as a suspended decoration... stay tuned.

Goes to show that inspiration can come from everywhere and anywhere, so don't be too quick to dismiss 'the madness' that comes out of your children's mouths! x

PS - the Partycraft Secrets March newsletter is going out later today with a set of Good Luck printpapers - so don't forget to subscribe to get your copy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Baby Shower Soap Keepsakes

It's no secret that Baby Showers are coming back into fashion in a big way.  And why not; they're a simply divine way to celebrate the pending arrival of a precious new person, and who of us hasn't loved our babies, or a friend's bub,  long before they were born?

When thinking of cute keepsakes to make for a Baby Shower, I decided that soap as a party favour would be an easy option.  The great thing about it; is that they are a fun play on the 'shower' theme, they can be as cheap or as luxurious as you can afford, and they will make the party place smell clean and sunny for the duration of the do.

My recommendation is to buy the best quality soap you can afford.  If it is wrapped in gorgeous paper (many are); simply add a sticker or name label that suits the colours or motifs of the rest of the party.  Don't forget to add a bag tag and a message such as "soap glad you could share our shower."

If the soap is unwrapped or covered in tacky brands and logos, strip the paper off add either add a sticker straight to the soap, or wrap it in patterned tissue paper (squares work best, and they should be 3 times longer than the soap), and use a decorative sticker to seal.

Remember; you don't have to be hosting a party to be crafty, why not wrap an assortment of soaps to give to the mother to be; what new mum doesn't crave a little luxury?  Go on... get soapy!
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