Saturday, June 30, 2012

Doily Portrait Gallery

It's no secret that dolilies are handy things.  At least in the crafting world.  I can't say I've ever seen them used for real on a dinner table, except in cheap restaurants with questionable taste...  but one thing that my daughter Mimi and I did decide is that they look a lot like picture frames - see how:

Imagine you're a preschooler or young child...

Now imagine a castle or palace, with a long rogues gallery, filled with the family lineage portraited in oil paintings for posterity, all surrounded in gorgeoulsy gilded and ornately carved picture frames...

Now imagine a doily with a hand drawn picture of yourself, (the preschooler), drawn as a regal queen, pretty princess, proud prince charming, or courteous king.  {Be sure to use inky texta-markers for this craft as crayons and pencils are hard to see from a distance.}

Now mount your ornate portrait doily beside several more portraits of the extended (real or imaginary royal) family on other doilies if you will, and you will have created your own palace picture gallery.

You of course won't be constrained by the square-fetish that I have, so you'll be able to mount your portraits in a long row instead of in a square, and of course, you can get even more invetive if time permits;

  • use different sized doilies, 
  • put photocopies of real photos on your doilies, 
  • mount the doily pictures on coloured card cut into round circles, 
  • add ribbon ties to the top, or 
  • gild the edges of the doilies and so on.  

Or not.  At my house, the daily rituals of explaining why you should eat your crusts, cleaning spills, peeling apples, finding socks and brushing hair seems to absorb too much of my time for elaborate crafting details...

Speaking of hair - in case you're wondering - the top left portrait is of Rapunzle.  Her love interest and his horse are standing beside her off to one side; you can click the image to enlarge it if you're curious to see how well she captured their likeness.  Thanks again to Disney for the latest addictive obssession which seems to be complicating my life.  As for the other portraits in our gallery, I'm not totally sure who's who, but Little Lotti's one in the top right hand corner does remind me of someone I'm related to, but I'd get in trouble if I said who!

PS - if your children like the idea of adding faces to things - make sure they try out my Mini Mona Lisa art project - and don't forget to join the Summer Giveaway fun, the competition  closes on July the 4th.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Play-dough Frangipani Flowers

It's no secret that the frangipani flower is a potent symbol of summer; found in tropical locations as it is, it's sweet perfume and lovely looks are the perfect accessory for a summer outfit, decoration for a poolside party, or motif for summertime stationary.

That's why I decided to make one out of play-dough.  As you do.  My daughters wore them in their hair during our last summer-vacation, and while I was making repair works on a broken ring, I realised that the coloring could be replicated in modelling clay.  Before buying expensive brands of jewelry-making clay, I decided to play around with the kid-stuff first.  I'm glad I did - the results were not very successful.

You (or your youngsters) might have more luck at making a neater flower than I did.  They would make a fun tween-party-craft for a luau-party, surf-party, mermaid-party, or any other beachy play date make'n'take activity for young teenagers.

If you want to try - here's how to make your own frangipani flowers out of play-dough:
  • Roll a small yellow ball, a long white snake and a very thin pink (orange or purple) snake in play-dough or coloured modelling clay.
  • Wrap them around each other to make a sort of fried-egg pattern.
  • Roll it out with a playtime rolling-pin so that you get as close to a circle shape as you can.
  • Lightly score the circle with 5 lines, and when you are happy they make the same sized 'petals', cut out the 5 triangle wedges.
  • Shape the petals gently, to make them more rounded (this is where my cheap play-dough let me down; it was very 'sculptable' and started to tear or fall flat when I tried to shape it.)
  • Lay one petal on top of the other to create a flower shape.
  • Add a button, bead or sparkle to the middle to hide the overlapping center part.
  • Admire.
  • Optional - depending on what type of clay it is, you could try air drying it or baking it to keep your flower forever.
  • Optional -  once the flower has gone hard glue a jewelry fixing (such as a brooch pin or hair clip) to the back.

If you do make some play-dough flowers and they work for you - send me the pictures - I really, truly love boasting about parent submissions!

PS - speaking of Summer things; don't forget the Partycraft Secrets' Summer Craft & Activity Ebook and Printable Party Stationary is always available to bring some warmth into your crafty life - just click the tab on the side of the blog or click here!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Displaying Items

It's no secret that preschoolers bring plenty of craft creations home and present them to you 'ta-da.'  In return they expect a giant smile, hug and plenty of praise.  I suppose it's craft-karma that I seem to be presented with way more than my fair share of treasures at the school gate!

Little Lotti (a bit over 3 years old) bought home 'a pot' the other day; "it's made of cway Mummy," she said as she proudly gifted me the still soft and soggy bit of mud that was sort of shaped like a round pot.  We took it home and set it on a high shelf to dry out a bit (sadly not before she'd embraced me and left a shocking long chocolate-like smear down the front of my clean black jacket, ho-hum).

When the pot was a bit more resilient to touch, there was still the issue of how to display such a 'treasure', but as it so happened, the day before, I had borrowed a book form the library called "Creative Display" by Geraldine James.

On the first page is a quote:

"All of us have things we love that we want to display for our enjoyment and for that of others.  We also have stories to tell about them and want to explain our choices.  This is what defines us."

In less than my desired 15-minute-deadline-to-create, I was able to whip a custom display worthy of the little 'cway' pot.  I found a small brown dish with raised sides which allowed me to create a mini zen garden around in with small rocks and a tiny Balinese monkey to meditate beside, stacked a collection of favourite books that are loved for their age, stories (provenance and contents!) as well as their textural well-worn covers, some extra items collected from travles completed the assembly, and now her little pot looks even more special raised on its little pedestal or beloved books, surrounded by other treasuers...

So go on - turn your childrens craft into art - and make your own art gallery on the mantelpiece...! x

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Summer Giveaway

It's no secret that I want to giveaway a Summer craft & activity ebook and printpaper package - so I'm going to try Rafflecopter - it's meant to be the easiest, fairest way to hold a competition on line - we'll see.

On the right hand side of the blog you'll see a giant box hanging out in space; not so attractive, but hey.  The way it's supposed to work is that there are 5 different ways you can qualify to win your own copy of an ebook-printpaper combo, using the blog, twitter, or facebook options.

How to Enter:
1.Log in (use your first name and last initial so you know who you are!)
2.Once logged in you earn points to win by:
  • "Like" the Blog post
  • Leave a comment on the blog post
  • Follow 'Partycraftscrt' on Twitter
  • Tweet about the giveaway
  • "Like" Partycraft Secrets on Facebook

It's all new to me - Let's have a try - fingers and toes crossed it works out and I'll be able to announce a lucky winner in a week...!  If it doesn't work, I'll go back to a more conventional method and pull your names out of a hat! x

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Party Trick: Two-Tone Straws

It’s no secret that drinks taste better through a straw.  Ask your children, and if they’re asleep, then go make yourself a cocktail and see if it’s not true!  But seriously.  Party drinks in particular, for young and old, simply look yummier when dressed up with a bendy straw.  They’re affordable, come in plenty of colours, so there's no excuse not to make them a table accessory at your next party... but why stop at one-coloured straws?  Of course you can buy stripey straws, and they are sublime, no question, but what about a straw that’s one colour below and another colour on top, and not just because it’s submerged in a pink fizzy drink?

When my girls were threading short sections of straws onto strings to make necklaces for a craft project in the Summer EBook, I noticed that when a wide straw slipped over a thinner straw you got a pretty colour-changing moment.  So, a blue and a pink straw for example combined to make a lovely lavender shade, and a yellow and a blue gave you this almost physcoldelic lime colour.  Wow!  Whodathunkit?  Well, it’s science, I know... but from a being crafty perspective I thought; 'to the bench-top baby' and off I went; and then magic happenend.

Sadly, the photo doesn’t do it justice, but this is really, a super-fast, super-attractive way to make your party you-nique. 

All you have to do is:
  • Buy two packets of straws (yes you will have to look slightly nutty as you hold the packets up in the supermarket to assess the straws’ circumfirences, or just do as I did, and accept that they are so cheap, that it’s not the end of the world to have a spare pack hanging around if you get it wrong – but the reality is, if you look before you buy in a couple of stores you’ll soon see there is a diffrenece.)  The straws can be 'solid' non-see-through colours (I tried it and it works), but this project looks especially pretty when both sets of straws are see-through shades so you get the colour-changing effect.
  • Push one straw inside the other (if they are both bendy straws, then push them from opposite directions – if you’re having a Construction Party or a Nautical-themed Party you might want to keep them in their ‘S’ shape so they look like plumbing / periscopes!)
  • Snip the end off one of the straws so that the straws fit the depth of your cups (decide which colour you want to be submerged in the drinks, and which will be visible – in my example I imagined a garden party with pastel hues showing, and say a lemonade drink that would mean the ‘lemony’ colours of the straws would show through the drink.)

Now I took a photo of the straws in champagne glasses so you could see the finished product, but of course they'll work just as well in stripey paper cups for a circus party, bright plastic cups for a summer party, in drinks for children or adults... really, two-tone straws are just a snip away!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Bok Choy Rose Stamps

It's no secret that crafty-inspiration can come at any time... including in the middle of preparing dinner.  While chopping vegetables recently I sliced the end off the bok choy (some call it pak choi), and thought; it looks like a rose you could stamp with.  Now, this thought has flashed through my head umpteenth times when I've been chopping this veg before, but this time, I actually set it aside with the intention of using it.

Bok Choy is an Asian vegetable (although it's actually pretty mainstream these days), you simply steam it lightly and serve it up as a sort of warm-lettuce, put it in stir-fries, and so on.  It grows in little bunches, and to cook it you can rip the leaves off one by one to separate, or take a short cup and chop close to the end where all the leaves come together (it can be a bit dirty) and toss this away.

This time I set the cut-ends aside and let them dry out on the kitchen bench overnight.  They were still a little 'damp' the next day, but not enough to stop us crafting.  The girls and I found 2 big preschool paintings Little Lotti had made two weeks that were green fingerpaintings - I thought they looked like grass - and with her permission (always ask first - or hide the evidence), we cut these into small panels and started to stamp.

Using red paint we dipped and dabbed.  The results were mixed; as with all stamping it requires practice to get the 'perfect' impression, but the overall effect was great.  Mimi was thrilled with her flowers 'growing on stalks' and had another go at a 'rose bush' while Lotti was content going her own way; 'my roses are all over the grass - see?'  I could; can you?

I highly recommend this as a great way to show your children the joy of upcycling kitchen waste, turning it into a learning opportunity to discuss the food we eat, recycling, how one thing can look like another, and simply to have fun... but beware the red paint; whilst we stamped in the garage, the bathroom looked like a slaughterhouse while they were washing up... and don't even get me started about the embarrassment of walking down the street an hour later and finding red pant on your pants right about where your bottom is... hmmm...!

Chin up lovelies and stay crafty... and sane - it's nice to be back on line - I missed you all! x

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Customised Tshirts

It’s no secret that I now sell some of my favourite and most popular designs as tshirts and cards for you to buy at Red Bubble, and I can tell you that Mimi is now the proud owner of tshirt featuring Tiffany Hula Dancing.  The quality of the tshirt (the first I’ve bought through Red Bubble), is soft, stretchy, and seems to wash ok.  But what I really wanted to remind you was that you can make any tshirt you-nique by sewing on embellishments.  The tshirt Mimi has on is designed with just the girl graphic (click here to see), and then we added on the hula-skirt.  The point is, you can do this with any tshirt you buy.

  • Got a cat on your tshirt?  Sew on a collar and bell. 
  • Got a tree?  Iron on an applique bird.
  • Got a teddy? Give him some button details.
  • Got a blank one?  Add half a dozen fabric flowers and use a laundry marker to draw a few stems and hey presto you have a bouquet.

Whatever you decide, see if you can turn your 'standard' tshirt into a sort-of sewing lesson for your children; they’ll wear their new tshirt with even more pride if they helped to make it themselves.

And now – adios! – I’m off for a week... Happy-Husband has a long overdue holiday-break coming up and there’s no way he’ll shush if I craft’n’blog’n’email while he’s around!  As for the rest of you – stay crafty – I have high expectations of all of you! x

Friday, June 15, 2012

4th of July Jelly Cups

It's no secret little people love jelly (also known as jello) - it's brightly coloured, full-flavoured, and it wibbles and wobbles when you try to scoop it up - what fun!  We don't do jelly very often at our place; the girls always get excited about the idea of it, and scoff down the first few bites, then seem to quickly loose interest... and quite frankly, I've got too many candles on my cake to get excited about such simple things anymore... or do I?

Here's a quick trick to turn ho-hum jelly into something special - as is often the case with gift-giving - it's all in the wrapping:

  • Follow the manufacturer's instructions and set your jelly in clear plastic cups (don't fill them past the 3/4s way mark or they'll spill out in the next step).
  • Now - when the jelly is set and you are getting ready to serve it up - in a second clear cup, sprinkle some shiny bright stars, and carefully slip the jelly-cup into the empty-cup.  The best way to do this is to lay the empty cup sort of sideways so that the confetti rests on the side and use your finger to rake it towards the top of the cup.  As you slide the jelly-cup in, many of the stars will push towards the bottom, but that's ok.  
  • When you serve the jelly-cups arrange them so that the starry side is pointing the guests (the other side will be mostly plain).
  • Optional - If you're super keen, you can glue some large stars to the outside of the jelly-cup before you slip it into the empty-cup, so that you have some decoration sitting high and around all the sides.  You could also consider using red tape (like in the noodle box lanterns a couple of posts down) to add some stripes to your jelly-cup.

The best thing about these jelly-cups is the way they look in sunlight; the blue (or red) jelly glows and the stars shine; gorgeous!

You can adjust this idea for other themed parties (or leave as is for a Space, Circus or Rodeo party), by using different jelly colours, putting different confetti shapes in between the cups, using strips of cellophane or tissue paper (keep it thin people!); imagine a fish tank with seaweed and fish for a mermaid party - wow!

So off you go and get excited about the wibbly wobbly bits in your life... well... you know what I mean... or do you?!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Patriotic Garlands

It’s no secret that the blog world is full of red, white and blue crafts at the moment, largely due to the fact that the 4th of July is coming up soon... and fair enough too... its an important date deserving celebration – in the United States.  But.  There’s another reason that plenty of other places can be borrowing the ideas they see – it’s called the Olympics.  

You see, lots of other countries around the world will be marching into the sporting arena under the colours of red, white and blue, and if your house or your school is trying to get into the Olympics mood, and your country (Australia, UK, France, amongst others) happens to have a flag in red, white and blue, then get colour coordinated pre-Olympics!

Of course, all my beloved readers and friends from the states (as well as those who come from countries whose flags are red and white or blue and white), can also be tweaking the July 4th craft ideas to make patriotic decorations for their living rooms this Olympics.

On my facebook page I try to put daily links to craft projects I find on other sites, (as well as thank yous, occasional video clips and other miscellaneous things to inspire crafty mums).  A couple of days ago I linked to a pastel coloured cupcake garland; it’s an oldy but a goody.  For my garland today, I went bright and bold, and I had a great time threading red, white and blue cupcake liners and doilies.  I deliberately chose liners that were different sizes and shades, and the doilies I used were round white, and love-heart shaped red ones (if you click on the photo it will enlarge). 

I could have been quite random about how I threaded the garland, but I decided to make a pattern, and laid the items on the floor in a red-white-blue sequence that tried to space the doilies out from each other.  Once I was happy with the sequence I threaded them with a needle and thread and hung them up.

The garland would also be perfect for a Rodeo Party (the doily lace looks like a bandanna pattern to me), Circus Party decoration, or of course a 4th of July celebration!

Go on – get patriotic and celebrate the colours of your flag with cupcake liners.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Noodle Box Lanterns

It's no secret that the humble noodle-box is a wonderful thing - here's one example of a clever craft you can make in less than 15 minutes with or without your children!  The design I've made would be perfect for a 4th of July celebration, or a Rodeo, Space or Circus Party decoration, but of course you can change the colours and ideas to make them suit any party colour-scheme or theme (for example they'd look great at Christmas time with red and green, or Halloween in green and orange!)

Here's what you'll need:

  • Clear or opaque-white noodle boxes.
  • LED battery-operated lights.
  • Things to decorate the outside of the boxes.
  • Things to 'tint' the inside of the clear noodle boxes.

To give you an idea of what I mean, from left to right, here's what I used:

  1. Clear noodle box, blue stars stuck on the outside with double sided-tape, a small sheet of red cellophane inside, and a dinosaur shaped night-light which was too big for the box, but was fun none the less!
  2. White noodle box decorated with red electrical tape (washi tape would work too), and inside is a small glowing-ball, again, borrowed from the girls' bedroom.
  3. Clear noodle box with red and blue stars outside, pale blue tissue paper inside, and a small LED candle inside.  The candle wasn't strong enough to glow through the tissue paper, but it probably would have worked with blue cellophane.  I also tried a glow stick, but again, the light wasn't overly bright.

To make your own noodle boxes - experiment - they're so cheap you can buy a 10 pack and make a variety of different ones.  Let everyone in the family make their own, or you can trial designs until you find your favourite and then replicate it many times over for a consistent decorating look.

Line them up on entry steps, mantelpieces, bookcases, hang them on coloured wool from trees, or on long lines to make garlands; the multi-coloured night-skies the limit here!

The nice thing about this craft project is that it's fun and easy, and they boxes look pretty by day as well as night.  Although you can't see it in the photo (because it's currently pouring rain here), the sunlight when it was out, reflects off the shiny blue stars and shines through the red cellophane, so the clear noodle boxes are definitely my favourite!

Please remember - always take precautions even with fake lights - read the manufacturers instructions, follow their advice in terms of adequate ventilation and don't allow the lights to overheat.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Little Red Riding Hood Tea Towel Costume

It's no secret that last Tuesday for our church-hall-playgroup Mimi wanted to be a super hero so we fashioned her a super-cape out of a yellow tea towel.  Well, that same Tuesday, Little Lotti was torn between wanting to be Cinderella and Goldilocks.  Now it's a fact of (western) life that fairytale are a part of childhood.  It's also a reality that the Grimm brothers rendition of folk tales are rather, well, grim.  If you read any of the 'original' versions of their recorded folk tales, then you'll find out that Cinderella's step sisters considered cutting off more than their toenails to force their chubby tootsies into the glass slipper to win the charming prince... a hefty price to pay for a 'happy ever after'.

Then there's Little Red Riding Hood.  Needless to say, that even the child-friendly versions of this tale are still rather scary.  Poor Grandma.  Bad enough to be flat out in bed, then to be eaten whole, then to be cut from the belly of the beast by a woodcutter... it's rather a traumatic way to spend a day with the flu.

Given that Mimi, Lotti and I couldn't figure out a way to make a tea-towel costume for Cinderella or Goldilocks, it was Little Red Riding Hood that we all agreed was a winner.  It worked out ok too.  Lotti was already wearing a fetching pink and red striped top with flowers, and matching plastic beads, so the red 'hood' and poppy pin (from a recent Remembrance Day craft project featured in May's Partycraft Newsletter) came together in mere moments.

On the way to playgroup today I said to Mimi; "Oops- I just realised I forgot your cape."
"That's ok mum," she replied, "you still have to put another star on it."
"Another star - what for?"
"The old one said A - now I want it to say S for Super-Sally... that's my new super-star name."
"Don't worry Mum... I'm having a rest-day from being super; I'm just going to be normal-me today."

We then went on to brain storm some other craft projects we could fashion out of tea towels (in 15-minutes or less if I have my way):

  • An alternative to wrapping paper.
  • A rug for a teddy bear's picnic.
  • Blankets in a toy hospital. 
  • Beach towels for a doll's pool party.
  • Chef's aprons.

If you're wondering where all these tea-towels come from, my local fabric store was selling a batch of 10 in rainbow colours for an amazingly low price - I tried one as a tea-towel and it wasn't very absorbent, so whilst it failed as a tea-towel, they've been great as props, toys, and craft items... I'm happy.

For now though, the girls will have to make do with hoods and capes... I'm going to have the afternoon off from being a super-crafter, try and have a hot cup of coffee and pretend to be normal-me! x

Monday, June 11, 2012

Painting on foil

It’s no secret that sometimes you only have to think about something happening and it eventuates.  The Universe is funny like that.  I remember when my first-born daughter Mimi was almost 9 months old I thought, "she's such an angel I wouldn't mind having another one just like her," and six days later I had morning sickness.  Hmph!  

To craft... While blog-hopping two weeks ago, I saw a post about painting on foil (if it might have been yours - feel free to put a link in the comments section below!), and I thought, ‘what a cool idea,’ and that very afternoon, no joke, low and behold, Mimi bought home a picture for me called ‘space ladybugs.’  Apparently that’s what one of the coloured things in the picture is, I think I see it there, the yellow blob with legs, and I guess the stars and the shiny silver backdrop is the giveaway... what the ladybug is doing in space... again; I don't know.... that's preschoolers and the ever-unpredictable nature of the Universe for you!

Now.  Perhaps it's going to sound a silly, but I asked Mimi's teacher anyway; do you need special paint or special foil for this project?  The answer was no and no.  The top tips she gave me was that if you add sparkles, do it while the paint is still wet so they glue in place, lay the art work flat to dry, and allow much longer than usual for the art to dry as the foil is not absorbent like paper (and this can also make it slightly messier project than paper painting).

Hooray!  A fun craft experiment that I didn’t have to risk my carpets for!  Thank you Universe; for my beautiful daughters and my ladybugs in space! x

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Activity Ebook

It’s no secret that the Summer activity ebook has arrived!  

We're so excited to announce that the 45 page ebook is now available on our website, and it's filled with craft ideas, printable templates, make and take projects, top tips, shopping lists, and much more.

Whether you're thinking of having a Luau Party, thinking of boredom busters for your children for the upcoming Summer holidays, or simply looking for inspiration to get your family in a crafty mood - you're sure to find something to suit your skill level and style.  There are activities for toddlers and preschoolers, right through to preteens, teenagers and parents.

Of course there's also a set of companion printpapers, with 9 decorative printpapers, 10 printable templates (DL invitations, A5 invitation, wall decoration, place setting, food flags, small and big bag-tags, 3 bunting designs) and unlimited applications!

Did we mention how excited we are!?!
Hello sunshine!

(If you're not sure what our ebooks and printpapers are all about - pop over to our website and download the free 'How to Host a Themed Party' Ebook and free 'printpapers' to read and experiment with and surf trough the ebook and shops, take a 'sneak-peeks' inside the ebooks where you can, have a look at the free How-to guides, and free art projects for kids - there really is so much you can do with your family to stay crafty!)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fake Ice Cream Treats

It's no secret that ice cream is yummy, but that sometimes it's just too cold to eat it... okay... maybe it's never too cold for kids to eat it, but it's too cold for parents to imagine serving it to their children to eat it.  That's where fake ice cream comes in.  It's Winter in Australia, so there's no way that an ice cream as an afternoon snack is a great idea, but try telling that to two preschoolers who have arrived home after a car trip in which the 3 year old has lectured the 4 year old about a book they apparently read which mentioned ice cream, and she's been obsessing about it ever since.

Time to get creative and make some fake ice cream treats...

  • mini ice cream cones - one per child - check!
  • white marshmallows - two per cone - one normal marshmallow to pop inside the cone, and one to go on top after it's been given a good squashing on the kitchen tabletop to flatten it down and make it wider and flatter - check!
  • chocolate sprinkles or 'freckles' as we call them here - to stick on top to look like chocolate topping - check!

I served my daughters their 'ice-cream' and they cheered, and then they laughed when they realised they weren't real.  I held my breath to see if junior was going to spit the dummy and chuck a wobbly, but no, she was content to eat her sweet treat ice cream substitute, and every one was happy.

Sometimes it's ok to stand your ground in parenting - so long as what's on offer is as good as what's on demand!  Besides, I now have a super easy party food idea I can serve up at the next get together that's a whole lot less messy than icky-sticky melting ice cream.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Party Push-Soap Dispenser

It's no secret that toddlers and preschoolers are often reluctant to perform the most basic of tasks; like washing their hands.  Of course, they can often go the opposite way and become a bit compulsive about it all, literally working themselves up into a lather to shoo those germs away.  Assuming your children are in the first camp, of well meaning but forgetful, here's an idea that I've found works for us: turn the soap pump into a toy party.

Here's what you'll need to make your own party-push-soap dispenser:

  • A clear plastic soap dispenser - the colour of the soap is up to you.  Clear works well, pink, blue or green tinted is fun too, but the container must be clear.
  • Plastic items to stick inside - they have to be plastic so they don't melt inside the soap, and they have to be larger than the tube that will go back inside (you don't want small beads that will get stuck in the tube and block the soap, as frankly that just defeats the whole purpose of having a soap dispenser!), and they have to be items that are smaller than the mouth of the bottle (because if they're too big you obviously won't be able to wedge them into the bottle, remembering that even if you do (as I did with some push and shove) you'll never get them back out again without cutting the bottle apart.)

Here's how to make your party-push-soap dispenser:

  • Strip the push-soap dispenser of all labels and clean the bottle as best you can (there are links to how-to clean bottles on my facebook page if you scroll down to March).
  • Use the soap dispenser for some time to remove some of the soap, or simply tip some of it into one of your other dispensers.
  • Remove the screw-on nozzle-cap and tube, and fill the bottle-dispenser with plastic items. 
  • Put the lid back on.
  • Get the kids to start washing their hands!

Here's some ideas for how you could jazz-up some soap up for your next themed party, or if you simply want to throw a mini-party in your bathroom:

  • Jungle - use green soap and place long rubber snakes inside the bottle.
  • Princess - use pink soap and large pink and gold beads.
  • Mermaid - use blue soap and fill with tiny plastic fish and pearl bead-bubbles.
  • Lego - use clear soap and lots of small square blocks.
  • Baby Shower - use blue or pink soap and then fill with buttons.
  • Halloween - use green 'goo' and fill it with eyeballs and spiders.

I used green soap and an assortment of everything I had on hand to see what worked best; small toys, beads and buttons.  So far they all did the job.  Some seem to float, then sink, you tip the bottle, they move around, get coated in bubbles, and then shift about again.  Endless hours of fascination really!  So go on... get crafty and clean at the same time!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Self Made Super Hero Costumes

It's no secret that today is Tuesday.  Well, every Tuesday, my two preschoolers and I go to a playdate at our local church hall.  The young boys there turn up every week in super hero costumes.  Their mums say it's their only 'safe place' to play dress-ups without criticism, which is sad really, but that's another post...  This morning my eldest daughter, Mimi asked why she couldn't be a super hero. "You can," I said, "I'll make you a costume, or better yet; you can make it."

Thankfully, she's at an age where mummy-made and home-made things rather than store-bought is still ok.  I'm sure it will only be another year or so before anything obviously unbranded will be cringe-worthy, but for now, it's all good.  In fact it's better than good.

She was thrilled to choose her tea towel, brooch to pin it around her neck, felt star, the letter of the alphabet she wanted me to write on the star (A because it's the first letter of the alphabet and that means it must be fast), and she even helped me (sort-of) sew the star onto the tea towel.  She picked out the top, boots, and stripey pants, and though she wasn't thrilled with the butterfly mask (it was apparently a bit too girly for a super hero and we had to search my craft boxes for a 'proper' paper mask (which, incidentally, was pink)), the outfit stayed on the whole 2 hours of playgroup, and she was ever so proud to show it off to Batman, Spiderman and Super-Ben-10-man.  Turns out a cape really does make you run faster too when it's time to play catchy-chasey... who knew!

So next time your children want to be super heroes, or any other dress-up characters, see if you can't convince them to make rather than buy themselves a costume... surely it's a better option for planet earth, your wallet, their imaginations and their self esteem! x

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mermaid Mirror : Party Craft : Project For Preschoolers

It’s no secret that preschoolers are fascinated by their own faces.  Whether they’re practicing a smile, pulling funny faces, or simply examining their features, they’re always on the look out, so to speak, for the fairest one of all.  I recently made a Princess Mirror using a paper crown stuck to a mirror, where the child was 'normal' then 'regal' when they saw themselves reflected under their crown-reflection.   

There's also a way that you can let them make their own mirror, I call this one a Mermaid Mirror, and it's a perfect party craft project for  preschoolers because it's fast, affordable, and the outcome is a classy keepsake.

There’s a good chance you have the materials you need at home already, so you can get started straight away if you're making one as a rainy day kid's activity.  If you're doing multiples as a party craft pop out to your local Discount Store and pick up:
  • A mirror – hand held is best, and be sure to get one per child.
  • Assorted stickers – go for gems and jewels, 'bubbly' dots, and glittery things.
In terms of what to do – simply hand each child a mirror and let them put the stickers where they want.  

Before you head off for a well-earned cup of tea, be sure to remind them to decorate the edges of the mirror, and try to leave the center of the mirror clear so that they'll be able to see themselves in it when they're finished.  If your children are anything like mine, then it might be worth cutting the sticker sheets into smaller sections so that you limit the number of stickers each child gets.  This way, there’s less chance of fights, and there’s a greater possibility that there will be some mirror left to look in!

Your preschooler will love doing this craft project, and the results are pretty and functional, and something they will treasure proudly for awhile to come.

Go on – let your young ones admire themselves in a classy-crafty way!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Wattle On

It’s no secret that I’ve blogged about the craft-wattle twice now; once when I made pom-pom wattle on kebab skewers as a table decoration with my children, and another time when I found an old native flower cross stitch.  Well finally, at long last, the weather has got cold enough that the wattle tree in our garden has begun to flower.  

When I say cold, by international standards you will groan; yesterday at lunchtime it was about 18 degrees Celsius (that’s 64.4 degrees F) - I consider that pretty nippy!

As you can see in the picture, wattle, Australia's native flower, really does look like pom poms or yellow dots, as shown in my previous blog posts; I wasn’t merely taking artistic liberties or short cuts!

My girls are calling, so I’m off to explore the wonders of the great outdoors with them, to go scavenger hunt colours, sort shapes, makes piles of leaves from biggest to smallest, and generally try to sneak some learning experiences into the general curiosity of preschooler playing... so until next time... go check out what your national flower is and see how you can turn it into a crafting wonder! x

Friday, June 1, 2012

Chin up Buttercup

It's no secret that we all get down from time to time, have a bad day, or fall ill occasionally... and when we do, there's nothing nicer than knowing that someone is thinking of us.  One way to show you care, perhaps the 'old fashioned way' is to write a card.  There's someone I know, only a little bit, who is going through a rough patch at the moment, and my heart really goes out to her.  I haven't given her a card - but I want to.

I even made her one - you can see it; it says 'chin up buttercup' and it's made of a round circle of paper, a doily, two cupcake liners and some googly eyes... I felt better making it for her... but I chickened out when it came time to give it to her.

Sometimes it's hard to know whether you'll make things worse.

If you have the flu and someone gave you a 'get well' card, it would be pretty hard to be offended.  If you had a  haircut and you mentioned to that same someone that you weren't sure if you liked it and then they gave you a 'cheer up' card, it might be easy to read into it that they think the haircut's dodgy too.  Okay, that might not be the right example... but do you know what I mean?  By giving someone a card it might exaggerate that you think they have a problem...

As I'm typing I've decided not to give her the card.  I'll give her a brief hug instead.  It's a universal sign of care, easier for me to walk away from if it's taken the wrong way, easier for her to ignore too if it's not welcome.

Sometimes sympathy is easier said than done... chin up buttercups, and welcome to the first day of a new season - whichever season that happens to be! x
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