Friday, August 31, 2012

Funny Fridge Faces

It's no secret that if you have a computer you probably also have a fridge and a digital camera.  Assuming that every now and again you actually print out some of your photos, why not combine your two 'modern appliances' and put a photo on your fridge.  Oh - wait - you do?  Then why not have some fun with your fridge photos.

In the same shop where you get your photos developed, you'll probably find that they sell magnetic photo frames.  What you want is anything made of acrylic with a magnet on the back.  Some come as a flat sheet with a painted edge, others that I found at my local discount store were like a pocket or a sleeve that you slipped the photo into.

The only other item you'll need to dig out of a drawer or buy, is a whiteboard marker.  These markers will write on the acrylic and then can be wiped back off again.

All you have to do now is get creative.  My suggestion is that you use black and white photos for clarity and that you leave the drawing to 'big-kids' so that you don't end up with writing on the fridge... I don't want to be held responsible for that, thanks very much.

Perhaps, my choice of photos is a little disrespectful, given that Little Lotti (now 3) was perfectly beautiful just as she was, but hey; sleep-deprived, stay-at-home mums need a little levity sometimes... besides - the great thing about this cheeky classy craft, is that you can wipe the slate clean, so to speak, before everyone comes home, so the evidence simply 'dis-da-pears'... It's sort of a mummy-mood-board if you like, right next to where I hide my secret stash of choc-mint salvation... perfect!

PS - If you want to get more organised, and get the kids involved, take favourite photos and print them onto A4 sheets, laminate them then allow the kids to draw on them as a 'feelings' experiment.

PPS - I used a similar approach to convert a cheap A4 picture frame into a re-writable to-do list for my desk - see the tutorial pictures here.

PPPS - if you're wondering about the other stuff on my fridge, the silver doily is a left over decoration from Lotti's ballet party, and the necklaces are from the Summer Activity ebook (using fragipani printables included therein).

PPPPS - If you have a fridge-photo you'd like to share with the world, feel free to leave a link in the comments section, or send me an email: linda(at)partycraftsecrets(dot)com.

Keep laughing,

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gingerbread Voodoo Dolls

It's no secret that Halloween is fast approaching and with it comes the ability to trick or treat your loved ones.  Now, I understand that many of my readers are the mothers of young children, so - this craft project is NOT FOR YOU - look away as your youngsters are still in the "too cute to spook" category.

However - for those of you who do have older children, or who have adult friends with a quirky sense of humour, or are just downright a little devilish yourself... well then here's a way you can trick up a batch of gingerbread biscuits:

What you'll need:

  • Your favourite gingerbread biscuit recipe (many supermarkets now sell boxes with the recipe mixture, cookie cutter and chocolate 'buttons' all included.)
  • Toothpicks
  • Red food colouring
  • Icing pens in 2 colours

Here's how to make a Halloween Gingerbread Voodoo Doll for some devilish edible fun:

  1. Bake a batch of gingerbread biscuit guys and gals as you normally would.
  2. Instead of adding your normal 'cute' details use an icing pen to add a sad face.
  3. Dip one end of a toothpick into the bottle of red food colouring and then 'stab' the toothpick into the gingerbread doll.
  4. Repeat Step 3 so that you have maybe three or four 'bloody pins' in your voodoo doll, angling them all in slightly different directions so they don't get in each other's ways. 

Once you have made a batch of these you can decide how best to use them... keeping in mind they don't wrap or travel well.  Perhaps if you are having a grown up dinner party you could place one on each person's entree plate as a table setting to set the mood (you'll know best whether that's considered suitable etiquette amongst your friends).  Alternatively, teenagers might be content to hand one to each friend as a sort of anti-valentines gift that conversely means "I adore you" (who can ever fathom the mind of adolescents!)  Or maybe, you can make a batch of skeleton-gingerbread biscuits using a white icing pen, and then simple turn a single biscuit into a voodoo doll and then when everyone else has gone to bed, do your worst on it, venting your bad mood, after a long day of motherhood, out on a hapless biscuit and then eating it... although I can't imagine any of you clever, crafty people have any venom to vent.... huh?

Lucky we get to be 'nasty' once a year at Halloween!
Back to 'cute' tomorrow - I promise!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Use Children's Art to Frame their Photo

It's no secret that I love to up-cycle my children's art into all manner of new things; I'm so proud of the pretty things they draw, but they just draw so much that I can't possibly keep it all.  The same goes for photos.  When the girls recently had their preschool photo done, I was thrilled; it was gorgeous.  The rainbow painting on the easel in the background was great fun and really captured the nature of preschool and made a sweet halo over their touching heads.  However, when I popped the photo in the frame I had, the easel disappeared and I was left with two dark lines down both sides of the photo, a cropped rainbow and a distracting dark smudge across the bottom of the picture.

Please note - the photo remains gorgeous - it was the frame and it's matting that was the problem.  "Buy a better frame" you're all saying.  Or; "it doesn't matter; the focus of the photo is two happy kids."  Sure, but anyone who reads this blog should know me well enough by now to know that I can't leave well enough alone... so...

I grabbed a recent 'happy' drawing that had come home from preschool and cut it into strips.  (I've blogged before about how you should always do this behind closed doors, never in front of the artist!)  I shuffled the pieces around on the sides and eventually decided that it might be fun to go the whole way around.  I know that I ultimately lost much of the original photo (the rainbow and the girls' shoulders) but the end result is really bright and colourful, and there are a couple of points where a blue curved line marries up with the rainbow curve and the curve of a shoulder; it's subtle, but I like it.

(You can always click on my 'postage-stamp' blog-images to enlarge them to see what I'm talking about.)

When I compare the pictures in the top left and bottom right I've come along way from 'pretty' studio-shot to a much more to 'chaotic' image.  I'm content however that the essence of preschool fun and the identity of my girls is still there, maybe more so... besides; I can always rip the drawing strips out and re-frame the photo when I get a new frame with bigger matting.

So go on - next time you go to frame a photo with your children in it - be a little crafty - try something a little different:

  • use strips of drawing to surround the photo as I did, 
  • mount the photo on a drawing done by the person in the photo,   
  • use a frame that has two spaces, and place a photo in one and a drawing in the other, or
  • be brave and let the child draw on the photo with markers graffiti-style!

The options are endless - so have fun and make it you-nique!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lady Bug Collection

It's no secret that in our digital age, using printable-templates is an stress-free way to start a craft, for you or your children.  If you're crafting with multiple children, such as at a party, then it's also a very fast way.  It's why I love using them in my ebooks (see the new buttons on the right hand side of the blog), but it's also why I go looking for other free-templates on the internet to inspire craft projects.

The is a wonderful site that offers a daily source of free vintage images you can download.  One graphic that recently caught my eye was the mason jar (without label) – I thought it would make a great collage base for either a memory jar, time capsule, or magic spell collage.  In the end it was a spare sheet of ladybug stickers that gave my girls the green light to get outside, collect a variety of leaves, talk shapes and colours, and then use the stickers to hold it all in place – easy as – and pretty too!

To make the collage, all I had to do was download the image, scale it so that I could fit three on an A4 page and then print it out.  

Next time you come across a free-download, (or you're looking at one of my ebook templates!) don't be scared to 'think outside the jar' as it were and see if you can't come up with an alternative way to use the template to make a whole new collage with your kids!

Best wishes,

PS - don't forget there's plenty of free printable art templates over on the Partycraft Secrets website for you to try - simply click here to have a look at templates such as 'add a smile to Mona Lisa's face' and so on...

Monday, August 27, 2012

Parent Submission: Summer Ebook Activity

It's no secret that parents are loving but time-poor people.  We want our children to be clever and creative, to express themselves in new and thoughtful ways... but we don't all have the time to source quick and classy ways to craft with our children...  keep reading this blog and you'll already have a head-start for your next crafting adventure; there's plenty of ideas to chose from!

But now - I'm so excited to share a great creation by someone who has had a go at the 40+ page Summer Craft & Activity EBook.  Heather and her daughter made the "DIY paper sundae" from the book; using one of the several templates provided in the ebook, you print out the scoops of ice-cream and berries, cut them out, then use half a paper plate to make a bowl, fill the bowl with the delicious ice-cream, top with a bendy straw and enjoy.  Congratulations to Heather and her daughter for demonstrating just how easy the printable projects are.

Heather’s daughter also proves the only thing sweeter than a ready to go Summer-craft is the little people making them! 

Best wishes,

PS - If you're not sure what our ebooks are all about - there's some new buttons on the right hand side of the blog to help you out;
  • Simply click the theme you like (it will take you to the Partycraft Secrets Website),
  • Purchase your favourite ebook, 
  • Browse the 45 pages for your favourite craft projects and templates,
  • Print it out and away you go!!
  • Enjoy! x

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fish Tank Play Dough Activity

It's no secret that play-dough is part of childhood, especially with little ones when wet weather strikes.  Trying to keep it fresh and original, and ever-amusing can take a bit of effort on the parents part however.  I came up with one idea that made the girls think a bit harder about how to use a new packet of coloured clay, and that was to give them blue plastic plates and tell them to make a fish tank.  Now we were lucky enough to have one mould that makes fish, so making a fish for them was an easy way to get them in the mood.  They were then quick to add coral, seaweed, eels, bubbles, octopus and other more unique 'fish' the type of which science is yet to discover.

You could also tweak this idea and use plastic plates as a base to make ponds, cakes, pizzas, the view through a telescope or portal window of an alien space craft.  Think about what sort of moulds you have in your kit, what colour clay you have, what things your children like, and then look for plates to suit.

When it comes time to make the craft, don't just walk away (or at least not straight away), take a moment to ask them what kind of things they might expect to find in a fish tank / outer space / pizza pie, and give them some hints on how to fashion up said items.  Remember that the more successful they are at making things, the more satisfaction everyone is going to get out of the crafting journey.  Praise the good things, try not to over correct too much of the weird blobby things, although I'm a believer in gently helping them to improve things within reason from time to time (control freak that I may just possibly be), and even take a photo of some of the items they're most proud of before you pack it all away.

Most of all... you know it; have fun!
Linda x

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Craft Hospital

It's no secret that I'm blind to some things.  So happy was I about the clever little vet-hospital that my two preschool daughters had made, complete with sippy-bowls for the sick animals, waiting-rocking-chair, bandage-bed, and flower garden for them to recuperate in, I never really noticed all the leaves lying about the place.  For the briefest of moments that I did see them (such as the one lying on little Spot-the-dog's back), I just assumed that perhaps Little Lotti had pulled them off my faux-gardenia garland, and they would simply slot back on again later.  How nice.  Since they were playing so well together, what better time than this to go enjoy a hot cuppa and a flick through a pretty magazine.

Ever had one of those cups of teas?

The ones where you're blissfully relaxed, so pleased that the kids have found a way to amuse themselves quietly, without you, without eye-gouging each other or ruining the house?  Don't they just taste so good?  And if you're really lucky, you'll have a choc-mint biscuit hidden in the freezer like I do, already taken out of the wrapper, so they won't hear any crinkly-foody-noises to alert them; those biscuits will be just hiding up there on a shelf where the kids can't see and would never think to look... you'll sneak one out and ahhh....

And then the cuppa comes to an end, you lick you lips and smile to yourself as you get ready to tell a little white lie (we call them 'fibbles') when the children ask you why your breath smells minty; "well I brushed my teeth of course!"  Then you walk in to check on the kids....

And right about now you regret taking so long over your cup of tea...

The living room is a shambles.  The 'cute' and imaginative get-up you'd photographed before is now unrecognisable chaos.  That can be cleaned however.  What's worse, is that it turns out that the little snippy scissors I had loaned them to cut strips of masking tape to use as band-aids had also been used to snip the leaves off the gardenia garland.  Ok then.  No slotting those back on again.  Even a super glue gun would have a hard time with this one.  Darn it.  No one to blame but yourself and the cup of tea...

Breathe deep and remember that collaborative-play, imagination and self-expression is more important than cleanliness... and those leaves will come in handy one day (if you look closely at the Halloween pictures from yesterday's post you'll see they popped up a couple of times!)

The upside of the moment was that I was so busy ranting and raving under my breath, that no one dared get close enough to get suspicious about my choc-mint smell! x

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Halloween Ebook Now Available

It's no secret that it pays to be prepared.  That's why I'm launching the Halloween Craft and Activity Ebook NOW.  That gives you two full months to get your crafty stuff together - let's make this the easiest Halloween you ever had to plan for.

Whether your children are too cute to spook or right at that age where a boo-boo is no longer a mistake but a right royal freak out, there’s something about Halloween that brings out the meany in us all... For some reason, it’s ever so tempting to want to turn a corner and yell “AGH!” at someone just for the heck of it.  Halloween is really a frightfully good time... so get involved!  Being time-poor is no problem; the 45 pages of my ebook give you so many ideas and printable-templates, you don't have to look any further for help - it's all there; from invitations to keepsakes, food, decorations, games...

Regardless of whether you want your Halloween to be wicked or bewitching, devilishly clever or super creepy, there’s sure to be something in this ebook that catches your pumpkin’ lovin’ fancy... and if not yours - then the kids!

So go on, let’s get ready to spook...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Say Cheese Mustache

It's no secret that funny little unexpected things happen all the time when you have young children.  Perhaps they happen all the time, full stop, but you're just less likely to notice them being a mature adult and all.  A while ago at dinner, our 4 year old Mimi picked up a piece of cheese on her dinner plate and started to laugh as she went to bite it.  It turned out she had discovered it had a carrot mustache on the other side!  OK, so that hardly seems blog worthy, but it is.  In our house we celebrate all things quirky, clever, cute and crafty, and especially so if it's the girls who are using their imagination.

"Photo!  Quick, take a photo of her mustache!" said Mum, Dad and little sister, yet, as often does with kiddies, the message got a little garbled, and Mimi had a panic attack that we were trying to photograph her 'mustache-face' rather than her cheese, and threw a protective arm over her upper lip!

Brings a whole new meaning to "say cheese!"

So remember; pay attention, have fun, enjoy the small things, take photos and above all; say cheese! x

Monday, August 20, 2012

Choosing Entertainment at Childrens Parties

It's no secret that hiring help at a party makes sense.  We outsource plenty of other tedious parts of our life; why not entertaining our children!  Honestly.  I mean that in the nicest possible way.

For Mimi's 4th birthday last year Happy-Husband and I dressed up as a Pirate and Mermad and did our best to organise a few games, such as the pirate-v-mermaid tug-a-war  (see the pictures here).  Six months later when Little Lotti turned 3, Mimi and I hosted a much smaller gathering for Lotti's first ballet lesson, we decided to get a professional in.  The ballet teacher held a short lesson, did stretches, taught the girls some moves, and the guests all danced quite happily with her, content that this was something of a special treat (especially for those who had never had a ballet lesson before) and then the girls put on a short concert on a stage we had made behind plastic table cloths outside (pictures here).  The mothers meanwhile were equally content sitting in the garden sipping champagne.

I'm not saying that the outsourced entertainment was better than the do-it-yourself variety, but I do know that I got to sit down more when we paid someone else to be Lady-Fun.

Mimi recently went to a 5th birthday party where they had hired a magician and for at least 30 minutes he kept a large group of children (and their parents) amused.  The hosts had to do little other than circulate and chat to friends.  Nice.

Last year we went to a fairy party where a fairy hid in the cubby house and popped out to paint faces and sing songs.  The group of guests was smaller and younger, and again, the results were magical.

When inviting people to your party remember that people have an expectation to be entertained as well as fed.  

Whether you choose to have games, crafts or a performer is up to you, your venue and your budget, but something, even the simplest of things (such as our short game of tug-of-war or the ballet concert) brings a sense of cohesion to a party, it creates a moment around which all the guests come together, it's the perfect photo opportunity and it's also a sure way to make memories for the guest-of-honour.

So go on; make your next party memorable; and be entertaining; one way or another!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Making Amulets from Play Dough

It's no secret that we all need a little luck and protection sometimes.  Suspicious old ancestors used to wear or carry amulets and trinkets designed to ward off evil... but were they so old and superstitious?  Look around, and there's still plenty of people wearing plenty of protective talismans to bring them peace, symbols that remind them to be grateful, graceful, compassionate or kind.

While sculpting a blob of black play-dough the other day, Mimi fashioned herself her own good luck charm.

{Of course, that's my word for her craft, not hers.  She called it a biscuit, but it also looks a little like a hot cross bun... which gives me another idea for an Easter blog-post... but let's set these small details aside for a moment.}

Making amulets out of play-dough, would be a great party craft for tweens to get them in a historical mood.  Here's how to make an amulet from clay:
  • Hand out a lump of air-drying clay to each child.
  • Roll a ball.  
  • Flatten it into a disc.
  • Use sticks to poke holes around the edge or across the middle of the disc.
  • Add gold buttons or beads as the finishing touch.
  • Optional - poke a hole all the way through at the top so that it will be able to be worn on a ribbon as jewelry when it is dry.
  • Leave it to dry until the guest goes home, and encourage them to let it dry overnight before wearing or carrying it about.
Of course, you can do this yourself right now, party or no, and simply hand your children the remnants of marbled black-brown play-dough that was otherwise destined for the dump, and tell them to make biscuits... after all... who says that the occasional biscuit can't bring good luck?  

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Box Monsters

It’s no secret that the average household generates a fair amount of empty boxes, many of which end up in the trash.  Waste is one thing however that we crafters have a responsibility not to make!  There are lots of things that cardboard boxes can become; think robots, towers, cars, houses, and the contents for play-time grocery shops.  One of my all time favorites however, is the box monster.

What you’ll need to make a box monster: 

  • one medium sized cardboard box per child, 
  • glue, 
  • googly eyes, and 
  • an assortment of craft accessories to decorate the box with (wool, popsicle sticks, short pieces of tinsel and glitter are all good.)

To make your box monster: simply hand each child a box, and then let them at the craft station with the instruction to create!

The great thing about this craft project is that boys and girls both love it, children can learn about up-cycling, and it's good parent-training.  'Why?' I hear you ask.  Because as parents we can't help but open our mouth to offer suggestions when we watch them craft.  Of course we only want to teach our children and help them improve their artwork, but who says their work isn't perfect already.

The great thing about monsters is that the normal rules of 2 eyes, 2 ears, 1 mouth and so on don’t apply so their imaginations can run wild.  It means that you can (and should) sit on your hands, sip coffee and stay out of it; whatever they make is perfect.

When they're finished, remember not to praise it with hollow sayings such as; "how great," or "good job."  Sure, it's nice to say, and it will puff them up for a moment, but it doesn't go any further than that and even tiny ears can detect a brush off.  Try instead to ask questions, "ohhh... does your monster have a name?  Where does it come from?  Hold it up and show me how it moves, what sounds does it make?  Which bit is your favourite part?" and so on.  You'll get a much more engaging conversation, and you might have your first real belly-laugh of the day.

So go on; whether it's a space-party-craft, in preparation for Halloween, a rainy day something, or just because you can't bear to add more to local landfill; why don't you let your little monsters make box monsters of their own today!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Bead Tree

It's no secret that crafters often get in a groove... and there can be nothing sweeter than finding that rhythm that comes with the joyful repetition of doing something you like, something that works, over and over.  Think knitting, baking, quilling... so many crafts rely on repetition, and it's a good thing.  Mostly.  There are times however when routines can lead to ruts and that groovy groove turns into a quagmire.  'Am I still here?  Why is this taking so long?  How many more of these tricky treacherous thingamajigs have i got to do before I can call this craft project complete?!?#@?"

We've all had those moments, or at least I'm going to tell myself we have so I don't feel bad.  Sometimes they come from tackling a project a bit bigger than our current skill set, trying to do too much with too little time, or simply having a bad day.  It always comes from a bad attitude.  What to do?  Set it aside for a moment (how ever long you define 'moment' to be is up to you - in the case of my baby quilt craft fail it's been 5 years and I'm still waiting for the moment to pass), and try again.  Alternatively; have a paradigm shift and literally look at your craft in a different way - like children do - all the time, bless their uninhibited genius minds.

Mimi's preschool encourages them to make bracelets whenever they want, as beading is such a cool way to develop hand eye coordination in a passive way, that probably allows the teachers a moment (yes I use the word loosely and deliberately) of peace.  Thing is, Mimi loves to make them.  Last count we had, oh, a dozen of them.  They're not the sort you can string together with a ribbon, as I recently did and wear them as one, they're apparently too 'precious' to unstring and refashion into a necklace (just yet) and they are rather pretty on their shiny metal bands... so... the girls came up with a novel idea: a bead tree.

Being winter here, the trees are not as flush with flowers and fresh leaves as they might normally be, so they used the bracelets as pretty ornaments, hanging them like Christmas decorations from the tree in corner of the yard they refer to as their  'fairy garden' - perfect!

So next time you're in a crafty rut, think like a child, or ask one, if there's a different way you could be doing things... come to think of it, I might ask the girls if they can think of a better way to get Daddy's shirts flat for work... see ya. x

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Top Tips for Opening Subborn Lids

It's no secret that being crafty is a part of life, and like any muscle, the crafty-imagination muscle gets stronger the more you use it.  Which is why I think that I'm forever coming up with (albeit often quirky) ideas to fuel my daily blog posts.  Inspiration often seems to find me in the kitchen, (remember vegetable-stamps and shark-cutlery?) but it also comes as a matter of necessity.

Is it just me or are there some jars that have been sent to us by some demon manufacturer who never really intended us to open his product, ever?  I mean seriously.  I respect their commitment to fresh food, and I'm thrilled that their pop-top lid stays fastened while sitting on the supermarket shelf, on the ride home in my car boot, and again on my pantry shelf... but here's a funny thing; when it comes time to eat the food that's in the jar, I really, really, want to be able to open it!

What's a girl to do when she can't twist the lid, running it under hot water doesn't work, and the trying to lever it off with a knife trick only comes close to sending me to hospital?  Raid the craft draw that's what; mine and the kids.  Strangely, I've discovered two new tools perfect for opening stubborn lids:

1) Kids safety scissors; their blunt and rounded ends are wide and fat and wedge under the lid so that you can twist them safely to twist the rounded thingamajigs that release the vacuum pressure under the lid and loosen it slightly, and
2) Anti slip mats; I bought a roll of this stuff from the dollar store to experiment with making smaller place mats and other crafty things, but realised that a couple of smaller panels of 'non-slip' i.e. 'good-grip' was what I needed to turn the lid off.

So next time you're doing battle with a lid that won't budge, don't bash it... don't give in... don't wait for a strong man to come save you... get crafty and save yourself with a pair of safety scissors and the end of your yoga mat; and may the craft-force be with you girlfriend! x

Monday, August 13, 2012

Magic Mirror Biscuits

It's no secret that experimenting is the fastest way to discover what works and what doesn't.  When Mimi decided that she wanted a fairytale party in October I immediately started thinking up things I could make.  Yes.  I am that way inclined.  Yes.  I have even started making decorations (well, modifications to last year's modifications to be precise)... but that's another post!

When adding a plain oval biscuit to a play-date lunch box I looked at the shape and thought to myself; mirror.  How to make it look more like a mirror I wondered?  Blue icing and a frame.  Easy.  So easy in fact, that when the girls came home from preschool I asked them if they wanted to make one themselves.  Of course they did.

The results were yummy enough, but a word of warning; if you decide to do a decorate-a-cookie as a party-craft, it gets messy, there were a couple of scary moments with a knife-wielding three year old, and the notion of only putting chocolate candies around the perimeter of the biscuit was not going to happen (and why would you when there's a bowl full in front of you and you know that you're going to be able to eat the results!?!)

So then; mummy will be making magic mirrors for the princess-mermaid-fairy-tale party at the end of the year, and the children can content themselves with eating them!  Unless of course I have a change of heart... the party is an impossibly long way away after all, and only a wicked witch would begrudge her children the fun of making a mess... right?!?

PS - for those of you who noticed my absence; thanks... we've been sick... terribly sick... but we're back and at it now... so daily posts should be coming your way again, and the Halloween ebook should go out later this week as promised... in the meantime, the site-wide sale continues... take care people. x

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Exaggerate the Badness (with a 1960s Photo Booth)

It's no secret that not everything goes according to plan... ask Olympians... there's been tears and tantrums aplenty, and perhaps nowhere have I seen more of it than in the hurdles; which is poetic really; the mere name of the race so neatly sums up the Olympic journey from optimistic start to tiniest trip and tragic tumble, or of course, giant strides, high jumps, mad dashes, and air-pumps... wow.  I had to hold my breath when they raced; the adrenalin rush was overwhelming!

Craft can be the same.  Well ok, nowhere near the melodramatic adrenalin rush, but the poetic journey of optimistic start to successful conclusion or sad failure.  And the family photo shoot falls into that category too.  The reality is some photo-shoots simply work better than others.

Yesterday I blogged about how is having a competition (just for fun, there's no 'winners' in the gold medal sense (how refreshing!)) so I thought I'd share another quick photo-booth blog today... about when things don't go quite right, and more importantly, a quick way you can fix it.

I'm not a professional.  As much fun as I have photographing my kids and my crafts, many of my photos are taken on my phone, in poor lighting, without notice.  Hey, I'm a normal human being, I don't profess to be perfect.  But the great thing about the digital age is that you can tweak much of what you do.  And even if you can't tweak photos to be better than they are, because let's face it; you get out what you put in so to speak; there are ways that you can exaggerate the 'badness'.

One way to push poor photos a step towards making them look acceptable is to use a 'vintage' filter.  When my girls made and decorated paper crowns at their local play-group, I took photos.  Whilst my girls will always be beautiful to me, some shots were ok, many were not.  By applying the '1960s' filter the slightly blurry photos were suddenly aged and the rounded corners then added a welcome distraction when I made a photo-collage.  The result was a fun photo booth feel that makes me think of the simple pleasures and home-made crafts of my own childhood.

Next time you download your photos and don't like what you see, don't be too quick to hit delete.  Take a moment and play with them, you may not be able to work miracles, but you might be able to come up with a something fun... so go on; say it with me; "I am not perfect, and that's ok; when things go wrong, I too can exaggerate the badness!" x

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DIY Photo Booth Competition

It's no secret that when someone says, "we'd like to publish your ideas" it's always a lovely compliment... so of course I was thrilled when the photography community at asked me to write a series of articles on DIY craft ideas.  I opted to write a series using photos as the medium... makes sense right?

The first tutorial is one you may have read here before; the DIY Photo Booth.  The great news is that Lomography decided to use the project as a competition; simply follow the instructions on the tutorial and submit your photo; may the funniest cardboard-box-lid-photo-booth-photos win!

Read more here.

Good luck everyone; and stay in touch with my facebook page to see links to future tutorials that get published on the site.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Favourite Find: Silver Doilies

It's no secret that athletes undoubtedly go for gold when they go to the Olympics, but there is something about silver that I have always preferred... It's more mysterious, gentler, more feminine... that's how I see it in my mind anyway...

It's why I'm loving silver doilies and cupcake liners at the moment.  I used them a lot for Little Lotti's ballet party, and I'm still experimenting with them now.  Because they're more foil than paper they tend to fold and bend in different ways, for better or worse, and that can make them less forgiving, but their shimmer and shine more than makes up for their temperamental behaviour.

Which is more than I can say for some of the athletes at the moment... I have no doubt it must be heart breaking to come away with anything less than the top spot... but a little bit of humility goes a long way... save the boo-hoo's for the post-game analysis and have the good grace to congratulate those who beat you on the day.... that's how I see it in my mind anyway...

Stay crafty people. x

(PS - the monthly newsletter goes out tomorrow, so go to the 'subscribe' tab at the top of the blog or on the web page if you haven't already - and don't forget the store wide sale is on through August so you can stock up on your printpapers and ebooks!)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gingerbread Athletes

It's no secret that gingerbread biscuits are cute, and if the story is true; they're fast little fellows too.  Well, in the spirit of the Olympic Games, I thought it only fitting that his "nah-nah-you-can't-catch-me" refrain should probably be rewarded with a Gold Medal... (not that I condone his smarty-pants chit-chat mind you, it got him bit on the tushy remember, but I do admire his need for speed!)

Why don't you bake up a set of gingerbread people, grab some icing pens, draw on some swimmers or shorts, give them some smiling faces and of course some chocolate button medals - they're fast, funny, and best of all; yummy!

And when the Olympics are over, you can pop these little people into plastic bags for a sports carnival treat, a school fund raiser, or fabulous fete stall... just change the shorts to match the school uniform colours, and be sure to write clever labels like; "I'm a winner," "We're all winners," or "Gold Medal Effort" to go on the bags.

Enjoy! x

(PS - don't forget that to celebrate turning one, is having a store wide sale for the month of August - with 40to50% of everything - Yay!)

Thursday, August 2, 2012


It's no secret that I started Partycraft Secrets in amongst the busy buzz of the Internet world in the humble hope that it might be a single-source resource for time-poor parents looking for craft inspiration, to assist them in planning their children's parties, and simply to provide some daily motivation to craft with their children or experiment with new techniques or materials for the sole satisfaction of improving themselves.

Well.  If you can believe it; it's now been almost one full year since went live giving away how-to guides, free art-downloads for kids, and selling ebooks, filled with party planning ideas, printable templates, colouring in sheets, make'n'take projects, and boredom busting activities you can do with toddlers through teens...


And to celebrate this fantastic milestone, I'm holding a STORE WIDE SALE 
Absolutely every product is on sale!!

That includes the brand new printpaper releases, added yesterday; Halloween, Baby Shower and Movie Magic.

All printpaper packages were $5.50 are now $3.50.
All ebooks were $19.50 are now $9.50.
The customised silhouette package (featuring your own family faces) is reduced from $50 to $25.

Prices are in Australian dollars, so the new prices equate to about:
US $3.66 / $9.92 or EURO $2.99 / $8.11 or Canadian $3.68 / $9.98

Payments are processed by Paypal and the ebooks and printpapers are sent to you digitally so you can start using them straight away.

If you're not sure whether it's something you can use; experiment with the FREE printpapers on the site, have a look at the images from other real parties to see what ideas and prtinables they used (ballet / mermaid) or be bold, buy one, and experiment...

In case you're wondering: the best sellers this year have been The Jungle Ebook and the Ballet Printpaper.

So go on everyone - help me celebrate my first birthday and stash up on some crafty goodness this month in preparation for Halloween, Christmas, Valentines, or just because it's fun to be one!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Best in Show Ribbons

It's no secret that watching the Olympics on television with your children is a great learning opportunity.  My daughters have discovered many new sports, learnt terms like gold, silver, bronze, and even begun to better understand the concepts of first, second and third.  Talking about the importance of trying, team spirit, sportsmanship, fair-play, and many more concepts of ideal human behaviour can be discussed in an easy way.

Of course it also comes with it's fair share of perils.  Commercials are one of them.  My children usually watch "baby-tv" so are not exposed to mainstream advertising.  You can guess how wide-eyed they were when they watched their first fast-food or soft-drink adds.  Then there's the news break.  Ouch.  They're always short, but they're never sweet.  I'm never quite fast enough with the remote, and whilst as adults we are used to seeing certain images, such as fairly graphic car-wrecks, my girls are not.

The other trouble with watching the Olympics came unexpectedly.  I was talking about "see how good those girls are?  You could be like that too one day.  You just have to want it really bad and work really hard at it, and, and..."   And they got the idea.  Only they got it better than I expected.  So when the Queen's granddaughter came riding out on her dashing horse, Mimi turned to me and said; "that's what I want to do for the Olympics - so now I need a pony, so I can ride it all day every day to become really good."

It's always so humbling to be trumped by a four year old.

After explaining our back yard wasn't big enough for a showjumping pony, I reminded them they already had pretend-ponies, and we went and made ribbons for them to go with the medals they had made a little earlier (see yesterday's post).  Disillusioned, Mimi decided she wanted to become a beach volleyball player instead, but Little Lotti was content to run around the house with her best-in-show pony, happily scratching the walls as she went.

If you want to make a similar ribbon - all you need is a cupcake liner, a shiny paper star, and a piece of coloured paper.  Trim the paper to look like a ribbon and stick it on the back of the cupcake liner, and stick the star to the front.  We made a roll of sticky tape to put the ribbon on the horse.  All done.

These would be the perfect pony party-craft for kids to make, or for you to put on keepsakes, party bags, or decorate with...

Ahhhh parenting... fun and games. x

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