Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pizza Art

It's no secret that kids like pizza, and they like it even more when they make it themselves.  Children love to exercise a little bit of control over their lives, which are generally governed by big people, and what better way than choosing what to eat... within reason of course.

When we make pizzas as a family, we put what they can eat out on the bench-top and then let them pick and choose from our selection.  I call it 'the art of controlled choice,' and I've blogged about it before when the girls were making a pretend-pond on a mat.

If you want to have pizza too, set a good example and rather than just scattering the ingredients on top of your pizza, show them how easy it is to turn a pizza base into a canvas, and craft a face, landscape or treasure map.  Be sure to set an even better example and EAT what you make.

Best wishes for Halloween everybody - have fun and don't eat too much candy!
Linda.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Making Macaroni Necklaces Classy

It's no secret that I aim to make classy craft.  As a prerequisite to starting this new venture I promised myself there were two things I would never craft with, never, ever.  The first is the toilet roll.  Yes, they are plentiful and up-cycling is a good way to save the planet  but I'm sorry, those things have spent their whole life right next to the toilet and heaven forbid they might have been splashed or fingered or worse.  Yuck.  I can't tell you how ill I feel when I see the humble toilet roll turned into a decoration that sits on a dinner plate.  I don't care how many layers of crepe paper it's covered in people; do you really want loo-water in your dinner, even indirectly?  Eww.

(And yes - I know that I may have just lost many of you who have done this - I'm sorry - I really am - but this is one thing I can not not abide by - call it a phobia of mine, but there is some rubbish I can't handle... literally... Happy-Husband will confirm I am also particularly squeamish when it comes to bin-juice.)

The second item I predetermined was decidedly un-classy was the macaroni necklace.  And yes, I was that specific in my dislike.  Macaroni as a craft item; maybe.  As a necklace; no.

Imagine my dilemma when Little Lotti bought one home from preschool as my Mother's Day present.  (If you're wondering why it took me so long to post about the necklace it's not because it took a long time to build up the courage, it's because I accidentally lost the necklace.  Of course Freud and the Master-Turtle out of Kung Fu Panda both say "there's no such thing as accidents" so you can see my aversion is strong enough to subconsciously sabotage my own wardrobe!)

What to do?  Adjust.  Adapt.  Break my own rules (well this one at least - the first one - never - sorry - but never).  Time to get crafty.  Yes - I'm a bad mother - but I had to do it; I re-crafted my daughter's craft present as soon as she gave it to me.  I couldn't bring myself to wear it as it was, even though it was coloured macaroni which made it better than most.  Anyway; I'm rambling; breaking the rules has that effect on me... I added a velvet ribbon bow and a flower brooch and tried my darndest to make it more classy and then wore it down the street with squeamish pride.

Ok then; I've got my parenting moment off my chest - so to speak.
So do your worst; start sending that hate mail... unless of course you've been tempted to refashion preschool gifts yourself!
Linda.

PS - I'm the Monday Mumpreneur over on Reverie Coaching site - check it out and get the lowdown on what else makes me tick: http://www.reveriecoaching.com/2012/10/mumpreneur-monday-partycraft-secrets/ and pick up some great mumpreneur advice on setting up / expanding your own business from the other mumpreneurs on the blog, or Kathryn herself.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

DIY Hair Extension (for kids)

It's no secret that Rapunzel is a fascinating fairytale.  Whether you read the 'old fashioned' ones or know her through recent movie appearances, the plot and characters change slightly, but one thing remains the same - her long hair!

My girls fell in love with the idea of Rapunzel from the start, and some time ago, when I saw a mousy coloured ball of wool in a discount-store's sale-bin I decided to buy a roll and turn it into a hair extension.

As I have to make two of everything in my house, I went for a short-cut version.  You could easily improve upon it with the addition of a better (more subtle or more decorative) fixing system for attaching the hair extension to the child's hair.

Here's how to make your own play-time hair extension for kids:

  • Buy an affordable ball of wool that matches your children's hair colour (mine should have been a darker brown for sure.)
  • Pull the wool out and measure it against your child so that it is long, but not too long, and then lie that length on the floor.
  • Creating an oval shape, keep looping length on length upon the floor until you have about 10-12 loops onto top of each other in the shape of a big oval-loop.
  • Cut the end of the wool off the ball.
  • Place something round and heavy such as a small can, inside one end of the loop.
  • Cut a short length of wool and with the big loop wrapped around the can, tie it off to make a small circle at one end.
  • Remove the can.
  • You can now cut through the other end of the big-loop so that you have about 20-24 strands of loose hair.
  • Using the little loop, hang it over a door handle (or a lamp as I did), divide the hair into 3 sections and start braiding the hair into a plat.
  • Use a normal hair elastic to fix the bottom of the plat closed.
  • Take the hair extension off it's resting place and thread a head band through the little-loop or simply use the little-loop to hook over pony-tails.

The girls had a great game playing on the chairs and bunk beds, locking each other in castles, hanging their hair down to rescue teddy-bears, and generally playing in front of the mirror admiring  their new 'glamorous' selves.

This easy costume accessory would be fine for any princess or mermaid party, and even a last minute Halloween costume if you made it in black and stuck it under a witches hat!

Have fun and let your long locks shine!
Linda.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dress up drama

It's no secret what makes a good dress-up costume is a personal affair.  When Mimi was invited to a fifth birthday party the invitation included a slightly famous cowgirl.

"How exciting," I sad to Mimi, "you could wear your denim dress and some boots, with Daddy's sombrero and take your ride-on-unicorn as your date... I mean horse."

"No," she replied," I'm going to be a cowgirl-princess."

The costume she finally settled on was anything but cowgirl-anything.  She wore her mermaid-birthday-party-dress from last year, teamed with one of my free ebook printable crowns, and at the last minute left the unicorn behind... if anything she looked like a 1920's flapper dancing away in our living room, all swing and attitude, and not a pony in sight...

(To make your own crown - simply pop across to the Partycraft website and download the free ebook - the crown template is on page 44.)

Was she worried when she arrived at the party and found cowgirls a plenty?  Did she look squeamish when she sat down at the table covered in cowboy hats and denim-colored napkins?  Not a bit.  Aside from the usual anxiety of arriving in a new house, surrounded by unfamiliar faces, she was still a cowgirl-princess in her mind, and I'm pretty sure that as far as she was concerned, if you couldn't see that, you just weren't using your imagination.   Fair enough too.  Dress-up is all about imagination, and being something all together different for a moment in time.

Hooray and howdy to all you mermaidy, flapper, cowgirl, princesses out there!

And good luck everyone with Halloween trick-or-treating right around the corner - make the costume-fairies be good to you - especially if you went all out and made costumes this year!
Linda.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Amazing Birthday Cakes

It's no secret that Nana's are super-cool.   Many of them can sew like professionals, bake dinners like nobody else, craft like legends, and are a wealth of wisdom on everything from thumb-sucking to detecting chickenpox.

They're also very good at babysitting!  Happy-husband and I went to a wedding yesterday (so beautiful!) and in order to have the day off to go watch the ceremony we needed Nana's help.  The girls had a wonderful time... and truth be told are still there this morning as I type this blog post... I'll go get them soon... after one more kid-free cup of coffee... promise.

Nana's can also create truly incredible cakes!  We went to a party recently for two siblings turning 5 and 1 who shared a lovely little joint house-party.  It was a wonderful party in plenty of ways, but what I most want to write about is the cakes!  The cakes were wow!!  (Have I put in enough !!!s in to give you an idea of how in awe I was of these cakes?)

We don't cook deserts in our house.  We do have cook-books, and I try hard to follow the recipe, as does my husband (who's much better than me at baking, although he did have some scones that required a call to the poison-hotline... truly!)  Somehow however all the sweet things I bake are always 'ok' but nothing very special.  I've been told that the trick is to practice, and to really get to know your oven so you can tweak the baking times, as minutes more or less can make all the difference... hmm... I'm ok with the idea of practice, but what do I with all the practice cakes?  (Yes I know, I know; I could eat them, but that's a heck of a lot of Zumba I'd have to do to work off all the mistakes I might make.)

Anyway - what I did realise as I scrutinised the glorious (and delicious) cakes is that a lot of their glory was in the 'jazzing-up' of the cakes, and that I could do.  So for Mimi's 5th birthday I'm going to build a castle.  Yep.  I've put it out there, I'm going to try it.  I'll probably buy the big cake and I'll definitely purchase some of those jam rolls to put on the sides as turrets, and ice-cream cones as spires... I can do this.  I can.  Can't I?

Sure I can... and if it doesn't work out, Mimi's only 5, so she and her friends won't noticed if it's all wonky and lopsided would they?  Maybe.  But anyway, I'm gonna do it... what could possibly go wrong?

Besides... if I can't live up to the incredibly high qualities of all the Nana's of the world; there's always a nice little shop that I know down the road...

Keep baking people - it's all about practice (apparently!) - and don't forget to give your Nana a hug,
Linda.

PS - feel free to post links to the spectacular cakes you've made in the comments below or on facebook! Sharing is caring!  : )


Friday, October 19, 2012

Through the Looking-glass

It's no secret that children have vivid imaginations and that simple things can open up a whole new vista.  While helping Mummy put the dishes away, Mimi (whose almost 5) decided to have a play with 2 plastic cups.  It wasn't what I was hoping for, it certainly wasn't helping me clear my kitchen bench, but... it did remind me of a quote from Alice in Wonderland:

“In another moment Alice was through the glass, and had jumped lightly down into the Looking-glass room.”

The great thing about this experimental activity is that she discovered a few things all on her own; 
  • when you put coloured plastic over your eyes the world changes colour;
  • when you put plastic cups over your ears the world sounds different; 
  • when you bang cups together end to end, side to side or opening to opening they make different sounds, and those sounds change again when your hands are inside the cups;
  • when you speak into a cup your voice sounds different;
  • when you look at yourself in the mirror you can make yourself into all sorts of strange creatures such as 'robots' 'cats' and 'aliens'.
Mummy went from being a little flustered that putting the dishes away was taking longer than expected, but ended up enraptured watching her little experiment unfold... gotta love the unexpected!

(And the activity could be very useful as a game for an upcoming Halloween party if I organise a few more orange and green cups for everyone to play with!)

As always, Mimi helps me learn another lesson; housework can wait - enjoy the moment!
Agree?  
Linda.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Would you recognize a symmetrical you?

It's no secret that I have a terrible habit of reading something and then rushing off to try it.  Well today is no exception.  As I was reading a business related website, my eye caught an article about creativity, and of course I had to go have a look.  At the bottom of that blog post, was another 'you might like this' link, the title of which was something along the lines of "would you recognize a symmetrical version of yourself?"  Instead of getting on with the business of running my web-business, or finishing the Christmas ebook as I'm supposed to be doing today, or even reading the article about a symmetrical-you, I closed down the Internet and decided to have a go at making my own symmetrical face... yuck!

One of the hardest things to do is to find a photograph where you (or your family member) is looking straight into the camera; almost all the photos I have of my family, we're looking slightly left or right.

The next big problem in the process is that we almost all tip our heads to the side.  I'm especially bad, and seem to have a permanent lean almost all the time.

If you want to have a try at doing it yourself here's what to do:

  • Find a photo that's as straight-on as possible.
  • Copy and paste it onto a blank page in Powerpoint.
  • Show the grid and rotate your picture as best you can so that your eyes are horizontal, and there is a straight line running between your eyes, down your nose, and through the middle of your front two teeth.
  • Now copy and paste a duplicate of the picture beside the original.
  • Using the crop tool, come across and trim right up to the middle-line of the face (again use the middle of the front two teeth as a guide line).
  • Now copy and paste the half-shot of your face.
  • Rotate the pasted version so that it is a mirror image.
  • Push the new piece up against the original piece so you have a whole face.

When you do the same step with the opposite half of your face, you'll get a whole new version of a new you.

My daughter's 5 year old face seems reasonably symmetrical... but I'm still not sure I'd recognize her on the street... she's not 'my baby' anymore!

My face is, well... agh!  I don't know whether it's my face or the photo that's not straight, but either way, the new me is either wider or skinnier!  It doesn't help that the original photo (in the middle for both Mimi and me) is not as nice as Mimi's... hmmm... okay, that's a lame excuse!

Never mind... in the wider version of me, I can still recognize 'me' which was the idea behind the exercise... intriguing!

What about you?  Are you brave enough to give it a go?
Linda.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Rainbow Party

It's no secret that good things exist over the rainbow - perhaps that's why it's such a popular party theme.  It's certainly one of my favourites.  The great thing about selecting "Rainbow Party" as your theme is that almost all your decisions are automatically made for you from that moment on; everything can be multi-coloured, and to a certain extent that means almost anything can go.

My daughters Mimi and Lotti went to a Rainbow Party a few weeks ago in a hire-hall where much of the party is done for you.  It came fully furnished and with a Fun Fairy as host (with helpers) - nice!

  • Decorations - included rainbow coloured streamers and multi-coloured fake-daisies in a row of different coloured glass vases.
  • Tableware - was a pretty rainbow striped table runner with plenty of multi-coloured plastic plates and cups all mixed up with different coloured cupcake liners (used to hold popcorn) and serviettes.
  • Activities - were varied, and included a lot of free-play in the garden, but there was also dancing with rainbow ribbons, a musical-walk to rainbow-themed music, an obstacle course on multi-coloured items, and a treasure hunt using multi-coloured balls.
  • Food - the highlight of the party (aside from the beautiful smile on happy birthday girl's face) had to be the incredible rainbow cake baked by the birthday girl's daddy - wow!

If you have a party coming up and haven't come up with a theme, or don't think you need one - I highly recommend "Rainbow" as a clever way to introduce lots of colour, fun and structure to the day.  It's perfect for a boy or girl, and can be adjusted to suit any age.

Go on - have your party somewhere over the rainbow.... Linda!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Cinderella's Lost Slipper

It's no secret that Cinderella lost her slipper... and we can all relate right?  Running around, a million things to do, hurry, hurry, trip on the stairs... it happens to me all the time... of course my slippers are made of humble woolly-stuff not glass... but hey.

As my eldest daughter Mimi is due to turn 5 in a couple of weeks, we're all focused on princessy-things at our house, in preparation for her Fairytale party.  I've been a bit secretive so far, partly because I always like doing a post-party reveal, and because we're still making things, and I have nothing finished to blog about.

The main idea this year is centred around 'worlds' as Mimi calls them.  here's just a few that we've designed so far in sketch format:
  • 'water-world' is under the stairs for where mermaids would live and will be all blues and greens.
  • 'pirate-land' is going to be in the corner of the living room on the black couch.
  • 'princess-palace' will be created from a small tent hung over a pile of cushions in another corner of the living room.
  • 'smack-down-castle' will be "somewhere" subject to Daddy's approval (we're yet to tell him about this one), but the girls and I have painted the brand names off about a dozen cardboard boxes with house paint, and I've added 'stone' markings onto them.  They now look like giant building blocks, and at the end of the party the kids can crash them and crush them...

Weather permitting, we'll also have a couple of outdoor worlds;
  • 'jacks-bean-stalk' will be made out of the rope swing in our garden and a few extra touches around, and
  • 'the gingerbread house' cubby house will get a make over.

We're hoping that the downstairs area of the house will end up like a carnival, and the children can roam about making new friends, trying new activities (one per world) and then eat, eat and eat some more...

It's all good in theory, now I just have to make it happen... but first, I might have a cuppa and a choc-mint biscuit... hmmm... all I need is a pair of slippers!

Linda!

PS - don't forget there's plenty of princess party stationary for you to print out, as well as craft and activities in a Princess Party PDF ebook - all over on the Partycraft Secrets website - have fun people!


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Party-Pancakes

It's no secret that little people need big boosts of energy from time to time, and that they also love helping you make the food they eat... the big problem is that when they're tired and hungry is not always the best time to let them help out.  Unless of course you go the party-pancake option!

Here's how to make a great party-snack:

  • Place ready made (or bought) pikelets or mini-pancakes on a platter.
  • Place chopped-strawberries and blueberries in small bowls.
  • Hand each child a plate and a flower-shaped candy.
  • Tell them to assemble their creation and help them top with syrup.
  • Stand back and watch them eat!

The great thing about this quick treat is that it's sweet without being too bad for them to eat, and you can also moderate the volume of their intake based on their age.  Best of all, it's fast so you don't get any sad faces or temper tantrums while someones missing a turn stirring, sifting or waiting for something to 'ding' in the oven.

Sometimes being crafty with your family is about finding fun and healthy shortcuts that still look classy!

Enjoy.
Linda.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Dressing-up in Halloween Decorations

It's no secret that little kids loving dressing up... just not always in ways that you can predict.  I've written before about how Tuesday is our play date day at the local church hall, and that it also doubles as our go-crazy in the dress-up department, but today's choice of ballerina-mermaid-princess was unusual even for my girls!

When we got home the intention was to hang a couple of Halloween decorations to play with... but the girls ended up wearing them!

Here's how to make your own Halloween Dress-up / Decorations:

  • Purchase small orange paper lanterns (& construct them if they arrive flat-packed).
  • Carefully draw a jack'o'lantern face onto the lantern using a permanent marker.
  • Use a orange or green dollar-store necklace to attach to the lantern (we use these all the time to hang our lanterns as they are pretty and light, and sparkle in the sunshine!)
  • Now hang the lantern from a fixing point, or around your neck!

Gotta love pumpkin' lovin' kids and their quirky imaginations!

Have fun people,
Linda.


PS - don't forget you can get Halloween Printable Party Stationary or more spooky ideas in the fun Halloween Craft & Activity Ebook !!


Monday, October 8, 2012

Halloween Lollipops 4 Ways

It's no secret that Halloween is all about how much candy you can eat... oh, excuse me, it's not?  Silly me... that's what my kids told me it was all about and circumstantial evidence seems to point to them being at least partially correct... hmmm...

Regardless, Halloween is at least partially about candy, and one of the most fun candies ever invented is the lollipop.

So here's 4 super-fast, and affordable crafty ways to trick-up 'boring' lollipops into Halloween treats:


  • Ghostly-ghouls: Take round-ball lollipops, (cover the brand names if required), and wrap them in calico or pale coloured tissue paper, then use a rubber band to hold the cover in place.  Glue googly eyes on and draw a grizzly mouth if desired.
  • Pumpkin-lovin' fun: Buy an orange coloured swirly lollipop and then tape a big green (real or fake) leaf to the base; (but be sure to take a photo fast; mine got ripped off before I had a chance to take my happy snap!) 
  • Alien-eye party-hats: Look for pom-pom shaped round lollipops (covered in clear wrappers), and then gently push them into the top of conical party hats (mine protruded slightly because the plastic wrappers came down the lollipop stick; you may want to trim the wrappers, or push your pops in more, but my daughters enjoyed the way the alien-eyes wriggled and jiggled).
  • Fairy-flower wands: If you can find them, candy canes are the perfect lollipop to trick-up as flower-wands for pretty trick or treaters.  Simply use double sided tape to add a fabric flower and a sparkly gem to the end of the candy-cane.  If you can't find them, then attach a flat lollipop to the front of a magic wand, and tie it in place with a ribbon.


These fun edible crafts are fun as table-settings, invitations or keepsakes, and can be altered to suit any party theme or colour scheme (think circus, space, fairy or Christmas.)  They can be made ahead of time, or at the party by your guests as make and take party-craft...

So go on; have fun this Halloween and put some tricky treats on your to do list!
Linda.

: )

PS - don't forget you can get Halloween Printable Party Stationary or more spooky ideas in the fun Halloween Craft & Activity Ebook !!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Halloween Printable Party Stationary

It's no secret that Halloween is almost upon us... so just a gentle reminder that to help you make it as simple as possible, there is a set of Halloween printable party stationary available on my store over at Partycraft Secrets, which includes templates for invitations, pennants, bag tags, food flags and much more... print, cut and create!

While you're there, have a look at the other party themes, and see if there isn't another design you can use the stationary for in a creative way - for $5.50 there's bound to be a clever way to get inspired.  (You can see some of the ideas other mums have used in the Gallery on the website or the Testimonials page on this blog.)

Also - there's still a little time left in the Craft Gossip GIVEAWAY of the Halloween Ebook - so pop across and leave a comment saying you're a follower of the blog and facebook and you're in with a chance!

Lastly; don't forget that Partycraft Secrets has some of it's favourite graphics on t-shirts (for adults, kids and babies) and as stickers over on Red Bubble including a pumpkin and bat one for Halloween so that you can go all out this year and make Halloween a true family affair!

Good luck everyone - I'm off to swelter in some unseasonable HOT Spring weather down under, while trying to convince my daughters that a day at home doing 'nothing' is the height of holiday pleasure!
Linda. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Going Crazy at the Circus

It's no secret that school holidays are exciting times.  My daughters are only at preschool, but as the school operates in alignment with the state's school calendar, it means that my youngsters are 'on holiday' from their strenuous pre-school syllabus!  So far, in the 10 days that they've been on holiday we've been to the circus, seen 10 of their 11 cousins, been to their grandparents farm (where there has been countless daily activities), been to 2 parties, with a couple more to go... and still, every day there's the mantra; "What do we get to do today?  I think I'm getting bored... you have to do something FUN with us Mum to show us you love us!"

Parents around the world know I'm not joking.  You go to great lengths (and often great cost) to entertain them, only to be rewarded with a spectacular temper tantrum as a result of them getting fatigued and over-stimulated... so then you give them a 'day off' where they get to spend some time playing with toys in their room, or simply cruising in the back yard... only to be told that you're a mean mother.

Mimi (who's almost 5) complained that lunch today was below-average for holiday fare (having recently had more than her fair share of take-away and party food).  When I suggested she might prefer dirt, she burst into tears and said; "you want me to eat dirt and die?"  No.  That's not really what I meant... sigh.

Guess I better consider a movie, or a DVD, or another party to redeem myself... luckily for me; a good afternoon at the library picking out books, followed by a craft-session involving gloopy-glue usually makes me Top Mum again!

Hope you're doing well wherever you are... and if you are in Holiday mode and going slightly stir crazy  - check out an ebook or other digital-download craft to fill in an afternoon over on the Patycraft Secrets website!

Lots of dirt-free-love...
if you know what I mean...
Linda.
: )


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