16 articles Articles posted in Crafts

The Sticker Club – Review

I’m pretty sure that if you were to perform an MRI on Sausage, you’d see that half of her internal organs were actually plastered with stickers. The kid LOVES stickers. A quick stroll around our house reveals stickers stuck to various surfaces and Sausage loves nothing more than choosing a special sticker for her Dad or I with which to adorn our possessions. Up until recently, my Cath Kidston purse had a rainbow unicorn on it and my laptop is sporting a stripy Furby! When The Sticker Club got in touch and asked if we’d like to review their weekly subscription service, I knew I couldn’t say no. The Sticker Club

Each week, 9 sheets of original stickers turn up in a striking yellow envelope, and I have to admit, even get excited about seeing what’s going to be in there each week! All of the stickers are original Sticker Club designs and the package is addressed directly to the child, so that get that lovely little thrill of getting something for themselves in the mail.

Sausage’s imagination has been stimulated wonderfully by the stickers; she’s constantly making pictures around the images, sticking them onto paper and using pens, pencils, crayons and paint to turn them into a full-on piece of art and the designs are so wonderfully quirky. I also love the fact that there’s no ‘girls stickers’ or ‘boys stickers’ – every pack includes gender neutral stickers which appeal to all kids. Sometimes there’s football and aliens, back to back with flowers and adorable fruit people, but all of the stickers are well designed and attractive to everyone.

There are various subscription options, starting at £1.99 a week and also gift options if you wanted to give The Sticker Club for a birthday or Christmas. I actually think an annual subscription would make a brilliant gift as it’s something which would last for a whole year and would keep on giving, rather than being something which ends up forgotten, at the bottom of the toy box.

I’m genuinely impressed with The Sticker Club; every package has arrived on a Monday without fail, all of the stickers are well designed and unique, and they’re perfect for stimulating little imaginations. Once our complimentary subscription period is over, Husband and I will definitely be subscribing to this for Sausage – and there’s even a sibling subscription option, too so perhaps in a few years BB will get her very own subscription too!

As for the lady herself, here’s what Sausage had to say about it all: “I think it’s exciting and they do brilliant sticker pictures. There’s nothing I’d change about it at all! The stickers are cool and I love getting things in the post. “

High praise indeed!

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas Papercrafts

I must admit, although I like the look of the pristinely decorated, highly co-ordinated Christmas trees and decorations that you see on telly and in department stores, my style at home is a little more…well, homely.

As I mentioned in this post, each year Sausage and I make a new set of decorations to add to our collection and my hope is that by the time I’m old and grey, I’ll have a full set of home-made decorations and won’t need to use any shop-bought ones at all. I also think that, unless you’re the sort of person who’s organised enough to buy their decorations in the January sales, Christmas decorations can be ridiculously expensive by the time you get to December, but by that time you’re a captive audience and have no choice to stump up for over-priced pieces of plastic, for fear of having a naked tree!

Sausage and I love to think of new Christmas papercrafts and this year we’ve made a few things which are totally inexpensive to make as well as looking really sweet, and also incorporate a bit of upcycling, which everyone loves, so we thought we’d share our ideas with you. These are great to get the kids involved with and will mean that you won’t have to spend a fortune on top of the ridiculous amounts that most of us spend on presents.

Snowman Chains

Snowman Chains

We drew ours by hand and then drew the eyes, nose, mouths and buttons on to look like coal and a carrot, but there are also some excellent templates online if you have a look around (like these ones on Pinterest) All you need is some plain paper, some sellotape and coloured pens or pencils, all of which most people have lying around. We used plain A4 which we folded in half, then in half again and in half again, and Sausage was fascinated by the fact that they were all attached once cut out! (by the way, I’m aware that one of my snowmen is missing a nose and an eye – I couldn’t use felt pen on sellotape and besides, we’re an equal opportunities household!)

Upcycled Wrapping Paper Chains

Upcycled  wrapping paper chains

Every year, I go out and buy those paper chain kits with the specially cut metallic paper with the sticky bits on the ends for Sausage and I to make and every year, without fail, the sticky bits fail and we end up taping it all together. This year, my mother in law had some spare Christmas wrapping paper from last year, which I cut into strips and then taped together in a chain. It looks wonderfully festive, it didn’t cost a penny and it made use of some paper which was a little tatty around the edges and would otherwise have been thrown away. Christmas 1 – 0 Landfill!

Stocking Bunting

Stocking Bunting

This one is devilishly simple and even really tiny kids could get involved, providing they can hold a crayon! All we did was take some A5 pieces of paper, draw a simple stocking shape and then cut a pile of them out at once to get them all the same shape and size. Sausage obliged by colouring them in and then we strung them together by taping cotton between them.

Paper Snowflakes

Paper Snowflake

These paper snowflakes just use white paper and sellotape or staples, and are easy to make one you get the hang of it, but look really pretty. I did a tutorial for how to make these last year, so I won’t repeat myself, but one thing I did do differently this year was to use pinking shears to make the cuts, which added a really nice effect to them and make them look even prettier. I was also thinking about investing in some glitter spray to make them *pop* even more.

Christmas Craft – Woollen Baubles

Every year, Sausage and I make a new set of decorations for the tree, just about a dozen or so to add to the current collection and each year I try to do something different with her. Last year we made some plaster of Paris models which she painted and the year before was salt dough, but this year I wanted something completely different. My good friend Jamillah posted one of her Pinterest finds on Facebook and I thought we’d try to recreate the effect for our tree, and I’m really chuffed with the results so I thought I’d share them with you!

What you’ll need:

What You'll Need

  • Wool – we bought some small offcuts from Ebay, which were about £3 for a bag.
  • PVA glue
  • Saucer or tray for glue
  • Small balloons or water balloons

Method:

  • Place a splodge of glue onto your saucer or tray
  • Take a balloon (we used water balloons as they’re the perfect size) and blow it up to the rough size of a bauble.
  • Tie a small piece of wool around the knot of the balloon for hanging to dry
  • Snip off a piece of wool about 12 inches long
  • Drag the wool through the PVA glue
  • Wrap the sticky wool around the balloon
  • Repeat the process again with another piece of wool
  • Hang the baubles to dry (we snipped slots into a long piece of cardboard and slid the balloons into it, before hanging them off of the edge of a desk)
  • Once the baubles are completely dry (we gave ours about three hours), snip the knot carefully off of the balloon with a pair of scissors. The balloon should deflate but the wool bauble should spring back to shape once the balloon is removed
  • Tie a piece of coordinating wool at the top of the bauble in a loop, for hanging on the tree

woollen baubles

And there you have it! Super easy, rather messy but the results are really worth it in the end. I think these baubles look really unique and effective and I’m really pleased with how they look on the tree. We used wool with a glittery strand running through it (although I can’t take a picture which does the glittery strand justice!) but you could also roll them in glitter before they dry, or even use a little bit of snow spray on the bottoms once they’re dry.

Model Making Gives Kids a Real Sense of Achievement

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Commissioned Post

Model making is something that children used to do a lot of, and kits which produce planes, trains and animals were once part of every child’s toy box.

A recent reliance on technology has meant that parents are opting to give their young ones a tablet computer or smart phone to play on, but nothing compares to the interactive nature of modelling kits.

An engaging activity

Kids can really engage with something that they make themselves from scratch. Anyone who ever put together something knows that real sense of satisfaction you get the job done.

Concentration skills can be learnt

Concentration is often something that parents talk about their children lacking and it’s an important skill that they’re expected to have mastered by the time they start school.

Putting a model together can really help hone a young child’s ability to concentrate, which will stand them in good stead both now and in the future.

Helping with dexterity

Some model kits are quite tricky, but they make great children’s gifts and are rated by age, so as long as you buy something relevant to your child’s developmental stage, they should be able to cope with it.

The National Toy Council states that model construction and building is a great way to build a child’s dexterity, and that’s important for many different skills including writing.

Cognitive skills

If someone describes a toy as educational it can be off-putting. No one wants to feel that they’re giving their child a gift which won’t be fun, but the two are not mutually exclusive. The National Toy Council is keen to point out that making models is a great way to hone a child’s cognitive skills.

When they’re in the middle of putting together a model aeroplane they’ll be so engrossed in it they probably won’t notice that they are busy improving their ability to think logically, plan and solve problems.

Helping your child at school

It’s always great to know that toys your child is playing with are helping them to get along better at school. Making a model fits with many of the subjects they’ll be tackling in the classroom.

Maths can be an intimidating subject but when you put it in the context of building a model, working out different numbers, shapes and measurements is fun.

Boosting their social skills

Making models helps to encourage a child to think creatively, by getting them to produce something out of seemingly unrelated objects. It also improves their communication skills. There will often be a point in making a model at which a child will need to ask for help. Getting them to communicate what it is they want is a great way to help their language development. Everyone knows how important it is as an adult to be able to get your ideas across in a clear, concise way, and this may be the first step to your child mastering this vital life skill.

Pride in the finished article

There’s nothing more satisfying than being able to tell your friends and family that you have created something from scratch and it is all your own work. With computer games there is no end product and nothing to show for hours spent in front of a screen, the same can definitely not be said for modelling kits.

Mum’s the Word Loves Scrappy Owls

My friend Becky is a very talented lady, she’s a real whizz with a sewing machine and I’m often admiring the clothes she makes for her daughter, who’s in Sausage’s class at school. Just recently, she’s started putting her talents to other use and has set up her own shop selling some of the gorgeous things she makes. I’m a huge fan of small businesses and cottage industry as I think it’s brilliant when people are able to use their ingenuity to allow them to do something positive for themselves, so I wanted to show you some of her wares:

Dribble Bibs

I love these dribble bibs, they almost make me wish I had my own small, dribbly person to wear one!

Owl Bags

These owl bags are so adorable and very fashionable right now, I’m thinking about commissioning a matching mama and baby owl pair for me and Sausage!

Scooter Bags

I think these scooter bags are just so clever, they look seriously cute on the front of a proscootersmart scooter and are very practical for carrying sunglasses, sweets and all the other little treasures that our younglings like to stow away.

Scrappy Owls

My absolute favourite thing that Becky makes are these Scrappy Owls, which is good as they’re her signature item! I love the bright colours, the design, even the expression on the owls’ faces! So kitsch and cool.

Head over to the Scrappy Owls Facebook page to see all of Becky’s wonderful creations and place an order for yourself!

Disclosure – No payment or payment in kind has been received in exchange for this post, this is not a paid advert and all opinions are my own. 

Upcycling Rose Petals Part One – Simple Table Centrepiece

I love receiving flowers, same as most people, but I always feel a bit sad when they start to die. Roses are my faves (in fact, Sausage’s middle name is even Rose) and they start off so beautiful and full of potential, but whither away to nothing in such a short time. Recently, Sausage insisted on making me buy buying a bunch of flowers for her Dad and she chose pink roses for him. They lasted quite a while, but when the time came to add them to the compost heap, I decided to keep the petals and dry them for later use.

Drying the petals

The drying itself was a simple process, I simply pull the petals off of the stalks, spread the petals out on a microwaveable plate and buzzed then for a minute at a time until they started to feel a bit crispy. I think it took three one-minute sessions in my 800w microwave and then I spread them on an old tea towel laid flat to soak up any excess moisture. I then stuck them in a lock-tight tupperware box until I needed them.

Simple but pretty table centrepiece

The first thing I decided to use my dried petals for was a pretty table centrepiece, based on an idea I saw at Christmastime on Pinterest but never got around to making. You’ll need:

Dried rose petals

Small bundt cake tin

Boiled water

Tealights

Pretty saucer or bowl

1. Fill the bundt cake tin with the dried rose petals. At this point, you can also add a few drops of rose essential oil if you want to, but mine hadn’t arrived yet, so I didn’t.

2. Pour boiling water on top of the petals

3. Use a spoon or other pokey thing to press the petals down so that they are all submerged below the water and laying flat

4. Place directly into the freezer (it’s a good idea to put a piece of cardboard between the shelf and the tin as it may freeze together and be a total pain to try and extract

5. Once it’s frozen and you’re ready to use the centrepiece, remove it from the freezer and run the outside of the tin under a lukewarm tap to release the ice

6. Place it upside down on your saucer or bowl (it’s a good idea to measure how much water the saucer will take as it may overflow as the centrepiece starts to defrost if you don’t use something big enough). Something vintage and floral would probably look lovely

7. Place your tealight into the dimple in the bottom of the ice and light

8. The ice will probably outlast your tealights, so you may need to replace the candle a couple of times, but as the ice melts, providing you use a plate or bowl that is deep enough, you end up with a candle floating on beautiful rose petals and rose tinted water.

This photo doesn’t really do it justice as it was quite late and taken under the light above my hob, but the water and petals looked a lot prettier in reality!

I think this would make a lovely (and pretty much free) table decoration for a romantic meal for two. You can replace the flower petals with seasonal things like berries or seashells for different occasions too and experiment with scents and colours.

Just a tip – boiling the water first is quite important as it makes the ice clearer when it freezes, allowing you to see what’s inside. As an additional bonus that I wasn’t expecting, the boiling water took some of the pink colour from the petals and make the ice a beautiful pale rose pink colour. The photo below is my first attempt, made without boiling water and it did not work at all!

Part two to follow – come back to see how I get along with making my own rose-scented bath bombs!