Brownies

My daughter moved up to Brownies last year and with that move has come the need to cajole her into doing some badges.  Left to her own devices she’ll happily breeze through the three years running about and nothing else!  This year she has seen quite a few of her older Brownie chums move up to Guides, so she has had to take on some of the responsibility herself in showing the newer recruits what to do.  So we have started to make some efforts on a few of the simpler badges, to get her going!

First up we’ve done some wildlife watching and which has involved some birdwatching for the RSPB Garden Birdwatch, some bug hunting in the garden and keeping a diary of what she spotted.  To finish I found her a set of instructions on how to build her own bird feeder.  This one uses lolly sticks and string, all essential components in a kids craft stash!

She didn’t do too badly with it, although I think the birds were quite rough with it (either that or the wind was particularly strong) as it only lasted a few weeks.

Having successfully completed one badge, she moved quite swiftly on to a number of sporty and artistic ones and has had her swimming, agility, sports, artist and craft badges signed off too. She was also rewarded with being made a sixer!

The school council ran a talent show just before the Easter break and completely out of the blue, Alice wanted to enter, singing with her friend.  She asked if I would help her make some props and costumes.  Of course, they chose to sing something very simple and child-friendly – “The Yellow Submarine”.  Unfortunately we didn’t have time to get everything ready for the school show, but they decided to do it for their Entertainer badge at Brownies instead.

So for what seems like forever, I’ve been adding finishing touches to this huge monstrosity!  Hubby cut out the main submarine while the girls did the main painting and drew the faces for the portholes.  It’s massive and almost fills one wall of our little house.  It looks quite good though, if I do say so myself, although I don’t think I want to take up a career in prop-design, just yet.

Now it’s fingers crossed that they get the rest of their show planned and rehearsed in time before the end of the term.  I can’t wait to get rid of this out of  my living room!

Happy crafting
x

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2017 is flying!

I can’t believe where this year has gone and it’s almost July already!  It’s been a rather odd year for me and I’ve been busy with all sorts of things that I haven’t had time to sit down and write anything.  So I’ve grabbed a few minutes and thought I’d have a catch up and see what’s been going on.

I had a rather rotten end to 2016 and start to 2017 as my back went and I was unable to stay in any position for long, so I was a bit grumpy (to say the least), well lack of sleep will do that to you!    So I’ve been trying to do some back strengthening exercises every day to help, but it still twinges every so often.  I also spent several weeks on physio and hospital check-ups following my broken foot last July.

Anyway, I seem to be hospital free for the time being (fingers crossed) and I’m back to my weekly tap class which is great fun.  I’m also back crafting again and have spent the last few weeks and months busy making all sorts of items for orders and for our own use at home.

I ended last year making loads of legwarmers for the girls at dancing, and this year has continued the trend.  Since Easter I’ve been knitting frantically, furry wrist cuffs and legwarmers for some the girls taking part in a ‘Cats’ number both for the annual dance show and for competitions.

These feel lovely when knitted up, but depending on the yarn used I found them quite difficult to make.  The white ones were made with Eskimo yarn and that knitted up quite nicely, but I used some eyelash yarn that was really difficult to keep count of my stitches.  They did all look lovely on the girls though and made the outfits.  Alice has also asked for some now as she’s obsessed with white!

So I’ve beenknitting quite a lot over the months, and managed to get in a bit for my family.  I always make the children something to play with at the end of the egg hunt we do at Easter, and this year was no exception.

This year the three children found a knitted egg cosy character with a chocolate egg inside.  These are made from a free pattern of Jean Greenhowe that I’ve ad for ages and never got round to making up before.  They are easy to do and they were very popular, so I introduce you to Holly, Eggy and Steven!  They certainly has plenty of adventures on Easter Sunday, poor Steven was lost several times, but he was eventually found and went home with his new best friend!!

Easter also involved quite a bit of baking which was shared with family, friends and neighbours.

Mother’s and Father’s Day meant a lot of card crafting and my large owl cards were very popular.

I made these in a variety of papers and love the different effects they create.  I also enjoyed making the triangular backgrounds and took this further making some cards for men.

I love the monochrome set of card and toppers and when matched with the Hunkydory rainbow mirri card they really shine.

For Father’s Day I made a collection of cards for Hearts for Homes in Ramsbottom.

I fancied doing some more origami and made these using an old Papermania set of men’s papers, but I had to do some owls too and loved using these old maps.

Well it’s time to head off to work now, but I’ll be back soon with some more ramblings of a middle-aged crafter!  Have a great day.

Happy crafting

x

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New Christmas Traditions – Satsuma Thrifty Christmas Campaign

Last year I decided to start a new tradition for Christmas. I was fed up of buying the same cheap little chocolate advent calendars year on year, and while my daughter liked them, I could never find anywhere to put them and they just didn’t seem to be very Christmassy. So I started to crochet some little stockings and made them into a perpeptual advent calendar.

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It looked lovely up in the hall last year as a Christmas garland as well as being my daughter’s favourite part of the run up to Christmas. I filled it with individual wrapped chocolates, so it didn’t cost a fortune to fill either.

This year I’m looking round for inexpensive little gifts to fill it with again. At seven (almost eight), my daughter is becoming a little more difficult to please with sweets and chocolates. I’ve bought a couple of selection boxes and will add those to the stockings. I think it’s always nice to see something peeking out of the top of the stocking. But I also want to add something other than sugar loaded treats. The stockings aren’t very big so I can’t go mad with gifts, but I think a couple of packs of her favourite (My Little Pony) Stickers and perhaps one of the mystery bags as a treat for Christmas Eve. She also loves to draw, so I’m going to get a pack of pens and split them up putting a different one in each stocking.

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It’s great to think that this will be a tradition that we can carry on and hopefully she will enjoy the individuality of her calendar. I know I certainly enjoyed making it and have great fun thinking of things to fill it with. And it doesn’t have to cost a lot either. I’m going to stick to a budget of £10 maximum to fill it. Who knows I might even find some of the stocking fillers I put away last year and forgot about!

Now I just need to hang it up high enough that the meddlesome cats don’t attack it!

Not long to go.
x

See mine and other ideas for a savvy Christmas here

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Unexpected crafting!

I know I’m a crafter, so this title in itself is rather unexpected.  However, our Alice has been unwell really for a few weeks now, but she’s finally given in to being fully blown ill and is currently enjoying / enduring  some restful time off school.

This has meant I am now totally behind with my preparations for Halloween and Christmas, but that’s the life of a crafting Mum!  So today I decided to find something for both of us to do that would help lift Alice’s spirits and maybe go some way to starting my stash of Christmas decorations.

I’ve been thinking about making some simple, no knit hat decorations for a while and this seemed the ideal opportunity with a willing helper too!  What I wasn’t counting on was how much she loved making them.

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We had such a great crafty afternoon watching ‘Equestria Girls’ on dvd and making these hats, that she decided she wanted to make them and sell them too.  So it rather turned into me being her assistant and she’s planning on taking her little stash to her dance class at weekend and maybe even to the school Christmas Fair! I’m hoping that she will make her own gifts for her teachers this year too.

I think she may have caught the crafting bug – much better than the virus she is recovering from.

Happy crafting
x

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Paint-a-Pot

As we approach the end of the school year, we seem to be on a never ending run of parties – and not just children’s.

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What I am pleased to find is that now she’s seven, Alice’s party invitations have become a bit more adventurous than a soft play centre.  Today we’ve been at Emily’s Paint-a-Pot in Prestwich. Each child was able to choose an animal to paint and was given instruction on how to go about it. It felt far more grown up than the usual running wild amidst screaming kids of all ages! So we left them to it and had a stroll around Heaton Park before the rain set in and we headed back. The party room is upstairs and we could hear squeals of delight along with the traditional rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you.’ They were all obviously having a great time. We stayed downstairs in the main painting room, where we had a very lovely cuppa and a look at all the drying pots. It’s a pretty little place and they don’t just cater for children. I was intrigued to see they run Pottery and Prosecco evenings. Something I quite fancy, I wonder why?!

Alice really enjoyed her afternoon. She painted a cat and can’t wait for it to be finished off in the kiln.

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It’s a great place to go on a rainy day, and while not a cheap activity, it is something different to what we generally do at home, so it’s definitely somewhere I hope to visit again. Next time I want to have a go too.

Happy crafting
x

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Summer Activities for Children (with Provident)

I know many parents will be dreading the long school summer holidays.  It’s always difficult trying to find enough for the children to do without breaking the bank and/or your own sanity.  I’m in my third summer break from school and I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home Mum, so I don’t have to find lots of childcare.  However, I also don’t have much extra cash lying around as we’re a one income family.  So finding cheap or free activities is high on my priority list for the next few weeks.

Of course the activities have to be something to keep my child interested, and we try to do a variety of things each week to stop boredom setting in.  I plan to arrange some ‘home’ days as well as days out.  We might even manage a few full family days a bit further afield, but I’ll have to wait and see if that’s possible.

Summer

So, my first port of call for activities is my local library network.  I consider us quite fortunate in Bury as we still have a relatively good network of libraries around the borough.  I love the annual national Summer Reading Challenge as it keeps up reading for pleasure as well as me not having to buy a pile of books every time we go out.  My daughter is mad on the Rainbow Magic Fairies and the library has been a real godsend as she always finds different ones every time we visit (And it’s only cost me the price of a bus ticket.  She can take out up to eight books at a time and they all count towards the reading challenge.  The website for the Reading Challenge is very interactive with games and puzzles as well as being able to unlock different content as more books are read.    This year’s Challenge is titled ‘The Big Friendly Read’ and is all about Roald Dahl, so this will be a fun set of books to read.  At the end of the challenge – reading six books in the six weeks – it’s great for the child to receive a certificate and possibly some other reward linked to the challenge theme.  I can’t wait to see the Roald Dahl poster.

Roald Dahl Books

While in the library we can find out what other workshops they have on.  We’ve taken part in arts and crafts (in collaboration with the art gallery) and writing workshops with local bookshops and learning centres.  Our local shopping centres also have regular themes over the summer.  The trick here is to avoid the high priced funfair rides and head over to the main gazebo where we take part in any competitions (drawling and treasure hunts) which are mostly free to enter and there’s often a craft workshop or something being sponsored by some of the retailers in the centre.  I love these days out as all the mess is left in the workshop and we come home with a few treats and something we’ve made.

I’ve also found that Pets at Home frequently run animal workshops – ‘My Pet Pals’ .  These give children (and parents) a chance to learn about reptiles, aquatics, insects, wild birds and small furries.  They are free of charge but you need to book a place, so keep an eye on the website for more information in your local store.

Another of our favourite things to do is pay a visit to the cinema.  Our cinema (Vue) runs a film every morning in the holidays at £1.99 per ticket (Mini Morning).  They are usually films coming to the end of their general release but we’ve seen quite a few films this way and at a fraction of the cost.  I’m hoping they’ll be showing ‘the secret life of pets’ over summer, fingers crossed.  Be warned though, it’s probably better going when it’s not pouring down as they can get pretty busy!

On our home days we alternate between enjoying some relaxation time in the garden (weather permitting), playing inside doing something creative.  Summer is a great time for the garden and I plan to do some major garden work this year.  This will include encouraging my daughter to grow some plants of her own.  I’ve bought a couple of packets of radish and spring onion seeds for her to plant.  As they grow pretty quickly she’ll be able to see the fruits of her labours and hopefully it will encourage her to try eating them too!

Radishes

If we do have to spend some time indoors (highly likely in a British summer), then we will undoubtedly get out something creative to do.  I’ve been keeping an eye out for low cost crafting materials and always try to have some available just in case.  There’s quite a lot of choice out there on the high street and you can find something for most budgets.  My favourites for the sheer volume of materials are the large craft jars in the Entertainer (around £10) and Wilko’s selection of boxes (£2 – £15).  Another great kit is the activity bag from craft planet (around £10) and they can be found online and from craft shops.  There are loads of materials and the essential glue as well as ideas sheets and instructions on how to make a project or two.  I like how the projects are aimed at children but all materials are good quality.  We’ve had felt pieces, funky foam, card blanks, coloured card, pipe-cleaners, beads and stickers (to name a few) in the past and I can’t wait to see what’s in the next one.  It’s always great fun to empty out the contents and start making.  These bags even come in boys and girls versions.

Craft Bag

My last tip is to start collecting small boxes, tubes, yogurt pots and bottle tops a few weeks before the holidays.  (Yogurt pots make great paint and glue pots).  You never know what these items can be turned into – just search Pinterest and You Tube for ideas – and best of all, anything that hasn’t been used can be given to your local nursery or reception class in September.

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

www.creativemeinspiredyou.com

Don’t forget to do some baking too. Some scones, biscuits or cupcakes make great treats for a picnic, whatever the weather!

Vanilla Fairy Buns

Vanilla Fairy Buns

I’m looking forward to the holidays and I hope you have a great summer whatever you get up to.

Happy Holidays
x

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Wanderings

Once again I am waiting for Alice – this time at her tuition class.  But this time I opted for wandering around town for a bit before going for a drink in Costa!  I headed over to TK Maxx, as I love it in there and I haven’t been in for ages.  It’s always good for a browse and they have recently been stocking a few (often rather random) craft items.  I decided to give the clothes a miss and headed straight for the home décor, kitchen and gardening sections.  I was hoping to be spoilt for choice with papers, kits and accessories, but I was disappointed.  There were plenty of gorgeous notebooks, gift bags and painting tings, but nothing I could really justify So I browsed round the clearance aisles and found myself a complete bargain – right at the back of the bottom shelf – an A3 glass cutting mat for only £5 (RRP £19.99).  I’m so glad I went.  I’ve wanted one for ages and always forget when I’m out and about.  It proves it’s always worth routing  in the clearance items too!

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Thrilled with my bargain I felt quite cheery and browsed around the other aisles looking for some ideas and maybe a bit of inspiration.  I saw some lovely knitted cushion covers which made me want to completely redecorate the living room.  I will have to shelve that idea for the time being as the kittens are still doing a decent job of wrecking the joint, so I think we’ll leave that one for a little while.  I also saw an owl doorstop which reminded me of the pattern from an early issue of Craftseller magazine that I was going to crochet.  I really could do with a doorstop for my bedroom, I’m currently using my dance shoe bag which is not ideal – I’m forever tripping over the handles!  So that’s risen to the top of my to-do list – after my current order list and school teacher gifts that is!

owl doorstop craftseller mag

I also picked up a set of cupcake cases and little flags which I think will be great for some Summer baking in the holidays.  They were only £2 and are covered in little flowers, butterflies and ladybirds – what more could a seven year old want for her cakes?!

Time to collect Alice now, so

Happy crafting
x

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The Final Craftseller

Last month I was absolutely gutted to receive a letter with my Craftseller magazine, to advise that this would be the last ever issue.

This magazine has been such a revelation for me, and other crafters. Finding a magazine that not only came with a free gift and free card-making papers every month, but included copyright free patterns, instructions and recipes for all types of crafts and articles written for the small crafter starting out in a business was wonderful inspiration. Every month included articles following different crafters with hints and tips from their experiences. I have found some fantastic fellow crafters around the country.

I was lucky enough during the few years it’s been on the shelves to have had a letter published with pictures of some of my Christmas makes, as well as being featured as an online seller.

I have thoroughly enjoyed using the patterns and papers over the years, here’s just a few things I’ve made.

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I have been given the encouragement to attend my first craft fairs, and also to help negotiate having my cards stocked in the local newsagents.

It is with a heavy heart I say goodbye to Craftseller, it was a unique publication and will be sadly missed.

Happy crafting
x

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Last week of the School Holidays

Well this summer holiday really has flown by. I can’t believe we’re in the last week already, where has the time gone – does this mean I am getting really old? I feel like my feet haven’t touched the ground at all this week, as we’ve been visiting family, playing with friends and having fun in town.

We started the week with a trip into Ramsbottom and any trip there has to include a visit to the Aladdin’s cave that is Clark Crafts. I was determined (as always) not to spend a small fortune, but it’s so much easier said than done. We had a really good browse around all the products, finding more things that we ‘need’. I was quite good and just bought some more card blanks, but we found a lovely little craft kit to keep little ones amused.

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And at only £2.50, it was a bargain! We added some rainbow stickers (essential for any self respecting 6 year old) and foam shapes to the mix before calling in at the wine shop for Hubby’s birthday present. Well it wouldn’t do not to get him something from our lovely shopping trip.

Once home, the kits were immediately opened and the house was suddenly full of pom poms and pipe-cleaners. This kit is great, it came complete with self-sticking googly eyes as well as flat back gems, lolly sticks, and glue. My daughter started to make some spiders first, no glue required on these and all her own work, she cut up the pipe-cleaners for the legs and wrapped them around the pom pom bodies.

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We then had a look at what was left – absolutely loads – and decided on a caterpillar. She chose the order of the pom poms and I threaded them on a piece of cotton for her. We completed the look with googly eyes, a mouth cut from a piece of funky foam and rainbow antennae and hair made from pieces of pipecleaner. A truly rainbow hungry caterpillar, I think you’ll agree. Very cute though.

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She’s now thinking of other creatures she can make with the remaining pom poms. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

We’ve also had a trip to the Fusiliers Museum in Bury this week, where they had a craft session making peg dolls. The theme was heroes and heroines of the wars. So of course, we made a superhero dog with special ice powers, a posh lady and little red riding hood!

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This has sparked the imagination and inspired, we made a trip to find dolly pegs and tissue paper, as my daughter wants to tell her Rainbows group leaders about it and make them with the group. We have several little green aliens and red superhero peg dolls peeping out around the house now!

After making peg dolls we headed over the art gallery where there were crayons and paper available to do some art. We have been inspired this week watching Big Blue Live and Big Blue UK, so sea creatures have featured heavily in drawings. Here we have the pick of the art from the art gallery. Superb attention to detail I hope you’ll agree.

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Now it’s back to sorting out all the school uniform and making sure everything fits! I hope she doesn’t need more new shoes…

Happy crafting
x

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Working on my PHD

Yes you did read that correctly, I am working on my PHD – Projects Half Done that is!

I was looking in my living room at the steadily growing pile of patterns, yarn and project bits and thought enough is enough, I need to finish some of these before I start anything new.

So first up is my little crochet unicorn. I had already completed the head, body and horn, so it’s time to make the legs and mane.

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This is a pattern from LGC Knitting and Crochet magazine that I started several months ago. My daughter is mad about horses, ponies and unicorns, so it seemed like a great gift for her. With her real love of Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony, the colours were almost perfect too. We had an afternoon watching ‘The Cat Returns’ and I made all the legs, but the mane took ages! Who would have thought that cutting 80 20cm lengths of yarn and then tassling them into a 21ch length would take almost 2 hours!!! Maybe it’s just me being really slow….

Anyway I now have all the pieces ready to stuff and sew together.

Next up is a crochet snowman I started last year.

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Again it’s a pattern from Knitting and Crochet magazine and it uses up some of my larger left over yarn balls. I’ve made the head and body using baby yarn, so it was time to make the nose, scarf and earmuffs. This called for a watch of ‘Frozen’, something we haven’t actually sat down to watch for a few months. This was a bit fiddly as it meant using a 2.5mm hook, which is very delicate. Fingers crossed I have enough yarn to finish the headband, or I might be making it in a co-ordinating colour! Watch this space..

My next projects to finish are to start off my Christmas collection. I know I didn’t start in June, but I need to get cracking on some of the little stockings as they are always in demand for stocking fillers, teacher gifts, table presents and tree decorations. I have 6 rainbow stockings ready to sew up now, and I have finished my first two winter coloured ones, complete with fluffy tops!

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Finally I have the knitted and crochet blanket I started for Bury Show that I didn’t get chance to finish in time. I love the sampler feel of this and all the bright colours. I now need to finish off the connecting of the squares and decide how to edge it. Any suggestions are gratefully received.

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This will really clear up my living room and give me a chance to make something new for Christmas. I am newly enthused for these projects now and can’t wait to see them finished.

Happy crafting
x

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