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
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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
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Summer Holiday Crafting

While I’ve been off my feet for a while this summer and since the end of the Olympics, I’ve been encouraging Alice to get a bit more creative. To be fair, it hasn’t been that difficult as we’ve had a few rainy miserable days here and it’s always fun to empty the making box all over the kitchen table.

Alice traded in some of her lizard cards from Explore Learning for a set of t-shirt graffiti pens, so we ordered her a couple of cheap white t-shirts to have a play with. They arrived earlier today so she had a great afternoon finding her inner fashion designer.

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I love how she put a design on the back too!

I’ve also encouraged her to start making cards for her friend’s birthdays. Her friend Daisy was seven at weekend and she wanted to make a bird card like the ones I’ve been making recently, so I gave her a choice of some of the girly floral papers to make one with. This is pretty much all her own work with the exception of the mounting for the happy birthday flag. Her friend loved the card and I do too.  I think it’s great how she made the bird fly, adding in a second wing behind.

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Another craft I’ve tried to do with Alice is some basic sewing.  I think it’s a skill everyone should master, even if it only means being able to sew on a button.  I know it is a skill that will help with her Brownie badges.  So on a recent trip to Clark Crafts in Ramsbottom, I found this little kit.  As she loves cats at the moment, this looked like the ideal kit to start with.

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It’s a pretty simple kit and comes with everything needed to make the cat, including stuffing and a needle (plastic).  It took a few goes, but she finally mastered the basic running stitch to put all the pieces together, then spent a good half hour deciding where all the embellishment pieces would go.  She loves the finished cat and it has slept by her bed every night!  I need to make sure she doesn’t lose this liking for sewing and get out some of the other kits I have hidden away that she hasn’t been interested in up to now.

Well it’s back to school next week, so it’s time for me to get on with some more sewing – name tapes in uniform!  And I must remember to get a new dance uniform too.

Happy crafting
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Birthday Crafting

Today is my husband’s birthday so we can finally give him all the things we’ve been making this week.

Alice made him a card in her own special style! I think he’ll love it when he gets home from work later. The envelope is a complete delight and makes absolutely no sense to anyone that hasn’t read ‘Danger in Everywhere’.

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And later it will be time for cake too! I made this sponge sandwich yesterday. It’s a simple all-in-one sponge mix with cocoa powder and Alice and I filled it with peanut butter! We then topped it with chocolate spread and flaked almonds (we’ll put a candle on it after tea tonight).

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I don’t think it’s my best ever cake and I’m really not sure about the peanut butter. I think this could end up very dry, so we might be eating it with ice cream.

I’ve also made a batch of biscuits which he’s already got and taken to work. I hope they go down well amongst his colleagues.

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And here’s my card. It took me ages to find some inspitation for this one. I’ve done so many bike racing cards over the last few years I wanted to do something different. I struggled to find a picture of a camera, so went with his other interest – red wine!

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So Happy Birthday Mr B.

Have a great day
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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
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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
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World Book Day 2016

Like many parents World Book Day plays an important role in our children’s lives. This year school were doing a dress up day. Fortunately the only theme for us was a favourite book character, but as seems to be the way with all children, this was not a simple decision.

As we’ve known about the dress up day for several weeks, we’ve been thinking of something to wear for a while. Alice was given a Rarity onesie for Christmas and she decided she would wear that with a little bit of purple make-up from me we were sorted! For all those wondering who on earth Rarity is, she’s one of the main six My Little Ponies. She actually isn’t Alice’s favourite but she was happy to go in the onesie all the same. That is until Wednesday night at 8pm as I’m putting her to bed.

Talk about giving me plenty of notice! She announced that she would like to go as Fluttershy (another of the My Little Ponies), but not as the traditional pony, she wanted to go as the Equestria Girl (alternate world human-like form of the ponies). So urgent crafting was called into action. I raided her dressing up things – not that much as she’s never been a fan of dressing up. I found fairy wings, and a pastel rainbow net skirt, a yellow netted skirt and some pink leggings. I then raided my craft room and found some butterflies that I had taken off some old greetings cards and some tapestry yarns in pastel colours.

Yesterday morning was an early start as we had lots to do to put everything together. The main outfit was quick enough, but it was freezing cold, so a cardigan had to be added to keep her a bit warmer. I used some high tack tape to add butterflies to the cardigan and skirt and plaited some of the tapestry yarn together to make a tail. Pink hair chalk and some butterfly clips went in her hair and I finished the look with a pit of pastel eyeshadow and little butterflies on her cheek, arm and ankle.

Here’s the finished result

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Alice absolutely loved it. When she came home there were several butterflies missing and all her hair accessories had fallen out, but that’s not surprising really. We now have another dress up day for World Book Day on Saturday at dance class, and she wants to go in the same outfit. I think I might have to rethink it a bit though as she will need to move about and not have bits falling off her!

Happy crafting
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Half Term crafting

I can’t believe that half term is over again. This year is flying. With only a week to fill, there’s not that much we can do really. After a visit to Grandma, a shopping trip and a treat cinema visit that is.

So this week, we’ve been making some cards. Firstly was a get well soon card for Nana (my Mother-in-law) who has been a bit under the weather recently and had a hospital procedure. I let Alice loose with my small die collection and she chose my newest purchase, a spellbinders bow set to make this lovely card.

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While Alice was busy making her card I made a birthday card for her friend. She chose all the papers and the main topper, but I put it all together.

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Alice was given a large loomband set for her birthday and she decided she would like to make her Nana a gift to go with the card. So we looked through a book with instructions on how to make some loom band charms. She picked one of the simple patterns and made a could of tulips. A regular size one made using two bands for each link, and the smaller one which uses a single band doubled over for each link. The regular one was much easier to do for me, but her little fingers managed well on both. She loved it and has reignited her love for all things loom band. The house is now full of bracelets and necklaces!

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I’m going to have to think of something different to make over the Easter holidays. They aren’t that far off now.

Happy crafting
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Making Marzipan

My daughter, Alice, was given a lovely baking set and set of recipe cards for her birthday and we have been looking longingly at all the lovely things we could make. So with the weather being so miserable this weekend, we got everything out and decided to have a go at making almond hearts. Now we could have done this very easily and just bought some almond paste / marzipan, but we thought we’d do it properly and use the whole recipe. Having quickly looked in the baking cupboard I thought we had everything we needed, so it was with great dismay I discovered we had no ground almonds at all!

This meant a much lengthier than planned walk round the neighbourhood shops looking for ground almonds. Eventually after 4 local shops and over an hour of walking we found some and head back home for a cup of tea and to get making.

The recipe is very simple but involved quite a lot of kneading. We split the paste in half and coloured one half with red food colouring. Then left it in the fridge for a while to harden up a bit and make it easier to roll out.

We were both quite impatient to make the hearts, so I did the rolling out and Alice cut out the shapes.  We did think about making some stars too, but the hearts looked so lovely in the different colours we thought we’d stick with them.  They’ve really got us in the mood for Valentine’s Day too, although I don’t think they will last that long to give out to all her friends!!

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This is definitely a recipe we will try again.  It’s fairly simple although it has left me with most of a tin of condensed milk.  I shall have to get my thinking cap on and see what I can make with the rest of it, it’s far too good an ingredient to waste.

Happy crafting
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Christmas is coming…..

There’s no escaping it now, Christmas is definitely on the way!  I’ve so far managed to escape Black Friday, which appears to have become a whole week this year, other than being bombarded with e-mails, and I have tried to avoid Cyber Monday with being a little bit more organized and ordering things over the last few weeks.  Now I’m just waiting for everything to arrive.

This weekend we have gone head-long into Christmas crafting mode in the house, as Alice brought home her letter detailing all the Christmas activities on at school in December, and her plastic cup for the pot goody stall!  It’s the Christmas Fair on Friday, so we’ve been thinking about what to turn the pot into this year.  We’ve already had a snowman and 2 Christmas trees, so it’s time to think of something else.

We did the traditional list of Christmas or Winter ideas, and had  browse around Pinterest and Google images for ideas.  We eventually settled on an ambitious design or Santa stuck in a chimney pot, complete with reindeer, snow and a robin!

We raided the box of model-making items for a tissue box, teabag box and two toilet roll tubes, then attacked my crafty stash for some dark paper, found some brown paper with the wrapping paper and some bits from old Christmas cards for embellishments.  There was pva glue, double-sided tape and felt everywhere!!  Wax crayons are great for drawing brickwork, and you just can’t make anything for Christmas without using some cotton wool for snow!

We had great fun messing up the kitchen, and here’s the finished result.

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I had to make the hat and I sewed the face to it.  We then filled the pot with little goodies – mainly glitters, glitter glue, crayons, pens and some sweeties.

I think it’s our best one yet, what do you reckon?

Happy Christmas crafting
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