A little knitted kitty!

With only a few days left until we are back at school, I’ve finally got around to making something for my daughter and her friend. They are both mad on cats (we have two and her friend has one) and whenever they have got together this holiday at least one of them has been wearing cat ears on a hairband! It’s very cute and I hope it continues for some time yet, as they are growing up far too quickly.

Anyway, as they are off to Blackpool Zoo at the weekend, I thought I’d make them a little cat bag each from the last issue of LGC Knitting and Crochet, to carry their little bits and pieces in.

I stuck to the pattern colours for my daughter’s bag, although she insisted on a change to the handle colour as her favourite colour at the moment is white!  It’s a really simple pattern mostly in garter stitch, so very quick to make. Her friend asked for a black one with pink and purple features!

They certainly liked them before I finished them, so fingers crossed they will like the fully finished articles.  I think they will be purrfect for carrying around a little mouse purse and a few sweets each!

Happy crafting
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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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School Christmas Fair Preparations

Once again we have the school Christmas fair to look forward too. I will be having a stall with all my tree decorations, some garlands and plenty of cards. This year, it’s being co-run by the newly formed friends group of parent volunteers, who all have their own ideas on what will work best.

One thing that hasn’t changed is the request for each child to fill and decorate a plastic pint pot for the Pot Goody stall. This is one of the most popular stalls among the children. Plus each class has a prize on offer for the best decoration. So this week we have been thinking about how we can do something a bit different. We’ve done several Christmas trees, a snowman and Santa getting stuck in a chimney, so this has not been an easy task!

Alice has been set on making a reindeer, though I can’t quite work out how she thinks we’ll make one. So after much discussion, we settled on a Christmas Cracker, filled with sweets and decorated with lots of bits and bobs from old Christmas cards. I think it looks fantastic. I hope for her sake that she wins, she’s been so disappointed in previous years.

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Fingers crossed.
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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’s Here!

Summer has arrived at last!  We have wall-to-wall sunshine just in time for the flying ants to invade the patio.  How I love the summer.

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Actually I generally really do love summer.  There’s nowhere nicer than a warm sunny day at the beach in the UK (in my humble opinion).  I think my broken foot is taking it’s toll though this year.  Having a hot swelling leg and foot is just not much fun .  Anyway, I’ve managed to escape outside for a bit and it’s very relaxing to feel the sun on my skin again.  It’s been too long.

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While I’m out basking, I’ve been able to catch up on some reading and I’m thrilled to say that the Provident tips calendar has now been published.  And it’s a great read.  There are loads of ideas for the summer, ranging from things to do with children, to stain removal, crafts and baking too.  So do pop by and have a look, you never know what might inspire you.  For me it’s back to some more reading and the pile of work-in-progress while Alice does some nature work for her next Brownie badge!

Happy summer crafting
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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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Outdoor Summer Activities

Since I was invited to write my blog for Provident, I’ve been spotting all sorts of other things to do that don’t cost a lot.  Of course, many of the activities are local to me in Bury, but there are plenty of national activities to get involved with too.

IMGP1267I was struck last week by an article I read in the latest Plantlife magazine. The new edition of the Oxford Children’s Dictionary has had several nature based words removed and replaced with modern technology speak. This doesn’t necessarily sound a travesty at first, but these are words like catkin, beech, fern, acorn, bluebell, buttercup and dandelion! Surely these are words that every child grows up with?! It really was a shock that they have been replaced by broadband, chatroom and blog. Isn’t it possible to have space for all of these words in a child’s dictionary? Plantlife are encouraging parents to spend more time outdoors with their children and this links perfectly (I think anyway) with the Woodland Trust’s campaign to get children to play outside. They have launched their ‘Tree Party’ campaign and you can send off for a free party pack to take on a picnic with your friends.

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My pack arrived the other day and it’s great. Alice can’t wait to get outside and use it. The pack comes in a box made to look like a picnic hamper and is filled with games to play, face masks, straws, stickers, party invitations and even a bag to put all your rubbish in! The idea is that you invite a tree to your party and celebrate how important they are in our lives. I’m hoping we have some sunny days over the holidays and we can go for a picnic in one of local parks.

bury_d_treasure_2_sanvito_curved_displayIf we do get out and about, regardless of the temperature I will be encouraging Alice to have a go at a local initiative ‘Bury’d Treasure’. This is another activity to encourage children to spend time outdoors, only this time’s it’s about following clues to solve a puzzle. There are several set up around the local parks in Bury and some local primary schools have signed up to encourage their pupils to take part. I hope it’s a success and we don’t find they become targets for vandals.

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All of these outdoor activities will help with the annual summer keep active campaign run by the NHS and Change4life, the ’10 minute shake-up’. This year they have teamed up with Disney again and the free pack includes a Finding Dory poster and stickers. So we shall be aiming to do at least ten minutes of physical activity every day.

I am also hoping that Alice will be a bit more independent and I will get some crafting done while she runs, climbs, discovers and solves clues!

Happy holidays
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www.mrscraftyb.co.uk

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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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January Birthdays

January and February are busy months for birthdays and anniversaries for us. So the beginning of the year is always taken up with family crafting. This year I’ve decided to have a real go at using up some of the numerous card-making kits I’ve bought over the years and see what I can come up with.

The great things is that all the people celebrating are of different generations and have totally different likes.

I started off with my in-laws. I was inspired by a visit to see the Flying Scotsman on our local steam railway and made this card for my Father-in-Law using a Hunkydory kit.

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I followed this with a card for my Mother-in-Law, using another Hunkydory kit, this time the little book of birthdays. Such lovely designs and I just couldn’t help adding some die cut butterflies!

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Next it’s my nephew’s first birthday. So not a card he would appreciate so much as one for his parents! I was given a set of balloon dies and some number dies for Christmas which was perfect for this occasion. This is a great card for using up offcuts of papers.

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I’ve also made cards for my Brother-in-Law, Sister-in-Law and my husbands Best man. The little book of birthdays and male images have been a great investment here!

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Finally for now is my other nephew’s fifth birthday in a couple of weeks time. He’s mad about Star Wars at the moment, so I made him a spaceman card. I hope he likes it.

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Well it’s time to get back to desk, I have my Mum’s birthday and Mum and Dad’s 45th wedding anniversary to make for, as well as Valentine’s Day!

Happy crafting
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