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 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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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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Hearts for Homes

I mentioned a few days ago that I had been asked to supply cards for a craft gift shop in Ramsbottom, so I thought I’d introduce it. It’s called ‘Hearts for Homes’ and is on Bolton Street, Ramsbottom. The proprietor, Kerry, opened the shop a couple of months ago as a place to sell her own handmade homewares. She now also sells work by several local artists and craftspeople.

Green Floral Owl

Green Floral Owl

Having visited the shop I can honestly say it is filled with gorgeousness. There is a lovely homely feel as soon as you walk in and you can feel the love, care and attention that has been put into every item. It’s a haven for unusual and unique gifts for others and yourself, covering all ages from baby blankets to wedding gifts and home décor. It really is a lovely place to be.

Thank You Berry Much

Thank You Berry Much

My cards are on sale there now and I am busy making more to add to the range. As always, the cards are all handmade and although some may be similar designs, all will have at least one element making each card unique.

Natural Love

Natural Love

If you are in Ramsbottom or are stuck for somewhere to go, do visit the town. It’s a haven for foodies with a number of independent cafes, restaurants and food retailers. There is an abundance of chocolate (hence the annual chocolate festival) and plenty of independent shops from toys to music and from fabric to antiques. Plus you can arrive in style on the ELR steam railway. It really is a great day out, so what are you waiting for? Get down to Ramsbottom and don’t forget to pop into Hearts for Homes!

Happy crafting
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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
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