Sunday, 12 December 2010

children’s christmas cards

We always make our own Christmas cards.. this year we continued the tradition we started last year of using drawings by Oliver and Cyan. They drew their seasonal characters which I scanned and made up into cards..

Cyan drew Santa.. a snowman.. and two Christmas trees, one with legs?!

Oliver’s featured a penguin.. a Christmas tree.. and a robin..

Cyan had copied this Christmas message reading ‘Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year’ from a Christmas card we had been given, so I scanned it in for the inside of her cards, she had also written her name beautifully with lovely curly letters, I just had to add this to the back of her cards, along with the harp-playing angel from the top of one of her trees..

I asked Oliver to write a greeting to go inside his cards, he came up with
‘Ho Ho Ho Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!’

They have both been very busy colouring all their cards, and writing them out to all their friends and teachers..

By the way, Oliver is 7 and Cyan is 5.

Here are their card designs from last year.. Cyan’s with an angel..

and Oliver’s.. a penguin.. yes, the boy has a thing for penguins!

Monday, 6 December 2010

matchbox christmas tree advent calendar

Michele of michele made me inspired me to get my act in gear and make an advent calendar! She made a really cool advent clock calendar with her son using frozen juice containers with a seasonal joke inside for each day. I love the idea, especially the jokes – my kids love a good joke and so do I!

I thought I might make an advent calendar out of matchboxes, so there would be a little drawer to open for each day.. then the idea came to fix them together in the shape of a Christmas tree. This came from my memory of our childhood advent calendar, which was a felt hanging made by my Mum, with a large Christmas tree on it, and little felt tree ornaments, so each day you would pick an ornament to hang on the felt tree. I always loved this, by Christmas day the advent tree would be all decorated!

First task was to pop to the shop and buy 25 boxes of matches.. assuring the lady who served me that I was not about to go burn something down, just make an advent calendar! I got some strange looks, that’s for sure!

I arranged the matchboxes into a tree shape I liked, keeping 4 to make the base. I took a photo so I could remember the arrangement later.. I had gold spray paint left over from making the décor for Oliver’s dalek pirate party in the summer, so I decided to start by spraying all the boxes gold..

I used double-sided tape to fix all the outer boxes together into my tree shape.. I love double-sided tape! I use it all the time.. I then gave the whole structure another coat of gold paint..

I actually love how it looks like this without the drawers, it looks Japanese to me.. also the sides of the matchboxes look really cool with the golden strike texture..

Meanwhile I made up a design in Photoshop to print out for the drawer fronts, I used a photo of a fir tree for the top part and a pretty red snowflake pattern for the base. With numbers 1-25 on the drawer fronts..

.. and matching backs without the numbers, which I added mini ornaments to – some little flat-back gems, sequins, glass beads, charms and a star shaped bead-cap to make a star for number 25 at the top of the tree..

The idea being that each day the kids take turns to open the drawer to find a joke and a mint-choc inside, then turn the drawer around and re-insert, so just like I remember as a child – by Christmas day the advent tree will be fully decorated!

As it turned out the finished tree did not look quite how I had pictured in my head, and I kind of prefer it without the drawers.. but, the kids LOVE it! So it’s a success.. thanks Michele for the inspiration.. (and the jokes, you’re too kind :)

Sharing at some of the fabulous link parties in my sidebar, go check them out..

Friday, 12 November 2010

remember remember the fifth of november

Remember remember the fifth of November,
Gunpowder, treason and plot..

Last Friday on the fifth of November we celebrated Bonfire Night here in England.

Oliver’s school homework last week was to produce something related to Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night.. On Friday night we went to a bonfire and fireworks display on Plymouth Hoe, and Oli was inspired to make a picture of the fireworks and bonfire.

He also has a keen interest in poetry so I suggested he write a poem to incorporate into his picture. We were given a whole load of activity sheets when we went to a Japanese craft day at our local museum in September, and a couple of them were on writing poems – Haiku and also Acrostic poems – poems in which the first letter of each line spells out a word.

Oliver’s acrostic BONFIRE poem:

Burning bright
On the Hoe
Never ending
I saw fireworks
Rocketing up
Ending the night.

He was really proud of his work, as was I.

Cyan naturally wanted to get in on the glittery action, and made her own fireworks and bonfire picture:

The inspiration.. some photos I took of the fireworks display..

The bonfire..

Smeaton’s Tower lighthouse on the Hoe..

Cyan and I..

Oliver and Karl..

The funfair was there too..

Read all about Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night on Wikipedia..

Thursday, 11 November 2010

halloween fabric trick-or-treat buckets

I made the kids some fabric trick-or-treat buckets for Halloween this year. I was so happy with how they turned out! I found this fabric bucket tutorial which inspired me to do the contrasting fabric turnovers, they look great and help them hold their shape, I used fusible web between the two fabrics which also helped. They are quite a bit smaller than the ones in the tutorial, I just worked out the dimensions for the size I wanted.

I picked out fabrics to go with the kids’ bat and pterodactyl costumes. I bought a fat quarter of the purple bat print, the other fabrics and the ribbons for the handles were from my stash.

I had a fat quarter of the orange and black dinosaur print leftover from the fabric party bags I made for Oliver’s dinosaur birthday party a couple of years ago. It’s actually a Jurassic Park fabric, which is not readily available anymore. I was saving it for something special.. which turned out to be Halloween!

I had an Etsy customer last month who ordered some party bags and favors for her little girl’s 3rd birthday, and she had mentioned that her daughter’s favourite dinosaur was triceratops, and that she was dressing as one for Halloween. What fun!

I don’t think I would have thought of dinosaurs for Halloween if not for this. It then occurred to me that the dinosaur ribbon I use for party bag handles would make cute hair-bows, and that the orange one was perfect for Halloween! So I made a couple of hair-bow-clips to send with her order as a little thank-you..

This led me on to the idea of making dinosaur trick-or-treat bags, and other Halloween related ideas which I didn’t get to this year, but I have a year to work on them now, and hopefully I will list some Halloween related goodies in my Etsy shop next year..

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

terrors of the skies halloween costumes

Terrors of the skies, or terrors in disguise?!

Cyan knew exactly what she wanted to be this year for Halloween – a bat! She was so delighted when we saw bats while camping in the summer, I’m sure this inspired her costume choice! It was a really fun yet simple costume,  so quick and easy to make – I made it in an evening.

We started with black leggings and long-sleeved T-shirt..

I cut two wing shapes from an old pair of my black leggings, machine stitched them along the bottom of the sleeves and up the sides of the T-shirt; and I used the leftover waist part of the old leggings to make a little skirt. I made a mask from black craft foam. Cyan made such a cute little bat!

Oliver, after some deliberation (and a little persuasion from me) decided to wear his pterodactyl costume, which my sister Tressa made for him for Christmas a few years back. He’s had a lot of wear and play out of it, but hadn’t worn it for Halloween before, and I think he will probably have outgrown it by next year.

I think Tressa used a couple of adult-size T-shirts for the fabric and the dark coloured details are in fleece. The two long pieces which extend from his hands and support the wings are stuffed with recycled plastic bags!

The pterodactyl mask is from a book Oli was given which has different card dinosaur masks to make.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

last year’s halloween costumes

I thought I would share the costumes we made for Halloween last year.. The kids wanted costumes like in Angelina’s Halloween. Cyan loves the Angelina Ballerina books (Oli likes them too, though he probably wouldn’t freely admit it!).

Cyan wanted to be a firefly like Angelina, and Oliver wanted to be a red devil like Spike and Sammy (the big boy mice in the stories). Oli’s costume was pretty straightforward – red clothes, a trident donated by my sister Tressa, and I made a mask from red craft foam.

Cyan’s firefly costume was like Angelina’s but different colours. I made a tutu and ribbon streamer over-skirt. I used pipe-cleaners and beads attached to a hairband to make the firefly antennae like Angelina’s.

Last year after a little trick-or-treating the kids went to stay with grandparents and Karl and I went to a Halloween party thrown by my sister Arwen and her housemate.

Karl made an excellent Joker – he got so many compliments! He’d bought himself a replica of the shirt worn by Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight Batman movie. I found a green waistcoat on ebay and replaced the back part with pinstripe from a pinstripe skirt, to look like Heath Ledger’s, and also to make it fit Karl.

I made my Jack Skellington suit from various pinstripe garments I found in charity shops. I made a paper pattern adapted from a jacket and added tattered tails (which you can’t see here). I couldn’t find pinstripe leggings anywhere so I made some converted from a pair of stretchy pinstripe trousers! I already had the Jack mask, I had bought it on sale a few years ago from the Disney Store; I made up my face with face paints to match. One day maybe I will be Jack again and then I will make the bat-bow-tie which I ran out of time to make..

Karl carved one of his scary pumpkin jack ‘o’ lanterns to take to the party..

I love Karl’s scary pumpkin heads, here are a couple more from past years..

Monday, 8 November 2010

batteries recharged

This is strange, not having blogged in just over a month. Apologies to those who may have missed me. I think I needed this time to take stock of where I am, and how I spend my time. It has been a crazy year for me – at the beginning of the year:
• I went from working 3 days a week to 4 days..
• around the same time I set up my Etsy party supplies shop..
and started this blog..

Enough craziness for anyone!

Add into the mix the excitement (and hard work) of both kid’s birthday parties to plan over the summer..

Then Cyan started school in September, so now we have both children at school, with two lots of homework to be done each week.. September was also my most intensive blogging month so far, and I was sleep-deprived and rather burnt out at the beginning of October.. then both kids got sick, twice, one after the other. We even ended up in hospital with Oliver a couple of weeks ago, he had a viral cough and got so wheezy he was having trouble breathing. Scary stuff. They are both better now.

I have caught up on a lot of sleep in the last few weeks, and Karl and I have spent some quality time with friends. Batteries are feeling recharged :)

Consequently I haven’t done much in the way of crafting, just a couple of little projects for Halloween; and I really didn’t have the time or energy to devote to blogging. I have missed it though. I will write about Halloween stuff soon, and will aim to post maybe a couple of times a week, and I really need to catch up with all you other lovely bloggers too..

I was looking for a random photograph to add to this post, and found the above photograph of a peacock butterfly, taken in August, one happy weekend when the kids and I went to stay with my sister Arwen in her new home in Exeter, the next city up from us in Plymouth. I intended to blog about that weekend, but haven’t got to it yet, so here are a couple of photos of the kids from that weekend, a bit of gratuitous cuteness for you.. as my good friend Clara commented recently: “Let’s face it, if we don’t post stuff about our kids, the cuteness factors in our blogs drops down dramatically.” Very true!

Picking flowers and blackberries in a gorgeous Exeter park,
on a gorgeous summer evening.

Playing on a twisty tree in another gorgeous Exeter park.
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