Friday, 30 August 2013

Making Bracelets

Recently a friend came round for the day with her two children and brought with her a Butterfly Bracelets kit from Baker Ross.

Well - we thought we'd give it a little review!

It's craft time kids!

Kettle on for a cuppa and time to calm the kids down from lots of running about so here we go.....

The instructions provided in the pack

Each pack contains enough pieces to make 6 bracelets and currently sells for £2.99 (50p each)

What do you get?


Everything you need to make it is provided - the ribbon and pre-cut butterfly shapes with small holes for threading, and a needle.

We had a range of ages making this 3, 4 and 6.


The 6 year old girls were able to follow the instructions themselves, threading the needle (which is brilliant - its just plastic but does the job brilliantly with no pricked fingers).  
You line up a small butterfly on top of a larger one and thread your ribbon through the holes. Simples!
The two younger children did have difficulty with this but with a bit of assistance they managed to create their own bracelets too.

Amelia concentrating on her threading
It's great for assisting in hand/eye coordination as well as helping with manual dexterity which assists children learning to write and control a pencil.

Rosie getting a bit of help

The two younger ones managed to make one too






Ta-da!

A nice activity for a quiet 20 minutes around the table.

These would be ideal if you wanted to do some craft activities at a birthday party.  I think the children get a real sense of accomplishment when they create something themselves and at the equivalent of 50p (same as a Mars Bar - well, less in fact) I think they are great.  I would much rather the kids used their pocket money to get this sort of thing.

Thumbs up to Baker Ross from us on this product!

Bex x

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

A bit of glitter and a bit of glue

At the start of the Summer Holidays all those weeks ago the girls and I brainstormed a list of things they would like to do during the holiday.

It wasn't just 'expensive days out' we added things like painting, and sticking, going to the library, going on a bike ride etc etc.

Today was the turn of 'Sticking'.

We're always saving bits and bobs to add to our sticking box, sweet wrappers, feathers, jewels, confetti along with having a pot of dry rice, lentils, pasta shapes and spaghetti.

And of course GLITTER!

Children really don't need much to be entertained.


Wielding scissors and glitter - a dangerous combo if ever I saw one


Rosie's finished creation using a bit of everything including some old ribbon which came off a pair of PJ's one Christmas as a border

Libby's night sky (with a few bits of spaghetti thrown in for good measure!)




Thursday, 8 August 2013

Decopatching for newbies

I love to 'craft'.  

Correction.

Actually, I love to buy bits to craft with.

Getting around to actually crafting - well that's a different matter.

The problem is I'm not particularly artistic so designing layouts etc for scrapbooking isn't really my forte.  That said I have recently been looking into 'Decopatch'.

For those of you who don't know what this is - its essentially 'posh papier mache'.  Instead of tearing up lots of strips of newspapers and glooping them to a balloon you buy very beautiful papers which you use to decorate everyday household objects.

Lots of crafting stores now sell cardboard numbers, letters, boxes etc just for this purpose.

As a newbie to this craft I had no idea where to start and how much I would need so this is what I bought on a trip to HobbyCraft (amongst many other things!):


  • 7 packs of Decopatch paper
  • 1 tub of Decopatch glue
  • An R and an L (my childrens initials)




Well, its turns out within each pack of paper there are 3 sheets and actually I only used about 1 sheet for letter so now I have LOADS to spare (but it is oh so pretty!).  I'm thinking lots of homemade Christmas gifts this year! (Whats that I hear you say? CHRISTMAS!  Hush your mouth!!)






My 'how to' guide to Decopatching


Or... decopatching for idiots


I'm not the tidiest person on the planet.  Before doing any activity involving glue I would imagine the best option is to lay out something on your work surface to protect it.  I however, did not.  If you don't want anything damaged then probably best to 'prep' your work space in advance.


I decided to start with the 'L' figuring its an easier shape.  I picked two papers to work with but as I don't have a very artistic eye they probably don't go together - but I liked them!


You can either tear or cut your decopatch paper - whichever you prefer.  I found it easy to tear one way but not so easy the other so I opted for cutting mine up.  Each piece needs to be about the size of a stamp.


I think when you tear it it 'blends' together better on the end product but cutting it gives you a more patchwork effect.

Apply your glue to your object - go for it - it doesn't need to be a thin coating and then use your brush to pick up each piece of paper and apply it to the item.  Using the excess glue that's on your brush coat the top of the paper so its all sealed down.

Repeat until finished!!






Once I'd finished bodging the L I moved on to Rosie's 'R'.  This time I decided to stick to just one paper to see what effect that had.  I chose the Rose paper (do you see what I did there?! Her name is Rosie - so I chose Rose, do you see!! Subtle yet clever!)

I found that because the Rose paper was lighter (in colour) that actually the brown of the cardboard shape still shows through a bit.  I think there are areas which made need another layer.

Perhaps next time I use a light colour paper I'll give the object a coat of white paint first and see how that works.

It really is THAT simple.

All in all each project of this size can be completed in around an hour (plus drying time).


My finished items!

Rosie's 'R'

Libby's 'L'

Top tips!

  1. When sticking bits to a curve snip a little 'fringe' along the edge of the paper as its is easier to get a neat edge.  (not discovered until I had nearly finished - hence I do not have neat edges!)
  2. If using a light coloured paper paint your item first so that dark cardboard doesn't show through.  You can buy a white primer for this or just use some white paint you find in the garage.
  3. To get an idea of how much paper you need have a look at this blog by Artyfect.  Perhaps if I'd seen this I would have bought less at the shops (then again - perhaps not!)
  4. You can varnish your finished item for a really tough, durable finish. 
I cannot wait to get some more items to decorate.  I think my 6 year old would love doing this.

Apparently you can patch almost anything.  I am currently eyeing up our old dining table as a project - but perhaps that will have to wait!!

Go forth into the world dear friends and decorate!!

Bex x

Monday, 5 August 2013

Ashford Amble

The children are away for a week so Mike and I have taken a days annual leave from the business to go out somewhere.

We originally planned to go to London but after several false starts, Mike working until 2pm despite it being his day off and lots of mutterings and moaning on both our parts we finally decided to go out for a late lunch and then head off and do some geocaching.

We went to Harvester for lunch and then headed off to attempt the Ashford Amble series of Geocaches around the Godinton Estate.

Time to get caching

It didn't start particularly promisingly - the cache owners recommended a place to park but I decided I knew better!

This meant our nearest cache was number 11 so we started with that one!

Tick! Found the cache, signed and returned to its little hidey hole.

Next heading in to number 12.  Now, we thought we'd be able to find this but alas. After quarter of an hour searching we decided to give up and head on.



We headed off towards number one but realised we were stuck on the wrong side of a fence so decided to abandon that one - we'll pick it up another time.

Onwards to number 2

There was some beautiful scenery and lots of lovely places to put down a picnic blanket and have a nap!  We hardly saw anyone on our travels - just a couple of lads fishing.



At cache 3 I decided it was 'Diet Coke Break' time...




...and found a beautiful house I think it'd be lovely to live in...

Heading on across more fields we came across more stiles. 

"What's that bit for?" I asked Mike.
"It's for frogs"
"Frogs!"
"No you daft bint, dogs!!"

Turns out my hearings not so great.  Still nice idea for frogs I thought! ;)

Its the frog gate

Onwards to #5


Next we came across a corn field. We weren't sure whether we should follow the road or go in the field. We opted for the field and walked along chatting happily. Eh up! 1 metre to go!  We stumbled upon a place in the hedge that had clearly been stomped down.  I sent Mike in on his hands and knees to search.  The description referred to a tree (and there was one the other side of the hedge).  Were  we in the wrong place after all??  We traipsed back out of the field, round to the Godinton House car park and tried to locate the tree.  Nope! We were in the right place first time so back we went into the corn field and back to the first searching spot.  Back on his hands and knees again and before we knew it Mike had the cache triumphantly in hand.

No corn was harmed in the taking of this photo!


We were truly in the swing of it by now although I have to confess I was getting rather hot and sweaty! We were really pleased we'd left the caching until late afternoon.

Caches 6, 7 and 8 were soon collected and signed.

Unfortunately it looked like the predicted rain might catch up with us....


With just number 10 left to do we started to feel a few spit spots in the air and the sky's became dark!  We soldiered on to the location of number 10 but the tree canopy was so thick that it was really dark and despite search for 10minutes we couldn't track down the last of our caches for the day. Nuts.

Just a short walk to get back to our car and then the heavens opened and left us ABSOLUTELY DRENCHED! (But mighty refreshed!)

Within seconds you could wring me out!
The whole route took us about 2 hours but you could easily make a day of it.  In fact we might retrace parts of it with the children and take a picnic.  

A really lovely, and highly recommended walk.  Thank you to TheHurks for posting this series of geocaches.

For more information on Geocaching please visit the website www.geocaching.com

Thursday, 1 August 2013

The Silver Birch and its master plan

We are fortunate enough to have a beautiful Silver birch tree in our garden.

This beautiful tree provides us with soft, dappled shade in the summer and looks picturesque with snow capped branches in the winter.

However - I believe it has a master plan.

Our Silver Birch is making an attempt on WORLD DOMINATION! (mwa ha ha - evil laugh)


Each July/August we are swamped with its teeny tiny seeds blowing in from the garden as it attempts to 'sow its wild oats'.  If you so much as leave a window open on a vent these pesky little blighters still find their way in.

Currently you will find Silver Birch seeds in our bath, on the toilet, in the toilet, in our bed, on all window cills, covering the kitchen floor and probably floating in my cuppa next to me.

I can sweep the kitchen 20 times a day and still have a huge pile that have crept in.

I realise that a tree is kind of lacking in purpose in its life.  Its sole aim is to re-produce.  And each summer my sole aim is to rid my house of these seeds.

Now, if these things are annoying to me, the owner of the tree, I dread to think what my neighbours think about it.  I'm sure there are general mutterings and gripings about it.



"Darling, you seem to have some rather large bits of dandruff"
"No, its the bloody tree moulting again!"


Once the 'seed season' is over we have a few months where we get along quite nicely.  Me appreciating its majestic size and beauty while it sits over us providing us with shade (and generally killing off the lawn underneath it with its enormous roots).

Then we reach catkin season.  Instead of tiny seeds infiltrating our home we now have to deal with catkins.

Folk lore says that the birch helps to ward off evil spirits and is also that it is the tree of venus.  So, as long as our tree continues to keep us safe and we are surrounded by a love-fest then we will have to continue our love/hate relationship with each other.

The seeds have a tendency to stick in the cobwebs inside the house so perhaps it is just the worlds way of showing me the areas I need to dust more.