Magazine to Masterpieces – 3D Heart Picture

My sister l001oves her glossy mags and I love getting them passed on to me, but I hate having to throw them in the recycling afterwards so this time I thought I’d try my hand at turning them into something a bit more interesting.

I’d seen pictures before of 3D papercraft pictures featuring hearts and butterflies so I decided to give it a try.

First of all I cut a heart template from a piece of card folded in half so it was symmetrical, then I set about scouring the magazine for the colours and patterns I wanted. I chose to go for a pink and grey colour scheme and used my template to cut out hearts of the same size (if you’re not keen on doing the cutting yourself there are punches you can buy).

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Once I’d cut the hearts I had to decide on my design, I’d seen lovely images of hearts made into one large heart design but the frame I had to hand wasn’t large enough so I stuck with a simple column design.

I got the back from my frame (one of the Ikea Ribba range which I love because you can adjust the aperture using the border plus you can place your picture at the front or rear of the deep frame), and pasted a sheet of canvas from a drawing pad onto it using PVA glue to give a nice textured finish.

003005006 (1024x768)The next bit was the tricky part, I brushed pva glue along the folded edge of each heart on the side that would be against the canvas and carefully pressed them down using the edge of a ruler along the crease. It took some measuring to make sure they were symmetrical (I’m a little ocd about things like that) and then I just had to wait for the glue to dry.

It looked a little wet behind some of the paler hearts when I first applied the glue but it soon dries and now and all that remains is for them to be hung with pride of place in my daughters room.

So here’s the end result I’m really pleased with it and plan to go for a butterfly picture next time, why not give it a shot. If you’re not feeling arty you can buy similar one’s from Argos or other retailers, but then you won’t get to find out what’s hot and what’s not in celeb-land first!

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I knew all those pictures of Kim Kardashian had to be good for something!

Get The Party Started

Snapshot_20141020_12So my daughter is off to a “red carpet” themed party today and a “Build a Bear” party at the weekend, this will be the fifth party this month!

In the past the kids have been invited to a wide range of birthday celebrations including; bowling, animal handling, football, cinema and good old in the house with jelly, ice cream and pass the parcel parties.

Of course we’ve hosted our fair share ourselves the most recent being a soft play venue and a science museum trip. Every couple of years though I suffer some sort of amnesia or perhaps I have just deliberately blocked out the memories because despite the sausage rolls squished into the carpets, the groups of screeching kids hyperactive on a mixture of haribro and adrenalin and the hours spent planning and preparing I decide it will be a good idea to have a house party!

Not just any old house party though, much as I know you can’t go wrong with musical chairs and chocolate fingers, I just can’t help myself, I love a “theme”, so here are my top 3 themed parties and how we did them.

1. Dinosaur party

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This party is perfect for little boys who love their t-rex’s and pterodactyl’s and is really just a twist on a normal kids party.

Guests were greeted with a few well placed dino paw prints leading to the front door and more strategically placed cut out dino foot prints inside were the clues for our dinosaur egg hunt. Foil wrapped eggs were decorated with spots and hidden around the house for hungry dino hunters to find. The house was festooned with our plastic prehistoric pals and the games were dino themed takes on party classics including musical dinosaurs (just in case rather than dancing the kids act out being dinosaurs until the music stops) and pin the tail on the dinosaur.

We had a best dino roar competition (remember the headache pills for later) and loads of dino delights to eat. A dinosaur shaped cutter made fun sandwiches, to have along with Bernard Matthew Turkey Dinosaurs, topped of with plenty of dinosaur sweeties courtesy of The Natural Confectionary Co (just to limit those e-number a little bit) and of course a dino cake for a roaring good time!

2. Popstar Party

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAWhat little girl could resist a red carpet (ok burnt orange) and bubbly reception, with an old carpet off cut and some plastic champagne flutes and lemonade that’s just what we did for this popstar party.

After arrival the girls were let loose with more feather boa’s,
sparkly sunglasses and bling than you’d find in a Lady Gaga convention.

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Fruit juice cocktails complete with fresh fruit and umbrellas set the scene, and a melted chocolate fondue along with fruit and marshmallows for dipping made for a sweet and sticky treat.

After that it was time to get the singing underway with a selection of Singstar games for the Playstation the girls were in their element, air guitars were played and a game of pass the microphone was had and the girls posed for pictures with a life size poster of their heroine Jessie J.

GEDSC DIGITAL CAMERAThe best bit about this party? Possibly the cake which was so simple but effective,
a plain shop bought cake topped with a customised rice cake topper bought from ebay but honestly? the fact that mum got to dress up too and even take on some red highlights for the day, who said parties were for kids?

3. Sonic and Mario party (here we go)

My son and his friends love all things Mario or Sonic so it seemed like the perfect party theme.

Can you tell what it is?
Can you tell what it is?

Any fan of Mario will hopefully recognise this as a mystery block and that’s exactly what it was, my cardboard box, decorated with a brick effect was filled with shredded paper and pocket money toys to be used as a lucky dip during rounds of games. Note to parents everywhere though seven year old boys find it hilarious to strew shredded paper as far and wide as possible, 2 years on and I’m still finding bits down the sofa!

A Mario Kart tournament was set up with the boys taking turns on the Wii and cheering each other on, then it was time to head to the garden to play Sonic Rings!

mario1This consisted of tying chocolate dough rings to my laundry dryer (or whirligig as we like to say) and getting the boys to eat them hands free, queue mass hysterics and some messy little boys, once we were cleaned up it was back inside for Mario cake and more of Sonics rings in the form of hula hoops, cored apple slices and party ring biscuits.mario

The star of the show was the hand painted pin the moustache on Mario game made by the kids more artistic parent!

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these, I’d love to hear about other party themes or ideas people have tried, but don’t forget my no 1 tip for home parties – always make sure you have wine in for the adults for after, you’ll  need it!

Note: This article was first published on Mental Parentals

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Stop Loafing Around and Go Bananas – Banana Loaf Recipe

When my son piped up yesterday to ask if we could bake something I spied the over ripe bananas sitting on the dresser and new what to make, his favourite Banana Loaf (or bread or cake, call it what you will it’s yummy). It’s lovely and simple and good fun for kids to help with and tastes great on its own or with some custard. Here’s how we did it.

You will need;

125 ml rapeseed oil (you can use butter or olive or vegetable oil, more about that later)

150g castor sugar,005

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg

2 very ripe bananas

190g self raising flour

60ml milk

About the oil

If you don’t want to use oil you can use 125g of butter but I use rapeseed oil whenever I ba008ke and substitute it for the butter or margarine in recipes, it seems to make my cakes light and fluffy and moist and doesn’t have the same saturated fat as butter its’s also a great source of Omega 3, plus it tastes fab, with a slight nuttiness to it, oh and it’s produced locally! Sorry I have got quite excited since discovering it, some people suggest using slighty less oil than butter in recipes as it doesn’t have the same water content but I have always substitute equal amounts and had great success.

Anyway on to the cake. First of all preheat your oven to 170 oc/ 150 oc fan or gas mark 3 (does anyone have gas ovens anymore?) Grease a 2lb loaf tin, then the fun bit, peel and mash up your bananas in a bowl. 006 If you are using butter melt it over a low heat and stir in the sugar and vanilla extract, if not just add them to the oil and mix them together before adding the banana and mixing that in too. Beat the egg and then add that to the mix, give it a good stir then add in the flour and milk, stirring until it’s well mixed and then pour the whole lot into your greased loaf tin, simples!012 If you want to add a little crunch to the top of your = loaf, sprinkle the top with demerara sugar and then pop it in the oven, 45 minutes should do the trick, just check it with a skewer and if it comes out clean you are done. 014 Leave to cool and eat! We had it after dinner last night and again for breakfast, after all it’s one of your five a day right? 015

What Katy Said

Growing Our Pound and Our Bellies

My daughters Guides have been carrying out a “grow your pound” challenge this term to raise money for outings for the pack, here’s how we’ve got on so far.

The idea is that each guide was given £1 to invest in something they could sell on at a profit and then reinvest some of the funds and do the same again and again until at the end of the challenge they would see how much they had made, a great lesson in business and entrepreneurialism.

Rachel’s first idea was to buy card and make and sell Valentines cards to her class, a good idea but with a limited window for sales, next we thought of buying seeds and growing plants but this time the length of time it would take was the problem.

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In the end we went for an old favourite – cupcakes and invested our £1 in a packet of Asda’s vanilla flavour sponge mix (I know whatever would Mary Berry say).

It had been agreed the guides could use items they already had at home, so with an egg and some milk for the mix and some butter, icing sugar and food colouring for icing we were off and running and I have to say for a £1 cake mix they made lovely well risen 003tasty cakes.

Rachel took to her room and made a lovely sign explaining what she was doing and then took to the streets peddling her wares (don’t worry only to close friends and neighbours) and sold out her first 14 cakes within the hour, her brother even insisted on paying over the advertised price of 40p.

Our first two batches,

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So step 2 was reinvesting her funds, she decided to spend £1.50on a madeira cake mix from Aldi’s and another 25p on some reduced price sprinkles(just like her mum, loves a bargain.) This one you just added oil and water and again for a packet cake mix we were pleasantly surprised by the results. We used half the packet to make 12 cupcakes (the same mix can also be used for a victoria sponge or fairy cakes).

Batch two was taken to school with the teachers permission and school mates happily handed over their pocket money for a tasty treat, though Rachel did extend credit to her best friend who had forgot her money (she’ll never make a business woman).

Batch 4 was peppato be a little different as these were to be to taken to a toddler group, we decided Peppa Pig would be a sure fire hit with the little one’s and invest in a Peppa Pig Muddly Puddle cake pack.

This was the poorest cake mix we used, with very little actual mix we only managed to make 10 rather than the promised 12 cakes and they were a little on the small side but still the toddlers weren’t complaining.

001Our next victims (em customers) were my workmates and the other half of the Aldi’s madeira cake mix was used, a quick email round the team and all cakes were gone by 10.00am, so 4 batches later, we are now at £21.70 (some people thought they were so good they paid over the asking price) and counting.

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Not a bad little return for our pound and it’s been a great way to teach the guides about investing for a return, and also great fun.

Now where’s that Dragon’s Den application form?

Whose Project Is It Anyway?

I’m all for homework, evil mother that I am. I know a lot of parents believe free time should be just that but I think a balance can be a good thing, it helps me see the sort of work my children are doing and gives them a glimpse at what high school and possibly further education and even the workplace may bring, it also gives them some responsibility to manage their time, ie you can play Roblox all night but then you can explain to Mrs X why you didn’t do your homework.

Which is all good and well when it’s actually homework for the kids. Don’t get me wrong I expect to point them in the direction of a dictionary or talk through a particular maths problem and look over their answers but when it comes to “project” work it often stops being homework for the kids and becomes competition time for the adults.

I have in my time at the school gates seen, Victorian houses complete with fully functioning lights and street lamps, hand carved wooden Olympic torches and 2 metre long spray painted rockets complete with motorised thrusters. Shocking isn’t it all these competitive parents! I know but I have to confess I think I may be one of them, ok I don’t quite go to the extremes listed above, I do let the kids come up with the ideas, but I confess I can’t resist adding my artistic input along the way, here’s, my favourites.

1. The Giant Sandwich

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Crazy woman eating a giant ham and lettuce sandwich

This was one of Rachel’s projects where they had to produce an oversized item of food for a play on healthy eating.

We went for a giant brown bread sandwich with ham and lettuce, here’s how we did it.

1. Cut a bread slice shape out of a spare memory foam pillow (ok not many people have spare memory foam pillows lying about but any foam would do), and slice in half (for health and safety reasons only of course a parent should do this bit.

2. Paint it cookie dough/gentle fawn/ natural calico or whatever other variant of beige paint you have lying about in the garage (note foam isn’t easy to paint, we found a dabbing motion worked best)

3. Cut a piece of old shaggy green carpet you have lying about in the garage (note to self, clean out garage)to a size slightly bigger than the bread.

4. Soak tissues in a mixture of water and a little red paint to give them a marbled pink hue and hang out on washing line to dry (yes my neighbours did give me strange looks.

5. Assemble sandwich, lightly glueing the layers together.

2. Viking shield and sword

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Ok this one is probably a bit more achievable from what you have lying around but looks pretty effective.

For the shield,

1 Cut a large circle out of cardboard, we marked the circle shape by attaching a pencil to some string which was secured in the middle of cardboard and then pulling the string tight and marking out the circumference.

2. Paint the shield with poster paints in suitable viking colours and design of choice.

3. We drew round coins and cut out circles for the rivets which were then covered with silver gaffer tape and attached around the outside with glue.

4. For the shield centre we covered a small bowl in tinfoil and attached it with tape.

5. We used old luggage straps attached at the rear of shield with tape to make arm straps but any material or even cardboard would work.

For the sword

1. A cardboard tube from the inside of a kitchen roll was used for the shaft.

2. Cardboard shapes were cut for the blade and handguard.

3. A soft ball was used for the hilt.

4. The pieces were bound together with several rolls of silver gaffer tape.

3. Recycling Bin

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Rachel’s class were asked to design and build a model of a novelty bin to be placed in a park which would encourage recycling so we came up with our lovely little car with various slots for different rubbish.

1. The body of the car was made from various shaped cardboard boxes held together with the famous silver gaffer tape.

2. We painted the car with blue and grey poster paints.

3. We printed of number plates and a glass recycling symbol for the front, rear and top of car and stuck down with pva glue.

4. The wheels were made with circles of cardboard covered in cut out material from old car mats to look like tyres and the centre’s were made from tin foil covered cardboard discs.

5. The headlights were made with milk bottle tops covered in tinfoil.

6. The exhaust was a section of yogurt tub covered in silver tape and attached.

I hope you like them and that they’ve given you some inspiration, now were’s that gaffer tape I feel a project coming on!

Operation Dresser – My first Upcycling Attempt

I recently visited a friends house for the first time since she had her kitchen redone, the whole thing was gorgeous but the piece de resistance was her beautiful charcoal grey painted welsh dresser, I was smitten and had to have one.

I contacted the company she has got hers from and asked them what it would cost for a smaller size dresser fully painted and finished in the style of my choice. Too much for my budget was the answer, so I thought hey why not give it a go myself, how hard can it be!

Harder than it looks is the answer but I did it anyway, so here’s how it went.

First of all I had to find a dresser, I trawled Gumtree and some other sites but it was my dad who came up with the goods at an auction house just long the road from him. He sent me a picture of a plain pine dresser which fitted my size requirements and asked me if he should bid on it. So £55 later (that included delivery) I was the proud owner of this (the picture is how it was displayed in the show room, so no it’s not my lovely lampshade!)

dresser2Next step was getting the right tools for the job, I did a little research and spoke to some craft friends and decided that a chalk paint and wax finish was what I was looking for, and the name that kept coming up was Annie Sloan, so I ordered the cream chalk paint and clear soft wax from Annie Sloan and started watching instructional videos on youtube (see earlier posts).

paint1Luckily we have a large garage we could store the dresser in because the next step was to take it to pieces.

I filled the couple of large holes with wood filler and set to painting.

The great thing about the chalk paint is you don’t have to do any sanding or priming before using it. the not so great thing is getting to grips with applying it..

The paint can be thickened by leaving it out for a while before use or thinned by adding water. Chalk paint is perfect for a distressed finished where it is applied thickly and you can often see brush strokes and then parts are sanded off before applying dark and clear wax to give a worn look.

I had opted to go for a clean look though and and so presumed applying a thick coat would give a nice smooth covering, I set to applying the paint as it came from the tin. Then I promptly removed it all as soon as it had dried  because it had set into an uneven lumpy texture, perfect had you wanted to sand it and add texture, not good for a smooth finished look. The good thing is the paint is easy to remove by wetting it when it is newly applied and you haven’t yet sealed it.

After another botched attempt I discovered the way to get the look I wanted was to apply really quite thin watered down layers of paint (the water melts the chalk lumps) in several layers and for a few days dressers parts lay everywhere in my house in various stages of painting.

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Once I’d got the hang of applying the paint, I was flying. The paint dries quickly so I was able to apply 3 coats over a couple of days and although it’s only a small pot because I was adding water there was more than enough paint.

I decided to have a contrasting shelf, cup hanging rack and drawer handles so gave these a light sand and painted them in a deep chestnut varnish which gave a lovely deep warm colour against the cream paint.

Finally I was ready to put all the bits back together and then came the waxing. Chalk paint is sealed and protected by applying wax rather than varnish to keep the matt finish. I’d read up on this and watched some videos but in the end it was much easier than I had expected.

You are best to keep the wax in a warm place to soften it and make it easier to apply. I used a normal large, soft paintbrush to apply it, but make sure it doesn’t have loose bristles or you will be picking them off forever. Apply a good coat of wax all over, making sure to get in all the nooks and crannies and don’t worry about any lumps you can remove them later.

Once you have given it a good coat used a soft lint free cloth, or like I did kitchen towel which worked really well, to gently buff the wax and remove any built up areas. If you want a shiny finish just buff for longer.

One coat of wax is usually enough but if you are using it as a surface like a table two coats are recommended, leaving 24 hours between each coat. Annie Sloan suggests it can take 30 days for the wax to properly cure but as long as you are gentle you can begin using the item right away.

So my finishing touch for a proper country cottage feel was to line the heavily marked drawers with some gingham design Fablon I got at Homebase and then I all I had to do was dress it.

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This was certainly a learning experience but I’m really glad I did it, not only did it save me a fortune it also gave me a great sense of accomplishment, and I fear the beginning of a chalk paint obsession!

The final result.

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Kids Crafts Leave You Stressed – Here’s The Answer

Kids crafts can be messy, sticky and down right stressful, so when Rachel suggested we make a stress ball she’d seen on Art Ninja it seemed like the perfect solution.

It’s quick, simple and best of all mess free (well as long as you don’t spill the rice!)

Here’s what you need.014

  • 2 balloons (different colours)
  • Some dry rice
  • Clingfilm
  • Scissors
  • Marker pen

Cut a square of clingfilm about 25cm and place 3 tablespoons of rice in the centre. Scoop the corners of the clingfilm together and twist into a sealed ball.

Next cut the end off one of the balloons, leaving just a little bit of the neck and stretch it over the rice ball.

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Take the second balloon and cut the neck of the balloon off this time taking it right down to the where the main circle of balloon start.

Stretch this balloon over your rice ball making sure the loose end of the previous balloon is fully covered.

Draw on a face and hey presto your own squidgy little stress ball, we made ours a little ninja in tribute to Art Ninja.

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This was so much fun just making it relieved any stress but it’s always there for next time the art work gets a bit more messy.

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