Saturday, June 27, 2009

What we do when Daddy is away...

I have been MIA lately because DH has been away on an extended business trip. It is hard for me to get any crafting done myself but here is what I have been up to with the kids to try and pass the time until Daddy gets home. We made this sign when DH went on an extended trip last year (while we were still in Malaysia - which is why the home looks very different). I used an A4 sheet of paper for each letter and drew an outline for the first few and then Princess E took over once she had the idea. She then coloured in each letter, we hole punched the corners and threaded some thick string through. I used Command 3M removable hooks to hang it across the doorway (I love those things!). I hope I kept it and can find it for this welcome home this coming week! Otherwise I am sure Princess E will have fun making another one. Lord A the III might even join in this time.

In the meantime, Lord A has been doing simple sticker pictures (office supply sticker sheets and black paper - he also did some using coloured paper and page reinforcers - the little round white stickers - but I didn't get a photo of that one yet)...this is a great arty craft for the littlies.

and leaf stamping.

I have had this large box hanging around since we moved last year and it has taken on many forms. It was a house for awhile, then a cave, and here I have set it up on it's side so they could hammer nails into it (the moving carton cardboard is thick enough to provide some resistance but still makes it easy enough for even a 3 yr old). I got this idea from the fabulous Filth Wizardry (don't you love that name?). Then this turned into another game of one hiding inside and trying to grab the nails I would be pulling out for them to hammer again. Then Lord A was playing with it for quite awhile before I checked on him and this is what I found....

He had emptied the shelves of whatever he could find and deposited it in the 'window' you do. Little darling...

We also made our own primitive little stamps by sticking adhesive backed foam shapes onto cardboard squares. They don't make the best stamps but it was fun doing them and just mucking around anyway.

We have been cooking our own homemade pizza (doing the dough from scratch - the kids love kneading!). Yum. (forgive the bad photo - taken at night under electric light)

I have also been making jigsaw puzzle sandwiches with the kids for their lunches. Such a simple idea (from Martha) but they absolutely love it! We just used a shaped cookie cutter in the centre and cut out to the edges in a few different spots. The kids love doing the cookie cutter part and then I scramble it before I put it on the table for them to put back together.

Anyway, we have another week to go, and school holidays just started, so my posting will be light on for awhile...

Saturday, June 20, 2009

No-sew fringed cushion cover tutorial

This has to be the easiest cushion cover you will ever make. I remember seeing the instructions for this from a project sheet from my local Spotlight store in Brisbane (Australia) I think many years ago. Anyway, here is how you can do it! This is a great quick project for a teen or younger too. There are some great polar fleece prints out there. (forgive the less than stellar lighting for my photos - very rainy day here today)

All you need is your cushion insert, some polar fleece and a pair of scissors.

I just eyeballed my measurements but you need to lay out a double thickness of the polar fleece and cut out a generous band around your cushion. Of course, you could make yourself a pattern after measuring your cushion and working out what length you want for fringing but I went for quick and cheerful today (especially with a 3 yr old in tow) and just eyeballed it. The end result doesn't really need such careful measuring.

After you cut around your cushion, cut out each of the four corners (like so)....

and cut the remaining sides into strips.

Separate your two layers and put the cushion inside.

Match up your side lengths of fringe and tie each pair of them (twice) up close to the cushion. Just do this all the way around and then you have your fringed edge cushion with not a needle in sight! I quite like a long fringe but just experiment with the length you want. You can always trim them off after you have finished if they are a bit long for your liking.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Father's Day is coming...

I think Father's Day is next month down here in Uruguay but I believe in the US it is this coming weekend? In Australia it isn't until September. Anyway, here are a few ideas and what the kids will be making for their Daddy.

The photo above is his present from 3 years ago - it is just each of our handprints on a bought canvas. I got David to do his handprint first weeks before so he forgot about it and it was a surprise on the day. The thing I love about this photo is that A was not yet a year old and hated anything on his hands so I had to quickly smoosh his hand in the paint and squish it on to the canvas before he had time to scream too much. Talk about child abuse! I think his little smooshy hand print is adorable (but I am biased).

This pencil cup is what the kids will be making this year. You can get the instructions from Busy Bee Kid's Crafts here. I am going to spray paint a leftover food tin first and probably cover it with a nice 'manly' patterned paper before letting the kids cut and paste.

A tradition I started a few years ago is one of David's favourite presents. Every year I take a photo of the kids with a sign saying, first with only Miss E, 'I love you Daddy' and now, with the two of them 'We love you Daddy'. He has a flip top desk calendar at work that the photos go into. How I am going to get the kids to do it when they are teenagers is anybody's guess (but I suspect bribery will be involved).

I am also keen on this idea over at Martha. I just need to find a note cube....

Monday, June 15, 2009

Napkin peg bag tutorial

I made this little peg bag for the kid's play clothesline as they love to hang out the 'smalls' while the rest is being hung on the big line. I saw this idea in a British Country Living magazine a number of years ago but can't find their image. Anyway, this is almost exactly the same except they used two different (and very pretty!) fabrics together and I have utilised a napkin I don't use for it's original purpose anymore.

All you need is a square fabric napkin, 4 buttons, needle and thread, scissors, string and a carabiner (and a match - which I forgot to include in the photo).

Attach a button on each corner of the napkin using a match between the button and thread to provide room for a shank underneath. After securing the button with 3 or 4 passes with the thread, bring the thread back up through the fabric to underneath the button (I did have a photo for this step but I can't get it to work on here - grrr).....

then wrap this thread around the threads underneath the button a few times to provide the secure shank which gives you room to wrap the string under it later. Pass the thread back through to the wrong side and securely knot it and trim the thread. As mentioned before, do this for all four corners of your napkin.

Cut two pieces of string (approx. 20cm each), fold in half and knot one end. Wrap the loop around one button and twist the string until it is quite tight but not curling back on itself.

Put the other end around the diagonally opposite button on the napkin. The twist will keep the string securely on the buttons.

Do this for both diagonal duos.

Loop the carabiner through where the string crosses.....

and hang from a clothesline. You can use this yourself of course, not just for the kids. It actually holds a surprising number of pegs and the carabiner makes it easy to push along the line with you as you work. I also use it inside with my drying line. Please forgive the less than stellar colour coordination of the napkin, buttons and carabiner but I was trying to utilise what I have instead of purchasing anything! My version of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Going potty...

My first terrarium (with moss from the yard - need some more pebbles to fill in the gaps)

Miss E has been asking to pot up some flowers to 'brighten up' our backyard. We are renting and there are heaps of plants but not a huge number of flowers. So, off to the nursery we go and both the kids really love it there. Oh, the possibilities! They take the selection of plants so seriously it takes ages to pick the flowers. A is only 3 but decides he needs a pot for himself as well. So, we finally choose all our plants, some pots and soil and head home for some planting fun. I have been eyeing off all the lovely terrariums around the design world so bought a small succulent for a rose bowl vase that I rarely use. Note to self: measure the actual opening to a terrarium vessel before buying the plants.....I got them in there in the end! This, below, is my terrarium after the kids found it. Obviously a terrarium isn't complete without cats, a giraffe and a dinosaur!

I also planted up an ivy hoop pot (is there a proper name for this??). I just used a wire coathanger bent into a circle and with the hook buried in the soil. I pulled up a bit of ivy from the garden as well (pray for it - it may need that to survive I fear). Considering I used an old pot laying about I don't think this cost anything except the little bit of bought potting mix. Woo hoo! I didn't have anything on hand to use as mulch so I gathered up some fallen autumn leaves and ripped them up into little bits and covered the soil with that. I really like how that looks now.

Here is Miss E's pot of 3 yellow pansies and a gazania in the middle.

Miss E also loved this large lamb's ear. Well, it kind of looks like what we would call lamb's ear because it is beautifully soft to the touch but the leaves are much smaller than any I have seen. Anyway, whatever it is, it is still a tactile delight.

Here is A's pot of 3 purple pansies. I used the autumn leaf mulch here too. I put some in Miss E's pot after the photo as well. All in all, a successful gardening weekend! What did you do on the weekend?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Homemade peanut butter

I did this a few days ago. Homemade peanut butter! We can't get a regular/decent supply of peanut butter here so it finally dawned on me to make it. A was literally standing by just waiting for a yummy peanut butter and honey sandwich. It turned out pretty well and A loves it. Not as smooth as I had hoped and am not sure if that is because of the quality of my food processor or not. Anyway, all I did was buy a packet of roasted and salted peanuts, throw the contents in the food processor and blend. It takes a few minutes. I added a few slugs of olive oil as it was going to moisten it a bit and a tiny little bit of sugar (I like the mix of sweet and salty). I am very happy with it and it will certainly be used a lot around here for the favourite sandwich combo and now I can add some to a quick satay recipe! Yum.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Boardgame box tutorial

Update! - see prettier lid here.

Ok, well this is the tutorial that I have been trying to get to for weeks. The half finished box has been sitting on my desk mocking me. Anyway, it is done now and here are the pics to show you how to do it too. Right at the end are the things I learnt along the way and how I would do it differently next time.

This is the poor, sad, battered box beforehand. Such lovely soothing colour combinations too.

I measured the size of the gameboard and then added how much I thought I would need for the game pieces and what height I would need for the sides of the box.

I used an old moving carton for my cardboard but would use a thinner cardboard next time. It threw out my measurements somewhat when I hadn't accounted for the thickness of the walls. I measured out my previous calculations on the cardboard and cut it out, removing the corner tabs. I would have kept them for added strength if the cardboard was thinner. I also scored along the folding lines.

I folded up the sides and added a little piece of strong duct tape to each corner to hold it in place.

Then I added another longer piece for reinforcement.

I placed it on brown kraft paper and cut out tabs for gluing around the edges for a neater finish...

like this. I also glued the paper all over to adhere to the cardboard for a flatter finish.

Here is the bottom of the box with the completed covering of brown paper (I just like the utilitarian look of brown paper but anything would work that you like).

Here is the layout of how I calculated the insert to accommodate the game board and the game piece section with a division between the two.

Here is how mine looked cut out...

Here is how a side elevation of it folded would look. I really only included this picture because I was so happy with my little diagram!

Here it is folded in the box with the game board in residence (I used double sided tape to keep the sides of the insert flush with the box). Now, for the lid, do exactly the same basic box structure and just add enough in the measurements to allow the lid to fit over the bottom box. I had to add a lot to my measurements because the cardboard is so thick but you would need less for a thinner material. Once I had the brown paper covered lid finished I wanted to add the name of the game on top so...

I printed out the title in the font I wanted and then laid it straight over my chosen paper to cut around. I used a good pressure to cut through both pieces of paper so I only had to do this once. If you do this, cut out the inside pieces of a's and o's first.

The completed box! Yay!

It looks so much nicer on the shelf than the regular garish boxes if you have to have them out on display. I think I will add a nice label to the side as well now I see it on the shelf. That would be necessary if you had a bunch of them on a shelf too.

Ok, things I learnt along the way:
- the old saying 'measure twice, cut once' is very, very true. Winging it just doesn't cut it here. Trust me.
- I would seriously recommend a thinner cardboard. Whilst my new boardgame box could probably withstand a hurricane, that sort of thickness really isn't necessary and created a lot of hassle with the measurements. Plus it wasn't as easy to get a pretty finish with the covering.
- I would use spray adhesive to secure the paper to the card after the shape is cut out but before it is folded into place. I just don't have easy access to those sorts of basic materials. I had to use a bunch of glue sticks instead!
- Don't make the measurements for the divider the same height as the box. It needs to be about 1cm less than the height of the sides once folded. Ditto for the sides of the insert.
- As much as I like the look of brown paper I will probably try something a bit more colourful next time - a brighter colour, basic stripe or polka dot would look great. Also, I worry how it will stand up to regular use. I think leftover wallpaper or oilcloth would be a sturdier cover or I might even use a pretty paper and use a spray varnish over the top. One day when I have access to such things I will do another and see how it comes out.

I could see a whole set of boardgames done this way sitting on a shelf all stacked prettily and in full view...

Anyway, I hope you like this and, if anyone else does one, please show me your finished project!


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