Friday, 21 October 2016

Fun Cheap Birthday Traditions

In our family we have quite a few birthday traditions. The list has grown over the years, once you do something for one, you have to do it for everyone every year apparently! Some of these are starting to drop off now the kids are older, some we will do forever I think.

Homemade Cake

First up is home made cake. Always. A birthday is not a birthday without cake and homemade is just the best. Even before we had kids my husband would always make me a homemade cake, when they were young he would have them "helping" with the mixing and decorating. 
You can see lots of cakes we've made over the years here, if you are after some ideas. I also have a board on pinterest of cakes I dream of being able to make someday. 
If you have never made a cake before I have an absolute beginners 101 guide to making a simple sponge here.

Birthday Breakfast

This all began when the kids were little, and had to go to school on their birthday. We would all get up a bit earlier than usual, and the birthday person would come down to find the table laid nicely and their presents waiting for them.
Their chair has a birthday balloon tied to it and cushions on the seat and back so they are super comfy!
We eat Croissants and Chocolate Pastries and drink Tropicana from wine glasses ('cos we know how to live large!)
The kids also have a birthday placemat which I must have made about 13 years ago! It's just laminated paper but because they are only used for 1 day a year they are still in pretty good condition - we still get them out now!

The Birthday Banner

This all started when our youngest was about 5 and his big sister made him this beauty. 
I do have his permission to publish this awesome photo!

For the next few birthdays we made a fresh one each time. Then we wised up and I printed this dinosaur one and we used that for several years. 
On our respective 40th's my husband and I were lucky enough to have these beautiful things hanging on the front of the house!

We have even had some sophisticated Bunting style banner's in recent years.

Home made cards 

Everyone in the house makes cards for each other, I can't remember the last time anyone bought a card. The kids used to paint, draw, cut and stick etc. Nowadays they mostly use the computer and do something terribly funny in publisher, often involving a photo of the birthday persons head cut out and stuck on the head of a film, tv or game character. Wordclouds from Tagxedo and Wordle also appear quite often as they are easy and free. My husband usually rustles up something lovely involving an old photo.
You can see some of my card ideas here, here, here and here.

The idea to share our birthday traditions came when I read this lovely idea from One Creative Mommy

Birthday Pizza - How brilliant is that?!

For someone whose Birthday comes right after Christmas how about this clever idea from The Writer Revived?
Turn the Christmas tree into a birthday tree with a quick decoration swap!

Leanna from All Done Monkey has a lovely idea of making a Milestones Birthday Book, which you fill in each year on your child's birthday ready to present to them when they finally fly the nest. Leanna has provided a free printable to get you started or you could easily adapt the idea, add whatever things you'd like to record each year.

Jamie from Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom shows us how easy it is to make a balloon avalanche to surprise a birthday person.

In the house of I Heart Naptime they kept things simple one year for a 3rd Birthday but still had lots of balloons and these lovely streamers on the bedroom door.

Over at Sa Sea Living they have a lovely tradition of taking a photo of the birthday person ever year. One you need to start from year one I guess but really beautiful if you can remember every year. (they also have homemade cake too and they look amazing)

Growing a Jeweled Rose have a whole load of fun birthday traditions, from balloons and streamers to a special birthday bath to end the day!

What birthday traditions do you have?

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Origami Christmas Tree Ornament

It's my turn to share in the 31 Days of Handmade Christmas Ornaments Blog Hop today. It's such a pleasure to be a part of this fun Blog Hop again this year, 31 creative bloggers bringing you a handmade Christmas ornament idea each day in October.
It's not too soon to think Christmas if you want time to make your own ornaments. You need time to check out all the ideas, decide which you want to try and then gather your supplies!
Origami Christmas Tree Ornament
I've been playing with a bit of origami recently and have made these easy and inexpensive diamond shaped ornaments from paper and then had loads of fun making them pretty!
Origami Christmas Tree Ornament
All you need to make a basic origami Christmas ornament is a sheet of paper and some embellishments - whatever you have or whatever takes your fancy! I used embroidery threads, yarn, an old tassel, beads, a gold pen, colouring pens & mini pom poms, I'll explain each one as we go along.

First you need to make your basic diamond shaped (octahedron - that's an 8 sided shape to you and me!) origami. I'm not going to show you step by step here, I used this brilliant You Tube video from Jeremy Shafer. There is no point me showing you how to make them when Jeremy's video is SO good. 
Go and watch the video and make a few practice ones from scrap paper, the pages of old magazines are good, then come back when you are an octahedron making expert! It's not a difficult shape to make so once you have made 3 or 4 you will be able to make them without instructions.

Now you are ready for the real thing, let's start with these white, gold and pastel geometric ornaments.
Origami Christmas Tree Ornament
To make one you will need:
  • A sheet of white paper (mine was 120gsm which is quite thick for origami but worked great)
  • A gold pen (mine was a Pilot Gold Paint Marker)
  • Colouring pens/felt tip pens
  • Embroidery thread
  • Scrap card
  • A kebab skewer
  • A needle
  • Sticky tape
  • Beads (optional)

Trim the paper to a 8" (20cm) square and make it into a diamond/octohedron origami shape as you have just learnt. From a 8" square it will turn out approx 3" (8cm) x 2.25" (6cm).
Using a gold pen draw a line on all the edges of your origami shape. Make them as thick or thin as you like, just make sure you don't smudge the lines you have drawn as the gold paint pen takes a few minutes to dry.

Colour in a few sides to your shape, as many as you like, whatever colours you like.

Now you need to make a tassel.

making a tassel
  1. Take a piece of scrap card and lay a 28" (70cm) length of thread across it
  2. Wrap thread round the card about 16 times
  3. Tie the first length of thread in a double knot at the top
  4. Slide off the card, lay on another length of thread and tie in a knot
  5. Wrap round a few times and tie again. Then to lose the ends, thread them onto a needle and poke them inside the tassel as in the photo
  6. Trim the end and you are finished
Thread any beads you are using to the long ends then tape the very ends of those long threads to the kebab skewer. It's easiest if you tape right over the ends of the threads, stops them getting caught up inside the origami.
This is to make the needle long enough to poke right through your origami shape. If by some fabulous luck you have a super long needle just use that!

Poke the skewer right through the diamond shape, just go slow and it's pretty straightforward, just twizzle it a bit if it gets stuck.
Pull the skewer right through obviously, I just stopped for the photo! Add more beads if you want too. 
Ta dah! Your ornament is ready to hang.
Origami Christmas Tree Ornament

I played with this idea and made an ornament with beads and a little bell saved from a Lindt Easter Bunny.
I coloured a few sides in gold on this one instead of just the edges too.
Origami Christmas Tree Ornament

This next one is made from more Christmassy scrapbook paper with an old tassel from my stash and a few beads. You can see here with the patterned scrap book paper that it is good to use one with no directional print. You have no control over what way up it comes out on the different sides so you could have upside down trees or Santa faces, better stick with something that works all ways up.
Origami Christmas Tree Ornament

And this is probably my favourite #pompomallthethings
Make a scrap book paper origami shape and add mini pom poms with a strong pva glue.
Once that is dry make a small pom pom over your hand (this video show how) leaving nice long ends for tying it up. Sticky tape the yarn ends to the kebab skewer and poke through the paper shape as before.
Origami Christmas Tree Ornament
These ornaments are quick and easy to make once you have mastered the basic origami involved and you can decorate them however you like with whatever you have.
Have fun!
My Origami Ornaments are part of the 31 days of Handmade Christmas Ornaments blog hop, a new ornaments idea every day of October.

Here are all 31 Bloggers in order of their appearance:

Here are all 31 Bloggers in order of their appearance:
Day 1 - The Silly Pearl :: Day 2 -Yesterday on Tuesday
Day 3 - Cupcakes and Crinoline :: Day 4 - An Extraordinary Day
Day 5 - Knick of Time :: Day 6 - Pet Scribbles :: Day 7 - Simply Kelly Designs
Day 8 - Town and Country Living :: Day 9 - Petticoat JUNKtion
Day 10 - The Everyday Home :: Day 11 - Up on Tippy Toes
Day 12 - Remodelando la Casa :: Day 13 - DIY 180 :: Day 14 - 504 Main
Day 15 - Sum of their Stories :: Day 16 - At Home with Jemma
Day 17 - The Kim Six Fix :: Day 18 - Shabby Art Boutique
Day 19 - Morena's Corner :: Day 20 - My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Day 21 - Our Southern Home :: Day 22 - Domestically Speaking
Day 23 - The Crafting Nook :: Day 24 - Sweet Pea
Day 25 - Dukes and Duchesses :: Day 26 - Heathered Nest
Day 27 - Lovely Etc. Day 28 - Stone Gable Blog :: Day 29 - Mod Podge Rocks
Day 30 - Running with a Glue Gun :: Day 31 - All Things Heart and Home

I'm looking forward to seeing At Home with Jemma's ornament tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Last Minute Halloween Costume Ideas

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
With Halloween looming I've been a bit nostalgic for the days when my kids dressed up and went Trick or Treating. Most years they decided what they wanted to do a maximum of 24 hours before, sometimes even on the afternoon of the 31st October, so most of the things we've done are pretty last minute! 

So I've trawled the archives of our family photos to share our awesome (and less than awesome) ideas - they might just help if you are a bit like us. All these photos are just pre-blog family snaps taken just before the kids went out Trick or Treating so forgive the grainy, poorly lit quality (and the mess in the background!)

The main things I learnt when my kids were small and dressing up for Trick or Treating are:
  • In the UK at the end of October it can be pretty chilly so the costume needs to be warm. Layers underneath are your best bet. (Of course if you live somewhere hot you have no problem with this, maybe even the opposite )
  • Personally I much prefer face paint to a mask. Masks are just too scary for me, but I know some kids are allergic to face paint so I guess that's your call.
  • Assuming you have time, the Charity shop/Thrift Store is your best friend for costume materials, otherwise you can usually do something with stuff from the wardrobe of someone in the house.
  • Really young children's costumes need to be simple, prop free and close to normal clothes. They will loose/drop/remove anything that gets in their way after about 5 minutes
  • If you have several kids save everything that's not broken and reuse each year
  • Beware mixing fake fur and rubbery masks, it can get pretty sweaty in a mask and fake fur can moult - we had an unfortunate Chewbacca incident, enough said!
So here are some of our masterpieces, I warn you now, these are not dazzeling ideas, but they might come in handy if you have to come up with a costume in next to no time.

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
Same costume, different years, different kids
This is just black school uniform trousers, white shirt, a strip of red fabric for a tie, fake plastic teeth and a cape made from a black bin bag and black duck tape. They are wearing long sleeved t-shirts under the white shirts for warmth. 
I seem to have varied the face paint a little over the years, here is our very theatrical son showing that off a little better.
Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
3 different kids, 3 different years
For this they wore white clothes (or grey when no white was available in their size - it looked better in real life, I blame the flash) and we ripped up an old white sheet to make bandages. They were just pinned on with safety pins and a very simple bandage face paint finished it off. White socks make good white gloves at a pinch too! On the left here was the year when we discovered how cold you can get if you go out in thin white summer trousers - layers people, it's the way to go! I still have the bag full of "bandages" just in case someone ever wants to do this again.

The Grim Reaper
Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
Black clothes, including something with a hood and a plastic scythe prop (we bought one for next to nothing in a supermarket and it lasted several years) On the left here we revisited the black bin bag and duck tape cape idea too. Again I seem to have varied the face paint a bit over the years but it's pretty straightforward.
Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids

Black clothes, black cape (bin bag and duck tape of course!), witches hat, maybe a broomstick if possible. The only thing that has varied here over the years is the face paint.

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
Not to blow my own trumpet or anything but this is probably the best face paint I've ever managed! It's not that complicated when you look closely though, just a white face, black round the eyes with a sponge and on the cheeks, then a little red under the eyes and mouth with a little paint brush.
Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
This was such a easy costume, just take some clothes that they have almost grown out of and chop 'em up! Then attack them (the clothes not the kids!) with felt pens and/or paint. The hair was sprayed with some white colour hair spray.

Mad Scientist
Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
This is probably my favourite. We had the doctors coat from an adults fancy dress outfit from years ago so I just took up a massive hem with tape. You could just put them in a man's white shirt. Then it's just swimming goggles, washing up gloves and white colour hair spray. To finish off we made the test tubes by running laminating pouches through the laminator with just a small piece of bright paper, cutting out the test tube shapes and then taping them to a piece of string. 

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
I can't find any great photos of this but they have all taken a turn in the pillowcase ghost costume. It's a white pillowcase with the top rounded over on the sewing machine and an oval cut out for their face. 
This was one of the first Halloween costumes I ever made when the kids were really little. To start with I just popped the pillowcase over their heads without rounding the top, 2 seconds in it slipped to the side and the corner pointed to the ceiling (very KKK and scary but not at all what we were going for) After rounding the top I though we would be able to just cut eye holes - NO - not for little children, this did not work AT ALL, the oval "whole face poking out" was much more practical.

And now for something a little less scary:

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
Red coat, Santa hat (you probably can't see but that is a Santa hat, just a very fluffy one), black belt and a white face painted beard. If I remember right he finished it off with welly boots.

70's Hippy
Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
That's a wig, but I guess it depends on your hair. The head band is the same strip of fabric as the Dracula tie at the top of the page. A plain old t-shirt with the design just drawn on quickly in regular felt pen and a cardboard and foil pendant.

Last minute halloween costume ideas for kids
This was Dad's old long sleeved sand coloured T-shirt that had gone all out of shape. I drew the "folds" on the front in pen, we rolled the sleeves up a bit and added a belt and light saber. Job done. He had to wear a T-shirt underneath as the V neck was a bit low but it did the job.
We've also done but not photographed:
  • A Pumpkin, just an old orange t-shirt with a face drawn on in felt pen, and a couple of cushions tied round the waist underneath
  • A Cinderella with a summer dress, apron, headscarf and feather duster
  • A Pirate from a stripy top, the same trousers in the zombie photo further up the page, a headscarf, eye patch and a little parrot toy from MacDonalds pinned on the shoulder
  • Peter Pan from a green shirt cut in a zig zag round the bottom, green trousers, a belt, a cardboard dagger and paper hat
So, if you need a last minute costume and don't have time or money to go to the shops maybe you will feel inspired to create something yourself from stuff you probably already have. If you have more time to be creative I have a pinterest board full of DIY costume ideas I've found and liked to give you much more inspiration.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Tetris Note Book

Plain note books given a simple retro gaming makeover.
Tetris Notebook
I am old, I can admit it, so when it comes to computer games I'm the generation who actually played Pong on the TV at my friends house and thought it was the coolest thing ever! We sat down at those table Space Invader Machines at the chip shop, played Pacman in the arcade at the seaside and when we got a computer (joint Christmas present between my brother and me) it was an Amstrad 64. We would buy computer magazines that had games printed in them in Basic and type it in, line by line and save the games on cassette tapes! "Syntax error on line 1340"
So when it comes to gaming I love simple things, Bejewelled, 2048, Minesweeper, these are my kind of games and of course the classic Tetris. 

At my day job I have to have a notebook on the go at all time, it's full of "to do" lists mainly and other scribblings that I can't manage without. But I do like my notebook to be either pretty, interesting or fun to look at.
Tetris Notebook
We were clearing out some desks as part of a reorg and came across packets and packets of these little stickers, they are the kind that you get with wall planners. They come in different sizes and colours and it seemed wasteful to throw them away so they became decoration for my next notebook.

This is SO easy:
Take a plain black notebook, lay a ruler or piece of card just a cm up from the bottom edge (don't draw a pencil line on the black cover, it is too difficult to rub out without marking) and working from the bottom up, place square stickers in a Tetris design.
I looked up the shapes and colours from the original game.
I had to do some compromising as the sticker colours don't match exactly. It's almost like the wall planner manufacturers weren't thinking about Tetris when they made them!
I used the tiny stickers to do a design on a smaller notebook too.
You can see here I had to cut some long yellow stickers into squares, I had loads of left over stickers but not much variety in shape and colour. I was trying to reuse something that was heading for the bin, rather than buying something new so a bit of compromise and improvising was part of the fun.
Tetris Notebook
The tiny stickers were a bit fiddly and I used a pair on tweezers in the end to place them, the slightly larger stickers were easier to work with, quicker and therefore more fun.

I covered my notebook fronts with clear stickybacked plastic (that stuff you used to cover school books with) to make the super cool Tetris design last.Tetris Notebook
I'm thinking now this would be fun to do on a whole stationery set, you could do a pen pot, magazine files, ring binders .... all sorts!

If you like this slightly geeky idea you might also like the Tetris bag I made a couple of years ago.

I might even take 5 minutes now for a quick game of Tetris - with the sound off of course, that song drives me nuts!

You might also be interested in:
Doctor Who scarf Bracelet
Doctor Who Scarf Bracelet
Dictionary Page Card
Dictionary Page Card
Recycled Comic Book Pen Tub
Recycled Comic Book Pen Pot
Adipose Cushion
Adipose Cushion
I'll be linking up to these link parties