Easter Eggs – #minicreations #creativechallenge

We try not to go too mad with chocolate over Easter, and try to do something a bit different as a gift for grandparents rather than buying a standard egg, particularly because Grandad can’t have chocolate. This year I had a brain wave one day when thinking about what we could make. I’d been meaning to do some papier mache with the boys for a while, and it occurred to me that balloons blown up small would be the shape of eggs. So that’s what we did!

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I blew up 2 balloons, one for each set of grandparents, and ripped up some pieces of paper in various bright colours to give small-ish strips. Then came the really fun part – getting messy! We mixed some white PVA craft glue with some water until it was nice and runny. Andrew very much enjoyed helping me with that part. We made sure we put our protective plastic mat down on the table, and then started dipping strips of paper in the watery glue. As we pulled them out, we stuck them onto the balloon (we did one at at time). I held on to the balloon to keep it in one place, then when we needed to do the bit that was touching the mat, I lifted it up and held it by the tied end, which we left poking out.

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Once both balloons were fully covered in lots of overlapping strips of paper, I tied an elastic band around the poking out bits and we left them hanging to drip dry in the garage (unfortunately it wasn’t a very nice day when we did it otherwise they would have been great drying outside). After a couple of days they were well and truly dried out. Then I got a skewer and popped the balloons inside to leave a nice egg-shaped hollow structure. At the end where the tied with poked out, I got some scissors in and cut around the centre to give two halves.

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To give the inside a different colour and texture, I cut four squares of foil and we had fun pushing them down into each half egg. To finish off the edges we stuck some red tape around each rim. Then all that was left to do was fill the eggs with surprises and give them for Easter! We chose some chocolates from a lovely chocolate shop in Keswick on holiday, and some Cumbrian sheeps milk cheese for Grandad.

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Creative Challenge
Mini Creations

Springy flowers Mothering Sunday card

I’ve got a horrible cold at the moment, so I’ve not felt like doing much other than the bare essentials of getting through the day with the boys, but I thought writing this short post would cheer me up. We like to make cards where possible, which often means doing a photo collage online, getting it printed, and sticking it to some ready folded cards. For Mother’s Day this year, as we have done in previous years, I thought it would be nice for the boys and me to do some craft together.

I scoured our craft box and found some coloured paper, glue, mini pompoms, small foam shapes, and furry wires. I cut some flower shapes out of two colours of paper, one colour bigger than the other, and a pot for the flowers to sit in. Then the boys (mainly Andrew whilst Joel tipped the pompoms out the bag!) helped me stick it all together. First we assembled the flower heads with glue and finished them with a mini pompom in the middle. Then we stuck them with tape to the top of the furry wires which became stalks. The other end of the stalks then fastened to the card with tape, and we glued the pot over the top. To finish off we stuck some leaf shaped foam bits to the card on either side of the stalks.

And there you go, a simple but effective Mother’s Day card – we made two identical, one for each Granny/Grandma.

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Mini Creations
Creative Challenge

Personalised birthday cards: Grandad’s birdies

After the success of Granny’s Garden, I decided to have a go at making some birds to go on a card for my dad’s birthday. Over the past few years he’s got into bird-watching, particularly in my parents’ back garden, and has rigged up all sorts of camera technology to get quite fascinating pictures and videos of birds as they come and eat/drink/nest in the garden. If you’re interested, he has a website displaying all his finds, called Garden Twitter. He’s be really chuffed if more people went and had a look.

Anyway, that’s not really the main point of this post. I know nothing about birds, and would find it hard to tell you any names of those that land in the garden other than the obese pigeons that you can’t fail to notice. So I had to do some research in order to make the birds on the card as realistic as possible (OK, maybe realistic is the wrong word, because they’re cartoon-like, but I mean they have the right colours in the right places on their bodies!) That’s where the RSPB website came in handy, with its very useful colour sketches of birds that I know Dad has seen in the garden – perfect 🙂

Here’s a step by step guide to how I made ‘Grandad’s Birdies’…. (p.s. in case you were wondering, this post was written a while ago but I couldn’t publish it til after his birthday – I’m still busy with other things at the moment, so little blogging action 🙁 )

1. I started with a piece of thick brown A4 card
2. I folded it into three - the 2 side sections (which will become the front of the card) were deliberately unequal in size
3. I made a bluetit, by cutting a body, wing feathers, tail feathers, face and top of head feathers out of different textured papers
4. Here's the finished bluetit
5. I made a robin - just like I made the bluetit, using the same shapes but in different colours of paper
6. Here's a greenfinch - made in the same way again
7. Here's a goldfinch - made in the same way again
8. I then stuck the bluetit onto the wider front section, and then cut round him with a craft knife until reaching his tail, and then carried on cutting a straight line from him to the top and the botton of the card (making this front section less wide than it was, but still wide enough to meet the other front section when closed, as shown in the picture)
9. Now for the inside of the card... I cut out a tree from some coloured papers, and a piece of blue paper to be the 'sky' as well as a flowery piece to be the 'garden'
10. Then the other 3 birds found their home in or on the tree - all this sticking was done using double-sided tape by the way
11. I then drew round bluetit with silver pen, and on the flap underneath where he sits, I then cut out the centre of the bird-shaped silver outline that was now drawn onto it.
12. The idea of this hole was that it allows us to peak through at the garden of birds just before we open the whole card up. I also stuck a Happy Birthday sticker on the left and flap (the other side to the peep hole)
13. I added some flowery paper onto the front of the card, the same height as it was inside, so it's in keeping and continuity with the garden inside
14. The final touch was some writing on the front - Where are Grandad's birdies? Beau (the name of his Bluetit on his website) knows!.... then you open the card and find them in the garden, you see 😉

Bright and easy Mothering Sunday cards

Happy Mothering Sunday, Granny and Grandma!

I know it’s a bit late, but I couldn’t publish this until I knew our mums had seen their cards because they actually read the blog! This was just a quick idea that I came up with quite last minute as we’d had a busy weekend last week and I suddenly realised we needed to post something by midweek so they would get there. After the success of our footprint angel cards at Christmas, I thought I’d use Andrew’s hand prints this time. Except we didn’t have the energy to get the paint out, because since Christmas he’s become even more wriggly and strong, so keeping him from putting paint soaked hands into mouth would be more of a task than I wanted on a weekday morning. Instead I chose to draw around his hands, which remarkably he let me do without too much persuasion – I think he was interested in the soft feel of the foamy paper I used.

One left hand outline and one right hand outline were achieved, and formed the outline of a flower head. I then cut a stem, some leaves and a middle bit (which I guess represents the stigma/style/stamens according to Wikipedia) out of some different textured papers. This flower was then stuck onto a card made from two strips of thick brown card, held together with bright pink ribbon.

Two thick strips of brown card, A4 in length, folded in half
Pink ribbon holding the two strips together at the bottom, fixed with double-sided tape
Flower pieces assembled on card, fixed with DS tape

We hope they brightened our mums’ days, their second Mothering Sunday as Granny and Grandma!

Incidentally, I like using the term ‘Mothering Sunday’ instead of ‘Mothers’ Day’. It dates back earlier than the modern name for the day, to when people traditionally visited their ‘mother’ church on that Sunday. This was a local big church or a cathedral, and a special service was held for this, the 4th Sunday in Lent (that’s why Mothering Sunday moves around each year, in line with Easter). My reason for liking ‘Mothering Sunday’ is because it reminds me that being a mum is a job, it involves constant actions and ‘doings’, which can be described together as ‘mothering’. This gets lost in the term ‘Mothers’ Day’. I only appreciated this since being a mum myself, and now I appreciate my own mum’s (and Grandmas’ and mum-in-law’s) mothering even more.

Personalised birthday cards: Granny’s Garden

It’s that time of year again: my parents’ birthdays are here (one in February and one in March). They have lots of things and I never know what to buy them. So this year I decided to make them personalised cards for a present, because I know they will appreciate something that was hand made. (I also popped some cinema vouchers inside for Mum – I can’t say yet what will be in Dad’s as his birthday hasn’t come yet.) Here’s how I made the card called ‘Granny’s Garden’….

I started with a piece of A4 chocolate brown stiff card in a landscape orientation
I folded it into 3 in a zig-zag kind of way: the height of the folded card is the shorter side of A4, and each third is about 10cm wide. I cut off a piece from the top of the middle section and the front section using wavy pinking scissors to create a wavy edge, cutting from one side to the other in a diagonal direction.
I cut a piece of green paper with a geometric pattern about 5mm less wide on both sides than the front section of the brown card. I cut the top with wavy pinking scissors to create a wavy edge at the same angle as the card. I then made a plant bed (see next picture).
To make a plant bed just like Granny has (but hers aren't pink!), I cut a small rectangle of brown card for the soil, two longer strips of pink stripy paper, two shorter thinner strips and finally 4 very short and thin bits for the corner posts. It was all stuck together using double-sided tape, and likewise stuck onto the brown card. I added some small bits of thick green wool to be the vegetables, stuck on with PVA glue at the base only so they flap around at the top.
I then attached two cocktail sticks to the inside of the card, which would later be used to hold the bunting up. They were stuck on with PVA glue and then a small rectangle of brown card on top to cover up the stick where it was attached on the card.
This was the trickiest and fiddliest bit. I made some bunting using lilac craft wire and little triangles cut out of various patterned papers. I folded each triangle over the top of the wire by about 3mm, and stuck it down back on itself using double-sided tape. I used contrasting patterns and colours for each successive triangle as I went along. Finally I wrote 'Granny's Garden' on the finished bunting using a black gel pen.
I attached the bunting to the back of the card at the top using double sided tape and then sticking a small piece of brown card over the top using more DS-tape to hide the wire where it was stuck down. At the other end I tied the wire around the cocktail stick and put a small blob of PVA glue to stop it springing up again. The bottom piece of bunting was attached at both ends to a cocktail stick in the same way.
I then stuck a piece of coloured paper with a flowery pattern on the middle section of the card, about 5mm less wide on both sides than the card itself so there was a brown border. I also cut the top using waving pinking scissors to create a wavy edge. I stuck a button on with PVA glue on the centre of the big blue and green flower on the top right (see below)
I then cut out a wheelbarrow shape, a fork and a trowel in different coloured papers that contrasted with the green background. They were stuck on using DS-tape, and then I drew around the wheelbarrow with a black gel pen. A black button for its wheel, stuck on with PVA glue, completed the wheelbarrow.
Inside a Happy Birthday sticker completed the card, and it was then ready to write for Granny.
There we are: Granny's Garden

I love making things and this project reminded why I like doing it for other people – I like to see them receive something personalised and made with love. I find it very relaxing and it’s the kind of thing I do when Daddy and Andrew go out together on a Saturday morning. There will be more of this kind of craft coming up on the blog when I get the chance.

A ‘love’ly little bit of craft

Just a quick craft project that I knocked up in about an hour all together. I’m taking a slight risk by putting this on the blog today that Tom will see it before tomorrow when he received it as a Valentine’s gift (but it’s pretty unlikely as he’s not really into blog reading except occasionally he has a look at mine).

We have several empty small clip frames that have been hanging around in my overcrowded boxes of ‘bits to do something with one day’. Tom, the minimalist, tries to persuade me to sort these out every now and then, but I usually avoid it. So I thought he would appreciate me actually doing something with one of them at least, and, even better, he gets the benefit, especially because he’s been asking for a recent photo of me for his desk at work.

Blank clip frame

I found some patterned papers with various heart designs on them in a magazine that I bought a few weeks ago. I cut various sizes of rectangles out of the different papers using pinking scissors to get a zig-zag edge.

Rectangles of heart-design papers cut with pinking scissors

Then I covered a piece of white paper the size of the frame with several strips of double sided tape.

Paper size of the frame with double-sided tape strips

Arranging the rectangles as I went, I stuck them down onto the tape until the paper was covered.

Paper covered in pretty patterns

I then cut some long thin strips of a red patterned paper, and made a border around the outside of the patchwork. A photo of me and Andrew (can’t find any of me on my own since he was born!) completed the frame, cut into a heart shape (as best I could to fit the picture – it’s a bit wonky!) to show more of the heart designs behind it than if I left it as a rectangle.

Finished frame - we love you Daddy!

I’ve seen some lovely Valentine’s craft ideas on a few blogs so far. Have you seen any good ideas for making gifts? Or do you prefer to buy a gift? I usually don’t have much time to make gifts these days, but I do like it when I get chance, because I can make it more personal. Coming up over the next couple of months, I’ll be sharing on the blog some birthday cards that I’ve made, but I need to wait until those birthdays have gone, or I’ll spoil the surprise 😉