Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Father's Day Craft

Pinterest is such a great source of inspiration for me, especially when it comes to trying to find craft ideas for children.  This coming weekend it is Father's Day and so I had to find something which was simple and age appropriate for our Playgroup children to make for their dads.

With a little help from an idea on Pinterest and a shopping trip where I picked up these supplies

and teamed them up with the Dot Markers which I shared about with you in a recent blog post here, we made this

The card strip across the bottom is just to show you what is inside. 
When you open it out it looks like this

It is a little difficult to photograph.  The centre card which joins the hands is folded back and forth to hide it in the middle.  When opened out it is meant to represent a child spreading their arms wide and saying "daddy I love you this much".  A cute idea and all the mums loved it - the kids enjoyed making them too.

We also sent home a little parcel of chocolates for the children to give their dads too.

If you have any other ideas for children's Father's Day crafts which could be used for Playgroups - please let me know!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Learning to Crochet

I am learing to crochet - yah!!  It is the one craft that has eluded me my entire life and even though people always said it was so easy to do, I just never could get the hang of it.  I remember my mum crocheting when I was younger and she could make things so fast and with such ease.  I learned to knit at a younger age, but crochet just baffled me.

Well with the emergence of so many pretty embelishments for craft these days, among them the cute little crocheted flowers, I was deteremined to give it a try once again until I finally conquered  and learned how to crochet. 

When my mum visited me last year (we live in different States), she got me going with learning a few of the basic stitches.  If  we lived close by I would have learned all of this years ago I'm sure.  I didn't actually make anything but I did achieve a little knowledge which has stood me in good stead as I have since watched numerous tutorials on You Tube which teach you how to crochet.

The first stitch I learned from a tutorial was the Tunisan Crochet stitch - it reminds me very much of knitting and this was why I probably found it easy.  The thing that it really helped me with was gaining control over the crochet hook.

This is definitely easy to do and the tutorial I learned it from is found here.

What I have discovered I think that having something more definite crochet is a much easier way to learn and it keeps up the motivation and enthusiasm as you see something grow from your efforts.

The following zig-zag style was something I wanted to try making and after speaking with my mother-in-law, she obtained a pattern from a friend and got me started.  This is my progress so far.

I am not using expensive yarn as I learn, but I did go and buy a variety of colours to make my first crocheted rug with.  I love looking at all the colours!

This is very much a learn as I go project, I've made plenty of mistakes and gained confidence as I've gone along.  I love that I can undo a mistake easily and crochet it again quite quickly.  I've only been doing this for a little over a week and usually only as I sit in the car waiting for school to finish in the afternoons, but it is slowly growing and starting to look like something

I am loving this - it is so much fun - especially the creating with all these gorgeous colours!!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Dot Markers

Have you ever heard of Dot Markers?  I had only ever seen them in school supplies catalogues.  I've been planning lists of resources and activities for our Playgroup and these were one of the things I thought the children would have lots of fun with.

Last weekend we went to visit our local Riot Art & Craft Store and found Dot Markers there and they were on sale too - what a bonus!! 

I bought some of these for Playgroup and we went home and tried them out, making a few sample pictures so that the mums and children could see how they work.

you can make pictures using the dots

and nice patterns too

The colours are vibrant and fun to use

My children had such fun with these Dot Markers, from the oldest to the youngest.  We ended up going back the next day and buying some for us to have at home too!

We used them this week at Playgroup and the children loved them - even those who don't naturally gravitate towards art & craft activities enjoyed the Dot Markers.  They are chunky and not too long, so very manageable for little hands to use.  They were a relatively mess free activity too.

Riot Art & Craft stores sell Dot Marker in kits also.  You do need to check them though.  I noticed that the dot size on some of the kit markers is only half the size of the ones you buy individually.  I preferred the individual option because it was a larger dot and I was able to choose the colours I wanted, buying multiples too.  With the sale price, it worked out a little cheaper than the actual kit price did anyway.  The only colour I didn't buy was black because it looked more like a murky green colour on paper and not a clear black.

If you are looking for a new craft activity for your children, I highly recommend Dot Markers!!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Samaritan's Purse - Operation Christmas Child

I do have a strong belief that by giving to others, we in turn are blessed ourselves.  We may have to sacrifice something ourselves in order to do this - perhaps with our time, or our finances or the resources we have at our disposal, but it is so worth it when you see the difference it can make in the life on another person.  This is something I have aimed to teach my children over the years and it is something I would hope they take a real ownership of and when they are grown, carry it through into their adulthood.

I know that many, many people get involved with helping others and assisting with financial aid, there are so many worthy causes out there, and people too, which need out help. 

As a family, every year we choose to be involved with the Operation Christmas Child project which is run by Samaritan's Purse International Relief.    I love it because it is something which is more hands-on in a tangible sense and while it requires more effort, it also becomes something my children take on ownership for as a result.

Samaritan's Purse is a Christian relief and evangelism organization.  The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world.  Take a look at their website to learn more about this wonderful project.

The concept is to share a gift with a child by filling a box with a variety of small gifts.  The box will then be collected and distributed to a needy child somewhere else in the world. 

Throughout the year we plan for this and we buy items to fill a shoe box sized box for a child.  We always include items to wear, items for personal hygene, school supplies, something to play with and something special for the child. 

We have a large family ourselves and I do budget very carefully, you have to these days with the cost of living being so high, so I have become very adept at shopping for items on sale.  I like to economize and stretch our money as much as I can, it is something I do for us as a family on a weekly basis.  So with the Christmas Boxes it is no different.  I buy all my stationery items when the back to school sales are on at the start of the year and then pack them away for when it is time to make up the boxes.  I watch for end of season clearances on clothing and footwear too.  By shopping this way, it takes the pressure off at this time of the year, both time-wise and also money-wise. 

We like to do quite a few boxes, it used to be one for each of our children to do themselves and has grown from that.  By buying items on sale I can buy more items, still spending what I initially would have if things weren't on sale, but getting a lot more for my money, which means we are able to make up more boxes to send to children overseas.

This is a great project for children to be involved with and I love that it is teaching my children to be generous and give to others in need.   

This is one of my girls and she has a particularly generous and caring nature, she loves being involved in Operation Christmas Child.

Our church is involved in this project and the school where my children go is also involved in this project and they usually have a team of staff and Year 12 students go overseas at the end of the year to help with the distribution of the Christmas boxes.  We have watched video coverage of a community of children receiving their boxes and it was so wonderful to see the joy and excitement on the faces of the children and when we looked at their surroundings, we could see that they literally had nothing.

Operation Christmas Child is something we count as a priviledge to be involved in. 

One really neat thing is that we are even able to track our boxes and find out which country they have been sent to.  Then we can look up on a world map and show the younger children in particular exactly where that country is, it just makes the whole experience more real for them.

Thank for letting me share about Operation Christmas Child with you.  If you like the look of this and have never heard of it, or would like to get involved for your own family, visit the website to learn more.  This is a huge operation around the world and I know that we are only like a drop in the ocean when it comes to the Christmas boxes we personally prepare, we play such a small part, but every little bit helps and makes a huge difference in the life of another little person somewhere else in the world.  For this reason, we are so grateful to be involved!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Loving Buttons

I don't know about you, but I have had quite an ongoing fascination with buttons and really enjoy working on craft projects where I can use some of my button collection.

If you look online you can find some amazing craft projects which incorporate the use of buttons.  Here are some of my favourites which I am wanting to make.  I've saved these all in my Pinterest account so that I can find the original websites easily enough when I go to make them.

Both of these ideas are great for Christmas Decorations

You can also turn buttons into attractive pieces of jewellery to wear

and I love this rainbow themed heart made from buttons

I have quite a large collection of buttons which has grown over the years, it incorporates everything from themed novelty buttons, Designer buttons and buttons in lots of different sizes and colours.

Novelty buttons are always fun to use - these sewing themed ones are great for anyone who loves sewing.

Beutron Buttons have great little bags of buttons you can buy, all with a particular theme - colours, novelty, etc.  It is usually much more economical to buy a bag like this instead of just a card holding a few buttons.

Pastel Collection

Bright Collection

I particularly love Designer Buttons - my all time favourites are Debbie Mumm Buttons and Mary Engelbreit Buttons.

A few of the Mary Engelbreit Designer Buttons

I do sell a few of these Designer buttons in my online stores here and here.

I have even had a few attempts at making my own buttons and these are definitely a lot of fun to do!

Handmade Button Babies

Handmade Garden Buttons

Recently when shopping in a homewares store I found these gorgeous glass jars.  They came home with me for the particular purpose of storing a few of my colour themed buttons on my desk.  I love theme!!  I can enjoy a bit of colour - which is always a source of inspiration for me.

If you know of any great button crafts - please share them - I would love to find more ideas for using buttons!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Paris, France - Quilt Fabrics

Trends come and go, as we all know, but one of the latest decorating trends which incoporates a travel theme, in particularly Paris and the Eiffel Tower, has been something I have quite taken a liking to.  My oldest daughter was the first one to develop a liking for anything with the Eiffel Tower on it and I guess that is what first got me noticing things in the stores.  Now I seem to see things everywhere I go.

This is a glass Eiffel Tower which my daughter found at our local Riot Art & Craft Store.  It was under $5 and we filled it with red decorative sand which is very inexpensive and available from most discount stores - it comes in lots of great colours.

When it comes to trends, what is something that excites the serious crafter/quilter?  Well it has to be quilt fabrics of course!  When ordering my last lot of quilting fabrics, I found a lovely selection of fabrics to choose from which all have a Paris theme and feature the Eiffel Tower.

Aren't these all gorgeous fabrics?  I think I love the last one the most, it is extremely pretty with the Eiffel Tower on a background of roses.  If you are interested in purchasing any of these fabrics, I have a very limited amount for sale in my store and you can click on the link below the fabric you like which will take you direct to the page you can purchase from.

I have a few projects in mind which I plan to use some of these fabrics on, but for now I am just enjoying looking at them sitting on my desk.

I was shopping at Spotlight recently and they have a lovely new selection of sewing baskets available and guess what I found

It even matches one of the fabrics I have listed here.  If you like this then you will need to head to a Spotlight store quickly, these are so nice that I am sure they will sell fast.  They came in red too.

I hope you are enjoying your day.  I am about to go pick up my children from school and am really looking forward to going out into the warm sunshine - I love the winter weather we have where I live, it really isn't cold at all during the day - for the most part it is really pleasant.  We are very blessed.

Friday, 3 August 2012

New Crafty Template

I was never quite settled on the look of my blog when I first set it up.  I did like it but I really hoped for something with more of a crafty look, something which also represented a style I loved.  I always feel that your creativity is an extension of who you are and my blog in it's own right is also a piece of who I am - so it makes sense that it represents me in some way.  Being a complete novice at all of this though meant my options were limited.  One thing I am learning is that blogging is definitely a learn as you go experience. 

Today I have been visiting many different websites with lots of different blog backgrounds and templates to choose from.  You seriously can spend hours doing this without even realizing it.  I was starting to feel like I really might have to find someone who can custom design something for me, but then I stumbled onto this website http://www.blogdesignsbydani.com/ and I found the answer to my problems. 

Dani had a template which I loved right away and best of all, it represented the crafy aspect I wanted to incorporate into the look of my blog.  She has great instructions to follow for people who are a novice, like me.  I have even learned how to change fonts, colours etc.  It's all very exciting!!

So welcome to my new look blog everyone . . . hope you like it!!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Laminate Fabric ~ Handmade Keyrings

I know I haven't been as regular with my blogging as I would like, don't you just wish life would slow down sometimes . . . but with the world we live in . . . that seems highly unlikely.

I have been able to sneak a little bit of craft and sewing into my days on the odd occassion and today I would love to share with you my latest project.

Recently on a trip to Spotlight I purchased some fabric with a difference - it has a laminate or plastic finish to it.  I have wanted to try making something with this for the longest time, but never found any fabrics in designs I really liked.  It was very exciting to find not only this type of fabric but also some lovely bright colours and styles, all of which I loved.  I did refrain and only bought a sampling of a few different ones - it is expensive and I wanted the chance to try it before I went to crazy with my shopping.

Here is what I bought ~

and ~

These colours and designs co-ordinate so well with many of my quilting fabrics - it was really quite exciting.  Something that can only be appreciated from one creative person to the next I'm sure!

Well this is what I have been making over the last week

. . . . . . Keyrings . . . . . . and I am loving them!!!!

I have been trying an amazing new stiffening product which I have used in the centres and these keyrings are very stiff and plastic coated, so they will be long wearing.  The thing I love about them is they are so pretty.

I have made a few for my Etsy Store.  If you have never visited before, please stop by for a visit and see some of the things I have enjoyed creating.

Now I'm off to enjoy the sunshine for a short time, it is a beautiful winter's day here . . . and have a cuppa with a good friend . . . perfect!!

Until next time, enjoy your crafting :)