Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hunting and gathering

Another lot of school holidays is over. Bummer! I really enjoyed my sleep-ins and not having routines or the school run. Oh the school run, how I hate it so. The day I get out the door without going back in for something, without yelling, or without being late will... well, it'll probably never come. My kids are incapable of getting ready without constant harassment from me. So our pyjamas-till-midday and lazy brunches and late movie nights are gone for another 10 or so weeks. And I'll have to come up with a whole new bunch of ways to amuse the kiddos. These holidays we had lots of fun exploring nearby spaces - Norah Head Lighthouse, Pearl Beach, nearby parks and reserves as well as hanging out at home baking, painting and toasting marshmallows in our homemade fire pit. 

One of the surprise favourite activities was our hunt and gather last Thursday at Pearl Beach. This beach was perfect as there was a nice little bushy area nearby for extra adventures. I made a few two-sided lists for the kids - one side was "Things to spot" and the other was "Things to collect". I added some obvious ones (spiderweb; Australian animal; autumn leaf; shell) and some not-so-obvious ones (spiderweb with a fly in it; seaglass; pinecone). I kind of thought the kids would enjoy it for a while and then just give it up and build a sandcastle. But nope. They did it for ages and explored the beach and bush together looking for all the items on the list. We met some friends down there and they teamed up, bags in one hand for the things to collect; pen and list in the other for the big tick-off. 

Just before they set off, the ultimate "water creature" appeared in the distance that they were able to tick off - a whale jumping out to wave hello! Of course as soon as my camera came out he vanished (why do they do that? How rude. Don't they know if there is no photographic proof it didn't happen!?!?!). It was a beautiful day and most of both lists were found - several times as Zak and his friend Emma teamed up and Emma's sister Jordan helped Layla and Immy find their things. The walked almost the entire length of the beach to find a red flower (it may have been stolen from someone's front yard in the end) and on the way back, I found a piece of seaglass. I put seaglass on the list because we were at the beach and that's where you'd find seaglass, right? But I certainly wasn't expecting anyone to find any because of all the times I've ever been at the beach, I've never found a piece of seaglass (that I know of; maybe I did as a kid, but it's not etched in my memory.)

Anyway, they had a ball and are keen to do another one another time. Good clean free fun! You can do this literally anywhere - even in your own backyard, just choose relevant "finds" for them to, well, find. 

Here is the full list if you're keen to try it yourself and are just not in the mood to think too hard! 

Things to spot
Birds nest
Spiderweb with a fly in it
Tree that looks like something
Fallen branch/log
Tree stump
Black and white bird
Australian animal
Gum tree
Signs of a fire
Tyre tracks
Human footprints
Animal footprints
Ants nest
Animal house
Sea/water creature
Rock with oysters

Things to collect
Yellow flower
Pink flower
Purple flower
Blue flower
Red flower
Orange flower
White flower
Stick shaped like a "Y"
Flat stone/pebble
Perfect green leaf
Autumn leaf
Cicada shell
Piece of driftwood
"A find" 
(A find to us is something you find that is kinda random but kinda cool. Zak has a whole jar of them he's collected since we moved into this house, mainly consisting of things he's found in our yard when Steve was working in it - a really old coin, unique bottle top, rusty bolt, springs, dog tag or piece of jewellery. Layla found a golf ball on this hunt, so that was her "find"!)

So it was quite a big list! The only things they didn't find were a tree stump, puddle (darn no rain!), rock with oysters and a cicada shell. Not too bad! And if we'd ventured closer to the beach pool we'd most likely have found a rock with oysters on it. But the wind was whippy and the waves were scary - we weren't getting too close to the water. In fact, we were really sad to hear the very next day a little boy was swept out to sea from that very same beach by a huge wave. I'm glad I trusted my instincts  and kept our distance - those waves made me nervous. And obviously with good reason. That poor family... 

Ugh, I hate ending things on a sad note... So, is this something you'd do? Have you done before? What's something else they could find next time? Or a good place to do a hunt? x

Monday, June 30, 2014

The fun and games of getting a family photo. Part 2

Many moons ago when Immy was just a few weeks old, I attempted to take a photograph of all three kids and myself. It wasn't easy - that old nugget "don't work with kids or animals" was on repeat in my brain as I painfully soldiered on. I finally got a shot and blogged the outtakes here. For Mother's Day this year (yes, I KNOW it was also many moons ago...) I wanted to print out a giant photograph of the kids for my mother and mother-in-law. That meant attempting to get a photograph of ALL FOUR CHILDREN. Sheesh. I figured the easiest thing to do was to have them all lying down on the floor (seeing as that's all Annika could do!) So I dressed them up in some clothes that would go together, lay out my new rug, threw some cushions and throws on the rug and asked them all to lay down. I figured they'd be all cute and talk together and smile and act naturally I could snap away and get the pic no problems. Yeah, not quite. Zak was not keen. Not one bit - didn't want to have a photo taken at all. Not even for his grandmothers. Layla and Immy were fine - at times. And Annika had a small window of happiness and of course during this brief period, the others were having their off moments or were so wriggly it blurred. I snapped 138 photographs (I just checked the folder!). I yelled, I demanded, I commanded, I coaxed and I snapped away. It was all too much and after moving them around a couple of times, even Layla and Immy weren't into it anymore. So I hoped I got at least one shot. In the end, I narrowed it down to the one at the top (which is what we went with) and the one below.

Steve decided on the top one - he thought there was a bit more personality in the picture. I agree. So I took it to Kmart and had it blown up to the biggest I could get instantly (though "instant" still took an hour!) I have no idea what the size was in the end, but pretty big! They were around $11 each and we just placed them inside gigantic cards we made with a single piece of poster cardboard. They were a huge hit! Here is Immy with the end result (and wearing the same shirt!)

And here are some of the "oh-it-would-have-been-perfect-if-only..." outtakes. I'm sure you can imagine the actual real-life moment some of these were taken, complete with whiny voices, giggles and groans, my high-pitched "Comes on!"s and the very, very loud squeals of one tiny baby. Good times!

Oh, you STILL haven't seen enough? Ok here's one more. I actually almost used this one because it pretty much illustrates Imogen EXACTLY. She is such a little class clown. And Zak can be quite serious at times, Layla is always happy... I just didn't want a crying Annika though! How dare she ruin it for me...

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Layla's Frozen-inspired birthday party

 Layla turned another year older last week - SIX! The extra-long summer had us fooled it was going to be warm forever, so we were very excited about rigging up a sheet tent in the backyard, filling it with pillows and cushions and blankets and fairy lights and borrowing a friends projector for an outdoor movie night. Then winter actually made an appearance and that idea vanished as quickly as the heat. At least it would have been an appropriate movie - Frozen is THE movie of All Of Time for kids apparently. Except we'd have been frozen... So regular hours and regular party it was - maybe she can have a half-birthday celebration in summertime! A Frozen theme didn't go away though, so we decided on brunch, a few of her closest little girlfriends and some traditional party games - pass the parcel, pinata, musical statues. I also threw in a few extra bits just for fun. Here's how it went down!

I already had a bunch of tissue paper, honeycomb balls and streamers in the right colours - (I stocked up once in pinks and blues/greens and whites - they're the colours I always seem to use the most!) so all I bought for this party was the food, a packet of white balloons and a couple packets of clear hair combs from Coles.

Mini Elsa dress-ups This is why I bought clear hair combs in case you thought that was a weird thing to buy for a party. I made each of the girls Elsa crowns because WHY NOT? This was worth every second minute of the whole hour or so it took to make them - they LOVED them and it even was responsible for bribing one little partygoer out of the car and into the party (you know how kids go strangely shy when they arrive at someone's house even though they know them and want to go there!). I promise you they were easy enough to make - I used a cereal box and drew the pattern on (I just Googled Elsa crown template and copied it from that) but because the edge of the combs are curved, it wouldn't have glued to it properly, so I continued on the bottom of the template and curved it to match the curve of the comb. Then I cut them out, used a scalpel for the inside bits and then gave them a couple coats of gold spraypaint. Once dry I used some metallic blue paint on the middle parts, sprinkled on the blue glitter. Once that was dry, I ran the hot glue gun along the edge of the comb and pressed the crown onto it. Done! Elsa crowns! Each girl also had a bit of metallic teal netting stuck to their clothes as an Elsa cape - I had some left over from Layla's mermaids party last year - but they kept tripping on them and the tape didn't stick (I had no safety pins!) so they quickly got discarded. The crowns, though? Didn't move from little heads all party. 

Doily snowflake decorations I knew I'd use this DIY I created years ago for something! And this was it - these doily snowflakes made sweet decorations in the living room.

Pinata Of course there was a pinata! A snowflake one - snowflakes were the motif of this party. The invitations (which I didn't get a picture of, but were just a white circle with a blue watercolour snowflake painted on the front and the details written on the back), pinata, cake, cookies and one of the activities all featured the pretty snowflake shape. This was made from a nappy box! And some packaging tape, but I didn't tape it too crazily because every year my pinatas need at least five rounds from all the kids, plus a few extra whacks from Zak and occasionally an adult before it gets a hole in it! But it STILL HELD and needed some encouragement for the lollies to fall! Anyway, once the shape was created, I stuck on some blue tissue paper on the front and back and cut out the snowflake cuttings from white paper.

Cookie decorating! I had a Christmas cookie decorating party for the kids and their friends one year and they had so much fun, I thought the girls would like to do this too. So I made some sugar cookies using this recipe and let them at them. They were there for ages icing and carefully placing their little cachous, sprinkles, M&Ms and mashmallows on the stars, snowflakes and clouds (they were Olaf's flurries!)

Snowflake cutting Zak led the way here and showed the girls how to make them. I tried but got shooed away and told I wasn't doing it right (I was, but who am I to argue with a seven-year-old who seems to know everything?). Some of them came out quite cool.

Keychain threading I thought I'd make use of the leftover beads I had and the girls could make some keychain decorations for their schoolbags. Not quite as popular as I thought this would be, but some of them still did it! I originally wanted small quartz crystals for the ends and a few pretty beads at the top but must have imagined seeing the bag of crystals that inspired this as when I went into the store and asked for them, they looked at my blankly and told me they didn't sell what I was asking for. Not sure why I thought they had them, but anyway!

Snowball fight! This was everyone's favourite thing. The easiest, cheapest, non-decorative, non-time-wasting activity ever. Put the kids into teams, hand them a pile of newspaper, count down and let them scrunch up the paper and throw it at each other. First one to use up all their pile wins. They loved it. It's also a great way to spend a few minutes on a boring, rainy day - the kids and I have messed up our lounge room a few times doing so...

Indoor snowstorm Actually it was a toss up between the snowball fight and the indoor snowstorm that took the favourite thing title. Just for fun all the little Elsas got to wave their magical hands and create some snow. I chopped up a bunch of blue and white tissue paper and placed them into balloons. Then I blew them up, hung from the ceiling and when they performed their magic, popped the balloons. Down floated the "snow" and up went their voices into squeals of joy. It was pretty cute. Messy, of course, but nothing my vacuum cleaner couldn't fix! (which is why inside it better than outside - I'd have tissue paper squares in my grass for months if I'd done it outside!)

Snowflake cake I try to make food as easy as possible (for this party we had pancakes, yoghurt, waffles, scones, ham and cheese croissants, fruit and more in a buffet style) for myself. So while I made Layla a cake-from-scratch on her actual birthday (with strawberry buttercream - yum!), for the parties, I usually grab a plain double sponge cake from the supermarket and just ice it and decorate to make it a little more special. This time, I did a ruffle pattern with the butercream and then cut out some shapes for a snowflake pattern out of the ready-made white icing. A handful of blue sugar sprinkles finished it off. You can find a how-to for the ruffle icing (and how to make a mini cake out of cupcakes here).

The aftermath Hard icing all over the table + half-eaten biscuits and mashmallows stuck to all sorts of surfaces + a bench full of... crap + furniture in the wrong place + paper all over the floor and woolly rug = signs of a successful party! No I haven't painted the ceiling or floor yet. But the doors are done - yay! Baby steps...

The birthday morning surprise Party or not, I always try to make the actual birthday morning a little special - hanging balloons or streamers over the door or a decorated hallway - they love waking up to something. This year, I made some balloons animals and stuck them to Layla's door with an incredibly classy paper-plate sign. She loved it and those balloon animals are still living it up somewhere in the house. Balloons, cardboard and double-sided tape go a reeeallly long way in my house.

So there we have it - another party over! Layla had fun, her friends had fun and I had fun. Win win really! It wasn't TOO Frozen-ish, too girlie, too... much. It was a little bit trad (the kids also played pass the parcel and musical statues), a fair bit messy (snowflake decorating, snowball fight and inside snow storm), and a whole lot fun. Just as a kids birthday party should be!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

back to (blogging) basics

Remember me? It's been a while - since Easter in fact! I've been here behind the scenes a lot though - I'd log in, start a post and then snap closed the laptop and go and do something else. There are lots of little child-sized distractions these days. And also... a lot of the time... I just don't want to blog. I've been incredibly uninspired to do so lately. Does anyone read them anymore? I don't, really. I have a very, very small list of favourites whose style I think is similar to my own, bloggers I like, and sites that I really enjoy, but aside from them, I have no real interest in falling down the blog rabbit hole anymore. Or writing my own. I'm working on the latter though because I don't know if I can just throw away seven years of documenting my life and projects. (Although last year's major hacking disaster kind of did it for me!) But how to get back into it? Well, that was the big question and what I've been thinking about these past few months. I think I've worked it out. And it involves a return to the olden days...

Blogging has come a long way. And I'm not sure it is for the best. Once upon a time, it was a relatively smallish online community where great conversation took place, friendships were made and helpful information and sharing was paramount. We turned to blogs (and when I talk about blogs, I am referring to the design/home/DIY/lifestyle arena as that's my interest) because we may have been missing that really awesome friend with the stylish, but liveable, home in our real lives. Or just couldn't talk glue guns or the best black wall paint with our sisters. Sure we could eye off images in magazines, but could we ask advice and or start a conversation about something? Nope. Online? We could. And we did. You know what else we knew we got as a blog reader? Truth. Great (honest) recommendations. REAL LIFE. We saw inspirational AND aspirational homes, projects and lifestyles. More realistic budgets, decision-making, mistakes and processes. Online you'd see shop owners show glimpses of their lives, mothers who pour their hearts into making special events like birthdays or holidays extra, extra special and couples with jobs and families - just like us - who caught the renovating and decorating bug and wanted to share their experiences, tips and transformations with others. THIS is what I got out of the blogging world. Now? Pinterest has killed the conversation - how often do you click the link and visit the blog? Facebook and Twitter have killed each other (I just don't really get them or use them anymore) and Instagram has killed off the realness (how many people's lives are really that picture perfect? None). And advertising? It's killed blogging. Well, it may not have killed it entirely (there are certainly bloggers out there going great guns), but it has kind of ruined it for me.

When I worked in newspapers and magazines, advertising ruled. At one newspaper, a government department threatened to pull advertising if we ran with a negative story about them. So much for freedom of the press; it's still very much on a leash. In magazines, without the advertising dollars, there is no magazine. And without magazines there is a huge gap in the way brands can get their name out there. They rely on each other and go hand in hand. But while I have no problem with the ads themselves, I have a problem with the way in which some (not all) were acquired - with promises for editorial mentions. Some advertisers would only come on board if they had a certain amount of editorial mentions per issue, which might equate to three product placements in a shoot, and two mentions in an article somewhere. Or feature articles concocted around a product placement or brand. The problem is (this is my personal opinion. I've just seen it work from the inside and so now read so much into things): if the brand's PR (or brand's products itself) are good enough, they'll be picked up by the editorial department anyway and used in shoots or mentioned in articles. But that free publicity doesn't pay for the photographer, photo studio, stylists, couriers and everyone else! So they get hounded for $$ from the sales reps, which they might be happy to pay "IF, you can guarantee this, that and the other" in future issues. After a while, this advertising/editorial tail chasing makes you question whether things are used because they're actually really liked or recommended by a stylist/magazine. Or because they HAVE to use it. 

Which is how I kind of feel about some blogs these days... the sponsored posts, the affiliate links, the giveaways... forced posts on unrelated (or trying to make it related) things to incorporate a particular product/brand. It's all a bit much nowadays - bloggers have been bought by everyone! And I can't help but feel suspicious of all those links in posts of products they might like or recommend - are they only recommending this because they are being paid to? Or because it is an affiliate link and they'll make money off their fans' eagerness to replicate? Money is hard to turn down. I get this, I do. I took on a few sponsored posts and collaborations and banner ads. Mostly I think the former two worked ok as they were brands I did actually know and use. But how unfair is it for readers to see me getting free things just because I am writing about it?! Would I have bought it regardless? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I had to kick my own butt when I actually approached a couple of companies for something because I was going to buy the items regardless and thought they might want to contribute in some way by discount or partly gifted etc. I was surprised at myself - who am I!?!?! How rude! That's not me. And that NOT why I started a blog. (FYI, one said yes - and one said no not right now due to budget). I remember reading something a blogger agency wrote that explained why companies should partner with their bloggers: "Readers trust the bloggers for honest opinions and product advice..." But by PAYING those bloggers to write about a product they probably wouldn't write about otherwise, isn't that kind of abusing that trust? I don't know, but I feel it is. I once did a survey and discovered that 10% of readers had bought something I'd written about on the blog. Whether it was something I'd used, discovered or just thought was pretty or cool, that is kind of influential. I'm very wary of abusing that; brands are obviously very happy to use that! And as for the admin side of things - I was hopeless. So many advertisers got months worth of free advertising because I was useless at keeping track of it all or following it up. And mention SEOs, Google-friendly titles (is that the same thing? See - I don't even know that) or pageview stats to me and I will cover my ears and sing "la la la". It's all quite headache inducing.

The other headache-inducing aspect of blogging and social media is the sheep factor. There is so much sameness - the same trends, projects and products pop up everywhere. You might love something and then you see it so many billion times on blogs, Pinterest, Instagram you wish you hadn't bought it/tried it/made it anymore. That copy-cat theme extends to extensions of the blogging world - blogging courses, conferences (conferences?! really?) and workshops have been the buzzwords for the last couple of years. This year's trend? Oh that's easy - pop-up shops! And while I'm ranting ... there is a certain perfection that is almost expected now of bloggers. You can't just blog - you need to take awesome photographs too. And appear to live an incredible, interesting life. Pinterest and Instagram's beautiful images have meant everyone needs to step it up in terms of their content - professional-standard images are quite the norm. Magazine-perfect homes and super-styled "everyday life" is what we see. I'm all for pretty - of course! And I don't deny setting up my own pics occasionally. And I won't stop doing so either. But a little reality should be in the mix too - because people respond to that and relate to it. And having someone say "oh thank GOD I'm not the only one..." and launch into their own story is so much better a comment than "Ah. Mazing".

Anyway, working out what was annoying me and making me so disillusioned helped me make up my mind about what I should and would do with my blog. I considered just accepting I was old school and out of the loop and letting it go - sheesh, I've whined so much about blogging in this post, why would I want to continue, right? But then I thought about what it was that I enjoyed about it before and wondered if I could just go back to that. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I had a list as long as a six-year-old's Christmas list of people I had to get back to regarding affiliate programs and other potential sponsorship partnerships. I considered them all, started to stress at all the growing to-do list, then told them all what I'm telling you now:

I've made the decision to pull back from all advertising/sponsorship/affiliate/monetizing of my blog for the time being and get back to basics. I've realised a lot of my passion towards blogging has vanished due to the admin and extra work that was going into it behind the scenes and I really want to get back to why I liked it in the first place, which was simpler, about my home and life and without gifts or sponsors. I don't necessarily expect to remain this way forever, but I basically want to start at the beginning in a way and see where that leads - I'm sure there will be opportunities further down the track when the time feels right. 

Standard response word for word! I am SURE there is a way to combine a blog with money-making in a way that allows the blogger to remain authentic and not annoy its readers as well. I just don't know what it is for me yet! But I do hope to find it one day, because of course it would be nice to turn something I enjoy(ed) into a profitable career. I think some bloggers do a pretty good job of it too - Dana of House*Tweaking and Emily Henderson have relevant and great sponsorship partnerships most of the time without losing their look, voice or style. Or my readership either (cause that's important!) But until I find a way to do it that I'm comfortable with, there will be no advertising on my blog. I'm going back to the early days - sharing, caring and communicating (if people still comment! I know times have a changed in that regard!). This whole post might not mean much to anyone - and it might turn out to be one big hypocritical wordy mess, but I just felt the need to explain my absence and disinterest.

And you know what? Since I've made this decision, I feel a bit more inspired again. I've been writing down post ideas and I even gave the blog a very simple new look. From now on, I'll make a bit of a return to what my blog was in the first place - my renovation (no, the kitchen IS STILL NOT FINISHED!!!!! I need a tiler cause I don't think I am cut out for all the diagonal cutting around the rangehood), makeovers and projects and a peek into a real Aussie family trying to make a happy home and life. Because that's why I started it. To quote myself, in my very first post on this blog ...

"I want The Happy Home to be about family life: creating stylish and liveable spaces, spending creative time with little ones, prettying up the mundane, laughing through the frustrations and complications, and just enjoying life's little moments. I'm not a stylist, not am I uber-creative. I'm just attempting to use all I've learnt through my work, inspirations I've gathered and ideas I've come up with to turn my home into a happy one. Because, ultimately, that's what every home should be - a place that makes you happy. Not because it's decorated with designer furniture or boasts the latest trend or is hospital-clean or looks like it jumped from the pages of a magazine*. But because it's filled with the things you love and is an extension of all those who live there. This blog is about a real home with a real family on a real budget. It's real living!"

*{note:} There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things - they just might be the things that make you happy. But do this because you want to, not because you feel you need to in order to have a stylish home and envious visitors!" 

Are you still reading?! Well done! Sorry for the ranting and raving - needed to get that off my chest. I don't judge (too much!) those who do this thing - people can do as they please on their sites. It just saddens me to see so many great sites either stop existing altogether or turning in a giant advertorial and losing their soul and original essence. I don't want to be one of those...

{Image by Belinda Graham for The Happy Home}

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

eastery decorating with watercolour eggs and crepe paper flowers

If you're as lucky as us, your school holidays will have so far been plagued with rain, meaning indoor activities is where it's at. Stuck like glue to the couch anyway with baby Annika, some simple craft ideas are gold for us. And with Zak gone to my parents house this week for a boys holiday with his younger cousin, there is lots of loom bands being made (and flicked around the house), painting being done and glitter being glued to all sorts of bits and pieces. It's incredibly pink and girlie here at the moment. So with Easter just days away and gifted with a voucher from Officeworks to try out some of their craft ideas, I hotfooted it to my closest store and stocked up on double-duty supplies: something to keep the kids busy and that will also decorate the house for Easter. My score? 
- The prettiest watercolour set, (Micador Watercolour Palette, $12.78) - I've bought this set several times before. It has the best colour palette and is perfect for little kids - plonk them on the kitchen counter with a cup of water, a stack of paper plates (they're thicker and won't fall apart from the water) and a paintbrush and they will spend ages painting, mixing colours and making a super-easy-to-clean-up mess.
- Crepe paper in a range of pinks, white and metallics (Elephant Learning Company Crepe Paper, $2.33 a packet)
- Pipe cleaners (Elephant Learning Company Chenille Sticks, $1.98 a packet) 
- Paint brushes
Add to this list some egg shells and you're set for some simple decorating you can do with or without the kids (I did the ones that ended up in the pictures, but Immy did manage to paint a few eggshells -and smash every single one she painted - and Layla pitched in and made a million of the flowers to take to school for news and give to her teacher). 


These were so easy to do - and so effective. I decided to use cracked eggs from a frittata as little vases for the crepe paper flowers, but you could easily blow the insides out and hang the painted full shells from a Easter branch or tree. 

Dip the paintbrush into some water and dab off the excess onto a tea towel. Swirl around in the colour of your choice until there is more paint than water. Now paint a large circle on the egg shell. You can start anywhere and leave it to dry. Pick a palette of several shades of one of two colours (I used the beiges and pale pinks up to the vibrant purples) and just keep painting circles over the shell, overlapping the colours a little until the shell is all coloured. Leaving the circles to dry before painting a new one will result in more vibrant colour; doing it while wet will blend the colours a little. 

If you use the eggshells as vases, you can either place them in egg cups or do as I do and cut up a toilet roll into different sizes, cover it in silver leaf and use as small stands for the eggs.


So pretty to dress up your space for Easter, great as wall decor in a girl's room (just snip off the pipe cleaner and blu-tak to the wall) or filling a windowsill of assorted jars or bottles, these crepe paper flowers are quick and easy to make.

To make these, simply cut crepe paper into rectangles around 10cm by 15cm (add a few centimetres and take off a few for varying sizes). Place around eight rectangles into a pile - experiment with several colours, making them slightly smaller each time the colour changes (see far-left example in image below). Fold the sheets backwards and forth around a centimetre wide into a concertina, as if you're making a paper fan. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the centre of the folded paper (middle example, below) and round off the edges with a pair of scissors. Now gently open the fan up a little (far-left example, below) and very, very carefully separate each piece of crepe paper from the pile and fluff it out a little (far-right example, below). Crepe paper bends and stretches nicely, so feel free to fluff, twist and pull the petals until you're happy with their shape. Snip the pipe cleaner stem to the length you're happy with and pop in the egg shell vase. Or in a real vase! 

 These would also look sweet strung together with some string and hung on a wall as a garland or as party decor. Good thing about paper flowers is that they cost a whole lot less than real flowers - so you can spend your savings on chocolate eggs for yourself. That's what I do! 

What kinds of crafts are you planning to do with your kids - Easter or not? I might need some more ideas! I have one more I hope to do and show you before Easter - stay tuned! It all depends on whether baby lets me use both arms or not tomorrow!

Also, to give yourself a few extra minutes of peace these holidays, jump onto the Officeworks site and download this colouring in sheet for World Kids Colouring Day and tell them they have to take a L-O-N-G time to carefully and super-neatly colour in this page so they can enter it into the competition for a chance win $300 worth of Steadtler goodies. Entries need to be in by May 6.

{Images by Belinda Graham for The Happy Home. Thanks to Officeworks for the store voucher for supplies and the project idea.}

Monday, April 7, 2014

easter craft ideas

The bringer of chocolate will be hopping around the corner soon enough (yay!). I have this week to make some hats of some description for the Easter Hat Parade on Friday. Zak wasn't too keen until I mentioned it would be small, and Layla wants a bunny mask again - 
and of course that means Immy does too. We made these ones last year (above)... I guess they're going to be similar this year, but might use some pretty fabric this time. Stay tuned... In the meantime, to get a similar look to these masks, you can try my original version, below, (no template though sorry) here.


Make a bunny mask and fluffy tail

I have one or two new crafts to bring you soon, but in the meantime, here are some blasts from the past that are no longer on my site (because it was hacked last year and I have been too lazy to painstakingly upload all the old posts in one hit). So maybe they're new to you? I made them for Kidspot a few years back - I love seeing how my kids have grown through their Kidspot pics! Layla looks so cute and tiny here! And yes, it's the same suit Immy is wearing in the top pics. I have no doubt there will be a picture of Annika in it in a year or so too! Possibly at Easter time just for fun.



Make a felt Easter basket to stash their goodies in


Transform a simple cane basket into a feathered nest


Wool wrap a branch to make an Easter tree


Learn how to blow an egg and simple ways to decorate them


Make choccie eggs even sweeter by customising them and gift-wrapping them with prettied-up clear plastic bags


Fingerprint chicken gift tags and handprint bunny cards


Make an Easter hat for the parade


Leave some bunny footprints to prove the Easter bunny really visited


Create an Easter egg treasure hunt and make chalkboard easter egg buckets


Make hanging cones for the egg hunt


Make bunny and chicken finger puppets out of toilet paper rolls

Am thinking we will make a bit of an Easter tree of some kind this year. If I get some time!