Posts tagged my family
Book Week costume: Lost and Found boy
lost and found cover.jpg

Our household adores Oliver Jeffers. He can do no wrong! His illustrations and stories are so sweet and heartwarming. And those characters he comes up with? Adorable! They're the perfect little characters to bring to life. I wanted to recreate the cover of

Lost and Found

as soon as I saw it. I got close one day when Annika sat in an upside down umbrella at the cricket but there was a cute penguin missing and she wasn't wearing the right gear so I figured a future Book Week would be the right time. And here we are! I asked Immy if she was keen to wear it in the parade and she was so excited and wanted everything perfect - down to the tiniest detail like a little brown suitcase and a tag hanging from the umbrella handle. No pressure, Immy... Well, it may not be perfect but it turned out pretty cute anyway! I don't normally like buying things with the sole purpose of destroying them but when I realised I had already thrown out my old umbrella that didn't close, I searched for a cheap one - this was a whole $4 so I had no problem cutting a hole in it. Especially after one of the inside arms broke within two minutes of Annika stealing it and walking around the house with it. That's what $4 gets you I guess! Painting umbrella fabric wasn't very successful so I bought some yellow and orange cardboard and cut them up. At first I used double-sided tape to stick them on, but after they came away it was the hot glue gun to the rescue yet again!

Lost and Found

umbrella costume tutorial

You'll need...

A small-to-medium-sized umbrella you're happy to ruin. A hooked handle is even better

2 sheets of orange cardboard

2 sheets of yellow cardboard

Black paper or cardboard (optional)

Hot glue gun

Brown kraft paper 



Step 1:

Measure up the cardboard against the umbrella - you want it in-between the metal parts. Cut to size and hot glue gun into place.

Step 2:

Overlap at the centre of the umbrella and continue all around alternating the colours.

Step 3:

Cut a circle from the black card or paper and a smaller circle from the middle and slide it over the point of the umbrella and glue in place to 

hide all the joins of the cardboard.

Step 4:

Turn the umbrella over and see where you want the legs to go. I used liquid chalk to draw a quick outline and then just cut through the plastic and into the cardboard. Cut the two pieces together for the neatest line. 

Step 5:

Reinforce the cardboard with some more glue around the edges of the hole.

Add a little kraft paper tag from the handle, insert child and have them hold the umbrella and hug a penguin. We made our penguin from paper mache but if you're not that keen (I realise I'd be in the minority here!)  maybe you can make a child's day/week/month/year by buying them a penguin Beanie Boo (dear god WHAT IS WITH THOSE THINGS? Why do they love them so much?!) 

And also... We didn't have a red and white striped shirt BUT we did have a very stained plain white one so I grabbed some red poster paint and got painting. I stuck good old plain sticky tape into stripes on the top and painted in-between - it made the perfect stencil by peeling off easily and didn't bleed! Steve knitted the hat in the right colours (not that you can really see the orange band!). And a tiny suitcase was also made with a plain brown box, some kraft paper to cover up the stamps, and a little leather strap glued on the top as the handle. And that's it! Imogen is so excited and can't wait for the parade (though I'm sure I'll be carrying home an open, ruined, yellow and orange umbrella as soon as the parade is over!) 

Luckily Zak just wants to be Klaus from

A Series of Unfortunate Events

which pretty much involves a pair of glasses, a collared shirt and jumper and maybe a book or two?!? At least it's not a

Clone Trooper

this year! 

I'm thinking this one might be my favourite of the three I created this year (I also made the blue crayon from 

The Day The Crayons Quit

 and The Queen of Hearts from 

Alice in Wonderland

). Which do you like the most?

Book Week costume: The Queen of Hearts
queen of hearts.jpg

I know what you're thinking: "Wow! No one has EVER - in the history of book parades - gone dressed as an

Alice In Wonderland

character!" But I chose the Queen of Hearts for a few reasons - one of them because I wanted to finally use the fantastic IKEA Lattjo Queen crinoline and skirt I bought ages ago (which is no longer available by the looks of it). And secondly, because it IS a popular character and I think it's pretty darn easy to make it look fantastic without having to sew anything or buy too much. All I bought for this outfit was a packet of cards and two plastic tablecloths for the skirt from Kmart. A grand total of $7 was spent as I had the rest of the stuff at home already. I realise part of what makes this look good is the puffiness from underneath it - a tutu or frilly skirt should do the trick and if you have a girl, chances are you have one of those lying around your house already! The collar I discovered on Pinterest in various incarnations and is so simple but so effective! Bravo to the clever person who came up with the original idea! 

So what does one need for the Queen of Hearts? A skirt, a crown, some heart lips, rosy cheeks, heart-shaped staff and a very fabulous card collar. And Layla's royal pain-in-the-butt princess attitude goes a long way too...

Queen of hearts plastic tablecloth skirt tutorial

You'll need...

A white round plastic tablecloth, $2 from Kmart or pretty much any bargain/party shop (For memory the size was 2.1m)

A red rectangle plastic tablecloth, $2 from Kmart (or other budget/party shop)

Thick elastic

A hot glue gun

A sticky velcro hook-and-eye dot


Coloured paper in black, red and gold (I just spray painted a sheet of paper with gold spray paint before cutting it up into hearts)

A large safety pin

A tutu, frilly skirt, net or hoop for underneath

Step 1:

Unfold the round tablecloth until it's folded into a quarter, as above. In the pointy corner which is the centre of the tablecloth (the bottom right in this picture), cut across it to create a hole in the middle. 

Step 2:

Unfold so it looks a little like a white plastic donut! You might need to make adjustments here to make it bigger if you were cautious with your original cut - you'll want to be able to step into the hole and pull it up around your waist with plenty of room to spare. 

Step 3:

Carefully fold back the edge of the hole so it forms a seam big enough to easily thread the elastic through afterwards. Use your hot glue gun to gently glue the seam in place. Don't leave it on the plastic too long - it will burn a hole in it! But the glue itself does a pretty good job. Continue all the way around back to the beginning but leave a bit of a gap to allow the elastic through.

Step 4:

Attach a safety pin to the end of a piece of elastic and thread through the seam gently. Work out what will fit comfortably around your child before tying it off and cutting. The skirt will gather slightly. Pop it on your child - they'll be your mannequin for the next few steps.

Step 5:

Unfold the red tablecloth and lay it out on the floor. Cut off a strip longways - about 40cm thick and put aside. This will be your ribbon to hide all fake-sewing sins!

Step 6:

Wrap the larger piece of the tablecloth around your child, covering the top of the white skirt. Pinch at the meeting place and have your child hold.

Step 7: 

Stick on the sticky velcro dot to secure.

Step 8:

Cut from the velcro dot down along each side on a diagonal, curving at the bottom.

Step 9: 

Fold the skinnier piece of the red tablecloth you had set aside into a neat strip and wrap around the waist, covering the top of both skirts. Tie into an oversized bow at the back.

Step 10:

Cut out paper hearts in various sizes and colours and stick in place on the front of the white skirt that is visible. 


Queen of Hearts card collar tutorial

I'm sure this doesn't actually need a tutorial as it's pretty easy, but here is what I did anyway! 

You'll need...

A packet of playing cards, $3 from Kmart

A hot glue gun

White ribbon

Step 1:

Fan out several cards until you have a rainbow! I wanted more than just the number showing so placed them individually in place to create this shape. Once you're happy with the placement, begin gluing them together.

Step 2:

Glue gun the ribbon over the bottom edge of the cards on the front. It's not pretty but it won't really be seen anyway (and is really hard to do neatly!)

Step 3:

Do the back as well for extra strength and neatness (and also to avoid potential paper cuts!) Glue the very edges of the ribbons together where they first meet. Tie around the neck gently - it will naturally sit upright as you tighten and tie off into a bow.


For the rest of the costume... 


A cereal box is my secret source for all things costumes. I once made a Star Wars Clone Trooper costume for Zak out of cereal boxes! They're the perfect stiffness while being thin enough to easily work with. Anyway, I just cut out the zig zag crown, spray painted it gold and glue-gunned it into place. It just sits on top of her bun - no comb; no headband; no bobby pins!


Again, a cereal box with glued-on red paper cut into two hearts and glued back-to-back with a bamboo stick sandwiched in-between!


Red face paint was painted onto lips in a heart shape with a really fine paintbrush. The same paint was mixed with moisturiser for the rosy cheeks. A red lippy would also work, obviously! We used gold eyeshadow on the eyes too. 

Layla and I both love how her costume turned out. She originally was going to be the Cheshire Cat and was just going to model this one for me for the blog, but as soon as she put it on she changed her mind! Not sure how she'll go sitting in class with that huge skirt on though! Ha! 

Want more? Check out a cute and easy crayon costume from

The Day The Crayons Quit here

Book Week costume: The blue crayon
the day the crayons quit.jpg

I feel like it's been ages since I was creative. And I've really missed it! But Book Week is coming up and I love me a good homemade costume. I decided to document them this time - 


 the parade - to show how far a little bit of hot glue and cardboard can go! I've made three costumes and I'll share them here in three posts with a couple of easy DIY aspects. I love making costumes for Book Week and Halloween. I think they're my favourite thing to do! Maybe I go overboard, but we all have fun coming up with the ideas and the kids adore seeing it all come together. I never spend a bomb - it's usually just on a few bits and pieces and if fabric is involved, I try to recycle other handmade costumes into new outfits first before hitting Spotlight. This year there is no sewing - despite making a skirt for one of the costumes! First up though is one of my favourite books - probably one of most people's favourite children's books: 

The Day the Crayons Quit

. How adorably funny is it? Being a shorty herself, Annika was the perfect candidate for the stubby friend, Blue Crayon. She's also brilliant at being a cranky pants, so when I told her to look angry, cause she's meant to be all fed up and over working, she did so beautifully! Anyway, the actual costume is easy enough to make - simply glue the cardboard layers in place and fit around the body, glueing alllllll the time. You'll need two sheets of each colour and you'll need to stick them together to get more length else they won't quite fit around a body! I don't recommend hot-gluing the straps on as ours tore (see below!); I think a stapler might be better? Or maybe it's just that cardboard straps and a three-year-old aren't the best combination! The sign was also easy - crayon and lead pencil on a piece of white paper and then glued onto sturdier cardboard and a bamboo stick. The hat was a little trickier! I made a couple before deciding this was the best.

The Day The Crayons Quit hat tutorial

You'll need...

Cardboard the same colour as your crayon colour of choice. I used the square left over from when I joined the two pieces together to make the base.

A hot glue gun


Hat elastic or ribbon

A pencil

A small plate - a side plate is a good size

Step 1:

Cut two strips off the end around 3cm wide. Trace around the dinner plate and cut out the circle. Cut one corner into a arc (make it bigger than the circle; you can cut it down to size later).

Step 2:

Roll the arc up into a cone shape and glue in place. Cut off the pointiest part. Cut a smaller hole out in the middle of the circle.

 Step 3:

Poke the cone through the circle and push through until it stops. Draw a line around the meeting point on the underside of the circle.

Step 4:

Remove the cone and cut strips up to the pencil line a centimetre or so apart. Bend them outwards. Pop the cone back into place in the circle and glue where the tabs meet the underside of the circle (or is a hat brim now?!)

Step 5:

Glue the two strips together to make one long line (you might need to tidy it up with the scissors if you're not the straightest cutter of all time. Like me!). Glue the very edge of one side and gently wrap it around the hat brim, pressing while the glue is warm (be careful; it's hot!) and holding until it cools and hardens. Continue around the whole hat. Once finished, turn the hat over and circle around the whole join on the underside of the hat again with hot glue to ensure it sticks - two fine edges of cardboard meeting isn't the most secure thing so an extra blob of glue all around should keep it together. Trim the cone to your desire length. Poke a small hole on either side of the hat (you want the join of the cone to the back) and tie in your elastic. Become the crayon!

A reading tree
reading tree.jpg

I now have three children in school. THREE! Three out of four - I'm not sure how that happened so fast but there you go! I was a little concerned about Imogen starting Kindergarten as she is so young (she turns five in early March) but she is the third child, she is ready and excited to go and her preschool teachers promised me they would be honest and let me know if they thought she wouldn't be able to handle it. So while I worry (hey, it's my job, right?!) I also am confident that I made the right decision.

But seeing as last year kind of fell apart at the seams in terms of ensuring homework was always done and the home readers completed, this year I want the kids to nag


about reading, rather than the other way around. And so... the reading tree was created very spontaneously a couple of days ago. It's similar to a rewards system but it's also a record of things we've read throughout the year and also a pretty cool decor addition to our hallway! 

The idea is this: every time one of the kids read a book/part of a chapter book - or I read to them - they write their name, the book title and date on a leaf and stick it on the tree. Every 50 leaves stuck on the tree, I'll buy a new book for their library. 

I first came across this concept at my mum's preschool when I used to work there during university. During the Read-A-Thon, they would place leaves on the tree for all the children who read that day. In the end it was colourful and pretty and cool. I think she used paper as the tree - and you could do so if you rent or don't want anything marking your walls, but I wanted something more permanent for the year so I just painted it on the wall in our hallway just outside of Zak's room. I used watercolour paints (the

Micador paint palette

from Officeworks) and painted the tree on freehand in various shades of brown and black. The first strokes are quite dotty and don't look like it would look great at all, but once it's dry you simply gently wipe it over with a baby wipe or two and it blends beautifully. It is also easy enough to wash away - it might need a light coat of paint eventually, but it won't need much at all. I actually prefer using watercolours on the wall than proper paints - the blend of colours is so pretty.

Freehand painting - the outline hasn't been "smudged" yet.

Smudging the paint with a baby wipe.

The leaves are just cut up bits of coloured paper - we're going to start out with greens and greys and yellows and change colours as the seasons change. I envision it should look quite colourful by the year's end! I also imagine our book collection will be a lot fuller. And that can only be a good thing.

Immy turns four with a knights and princesses party

This little princess turned four on Sunday! And it's the last year I get away with immy having a family-only party because she has little friends from preschool now (it's so cute to see these little friendships bloom). I asked what she wanted to do for her birthday kind of hoping she would just talk about cake but she wanted a princess party. "A dress-up princess party" to be exact. I may have swore on the inside, but on the outside I of course smiled and said "of course! What about a Knights and princesses party?" thinking we'd do cool jousting on pretend horses and make flower crowns and dance around a maypole. And then as usual I realised I just didn't have the energy to go overboard so I asked her what games she wanted (pass the parcel, piñata, cookie decorating) and we went with that in a princessesy way - crown piñata, star glow wands in pass the parcel, glittery  sugary pink sprinkles and mash mallows for the cupcake decorating (we ended up with cupcakes instead of cookies after I forgot to make the dough in time). And then of course there was cake - a castle as the princess demanded and I have to say it was one of the easiest cakes I've ever decorated!! No cutting involved! My only "effort" was making a some little puppet theatres for the kids to decorate and a brown-paper castle that I taped SO neatly and effectively (!!) to one of those pop-up shelters we had. In my head the castle looked so good and worked perfectly. In reality it didn't want to stay upright, tore easily and had packaging tape all over it. The kids thought it was cool though and honestly that is all that matters right! Imogen had several costume changes throughout the day - her birthday outfit she opened that morning (pictured above), then she quickly changed into an Anna dress when it was gifted to her and again into Elsa - another gift. Then at the end I made her get back into her birthday dress for these pictures and after they were done she was Anna again. Phew!  

I may or may not have stolen roses from the next door neighbour's rose bush that is so tall it towers over the fence and so was teasing me with its perfectly rosy petals calling to be torn up and thrown on the ground - a fitting ground cover for princesses.... 

My sister made these awesome costumes for my nephews - how cute are they?! Zak told me every day for two weeks he didn't want to dress up; he didn't want a costume. The day of the party? "I want to be a knight". Cue much frustrated yelling. I told him to make a sword. He needed my help. I spared him about five minutes to glue it together. He wore a Socceroos champions jersey and carried his sword for exactly 35 seconds. Glad I didn't make that costume!

Perhaps not so princessesy was the whacking of a piñata - I've decided it's easier to just cover the sides of piñatas with paper or thin cardboard rather than painstakingly fringe up tissue paper!!! They still get cracked open just fine and you can go into more detail with the design (if you really wanted). This time I covered the sides with white paper then cut out the silver crown, glued it on and had the girls glue the cut-outs and sprinkle glitter on. It was s little messy when it was hit but I didn't hear anyone complain of glitter in the eye! We did have an egg on the head though when my 2-year-old nephew walked up as Zak leant back to whack it and instead whacked Ben in the head. Eek. Bad timing - and amazingly, our first piñata accident (there have been A LOT of pinatas in the eight years I've been throwing kids parties).

THE CAKE! Sponge cake (two layers from Woollies) with jam rolls for the turrets slathered in vanilla buttercream and topped with mini waffle cones also covered in buttercream and sprinkled with pink sugar glitter (no idea what it's called). The bamboo skewers through the tops of the cones keep it altogether and are topped off with a little tape cut into the shape of a flag. Mini marshmallows on the edges create a kind of "stone edge" effect and the parapet (YES I googled castle parts to work out what it's called). And a squirt of chocolate-fudge-in-a-tube made a wonky door. She loved it. 

In our very authentic medieval castle - with parapets - we played pass the parcel, musical chairs and decorated and played with mini puppet theatres I made out of toilet rolls.

They were pretty easy - cut a little window using a scalpel and hot-glue-gun on a little hat for the Rapunzel tower. Cut a parapet around the top of the toilet roll and a drawbridge at the bottom for the castle. Draw up a little knight and/or princess on cardboard, cut and stick to a bamboo skewer and have the kids decorate them. The just stuck on some little flowers and drew on vines and bricks or just coloured in. They can then use them as a puppet and theatre in one.

Cupcake decorating is messy but a good one for kids to do. It keeps them busy and helps you out! You don't need to worry about how they look! One less job! Here is Layla's efforts. Yes, a lot of sugar was consumed...

What is a party without balloons? I made a simple balloon garland for the inside decorations which at the end of the day became the number-one-thing-to-play-with despite all her presents. She grabbed the garland, knotted it up and ran around the yard again, again and again. Good way to wear her out!

Her request for the morning was animal balloons like I did for Layla last year. But I had to change it up a bit so made her a princess, a heart and a number 4. She was thrilled.

And so another party done! Another child is another year older. And I have yet another one growing swiftly and celebrating her birthday next week - Annika is turning ONE! Already! It's really starting to freak me out how quickly birthdays roll around in this place!