Sunday, 1 February 2015

Mother's Day crafting with Baker Ross

This month, as a member of the Baker Ross Bloggers Network, I have received a great selection of crafty goodies, so many that I have split them across two blog posts - Mother's Day crafts and Easter/Spring crafts. Mother's Day this year will be celebrated in the UK on 15th March 2015, and I think that most Mums would love to receive a hand crafted gift from their children. Baker Ross sells a whole range of crafting kits and materials that allow children to make some lovely gifts and keepsakes for their Mum.

We started by making some Mother's Day Handprint Poem Decoration Kits (£3.49 for four) to which I added a calendar pad (now 99p for ten 2015 calendars). The kit is really simple but I like how it can be customised by the individual child. You just need to draw around and cut out their hand from green foam, then place inside the flowerpot which comes with a pre-printed poem. Then you can use the included flower and leaf stickers to decorate it. Harry (6) was able to make his entirely by himself, even if he was a bit heavy handed on the leaves, and Mia (3) just needed help cutting out her hand shape. Mia also didn't perhaps quite follow the plan but I love that it is her own interpretation. They make really neat little calendars to hang on the wall.

Handprint foam calendars for Mother's Day

Next I used some Pastel Pom Poms (£2.99 for 200 pom poms) to make some sweet little frames to display some suitable Mother's Day type quotations. I've always found pom poms quite difficult to craft with, as I can never get them to stick very well. I've discovered that you need to use plenty of PVA (white) glue and allow them plenty of time to dry, and this time they stayed beautifully stuck.

Pom pom frames with quotes for Mother's Day

I searched online for some suitable quotations to use. There are lots out there but I quite liked the list that I found here - 100 Inspiring Quotes about Moms - from which I chose my favourite two and printed them out. Then I made a frame using strong cardboard. You don't need to be too neat, as the edges will be covered by the pom poms anyway. Then, with plenty of PVA glue at the ready, Mia and I made a frame each.

Making a pom pom cardboard frame

I mounted the printed quotes onto thin cardboard for strength and taped them firmly onto the back of the frames. They will look lovely and cheerful on my desk! They would also make a lovely gift if you used them to frame a photograph of the children, or perhaps to frame a picture which they have drawn.

Framed quote with colourful pom poms

Finally, these Bird Suncatcher Windchimes are just £2.95 for a pack of three. You will need something suitable to colour them with, and we used some porcelain and glass glitter pens that I received in a previous craft bundle from Baker Ross. Harry decided to colour in the wind chimes too and it worked really well. These are going to go out in our summer house in the summer!

If you are a Mum, what sort of homemade gifts do you like to receive from your children for Mother's Day?

I received these items from Baker Ross as part of the Baker Ross Bloggers Network.

Friday, 30 January 2015

Chinese New Year paper cup lanterns with #BostikBloggers

As a Bostik Craft Blogger I recently received some Bostik products along with some crafty goodies and the challenge to come up with a craft for Chinese New Year. I've already shared my paper plate dragon mask and as promised here is a second craft using some of the other things that I received - home made paper cup lanterns.

Child holding home made Chinese lanterns

Here's how we made them:


Bostik glu dots
Paper cup - a gold one would be perfect
Beads (about four per lantern)
Foam strips
Gold ric rac
Star stickers
Assortment of coloured sequins
White glue and tape
(Tissue paper strips)

Craft materials from Bostik


First decorate the paper cups using stickers and sequins. The foam star stickers are self adhesive, and we used white glue to stick down the sequins.

Decorated paper cups

Then add the extra trimmings by wrapping the ric rac and foam strips around the cup and securing in place with a glu dot. The glu dots are really sticky and because the pieces were stuck instantly I didn't need to worry about them sliding down the cup while I waited for glue to dry.

Then thread a few beads onto a pipecleaner and make two holes with scissors in the base of the cup to post the pipecleaner through to form the handle. Fold over and secure inside the cup firmly with tape.

Homemade Chinese New Year lanterns

If you wanted to make your lantern even prettier you could decorate with some strips of tissue paper stuck around the inside of the paper cup to hang down. We used more glu dots to hold them firmly in place.

Lanterns for Chinese New Year

The box of craft materials was provided to me free of charge by Bostik as part of the Tots100/Bostik Craft Bloggers Club.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Chinese New Year paper plate dragon mask with #BostikBloggers

I'm very excited to have been chosen to be a part of the Bostik Craft Ambassador Club. Each month I'll receive a selection of craft goodies, including some Bostik products, and the challenge to create a themed craft. This month the theme is Chinese New Year, and I was so inspired by the great craft products that I received that I have actually come up with two crafts, the second one will be along in a few days!

My first craft is a paper plate dragon puppet which I made with Mia (aged 3).

Paper plate dragon mask


Bostik foam pads (small)
Red paper plate (or you can use a plain white one, or paint it)
Strips of yellow tissue paper
Strips of orange tissue paper
Card - black, red, gold and white
Two yellow pom poms
Lollipop sticks
Glue and tape

Materials for a paper plate mask


I found it easier to prepare all the pieces for the mask in advance. I used gold card to cut two flames, the red card to cut a pointy tongue, the black card to make two horns, eye brows and the pupils for the eyes and the white card to make eyes and teeth. You could use coloured paper instead of card, or you could just draw the elements on white paper and colour them in. There are so many different ways that you can make a dragon mask - I used Google images for some inspiration.

Chinese New Year dragon mask

I opted to make a mask that can be held in front of the face, but of course you could cut out eye holes so that it can be worn as a mask, with some elastic across the back to hold it across the face.

Then I sat down with Mia and we put the mask together. To stick the pieces on we used Bostik foam pads. These are small enough that they remain hidden, but because they are quite thick they make the stuck on parts of the mask really pop out. I found it easiest to place the sticky pads where she wanted the pieces to go, then she could stick them on. It worked particularly well for the flames at the bottom of the paper plate - I stuck on a row of little sticky pads and Mia stuck down the strips of tissue paper, it was a good opportunity for her to practice patterning as she alternated the colours.

Using foam pads to stick tissue paper to a plate

Using the sticky pads was great as it meant that we didn't need to wait for any glue to dry. However the glue did come in generous amounts so that she could add plenty of glitter!

Crafting for Chinese New Year

We finished the mask with a lollipop stick taped on either side. This means that the mask can both be held in front of the face, and also 'flown' around the room to scare people!

Chinese New Year dragon paper plate mask

Look out for my next Chinese New Year craft - paper cup lanterns! You might also like these toilet roll tube dragons that we made last year.

The box of craft materials was provided to me free of charge by Bostik as part of the Tots100/Bostik Craft Bloggers Club.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Book review - Glitterbelle creative activity books from Parragon

This month, Parragon is introducing a new line of story and activity books for children aged 6 and older featuring Glitterbelle, a modern-day princess, and her best friends Dazzlina and Angel. Although she loves everything to be glittery and sparkly, Glitterbelle also enjoys racing around on her scooter and climbing trees. 

We were sent two books from the new range to look at - Glitterbelle Dazzling Dress-up and Glitterbelle Doodle, Dazzle, Create!

Glitterbelle activity books from Parragon

First Mia and I got out the Glitterbelle Dazzling Dress-up book. It's a sticker activity book, and it comes with a set of over 30 glittery nail stickers that children can use on themselves,with the book itself containing two double page spreads of stickers. Some are glittery, many are quite tiny, and there are lots of different outfits and accessories.

Glitterbelle stickers for activity book

Each page features a picture of the three girls as they get ready for a dress-up party. There are vague directions as to the sorts of clothes that you can dress the girls in, but there is a huge selection of outfits so it doesn't matter which stickers you use. The poses do vary slightly so sometimes you need to find the matching shaped stickers, which Mia coped very well with, considering that at 3 she's much younger than the suggested 6+ age guide. The stickers are also easy to reposition if you end up with them in the wrong place, which is very handy.

Mia really loved adding the stickers to the pages and she spent ages doing it, over several days. Luckily the book has plenty of pages and lots of different scenes!

Glitterbelle sticker book page

While the sticker book was perfect for Mia, the second book, Glitterbelle Doodle, Dazzle, Create! is definitely more suited to older children, so I looked at this one with Harry (6). Although Mia claimed the sweet little notebook on the cover, with its sparkly tin covers!

The book contains games to play, for example Snakes and Ladders, colouring pages, craft ideas that included pieces to cut out and stick together, a recipe and lots of puzzles, all tied together with the theme of planning for a sparkle-tastic slumber party at the palace.

Glitterbelle activity and craft book

The activities are lovely, and while they perhaps would appeal more to girls than boys, Harry isn't too bothered and just enjoyed the puzzles and so on for what they were!

I do love the illustrations in the books. They are actually elaborate miniature sets which have been created by the illustrator, Harriet Muncaster, and then photographed for the book. They are beautiful, really detailed and absolutely lovely.

These books would make great activity books for little ones. They have lots of pages so there is plenty packed in, they are definitely better value for money than other activity books we've had that have been completed in just one session!

I received these books from the publisher for free. However, they have not paid me for this review, and they do not exercise any editorial control over my review or anything else on this site. Each book is priced at £4.99.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Ladybird Tuesday - Learning to Sew

The Ladybird Book Learning to Sew was published in 1972 and is from my favourite Series 633 - Hobbies. The book contains a variety of sewing projects that a child can complete, beginning with a simple table mat and progressing on to little gifts like pin cushions and comb cases, as well as practical skills like sewing on a button and turning a hem.

Ladybird book Learning to Sew

I remember making simple table mats like this at school, in fact I think I still have a couple somewhere. The book has all sorts of different stitch designs, with examples of ways to use them in projects.

Ladybird Learning to Sew embroidered table mat

I'm not that good at sewing and I found the instructions for the projects quite vague in places without the step by step guides that I'm used to seeing on crafty blogs. I think that the book probably assumes that there will be a handy mother or grandmother on hand to help. While most of the projects in the book are quite traditional, I really like the last two. They are collage pictures made using all sorts of bits and pieces, for example nuts or washers from father's tool box!

Ladybird Learning to Sew doll's skirt

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Tissue paper Valentine's Day collage photo frames

This week Mia and I made these simple Valentine's Day cardboard collage photo frames. It's a really simple craft even for little ones, and would make a great gift for a loved one on Valentine's day.

Valentine's Day collage photo frames

You need:

Card - while you can use something like a cereal box, sturdier card is better

Scraps of red and pink tissue paper, coloured paper, napkins and so on. I very rarely buy tissue paper, I save it up when I receive it in packaging!

PVA glue and spreaders

Any embellishments you want to add, for example we used heart shaped buttons


First prepare all your materials. I began by cutting my frames out of the cardboard. The frames are quite large compared to the size of the photograph, so there is plenty of room for collage and decorations. They measure about 20cm x 26cm. For the hole in the centre I placed my photograph on the back of the frame and drew around it, then cut the window out with a craft knife to make it slightly smaller.

Then I gathered a selection of red and pink tissue papers and tore them up into small squares. I laid everything out ready for Mia to get started.

Valentine's Day collage photo frames materials

We used plenty of white glue on the frames and stuck on the pieces of paper. I tried to cover the whole frame in a Decopatch fashion, and so Mia copied me. She did a really good job! When the glue was dry I folded over the larger pieces of paper and trimmed the edges to make them look neat.

The photographs are secured to the back of the frame using washi tape so they can be easily removed and changed. If you don't have washi tape, masking tape would work well too. They can then be hung with BluTak or you could thread some string through to hang from a nail.

Photo frames back with washi tape

Then we embellished them with a couple of heart shaped buttons each. Mia was so proud of her frame and there is no question of giving them away, she insists that they are going to be on display in her room! This activity made me realise that I don't often do crafty things just with Mia, we tend to wait until Harry is home as I don't want him to feel left out. But we had such fun together, that definitely needs to change!

Valentine's Day simple photo frames

Saturday, 24 January 2015

The new Fantasyland at Disney World Resort, Florida

In May 2014, the New Fantasyland area at Disney World Resort in Florida was completed. The expansion started in 2011, and on our previous visits to Disney World we've seen new areas of the park opened, and watched the building of the new roller coaster ride, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. On our recent visit in November 2014 we were excited to visit and see the whole of the New Fantasyland open.

New Fantasyland at dusk

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opened in May 2014 and has been very popular. The new FastPass+ system at Disney World allows you to book your Fast Pass tickets 30 days in advance if you are staying off-site. Hotel Guests are able to book their tickets 60 days in advance, and as off-site visitors we found that by the time we were allowed to book, all the tickets for this ride had gone. With queues throughout the day of up to two hours, the only realistic way that we were able to ride was to arrive before park opening and when the gates opened speed walk to the ride to join the queue. We only managed this once, and our wait was about 20 minutes. Luckily, like all of the other newer rides, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has a very well designed queuing area, with a few interactive games and activities for children to keep them entertained while you wait.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney World

In fact, the new and improved rides in Fantasyland are all very well designed when it comes to waiting in line. The best queuing area is at Dumbo the Flying Elephant, where children can play in an indoor play area while you wait for your pager to buzz and announce your turn to ride. The Journey of the Little Mermaid and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh also have excellent waiting areas with interactive games to play. Luckily we usually manage to plan our day with minimal waits but I can see how this would really make a difference to the queuing experience when you have little ones.

A new Fantasyland attraction that we hadn't managed to visit on our previous trips was Enchanted Tales with Belle, as again it is so popular that it has a very long wait within minutes of the park opening. This time we were able to visit as we had booked our Fast Passes in advance. You are taken through the attraction in small groups, and volunteers are chosen to play different parts in a simple story that is performed to Belle. At the end there is the chance to meet with Belle and have your photograph taken. We don't usually do the character meet and greets as they take up too much of the day, so it was a nice opportunity for the children to see a favourite character close up.

Children meeting Belle at Disney World

A picture of them together would have been nicer of course, but Harry was too nervous to approach Belle until he saw that she was handing out bookmarks, and luckily that was enough incentive for him to pose for a photo!

With small children we spend most of our time at Disney World in Fantasyland as the rides are just perfect for them, and so close together that you don't need to ask too much of them when it comes to walking around. If you arrive early and plan your day, especially if you take full advantage of the new Fast Pass system, you can really minimise the time that you spend waiting. I'm not enough of an expert to discuss it here, but this is an excellent guide DisneyWorld FastPass+ Overview, Tips and Advice (and I'd also fully recommend paying for the planning tools on that website, it's currently only $12.95 for a year and it has been brilliant for us, no affiliation just a genuine recommendation!)

Child outside Disney World castle

I hope that you enjoyed my little glimpse into the New Fantasyland! If you are planning a visit to Disney World, I've joined in with a group of bloggers to share some tips for visiting Disney World on a budget, in exchange for some Disney goodies. You can read all the tips here - 6 Top Tips for doing Florida on a budget.
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