Monday 30 January 2017

Free Valentine's Day printables from Twinkl Resources

With Valentine's Day approaching, I thought that I'd share some fab printables and activities from Twinkl. Twink have a huge range of Valentine's Day resources, and for a small subscription fee you can have access to many many more across a wide range of subjects. But today I'm featuring my favourite free Valentine's Day resources from Twinkl.

Free printables for Valentine's Day from Twinkl

The Valentine's Day Word Mat (free download) is a great way to help children with tricky words when they are doing creative writing. I love printing out the Twinkl word mats on all sorts of subjects, especially the seasonal ones, and sticking them up around the house for the children to glance at as they are passing, a great way for them to pick up some new vocabulary.

I love these Patterned Hearts Colouring Sheets (free download), which are great for using in Valentine's Day crafting. I printed out one set at full size and one set at 50% to make the smaller hearts, then Mia coloured them in and we used them to make a colourful hanging heart decoration for the window.

Free printables for Valentine's Day from Twinkl

Mia also used one of the large hearts to colour and use as the front on a Valentine's Day card for her friend, decorated with plenty of glitter.

Free printables for Valentine's Day from Twinkl

These Valentine's Day Colouring Pages (free download) are also great to print out and use in your crafting, again you could print them out in different sizes and use them to stick on to Valentine's Day cards, onto cardboard triangles to make bunting, or to make posters.

Another printable that can be used as a craft for a loved one is these Valentine's Day Card Colouring Templates (free download) which can be coloured in and decorated to make some lovely cards. These would be fantastic to keep a group of children busy and to make some lovely keepsakes.

Free printables for Valentine's Day from Twinkl

Finally, these Heart Full Page Borders (free download) are great to encourage children to use as borders for their drawings, or to do some creative writing about the people and things that they love.

You can find lots more resources over on the Twinkl website!

I'm a Twinkl blogger and have been given a Platinum Plus subscription in exchange for sharing their resources across my social media.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks

These pretty Valentine's Day bookmarks can be given as a gift or kept as a keepsake.

Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

To make these bookmarks you need:

Thick paper or thin cardboard
Patterned and plain paper in a selection of pinks and reds
A heart punch or template
Heart stickers
Bostik White Glu
A laminator, or clear stick backed plastic to cover
Coloured pens and pencils


Cut out your bookmark shape from some thin cardboard, then gather together the materials that you will need. Use a heart punch to make heart shapes from the patterned paper.

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

Use a thin layer of Bostik White Glu to glue the heart punches into place. It doesn't matter if the hearts overlap the edge of the bookmark as you will be trimming that off later.

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

You can either cover the bookmark randomly or place the hearts in a pattern. When the glue is completely dry you can neaten up the edges.

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

Use a coloured pen or pencil to write a message on the back of the bookmark to the recipient.

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

Then laminate the bookmark to strengthen it. If you don't have a laminator you can also use clear sticky backed plastic to cover it.

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

Use a hole punch to make a hole in the bottom of the bookmark and choose some pretty ribbon.

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

Thread the ribbon through the hole and make sure to tie it firmly so that it is held securely.

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

Then gift your bookmark to someone that you love, so that they have a reminder of you every time they sit down to read!

How to make Valentine's Day keepsake bookmarks craft

You can find more Valentine's Day crafts for toddlers here - Valentine's Crafts for toddlers

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

Wednesday 25 January 2017

My YouTube and new video challenges for 2017

Once I set myself a challenge, I'm pretty good about seeing it through. On the 30th November last year I decided that I wanted to take part in Vlogmas 2016, having never heard of it before and not being a particularly frequent YouTuber. I stuck to it and managed to upload a video each day in the weeks leading up to Christmas, which I was really proud about, and it has given me some lovely videos to look back on that I wouldn't have had otherwise.

A second a day video

So when we were away at the end of December I was having a brainstorm for a new yearly challenge, now that the Sky Blanket is almost finished. I wanted something that I could do every day that would produce some sort of reminder of the year. A friend on Facebook posted a video that she had made last year with each day of the year being represented by one second of video and I loved it and was instantly inspired to start one of my own.

So each day I'm taking the time to record a quick second of video that either represents each day. It might be something special, like blowing out candles on a birthday cake, or just a quick everyday moment in time, whether it's the school run, homework or just sitting around playing or reading. I'm editing the clips together in Movie Maker, and at the end of the year I'm looking forward to sharing the video with the family. I've told the children and they are loving watching it build up, but I'm keeping it as a surprise for Ram (don't worry, I'm pretty certain that he won't be reading this!) to play on New Year's Eve.

52 videos in 2017

I'm not sure if I'll take part in Vlogmas again this year as it was quite intense, but I definitely want to create and upload more videos through the year. I really enjoy the editing of the videos, and while I know that I don't have the best set up for filming, if I do really get into it then perhaps I'll have a think about adding to my kit, starting with some decent lighting. So this year I'm intending to upload 52 videos over the year. I don't want to be too rigid about one a week in case we are away or things get busy, but I think that is an achievable amount.

I don't make my videos very long (for me over five minutes is a long video!) as I don't want to bore people. I'm also not very good at talking directly to the camera as I feel that I look really awkward, but I'm hoping that with practice this is something that I can improve.

I've got lots of ideas. I'm aiming for lots of travel videos of places that we visit over the year, like this one from the hotel in Tenerife that we stayed at in January.

I'm also planning to add video tutorials for some of the crafts that I've blogged about, like these mini Hama bead hearts for Valentine's Day.

I'll also be looking out for some linkies that I can take part in for inspiration, like the video that I made sharing my ten favourite colours and my first proper attempt at talking to camera.

If you want to see more of my video content then please take a look at my channel, and if you like what you see I'd love you to subscribe! You can find my channel here - Jennifer Jain's YouTube Channel.

Friday 20 January 2017

Hama bead spinning heart decoration for Valentine's Day

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

It's the time of year to get the heart shaped Hama bead pegboards out again! This year I have made some spinning heart decorations for Valentine's Day. They feature an inner heart suspended in the middle of a larger heart frame, and when hung up by the ribbon the smaller heart will hang and spin inside.

Hanging spinning Hama bead heart decoration for Valentine's Day

These Hama bead decorations are made using the large heart pegboard (affiliate link) for the outer frame and the small heart pegboard (affiliate link) for the smaller hanging heart. I've used a mixture of red, pink and white beads, along with some red thread and ribbon for hanging.

These are the designs that I used for my hearts. I found that a border of three beads worked well for a sturdy frame, allowing for a variety of different designs.

Hanging spinning Hama bead heart decoration for Valentine's Day

The designs are created on the two separate boards, then ironed on both sides to make sure that they are sturdy. This is especially important for the larger heart frame, as they are a little more fragile. Then you need to use a thick needle and thread to sew through the holes in the beads. It's easier to do this while they are still warm as the plastic will be softer, but as long as you haven't over ironed the beads you should find it quite easy to pierce the plastic with a needle.

I sewed a line down the centre of the heart to make sure that it remained firmly in place. The thread is secured at each end with a tight knot.

Hanging spinning Hama bead heart decoration for Valentine's Day

Finally I used the same needle to thread through some ribbon for hanging.

Hanging spinning Hama bead heart decoration for Valentine's Day

You can't really see the spinning hearts very well in photographs, so I've made a little video showing them in action. They are great to hang on door knobs or window handles so that the smaller hearts can spin freely.

I've used Hama beads to make lots of other Valentine's Day themed crafts, and you can find them all here - Hama bead crafts for Valentine's Day.

They include:

Hama bead heart hanging decoration
Hama bead heart spinning decoration
Hama bead heart photo frames
Mini Hama bead heart pins
Mini Hama bead hearts

Valentine's Day themed crafts using Hama beads

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Video linky - My ten favourite colours

I'm trying to do more with my YouTube channel this year (one of my yearly goals is to publish 52 videos over the year!) and so today I'm linking up with Becky at A Beautiful Space to share my top ten favourite colours. This new video linky will run monthly, and it is a way to create a community of vloggers sharing things that make them fell happy.

I'm still not very comfortable talking directly to camera, although that's something that I'm hoping to work on. So after a short intro this little video will show you my favourite ten colours and where they can be found around my home. I hope that you like it!

Thank you for watching, and if you like my videos please do hop along to my channel and subscribe, thank you!

My YouTube channel can be found here.

Monday 16 January 2017

Mini Hama bead hearts for Valentine's Day

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

I've not used my mini Hama beads for a while, so I thought that I'd pull them out and make some tiny Hama bead hearts for Valentine's Day. Each heart measures just under 2cm at the widest point, so they are very small. They would be great for sticking a cocktail stick to the back to make some Valentine's Day cake toppers, similar to my mini Hama bead Easter cake toppers. You could also use them as embellishments for homemade cards or gifts, or just scatter them about for decoration at a Valentine's Day party.

How to make mini Hama bead heart decorations

My mini Hama beads came from a pack of mini Hama beads in mixed colours (affiliate link) which contained lots of beads, plenty for all the projects that I've completed so far and I still have loads left. You will also need a special pegboard for the mini beads like this mini Hama bead square pegboard (affiliate link) and some ironing paper (or you can just use baking paper). The mini Hama beads are tiny and are very difficult to place with your fingers, so tweezers are also essential.

I used a simple design for my Hama bead hearts which you can see below, and I fitted nine hearts onto the small square pegboard. The mixed bag of beads contains a wide selection of colours so I was able to mix the colours up a little bit and create a variety of different designs.

How to make mini Hama bead heart decorations

When ironing the mini Hama beads, you need to make sure that you are using your iron at the lowest temperature setting and be very careful not to over iron. You can see a demonstration of the ironing process in the tutorial video at the bottom of this post.

I used some of these little Hama bead hearts to make some mini heart pin badges. You just need to buy something like these butterfly clutch pins (affiliate link) and stick them firmly to the back of the hearts. A lovely Valentine's accessory for your coat or bag!

Mini Hama bead heart pin badges

I'm really pleased with my tiny hearts! What would you use them for?

How to make mini Hama bead heart decorations

I have demonstrated how I made these mini Hama bead hearts, from the initial placing of the beads to ironing the design, in a video on my YouTube channel. I hope that you like it!

I've used Hama beads to make lots of other Valentine's Day themed crafts, and you can find them all here - Hama bead crafts for Valentine's Day.

They include:

Hama bead heart hanging decoration
Hama bead heart spinning decoration
Hama bead heart photo frames
Mini Hama bead heart pins
Mini Hama bead hearts

Valentine's Day themed crafts using Hama beads

I've also used my mini Hama beads for lots of other crafty projects around the home. In my plant pots you can find mini Hama bead plant markers, and I also made this little Russian doll tiled picture with mini Hama beads. At Easter I made some tiny Easter egg cake toppers, and I also created a selection of mini Hama bead designs using the beads from my mixed pack.

You can find all my Hama bead blog posts on my Hama beads page.

Saturday 14 January 2017

Fimo heart keyrings for Valentine's Day

After school the other day I decided it was time to get the Fimo out. The children really love crafting with Fimo and they've made some lovely things in the past. I must admit that it can get a bit frustrating, as the children don't have enough strength or patience to work the clay and get it soft enough to use, so I spend quite a lot of time rolling bits of Fimo round and round for them to use! So we made some Fimo hearts, with me making the heart shaped background and the children using smaller pieces of Fimo, which are easier for them to manipulate, to decorate them.

How to make Fimo heart keyrings for Valentine's Day

To make the heart base you need a ball of Fimo about the size of a large grape. Squash it flat and pinch at the bottom. Use a knife to cut out a small triangle at the top, and mould it round to form a heart shape. It should be about a half centimetre thick.

Then use smaller pieces of Fimo in different colours to decorate. Make sure that you press all the pieces together firmly. If you want to turn your hearts into keyrings then use a skewer to make a hole in the top before you bake them.

When they are finished you can bake them in the oven. Check the instructions on the packet, I use an oven with a temperature of 110 C and leave them in there for about half an hour. Then leave to cool before touching them.

How to make Fimo heart keyrings for Valentine's Day

If you want to turn your heart into a key ring then you can use the hole in the top of the heart to attach a keyring chain (I needed to extend mine a bit with some thick wire to go through the hole). It's probably best not to use it for keys that get a lot of wear and tear as you don't want it to get damaged, but it would be great for a school bag or book bag!

How to make Fimo heart keyrings for Valentine's Day

You might also like my other Fimo crafts - I made a Fimo owl, some Fimo Christmas decorations, and some Christmas Fimo bits and pieces for the dolls house.

Friday 13 January 2017

Bitacora Hotel, Tenerife review

Over New Year 2017 we spent a week at the Spring Hotel Bitacora in Playa de Las Americas, Tenerife. We booked a package holiday with Thomas Cook, including flights and transfers, and we stayed for a week all inclusive.

A review of the Spring Hotel Bitacora, Tenerife

The Spring Hotel Bitacora is located in the resort of Playa de Las Americas on the Tenerife coast, just a few minutes walk from the main town centre and beaches.

Accommodation review at Bitacora Hotel, Tenerife

The hotel has free wi-fi throughout which was fast and with no limit on the number of devices you could connect. There was also a television with British channels like BBC although ours seemed to be stuck on audio descriptive mode, luckily we were able to manage without it! Our room was a standard room, which was spacious with twin beds pushed together to make a double, along with a sofa bed and an additional bed for the children. The bathroom had a large walk in shower (no bath), balcony, and you can rent a safety deposit box for 2 Euros per day.

Accommodation review at Bitacora Hotel, Tenerife

We had a lovely view from our balcony, across the play area just outside and a good view out to the Teide volcano (although a bit hidden behind the palm tree!).

View from balcony at Bitacora Hotel, Tenerife

The outdoor play area is large with plenty to do including an aerial runway and climbing wall, all sheltered from the sun. There are also two smaller indoor soft play areas for younger children which are part of the Kids Club and accessed by a gate which was monitored by staff. We didn't use the Kids Club but there seemed to be plenty of themed activities going on. Every evening there was a Mini Disco at 8.30 pm with all the classics that we are familiar with from similar holidays elsewhere, then there was further entertainment later on in the evening, although ours couldn't stay awake that late. Harry and I played bingo one afternoon which was fun although a bit embarrassing because we kept winning - I now have a huge stash of branded T-shirts, caps and bottle openers! There was also daily entertainment by the main pool, along with inflatable water slides on some days.

Play area at Bitacora Hotel, Tenerife

There are two pools in the hotel - a shallow children's pool and a deeper main pool. Unfortunately the children's pool isn't heated and it was far too cold to go in during our stay in January. In the photo below you can see a couple of hardy souls, but it was generally deserted which was a bit of a shame. There's a slide too but again no-one was using it.

Bitacora Hotel, Tenerife review

The main pool was slightly warmer and we were able to manage a short swim. We found that the outdoor temperatures in January were very pleasant, much warmer than I had been expecting, and definitely warm enough to sit out around the pool and soak up the sunshine. We did have a bit of wind on a few days, but in a sheltered spot it was fine.

Our room reservation included pool towels which could be changed during a daily hour long slot. There seemed to be plenty of sun loungers, although it might be different at a peak time of year. We always managed to find somewhere to sit, albeit it often tucked away at the back as the pool side loungers were generally always occupied or reserved.

Bitacora Hotel, Tenerife

We aren't particularly foodies, and being vegetarian means that we didn't sample most of the food on offer, and we also tend to stick to the plainer choices. There was always a vegetarian dish although they could get a bit samey with quite a lot of pasta. There were plenty of salads, fruit, bread and cheese and a separate children's buffet in the evening with chips, tomato pasta, chicken nuggets and that sort of thing. We were there for New Year's Eve when a special dinner was served, and you can see more of that in my video at the bottom of this post. My favourite new food was the red and green pesto cheese which I've never tried before - it made an appearance on subsequent days too which I was very pleased about! The hotel had fireworks for New Year's Eve, and although we weren't able to keep the children up until midnight to see them we were able to enjoy displays from neighbouring hotels from our balcony.

Pesto cheese at hotel buffet

There was always a nice selection of desserts and cakes, along with an ice cream bar. The photograph below was taken on the evening before Three Kings' Day (January 6th) so it was a bit more special, and I very much enjoyed the biscuit pizza! There was also food available during the day in the bar by the pool, where you could have a burger and chips or make your own toasted sandwich.

Chocolate pizza at the buffet

Unfortunately everyone apart from me did get ill on our holiday at some point with a tummy bug, which took out several days of our holiday. I don't like to blame the hotel, but I did feel that the hygiene wasn't as strict as I've seen on holiday before, perhaps because I'm comparing it to cruise ships where the hygiene is top notch. We washed our hands regularly and there was a hand sanitiser at the entrance to the restaurant but no-one was using it, and there was no signage to remind people about hand washing and so on. There weren't any staff watching out to make sure that people weren't serving themselves food with their hands for example.

The all inclusive included a good variety of drinks, including soft drinks, and a fair few alcoholic drinks and cocktails. We aren't big drinkers and we found that the selection was more than enough for us. We were given a bottle of champagne at dinner between us on New Year's Eve, and there was also champagne available every day at breakfast if you fancied it!

The town centre of Playa de Las Americas a very short walk away is bustling, with plenty of shops and restaurants. You can reach the coast via many different routes and there are several beaches within easy walking distance. The very closest are stony beaches, with interesting rocks to climb and rock pools to explore.

Rock pools on the beach in Tenerife

Not much further away are the sandy beaches, the large Playa de las Vistas and the smaller Playa del Camison. Both are fairly sheltered from the waves and have swimming areas, although the water was a bit too cold in January for me to do much more than paddle. The sand is good for building sandcastles..

Sandy beach in Tenerife

We didn't eat outside the hotel but there seemed to be a good variety of different cuisines on offer in the town restaurants, and when we went into Playa de Las Americas in the evening it was buzzing with nightlife. The fountain has a sound and light show three times during the evening which was quite fun to watch, and all the Christmas decorations were still up everywhere. On the evening before Three King's Day there was a parade through the town, unfortunately as some of us were ill we didn't make it down there, but the Kids Club put on a little parade in the hotel before the Mini Disco which I took Harry along to, it was quite fun with plenty of sweets being handed out to all the children.

I've put together a short video which you can see below, with a more detailed look at our room and balcony, the local beaches, the town centre, and some of the food that was on offer.

If you have any questions about the Spring Bitacora Hotel I'd love to help, please do leave a comment below!

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Decorated wooden heart magnets

Now that Christmas is well and truly over my thoughts are turning to Valentine's Day crafting, and I'm surrounded by pink and red sparkly things and embellishments! I have lots of crafty ideas to share, and I'm starting off with these simple decorated wooden hearts. They have a magnet on the back so they can be used to decorate the fridge or radiator, and they also make a lovely little gift for a child to send to his or her Valentine.

Decorated wooden heart magnets for Valentine's Day

To make these hearts I used some blank wooden heart magnets from Baker Ross which I received as a Baker Ross blogger a few years ago. You can also find similar blank wooden hearts to decorate in many places online, which you could easily stick a magnet to.

Decorated wooden heart magnets for Valentine's Day

First I painted the hearts red. You can use acrylic paint for a nice finish, or else just a couple of coats of children's poster paints works well. Then we spread the hearts liberally with PVA glue and stuck on a variety of embellishments - jewels, sequins, pom poms, buttons and so on.

Both Mia and Harry decided that they wanted to make a face, and I went with a pattern. Mia wanted to keep hers but Harry has decided to give his decorated heart to his sweetheart. He also used some Posca pens to write a little message to her on the back, I hope that she likes it!

Decorated wooden heart magnets for Valentine's Day

Monday 9 January 2017

My Sky Blanket in December #SkyBlanket2016

My Sky Blanket is now complete! Here is a link to the completed Sky Blanket

Here is how my blanket progressed throughout the year - JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugust, September, October, November and December.

If you have found this page because you would like to make your own Sky Blanket, you might like these posts:

Sky Blanket progress at the end of the year

The year is over, and along with it my Sky Blanket project has come to an end! Well, technically, the blanket is not complete yet, as I still have to crochet the border. But the daily rows are all done, and I'm hoping to call the blanket finished within the next few weeks.

Here is how my blanket has progressed so far - JanuaryFebruaryMarchAprilMayJuneJulyAugust, September, October and November - and here is how the blanket looked with the daily rows finished at the end of December.

Sky Blanket progress at the end of the year

It's a bit easier to see the blanket from the front, and as you can see it is enormous! It measures over 3 metres in length, and I concur that it is a rather ridiculous size for a blanket. But once I set myself to a challenge I like to see it through, and I just couldn't bear to stop, or change anything to make it smaller. I have written a blog post about things that I would do differently next time, chief amongst them being to find a way to make it smaller, but I do love it and I can't wait until the border is finished and I can snuggle underneath it properly.

Sky Blanket progress at the end of the year

For the border I'm going to use this yarn from Red Heart. I received it from Make it Coats along with the other yarn that I used for the blanket, but I didn't use it for any of the daily rows as it was quite similar to the colour that I used for medium blue. So it doesn't duplicate the colours and I think that it is complementary to the coloured stripes. I'm not sure how wide the border will be yet, I'm thinking about making it wider down the sides to even it out a bit, but there is going to be a lot of crochet involved so I might just decide that I want to get it finished!

Sky Blanket progress at the end of the year

I filmed my Sky Blanket at the beginning of December as part of Vlogmas 2016, and you can see the video here, although not quite complete it gives a good impression of the size of the blanket!

Here's a collage of the progress throughout the year. It seemed to take ages to get going but it built up very quickly, and by about the end of June it was definitely a decent blanket size. Perhaps a six month sky blanket project would be an idea for next time!

Sky Blanket progress throughout the year

There was a group of us taking part in the Sky Blanket project throughout 2016, and you can find us across social media, in particular Instagram, using the hashtag #skyblanket2016. The project was started by Bug, Bird & Bee, The Boy and Me and You Little Sew and Sew.

If you aren't sure if a Sky Blanket is the project for you, you might like this blog post with some more ideas for a year long craft project.

With many thanks to Make it Coats for supplying me with the yarn for this project.