Monday, December 23, 2013

Even IKEA's Christmas trees are flat pack!

I bought this fabric a year ago at IKEA as I couldn't resist the idea of a flat, easy to store, easy to put away Christmas Tree!  All I had to do (which took a year, although was only completed in the last days) was sew a casing for a rod at the top, and sew on ribbons to attach ornaments.

Now that the hard work has been done, I'll drag it out earlier next year and use it as an advent calendar.

Other examples of things people have done with the Christmas tree fabric are here.

Christmas Cards for the architect and builder

As readers may know, our house renovation was finished this year and we moved in. We love our new home, and I thought I would let the builder and architect know, in a Christmas card:

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Is it that time again already?

A few months ago I went to the warehouse sale of a paper merchant in Perth, Western Australia, and, thinking ahead, bought a pack of 100 of these: (die cut Christmas Tree cards)

I probably wont use all 100 of them, so I decided to share my bounty via eBay. And next week the school is having a Christmas Market, and I thought I could sell some more, but maybe I should make up a few as examples of what you can do with them - hence:

 I also have lots of marbled paper left over from exercises such as this, which I (or you!) could use.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A really nice carrot cake

I've made this recipe twice in the last two weeks. It's very easy and tastes delicious.

I can't vouch for the icing recipe as I had leftover buttercream each time and used that instead.

For ease of reference, here it is:

1 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon (I used mixed spice as I was out of cinnamon)
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
5 tbsp oil (eg canola)

2 smallish carrots, peeled and grated (to make one cup)
One 400gm can crushed pineapple, drained
1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Combine the dry ingredients with the eggs and oil, and mix until combined. Mix in pineapple, carrot and walnuts.

Pour into baking tin (I used a ring tin) and bake at 180 degrees for 35-40 minutes.

Remove from tin once out of the oven and ice when cool.

Friday, October 11, 2013

A Lego Party


1. Pin the head on the Lego man
2. Pick up Lego blocks using only a straw and deposit block in cup
3. Lego toss
4. Two teams compete to build a tower in 5 minutes.

 The cakes

The lolly bags

Inside the lolly bags

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

How to make art with children when they aren't in the room!

Often when trying to get volunteers to help with art projects with children you get the excuse "but I'm not arty". Well, my excuse trumps that - "I'm not good with children." But here's a collaborative project you can do with children - but without them in the room!

Taking inspiration from "The Sugar Series" by Emily Blincoe, children brought in small toys in a selected colour. These were arranged on a similarly coloured background and photographed. The photograph was printed in large format (50cm x 70cm) and framed:

Not so mini mini-figure!

This is what I started a little while ago....

I took some coloured cardboard...

And some leftover packaging boxes, and made a not-so-mini-minifigure. Not sure what his role at Austin's Lego Party will be exactly...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I made Lego Gummy Bears

I can't even remember what I was looking for on the internet when I stumbled across someone's home-made gummy bear recipe (one quarter of an ounce of gelatine boiled for 10 minutes with half a cup of fruit juice [I used apple juice] - I also added food colouring too and some recipes call for the addition of sugar).

Just remember to oil the mold:

And they come in yellow too!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Back to the Lego Party

Turns out July wasn't too soon to start the party - I should have started A LOT earlier! Thanks to the school's Art Exhibition and Auction, things got set back a little. But we are back on track - with the invitations going out.

Thanks to All for the Memories for their great Lego invitation template. I downloaded it and adapted it - and here it is:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Don't panic Pirate Party food

It's 8:30pm on a Monday night, the children have just fallen asleep, and you realise that your son is supposed to take "pirate" themed food to school the next day. What to do? It only I'd thought to buy a watermelon:

Nothing else on the internet jumped out at me quite like that - I needed something that was portable, didn't need reheating or chilling, and wasn't too sugary.

This is what I did instead - taking a leaf out of IKEA's book (were the Swedish ever pirates?) and combining it with my favourite cheese biscuit recipe passed off as "hard tack" (I made half the recipe - it makes A LOT of cheese biscuits):
About to go into the oven
Out of the oven

And the great thing about the letters "A", "H", "O" and "Y" is that they read the same backwards and forwards (Take that, IKEA!).

the skulls looked alright going into the oven
but no so great once cooked. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Collaborative art project for older primary children

The great thing about children is that they by and large get more dextrous the older they get. So when you get a class full of 11 and 12 year olds (and mostly boys as their female classmates are all off at a choir performance) and you need to give them something to do that will keep their hands and minds occupied origami comes to mind. And given that the school's "language other than English" is Japanese, everyone was happy to go along for the ride.

And then someone showed me the work of Will and Caro:

and I knew what to do with all the butterflies we made:
I used these instructions:

Word String Art

Inspired by Poppy Haus (left) and Honey and Fitz (right), I decided on a string art project for my son's year 3/4 (7,8,9 year olds) school Art Exhibition project. The school was pursuing a theme of "growing" in its curriculum so that seemed like the obvious word to string out. A string art project is also great for getting many little hands involved.

I had some foam board left over from some IKEA packaging, so the principal costs for the project were calico fabric to wrap the board, a couple of packets of steel pins, and crochet thread - in a solid and a varigated colour.

I chose to push pins into foam rather than hammer nails into board because, well, life is short! Even so, the set-up (wrapping, printing word, pinning) took about 3 hours.

If you chose to do a similar project, I would recommend cutting the letter out before pinning it (above) - ripping the pieces of paper away after pinning is pretty tedious (below)!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Primary school Art Show fun

Many schools have hit upon the idea of getting students to produce collaborative artworks then pitting parents of those students to bid against each other to take the work home, proceeds going to the school (via the P and C). So it is at my sons' present school as it was at the last.

Not every class at the present school had a parent put up their hand to help in their class, so I ended up helping a few classes make collaborative works. Some classes had more input from students than others. This was one idea which is pretty basic but produced a work that sold at auction for $210 - and cost about $25 to put together (the cost of the frame, paper, and a new cutting knife).

I've always admired Australian artist Rosalie Gascoigne's work - especially the yellow and black works made with old packing boxes, or, here, road signs:
And currently there's "textual" fashion in art - using words to create artworks. I combined the two by getting the class of first years (5-6 year olds) to go through junk mail catalogues and magazines and pick out yellow pictures, and cut them out for me. You start with this:

And then, some sticking and cutting (words printed from computer and traced onto heavier card) later, you end with this:

There are many similar projects out there - here are some others for inspiration:
1. 2. 3.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Where have I been?

Just doing a little renovation to the house.....and then some interior decoration.

Inspired by this lighting display, I created this in my new dressing room:

(Note - In December 2013 I visited the shopping mall where the shop which inspired this array was located, and the shop has been gutted and re-tenanted - and the lights are gone!)

And this image led to the inspiration for Austin's room:

Thank you eBay for all your help!

Watch this space!

Austin's birthday is in September. Right now it's the end of July - not too early to be planning...