Friday, 30 August 2013

Handmade Cards - Stampin Up

One evening this week I had the opportunity to go along to a card making evening with some friends and it was so good!  I know that for many of you, you most likely do things like this often, but I don't tend to get out much, especially evenings, to do things on my own without the kids, so I totally enjoyed it!!

The cards were all simple to make and done using stamping techniques.  They were all made using Stampin' Up stamps.  The lady hosting the evening wasn't a Consultant for Stampin Up, but she very obviously favoured their products and had an enormous supply of everything to choose from.  It was fun using a different variety of stamps and ink colours to what I have at home.

Christmas Reindeer

This Christmas card has an embossed background, which was done using a Sizzix Big Shot Machine.  The brown card was lightly sanded after it was embossed, which brings out a two tone background - rather nice!

Coffee & Friends Card

Although I prefer Tea to Coffee, I still really loved this card.  It could be used for anything.  It doesn't look very complicated, and it isn't, but there are 3 different shades of brown ink to do all the stamping which gives nice colour variation.  All the splatter across the bottom comes from 3 separate stamps.  The band around the coffee cup is raised up to give the card some dimension.  All up a fun card to make.

Hexagon Card

This card, believe it or not, was actually the most challenging.  I used a new tool which I had never seen before and what it did was allowed me to line up my stamps exactly where I wanted them to go.  I tried stamping the hexagons freehand, which is never usually a problem for me, but could not achieve this same perfect look.  So I gave the tool a try and this was the end result, perfectly spaced little hexagons.  Each individual hexagon has been separately stamped.  I loved the colour palette of the ink pads in this one.  It was a great card to make and I like coming away feeling I have learned a new skill.

40th Birthday Card

This last card was something I made by myself at home for a friend's 40th Birthday.  I made a large card, double the size of what I would usually do, so that a number of friends could all write in the same card. The idea for the card design came from adapting another card I had found on Pinterest.  The green paper flower I made using an online tutorial and once finished, stuck a button on the top.  I loved how the entire card turned out.
I find card making to be so relaxing and almost therapeutic, I really should do it more often!!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Samaritan's Purse - Operation Christmas Child 2013

Well I can't believe that 12 months has already rolled around again so quickly - where has the time gone?!!  We are at that time of the year when we start to prepare our Shoeboxes full of gifts for Operation Christmas Child.

This has become a yearly event our family is always involved in and we love putting together boxes full of gifts for children who live in places around the world where they don't have much at all.  For us it doesn't necessarily come easy financially to be involved in this venture, it is a sacrifice.  We have a large family and it is expensive just to provide for the needs of our own children, but we look beyond this to the opportunity this experience provides as a valuable teaching lesson to our children.  We need to be thankful for the things we have and reach out to help those around us.  It encourages the spirit of giving at Christmas, rather than having kids only focus on what they want to receive.  As many of you know, the gift of giving actually brings you a greater sense of joy within yourself - for me it has been such a blessing to see my own kids understand this.
Samaritan's Purse is a Christian relief and evangelism organization.  The mission of Operation Christmas Child is to demonstrate God's love in a tangible way to needy children around the world. 
To learn more about Operation Christmas Child you can visit their website here.
The concept is to share a gift with a child by filling a box with a variety of small gifts.  The box will then be collected and distributed to a needy child somewhere else in the world.

It has been fun throughout the last 12 months, shopping for this project.  We do watch the stores for sales and buy up a lot of the supplies for the boxes then - for example, back to school sales are a great opportunity to get lots of school supplies cheaply.  By stretching our dollar, while still providing quality items, we are able to actually put together a few extra boxes than we might have been able to do otherwise.  My kids are so in tune with the whole concept of Operation Christmas Child that when they see things on sale throughout the year that are on our lists for the boxes, they are very eager to buy them and put them away for when we are ready to pack the shoeboxes in August.

Last week we pulled out our containers of supplies.  I store everything we purchase throughout the year in large plastic containers to keep them all clean.  My younger girls sorted all the supplies into separate piles to make it easy to collect what we needed for each box and then we began the task of packing the individual boxes.  It was very exciting and lots of fun for the kids.  They get so much enjoyment out of putting together a box of supplies for a gift for another child somewhere in the world.  Last on the list of things to add to the boxes is a photo of the kids, to make the gift a bit more personal for the recipient, so they know somebody made this parcel for them and cares for them.
Our church family all get involved with Operation Christmas Child and the church is a local collection point for people to be able to drop their packed shoeboxes off to.  It is amazing each year to see a massive wall of boxes which are all donated by the generous people from both our church family and our local community.  The school where our children go is also involved in this project, so we have opportunities to be involved each year by donating items for the school students to pack boxes.  The school then sends a team of senior students overseas on a mission trip to help with the distribution of the boxes - truly a life changing experience!
If you have the opportunity, I highly recommend getting involved - contact Samaritan's Purse for more details of how to do this in your local area.

Saturday, 17 August 2013

Playgroup Crafts

This year seems to be going so fast and I find myself constantly in planning mode for Playgroup, especially when it comes to the weekly crafts.  Our group is growing in size, which is wonderful, but it is also challenging me time-wise to prepare so many crafts each week - I usually work on preparing for 40-50 children. If I can find something in a kit form, it is a bonus, but those usually work out too expensive and so I revert back to something that is the most cost effective.
So where do lots of my ideas come from?  Well I gather them from all over the place.  Sometimes we work on a theme each term and other times crafts are a bit more random.  Pinterest is one of my favourite places to source ideas from, but I also borrow ideas from crafts my own children might make at school, especially during that first year at school. 
So for those of you who might have the need to come up with craft ideas for young children, be it for using at home or elsewhere, I thought I would share with you a few of our latest crafts.  None of them are difficult.  Most only require glue and decorating, so they are relatively easy.
A green frog - with lots of sparkling glitter!

Snake made from a paper plate
This looks good when pulled up from the head in the centre

Crown decorated with Dot Markers & gems

Birds in a Nest

We've been doing a bit of painting too.  Last week we did magic pictures where I had drawn pictures onto white paper using a white crayon and then gave the children a watered down paint wash to paint over the top and reveal the picture.

Another fun form of painting which all the children love to do is marble painting. 

We use a jumbo sized marble for this, almost a golf ball size, dip it in paint and place it in a shallow container with a piece of paper already placed in the bottom.  The children just need to roll the marble around inside and it creates a fun painting, especially when using multiple colours.

I don't always remember to take a photo of our crafts each week, but I am trying to be more diligent at doing that so that I can build up my own craft resources and then rotate them every few years as new groups of children come through.

If you have any great ideas for that 2-5 year old age group or know of some great websites with inexpensive but creative ideas, I would really value your feedback.  If we all help one another out, we will have enough ideas to share around for a very long time to come!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Variegated Crochet Ripple Blanket

I have been so excited about my current crochet project which I have been steadily working away on, so thought I would give you an update.

If you have visited my blog before you may remember me sharing about my latest purchase of some lovely soft yarns and my plan was to turn them into a new Ripple Blanket.

While our home has been undergoing major repairs and renovations and I've not been able to access my craft supplies, nor a flat space to work on, my crochet has been a wonderful creative alternative.  It would drive me absolutely crazy not to have something to be able to work on.

My ripple blanket is growing into a lovely lap sized rug

Working on a crochet blanket has been the perfect winter project and now that it is growing it has the added bonus of keeping me nice and cozy in the evenings as I continue working away on it.

Here is a close up of the pattern and colours

I've been so pleased with the combination of the pink with the variegated colours, they look so good together.  The variegated yarn is made up of pink, grey and a creamy white.

If you are in Australia and have a Lincraft store near you, they have their yarns on sale this week for 30% off.  I highly recommend this Veronica yarn I am using, while it may be thick, it is the softest and warmest yarn I've used in a long time - really nice to work with.  You can't go wrong with it!