DIY Party People

Before you get too excited, let me make clear I do not do DIY. I will never ever do Homes Under the Hammer (which I love!) or Changing Rooms or any such thing. Painting a wall bores me in about 2 seconds and I’m not to be trusted near any tools with teeth.

However, I am a craft loving woman who has married a craft loving family. This year we decided to throw our daughter a birthday party, invite all her class and (rather foolhardily) do a lot of it ourselves. It was fun! I had spent large amounts of Summer with the kiddo watching Art Attack and the brilliant Art Zooka  so I was ready! The party theme was “Wild Animals”.

We went into creative overdrive!

1. Invitations: Homemade using MS Publisher. I have never used it before so not only was I creating an invite, I was also learning a skill. I was amazed at how much clip art has improved since I last used it. Result!

2. I made a pinata following some instructions from Pinata Boy. My first attempt using a punch ball and flour paste collapsed sadly overnight. So I tried again with a normal balloon and Art Attack glue (=PVA and water in equal parts) and used the Pinataboy tip of covering the whole thing in paper first. All in all I made 4 layers of paper/glue before covering it with white streamers cut up using my recycling scissors and some decorative touches. At the party, it was so tough the kids couldn’t break it and Mr Plummy Mummy had to smash it with his boot. This lead to a massive scramble for the contents by the kids and lots of tears from my kiddo who didn’t want to see the thing broken.

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3.  Food – Mini cakes. With some Betty Crocker icing. Kids never seem to finish cakes at a party so I thought these mini cakes would be best. Ended up making so many that each kid got 2 each and the parents had a few ….just to taste you understand!

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As someone who teaches healthy eating as a living, I had to have fruit at the party. These were in the form of fruit kebabs, the sticks of which we stuck into a hollowed out watermelon shell. Some kids ate them, some had loads and some had none. I love the kid that had loads!

4. Photo booth. This was the most fun. Photo booth props can be expensive. We had a large frame lying around as the glass had broken in a housemove. I got hold of a cheap Gangnum style poster from ToysRUs and some wallpaper lining to make a picture for the other side. My husband attached the side wood and a base so it would stand. In doing so, he managed to near saw his finger off. Poor guy.

I was pretty proud of my naiive Hello Kitty painting on wallpaper lining…and am now totally in love with acrylic painting! Not many kids used it at the party but the ones that did looked very cute. The great thing is we still have the structure and can just update it with new pictures when we want.

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My mother in law and sister in law also made some photo booth props. Sadly, these were hardly used by the kids. I wonder if at the age of 6 they were too young to understand the concept. They even left all the face masks that we provided for them to decorate despite spending ages nicely colouring them in.

4. Safari man! Hubby made some binoculars from some 2 litre soda bottles. He also wanted a giant net where my dubious sewing skills paled in comparison to his engineering know how to make it stay upright! My daughter is now short one hula hoop but again, it was worth it. The kids loved both his props.

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5. There were loads of other homemade things – a game my mother in law came along with where she printed off lots of animals and the kids had to find their animal mates plus a simple obstacle course hubby and I devised using cones from Tiger, Tiger and some tunnels and boxes from Ikea. He even recruited help from work in getting people to save the milk bottle caps that we used as part of the game.

It wasn’t all home made though. For the second half we had some lovely Cool Creatures come along and the kids had a go at touching meerkats, a hedgehog, a skunk(!!!!), a skink (lizard with a blue tongue) and snakes. I went running away at this point as snakes made my skin crawl but the kids were amazing especially when it came to the very long albino python.

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Not everything went to plan. We started late so we didn’t play all the games we planned. Not all the kids wanted to do the dancing game (perhaps they are too young for the Birdy song?). One child refused to join in with ANYTHING (grrrrrrrrrrr). The music wasn’t loud enough – we had it at sensible levels compared to the eardrum smashing levels that I have heard at other kids’ parties. We didn’t put enough chairs out so had to scramble when it came time for the food, the hall was hot so there were not enough drinks for the kids and then a lot of the food was not eaten. And finally, the animal man took time to go around with his creatures which would have worked better with fewer kids as many of them got bored.

However, despite all that and our running around like headless chickens – I think seeing my gorgeous girl bravely handle all the animals and only have one meltdown during the whole party means it was a success. I am also confident that I will not be repeating the experience for at least another 15 years!

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Handmade raksha bandhan cards

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I am a Hindu like some people are Christians – only celebrating the fun festivals like Christmas and Easter. I blame my parents for not educating me properly!!

Today is one of the Hindu festivals that I love – Raksha Bandhan ; a day when brothers and sisters come together to show how much they love each other. The sister ties a rakhi onto her brother’s wrists and give him some sweets. The brother promise to look after his sister for the following year and give her a small gift.  Girls can also tie them onto cousins, especially if they don’t have brothers. And in some parts of the world, friends tie them onto male friends.

We never really do it properly in our house. In devout houses, the rakhis are blessed on the household temple, the sister will put mark her brother’s forehead and give him some delicious indian sweets to eat. Whilst I have always made sure I have the rakhis, I usually don’t get my brothers any sweets and so feel a little guilty when they give me their small presents. But as we now live so far apart, I try to make an effort with the rakhis. Last year I hand made them using a japanese kumihimo disk and beautiful mercerised cotton embroidery thread that I spent ages looking for – 1 brother was appreciative, 1 was dismissive and the other didn’t even mention receiving the rakhi (I was gutted after all the effort I put in). I also sent one to a very dear friend who means a lot to me – who was supersweet about it. This year, I used shop bought ones – there seems to only be one place in Edinburgh where I can get them.  I hand made the cards. I’m very pleased with how they turned out and I hope my brothers and nephews (my little on sends them to her cousin brothers) love them. Dismissive brother sent me a thank you text this morning…so I must be on the right track. I hope my travel mad brother likes his…it’s my fave – then again, he’s the one who does not acknowledge so I may never know!

P.S. Can’t figure out how to get the images the right way up!

Stoned

Not a food post about special brownies so turn away if that’s what you’re after. I have bought myself some Sharpies and often have some stones lying around home.

Messing about this evening in a “two sides of a coin” style I came up with a ‘Heart of Stone’ on one side, and a ‘Heart of Love’ on the other. Wonder what a psychologist would make of it all?!?

CPC Heart of StoneCPC Heart of love

 

 

Just a note – the sharpie is not very fine nibbed and the ink spread a bit. Will have to find another way to paint my stones to get a better image.

The Owl and the Pussycat had a Potter Around

I wasn’t sure which blog to put this onto so there will be a link on Plummy Mummy to here. But it’s definitely a craft thing so [somehow] I’ll file it under “Paper” 🙂

This is not a sponsored post.

Last week, I took the tot off to Potter Around which is based on a farm in Kirknewton. You go up a bumpy gravelly path and approach the farm. I parked outside but later saw that the building that the studio is based in has more parking.  Now I have to tell you, it’s flipping fantastic that 5 mins drive from our house we are in farmland. I am slowly realising and beginning to appreciate that we may be living in Semi Rural Scotland. Livingston is a sprawling mass of shops and housing but near us we have gorgeous country parks, and lovely villages. And great places to do craft on FARMS!

Potter Around has all sorts of craft stuff including wool (ooooh!), fimo (oooooh!), jewellry making stuff (aaahhhh!) …oops I’m starting to do a parody of a rural person. Must stop. But predominately, it’s a pottering studio. The great thing if you are like me and tot, who have never pottered is that you go in, choose a model and then are let loose on all the paint and glitter your wee heart desires. And it turns out, I’m rather a big fan of glitter. It’s not cheap so we would only be able to go once in a while for a treat, but I like how the price is clearly marked, and you aren’t charged extras. I chose a rather modest owl but my daughter’s eyes lit up when she saw the Hello Kitty.

Having picked the model, we were shown what acrylics we could use so that we could take the models away that day. If you want the model to be fired, you use different paints and have to come back a week or so later. We don’t do deferred gratification, we are all about instant gratification so slapped on some bright colours and waited for them to dry. I kind of got into it. Little one did hers quickly and wanted to go off to play with the horses and their big house. However, Irene who is the knitter in the studio, patiently sat with my daughter and encouraged her to fill in the white bits. That done, she got down to playing with the toys in the studio while I finished my owl. While we waited for them to dry I went off to look around buy some wool and buttons.

We were there for hours. Karen who is one of the co-owners, is very welcoming and great with the little one. We were given lovely tea and juice and had a great time and best of all, my house is now covered in glitter as I may have gone a bit overboard in what I shook onto the models…it looks glorious in our record breaking Scottish sunshine.

Potter Around

Address:
Potter Around
Overton Farm
Kirknewton
West Lothian
EH27 8DD

Opening Times
Mon-Sat: 10-5pm
Sun: 1-5pm

    

Kitchenalia and books

It’s a dangerous thing internet shopping. Too easy to look around and way too easy to enter your details and spend spend spend. Luckily, I don’t have a lot of dosh so spending is limited. That is until I discovered the “vintage kitchenlia” category on Ebay. In truth, I’m trying to get hold of equipment my mum used to use. Stuff from the 60’s which I’m surprised to see labelled vintage. Anyway one thing leads to another and I have bought some cookbooks on the cheap. I’ve given Amazon links below but some of the books are much cheaper on Ebay. None of the books are purely vegetarian.

Indian superfood by Gurpareet Bains – a nice glossy book which tries to show how good some Asian ingredients are. I’m a bit surprised that he hasn’t included okra and kerala which are both known for health giving properties. However, there are some intriguing recipes – I need to figure out how to make the chocolate and chicken curry into a vegetarian dish.

The Curry Secret by Kris Dhillon – How to cook real Indian restaurant meals at home. Most of the restaurants in the UK are Bengali rather than Indian. There are of course restaurants for other areas of Indian including Gujarati, Punjabi and South Indian restaurants but your bog standard curry house is usually Bengali. In our house we never use terms such as madras, dopiaza, vindaloo etc. It’s one of the reasons I like eating in curry houses as the taste is very different from what I cook. However, if you eat out often you might suspect that the sauce is all the same. And reading this book you would be partly right – there is a base Curry sauce which the cook then adds to. I guess this is similar to my vagar which often consists of onion, garlic, ginger and chili base. I’m going to try out the base sauce from the book as soon as I figure out what green ginger is. Also again, many of the dishes here are meaty ones….who knows maybe hubby will pick it up and cook for himself!

Indian Regional Cooking by Sumana Ray – a bit of a happy mistake this one. I had a Sumana Ray book which was lost as part of a horrendous house move. I mourned the loss of that book as I referred to it often as it showed how to make so many foods easily. I thought I was ordering a replacement for that book but what arrived was not the same. The book I got includes meat and fish recipes but on looking through many of the recipes (and indeed the photos) from my old one are there. So this is the old book plus more. I love the sidebars which show step by step how to make things which helpful text and photos. There are loads that I want to try from this book so look out for future recipe reviews.

 

Paper folding

This is amazingly my first post under the “Paper” category which is funny as I’m paper obsessed, or rather stationery obsessed. I can spend hours online looking at different craft products and am in heaven in craft shops touching and looking at different types of paper. I’m not sure if it is a “girl” thing but quite a few girlies I know like their paper – an obsession that’s partly fed by our local Phoenix traders, and the nearness of Hobbycraft.

Anyhooo I digress. The recent spate of baking left me with a dilemma – how to take these to the sales without using my precious tupperware collection. The answer was simple – origami boxes. I have a stack of origami paper and card and et voila – boxes. Now this leads onto more paper-folding – and my 3-year-old and I have been making the simplest animal shapes. Easy to do and ever so cute once we stuck on googly eyes and hand drawn faces have been added. Not the most sophisticated shapes, but as anyone with a young child knows, you can’t do complicated within the 2 minutes attention span the child devotes to a task you may have spent hours preparing for!