Be blown away with paint!

The school holidays seem to be particularly dreary this year. The toddler seems to have fallen slightly out of love with painting so I decided to come up with a new method to renew her passion. 


This was a super-simple, fun and VERY messy project and one we both enjoyed. Seriously though, if you decide to try it, paint goes EVERYWHERE so make sure you put lots of paper down.


Those who know me, know I’m terrible at drawing (I once drew a stick an with three knees….) but luckily ‘Moon’ from the toddlers new favourite show (Sarah & Duck) is easy enough for even my cack-handedness to draw. I also did a few other simple outlines, including a tree, Spidergirl and a hedgehog.


Next, it was time to pour the paint. I bit of trial and error taught us that small drops, fairly close together worked better.


Then it was time to blow!


It was fun trying different lengths of straw and different ‘blowing’ techniques from short, sharp puffs, to longer blows while moving the straw around. They created surprisingly different results.


The tree is a little abstract.


Spider girl turned into a Deadpool/Venom hybrid. We used slightly too much paint on this one….


And here’s Moon, waving on his way to work.

Have you tried blow-painting? How did you get on? Let me know in the comments below! 

Make it Monday: Greetings! 

I love receiving cards, don’t you? But even more than receiving, I love MAKING cards! Here’s some of my recent makes. 

Make it Monday: Shark Week


We live every week like it’s Shark Week here at Beagle HQ but having a dedicated week is always fun to try some new crafts.

Seeing the Lamb playing with a toilet roll inspired the ‘shark fin cuff’. It was incredibly simple but turned out better than we expected and the toddler loves ‘swimming’ around the house with her cuff. We cut a fin shape, painted it grey, while the toilet roll was painted blue. Then it was a simple case of gluing the fin to the toilet roll and cutting an opening! I added some tissue paper to cover the flaps at the base of the fin and the cuff was ready!


Just in case the Lamb didn’t want to wear a cuff, we also made this fun hat/hairband. Another simple construction, with a band of paper to fit the Lamb’s head, and an extra one to go over the top. The Lamb painted both and again I added some tissue paper to hide the join, and to add a bit of texture. If I’m honest, I think hubby and I are a little jealous we don’t have a fun hat like this. Perhaps next week….

How are you celebrating Shark Week?

Make it Monday: Room On The Broom inspired Quiet Book


We’re HUGE fans of Julia Donaldson & Axel Scheffler’s books here at Beagle HQ. So much so that the toddler’s last birthday was themed around some of their more famous books, but that’s a post for another day.

A zipper for a mouth

What’s inside? Some other characters!


I wanted to make the toddler something a bit different, so I combined some of her favourite characters with different openers and fasteners to help her improve her dexterity and coordination. The product was ‘Evie’s Quiet Book’.

Bird’s wing has a magnetic which helps it move. There’s also plenty of ribbon to practice tying bows


Quiet books seem to be hugely popular and it’s easy to see why: soft to touch for little hands, they are only limited by your imagination and can keep little people occupied for ages. 

Help Dog count bones


I created a page for each of the main characters: Witch, Cat, Dog, Bird, Frog, Dragon plus all of them on the broom.

What’s in Cat’s cauldron?

All the ingredients fro a witches brew! Each item is sewn onto a popper so can be removed for an endless mix of spells


I tried to use a mix of fabrics and materials to make it interesting to touch as well as various colours. Some worked better than others, with some of the coarser fabric fraying, however I think this adds to the characters. 

The Dragon isn’t too gruff here – he has a squeaker for a voice


There are also different fasteners including zips, poppers, buttons and clips, all of which encourage to toddler to explore and learn how to use them. They’ve helped her improve her manual dexterity while also teaching her some key skills for getting dressed. 

Help the Witch button her cardigan and plait her hair, but be careful not to lose her ribbon!


I think the Witch is my favourite page. Her long ginger hair is a mix of different wools, from very soft, to slightly more coarse and even a few strands from my rag doll I had as a baby! Perfect for learning how to plait, and to tie a ribbon! Her cardigan also needs buttoning. This was the only page where I used my sewing machine (for the cardigan), all the rest was sewn by hand.

And out flew, a magnificent broom!


The last page is the broom with all the characters sat safely in their seats. I made the finger puppets as a fun accompaniment when reading the book, but they can be used for reenactment while out and about, or for creating new adventures!

Endless fun with the finger puppets


Have you made a quiet book? Do you like the characters from the Gruffalo and Room on the Broom? Let me know in the comments below. 

Smelling good! My soaps from @SoapDaze


Remember a few weeks ago I shared details of my soap making workshop with @SoapDaze, well today I collected my soaps! I love the colours made by the bladderwrack and clay and the blend of sandlewood with mandarin is delicious. I also think the pup approves as she gave them a good sniff as I was trying to get some pictures! 

Make it Monday: Gone fishing!

fishing game.JPG

Over Christmas I bought the toddler some candy canes which we put in a cup and ‘fished’ for using a keyring hoop on some string. They were cheap canes and really not tasty (even the pup refused to munch them!) which is one of the reasons they have lasted so long but they finally all broke.

The toddler was rather disappointed as she loved her ‘fishing’ game so I was really thankful to find this tutorial from Handmade Gifts Made Easy! It’s a fairly simple pattern and I decided to reuse the fabric from one of my first ever sewing projects (a simple A-line dress I sewed for the toddler to wear to swim classes. Looking back, there’s wonky lines, unpressed and incorrectly sewn seams BUT she loved it and seemed happy I was going to use some of her favourite fabric). Given it’s covered in some of her favourite ocean life, it seemed fitting for a fishing game.

ocean dress.JPG

One of the first items I ever sewed! Sadly the toddler has outgrown it so I’m reusing the fabric

The tutorial comes with a pattern for the fish but due to some printer issues, I decided to make my own. As you can see, it was very high-tech and properly measured.

pattern for fish.JPG

I used a coaster to create my fish

The toddler was already excited when I started cutting the fish out and was determined to help me sew them together. For this reason I didn’t pin them as they do in the tutorial. (Before anyone comments, when the toddler ‘helps’ me sew, she sits under the table and works the foot paddle with me, however, I don’t like to use pins if I know little fingers are around!). I also didn’t want to create a ‘worm’ on the hook because my magnet was very small and I was worried it might not have the strength to pick up the fish so used some of the fabric offcuts.

cutting fish.JPG

With my helper at the paddle, the fish were quickly sewn and before I had a chance to stuff and close them the toddler had ‘caught’ a few and was off! She had a fun half an hour or so until bed time, catching them, showing us what fish she’d caught.

Once little fingers were safely in bed I got my sewing needles out and finished off the fish, putting a little stuffing in each before I sewed them up. My sewing is in no way as neat as the ‘Gifts Made Easy’ team but they do provide a helpful video if you want to do a neater job than I did.

The next morning the toddler headed straight for her fishing kit and all through breakfast kept ‘fishing’. It’s proven to be one of her favourite toys (as her homemade gifts often are) and as it’s so neat and small, it’s one I can pop in my bag to keep her entertained while we’re out and about. Hopefully it last longer than the candy canes!

Have you made any games for your youngsters? Feel free to share photos or links in the comments.

 

Make it Monday: silk weaving in Laos


Facebook is telling me it’s nine years (NINE YEARS! Honestly, where does time go?) since I did my silk weaving class at Ock Pop Tok in Laung Prabang, on the Mekong River in Laos.

Ock Pop Tok (East meets West) is a social enterprise where local women are employed to teach traditional textile crafts. It was still in its infancy when we were there so I’m really pleased to see from their website that they’re continuing to do well as I have such fond memories of my day there and the amazing staff who taught me with such humour and patience. 
I remember there’s a stunning garden where my guide taught me about traditional silk dying, and the plants used. We collected different plants and I dyed skeins (does silk come in skeins like wool? Let me know below) of silk which I’ve still got on display.


Then it was on to the silk weaving. I’m not going to pretend I understand the machine – it was a large contraption with more threads going everywhere than Shelob’s lair! I remember it being a little tricky feet, as I needed to press each paddle (again, sorry to any weavers if I’m using the wrong terminology) to move the threads and create the pattern. Once in the ‘swing’ it was surprisingly quick to create my piece. 

I chose a ‘naga’ pattern, a traditional Buddhist symbol which I was told was a protective, wise deity. 

And here’s my finished piece! Happy to say it’s still pride of place, currently in our bedroom. So many happy memories. 


Have you visited Ock Pop Tok? What did you make? Have you tried any local crafts on your travels? Let me know in the comments below.