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: Soap with Soap Daze

Soap making

You’ll remember a few weeks ago I ran out of soap, so used ‘melt and pour’ goats milk soap. The results were fine and I’ve been happily scrubbing with the coffee grounds, but I didn’t really know what was in the soap and was keen to learn to do it properly.

Luckily I know Sharon, owner and maker of ‘Soap Daze‘ based in Devon. She’s been making natural soaps for about six years and having bought (and recommended!) some of her soaps in the past, when she announced she was running courses to learn how to make soap, I knew I wanted to try.

My friend Jo (@handmadebyjo seriously, read the rest of this, then go and check out her beautiful crafts. I mean it!) and I booked. We arrived at Sharon’s ‘she-shed’, her converted garage in her garden and got to work (over multiple cups of tea and yummy home-made biscuits).

Sharon took us through the history and basics of cold process soap making, how the oils bond with the lye and transform during a process called saponification to make soap. It was really interesting to learn that different oils have a different saponification figure, relating to the quantity of lye you need to add. The only downside was that we needed to do some working out, which first thing on a Saturday wasn’t my strong point!

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Getting to work measuring out my oils

Sharon has a huge variety of ingredients, with base oils including cocoa butter, coconut oil and hemp oil to name a few. I chose avocado oil, olive oil, help oil and sweet almond which I’m hoping will produce a very rich, moisturising soap. Added to that, some rhassoul mud and bladderwrack seaweed, mostly because I like the names (seriously, don’t they sound like the villain in a DC comic?) and mandarin and sandalwood essential oils. It was lots of fun sniffing all the different essential oils and choosing our ‘top notes’, and ‘base notes’. Jo chose cocoa butter, olive oil and avocado oil, with grapefruit and black pepper essential oils.

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Mixing my oils

The first part was to heat the base oils, then preparing the lye (something I’d been a little worried about but Sharon gave us clear instructions and wrapped up in gloves, an apron and protective glasses we mixed  the lye with water before monitoring its temperature.

Lye

Mixing the lye with water. I was amazed at how much heat it gave off!

Once both the base oils and the lye were at the same temperature we mixed them together using a hand blender until we were able to achieve ‘trace’, when the mixture has formed a custard-like consistency. It was really interesting watching the changing colour of the mixture. In went the essential oils and it smelled soooooo good! (I think mandarin and sandalwood may be my new favourite combination!)

 

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Looking for a trace of trace

Finally it was time to pour the soaps into the block. A little tricky as I’m a bit cack-handed at the best of times but managed it. I poured half the mixture in, then blended the rhassoul mud and bladderwrack seaweed with the remainder before adding that, hopefully in a way that it will create an interesting pattern once the soap is cut. Sharon then wrapped up our soaps, explaining that they need to sit for at least three days before being cut and cured.

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Adding my rhassoul mud and bladderwrack seaweed

So now we have to wait for three weeks! I’ll let you know how our soaps turn out.

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My soap, poured into the block

Have you made cold process soap? Do you have any recipe ideas? Or have you tried the melt and pour? Let me know in the comments below.

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I up-cycled some Soap Daze packaging to make the toddler a ‘Matchbox Doll’

Disclaimer: Sharon is a friend. However, I paid for the soap making course (bought during a promotional phase run by Sharon) and all thoughts, photos and opinions are my own.

 

Make it Monday: Melt & Pour Soap

It’s a few weeks until my soap making course with Sharon from Soap Daze and as we’re running low in Casa CH, I thought I’d try ‘melt & pour’ soap. I’d seen a recipe of Garden Therapy which I had followed and made for gifts but this time I thought I’d try something a little different.

I’ve become a huge fan of ‘Thieves Oil’ and I’ll write a longer post about the benefits of this fantastic blend at a later date, but given it’s anti-fungal, anti-biotic and assorted other benefits, I knew I wanted to use this oil in my soap. Given the assorted ways we get mucky here, from paint to soil to dog drool, I knew we’d need something gently abrasive to remove even the most stubborn food or paint. Luckily hubby has started drinking filtered coffee again so we have plenty of coffee grounds (if you’ve got some lying around, mix them two parts coffee to one part coconut oil, then add an essential oil such as lavender. Use as the most scrummy body scrub!). 

But back to my soap! Melt and pour soap is incredibly easy to use. Measure out the amount you need (approx 200g made six small soaps but it depends on your moulds). I used a measuring jug for ease of pouring. Pop your soap into the microwave and set on a high heat for 30seconds (or as per pack instructions). Keep microwaving at 30seconds intervals until it’s fully melted. 

Mix in your essential oil and any other ingredients. I’ve found that the soap can set quite quickly so it’s best to have everything ready to go, but if you don’t, don’t fret, simply pop it back into the microwave to melt it again. The soap smells lovely, but was extra delicious when I added the coffee grounds and thieves oil. I gave it a thorough mix and started to pour. As expected the coffee grounds settled rather quickly so next time I’ll wait a until just as the soaps starting to set before adding them. I ppped the moulds into the fridge overnight to make sure they set fully.when I popped them out of the moulds, the coffee grounds had settled but I love the colour differences and they smell delicious. And, the best bit is, we’ve got super duper clean hands! 

Happy Easter!

Do you have an Easter egg hunt planned with your little ones? I’m certain that cheeky bunny will be dropping off some eggs (and pup friendly treats!) to our girls so I thought I should make some bags for the toddler and her friends.

Luckily the very clever Caroline of ‘SewCanShe‘ had created these beautiful & simple egg collecting bags.  I’d made a slightly larger bag using this pattern (and super easy boxed corners) last year as a house-warming gift for a friend so decided to make a smaller one for the toddler. 

Following the pattern was super easy, even though it was my first real attempt at appliqué. As promised in her blog, the bags sewed up quickly and I was really pleased with the results. I thought the toddler might be a little too focussed on picking up eggs so I added a shoulder strap which worked well. What do you think? I love the bright colours and as you can see, it packs a LOT of treats! It’s also currently one of my daughters favourite bags, hence the creases!

I also wanted to make some treat bags for her friends so used this pattern, again from SewCanShe. I love the bunny fabric and again the pattern was super easy, although I always have a few issues doing buttonholes (I think I need more practice. I measure, and place, double check and they still end up slightly in the wrong place!). Anyway, they came out pretty well, although I decided to use fleece for my bunny ears to add some texture to the bags. They looked cute, but we’re a little too heavy and kept pulling the rest of the bag in odd directions. If I make these bags again, I’ll use a much lighter fabric as suggested in the instructions. We filled the bags with treats and I can say they were a hit with the toddlers friends! 


What do you think? Will you try the sewing patterns? Send me a picture in the comments below of your creations!

Wishing you all a peaceful and chocolate-filled Easter! 

March Meet the Maker: Favourite to Make

Welcome back!

If you follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, go do it now! Yes now! @bluebeaglebaby) you’ll know that I’m taking part in the #MarchMeetTheMaker event. Today’s title is ‘Favourite to Make’.

Hmm, well this is a tricky one. I’m constantly told I need to concentrate on one ‘thing’ but as any creative knows, there’s too many voices in our heads to listen to just one! So, here’s a few of the things I create!

Geri's makes

In many respects my first ‘baby’ is my writing. I remember writing the opening chapter of what would become my first novel ‘Akane: Last of the Orions’ while travelling through Brazil. Given how many other things I’ve written, it’s funny that this sticks in my memory, and I’ve still got the original notes too! It took a further seven years to finish, edit and submit it to publishers before it finally found its home at Fox Spirit Books.

Weird Wild by G Clark HelleryI have assorted other books available, including my collection of short stories ‘Weird Wild’. I’ll also be making short stories available through my website soon so pop back soon.

I’ve always loved different craft activities and since the birth of my daughter I learned how to sew. I’ve been busy designing her some skirts (see the picture above or my Facebook page for more images) but have recently really enjoyed sewing capes. I was commissioned to sew a ‘family’ of capes for a customer and my daughter liked them so much, I had to sew her some in assorted colours. Seeing her and her friends running around wearing them is brilliant. I’m planning to work on a few cosplay pieces soon. If you’d like a cape made for your little person, feel free to contact me for a quote. Capes

I’ve recently started ‘felting’. There’s something very relaxing about stabbing a needle into felt and I’m planning on making some figures. In the meantime, I’ve ‘felted’ a mermaid toy and also a series of cards, including these for Mother’s Day.

Felted cards by G Clark Hellery