I’m really enjoying learning to crochet. For some reason my brain didn’t ‘get it’ for ages, despite being shown by friends and associates, all I could make was uneven triangles.
I recently spent some time learning (thanks to a charity shop crochet kit and YouTube!) and have been experimenting a lot, writing my own patterns and learning to make appliqué as well as amigurami characters. I’ll be showcasing my makes here and welcome commissions. This little shark was made for my husband, a huge shark enthusiast. What do you think?
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One of my favourite things to do on a lazy day with the Lamb is to look briefly at my ‘Toddler Craft’ board on Pintrest & see what project she chooses.
Last week she was really taken with this photo of ‘tissue box monsters’ (apologies, I’ve looked to see if there’s a link to a website but can’t see one).
It was super simple and it was lovely to see the Lamb’s imagination run wild. Firstly we gathered our materials, and we were very lucky that it was the day before the recycling was collected so we had plenty of egg boxes and tissue boxes to use, plus some pipe cleaners, felt balls, paint, paper and glue.
The Lamb kept referring back to the original photo but her imagination really ran wild as she painted the mouth black, added fuzzy balls inside, wanted yellow horn and chose bobbly eyes for him. It was really fun, messy and creative. I was surprised at how long it took as the Lamb took a lot of care painting and considering what to add next.
And now her monster is pride of place on the mantelpiece.
Have you made a tissue box monster? What decorations are you making for Halloween?
We recently celebrated the Lamb’s third (THIRD!!) birthday. She’s heavily into dinosaurs at the moment so I had planned a dinosaur theme for her birthday. However, as always, the best laid plans for scuppered when two weeks before her birthday, she announced she wanted a ‘Sarah and Duck’ theme. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Sarah and Duck is a charming and quirky cartoon featuring a young girl ‘Sarah’, her friend ‘Duck’ who lives with her and a plethora (I really don’t use the word ‘plethora’ enough. Plethora. Love it) of interesting characters, from ‘Scarf Lady’ who is perpetually knitting and her grumpy knitting bag, Umbrella who doesn’t like the rain, Bug who collects buttons, Plate Girl, Ribbon Sisters, the list goes on.
Which luckily means there are a huge number of characters to draw inspiration from. As we do every birthday, we decorated our fireplace.
With help from the Lamb, we made pom-poms. Pom-poms are a craft I’d been looking forward to doing with the Lamb for a while. It’s very simple and mess-free, plus we loved throwing our pom-poms in the air. Their ‘bed’ was actually a cleaned out croissant tray and we shredded some brown packing paper to make soil. We stuck some eyes on the pom-poms, then it was a case of ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Ahoy!’
Duck was another toddler-friendly craft with lots of tissue paper stuck onto a cardboard duck. Sometimes the simple crafts are the most fun and effective.
Next up was the paper chains, because it’s not a birthday without paper chains. I found an umbrella shaped hole punch in Tiger (I’ve seen them in multiple stores) and set to work. ‘Umbrella’ in Sarah and Duck is red so I tried different methods of creating a red umbrella. Finally I opted to punch strips of yellow paper, then highlight the holes with red paper, which I think created a lovely effect. It was time consuming but looked pretty good, although I cut the red backing paper a little too narrow so from the back it looked a little messy. The Lamb didn’t mind though.
Another view of the paper chains and the paint blown ‘Moon’ to created a few weeks ago.
In one episode Sarah’s plant isn’t too well. It turns out that ‘Bug’ has been storing buttons in the flower pot. Sarah makes Bug a ‘Button’ bank so I filled a jar with my most colourful buttons and added a label. I think Bug would really like this little Bank, don’t you?
Some paper lanterns became ‘Moon’ and ‘Venus’ and more tissue paper helped create ‘Flamingo’ .
And of course, what would a birthday be without ‘Cake’. Fans of the show will know the talkative cake was make for Duck but ended up helping ‘Bread Man’ in his shop. And what flavour was the cake? Lemon drizzle of course!
Does your little one like Sarah and Duck? Have you thrown a Sarah and Duck themed party? Let me know!
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!
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….
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!
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.
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.
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!)
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.
So now we have to wait for three weeks! I’ll let you know how our soaps turn out.
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.
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.
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!