Thursday, 25 June 2015

Back to school - Letter Y

Welcome back to letter of the week. It's the turn of the letter Y. I'll be honest with you, we've been so busy getting ready to go back to the UK for the summer, visiting friends, packing, washing, swimming and finishing crochet orders that we haven't done many activities for Y week. It's another funny old letter so we couldn't think of much to do either. But here they are non the less...
 
Yarn
 
There is not a shortage of yarn in our house. The sofa has been covered in the stuff for the last month with crochet orders on the go. So while I tried to sneak a few minutes of crochet in, William was kept busy with this yarn weaving/sewing activity. You can obviously do this with whatever shapes you like, but we chose the letter Y.
 
I used a hole punch to make the holes in a piece of card. You can also create a similar effect by simply wrapping the yarn around the letter instead. I've seen some really nice yarn letters on Pinterest, worthy of hanging up to decorate little ones rooms.
 
 
Letter collage
 
Can you tell I was scraping the bottom of the barrel, or craft cupboard, for this one. You may recognise a yarn letter Y and a YoYo in there! I did vow to show you all the things we do, even if they do look a little rubbish. Some days this is the extent of craft activities you can accomplish, and shouldn't be ashamed that it's not a master piece! It still prompted discussions about what things begin with Y and William still learnt the shape of the letter!
 

 

Activity books
 
We have tons of colouring, sticker and activity books for William. They come in so handy to keep him busy when you need some quiet time, or if you want to sit down and do something together. I keep one in my handbag at all times, along with a handful of crayons so that we can get it out if he gets restless at restaurants or while out and about. With the weather being so hot here at the moment, they have come in handy to keep him busy inside.
 
When grandma Linda came a few months ago she brought two activity books with her for William, an English one and maths one. When we've been struggling for letter crafts to do or I don't have time to sit down and do them with him, Williams been plugging away at this book. I've been through it a few times with him so now he asks for it and will sit quietly joining matching items and colouring pictures.
 
We used these Leap Ahead maths basics and English basic, age 3-4. The links will take you to Amazon although I'm sure you can get them from other shops and to be honest, any other books like them will be great! We will be taking some with us on the plane for our trip back to UK.

 

Enjoy your crafts and pottering this week! One week left of our alphabet series!

Birthday girl skirts!

I am attempting to be mega organised! We are travelling back to the UK soon to visit family and escape the searing heat here in Dubai. I have two beautiful nieces who have birthdays in december, and as we won't be back in the UK this time for it, I thought I better try and get myself together and at least sort out part of their presents!
 
So here is the first gift...
 
 
Each year I try my best to give my nieces and nephews a little something that is handmade for their birthdays. This year I have made them these cute little skirts. The pattern is very easy, just one piece of fabric, a few lines of stitching, an hour later and voila! ( of course, if my nieces ask, tell them they took ages!)
 
 
It's a very quick little skirt to whip up but I think it looks really cute. All you need is some fabric, length of elastic and thread. Here's how to do it!
 

 

1) I cut a strip of fabric that was about 16" long and the whole width of the fabric from selvage to selvage which I think was approximately 45". These skirts are to fit a 5 year old and I checked the waist and length measurements online.
 
2) Fold it in half with right sides together and Sew the raw edges of the side together. Finish the edges with a serger or zigzag stitch.
 
3) Finish the top waist edge with a server or zig zag stitch. Then fold the waist edge over by about 1.5cm and sew, making sure your channel is big enough to fit your elastic into. Leave a gap of about 2cm between where you start and finish, this is the gap to thread the elastic through.
 
4) Cut a piece of elastic so that it is long enough to comfortably fit around your little girls waist, Adding two centimetres so you can join the ends together, I made mine approximately 23". Attach a safety pin to your piece of elastic and thread it through the gap you have just made, taking it all through the channel and out at the beginning again. Don't forget to keep an eye on the end of your elastic so it doesn't disappear into the channel. Pull the two ends out a little and sew them together with a couple of stitches. You can sew up the gap if you wish, but I like to leave mine open so that the elastic can be adjusted if it needs to be.
 
5) Hem the bottom edge of the skirt by folding it over twice and sewing. While pinning the hem, I chose to pin on a length of ribbon to it at the same time. This is optional, you can leave it plain if you like, or even jazz it up more with some more exciting ribbon or edging.
 
 
 
And there you go! A cute little skirt, perfect for kids to run about in, all made using 5 steps and about an hour of your time! I love the little flowery patterned fabric, it's really pretty for little girls and being cotton they should wash well. The pattern is so simple that you can play around with it all you like. Here's some other options you could do.
 
- Make it a layered skirt by adding one or two more laters of fabric, each with a shorter length.
- Add some more volume by cutting a wider width of fabric, or sewing two pieces together, that way it will gather up more.
- Add a belt by cutting a long thin piece of fabric, folding it in half and sewing the long edges together, turn it through the right way and finish the short ends. Tie is in a big bow at the front or back.
 
I added a label to the inside at the back seam which makes it look a bit more professional.
 

 

Have a go at these super cute and easy skirts and please send me a photo or link to them!

 

Friday, 19 June 2015

Quick and easy Father's Day ideas

So the UK Father's Day is this Sunday. I thought I would show a few of the things William and I have made for his dad. They are all pretty quick to do and very easy! (Husband, if you are reading this... Don't! And just in case you are... all these things are super hard and take ages to do so you better appreciate them!)

You're Grrrrrrreat!

Love this idea for a card or just a picture. William drew a circle for the lions face, then used a fork to paint the lions mane.

Tee-rrific!

Williams dad (and grandad) love playing golf. So when I saw this idea on Pinterest I knew we had to give it a go. You can use anything small and round to make the marks with paint, q tips are a good option, but as we didn't have any, William used the other end of a paintbrush.

Handy dads

If your husband is a fixer or maker like mine, this is a fun little plaque to make for him. We glued some Popsicle sticks onto a piece of card. I wrote the message and let William decorate the plaque by gluing on some nuts and washers. We got ours from a shop in dragon mart (near mirdif, Dubai) but you can find them in any DIY shop, b and q etc. You could also just decorate with stickers and drawings.

If your husband isn't the DIY type, change the quote for whatever is applicable. Maybe he likes reading, you could cut out some paper to make into a little book to stick on. Sports fans may appreciate the Popsicle sticks being painted in their favourite teams colours.

When I grow up...

This is probably one of my favourite ideas. We dressed William up in some of my husbands work clothes, including one of the ties I have made him, and took some photos. We took them against a plain wall background but you could mix it up by photographing your little one doing something his dad does, maybe sat in his favourite chair, stood by the BBQ, pretending to drive his car... You get the idea.

I think it's so cute. I printed the photos onto a poster for him so he could put it up in his office at work. I stupidly left the file open on his laptop and he found it the next day. Argh! I thought I had been so careful to get rid of it all but alas obviously not! But he did say he actually enjoyed looking at it each time he went to his computer!

 

So that's what we've done this year. All simple things to make and fun for your little ones too. I saw some other great ideas on Pinterest too, like writing down all the things your little one likes or thinks about their dad, what they know about them. If I get a chance I will try this with William too.

If you would like more ideas, check out what we did last year...

Father's Day DIY cards

Father's Day DIY gifts

 

What are your little ones doing for Father's Day this year? Do share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

DIY Father's Day!


So the UK Father's Day is this Sunday. I thought I would show a few of the things William and I have made for his dad. They are all pretty quick to do and very easy! (Husband, if you are reading this... Don't! And just in case you are... all these things are super hard and take ages to do so you better appreciate them!)

You're Grrrrrrreat!


Love this idea for a card or just a picture. William drew a circle for the lions face, then used a fork to paint the lions mane.

Tee-rrific!


Williams dad (and grandad) love playing golf. So when I saw this idea on Pinterest I knew we had to give it a go. You can use anything small and round to make the marks with paint, q tips are a good option, but as we didn't have any, William used the other end of a paintbrush.

Handy dads


If your husband is a fixer or maker like mine, this is a fun little plaque to make for him. We glued some Popsicle sticks onto a piece of card. I wrote the message and let William decorate the plaque by gluing on some nuts and washers. We got ours from a shop in dragon mart (near mirdif, Dubai) but you can find them in any DIY shop, b and q etc. You could also just decorate with stickers and drawings.


If your husband isn't the DIY type, change the quote for whatever is applicable. Maybe he likes reading, you could cut out some paper to make into a little book to stick on. Sports fans may appreciate the Popsicle sticks being painted in their favourite teams colours.

When I grow up...

This is probably one of my favourite ideas. We dressed William up in some of my husbands work clothes, including one of the ties I have made him, and took some photos. We took them against a plain wall background but you could mix it up by photographing your little one doing something his dad does, maybe sat in his favourite chair, stood by the BBQ, pretending to drive his car... You get the idea. 


I think it's so cute. I printed the photos onto a poster for him so he could put it up in his office at work. I stupidly left the file open on his laptop and he found it the next day. Argh! I thought I had been so careful to get rid of it all but alas obviously not! But he did say he actually enjoyed looking at it each time he went to his computer!

So that's what we've done this year. All simple things to make and fun for your little ones too. I saw some other great ideas on Pinterest too, like writing down all the things your little one likes or thinks about their dad, what they know about them. If I get a chance I will try this with William too.

If you would like more ideas, check out what we did last year...

Father's Day DIY cards

Father's Day DIY gifts

What are your little ones doing for Father's Day this year? Do share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Back to school - Letter X

Each week William and I have been doing crafty activities based on each letter of the alphabet. Hmmm.... X has been a bit of a tricky letter! So a bit of a shorter post this week... But still lots of fun!


X for X-ray!


William has sadly had quite a few x Rays in his short life already! Last year around Easter time when he was two and a half, he broke his femur. It was a horrible time for us all, especially him obviously. But a year on and you wouldn't know he had broken his leg to badly!


So the notion of x rays came easily to William. He did not enjoy them in hospital, dark and large scary machines. But this one was a lot more fun! We rolled out a long piece of paper (we bought the roll from idea, but a cheap roll of lining wall paper would do nicely!) and I got William to lie down still while I drew around him. This prompted many giggles as he said it was tickly! We then pulled up a picture of a skeleton on the iPads that we could copy the different bones and draw them into his body shape.

 

 


 
Most of the time I drew a basic shape for him to copy over. He thought this was brilliant and really enjoyed drawing them all in. For each bone we had to stop and feel our own, pressing our legs and shoulders to find the bones.
 
I also wrote the names of the bones down onto some colours paper for William to glue on in the right place. I'm sure some of these went in one ear and out the other but he does remember most of them. He often now tells me he has a skull in his head!
 
 
This would be a great way of learning or revising the organs in the body too. We did have a quick go at this with some coloured paper shapes for organs but I don't think William got it. Still a bit young really.
 
Xylophone
 
What a weird word! Probably very confusing for little ones learning the letter x as it sounds nothing like it! But, I struggled to find other x things to do, so here is our xylophone.
 
 
As you can see, I cut out different coloured paper and numbered them for William to glue on in order. He is pretty good at this now although he sometimes gets 8 and 9 the wrong way round.
 
Obviously if you have a xylophone you could play around making music! Or if you are really crafty and adventurous, make your own proper one out of wood.
 
So there you have it, a bit of a short one this week but I hope your little ones enjoy making their body and skeleton pictures!

 


Thursday, 11 June 2015

Special gift with a handmade touch!

If you've read my blog before, you will know I am a huge fan of homemade and handmade gifts! My projects on the go at the moment are some handmade sewn gifts for my nieces. I also make and sell crochet blankets and baby goodies. 

This week it was my chance to have something made though. I saw this great idea online for decorated candles. With my parents anniversary coming up, I knew it was something that my mum would love. Since living abroad it has made me appreciate different cultures more and often try to find gifts that are from the Middle Eastern Region we now live in. So a henna embellished candle looked awesome! 


One thing I love about living in a community here in Dubai is that we are surrounded by lots of talented people from different nationalities. I posted a simple request on our community Facebook page for someone that could decorate some candles for me using henna designs and was surprised at how quickly I had responses! 


I met the lovely Samar later that day. Samar's family is from Jordan but she was born in Dubai. She is 25 years old, a stay at home mum and her son Rashed is just 11 months old. Samar loves anything related to art and that is why she chose to study architecture. She started practicing henna when she was in the 8th grade, practicing on paper and her little cousins. Samar and her family will be moving on to Saudi Arabia soon, so if you like her work, please get in touch with her soon before she leaves! 


Samar got the candles back to me in less than a week, and what she has done to them is fantastic! I picked these candles up from a supermarket, just plain, simple ones. The henna designs she has created are gorgeous! She tried to match the designs on the candles too so they looked like a set. She even customised them by writing my mum and dads name on one of them in Arabic, wrapped them up in some cellophane and finished them off with a simple ribbon.



I am so pleased with them and they make such a great present! These will be tucked away in my suitcase, ready to be gifted to my mum and dad in a few weeks. Thank you so much Samar for a wonderful job! 


Back to school - Letter W

We are Whizzing through the alphabet now, so close to the end! Just three weeks left! Yikes!
So here is our crafty activities for the letter W. I do hope you find some inspiration for things to do with your little ones! And as always, I'd love to see them so please comment below!
 
Wonderful Windmills
 
I saw this windmill idea on Pinterest. Easy to do, just cut up some paper and write your little ones name on it. I gave them to William all muddled up and encouraged him to arrange the letters in the right order.
 
We then made a similar one for his Grandma, this time turning it into a hot air balloon. This will be going in a folder to take to grandma in the UK soon.
 
 
 
 
Weather
 
The seasons is a bit hard for William to grasp at the moment, because here in Dubai, it's basically summer all the time! We don't really change our choice of clothes, just shorts and shirts all year round and we don't get any snow or April showers!
 
So I helped William to make this picture about the four different seasons. We talked about the differences, what happens to the trees mainly and what clothes you may wear. I also told him in which season events happened, like Halloween, Christmas, Easter, bonfire night and our birthdays. I explained that winter was when we visited England for Christmas and it was cold and dark and we had to wrap up warm. I found a couple of clips on you tube for him to watch too.
 
 
We began by dividing the page into four, then used wax crayons to draw trees and other things associated with each season. Williams task was to colour the trees in, with different stages of coloured leaves.
 
 
When he was finished, he washed over each square with some watery paint in a colour that represented each season, creating a wax resist effect. It was really cool. I love using different media with William.
 

 

Continuing with our weather theme, I dug out this fake snow from the cupboard. You can find it online or in toy stores. It makes for a great sensory material. Once you add water to the powder, it fluffs up, turning into a squishy, soft snow. William dug around in it for a while, spooning it from one bowl to another.
 
I then patted it out onto a plate and gave him something to make marks in it with. We then tried to write some letters in the snow. If you don't have this fake snow stuff, you can easily do it with flour, salt, sugar or shaving cream.
 

 

 

Windy wind sock
 
We also made this cool Wind sock. I think this may be one of Williams favourite activities from this week. We used an old cardboard toilet tube and William painted it some nice blue and white colours. While he was doing this, I cut out some little snow flakes, clouds and lightening bolts out of paper for him to glue on once the paint was dry.
 

 


I poked some holes along one bottom edge of the cardboard, so that William could thread through some ribbons. We used wrapping paper ribbons but you can use anything that will move in the wind. I tied them into the holes for him and voila! I pegged it onto the railings on our balcony outside so that we could watch it each day to see how windy it was! William loves checking it!
 

 

Wriggly Worm
 
Another name spelling activity, a cute Wriggly William Worm! I found these heart shaped polystyrene packing material at a pound shop here in Dubai (Daiso, and technically I suppose I should call it the 7 dirham shop). I helped William to colour in a background for our worm, then gave him the shapes to glue on in the right order. Finished off with good old googley eyes!
 

 



Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Perfectly pink ripples

I've been dying to show you my latest creation... A perfectly pink crochet ripple blanket! It was a commission I had to make for a fellow mummy blogger here in Dubai. Mie is expecting her second child, a little girl and a friend of hers asked me to make this blanket for her.


I really love this wool! It's so soft and cuddly, and comes in amazing colours! The ripple pattern is proving one of the most popular that I have made. It's quite soothing to make, repeating gentle waves. 






I have really enjoying making it! I have a few more blankets on the go too, so will pop back and show you those soon! 

Super yummy and easy muffins

It's getting pretty hot here in Dubai now, the summer is well on its way! So William and I are having to occupy ourselves inside more. Baking is one of our favourite things to do together, mainly because William likes eating! I came across this recipe here for healthy easy muffins that you can make in a blender.

 

 
They were definitely easy to make! William was able to do most of the steps by himself. He enjoyed slopping the mixture into the cases and topping them with yummy extras! The basic ingredients are pretty healthy so you can feel good about giving them to your little ones! If you check out the original recipe linked above, there are loads of options to change, different nut butters or added extras. It's such a simple recipe to begin with that you can keep the, plain or jazz them up with any tasty bits your kids like. I added some oats and chia seeds to our basic mix for a little extra goodness.
 

 

With school creeping up on us in September, I thought these would make a great snack to pop in Williams lunch box... And maybe mine too! They can be frozen too so you can make a few batches and get some out when you need them!
 
 
Here is the basic recipe I used, taken from Happy Healthy Mama (5 Ingredient blender muffins - 15 ways). The Healthy Mamas photos are rather more lovely looking than mine! So do pop over and check out her post.
 
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 banana
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbl spoons honey
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
 
2 tsp chia seeds
2 tbl spoons oats
 

We tried toppings of cinnamon, chocolate chips, blueberries and strawberry jam centres. I'm looking forward to tucking into these this morning with a coffee!