Fragrant Clay Hearts

Monday, May 4, 2015

We love playing with clay in our house.  Our clay of choice is air-dried because it's easy to use and doesn't require any baking.  The kids have made many a clay ornament in the past and I've made myself a few pretty little bowls for rings, hair-ties etc.  

This weekend we decided to try something a bit different.  We made little clay hearts (and other shapes) and added a few drops of essential oil to the back so it becomes a scented clay heart - perfect for hanging in the wardrobe, in the car or anywhere you'd like to add a subtle fragrance.  We thought these would be a perfect gift for Mother's Day.

All you need is:

Air-dried Clay (or salt dough but I've never made it so stuck with clay)
Rolling Pin 
Cookie Cutter (or just free-style)
Acrylic Paint & Brushes
Essential Oil

Roll out your clay to the desired thickness (we made a variety of thicknesses so it doesn't really matter - just don't make them too thin otherwise they may break). Use your cookie cutter to cut out a shape (or just free-style a design).  Smooth out any edges if you want to.  Get a toothpick or the end of a thin paint brush and poke a hole in the clay for the ribbon to hang. 

Wait for the clay to dry - we left ours overnight - and then paint the next day.  

Make sure you leave an unpainted patch at the back of the tag for the essential oil to seep in.  

Once the paint is dry add a few drops (or 10!) of essential oil to the back and thread through your ribbon.  

And that's it.  A beautifully scented, home-made, hand-made air freshener for the kids to gift to you, their Nanny, their teacher, a friend, or even just make for themselves.  

Crafting with CleverPatch

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

When I was contacted recently by CleverPatch and asked if I wanted to "have a play" with their crafty products I, of course, jumped at the opportunity and expected to be sent maybe one or two things from them.  Within a couple of weeks a large box arrived by courier and when the kids and I opened it, it was absolutely full of loveliness ... craft loveliness. It just happened to be the weekend and so with time up our sleeve we were eager to begin the "roadtest" journey.

My 4 year old chose to do the Sun Catcher CleverKit - an all-in-one kit to make a pretty, mirrored sun catcher.  Apart from the knots she was able to assemble it herself - she even managed to add the provided sticky dots to the little mirrored pieces and squish them together.  It is now hanging on our dining window to catch the light streaming in while we are eating dinner.  This is a fun, easy project and would make a great gift for a teacher or a grandparent - and one that little kids can make mostly on their own, which is always important to them.

She also made the Foam Flower Frame Magnet CleverKit - this one is super-quick and super-easy and comes together in a few minutes.  All I needed to do was find a photo for her to use and it was done.  A colourful, quirky little photo frame for your fridge.

My son (7) was busting to use the Glass & Porcelain Markers on the Porcelain Mug so I gave him free rein to do whatever he liked (this is very hard for me to do ... I tend to like to "offer" my ideas but he would have none of it and as you can probably tell his ego personality shone through on this one!).  

The markers are water-based so whatever you do can easily be washed off and removed.  If you decide you kinda like your design and want to make it permanent then you just need to bake in the oven for 90 minutes on 160 degrees.  (You know, a bit like those plates from the '80's that you did at school - mine has my friends names plastered all over it and some drawings of the Flintstones!  My Mum still has those plates, bless her.  Now your kids can create something similar, for you!). The markers are also handy for leaving little love notes around the house for certain individuals who don't like to brush their teeth at night ...

My son also put together the little Bead Bookworm Clever Kit.  I asked him to read the instructions and see if he could follow them by himself but he needed my help to understand them.  We worked on the bookworm together and were both really happy with the end result.  A really cute little bookmark for his much loved Geronimo Stilton book.  This was probably my favourite Clever Kit and one that I think all kids would love - boy or girl.

We still have a pile of fabulous marker pens and crayons, and one more Clever Kit (the Dreamcatcher), to roadtest so watch this space - I'm sure you'll see some CleverPatch products making an appearance here again.

If you get a chance, check out CleverPatch's website - they have over 4,000 products (anything and everything craft-related, seriously - it is a one-stop shop), there is a fabulous area for parents where you can access a great Ideas section (I love this - you don't need to come up with craft ideas yourself, just steal theirs!), they have a "Happiness Promise" (c'mon that's reason enough!) and they are an Australian-owned business.  One of my favourite things from CleverPatch, though, has to be their "Naturals" range - they have things like sustainably farmed botanicals (seed pods, pine cones, cinnamon slices etc), a garden section with tools, seeds and planters and lots of different natural textiles to play with.  Their range is amazingly comprehensive, thoughtfully put together and really does inspire "ideas to grow".

I do think their CleverKits are a great little "surprise" to have on hand - for days when boredom strikes and you need to "whip something up" with the kids.  You don't need to hunt around or shop for all your supplies - they are all in the kit, making it an easy, no-fuss project. Everyone wins.

It was a pleasure road-testing their fun products and I know I will be visiting them again soon, after all it won't be long before my son will want to do more mugs - you know, considering he's also a football legend, lacrosse legend, fishing legend ...

Disclaimer:  I was not paid to write this post but was offered craft products by CleverPatch to have some fun with.  Fun was had and in appreciation I am sharing my experience and spreading the crafty word. All opinions are my own.

Recipe File (including free printable cards)

Sunday, March 29, 2015

 One of the lovely things about our recent 6-month stint in Canada was spending a lot of time with family and getting to know them all over again.  We stayed right next door to my in-laws so the "pop in" was a daily occurrence and we all loved it.  My teenage niece spent quite a lot of time with us (my daughter very quickly became her shadow) and she was often around at dinner time or while I was cooking.  She began to ask me for recipes and was showing a real interest in learning how to cook.  I was secretly ecstatic that someone liked my food and wanted my recipes!

When Christmas rolled around I knew exactly what I was going to buy her - a recipe box or file so that she could begin her own recipe collection and at the same time encourage her to experiment with cooking and trying new recipes.  When we first arrived in Canada I saw at least three gorgeous little boxes and files specifically for recipes.  I remember thinking, "I'm definitely going to grab a couple of these for take-home gifts", but I didn't right then and there because I was going to be around for six months so there was no hurry.  Of course, by the time I actually wanted to buy one of them you know what happened, don't you?  There were none.  I went to Chapters, to Walmart, to Michaels and to Target - but, no, there were none to be found.  I had my heart set on a recipe file.  I wanted to give her something meaningful and something that thought had gone into - plus she had asked me for recipes and I didn't want to just jot them down on a bit of paper.  You know where I'm going with this, right?  There wasn't a whole bunch of time - I think it was about a week before Christmas - but I decided I would make one for her.  And so I set to it. (I will apologise in advance for the quality of my photos - it was dark, it was late and my camera just wasn't loving me.  She doesn't take well to being rushed.)

I grabbed a lovely, bright blue Martha Stewart A5 file, some A5 file dividers, A5 plastic sleeves, a Martha Stewart book-plate pack and designed 5 different cards for her.  I went with categories of Meat, Pasta, Vegetarian, Dessert and Treats (because she loves her treats!) - keeping it very simple and choosing categories based around what she would probably cook the most.

In spite of the rush, it turned out better than I expected and was a pleasure to put together.  I bought a few little bits to go with it - measuring cups, wooden spoon etc - and packaged it up with a silver ribbon.

It was a hit with my niece.  She asked me to print out more cards before we left and has since asked for my lasagna recipe. Bless her - she knows how to make this Aunty feel good!  And when she comes to visit in a few years I'll be expecting her to cook for me ... which was secretly the plan all along!

If you'd like to make up your own file or box, feel free to download my cards and corresponding divider labels.

Enjoy. x