Archive for Craft for non-crafty parents

Shhh! It’s an apology letter from the tooth fairy!

The Sylvanian dude gives you an idea of the scale.

The Sylvanian dude gives you an idea of the scale.

From time to time I like to chuck a bit of craft or a free printable thingy up on the blog – something that will make the plight of parenting that little bit easier.

And I’m feeling a bit honored today, because I’ve got something extra special to share. You see, I’ve been contacted by the tooth fairy who asked me to pass on this PDF printable.

I don’t know about the tooth fairy in your neighbourhood, but my one is an extremely busy, multi-tasking fairy who sometimes can’t make it to all the houses scheduled in a night. It is devastating, first thing in the morning, to see your upset child as they realise that rather than a shiny coin in the spot where their tooth used to be, there’s just… well… the weird old tooth still sitting there. So this letter can rectify that situation. Invariably, the tooth fairy always remembers to stop by the following night – often with an extra dollar and this little apology letter.

A magnifying glass may be needed to read the text, which says sorry for the delay and encourages them to brush their teeth a little more thoroughly each morning and night.

Download it here!

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Well hello, Mrs Claus!

xmas1

For some reason, I’ve gone all lavish this Christmas. Things that I’ve resisted in previous years are suddenly my new best friends. I’m not sure if I’ve been worn down after years of pestering, or if I’ve got a special dose of Christmas fever, but this year when the kids wrote down ‘iPod or 3ds’ or their Santa list, I just smiled and nodded.
In the past I’ve kept the material side of this holiday in the background, focusing instead on family and food and love. But this year, neither kid received much for their birthday. And the oldest is now a geriatric nine-years-old and still device free. So I’ve caved in, the deed is done (and the credit card groaning) and now I can’t wait to see the excitement on Christmas morning.

Each year the kids have also hassled for a shiny shop-bought advent calendar. Because I’m a scroogey bah-humbug, poo-poo mum, I’ve never let them have one. AS IF they need any further excitement (and sugar) pre-Christmas! But with the special fever attacking my brain, this year I’ve not only given in to the whole materialistic-lolly-manufacturer-driven debacle, but I’ve MADE them an advent calendar.

But even in the midst of the mayhem, I’m essentially a meanie. They can HAVE a lolly each day and enjoy a big countdown, but they have to give me something in return. If they want to unclip their bag and each take out their lolly, they have to have a drawing or piece of writing to leave in it’s place. Something that they’ve had to sit and think about. Maybe a drawing or sentence about their favourite things, something they’ve learned this year, a portrait of someone they love, or something that they’re grateful for.

XMAS

I figure by Christmas I’ll have 24 cute pieces of paper that I can staple and store – a perfect snapshot of each of them in 2013.

xmas3

Now I think about it, I think my Christmas fever is triggered by awareness of how quickly the years are going by, and how nice it is to be SO excited about Santa and family and food and love.

Maybe you want to join in? You can download the printable with everything you need here.

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“Dull women have immaculate homes.” True or false?

For those of us who love a little visit to Officeworks.

A gift today, for those of us who get excited at Kikki K.

I read the other day that “Dull women have immaculate homes.” Which seems a little harsh on those of us who don’t mind a bit of order amongst the chaos of daily family life. There seems no harm in finding joy in a bit of neatness when it’s such a hard-won feat.

Although more accurate in my house would be, “Organised women used to have moth problems in their pantry.” Which is why I went a bit crazy a couple of months back finally getting everything into containers. Throwing packets of food away was depressing, and endless moth traps, while fascinating for the kids, weren’t such a source of joy for me.

As you can see, I store a few things in glass, but most of my pantry is BPA-free plastics. Please don’t e-lecture me about the evils of it – for someone as clumsy as myself, it’s a blessing. There’s only so much shattered glass that I can clean up (and stand in) in a year. If you are more co-ordinated than myself and are a glass-only household, then I wish you well and let’s leave it at that.

Luckily these cute labels will help keep things ship-shape no matter what your jar. Sure, you know what brown sugar looks like, but if you’re going to bother organising all this stuff, why not make it look as pretty as hell. It only takes a few minutes to print them out and stick them on.

See! Not dull, just making the mundane more interesting.

See! Not dull, just making the mundane more interesting.

When I had ingredients out to bake yesterday, I was LOVING MYSELF SICK. Besides, you can jot down the use-by dates on the back of the label, blue-tack it on and just admire yourself for being so damn together.

Download the 3-page pantry labels PDF here.

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And if you like these, you’ll also like my printable shopping list.

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Ideas for a fun Easter

Ready and waiting

Ready and waiting

Lordy me, wasn’t it just summer? Looking at the calendar I see that Easter has rolled around again! Bit early this year and not wedged into the middle of school holidays.

The bright side of the unusual timing is that there’s an Easter bonnet parade to enjoy at school this year. Odd celebration isn’t it. Apparently it started when the tradition was to have new springtime clothes to parade about in. The lovely new threads would guarantee you luck and abundance over the coming harvest.

Of course in Australia that tradition is ridiculous (especially since it’s Autumn), so we celebrate instead by sticking cardboard chickens on our kid’s heads and taking a heap of incriminating photos.

Easter baking is more something I can relate to. You can find my hot happy buns recipe here. This year I’ve got a couple of new things I want to try. This Easter bread looks interesting and I’m keen to try this Russian kulich recipe. Although I’m not sure what they mean by citron – I guess it’s lemon rind and then I’m planning on adding in some dried fruit too. There’s no citron in the kulich recipe listed on the ‘Orthodoxy and the World’ website, but there is saffron and vodka, which sounds a bit irresistible. And for ridiculous cuteness, it’s hard to beat these Martha Stewart chicken cupcakes.

Staying with friends a couple of years ago, they introduced us to their family tradition of drawing a picture and leaving it for the Easter bunny. It’s a tribute picture of course, featuring the magical rodent himself. It’s a cute idea and one that leads to a nice record of how your kids change and grow each year.

If it’s just a bit of colouring you want, then I’ve done up an Easter colouring-in page. There’s not a vegie in sight, but hey, there’s only one Sunday in the year when you’ve got permission to eat as much chocolate as you like, so let’s enjoy it.

A bunny, eggs and cute stuff to colour.

A bunny, eggs and cute stuff to colour.

What happens at your place? Are you campers? Is there a particular feast? Or maybe you’re one of the fabulous people who head to church and understand was the whole celebration is really about.

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Joseph and Mary join the party

Last Christmas, I took a break from Santa craft and produced a lovely little loo-roll baby Jesus.

Away in a (paper) manger...

Away in a (paper) manger…

This year I’m adding to the scene, with Mary and Joseph joining in, along with their trusty donkey transport.

Add to your scene with Mary and Joseph!

Add to your scene with Mary and Joseph!

Download the PDF here to create your own loo-roll nativity scene. Weird? Maybe a bit. I’ve admitted before that I’m not religious, so perhaps this project isn’t as reverential as some of you might wish for, but I do like to remind my kids that Christmas is about more than Santa, and this is a nice, fun way to do that.

vegie-smugglers-jesus-and-mary

Do you like this project? Then you might like to check out my Craft for non-crafty Parents e-book. There’s a bunch of quick and easy (and often silly) little projects that will keep the kids busy over the Christmas holiday.

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Fat bum? Empty wallet? Try these cheap school holiday ideas.

DISCLAIMER: This is a Levis curve ID ad, NOT my ‘ass’.

Bracing for the chaos of school holidays, I scheduled in a bit of ‘me’ time this week. I planned a long overdue hair appointment and time afterwards for a masochistic quest for a new pair of jeans and a vaguely flattering cozzie.

With the kids dropped off, I made it to the shops just in time to dash to the loo and discover that my period had started. Profusely. Obviously, it was a bad sign. But we all know how precious and hard-won a few hours to ourselves is – NOTHING was going to stop me.

Three hours and $250 later I left the hairdresser feeling drab. Stuck in that female twilight land between young and cool and old and forgotten I looked like a nice sensible newsreader. But I persevered. It was my ‘me’ day, after all.

Searching for swimmers was no more gratifying. I’m too stretch-marked for bikinis, but about 25 years too young for one of those scary pre-shaped nanna cozzies.

Feeling my nerves fraying, I gave up on that and headed for jeans. With only an hour until pick up, I grabbed several pairs and headed for a change-room where I analysed my arse up close for the first time since I last bought jeans. It wasn’t pretty. I tried to remember if the rule is that small back pockets make your arse look fat, or if it’s big pockets will make your arse look fat and then realized that actually my arse just looked fat because it IS fat. Despairing, I chucked my own old favourite jeans back on, only to discover that they indeed ALSO MAKE MY ARSE LOOK FAT. Sigh.

I bought a scarf. Abandoning all hope I headed to the car only to discover that I’d slipped over into hour 5 and now needed to pay $25 to get my crappy old car released from this hellish torture centre known as Chatswood Chase.

On the bright side, after a terrible day of focusing on myself, I’m now more than happy to shift over to simpler places and focus on the kids for a couple of weeks. I’ve done some planning and researched a few free, fun ‘Spring’ activities to keep us busy. Which is lucky, considering in my unsatisfying vanity quest, I’ve spent all our money.

Miss F will be delighted to combine her two favourite things (pressing flowers & rock collecting) in this project to make a decoupage paperweight. Once that’s gotten boring, she can move onto making coasters for Nanna (sorry Nanna, we won’t mind if they disappear after a couple of visits).

More on the flower theme, girls of all ages will enjoy whipping up these Martha Stewart tissue pom poms.

Boys might want to skip the florals and head straight for bugs, with these cool critter craft ideas. And here’s a weird little spider to make. You need an empty soft-drink can for the last one, which you’ll have after you’ve introduced your kids to the joy of a spider you can drink. Not healthy, but hugely fun, place a small scoop of ice-cream in a really big tall glass, then pour over enough soft drink (lemonade is the least offensive, but traditionally you should use creaming soda) to get a good fizz going. Serve with a big long spoon. Your kids will not believe their luck. Ice cream AND soft drink all in one dish.

While they’re on a treat theme, why not astonish them with your awesomeness by helping them make honeycomb. Practically sunshine in your mouth, you make it by boiling up sugar and golden syrup, then popping in some bicarb. There’s a nice easy recipe for it here.

With sunshine in your mouth and sugar in your veins, it’s time for a holiday YouTube disco (with a sunshine theme of course). Go retro with Katrina & the Waves – Walking on Sunshine, Stevie Wonder – You are the sunshine of my life, The Animals – House of the rising sun, Len – Steal my sunshine or Dario G – Sunchyme (remember that video clip with all the people being animals? The kids will love it).

And if they’ve still got energy to burn, then head to the park for some running about. There are some great activities to choose from here. (I particularly like the ‘giant, wizard, elf’ game, which is a whole body version of ‘scissors, paper, rock’ that ends with chasings).

And with all that to keep you busy, you won’t have to go anywhere near a shopping centre. Praise the lord.

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For more school holiday ideas, visit here (with the psychedelic marble cake) or more ‘on the cheap’ ideas here.

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Build a flat-pack town, you awesome craft parent, you!

Flat from the printer, but soon brought to life. Mum – you’re amazing!

It’s been a while between craft drinks – I guess inevitable now that my lovelies are off to school and the new focus is all education. This is actually my first craft printable for the year! I’ve picked up quite a few new readers in that time (hello & welcome!) and you all probably have no idea that this blog has an abundance of easy craft ideas to do with your kiddies.

I’m a pretty strong believer that creativity is important for kids, and I encourage all parents to join in for a half hour here or there. Even if you’re a creative numbnut, you’ll be able to tackle one of my projects in the Craft for non-crafty parents category.

Try not to think of it as a chore – it can be some really valuable family time, away from screens and other stresses. I’ve talked about the benefits of craft time before. The kids love it too – getting mum or dad to themselves for a bit is a rare gift these days.

So today’s bit of fun is a flat-pack town. Complete with street scene, two houses and a couple of tiny folk to keep little fingers occupied. Download the two-page PDF here. Enjoy!

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Leaving it all behind

'B' is for 'behind', 'beyond' and 'blocked'.

I love the parenting truth that once a stage or phase has passed, you totally move on and forget all about it. Or perhaps block it out of your memory, depending on how awful it was. Like the entire first eight weeks of having a newborn. Or the four months that I had ongoing mastitis (and a dependence on cabbage leaves). Or the 4.30am wake up stage, which lasted for a year or two (now of course, I can’t really remember specifics).

When you’re in the middle of these stages, they feel eternal. You are obsessed with them, googling specific questions like “3 month old baby poos only green moss-like substance”. Luckily someone else, somewhere in the world, has already had these issues and usually there are a stack of relevant answers to advise you. God knows what people did before the internet.

For a solid year, Mr Meat & Potatoes had night terrors. It was harrowing. Despite all my research that told me there was nothing we could do about it, and that it would pass and that there was no point trying to sooth him, we spent hours in his room, for nights on end, trying to pat, cuddle and talk away the unsoothable. It was a particular parenting lowlight that had us almost broken with lack of sleep and worry. But sure enough, in the space of two weeks it stopped. And we’ve never had to go back to it. Although on the rare occasion my children cry in the night, my heart immediately begins thumping and I feel the adrenalin surge again.

So too, now that Mr M&P is in kindy, I haven’t given school readiness another thought. Which is funny since last year I was so focused on it and made so many worksheets for him.

Possibly your kids were too young for them last year and you didn’t notice them. But this year, perhaps it’s your turn to focus on scissors and pencil grip and the alphabet. So here’s a rehash, of some of the sheets that I needed last year, that you might need now.

A lovely easy start to learning with some fun ‘spot the difference’ type visual discrimination pages

Is your little monster ready for school?

Basic scissors & numbers here

A Midnight Oils album cover? Maybe not, but numbers 1-10 nonetheless

Basic alphabet sheet here

Don't worry, the actual download is perfectly alphabetical.

More scissor work (with a certificate) here

Another award to stick on the fridge....

Basic shapes

Because a circle is always MORE than just a circle

Some numbers and colours here in a pixel colour-by-numbers

What will it be??? You'll have to download to see!

And no, I never did finish off the detailed alphabet sheets. On a quiet day I will though, so stay tuned. In the meantime, here are letters A-F, letters G-L and letters M-R.

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Money doesn’t grow on trees (but you can find it in my books)

Last year Vegie Smugglers helped stacks of daycare centres and causes around Australia raise money. It’s simple. You sell the cookbooks and keep a cut of the sale price. You can take pre-orders and keep $10 of each book, or this year, I’m also offering pre-packed boxes of 20 books (any combo of VS1&2) and you can keep $12/book. How easy is that! Just have them sitting in your daycare centre or school canteen and sell throughout the year. Or get a box for your trivia night, cake table, anything that takes your fancy. Full details of the programs are on this easy-to-digest 1 page flyer.

If you think your daycare centre would be interested in the program but you baulk at saying the word ‘fundraising’ aloud (lest you are suddenly thrust the title of ‘fundraising committee’) I’m happy to contact the centre for you. I won’t even use your name (unless you want me to). I just need the centre name, the director’s name and a valid email address. As a thanks I’ll send you a free lunchbox planner (if you’ve already got terms 1, 3 & 4, I’ll put you down for a preorder on Term 2).

Of course, if you want to download the form and email it through to your centre on MY behalf, I’d be eternally grateful.

To help the healthy eating & living theme along I supply a stack of fun activity sheets that can be used in class or at home. To get a taster, here’s a couple of freebies…

vegie smugglers healthy eating worksheet

This fun worksheet will help them recognise their fruit & veg.

There’s a shopping list with pictures of fruit and vegies that your kiddie can colour, practice numbers on or stuff up their nose! And there’s also this colouring in sheet of how vegetables grow. All good info for your little ones (with a few cute critters thrown in).

On your marks, get set, GO!

And to give my 2012 fundraising launch a bit of a POW, I’m running a colouring in competition! Download the activity sheet and email me with your masterpiece and be in the running to win one of 2x $10 Bakers Delight vouchers. Easy.

So get to it! All referrals and colouring entries should be emailed to me (Wendy) at vegiesmugglers@gmail.com.

Huge thanks.
x

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A loo-roll baby cheeses

Perhaps you can tell that I’m not a church-goer, but I still thought it about time to wrench the kids away from Santa & presents and get them to focus a little on WHY we have this glutton & greed festival each year. So here you have it, a baby Jesus craft project made from a toilet roll. Those of you squeamish at the thought of reusing a roll handled by your grubby children who are newly-toilet-trained, may like to just cut a 10cm length from a giftwrap tube instead.

And Merry Christmas to you too, baby jesus...

He’s a bit more complicated than my usual projects, so I’ve done a few step by step pics to guide you….

First, download the loo-roll Jesus PDF. Next, print it out onto A4 at 100% (if you scale it, it won’t fit the roll properly). Colour and decorate anyway you like (I’ve gone for a tasteful nude today). Cut around the thick black lines.

The manger is pretty straight forward. Just fold on the dashed lines, place the flaps inside and tape into place.

Then tape Jesus’s face onto the top of a loo roll…

Place him on his clothing and wrap the long arm side over so that it shapes around his face…

Then wrap over the other arm…

Fold up the nappy and tape, then fold over the hood and secure that too. Just fold and tape down any gaping bits.

Cut up the paper scraps to make hay, or even better, raid the catcher on the shredding machine and make the little guy a comfy bed.

Aaaahhhh... comfy.

And there you have it, the REAL meaning of Christmas…

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Now to business for a second… Western states need to order books TODAY for pre-Christmas delivery. Eastern states have until Friday. Beyond that, the shop is open, but I’m at the mercy of the Australia Post gods and can’t promise anything. I’ll still be filling orders over Christmas. And feel free to keep buying, you’ll get the books in time for your new year’s resolutions.

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