Craft Idea: Make Your Own Glitter

Here in Melbourne, school holidays are here again! I don’t know how it happens, but every year things go faster and faster. I can’t believe that we’re half way through the year already.

School holidays have the ability to make most of us lose our mind at some point (or several points!) between the two weeks, but the July holidays are worse. When the weather is nice, my daughter (8) will happily play outside for hours, making fairy gardens on the back lawn with grass clippings and sticks, or drawing with her sidewalk chalk. When it’s raining for the eleventy billionth day in a row, not so much.

So, what do you do when it’s too wet to play? Unlike the good old  Dr Seuss, my children would never sit there looking out the window. They’re just like when the Cat in the Hat arrives all on their own. If your crew are driving you insane already, check back often throughout the holidays for new ideas.

How to Make Your Own Coloured Sand Glitter

When you have a daughter as girly as mine, one of the first things you learn is that everything is better with glitter. It adds a special sparkle to just about anything, and can be used in a heap of different craft ideas. The home made variety isn’t quite as shiny, but it’s so easy to make at home, and makes a wonderful arts and crafts too, just like using coloured sand.

To make your own, all you need is salt, food colouring, foil and a baking tray – that’s it.

Step 1: Chose your colours

First, you’ll need to chose the colours you want to make. This is where you can get really creative. You’re not longer restricted to what you can find at the shops, you can experiment with mixing food colouring to get exactly what you need. Just play around with the colours until you like what you see.

If you don’t have food colouring on hand, try water colour paints. These also work well.

Step 2: Mix Mix Mix

Once you’ve got your colour perfect, add about 1/2 a cup of salt to a bowl. If you’re out of salt and like the sweeter things in life, sugar can be substituted. If you’re like me however, you’ve probably got more salt than you will ever need thanks to buying playdough ingredients.

Add in the food colouring, one drop at a time, until the colour looks about as strong as you’re after. Then, mix it in with a spoon and repeat unti all the salt is the right colour. It may start to dissolve a little, but this is fine. It will reverse when you bake it at the end.

Step 3: Turn up the heat

Take your baking tray and cover it in foil, this will prevent it being stained. Then, pour the salt out onto the tray and spread it all around until you have an even, thin layer across the sheet.

Place the tray into a preheated 190 degree oven. Basically, we’re baking the salt to get rid of any moisture from the process. Bake it for about 10 minutes, keeping an eye on it.

Once baked, remove the tray from the oven and let it cool. If some clumps have formed, use a fork to break it up.

That’s it! Your home made glitter is now all ready to use. Of course, a salt shaker is the perfect container to store it in.

Hot tip! If you’ve use food colouring to make it, you can add sparkle and colour to anything edible. Shimmering mashed potatoes here we come.

Enjoy! While you’re here, if you love glitter too, here’s a free printable to create a little sparkle in your life. It’s A4, all ready to print, just click the link to download. If you like it, please tell your friends where they can download their own. I’d really appreciate the share!

Free Glitter Printable

Click here to download full size.


When was the last time you did nothing?

I’m a mum of two who runs two businesses, as well as the family. My eldest started high school this year and having two kids at different schools has added a whole new level of busy.

It was my birthday on the weekend, and for the first time in many weeks, I sat down on the couch with a book, and within 30 minutes I was snoozing. When was the last time you sat and did nothing? How long did it last? I’m not talking about sitting in front of the TV the washing. We’re not talking about chatting on the phone with your mum. Or the day you sat down to work and ended up on Pinterest for twenty minutes. We’re talking nothing. Doing nothing at all: simply sitting still and doing nothing. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Winnie the Pooh author AA Milne said, “Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” Many people will argue that we don’t do that enough.

People often get their best ideas while doing nothing. Walt Disney spent countless Saturdays in Griffith Park watching his daughters play on the carousel, waiting for hours until they were ready to go. It made him wish there was a park where kids and parents could enjoy things together. Was Mr. Disney doing nothing? Um, only coming up with the idea for the biggest and arguably most successful theme park in the world.

Writers, actors, inventors and philosophers have all been known to get their best ideas while doing nothing. Whether it’s a nap, a shower, driving, yard work, or cleaning, creativity is often at its peak when we allow our minds to not focus on the problem we’re trying to solve, but instead let it rest. Problems get solved, final acts get written and songs get composed.

Stephanie Meyer says the concept for her Twilight series came to her in a dream. J.K. Rowling says the world of Harry Potter came to her fully formed while she was riding a train. The song “Pretty Woman” was written when Roy Orbison was just playing anything that came to mind. His wife said she was going to go to the store, his partner, Bill Dees, made a comment and Orbison sang “Pretty woman… walking down the street.” The song was finished that day, recorded a week later and a week after that the song was out.

Monks spend hours sitting in meditation. Are they doing nothing? They’re lowering their blood pressure, clearing their minds, improving their circulation and perhaps learning something about themselves. There’s an old Zen saying recommending meditation for 20 minutes every day unless you’re too busy – then you should meditate an hour.

Consider Baloo’s advice from the cartoon Jungle Book: “If you act like that bee acts…. Uh-uh… you’re working too hard….I’ll tell you something true… the bare necessities of life will come to you.”

Back in the day, people would sit on their porch or in their yard. They’d basically sit and do nothing. Watch a butterfly or birds in the yard, sip lemonade. The lazy summer days are nearly gone now – today’s porch sitter would be texting, reading Twitter updates or news headlines. There’s no time for sitting. Maybe there should be.

Next time you’re headed out on a neighborhood powerwalk or heading out to sit on the deck, consider leaving your phone and tablet behind. Just sit there, sip your coffee and look around. Sometimes a little rest, a little daydreaming, a little cloud watching or stargazing is good for the soul. In the words of Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you might miss it.”

Kids Birthday Parties on the Cheap – Teddy Bears Picnic

With kids birthday parties getting more and more expensive, I’ve been running a series of blog posts on how to throw a fantastic party for very little cost. A children’s song  written in 1907 by John Walter Bratton has inspired many a special afternoon with our furry friends. Lyrics were added in 1932 by songwriter Jimmy Kennedy. The song is still recorded and used on children’s albums today.

You may remember having your own teddy bear picnics as a child, I know I do. There’s something magical about little cakes, cups of ‘tea’ and special sandwiches, shared with your favourite furry friend. While this is the perfect party idea if your child is born in the warmer months, you can setup a picnic anywhere inside too, just lay some rugs on the floor and include a couple of cushions to lounge on. If you wanted to go all out, buy some cheap ‘potted colour’ from Bunnings or similar, to create a gorgeous indoor garden. You can even plant these in the garden after the party is done and create your own fairy garden like I shared about yesterday.

GB46Of course, a teddy bears picnic is all the better with friends. Encourage your child’s friends to bring their own furry friend too. iliv Cards has the perfect invitation for a teddy bears picnic, making this job easy. You could even address the invitations to include the bears.

A great way to get kids involved is to help them plan the menu. You could have small sandwiches, neat ones to keep the teddy bear’s paws clean, fresh fruit, a dessert like cupcakes, and drinks.  Teddy bear biscuits or tiny teddies make the perfect snack to include.

You may also want to pre-organise some party games.  Teddy bear hide-and-seek is an interesting spin on an old favourite – one child hides all of the bears and the others try to find them. There’s also pin the bow on the teddy bear, races with teddy held between your knees, get the honey (toss cardboard bees into a black and yellow bucket – electrical tape is great for this).

You and your child can enjoy using your imaginations together when planning and hosting their picnic. With a little help, your child, their friends, and their friends’ teddy bears can enjoy an afternoon in the sun.

Making a Magical Make-Believe Fairy Garden

Do you have a little girl in your family? My youngest is Miss 7, and she just loves fairies and any make-believe. She loves her princess dresses, and imagines being a fairy princess, usually involving stomping around the house ‘flying’.  Making a fairy garden together can take as short or long a time as you like, and will become a magical place for your child.

One thing you can do is help your child learn about fairies by researching fairies. Determine which types of fairies she’d like to attract and then do what you can to make a fairy garden all her fairy friends will adore. If you have a large garden, perhaps you could allow her to plant her fairy garden in one corner, otherwise pots or planters can be used.

Creating a fairy garden doesn’t have to take up a lot of space. In fact, it could be something as simple as a window box, a row of flowers, or a planter.

Many people think that butterflies are fairies in disguise, so you may want to plant a garden that would interest butterflies. Of course, fairies and butterflies both agree that variety is the spice of life, so you’ll want to plant a couple kinds of flowers for them to choose from.

Don’t stress out if your fairy garden isn’t pristine; in fact, they like finding flat rocks in the garden so they have some place to warm their wings in the bright sunshine. They also prefer a spot, in direct sunlight, that is sheltered from the wind where they hide and find sanctuary.

Fairies and butterflies also like to take a dip on occasion, so providing a shallow bowl or saucer near their sunning rock will be a big plus. Besides, if you have a water element in your fairy garden, their little birdie friends can come to visit them.

Fairies and butterflies seem to be partial to these flowers: Lily of the Valley, Pansies, Queen Ann’s Lace, Roses, Violets, Lilac, Nasturtium, Snapdragons, Baby’s Breath, Butterfly Bush, Columbine, Forget-met-not, Buttercup, Periwinkle, and Heather. Don’t forget to include natural materials such as twigs, shells, and small rocks to add interest to the fairy garden and for the fairies to use to build a home.

You can decorate the fairy garden with small wooden houses to create a fairy village complete with fences made of twigs stuck into the ground. Use small pebbles as a walking path for them to saunter through the village.

Your fairy garden can then become a special place your child can play. You may also want to leave the occasional small gift or note from the fairies, which would have my daughter telling everyone she met for a week about it. It doesn’t have to be a large item, a small pretty pencil and eraser, a special food treat, a sheet of stickers,  or anything with glitter.  The best part about a fairy garden is getting to use your imagination to create the magic.


Tips for Photographing Babies

It’s worth taking the time to get a great shot for your birth announcement or thank you cards. Taking photos of babies or small children can be the most rewarding portraits to take, but they can also be the most frustrating.

Babies tend to sleep, eat and cry a lot and won’t pose in front of the camera, but don’t let that put you off getting the perfect shot. Think about timing your photo session to when your baby is happiest. Most baby’s have a particular time of day when they are nearly always in a good mood.

One of the most important factors in photographing babies is patience. Try starting out by playing with your baby, or even become a child yourself while taking the photograph. But remember, you must be able to react quickly when your baby responds to your entertainment. Get down on the child’s level, this will both help with your photo composition and likely to be more entertaining for the baby, resulting in a better shot.

Shooting a photo of a newborn baby requires a different approach At this age the baby will not be active, so it can be easier to get a shot. Try using natural light from a bedroom window to add mood to the portrait. Indirect lighting will usually always work best for these type of photos.

Babies over a few months of age will be more alert and will have a lot more movement in them. Shooting fast is a necessity, as they can tire quickly.

Babies seven months or older can be very tricky to shoot. They can bore quickly and will not want to stay in the same position. Watch out for the fingers – fingers in the mouth can be attractive but on most occasions they will obscure the face.

Including a small prop, such as a beanie, bonnet or soft toy, can give your photo interest, but can quickly become missiles with older babies.

Remember, by keeping your photos clean and natural, you’ll be creating a keepsake for years to come. You will be amazed at how quickly your small newborn grows, and by capturing as many photos as you can along the way, you’re bound to have some that are just perfect.

Kids Birthday Parties on the Cheap – Party Games

One of the things most small children look forward to when they go to a birthday party is the fun and games. Running around and playing with their friends is what makes a party especially fun and memorable.

Of course, you don’t want kids to just be running around in circles and often jumping all over everything and pulling every toy out. You want something fun planned, even surprising and a little competitive and silly. Here are some great free or low cost party game ideas to get you going.

Balloon Fun

Often times, the most fun games are also the most simple. For instance, a summer party favourite is a big bag of balloons filled with water to toss at each other. Other games you can play with balloons are “Balloon Pop Up” where you stick little prizes inside of balloons and each child picks one to pop to see what they get.

Children really have a lot of fun with balloons no matter what the game. Plan a game trying to have a race from one end of the yard to the other while patting their balloon up in the air and trying not to let it fall, or holding it between their knees. Just use your imagination and think of more fun ways to use balloons.

Pin-the-Tail Games

One of the oldest and best known games is “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” or any variation of it. This very affordable game suits children ages four through ten. You can get more mileage out of this game by having the children draw the donkey and create the tails themselves.

Of course, you can find printable Donkeys online or find one at a party store if your budget allows. You can change the game from a donkey to a bunny and use cotton balls for the tail, or play “Pin the Antenna on the Alien” or whatever your child likes.

Pick a Duck

Preschoolers and other very young children need games that are easy to play and will hold their attention. A game that requires only luck and a few motor skills is ideal, like Pick-a-Duck. Check your local discount stores for floating toy or bathtub ducks. Using a magic marker, write numbers or shapes on the bottom of each duck and place them in a big bucket or kiddie pool full of water.

To play the game, simply let each child pick a duck. The number or shape on the bottom of the duck will correspond to a prize you’ve wrapped and put in another tub. The child gets to choose a prize from the tub and keep the duck. Perfect fun for very young children and it costs very little.

Musical Dress Up

This is a variation on musical chairs. Put a big table in the middle of the room and pile it high with old clothes, hats, and jewellery, the funnier the better. Gather the kids around the table, and start the music. The object is for the kids to grab stuff to put on as fast and funny as they can. When you stop the music, everyone has to stop getting dressed.

Have prizes for different things like “Most Colorful”, “Most Hats”, “Most Covered”, or whatever you like. Hand out prizes to the winners and give everyone a participation prize. If you don’t have a lot of old clothes around, a quick trip to your local op shop or even a garage sale will lead you to necklaces, ties, hats, shoes, scarves, and all sorts of fun stuff for very little money.

Remember, you don’t have to get stressed about the games. After all, any time spent with friends is a good time for kids. Just focus on helping them enjoy their time together and you’ll do just fine. Relax and have fun, and your kids will too!

Christening and Baptism Gift Ideas

When you’re invited to a christening or baptism, you may be wondering what kind of gift you can get to the child. However, even if there is no expectation of a gift, many guests still feel that they want to give something to remember the special event.

Christening gifts don’t have to be expensive. Often the thought and sentiment behind the gift are what is important to the receiver. You may want to buy a gift which will last for years to come, because a christening event is only a one-off occasion. A gift which is a keepsake can be handed down from one generation to another, or a personalised gift with a special message would be a great christening gift.

 Christening gifts for toddlers

Noah’s Ark toys are some of the most popular gift for a christening. There are some marvellous Noah’s Ark toys around; some are delicately carved from wood, while others come in bright cheerful colours. It has religious overtones because of the biblical story, and they are great as decoration in a child’s room. They offer a lot of fun and play value to the child, especially with the pairs of animals.

A personalised item makes a great christening gift, because they can be made exactly how you want them to be. They bring a lot of sentimental value and are unique in the whole world. Personalised gifts include everything from engravings on photo frames, personalised wall art, personalised jewellery or even a piece of cross stitch artwork in a frame. A framed Christian name of the child with a personalised message of your choice makes a unique and thoughtful present.

 Christening gifts for older children

It’s always meaningful when you give a gift that has valuable meanings to the receiver. A great gift for young kids of 4-8 years old, is a saving account or saving bond. Giving a gift which can let them learn will be much more valuable than the cost of the gift itself. Set up a saving account or bond with as little as $10 and present it to a young kid is a great way to start teaching them about money. You could include a card with a personalised message, with dedication to the child, and wishes for the future.

Books are always a lovely keepsake gift, especially if you know the child loves to read. Depending on your receiver’s age, you can choose religious children storybook, an illustrated first bible, or a spiritual self-help book (for young adults).You can include your own message in the front of the book and remember to note the date. It would be great when one day the child may be reading the book to their children with your message still in the front of the book.

 Christening Quotes

Some popular christening verse from the bible below can be found often in personalised message and cards.

Children are a gift from the Lord, a child is a reward from Him.

— Psalm 127:3

Every good and perfect gift is from above.

— James 1:17

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

— Proverbs 22:6

Freebie Printable – Halloween Door Printable

Do you participate in Halloween? I live in an area where there are a lot of kids, and so the first year we moved in, my kids asked to go trick or treating. It wasn’t something that I had done before in Australia, and so suggested that ‘maybe next year’, thinking that would be the end of it. Next year, they remembered and so I had to! It was a surprising night, with a whole bunch of kids, a great sense of community, and I had loads of fun, as did the kids.

When Halloween has come up in conversation with other mums, there’s been a lot of mention of ‘I wish I knew what house to go to’ or ‘They should put up a note if they want to participate’ and so here you are. If you’d like to be visited by Trick or Treaters this year, print out this sign and stick it to your front door or letterbox. I recommend placing it in a plastic pocket first to keep it dry if you’re expecting rain.

Have a great time tonight, and don’t let the ghosts and goblins catch you!


How to Choose a Great Wedding Photographer

There is so much to chose when planning a wedding, such as the cake, the DRESS, venue decorations, bridesmaids dresses, that you can rush or overlook the importance of choosing the right wedding photographer. Remember, they will be capturing your memories of the entire day, and there are no second chances.

Wedding photography can be very challenging, making everyone in a large group photo look good, multiple locations and in all kind of weather. So where do you begin choosing a great photographer?

To start, try a personal referral. Ask your friends, co-workers, relatives, anyone. Typically people who had a good experience will be happy to share the information, and will definitely tell you if they had a bad one! This will also give you some insight into the photographer’s personality and style before you meet.

After compiling a starting list, visit each photographer’s website and review their portfolio. Make sure to examine as many photo as you can, to ensure you like their style. Next, make a short list from your research and then call or email each photographer on your list. From here, you can establish availability, the type(s) of work the specialise in, and an estimate of costs.

From here, schedule face to face appointments with a couple of photographers that you like the best. This allows you to view a wide range of prints in person, and discuss specific detail. As them to show you a complete portfolio from one wedding. This will give you a much clearer idea of what you can expect to receive.

What Questions Should You Ask A Wedding Photographer?

It’s a good idea to write down any questions beforehand, so you don’t forget anything. Although most photographers will have a package outline ready to give you, you will probably still have a couple of things to ask. Here are some ideas from, that you may wish to ask.

  • How will you show me the images (electronic proofs, contact sheets, online gallery, something else)
  • Do you offer help and guidance in choosing the final pictures?
  • How easy is it for family and friends or order reprints on their own?
  • How long will you spend at the ceremony, and are there different packages?
  • What is your photography style, photojournalistic, traditional, mixed etc?
  • Do you offer engagement sessions? (perfect for engagement invitations or save the date cards)
  • How much do you charge for duplicate prints, enlargements etc?
  • What is your turnaround time once prints are ordered?
  • How long do I have to decide on prints?
  • How long have you been in business, and do you offer any kind of guarantee?
  • Do you have an assistant on the day?
  • Do you charge travel or overtime fees?
  • Do you have a backup in case of accident, illness etc. Will you be shooting my wedding personally?
  • Do you use digital or film?
  • What is your payment policy?

Whew! By making sure you have answers to the above, you should avoid any nasty surprises down the line.

So how much does wedding photography cost?

Here are some points that can help you determine how much you may expect to pay for a wedding photographer.

  • Remember that wedding photography involves more than just shooting on the day. There can be significant post processing work to ensure everyone looks perfect. Albums and prints will usually be extra unless specified.
  • You may wish to save money by purchasing only the photographs, and putting your album together yourself.
  • Cut down the timeline, perhaps DIY photos of everyone getting ready is enough, or you don’t need to document the reception after the cake cutting. Cutting down the duration of the shoot can save you some cash.

So now, you should have a relatively good idea of which photographer is best suited to capture your special day. Once you make a decision, its usual to pay a deposit to reserve the date. Don’t forget to ask about their policy if your date changes, mine did after my dream reception place became available after a cancellation.

Finally, make the commitment with the confidence that you’ve made a well researched and thought out decision in choosing the person who will capture the memories of a very special day in your life.


Kids Birthday Parties on the Cheap – The Location

Planned a kids birthday party recently? How much did you spend? Kids birthday parties can be so expensive, I found out just the other day that a popular local play centre that charges $7-11 for entry (according to age) is now charging over $21 a child for a party, which includes a small party area (not a room  but a walled off area), the usual kids party food and cordial …crazy!

If you’re wanting to throw a fantastic party, but keep your budget low, here are some ideas for a cheap or free location without skimping on quality.

Check out the local parks. Many towns have a great park with lots of extras, such as bbq’s, picnic tables, shelters and playgrounds. All you need is a couple of frisbees, a football and something to bbq and you have everything you need for a great party.

Ask around your local churches and community centres. Many of them will rent you a room cheaply, and often have children’s craft materials and activities you can use for a small fee. There are hundreds of free and cheap printables and kids activity suggestions online also.

Investigate a museum or exhibit, often they will have a discounted group entry rate, and these type of places are always much more fun in a group. You may even be able to find a factory tour that will allow children, such as a candy or chocolate manufacturer.

The perfect invitation for a kids cooking party.

The perfect invitation for a kids cooking party.

How about your own backyard? If yours is too small, maybe a friend or family member would be willing to lend you theirs. With a backyard party, you have pretty much endless choice on the theme. Some ideas could be a beach party, cooking (mini pizzas are always a hit), karaoke, or even camp in the backyard, complete with roasting marshmallows on the bbq or stovetop, with supervision of course.

When it comes down to it, kids love exploring and letting their imaginations run riot. With a little creativity, you can have a fabulous birthday party without spending tons too.