Mini Adventurer party

I like a party. I am not sure if I like too party but I like parties. Or the idea of them actually, or maybe I just like planning them. If I am completely honest, I like to design, scheme and prep for parties and that’s about it. But now I am old and don’t have the luxury of throwing parties for myself I live vicariously through my kid.

Last month said kid turned 4 and I don’t know if you know this but it’s kind of a big deal around here (or so we were told). I started planning and scheming in June by hoarding props (toilet rolls) and designing graphics. We settled on the theme of ‘mini adventurers’ based on the kiddo’s unwavering fascination with the natural world, dinosaurs and all that outdoor junk.

Little A’s birthday fell smack bang in the middle of school holidays and it’s hard to gently remind other busy parents of a party if you don’t see them for a week before. So I decided to employ a marketing technique (don’t hate on me I am sorry I am a design nerd and can’t turn it off) and create a memorable invite: Mini Adventurer passbook and binoculars in a little paper bag. Using the months worth of toilet rolls, Little A and I painted and glued them together to create crafty binoculars for each child – who were encouraged to bring them to the party to help explore!

I designed the party logo and supporting elements based on old school Scout badges and continued that idea through the party where kids ‘earned’ a badge after completing every game.

birthday party invite



There is always the possibility that someone or something will rain on your parade. Nervous that I would make some sort of rookie school-mum party faux pas I consulted seasoned professionals, i.e. other school mums, to ensure that noses stayed firming in joint. With the stress of invitations done I focused on crafting large amounts of decorations never really thinking the thing that would ruin my parade was actually going to be rain. But there you have it, the week before the party it rained non-stop and I wanted to cry. Getting a metaphorical rigorous shoulder shake from SAH to pull myself together and get on with it – our chosen park had a band stand to give us cover (which my amazing mum turned up at 7.30am to morning of to secure) I did just that. I got on with it.

And although it did not rain once during the party, in fact it was glorious blue skies, it was winding as a – erm, a windy thing so I decided to forego putting up 90% of the decorations, which was a shame but I now have a large supply of decorations for next year.







Effort was also exerted in the cake-making area. Baking the 5-layered cake over the space of a week, I watched a lot of you tube videos on crumb coating and smoothing butter cream frosting to get the look just right. Although I wasn’t entirely happy with the cake batter colour or the cream cheese frosting colour (neither was fluorescent enough for me) the over all affect was exactly what I had wanted. A mixture of adventure animals and tasty snacks adorned the towering beast of a cake. Although in my haste to clean the kitchen the night before the party I accidently threw out the fancy sparkly number 4 candle and I had to quickly retrieve four mis-matched candles from the junk draw in our kitchen.



Party food was kept very simple with no lollies or soft drink, but loads of fruit, sandwiches, pretzels and popcorn – plus cold cuts and cheese for the adults.

We decided on three party games and encouraged the kids to play in the playground together when they weren’t participating in games or eating. We had an Expedition to find creatures (treasure hunt), a Dinosaur egg transport (egg and spoon race, well rubber ball and spoon), and a Mini adventure (obstacle course). We also had a table of craft for the kids to make animal puppets and masks.

Party bags contained a little custom pack of Crayola crayons and were big enough so craft projects and found animals/insect toys could be stashed inside as well.


And the outcome? A complete and utter success. The birthday boy had the best day ever running around with his buddies – a close-knit group of kids at his Montessori school – playing games, earning badges and eating cake. In fact I’ve been asked by the kiddo about his next birthday party pretty much every week since!

I enjoyed the day too, remarkably as I was running around madly setting up, repairing binoculars, corralling kids to and from one game to the next… I even got to chat to other parents and some of the kids and it made my heart sing at how lucky we are to have such a gorgeous little community through our school.


“A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.”

At the beginning of the year I decided I was going to crochet granny squares to make Bub a poncho. The other day I finished said poncho, but left the outer edge un-trimmed to I can add to it and make it longer as Bub gets longer.
I think it’s a bit of a success.

This is Bub being an aeroplane in our front garden btw.

My 52 week portrait project

52 a portrait a week link group / Che & Fidel

Your trash is my craft

Last year I happened to drive past what would turn out to be one of the best hard rubbish piles I have ever had the good fortune of rummaging through. You may remember it, I wrote about the spoils here.

Amongst the beautiful vintage bits and pieces I saved from landfill were a few linoleum samples. I have often wondered if the owner of the house was a lino salesman or just saved the samples from a fabulous kitchen renovation in the 50s – these thoughts that have made me desperately want to knock on their door and take a peek at their (possibly) amazing interiors.

Do you think they’d mind? How would your grandparents feel if some redhead in an old frock came knocking asking to sniff around their house? Well, with the best intentions I assure you. But it might be a little confrontational … but then again nothing ventured nothing gained!

Never the less, I had acquired lovely lino samples, some of which were a little cracked with age and all of which were dirty and needed a bit of a clean. What to do with them? I mentioned framing them on facebook and a friend suggested a solution that her picture-framing-parents employ: mount them on pre-stretched canvases. She added that the best place to get them was a $2 shop. Thanking her I locked the suggestion away in my head and stored the cleaned lino to await the day that I may have the time or energy to mount them.

Miraculously that day came last month. Waking to a lovely sunshine morning, SAH and Bub curled up next to me I announced that I wanted to make something that day.

So off I trotted to the shopping centre to pick up the necessary equipment (cheap canvas frames, all I could find where ones with images to colour in!) and returned home to get to mounting these bits of old plastic. Meanwhile SAH and Bub played around me (occasionally trying to assist). In the end I produced 4 framed pieces and I think they look lovely. However I have no idea where I am going to put them, erm yes I didn’t think of that before I started!

I am sure I will find somewhere, even in their age worn state the patterns and textures are too pleasing not to have them displayed. lino craft lino craft lino craft lino craft lino craft lino craft lino craft lino craft lino craft


Make do and mend

Years ago we used to have a semi-regular craft group in my circle of friends. A project would be set each meet and we’d learn new crafty skills and produce some neat stuff. The group was called Kaotic Kraft Kuties, it was the brain child of gorgeous lady Gemma Jones, who ran the Melbourne chapter. But was introduced here is Sydney by Miss Gypsy Taylor and run by both of us. Life and busy schedules got in the way and the group stopped meeting.

However craft discussions have regularly been brought up lately so I decided it was time to revive the craft group idea. Changing slightly to Craft Cuties Corner the first meet up was the second Saturday in October at my house. The theme was Make Do and Mend. Obviously inspired by the famous English WW2 propaganda encouraging families to repair and mend what they had because they weren’t going to get anything new because of rations.

This mind-set is present in every vintage-wearing lady I know. It has to be. Old clothes wear out, seams fray, cotton thread rots, buttons fall off, etc… So to make those lovely wardrobes last longer we all need to do a bit of mending now and again.

But who has time these days? Piles of project items and ‘to be mended’ pieces grow and grow. So it was lovely to sit around for an afternoon chatting, eating treats and getting to those neglected projects (I spent the entire time sewing buttons back on tops and cardigans).

It was such a hit, we’ve decided to make it a regular group. So we will make each alternate Craft Cutie Corner meeting a Make Do and Mend crafternoon.


A Titanic affair

By day I am the art director for an educational publisher and this year the theme for their xmas party was ‘Tales from the sea’. This fabulous theme, set by yours truly, allowed people to wear as little in the way of a costume or as much, as their hearts desired. So, what would a born extravert like myself wear? Why the Titanic of course!

Too fabulous to be handled by one person, my partner in crime for the evening was sketch-comedy writer, editor and all round awsomenerd Martina. We planned and schemed for months, originally she was to be the entire Titanic and I would be the fateful iceberg. This scenario would have provided hours of  amusement as I butted my pointy-ice head against her hull. However the burden of the colossal vessel was too great for Martina and we decided, as the boat had split once it was destined to split again. Therefor I was to be the bow, she the aft.

One month before the xmas party and knee deep in work, manuscript writing and general Astred-style-mayhem I turned to SNH with a desperate look in my eye and pleaded for his help. You see, SNH is an industrial designer and holder knowledge and the knack of patience when putting things together. He kindly agreed to assist in the construction and sent me off to the art store with a list. Gone were my half-assed ideas of getting a couple of pieces of cardboard and stapling them together, oh ho ho! Not in this house, not with the vision and talent of SNH. No, the bow of the Titanic was constructed much like the bow of any boat, only out of foam-core and with struts and ribs and a flat base. After the bow was complete SNH handed it over to me to decorate and finish the look.

And decorate with glee I did! Wood grain decking, port hole windows, bollards with figure-8 rope and sailor knots, hand rails and bunting, Oh my! Cleverly SNH had cut the bow to fit me and the foam core was light as air, so wearing the boat was very easy. To top of the look two smoke-stack hats were made and steam conjured through the magic of toy-stuffing.

Martina worked on her sturdy propeller and found the perfect captains jacket on which to sew her captains stripes. To make ourselves giggle we added port and starboard signage: TIT / ANIC and like the rings of Shazzan when combined we blew people’s minds.

SNH gets to work on constructing the hull of the Titanic

decking and bunting

Hand rail detail

The front de complete!

Reunited at last, the Titanic complete (sorry about the happy-snaps)

Sadly, fate was not on our side and we were robbed of the best costume prize. How did this happen? Who was this person who beat such a magnificent idea and accomplished outfit? It is not important, as history will always remember us as ‘those strange girls who dressed as a boat one xmas party’. C’est la vie!

Paper carrots!

The other week I spent the entire weekend baking and creating, it was very satisfying. I made my first batch of macarons, baked a chocolate gnash and raspberry cake and handcrafted a paper vegetable garden cake topper.

What was this industrious weekend in honour of? Why love of course! I had organised a bridal-shower-morning-tea for Ivy, a workmate who was preparing to get hitched at the end of that week and I wanted to pay tribute to the amount of energy and thought she puts into baking and creating cakes for other people’s special occasions.

Both of us being desperate overachievers when it comes to bakery-craftery skills, at times we have forced our sugary treats on to poor colleagues who have no choice but to enjoy the baked delights. Ivy, however, has a particular penchant for sugar-craft and has become quite a deft hand at it, her creations often inspire loud praises of “oohs” and “aahs” so with that in mind I needed to make sure that the cake presented at the bridal shower was up to certain visual standard.

With only a weekend and a small budget I wasn’t keen to spend hours and a small fortune teaching myself sugar-craft so I turned to my most beloved material: paper.

Inspired by Ivy and her fiances’ lovingly tended vegetable garden, I sat at the dining table for the better part of Saturday and handmade carrots, tomatoes and aubergines ripening on the vine in A frames, leeks, lettuce, beans and some very annoying pumpkins that didn’t make the grade and were thrown across the room in frustration.

Topped with a scroll of love

I was very happy with the outcome.

SNH called the tomatoes 'leggo tomatoes'!

Business-beans at the front, party-lettuce at the back

Paper carrots!

Easter show and sticky food

Sellers walk around with mountains of helium balloons hovering above them, I love the look of them

Me at the show and a whole lotta rib behind me

SNH and I went to the Royal Easter Show on Monday which was the first time for both of us in over 12 years. Not surprisingly our interests have changed from childhood obsessions with spending our pocket money on Show Bags full of cheap plastic toys and treats containing enough sugar that the resulting energy spurt could power a small country. Nor were we drawn to try clamoring onto spinning rides that would cause said sugary treats to pay a return visit, by way of spewing down the side of the rock’n’roll dodge ’em cars pavilion. No, this year we indulged in our current obsession: dogs.

Timing our day well, we arrived at the Purina Sydney Royal Dog Show as they were judging the American Staffordshire Terriers. Our little blue dog Dutch is part AmStaff we have no idea what he is crossed with, as he is a rescue, but compared to the specimens on display he is an absolute pipsqueak!

After the judging we wonderer through the dog exhibitors hall then over to the craft and food hall. Unfortunately for SNH I issued him a ‘food on a stick’ challenge, as I wanted to photograph that trophy of all mixed-meat-surprise foods – the Dagwood Dog. And for those who don’t know, a ‘food on a stick’ challenge cannot be denied.

SNH looks thrilled with his mix-meat on a stick delight

Over at the Craft and Food hall we goggled at the sponge cakes, giggled at the needlepoint and marveled at the knitted foods. The sugar craft display was the most popular but I was quietly disappointed with the entries, they were all a little “meh”.

Mmmm pink marble cake

Highly detailed quilt on display

Knitted cakes were more interesting than the sugar craft versions

Most of our day was spent watching the dog agility and flyball demonstrations, cheering on people we knew from online dog forums and planning our dog’s futures as flyball masters.

Dog agility on the weave poles

But we did continue the “food on stick” challenge for the rest of the day…

Mmm corn on a stick

Cheese on a stick, it made my chest hurt

More photos of the day are here: On my flickr page

Colourful crafty

I started crocheting Granny squares at the end of January. Picking up the hook sporadically when I was bored watching telly or sick on the couch I was very happy with my little pile of squares. But being the fickle crafter that I am I knew that I would soon bore of this lark and would be destined to own a pile of squares until the day came, very far in the future, that I would pick up the crochet hook again… or simply push the pile to the side with all my other unfinished craft projects – come on I know you all have them.
So my goal was, finish as many squares you can with a certain amount of yarn. And that is what I did today. I have 30 squares, they look awesome and make a tiny blanket. Possibly a future gift for someone’s newborn? (Don’t look at me mother-in-law)

I took over the dining table to arrange my pattern, and start to prepare for the next faze – joining. Luckily Pip at Meet Me at Mikes posted a helpful link in her crochet tutorial for a great way to finish of my blanket, here it is Carina’s Craft blog.

So this is what my currently blanket looks like

Laying out the pattern for my blanket

Hopefully in the next week or so it will be finished and my knees will be warm!

I am building up my craft cupboard and have 2 suitcases filled with yarn, material, bias binding, buttons and much more. Which I brought home from my Grandma’s house last weekend. She was an avid crafter and I know she would have wanted me to have what she left behind. Including fabulous pink yarn!

But this little number I nicked from my mum. It’s an ace knitting bag and lined with plastic, this is what I store my current projects in. I picked up the very helpful knitting needle box at an op shop.

My favourite piece of knitting ephemera, my mum's old knitting bag

Along with enough bias binding to last me a life time, there were a few other gems unearthed as we were cleaning out Grandma’s house. My sister discovered this Atomic Coffee maker in a plastic bag under the sink. It still had all the parts and the instruction manual and sales booklet with it. What a find! I have to confess I may have performed a rather embarrassingly spazzy dance upon this awesome discovery.

My pretty Atomic Coffee Machine, too afraid to use it so it becomes decoration

And while I am on an image roll, I thought I may as well post a few photos of the mantle. I am reorganising the house at the moment and I particularly happy with the way the mantle has turned out.

A few of my favourite things

I love my quirky little things. Like the ruler from my Grandpa's shed, primary school Tasmania stencil, vintage books from our wedding decorations and the awesome Fowler 'Beehive' ashtray

My posie of knitting needles, Barsony lamp and a photo of the registry signing at our wedding

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