Crafts: Dried Flower Craft Ideas

This week I became the proud and excited owner of an Instant Flower Press from Interplay. Admittedly it’s designed for children, but both my son and I had great fun with it and we’ve created some pretty little dried flower craft items yesterday afternoon with some flowers we picked on the way home from school.

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

The Instant Flower Press is really simple to use and comes with an instruction booklet. You open up the press, put a layer of the felt pads and the pieces of cotton material in the plastic press, place your flowers inside. Put another layer of cotton and more felt pads (all supplied) and close the press. Pop it in the microwave for 20-30 seconds and you’ve got dried pressed flowers. Slightly more moist flowers may take a little longer in the microwave, but once you start pressing your flowers you’ll quickly be able to judge what will take an extra ten seconds and what will dry more quickly.

As a child my Grandma had a flower press and I loved using it with her, carefully picking pansies from her garden and pressing them between thick parchment and screwing the press shut, then leaving it for months before seeing the fruits of our labour.

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

With the microwave flower press the whole process is done and dusted in minutes and perfect if you need some pressed flowers for some quick dried flower craft.

Quick and easy Dried flower craft ideas

Pretty Jam Jar Candle Holders

You will need:
A clean jam jar
A selection of dried flowers and leaves
PVA glue
A paint brush

These are so simple. Take a clean jam jar and some PVA glue and a paint brush, brush the glue onto the jar where you want to stick your dried flowers. Carefully press the flower onto the glued area to stick it on, then gently cover the flower with PVA glue to seal it in place. Leave to dry.

You can be as creative as you want with this, I’ve left mine quite simple, but I love the delicate little blue flowers and the daisies. It took hardly any time at all to glue on, but maybe an hour to dry properly. They look so pretty and I can see me using this idea on so many things around the house.

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

Pebble Paperweight 

You will need:
A clean stone
A selection of dried flowers and leaves
PVA glue
A paint brush

Again, this is very simple. We have a pile of lovely smooth pebbles in the garden, so I picked one the right size and gave it a good scrub and left it to dry. Then I selected a suitable leaf which I’d dried in the flower press and brushed PVA glue onto the pebble and pressed the dry leaf into place. I left it for a few minutes to stick, then I painted PVA over the leaf to seal it in place and then I left it to dry properly for a few hours.

I’ve now got a lovely paperweight, or a pebble to stop my napkins flying off the table when we eat in the garden. 

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

Dried Flower Sun Catchers 

You will need:
A laminator and pouches or some sticky backed plastic
A selection of dried flowers and leaves

Borrowing a laminator I arranged some dried flowers in an artistic way in the laminator pouch, I then put it through the laminator a few times until I was happy. I then cut my A4 sheet down into a circle and using a clear sticky dot stuck it to the window.

It’s really quite pretty and I’ve got a nasty window in the downstairs loo which needs replacing, which I’m now going to cover in these lovely dried flowers to pretty the place up a bit!

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

These are just three very quick ideas I had for dried flower crafts that afternoon. I’ve got a few more ideas up my sleeve including some nice thank you cards and other papercrafts.

The Instant Flower Press from Interplay is a cracking piece of kit and if you enjoy crafting and have kids that enjoy crafting, then I can’t recommend it enough. The small boy went to school today with a bag full of dried flower pictures for show and tell and he’s loving showing off his dried flower craft to anyone who will listen. It’s nice to do something a bit different with him and importantly he’s really enjoyed it and got something out of it too!

Dried Flower Craft Ideas

The Instant Flower Press from Interplay costs £9.99, is suitable for ages 8+ (though my 5 year old used it happily with supervision) and is available from a wide range of retailers.

Note: We were sent the Instant Flower Press from Interplay for review purposes. All images an opinions are our own.

Easy Father’s Day Crafts

The small boy is at that lovely stage in life where he’s always making us little cards and writing us little notes for no other reason than he loves us. Which is nice. With Father’s Day on the horizon the boy was keen to get crafting for his daddy. So when our Baker Ross box arrived, we delved deep and found some really lovely, simple Father’s Day Crafts to do together.

The first thing we tackled was the very easy Father’s Day Tie Bookmarks. These are made from soft foam and are cut out ready for use. I did the tricky bit, which was threading the ribbon through the tiny hole and he did the rest. 

Father's Day Crafts

The pack comes with a selection of stickers. His chosen one contained the letters which spelt “Top Dad”. I told him what the words were and he picked the right letters and stuck them on himself. He then had some design decisions to make, namely where to stick his selection of stickers. He was really pleased with his design and chose to “wear” the tie around the house himself for a while. We’ve now tucked his little gift away for Father’s Day.

The second of our Father’s Day Crafts were these lovely Father’s Day Wooden Keyrings. The pack comes with four different designs to choose from. Ben chose to make the trophy and I went for the guitar. The pack contains everything you’ll need for your keyrings.

Father's Day Crafts

This was actually quite a tricky little craft activity, threading the beads onto the cord made us both concentrate hard. I had to do the fiddly tying of the cord, but it was a real workout for his hand/eye co-ordination and his fine motor skills. 

Making Father’s Day Crafts to give as little gifts is a lovely gesture and we enjoyed making these really simple and easy crafts. I’m sure daddy will like receiving them too!

Father's Day Crafts

Father’s Day is on 19th June 2016.

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee, Bramhall

Last month I had a lovely treat at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport. I booked myself in for a pampering facial and it was incredible. You can read my full review here, but the picture below and the look on my face in the “after” photo probably tells you everything you need to know. Read on to find out more about how you could win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee, Bramhall for yourself!

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

Beauty Bee are located at Moorend Golf Driving Range in Bramhall and they offer a selection of deep tissue and sports massages to the golfers, as well as a full range of beauty and pampering treatments to non-sporting types too. Abby has worked as a beauty therapist all over the world and specialises in  Oncology massage, as well as facials, massages, waxing, manicures and pedicures.

I can’t recommend Beauty Bee enough, I had an amazing facial and Abby has a very calming and caring way about her. I’m really pleased that Beauty Bee has kindly offered the prize of a facial to one of my blog readers, one of you lucky lot will get to experience a Beauty Bee facial.

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

Beauty Bee is at Moorend Golf Driving Range, 177 Woodford Rd, Bramhall, Stockport, Cheshire SK7 1QE Phone: 07876 032125. You can find Beauty Bee on Facebook. They also offer treatments on selected days at The University of Manchester.

SPECIAL OFFER: Maternity Mondays at Beauty Bee – 30% off all treatments if you are on maternity leave and book in on a Monday. 

Win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee

To be in with a chance to win a facial at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Please note that the prize is for the facial and does not include any transport or accommodation, so winners need to ensure they can get to Bramhall themselves. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will win a pampering facial at Beauty Bee in Bramhall, Stockport. Transport and accommodation are NOT included.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 16th June 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner may be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode.
9. The winner’s name will be available on request
10. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
11. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
12. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

My tips for surviving family festivals in the UK

If you’re off on a day out, or you’ve got tickets to a family festival or event, it makes sense to plan ahead and prepare yourself for all eventualities. In the UK “all eventualities” essentially means prepare yourself for the weather, all of the weather.

We live in Manchester, which is not known as the rainy city for nothing (though it doesn’t actually rain as much as you’d think). We try to get out and about as much as we can, which often means standing in a muddy field getting rained on, but still managing to squeeze some fun out of our precious family time together. Here are my tips for surviving and enjoying outdoor events in the UK.

Check the weather forecast. This will give you a vague idea of what the weather is likely to do on the day of the event or festival. Although if it says it’ll be sunny I’d still stick a brolly in the car just in case.

Pack a Picnic. Regardless of whether the event has food on offer or not, I always pack some emergency provisions. At the very least a couple of bottles of water and enough snacks to tide a hungry tum over until a pulled pork burger can be foraged from the nearest street food vendor.

Plan your day. Check out what’s on, what time it’s on and where it is. If there’s something you especially want to see or do, then it helps to know where on the festival site it’s happening and when. It’s often worth printing out a little map of the site and an events listing, or taking a screenshot on your phone to refer to if you need to.

Take something to sit on. Festivals, events and days out can be a loooong day and you can guarantee there won’t be enough seating for everyone. Take something to sit on. A picnic blanket with a waterproof backing is invaluable, but if you don’t want to carry that around, a bin bag for each family member to sit on works just as well and is much lighter and easier to carry. I have a bad back so can’t sit on the floor, so I take a little camping chair to sit on and my son often climbs on my knee for a cuddle. I wouldn’t be without my chair.

Wear suitable clothing. Rain or shine if you get a couple of thousand people in a field you will need to wear wellies or good stout walking boots. If driving rain is predicted and you’re still going to the event, then pack a mac and wear waterproof clothing. Be prepared to get wet and have dry clothes waiting in the car.

surviving family festivals

Take a change of clothes. If you’re going in your car it’s easy to pack a change of clothing and leave that and a cosy blanket in the car. My son always snuggles under a blanket on the way home and we wouldn’t be without it. The thought of being able to change at the car if you need to can get you through an afternoon of dampness.

If you can’t take a change of clothes (including dry socks and shoes) to change into for the drive home, then I’d recommend packing a pair of dry socks sealed in a plastic bag. Dry feet can make the difference between abject misery and a tolerable bus ride home.

Bring a brolly. We keep a big golfing umbrella in the car as well as a small one to slip into my bag. When we arrive at the festival we make the choice which, if any to bring with us. If it’s raining then the golfing umbrella, especially when teamed with my camping chair makes a nice little shelter from the rain, and when it’s very sunny the brolly offers a little shade.

Use sun cream. Even if it’s cloudy in the UK, you can catch the sun by standing in a field all day. Slap on the factor 30 and top up regularly. Wear a sun hat and keep hydrated.

Bring some baby wipes. As a parent I’m never more than 2 metres away from a pack of baby wipes, they are an everyday essential and invaluable at events and festivals. From cleaning sticky fingers before lunch, dealing with the worst of the mud, for toilet times and for making yourself presentable for the journey home. We don’t leave home without them.

Take cash money. Festivals and events can very easily be done on a budget, but once you’re in you’ll have to buy everything you need and it probably comes at a premium. We tend to pack a picnic and then buy some treats like ice cream when we’re there. Just don’t turn up thinking you can pay for everything with your card, cash is king and most events don’t have ATMs on site.

If you’re prepared for the changeable and sometimes really miserable UK weather, you’ve thought about food, transport and you’ve planned your day then hopefully your family day out will go off without a hitch. Maybe I’m a bit odd, but I’ve started to have low expectations of what an event or festival will be like before I get there, that way I’m rarely disappointed and often surprised and enchanted by what happens on the day.

I have a bit of a go with the flow attitude to life and almost everything I do, which does mean that you can sometimes find me dancing in the rain. You can’t control the weather, but you can control how you prepare to spend a day in that weather. Come rain or shine you will find us having fun in a field somewhere this summer and I hope you won’t let a little rain stop play either.

Do you have any top tips for surviving family festivals and events?

surviving family festivals

Giveaway & Review: Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD

My little brother (now aged 37) was a complete Transformers obsessive, and now we’ve both got boys of our own we were keen to pass on that love of these robots in disguise. For the past few months the boys have been building up a collection of Transformers, watching some of the original series on YouTube and (under strict supervision) playing with some of the Transformers my brother had 30 years ago. The small boy could hardly contain himself when I presented him with a copy of the Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD.

Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD

Transformers: Robots in Disguise – Rumble in the Jungle is available on DVD and for digital download from 23rd May 2016. The DVD contains six new episodes which follow on from the first installment of Robots in Disguise: A New Mission.

The Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD finds Bumblebee and the Autobots rounding up the escaped Decepticons. The team come face to face with a wild Decepticon, Grimlock, who is on the rampage and out of control; however that is not their only problem to overcome this time round. Bumblebee is in trouble as he is exposed to toxins that make him hyperactive and is being tracked down by a pair of bounty hunters determined to ensnare him once and for all.

The small by was beyond excited when I gave him the Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD, and he’s absolutely thrilled with it. I don’t fully understand what’s going on, but it’s lovely to see him sat watching it whilst playing with his Transformers. It’s exactly how my brother used to watch the original series 30 years ago, proving that Transformers is something of a classic, with considerable appeal for boys of all ages.

Transformers: Robots in Disguise – Rumble in the Jungle is available on DVD and for digital download from 23rd May 2016. 

Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD

Win a copy of the Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD

To be in with a chance to win a copy of the Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will receive a Transformers Rumble in the Jungle DVD.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 15th June 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winner’s name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winners, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

My Sunday Photo 22.5.16

Last weekend the boys went off to their first football match together. They were off to watch Manchester United play Bournmouth at Old Trafford. They hopped on the tram full of excitement and I went home and pottered about in the kitchen, listening to the build up to the match on the radio.

Unfortunately their afternoon didn’t go to plan and the stadium had to be evacuated. 

I listened to the updates on the evacuation and sent a text to my husband which he didn’t answer for an age. I was worried sick, but thankfully the evacuation was handled incredibly well and everyone was safe. They came home on the tram and we made the best of the afternoon. 

image

This is the pair of them just as they were leaving for the match. They’ll try again next season. Fingers crossed. We’re all just glad the evacuation was handled so well, no one was hurt and that thankfully no one was really in any danger after all.

Think before you flush – Make the #3PPromise

When raw sewage lifted a manhole cover in my Dad’s garden and human waste bubbled out and ran down his path, he guessed there was a major blockage somewhere. He got on the phone to United Utilities and they sent a team down to deal with it.

After some serious and rather disgusting delving, they discovered that one of the pipes was blocked with a nappy on of his neighbours flushed down the toilet (how this is possible I do not know). They also found about six months worth of baby wipes another neighbour had used each night to take her make up off, which she then flushed away.

I’ve always been careful about what we flush down the loo. The usual stuff is ok, but anything like nappies, wipes and sanitary products are always wrapped up and binned – the lesser of two environmental evils. If my home was a hospital those kinds of things would be labelled “biohazard” and sent for incineration, but these days my local council favours landfill.

United Utilities have recently launched a campaign to think before you flush. It’s a campaign I fully support, having surveyed the aftermath of the “poopocalypse” in my Dad’s garden I am keen to do everything I can to stop that happening here. I’ve also walked on far too many beaches which have been strewn with things people have just flushed and forgotten, and no one wants to take a child to a beach covered in used condoms and tampons.

think before you flush

In the UK we spend over £500 million per year on wipes for all sorts of purposes, from cleaning our sinks to caring for children. Wipes are so handy around the home, I think I’ve got at least 5 different kinds of wipes in my house for all different purposes. The problem is they don’t biodegrade and break down like toilet paper would, even if they say they’re biodegradable on the packet they can still clog up the sewers around your home for months or even years whilst they rot down.

Each year United Utilities deals with around 25,000 blockages, a significant number of which are caused by unflushables being flushed! If you take a moment to wrap any unmentionables (I use cheap nappy bags at about 20p for 250) and bin them you can do your bit to help prevent blockages not just on your property, but down your street and beyond. It also means the next time you go for a walk on the beach you might not be reunited with something you flushed and forgot. 

The only thing you should flush down your toilet are the three Ps – pee, poo and toilet paper! Think before you flush!

For a whole heap of useful resources including videos, pictures and reports as well as a family friendly downloadable information pack created especially for parents which includes fun activities and posters, visit the United Utilities Website.

think before you flush

= In collaboration with United Utilities =

Giveaway & Review: CBeebies Play Time DVD

At home, our TV channel of choice is CBeebies, it’s packed with all of his favourites and the small boy loved to wind down after a hard day at school with a snack and some CBeebies. We were sent the CBeebies Play Time DVD which was released on Monday 9th May and the small boy didn’t take long to decide it one of his favourites.

The 2 hour long CBeebies Play Time DVD from Abey Home Media features all  of his CBeebies favourites and for over 2 hours of fun-filled entertainment. With 12 episodes in the collection, including Teletubbies, Twirlywoos, In The Night Garden, Peter Rabbit, Topsy & Tim, Mike the Knight, The Furchester HotelOctonauts, Q Pootle 5, Ruff–Ruff, Tweet and Dave, Chuggington, and Cloudbabies.

CBeebies Play Time DVD

The CBeebies Play Time DVD is a great way of entertaining young children with its familiar, well-loved characters and diverse range of fun and engaging programming.

Although we didn’t sit down and watch the whole DVD in one sitting, he did enjoy the variety of programmes on this DVD, even the ones more suited to younger children he liked. I think maybe he’s watching them from a slightly different perspective and getting something new out of them.

Naturally he had some favourites –

Peter Rabbit – The One That Got Away, when Peter and his friends encounter the legendary “Jack Sharp”, a large trout that even Peter’s father failed to catch, they try to reel the fish in once and for all. But catching a fish is a lot harder than it looks.

Topsy and Tim – In New Pet Topsy and Tim love caring for their new pet rabbit but struggle to agree on his name. When they notice how wiggly his nose is, they know just what to call him.

Mike the Knight – In Hidden Garden Games when Mike, Evie and the Queen have a competition in the Hidden Garden, Mike learns that it’s good to let everyone have a turn to play… and it’s even better when everyone plays together.

Octonauts –  In Mimic Octopus Peso is gathering red algae to cure the sick vegimals but needs the help of a Mimic Octopus to scare off a Moray eel, who uses its striped tentacles to pretend to be a group of poisonous sea snakes.

Chuggington – In Koko’s Puppy Training Koko Koko finds a lost puppy and wants to keep it, but she realises a little girl is looking for the puppy and decides that she needs to take him home.

The CBeebies Play Time DVD is another great collection of CBeebies classics and ideal for keeping the little ones entertained this summer!

CBeebies Play Time DVD is available from a range of retailers from 9th May.

CBeebies Play Time DVD

win a CBeebies Play Time DVD

To be in with a chance to win a copy of the CBeebies Play Time DVD, simply complete the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & Conditions:
1. The competition is open to residents of the UK only aged (18) and over.
2. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered.
3. To enter, please use the Rafflecopter widget above, complete any mandatory entries and any optional entries you would like.
4. The winner will be chosen at random from all valid entries.
5.The winner will receive a CBeebies Play Time DVD.
6. The closing date for entries is 11.59pm GMT on 12th June 2016.
7. The winner will be informed by email within 7 days of the closing date.
8. The winner will be asked to provide a full UK postal address with postcode for delivery purposes.
9. The winner’s name will be available on request
10. Address details will be passed onto an agency to post the prize out to the winners, and is therefore beyond my control. I cannot be held responsible for prizes being lost in the post although I will endeavour to liaise with the agency.
11. Your email address may be passed on to to the promoter for marketing purposes, you may unsubscribe at any time.
12. Entry to this giveaway confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions.
13. HodgePodgeDays decision is final in all matters relating to this giveaway.

Anxiety, self discovery and all you need is love

The other day Facebook dutifully reminded me that it had been three years since my last spinal operation. Whilst these daily Facebook memories are meant to be a nice thing, perhaps reminding you of lovely memories of years gone by, my reminder that three years ago I was in hospital wasn’t a great one.

On one hand it’s nice to look back and reflect on how far I’ve come since then, but on the other hand it’s an unwelcome reminder of a dark and unhappy time in my life. Three years ago I was a mess, I spent much of the summer in the grip of anxiety and having the worlds longest panic attack. I couldn’t bear to be in the house after eight months of enforced exile and once I got out it was one long non-stop party, all great fun until the hangover kicked in and I was alone with my racing, panicked thoughts again.

During that summer in many ways it was like being a teenager again, always out at parties and on boozy nights out. I was part of an intense little group of friends who propped me up and enabled me in equal measure. I still see them now, though not as often and our nights out are less wild and carefree than they were.

Since 2013 I’ve been on an intense and sometimes painful journey of self discovery, there have been long and intense periods of navel gazing and introspection. I know and understand more about myself and what motivates me than ever. I’ve had therapy and CBT which were useful and useless in varying degrees, but importantly, most importantly, I’ve had very good people around me.

People who have posed questions about me and my actions and what drives me. People who somehow manage to completely understand what is in my heart better than I do. People who love me for who I am and without coddling me, love and support me when I’m down and champion me when I’m up. I am lucky, so bloody lucky.

Some people come and go, but they always leave their fingerprints on my heart however fleeting our friendship. I am intense, I know this, but if you’re my friend I will love you, support you and fight your corner. My best friend (who knows me better than myself) says that I love unconditionally; which is a beautiful, innocent thing, but it does leave me open to bumps and bruises. A slight snub that most people would brush off, a passing remark, a small criticism, it all hurts and scars.

I know I’m not alone in being tender hearted. The world is full of people quietly breaking their hearts over a half imagined injustice. There’s no known cure other than toughening up, but why should I? I have a heart full of pure love, why should I harden it and become like the others? I know I probably sound like some old hippy, banging on about love, but an old hippy once said “all you need is love”, and they might just have been right.

My Sunday Photo 15.5.16

On Friday I spent the day at Jessops in Manchester at their academy. A month or so ago I bought myself a Nikon D3330 DSLR camera and one of the things I also did was book a place on their level 1 photography course. I was a bit nervous, I didn’t really know what to expect. I was still very unfamiliar with my camera and worried I would be the class idiot.

I actually didn’t really have too much to worry about, the trainer was excellent and explained things really well, and all the blog photography sessions I’ve sat through at various conferences seemed to have given me a little knowledge which I can now build on.

The level 1 course focussed on Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO and we managed a quick half hour on the streets of Manchester having a bit of a play with our cameras and our new found knowledge. Here is teddy posing with a mystery man outside the Arndale Centre in Manchester. 

Jessops

I loved the course so much that I immediately splashed out £150 on a new 50mm lens and booked myself onto the level 2 course for later this year.

If you’re getting to grips with a new camera I can totally recommend the Jessops level 1 course, it’s given me lots of confidence to go out and have a go and try and take good pictures on purpose, not just by accident!

Have a lovely Sunday 🙂