Sunday, 29 June 2014

How to make paint dipped pine cones - tutorial

Today I'm going to teach you how to make your own paint dipped pine cones!

This is a really simple craft that even the kids can get involved in. If you have all the bits already like I did then it's also a free craft!

What you need:
Pine cones (obviously!)  I picked up mine for free from the local park.
Emulsion paint - a 1.25 litre can that is more than half full will do.
Broom handles or bamboo canes.
Craft wire - fine gauge.
Large piece of cardboard to catch drips.
2 Chairs to balance your wood across.
Scissors or wire cutters
Optional wooden skewer

1) Set up your workspace

It's a good idea to do this outside - especially if you live in a rented property with cream carpets like I do!
Balance your brooms across the chairs. This is going to be your hanging point to dry the pine cones.
If you have a wooden skewer, use it to stir your paint. The skewer is also handy for pushing your cones into the paint.

2) Prepare the pine cones

Using lengths of the wire (approx 20cm) wrap them around the pine cones between the 'leaves.'
You could also use small screw hooks into the end of the pine cone and attach the wire through the screw - this would be handy if you wanted to make a garland out of your cones. Another way is to make a small hole in one of the 'leaves' using a drawing pin and then you can thread the wire through the hole.

In hindsight, I would buy the screw hooks and use that method as it's quite tricky to untie the wire without taking off some of the thicker paint that hides in the grooves. You live and learn!

3) Start dipping!

Now for the fun part....... submerge your pine cone into the paint until it is fully coated. I used the skewer to push it under. Hold it above the paint can for a minute or two so that the excess paint can drip off before tying the top of your wire around the broom sticks.

4) Leave to dry

It's quite sunny today so mine have dried pretty quickly. I'm going to leave them for an hour or two just to make sure though! (Top tip: when you think they are dry, leave them for yet another hour! The paint is really thick underneath...)

5) Marvel at your creation!

I used some really bright, orange paint as my lounge is really bland. This is a great way to introduce colour to a rented house without losing your deposit!

There are so many variations you can do for this project:

White cones for Christmas and then painted with glitter varnish
Ombre effect cones or two tone dipped cones
Pastel cones for an ice cream effect
Acid brights and neon cones for a trendy house
Shades of grey for a monochrome scheme
Make a garland in different colours to go over the fireplace

Some more inspiration from around the net:

Pastel, dipped and bright pine cones

Pine cone garlands and ombre pinecones

I hope you enjoyed reading about this as much as I enjoyed making them!

P.s Thanks to various people on the net for the pictures above. Sorry that I'm too short of time to credit you!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Welcome to the Baby Olympics!

If babies were athletes.......

Event one: the hiccup marathon
Points are scored for each time your baby gets hiccups in one day and extra points are awarded for the duration your baby can go before getting really really frustrated. 

Not to be confused with:

Event two: the sneezing 100 metres
Points are obtained in a similar way to the "hiccup marathon" - previous winners have been known to sneeze more than ten times in a 24 hour period! 

Event three: fill a nappy
Your baby could be a star Olympian if they can: 1) get wee on you when their nappy is being changed  2) get poopy on the wall during a nappy change or 3) soil and stain the inside of their clothing prior to the nappy change. 
Extra marks for traumatising your parent by wriggling poopy everywhere and spreading it up your little, chubby legs. 

Event four: throwing your toys out the pram
This event isn't about having a meltdown in public, it's all about losing things when mummy isn't looking. Socks can be wiggled off for beginner babies whilst the more advanced can unhook a favourite toy from the pram and drop it soundlessly without either parent or passers by noticing. 

Event five: the sleepathon
Not all events in the Baby Olympics involve being naughty! To win the sleepathon a baby must sleep a minimum of eight hours overnight with several naps taken during the day. Extra points for sleeping through your feed time and for not stirring when mummy drops a pan in the kitchen (and swears loudly.)

Event six: the smile, giggle and wriggle
A pro athlete can instantly cheer up a stressed mummy or daddy by pretending to appreciate the fake animal noises, grinning in a insanely cute way after throwing up or performing their "special trick" on cue for bored relatives. 
It's worth starting the training early with your baby to avoid a mummy meltdown on long days.

Special parent events:
Parents can also compete against their other halves by complaining about who has had the least sleep, who changed the dirtiest nappy, who the baby loves more and who picked out the cutest outfit for the baby to poo in. 
Parents can also compete against other parents in the "Smug Olympics" by boasting about long sleep times and super powers such as having an "early starter baby" (one who can sit/stand/crawl before day ten.) 

Could your baby win the Baby Olympics? What would be their "star event?"

Friday, 7 March 2014

Coping with anxiety - my story

I've read some really brave, insightful posts by other bloggers recently - bloggers that I admire and bloggers who (whom?) I thought had everything going for them. Turns out a lot of them suffer with depression and/or anxiety.
This is something I can relate to first hand, and they say you should write about what you know!

I first realised that I was suffering with depression when I was referred to a counsellor at university. I had actually been suffering since the age of 14 but I didn't realise that my feelings weren't normal. I felt sad a lot of the time. I would cry in the toilets on nights out and I used self harm as a way of coping.

At university I lost a lot of weight and would weigh myself every day. I slept a lot. I ended up quitting my course. My parents got divorced which hit me hard.

Counselling helped me a lot, as did some medication and a good support network of friends. I gained some confidence and started to like myself. I realised how much I had missed out on by being depressed and scared.

I'm pleased to say that I have not self harmed for many years now and I can mostly realise when I'm feeling down. I am strong enough to ask for help when I need it and I can see the good things in life and appreciate them.

From time to time I now suffer with anxiety rather than depression, and also I get stressed very easily. Pregnancy and a having a new baby have been a shock to my controlled life and I found it very hard to cope for the first few weeks. Luckily, I asked for help and went to my GP and started taking my medication for anxiety again.

Yesterday, I went to my babies' hospital appointment all by myself and didn't have a meltdown! We even went for a cup of tea and I fed him whilst drinking my tea with one hand! I feel that I can cope. At least for now. And that's a big deal for me.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Life and recovery after a cesarean birth!

Well, it's all change in my household! Joshua Sebastian Woodling was born on the 20th January 2014 at 9.24am by c-section.

The operation itself was actually quite relaxing and I was surprised how calm I felt during the whole process. Unfortunately, after a c-section you literally can't move for a few days which is super frustrating. You have to rely on other people to take care of your baby and make sure you rest for plenty of days. Not easy with a newborn!

The first two weeks have been challenging. He's been a really good baby but I've struggled with the recovery and then my husband caught a cold, then I caught the cold and now to top it all off we've been told that we have to move out of our rented house before the 31st of March!!!

Terrible timing so there have been a lot of tears. We have come to the difficult decision that we will need to re-home our two cats  - there aren't many properties that will let you have pets and one of our cats is very unpredictable around Joshua.

So, times are changing for us. I've got to go bath him now so I'll leave you with a few pictures.

Our first photo together - my little penguin!

All his clothes are too big as he is so little!

It may look like Grandma is strangling him but actually he was very content!

Friday, 17 January 2014

How to design a perfect nursery!!

Hello. I know I've been gone a while but I'm in the last few days of my pregnancy and I'm pretty uncomfortable. I thought you might like one last post so I can share my favourite room in the house - the baby's nursery!

First of all, I had to pick a colour scheme.

My choices were dictated by the green carpet that was already in the room so I kinda had to work around that! That meant that blue was out of the question so I took inspiration from one of the Mamas and Papas ranges and went for spring green, yellow, red and orange.

The cot mobile was one of the first things we bought (as it was in the sale!!) and then we found the cot bedding (also in the sale ) that seemed to match. I won't put in links to every item as, well, everything was in the sale and probably is no longer available! What can I say? I love a bargain!

Then I upcycled furniture I already had.

We had a pine storage chest which is now being used as a toy box (and happens to be the right height to double up as a changing table) and a pine chest of drawers which I painted to match the colour scheme!

I bought some cheap tester pots in the right colours and had some white paint left over from doing the walls.Then I simply painted each drawer in a different colour. The wall stickers were a bargain buy from Kiddicare in one of their many sales and will give the baby something to look at whilst I change him!

Wall stickers and free printable wall art really brightened up the room and are a good option if you rent a home like we do. Luckily, my landlord is super nice and doesn't have an issue with us decorating so 2 of the walls in the room are "pedal pusher" yellow!

We got the cot from Ikea and managed to get £10 off by timing it right and having an 'Ikea family card.' The mattress was from a website called Precious Little Ones who often have good prices on bedding and will give 5% off if you sign up for their emails.

Calming lighting is a must in a nursery as you don't want to turn on super bright lights in the middle of the night! The yellow, cloud pendant was from Ikea.

(The floating shelf in the background was another good buy from Ikea.)

I'm a big fan of anything retro so the other light in the room is an orange globe that I bought years ago when our local Habitat closed down. It sits on 2 vintage G Plan tables that I got for free from outside our local charity shop!

I wanted his room to be cosy so he has a big pile of blankets at the ready - some of which have been handmade by me, my mum and my friend.Handmade is just better!

I got his moses basket from Ebay - it's originally from Mothercare. He has 2 sleeping bags with beautiful, embroidered designs from Sainsburys - only £12 each which is a lot cheaper than the branded Grobags ones. A top tip is to wait for Sainsburys to do one of their '20% off' TU clothing weeks. Bargain!

The final purchase was a pair of blackout curtains which I bought online from Woolworths. I then bought some pom pom trim (about 4 metres) from Hobby Craft which I used as tie backs! It's all in the details.....

And finally, we bought some funky toys in matching colours.

The rattles were bought in the Kiddicare sale, Ewan the sheep is a best selling, musical and light up toy, and the dinosaur and teddy bear were hand crocheted by me! They were definitely a labour of love, I can tell you!

Well, I hope you like it! As I said, it's my favourite room in the house and I can't wait for my little baby to come out so he can give his seal of approval!

If you want any links to anything you see (from furniture to printable art to crochet patterns) then just leave me a comment and I'll do my best to reply.

Wish me luck!!!