Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Building a Castle Cubby House

I saw a castle fort in a backyard of a guest house we stayed in once, and since then I had been dreaming of designing and building our own cubby castle. I love outdoor spaces that let kids use their imagination and have fun.

I drew a picture of new design and then we had a couple of days of building. We enjoyed making something together, the kids learnt a few things about building and it was more satisfying than buying one. Here's some pictures to show how we did it. 

the planning stage

measuring and cutting the main frame 

building the main frame

the door being attached with strong hinges so it can swing open

then decking 

outline, cut and drilling some hardiflex sheeting to the pine beams

the fun part, painting time

every castle needs a ladder

and a touch of gold and colour, using paint and a black sharpie texta!

some astro turf laid on the ground for easy play 
the door unlatches and swings open to let light in
and the inside panels double as a chalk board

we've enjoyed some sunny picnics from the top of our castle 

and some town meetings and card matches from below

we've had knightly celebrations with friends

and a chat with neighbours over the fence

Our castle, with it's shiny turrets at dusk, has only been standing for 7 months, but it has already created some great childhood memories.

Get creative, have imagination, and don't forget to play with your kids!

Little Ladybird

Friday, July 03, 2015

Circus Baby Fabric Book

Earlier, with the help of Threading My Way we made a fabric book gift for a newborn baby girl, which was pretty and pink with ice-creams, cakes and strawberries. Now we've made a different design for a boy's Christening gift, with a circus theme. It's bright and bold. Here's how you can make your own soft book.

- 1/2 yard or so of batting
- pieces of plain cotton material (we used 6 rectangles 44cm x 22cm in size)
- material pictures to applique

How to Make
1) Cut pieces of material to 44cm x 22cm in size. We cut 6 pieces to make 12 pages in total.
2) Applique the pictures to each page. Make sure there is enough room in the middle for stitching down the center.
3) Decide the order of the pages and which piece is to be the front/back cover.
4) Cut 3 pieces of batting to the same size (maybe a tiny bit smaller) as the rectangle pieces (44cm x 22cm).
5) Place the batting to the wrong side (inside/no pictures) of the front/back cover.
6) Pin together the inside front cover/inside back cover to the front/back cover already against the batting. Make sure that this is done with the picture sides facing each other/together.
7) Sew all the way around the edge, leaving an opening at the bottom edge for turning.
8) Clip corners and turn right side out and stitch opening closed.
9) Repeat steps 5) 6) 7) for the other pages. (sew pages 1/8 to 2/7) (sew pages 3/6 to 4/5).
10) Stack pages together to make the book, then center pages making sure pages are in the correct order of how you want them to be.
11) Pin along the center to secure the stack. Then sew along the center.

Little Ladybird

Friday, May 15, 2015

DIY Vintage Wall Hanger

A simple and easy way to keep jewellery is on a hanger. Here's how to make your own.

Cut a piece of wood to the desired length. This hanger was made using a piece of left over decking wood and measures 44cm long by 9cm wide by 2cm deep.

Pick up some knobs, hooks or drawer handles from a hardware or similar type of shop. Six bits and bobs were chosen for this hanger. Space them out and arrange them in the order you think looks best and check that they fit on the wood with even spaces between.

Paint the wood in any colour or leave it without paint for the plain natural look. Here, a bit of left over ceiling undercoat paint was used and applied easily with a big thick brush. The two drawer knobs that were unpainted were transformed using two colours of left over paint -  a gorgeous aqua and a bright lemon colour.

Use sandpaper to rub and scratch back some of the paint on the wood to give a worn rustic look. Using the screws that come with each of the drawer knobs, handles and hooks, attach each of them to the piece of wood. Pencil dot markers were put on the wood first, to make sure they were spaced out evenly.

Once attached to the wall, the hanger is then ready to hang jewellery from. This hanger was attached with some very strong double sided tape. 

Other accessories such as bracelets or scarves could be hung from the hanger too!

Little Ladybird

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Take Great Photos On Your Phone

In six easy steps, this shows you how to take clear, 
interesting shots on your phone! 

Subject: child modelling clothing
Lighting: direct sunlight
Camera: iPhone 5S
Setting: Photo/HDR Off
Orientation: portrait
Filters: none
Phone/Computer Editing: none
Props: handmade paper chain
Rainbow Dress: Threading My Way

If the conditions are right, your phone is the ultimate device to use when taking photos. 
Your phone is usually nearby and more handy than your camera and is probably always charged! Plus, afterwards, the photos are instantly at your fingertips to do as you please with them, without having to upload them onto a computer.

Here are my six tips.

1. Lighting - if the lighting is good then your phone will take clear, bright photos very easily every time, even if there is movement from the subject. Whilst indirect sunlight is very effective for taking beautiful photos, nothing beats direct sunlight, to enhance clarity and colour.

2. Subject - decide what the purpose of your photos is. Make sure the subject is showing the audience what you want them to show. Use props that further enhance the theme or feeling of your photography.

3. Background - the backdrop does not have to be stunning for your photos to look great. Use the space around you to create layers or levels in the background so that your subject is not against a one dimensional or one coloured backdrop. This helps your subject to look like they are part of the real world. Viewer's eyes like to see things placed in the real world as it gives our brains something to compare and contrast the foreground against. Lastly, make sure that there is nothing too distracting in the background that would take the focus away from the subject.

4. Aspect - Experiment with the angle from which you take your photos. This is how you will create interest in your photography. Take you photos side-on from the subject so that you background extends beyond them at an angle, and isn't a flat shape behind them. Try taking photos from a low level, looking upwards. The photos in this post were taken whilst laying on the ground. The subject can appear longer and taller at different angles and the viewer is able to see more of the subject this way, compared to what they will see front on. In this instance, taking my photos from a low level allowed me to capture the ground (lower layer), the subject (middle layer) and the sky (upper layer), all in the one photo at an interesting angle and with detail!

5. Movement  Have your subject move freely and play in the space you have given them. This allows more natural positions to be captured and doesn't make your photography look posed or forced. If the lighting is right (tip 1), then the movement won't cause your photos to be blurred. 

6. Don't wait Don't wait for the right moment to press the camera button! You will need to take lots of shots so you can sift through them later to pick out the perfect ones. Click away as much as you can as the perfect line-up for a photo sometimes only lasts a split second, especially when the subject is moving. 

Do you have any tips or tricks for taking great photos on your phone? 

Little Ladybird

Friday, August 08, 2014

Cool Kid's Play Areas

As a kid, growing up, we had a very large backyard with lots of space to run around. My brothers and I had enough space that we were able to claim bits of the yard to do whatever we pleased. Whether it was a small vegetable and flower garden, an outdoor science table or a digging patch to turn into a bike jump, we had some outdoor space that was just ours, with no adult interference.

As an adult, where we live now, we don't have much outdoor space. So we're determined to make the most of every centimetre. I don't want my kids to miss out on having some outside freedom to tinker about and to discover and learn through play. Having a small backyard is a challenge, but Ikea makes it easy.

On one side of our house we have a small walkway which is about 1.5m wide. Here's what we did to turn it into a little area for the kids to play. 

The play kitchen had to come outside. I was sick of the mess it was creating inside! We then added a mirror above and a basketball ring.

Next to it we hung some metal rails, hooks, mini magnetic round storage containers and a wall hanging, from Ikea. They were very easy to attach to the wall and are perfect for hanging water play and measuring equipment. 

We placed a long seat underneath, also from Ikea, and attached a black board from Bunnings. 

The beautiful Australian handmade bunting I picked up from a shop called Bold Australia, who make and print all of their products here in Australia.

Lastly, we made a water wall and a marble run out of pegboard, recycled water bottles and wood. It took a few goes to get the angles correct, but it was fun and a learning experience for the kids in itself!

The kids love it and they can make as much mess as they like. It's hidden around the side of the house which is awesome! And I like it when they call me round to read the messages that they or their daddy have written for me!

Little Ladybird