Pumpkin Carvathon 2014 – Pumpkin No 1

October 27, 2014 § Leave a comment

Mum brought home a big pumpkin the other day, and the following day I took the boys pumpkin hunting as well and came back with 3 medium pumpkins and a teeny one. So today was the start of the carvathon.

I started with Bean’s pumpkin.

Of course he wanted both Spiderman AND Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I figured with a challenge this big I’d need to draw the things out first – I hardly ever draw on my ‘kins first, I whittle away where the mood takes me usually! But, it had to be Right.

So I drew.

Big challenge to me: I am not very experienced in drawing the negative spaces! I guess it’ll come in handy next time I find my lino and cutters but still… nerves! I have no shame in saying I copied the designs from free stencils I found on pinterest, if I’d tried drawing them myself I’d still be at the drawing stage now….

And then I started cutting.

I hate pumpkin guts. The boys stayed away. They were free to help if they wished but they were more interested in lego today.

But I have two pumpkin carving tricks I will share to anyone who’s interested in that kind of thing: don’t cut the top of your pumpkin out. Cut around the BASE. Trust me it makes lighting a tealight in there a whole lot easier and the top of the pumpkin remains pretty ๐Ÿ™‚ and secondly, use a metal scoop to scoop out the innards. I used a metal tablespoon measure, it had a short handle and a scoop shape and was perfect! And I guess there’s a third but only if you’re doing the cutting yourself, not letting the children carve – use a small sharp knife, not one of the blunt serrated plastic handled things you get in pumpkin carving sets.

So here y’go. Today’s effort.

I’m pleased – and so was Bean!

spidey drawing ninja turtle drawing pumpkin guts seeds and scoop unexpected alien invasion Spidey pumpkin with ninja shadow Ninja pumpkin with spidey shadow

But it’s not ending there. The seeds are drying ready to be roasted tomorrow; and ALL the flesh has been cooked and sieved ready for pumpkin pie – I’m definitely not wasting it all! Even the water from cooking the flesh in is being used, we cooked rice in some of it this evening, and I’ll reduce the rest down tomorrow or use it as a base for a soup ๐Ÿ™‚


A Rainy Day Creative Explosion

October 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

The weather was WILD today.

Seriously wild.

Each time I thought I’d see about making a run to the shops for groceries, before I’d even finished the thought the rain would come lashing down again.

wild weather

So I was actually really grateful that the boys asked (asked! of their own accord!) to do someย making. They wanted to make clay hands to go on top of jars, like they’d just seen Mister Maker make. I couldn’t get that set up for them unfortunately as we didn’t quite have enough time, but we DID have their clay dragons to paint, plus a few other bits. So we got the paints out, the dried models, brushes and water, and started painting. I had fun. I got to paint some of my bits!

clay painting

It wasn’t long before all the bits were painted but they wanted to keep painting. So I brought out some big pieces of paper (thank goodness I’d thought to cut several pieces last time we did some painting!) and set them out. Bean’s painting has really changed over the past year. He asked to do foot painting but we can’t really do that at Grandma and Grandad’s house just before lunch!

Painting Painting By Bean, Oct 2014

Once they’d had enough of painting it was lunchtime but the creativity didn’t stop there. Bear wanted playdough, and Bean wanted to make something with eggboxes so out came the eggboxes and scissors and glue.

Eggbox crafting Eggbox Craft

Pompoms were required and the tin that holds the pompoms is full of little cut squares of coloured tissue paper – perfect for some colourful sensory craft!

Eggbox crafting Tissue Confetti

I had fun decoupaging a jar and a vase, Bean decoupaged the Turtle he’d made out of pieces of eggbox, and Bear had a tissue paper confetti explosion when he dropped a cupcake case full of tissue squares.

Eggbox crafting Diggers Required By Bean, for Bear Diggers and Tissue Explosions

Diggers were requisitioned to come and scoop up all the tissue paper which brought a whole different avenue of play to explore! All in all, a messy explosion of colourful creativity.

Tidy up time...

Thankyou, Rain.

Even the tidy up operation gave great pleasure to the boys – they found toys they thought they’d lost!

Birthday card making

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

Two birthday parties today, and two birthday cards to make – so after breakfast Bean sat down to do some drawing. He wanted to draw Superman! Of course Bear got very excited about the prospect of drawing and making a mess generally so he joined in too. Bean asked me for some pictures of Superman so I found a few on my phone for us to copy. He wanted to draw the “S” symbol ย so we did a bit of dot-to-dot work for the outline of the symbol and then of the “S”. He drew Superman by himself though, and chose the colours he felt appropriate! Next up was Batman and again we found a couple of images on the internet for us to copy. More dot-to-dot work to draw the outline of the Bat symbol and then again for the bat, and Bean talked me through his drawing of Batman.

batman work in progress

Batman by Bean 4yrs 6mths

Batman by Bean
4yrs 6mths

Superman by Bean 4yrs 6mths

Superman by Bean
4yrs 6mths

Bear meanwhile was getting covered in red, orange, yellow and black paint after getting bored quickly of crayons. Using black is something I’ve not really done with Bear yet, and haven’t done with Bean for quite a while – I blame Creation Station for that, reminding me why I don’t need to be scared to use black! We used stampers and sponges but mainly hands and arms. His ear is still orange and yellow although I don’t think he actually used his ear to paint with, more like used it as an extra canvas.
Bear painting

Bear painting

I think he was actually rather happy when Bean went out to the first party by himself because he got to have some quality Mama-Bear time playing in the garden instead! AND I managed to finish the second birthday card in time for the second party. I photographed the pictures Bean had drawn because he wanted to keep them, printed out some copies and used one of the painted sheets that the boys have done at Creation Station for the background of the first card. Wish I’d had chance to photograph that card too! The second card (pictured) used one of the dancing circle puppets the boys made at Creation Station a couple of weeks ago, on the same background as the first card. I’m pretty happy with it! Bean liked them anyway so that’s a result! I love re-using the things they’ve made and painted, I love them to have uses, and not just gather dust. I’m still thinking about what to do with the clay splodge that Bean decorated last week…!

Suncatcher Valentines Cards

February 14, 2013 § Leave a comment

These easy valentines cards were our craft on Tuesday – we were late, having spent the morning determined to have pancakes and then discovering the car battery was dead, but when we finally got to tots the cards were leapt upon and there was a short and manic explosion of pink and red fluff and tissue paper as the children and mums made stained glass window valentines to take home!


I had 18 prepared cards with heart shapes cut out, and one heart shaped piece of sticky-backed plastic (contact paper) already in place.

I’d prepared a pot full of snipped up red and fluffy pink wool, tissue paper pieces in various shades of pink and red, and snipped up shiny pink paper streamer. Perfect for little hands to sprinkle onto the sticky plastic!


Once the sticky plastic hearts were covered in their explosions of pink and red bits, a second sticky plastic heart was provided to seal the bits in.


There were a couple of gold pens there to write on them too.

Short but sweet, really effective, just the right thing for a quick and easy craft – and a huge hit!

Handmade Recycled Paper

January 24, 2013 § Leave a comment

I have wanted to try to make handmade paper for a looong time and for some reason decided now was as good a time as any, so while we were up in Manchester I started collecting used brown parcel paper to use as my base. I like brown paper. This week I finally got round to tearing it all up! I’d link to the blog post that I took my original recipe idea from except it appears to not exist any more, but the gist of it was to keep the water you boil your rice up in to use in the paper mulch. Rice starch, I discovered, helps not particularly by glueing it together but by giving the paper fibres a coating which makes it easier to write on afterwards, instead of the ink bleeding into the paper. Which I like the idea of! I also liked the idea that I could use stuff I have in the house already, rather than buying any specialist bits – we have next to no money to spend on crafts (or anything really) at the moment so anything I can re-use or recycle or make do with is a bonus.


So here’s how you do it.

First tear up your paper. Don’t use a paper shredder unless you want confetti-type bits in your finished paper: blenders don’t mulch it up very well. I think the smallest bits of mine were maybe a half-inch square. Ish. In my mix I had a lot of brown paper, some orange paper with gold glitter, some gold tissue paper, and some gold paper crowns from Christmas crackers!


Tip it into a bowl. I roughly measured how much paper I had by stuffing it into a cup measure first. I had about a cupful of torn up paper. I added about 3 cups of hot water from the tap, gave it a good mix up, and left it. I should have really only left it overnight but life got in the way and it was left a couple of days until I got out a hand blender to mulch it up! It mulched up pretty well, my Bean thought it looked pretty nasty though ๐Ÿ˜‰ I added about a half a cupful of my rice starch water and blended it in.


I’d been umming and ahhing about how to actually make the paper. A lot of tutorials show how to make a mesh screen, to make sure it fits into a basin so you can “pan” your paper mulch into it to get it nice and smooth and even; but I wanted to make small individual bits. As it’s nearly Valentines day I thought I’d make heart shaped pieces so I am using a large heart shaped cookie cutter, and my mesh screen is the fine gauge part of my gardening sieve! It fits just nicely over one of my shallow trays, which will be useful for catching all the liquid as it’s squeezed out of the paper pulp.


Dollop a large spoonful of paper pulp into the cookie cutter.


Spread it out roughly with a smaller spoon.


Take a piece of felt (or microfibre fleece, as that’s all I have around – and I do have a lot of it from chopped up blankets) and press it over the top, and start gently squashing the liquid out of the pulp.


Gently remove the cutter and the fleece. This is how my heart looked after its first press!


I took a second piece of fleece and gave the paper a second pressing.


Then turned it over and eased it off the mesh.


The paper got its third pressing by putting it between two more fresh pieces of fleece, using a rolling pin to squash yet more liquid out, and to flatten the paper a little more.


I put my hearts on the radiator to dry out – be warned this makes them curl up!! I’ve had to flatten them out, separated by pieces of fleece, under a weighted down mat!


Here they are in various stages of drying out. You can see the driest one is curling… I love the specks of gold in it. Once this is used up I’ll make another batch with a lot more reds and pinks in, and make smaller hearts to put in the middle ๐Ÿ™‚


Didn’t expect it to be so easy, or therapeutic, or enjoyable! Will be making a lot more handmade paper in the future I think ๐Ÿ˜€

Christmas Craft Fair

November 17, 2012 § Leave a comment

Today marked the first craft fair I’ve done trading as The Messy Mama and it was a great day too! I have been HUGELY nervous about today. Lots of very very late nights over the past week frantically trying to get everything finished and ready, enlisting Messy Dad (he has spent hours sanding clay ornaments and taping cellophane sleeves together for me), and rueing the fact that Messy Baby’s teeth thought this past fortnight would be a great time to really make themselves known to him.

BUT the stall looked great, I had really truly lovely feedback from everybody, and I made enough sales to not let the wretched parking ticket I got this morning (from not reading the parking information properly in my haste) get me down……. ! A few orders to do and deliver, a couple of commissions, and I must remember to print some more business cards. And get the website up and running!

Here’s my pictures from the morning…..

Finally finished and set up!

enamelled clay ornaments and a print of the “rocking my baby” artwork

beautiful enamel painted cups filled with chocolates and a candy cane

craft fair happiness

trinkets and treasures

very happy with my stall today!






Glove Monster

July 5, 2012 § Leave a comment

Some friends and I were thinking of doing a sockmonster flashmob type thing. Now… I already have a handful of sock monsters that I bought a couple of years ago. I fell in love with them and figured if I bought them, eventually I’d be able to get round to making some friends for them.

Glove Monster Bob - tutorial with photos - by the messy mama

And all of a sudden it’s flashmob time and I thought I’d see just how hard a basic glove monster was to make! I told my friend to stuff one glove with another, but I have three cushions that are literally falling apart so now I have three cushions’ worth of stuffing to use. Hurrah!! I foresee a lot more sock and glove monsters being made MWAhahahahahaha……. hehe…..

Glove Monster Bob - the beginning - by the messy mamaGlove Monster Bob is taking shape by the messy mama

First, turn the glove inside out and carefully cut off the thumb and the two middle fingers. Use wool to sew the edges together using a blanket stitch. Then you can turn the glove right side out again.

Glove Monster Bob is given eyes by the messy mama

You would not believe how hard it was to find a tin for my buttons this morning. I am obsessed with pretty little tins, and had recently acquired a few bags of buttons (also an obsession) which needed a home – and could I find any tins?! Eventually I found one I’d bought for Messy Boy to use as a treasure tin and re-homed it in my sewing box. So Glove Monster Bob (yes, he has a name already) now has eyes, sewn on with wool. I’m not taking my chances with an inquisitive baby around – they are sewn on properly.

Glove Monster Bob gets sewn up by the messy mama

Time for stuffing! Stuff the ears first using small balls of stuffing so you don’t stuff them out of shape, then fill in the body. Sew the bottom up with wool using a blanket stitch again.

Glove Monster Bob gets a mouth by the messy mama

Glove Monster Bob was given a red woollen mouth using a cross-stitch. I waited until he was stuffed and sewn up before giving him a mouth because it was tricky enough sewing his eyes on before he was stuffed!

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail and .... Bob.

So here he is with his friends. Flopsy, Mopsy, Cottontail, and …… yes, Bob.

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