Friday, 16 October 2015

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

It's that time of the year again when Christmas starts sneaking into the supermarkets. And so it's time to start thinking about giving gifts to people who aren't as likely to be getting anything in December.

This is my fourth year taking part in Operation Christmas Child, the world's largest Christmas project of it's size, giving shoeboxes filled with presents to children in need. Run by Samaritan's Purse, since 1993 this project has delivered more than 124 million gift-filled shoeboxes to more than 150 countries and territories.

It's super easy to join in. Grab a shoebox, decide whether you are doing a gift for a boy or a girl, and what age, then fill the box with presents. The guidelines are to include six gifts:
  • Something to love
  • Something for school
  • Something to wear
  • Something to play with
  • Something for personal hygiene
  • Something special
Borrowed from Operation Christmas Child.
This year Miss 4 and her friend Miss E packed the boxes and also wrote letters to the children who are going to receive the gifts on the colouring sheets supplied by Operation Christmas Child. And then we all bundled off to the drop-off centre to send the gifts off.

Make sure that you get your children involved in packing and dropping off the boxes; it’s great for them to experience giving and understand that not everyone is as lucky as they are. October is national collection month in Australia. Start packing now. Have fun packing and bringing a smile to a child's face.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Madeit Blog Editor

This week I am a Blog Editor at Madeit.

The Madeit Blog features a collection of eight items curated by a Madeit Seller. Since it's spring, my brain is all full of the garden. What better than 'Plant It' finds?

Check out the full selection.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Living Room Finished

Kicking goals as the weather warms up and we can finish the painting of the living room.


And after:

Keep up with our house renovations.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Handmade Cooperative

Handmade Cooperative

My alter ego is as the editor and manager of an exclusive collection of handmade businesses who make kids clothes and gifts. My role in this group, Handmade Cooperative, is to coordinate the release and promotion of our regular blog posts, as well as to lead our community of independent businesses. I offer these business owners the chance to participate in digital and print marketing opportunities, professional photo shoots, creative challenges, business advice and more.

Today is the last day of our annual membership drive, the only time of the year where we accept new members. If you are a small business owner who wants to join a supportive community of like-minded people and really build your handmade store, please do come on over and join me - it's loads of fun!

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Pattern Challenge at Handmade Cooperative

The great part of being part of Handmade Cooperative is the opportunity to take part in activities that I wouldn't usually do. Over August, we each chose a pattern to sew as part of the Coop pattern challenge. I was trying out the Old Mac Donald Finger Puppet Set by my friend Donna of Ebony Shae Designs.

Now, my inability to follow recipes extends to following patterns, so you will be unsurprised to learn that I took some creative license. The set is meant to look like this:

Old Mac Donald Finger Puppet Set

I used different colours to those specified and added in a pig from one of Donna's other patterns for good measure. I also didn't add the detail on the farmer with textas, but instead added the features with felt and embroidery.

Old Mac Donald Finger Puppet Set

I really love these finger puppets, particularly the pig. You need to be an experienced sewer for these, as Donna is TOTALLY not afraid of using tiny pieces, which I love and makes for the cutest little designs. Miss 4 has been putting on puppet shows with her other finger puppets (as you can see), although she would also like a horse, and Master 1 has been sneaking around with a sheep on his hand saying "Baaaaaah!".

Old Mac Donald Finger Puppet Set

Search the hashtag #hcpatternchallenge on Facebook and Instagram to see the other projects.
Grab your own Old Mac Donald Finger Puppet Set patterns right here.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

tickle tour at Handmade Cooperative

13 months ago, I took over as editor at Handmade Cooperative, a select group of 70 small independent businesses who handmake gifts and clothing for kids. I have had an incredible year leading this group and have thoroughly enjoyed exploring these awesome businesses and sourcing and negotiating exposure for them. In some ways, my schedule with the Coop has meant less time for my own business ~ as evidenced by the reduction in blog posts, for example ~ however I believe that the professionalism of kaetoo, as well as my skills in blogging and online community management have blossomed.

A big part of Handmade Cooperative is the fun activities with like-minded artisans. Our most recent task, which took place last week, was a tickle tour. We each chose a project from the most recent edition of the creative lifestyle magazine, tickle the imagination, and shared our "real world" interpretations in a loop tour on Facebook.

If you know me, you know that (1) I can't follow a recipe and (2) I'm not brilliant at cooking sweet food. But my husband does love chocolate cake! So, with Miss 4 and Master 1 helping out, I set to work to bake the cake. It's meant to look like this:

tickle tour

It took two days.

My cake turned out to be a triple chocolate cream nougat cake made with 70% cocoa dark chocolate - it's chocolate pastry filled with chocolate tart, covered with chocolate ganache, covered with cream nougat. It looks nothing like it was meant to.

But it was SO GOOD! Nougat is better than meringue anyway...

Search the hashtag #tickletour on Facebook and Instagram to see the other projects.
Grab the recipe and your own copy of tickle (digital or in print) right here.

And, yeah, if you're missing the blog posts, I will try to do better. You can always stalk me through 
Facebook and Instagram to see what the kids and I are up to.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Free Printable Disney Princess Paper Craft

Free Printable Disney Princess Paper Craft

Miss 4 and I have been busy this week doing paper craft. We discovered free printable Disney princess paper craft on Pinterest and started crafting.

I had a vision of the two of us doing this craft activity together but it turns out that these patterns are quite difficult, so we switched to Miss 4 cutting out the skirts and me doing the rest. The dolls look great and for vigorous preschooler play I recommend printing on card stock and reinforcing with sticky tape. Because Miss 4 is all about equal opportunity, we also made a Buzz Lightyear, which is the "father" in her games.

Visit the Disney website to find the printables, although I find the site a little hard to navigate, so here is a list of some of the highlights:

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Madeit Blog Editor

This week I am a Blog Editor at Madeit.

The Madeit Blog features a collection of eight items curated by a Madeit Seller. I love a colour theme and selected some gorgeous black and white finds.

Very sophisticated.

Black and White Handmade Gifts

Zipper pouch by One Busy Sloth eye candies for practical souls
Onesie by OneString beautiful things, handmade
Wall décor by Chatterbox City bringing you and your children quality fun handmade items
Coasters by Studio Astratta home decor to add colour and style to your home
Planter set by Urban Decor a range of concrete urban décor pieces and typography prints to compliment the authentic industrial décor and vintage style
Magnets $12.50 by Badge Bliss badges, magnets and more
Plate by The China Hutch hand painted porcelain with a difference
Overalls by Ted and Toot quality children's clothing, bags and hats

Check out the full selection.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Secret Agent Laser Obstacle Hallway

Secret Agent Laser Obstacle Hallway

Pinterest is an incredible resource full of activities, crafts, tutorials, recipes... but I find that I often pin a great idea and then forget to actually go back an do it in "real life". I found a DIY laser maze the other day and it was too good not to try out.

This is a really simple, cheap and quick activity to set up. Just grab some rolls of crepe streamers (my mother-in-law had donated me a whole pile) and some masking tape or painters tape. Tape the streamers high and low, adjust for difficulty depending on the child (Master 1 was a bit too fond of the bulldozer approach), and let them navigate the maze. Take a leaf from Big Bang Theory and sing Khachaturian's Sabre Dance just to add some drama. This is seriously fun and super easy to pack up too!

Nailed any Pinterest finds lately?

Find some more ideas for toddler and preschooler play.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Project 30 Houses

Project 30 Houses

For the month of April, I took part in an art challenge with Cassie Jene and Curly Jo on Instagram. As part of Project 30 Houses, I drew a 5 cm square house each day. The drawings will be compiled into a colouring book, the profits of which will raise funds on behalf of Habitat for Humanity Australia to help build and repair homes for deserving communities. See my first and second and third weeks of entries and all the doodles on #Project30Houses.

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Pressed Flowers

Pressed Flowers

Despite all the time that I spend these days blogging, social media-ing and otherwise involved in technology, I'm actually fairly old school at heart, with chickens in the front garden and organic produce in the back (yep, that's my bunnykins collection in the background of this photo). So recently I've been teaching Miss 4 to press flowers.

Pressed flowers keep their colour intact as they dry, which makes pressing them a great way to preserve them for later activties. Miss 4 collects flowers and leaves when we are out walking and once we are home, it's quick and easy to press them. We have a wooden flower press, so we place each flower between sheets of paper (the blotter) and then put this paper between sheets of cardboard. We then put the piles of flowers in cardboard between two pieces of wood and blot them together. After a few weeks the flowers are completely dry and flat and ready for craft. Remember that they are very delicate.

If you don't have a flower press, you can achieve the same thing by placing your flowers between sheets of paper (the blotter) and then putting the paper inside a heavy book, like and dictionary or encyclopedia. Pile more books on top or slide into a full bookcase. After a few weeks, the dried flowers will be ready.

What old school fun do you get up to with your kids?

Find some more preschooler art ideas.

Friday, 24 April 2015

Project 30 Houses

Project 30 Houses

Over the last three weeks, I have been taking part in Project 30 Houses, coordinated by Cassie Jene and Curly Jo on Instagram. I draw a 5 cm square house each day to a prompt and at the end of April, these drawings will be compiled into a colouring book, the profits of which will raise funds on behalf of Habitat for Humanity Australia to help build and repair homes for deserving communities. See my first and second weeks of entries and all the doodles on #Project30Houses.

Peg It!

{Did you know?} kaetoo currently has 41 varieties of washi tape covered mini pegs in store. With such a great range of colours and patterns, there's bound to be something to suit every purpose.

Mini Pegs

Mini Pegs

Mini Pegs

Mini Pegs

Mini Pegs

Washi tape pegs are great for gift wrapping, home office decor, party favours, hanging photos, scrapbooking embellishment, nurseries, and more.

What do you use your pegs for?

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Active April


Because I'm an elite athlete and all (hah! not!), eight years ago I had an ACL reconstruction. I still play netball and as a result need to keep up the physio to make sure that my knee stays strong and healthy. But fitting in structured exercise with two small children is tough, especially once daylight savings has finished (I refuse to use a gym!).

What to do?

My strategy lately has been to do my physio exercises at the playground. Choose a playground that adjoins a nice flat area and let the children play on the swings and slides whilst you work out. This way, they're getting a work out too and having a great time whilst mum is preoccupied. Sure, keeping an eye on them means that you are not as focussed on your exercises, but you're getting them done, and that's the important thing. In addition, doing sit ups with a 15 month old perched on your stomach is an extra work out!

How do you manage exercise and small children?

Friday, 17 April 2015

Project 30 Houses

Project 30 Houses

Project 30 Houses is a project by Cassie Jene and Curly Jo over on Instagram, the aim of which is to raise funds on behalf of Habitat for Humanity Australia to help build and repair homes for deserving communities. One draws a little house that fits within a 5 cm square box every day and the houses at the end April will be compiled into a colouring book the profits of which are donated. See my first week of entries here and all the doodles on #Project30Houses.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

StArt Up: Top Arts 2015

Each year I make an annual Easter-ish trip with my husband and mother to see the best artwork from Victorians who have just completed year 12. This is a great chance to see some inspirational pieces for free, plus we've combined the visit with an annual meal at Chocolate Buddah and where there's food involved, I'm there! It's been really interesting to go to this exhibit each year and see the trends coming and going through the artworks. This year there was far more digital art than in previous years and far less in the way of photography and classical paintings and drawings.

StArt Up: TopArts 2015 is again being held at the National Gallery of Victoria in the Ian Potter Centre in Federation Square. There are 42 exhibiting artists this year and if you follow me on Instagram, you already know which pieces were my favourites. Let's step through some of the highlights...

Untitiled by Sophia Kons
Untitled by Sophia Kons
This untitled piece is chalk pen on bark. I loved how intricate and natural the drawing was and also was very impressed with the effect of the white on wood.

Carnage by Olivia Gardiner
Carnage by Olivia Gardiner
This spectacular dress is entitled Carnage and is actually made up of feathers, shells, fur, bones and skulls, all scavenged from beaches and road kill. There were quite a few people there freaking out about the morbidity of the piece, but it really is quite a spectacular work of art and very intricate. This one earned my mother's vote for favourite.

Recursion by Andrew Hannah
Recursion by Andrew Hannah
Recursion, exploring a fractal, was my husband's favourite piece. He is an engineer and sees the beauty in mathematics. The colours and the final effect are quite lovely.

Tyler Oakley by Ashleigh Newman
Tyler Oakley by Ashleigh Newman
Miss 4 was very impressed by Tyler Oakley and the other drawings by Ashleigh Newman. This artist accompanied her pencil drawings with a video of her doing the artworks and it was fascinating to watch her method unfold. Ashleigh's method of drawing is quite different to my own, as I always start with the eyes and she stars with the hair.

Unified symmetry by Callum Croker
Unified symmetry by Callum Croker
And the piece that got my vote for the best was Unified symmetry, a series of intricate laser cut cardboard pieces. Just stunning.

Master 1 expressed no real opinion about his favourite piece of student work, although he was very fond of the bats in the foyer and also of the car exhibit in NGV. StArt Up is on until June 28, so if you're hanging around Melbourne, do go and check it out.

(I failed to blog about our 2014 outing last year - I blame the new baby - but you can catch up on my experience of the 2013 exhibit here and read what my mother thought of our 2015, 2014 and 2013 outings.)

Friday, 10 April 2015

Project 30 Houses

Project 30 Houses

I have been taking part in Project 30 Houses with Cassie Jene and Curly Jo over on Instagram. The brief is simple - get your creative juices flowing by drawing a little house that fits within a 5 cm square box every day. See all the doodles on #Project30Houses.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Painting The House

I have been doing a lot of painting over the last few months, not of canvases but of our newly recladded house. Here's a visual of the front exterior's transformation over the last four years.

Keep up the history of our house renovations.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Pre-schooler Play - Sprouts

For her recent birthday, Miss 4 received a sprout growing kit and has now developed a formidable sprout growing obsession. Each morning she diligently harvests a new crop of sprouts, plants another round and waters (mummy is responsible for the evening watering). So far, she has tried her hand at pea shoots, alfalfa, red and white clover, chick peas, broccoli, soya beans and mung beans. She even enjoys eating them, which is great because I don't think that micro-greens are a food that all pre-schoolers are that fond of.


Sprouts are a rewarding crop for a small child to grow because they grow so quickly. Edible micro-greens are ready in under a week, usually around four days. You don't need a complicated set up like our seed sprouter trays, simply grab some seeds from your local nursery and place one tablespoon of them in a large clean jar. Cover the opening with a find cloth and secure, then add enough water to cover the seeds and soak overnight. In the morning, pour off the water through the cloth and replace; do this morning and night.

What do your children love to plant and grow?

Find more activities for children right here.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Miss 4

My big girl is four years old today. Happy birthday to Miss 4!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Master 1

Awh, my little man turns one today. Now he's Master 1.