Saturday, 26 January 2013

Ashley's Wedding

My long-time friend Emily asked me if I could do the flowers for her brother Thomas' wedding. She was paying, so I did the flowers for nothing and she paid for the flowers at the wholesaler. This wedding was to be the NZ edition, they married in Canada recently. I was in touch with the lovely bride, Ashley, via email and we worked out something nice and summery. The lilies had such an amazing scent, they really filled the whole house with perfume.

As usual, there was a bit of stress over the flowers when they turned up. 2/3 of the lilies were fully blown open and the last 1/3 looked they'd never budge open before next Christmas. So we lived in sweaters with the air-con on the lowest setting in the main room, to prevent the lilies dying, the other room had tightly closed lilies beside a heater!! In the end, it all worked out. It usually does, even if some days mean pulling an all-nighter or having to grab flowers from neighbour's gardens (or worse, having to raid the local council gardens - sometimes we even get permission - shhhhh)!

Everyone seemed to love the bouquets.

The bride's bouquet of oriental lilies and green lisianthus - Jan 2013

Handle wrap with a little vintage lace
Bridesmaids bouquet - Jan 2013

Handle wrap

Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Simple Table Arrangement

Wedding flowers can really blow the budget. They are SO expensive. A friend asked me to do her brothers' wedding flowers soon and, we've been discussing a cheap way to decorate the tables. I was a bit worried we wouldn't be able to come up with a suitable option here as we only had $20 left in the budget for 10 or more tables! At $3 stem minimum for most flowers (wholesale), we had to look outside of traditional arrangements. I happened to spot some succulents under a tree while I was out for dinner at my parents. And some flax. So this is what I came up with:
It's about 20cm in diameter and I am thinking a sml candle could be placed in the centre and it could be sprayed with glitter spray, for a bit of evening glitz.

So, here's some quick instructions for anyone who can't figure it out from the pic. The great thing about these is that they will be FREE. All you have to pay for is staples. Unless of course you know no one with succulents and flax (in NZ they're everywhere). And the succulents can be popped straight back in the soil after the event and they will happy re-root themselves in the garden (and the stem you cut off will also grow back again). I've used paper here as an example.

Take your flax, strip it in half (or less if you want it thinner) and fold like this with a tail out the front that will sit on the table under the loop (you'll trim this nicely later).

Staple it to hold the loop flat (you'll need a good stapler)
Cut the excess from the top tail

Trim the tail that will sit flat on the table on an angle like this
So you need to repeat this until you have 6. If you have a grunty stapler that will go through all the flax once you've stacked them together then ignore the next bit. My office stapler wasn't, so I took 2 loops at a time and stapled them together (that would opposite from each other on the arrangement, a bit like a bow would look). Then I grabbed one loop at a time, stapling it to anywhere I could comfortably get the stapler through on the flax of the other loops. Make sure you don't move the loops out of place as you go, ensure the loops are evenly spaced from each other.

Then I just placed a succulent on top, just sitting there (ensure the stem is short enough to achieve a nice flat surface). This will last out of water for days.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Hair accessory and jewellery pinboard

I made this for my daughter's birthday this month. It's made on pinboard so that when she's older it can be used for notes/ photos and things. I just covered it in nice fabric and secured it with a staple gun. The ribbon was attached the same way. Looped over bits of ribbon for headbands were secured by sewing them in to loops. My Dad made the frame and it can be removed. We hung it like a picture at the back and put hooks down the bottom of it for hanging necklaces, schoolbags and hair elastics.

Worm Party!

As I mentioned in my previous post, my daughter turned 6 and wanted a Worm Party. Here's what we did. We had it in our garage as this year she had a lot of friends and we didn't want mucky hands over all the curtains and walls etc. We placed a tarp over the garage shelving and hung a wormy bunting. Worm balloons on the front of the table and wormy food. All the paper decor were free printables from HERE.

We played Musical Worms. The kids had to be like worms in a worm farm and wriggle to the surface to the music. When it stopped, they had to be perfectly still or the big bird (I made at home out of cardboard) pecked them and they were out. Winner was the one left standing at the end. They won a wriggly worm like this HERE. The other game was a Worm and Apple game. We all know worms love apples. The kids had to place an apple between their knees and jump or run carefully from one end of the section and back without dropping the apple. You could stop and pick it up and continue, but it slows you down. NO holding the apple! This was such a load of fun!
Worm cake. I did the top layer in Marble Cake (vanilla and choc) with a strawberry chocolate cream cheese filling. The lower cake was a rich chocolate cake with choc cream cheese filling. Delicious. I got my inspiration from Debbie Brown's book but made a girl version.

The Food Table (missing the Worm Pizzas which were mini home-made bases with spaghetti on top and a sprinkle of cheese).
These were made out of Rice Bubble Square mixture (Rice Krispies). I used THIS recipe from Chelsea Sugar and only used 3 cups of Ricies so it stuck well. Made in to little sausage shapes and wrapped in fruit leather. Eyes piped on with butter icing.
I used glass instead of the usual plastic cups as we try to avoid unnecessary chemicals in our family. They were just ramekin size. You just make up half the jelly mix and pour in, allow to set then add the worms and the other half of the COOLED jelly mix then reset. So easy and such a hit.
Cheese Worms - just Twisties!
Grape worms with piped on icing eyes.
We made our own chocolate hazelnut spread as we can't find any brands of it that don't use palm oil from sustainable sources. Just used a caterpillar cookie cutter to shape.
Free cup name labels from source listed above.
Bunting from source listed above (free)
Home-made pinata instructions HERE in my previous post

DIY Worm Pinata

My daughter just turned 6. We can barely believe it, the years have gone so fast, yet they also seem to have been a loooong 6 yrs - lol. She asked for a "Worm Party". Given that this is probably the last year we'll get away with something non- pink-sparklie-girlie, I took the ball and ran with it! She wanted a pinata and of course being the type of woman who refuses to pay for something I think I could possibly make, I gave it a go. It was quite a job! But I think next time since I have learnt a few things, it would be quicker. I like the idea of putting my own stuff inside it though, given that 6 yr olds still aren't too good with hard boiled sweets, especially if running about playing. I also didn't want unrecognisable ingredients in them like the candy that comes in most store bought ones. We found ONE, yes ONE worm pinata online after a lengthy search (which wasn't available for sale in NZ). This is the finished product - which I think it looks heaps like the original store bought one!
My daughter enjoyed helping me to paste on the crepe paper.

So I thought I'd share how made this, given how tricky I found it to find any info at all on how to do one this shape. Along the way I thought of better and quicker ways to make it and I'll add those ideas in to make it faster for you construct.
Cut out 2 pieces of thickish cardboard in your worm shape (identical shape). Blow up so small balloons and stick some tape on them (rolled over on itself) to stick to the inside of one piece. Put the top worm piece on top of the balloons after sticking some doubled over tape on the tops of the balloons so they stick. Get some strips of newspaper and tape all around as pictured, to secure. 
I actually though afterwards that it would have been better to have used some thick cardboard strips (narrow) and to have stuck them just like the newspaper but INSIDE the worm as it would've made it sturdier for the start of the papier mache part.

Next, carefully cut out a hole on one or both sides where you want the kids to be able to bash through the papier mache and release the sweets. They'll never get through stiff cardboard otherwise. OR do this before you start the first step as above where I put the full worm on first. Use newspaper strips only for this part to secure it all together with tape. Make sure it's sturdy.

Make up some paste out of 1 cup flour and 2 cups warm water (or to your own recipe). Cut up tons of newspaper strips and dip them in the paste. Run your fingers down the strip to get excess paste off or you'll have glue all over the show! Start placing strips flat on the pinata. Do ONE layer at a time and allow to dry for half a day or ideally over night (no one wants mould on their sweets). We did half the pinata at a time, allowed to dry then turned it over and did the other half the next day. We used sauce bottles to keep the worm upright. My advice is to use a plastic tarpaulin over the work surface as the glue just flicks off once dry or washes away in warm water.
 Repeat the layers until you have 4 layers done. I also placed the strips of newspaper in differing directions for more stability. I did a further 3 layers over the part where the sweets were to go (where the cardboard from the structural part was missing).
Use a stanley (craft) knife to cut a trap-door in the pinata where you want the lolly cavity to be. Reach inside and pull out the balloon/s that have deflated and may be hanging about inside near the hole. Place your sweets, etc inside, tape the door closed with thin tape in 2 places, then papier mache over the trap door with a few layers.
Use a hand drill and drill 2 holes in each side in the middle of the worm at the top for hanging some rope or cord through. (See pic of it hanging below). You need to leave a little space and recall where these holes are whilst doing the next part with the crepe paper.
Cut up assorted colours of crepe paper in strips, we used the stuff you get in rolls. Make "tassels" as above.
Use a glue stick (so it doesn't absorb in to the crepe paper and leave a wet look) and place your crepe paper how you want it, poking a hole through it where the holes for the rope or cord for hanging will go. Draw some eyes and a smile on paper and stick on.
Hang cord or rope through it and place over a hook outdoors (we had no trees so used the patio soffit).

 All Done! The kids had a BALL doing this. We had fourteen 6 yr olds and it took them 3 rounds each of 3 hits to split it. We then tipped it up to get any excess lollies out. We'd told them in advance where the cavity was so they weren't hitting all night long. :-D

I will publish the rest of the Worm Party soon.....