Feb 10, 2014

Bathtub Ice Cube Curling

It's the new craze. You heard it here first! Well, maybe not, but it is kinda fun and silly. We invented this slightly daft take on the Olympic sport of curling last week. The weather here has been atrocious and rainy day ideas were needed.

The Winter Olympics in Sochi are now in full swing, and if letting the kids play "Laundry basket Luge" on the stairs is a little too terrifying, pop on over to the post I've got up on Alphamom.com showing how we made our ice cube curling stones, and what the basic rules and scoring is for a game.

I have a bit of a secret fondness for the sport of curling, because up until the early 1990s there was a little workshop near where we lived in Wales that made curling stones from Welsh blue granite. They would mill out cylinders of rock from this rough cubes, and then sell the left over rough cubes with cylindrical holes in them as planters for gardens, and there are still quite a few around the place in people's front yards. I thought that was super cool when I was a kid. I guess I was pretty into creative reuse from an early age!
As with most of the things we get up to, you don't need much to do this, just a muffin tray, some paper clips, and some crayons. Full post can be found here.

Thank you too for the get well wishes. I am actually doing a lot better a lot faster than we thought was going to be the case. I'm just very impatient and want to be back to normal, which is likely to take another three to six months so they say. I'll be able to walk up in the pretty Welsh hills, pain free by the summer time hopefully.

Feb 9, 2014

Golden Snitch Valentine's Favor Printable

Another Valentine printable for you! This one lets your Harry Potter fans make a 3D "golden snitch" card (four to a page) for their BFFs. The free printable is available for download over at Alphamom.com 


 The snitch itself is made from wrapping a lollipop in gold wrapping paper. I didn't think about it until yesterday, but if you want to make non candy valentines then you could easily wrap those little bouncy balls that are sold as party favours, and hold the twisted end in place with tape once it's poked through the card. Those things are about as hard to catch as a snitch anyway!

I know I've been posting more printables than crafts lately, but that has been because I'm still recovering from a difficult pregnancy and birth. I do have an actual craft/game being posted some time today or tomorrow, so I'll give you a link to it when that happens. Good news is that in about five weeks I should be discharged from my physio appointments, and able to handle the rest of my recovery myself. I gave my crutches back to the hospital just after Christmas, and things are getting easier every day. We even had a moment of relative calm in the house yesterday. Everyone was chillin' and doing their thing. I was starting to wonder if that was ever going to be possible!

Happy new year by the way! Chinese and Gregorian. I think I forgot to say that, but then there's been a lot going on ;)

Feb 3, 2014

Ultimate Souper Star Valentine

Helloooo! Valentine's Day is fast approaching again. Where does the time go!?! I just made an easy peasy lemon squeazy printable valentine for classmates. And it's punny! I love cheesy puns. This is a soupy pun though.
You will need to get a bunch of mini Necco wafer rolls to wrap up inside these valentines. Easier to come by them in the US than here in the UK, but I went for these because the tradition of classroom valentines isn't really done here in the UK, but is very popular back in the States.

Because the Necco wafer rolls are only about three centimeters tall, these are teensy little soup cans. If you want to make a few then pop over to the post here on Alphamom.com and download the free printable there.

Here are a load more Valentines themed bits and bobs from Filth Wizardry's past to save you searching through my badly organized archives.

Awesome baby is still awesome and is going to be three whole months old tomorrow. .Like I was saying... where does the time go?!? The littlest big sister is absolutely besotted with him.

In other news... A year and a half after our move from the US to the UK we finally unpacked the "slot together panel" one twelfth scale doll house that we made of our old American home. We waited all this time so that the kids were settled and happy and it wasn't going to make them sad to see it, and miss the old place too much. They were very excited to see it again, and as Delyth was so young when we first made it, it's totally new to her and she loves it! Hooray!


I should show you what the kids had made to use as a doll house during the time that this one was packed away, because it's pretty epic. They took custody of a bunch of the boxes we used to move, and constructed a massive upright doll house against their bedroom wall. I helped them get the structure they wanted and we hot glued and taped it all together.

They kept adding to it throughout the year that we were living at that house, until it was really quite elaborate and well decorated.

I don't have a photo of it in all it's completed glory sadly, and when it came time to move house again last August, we had to pull it apart as it wouldn't fit through the door, but they enjoyed it while it lasted. The last photos I got of it were about six months before we moved and they had done a lot more on it by the time we took it apart, but you get the idea. The old poster tube was an elevator that stopped at the different floors.

One side was meant to be a Polly Pocket Condo, and the other side was a Transformers base. The Pollys got on reasonably well with the Autobots. Not so well with the Decepticons though. Starscream kept using the roof to launch himself from.

Dec 20, 2013

3D Printable Christmas Tree Card


Hello! I have a Christmas printable I made for you! I made a baby too, but I'll show you him in the next post. Anyhoo, this printable card thingy I made, it's over at Alphamom.com and if you like colouring in then you're going to love it. Lots of little decorations to colour! All you need is card to print it on, colouring pencils, scissors, and glue. We filled ours with sweets to give to the kid's teachers at the end of term. 



Also, here are 15 of our Christmas time posts from current to years gone by (list and links below this image) in case anyone is looking for a few extra ideas of things to do with the kidletts.

Oh go on, you've twisted my arm, here are some photos of the cute baby with his sisters (I'll tell you more about him soon) Now that we have four kids, Paul has started nicknaming them "Eenie, Meenie, Mynee, and Mo." He's 6 weeks old now and completely rad!

Happy Holidays 
my fellow filth wizards!

Jun 13, 2013

Father's Day Printable and Update on the Filth Wizards

Hellooo! Nearly Father's day! I've drawn a Super Dad illustration that can be coloured in and have a photo of dad's head glued on, plus a little fill-in-the-blanks greeting to go inside that is a bit silly, but fun. You can find the printable over at Alpha Mom here.

I've been a bit slow with the blog the last couple of months because I've been feeling rough as a badger's bum. This is because I am manufacturing another family member! So, come the beginning of November there will be four little filth wizards. We're currently all crammed into two bedrooms, so there's a house move on the horizon too, hopefully in the next month, and that way we can have the seven and eight year old sharing a room and Del (who is two on Saturday) and the new bairn sharing when the baby is big enough.

I'm feeling less exhausted and nauseous now that I'm nearly half way through this pregnancy, so hopefully I can get some more projects up on the blog soon. The kids have made a massive cardboard thing that I really want to share with you! Also, school holidays start here in a few weeks, so we're looking forward to lots of extra time for making messy things, especially now that it's staying light outside until 10.30pm! The house we're hopefully moving to has quite a dilapidated garden, so I figure letting the kids make another junk town this summer is on the cards.

In the mean time, have a lovely father's day weekend! I think we're taking the family to the roller disco on Sunday night. I will resist the urge to crowbar my pregnant self into some gold spandex Kylie Minogue hot pants for the event. Maybe Paul can wear them over his trousers for the full Super Dad look!

May 3, 2013

Battle of Hoth Ice-cream dessert printable

Star Wars Day is coming up on Saturday (May the Fourth be with you), so that's a perfect excuse right there for me to indulge in some Rebel Alliance themed geekery with the kids. If you fancy making your family a nice cold dish of Battle on Hoth, then pop on over to my post at Alpha Mom, where I've made a printable template that you can download.

And if you think a sci-fi themed battle dessert is a little odd, you're lucky I didn't go with my original plan, which was to make an upside down cheesecake pit of Sarlaac. Yeah. Nobody wants dessert that looks like vagina dentata, so, you're welcome.

In other Star Wars news... We met some of the Rebel Legion UK at the Newcastle Maker Faire last weekend, and the kids were very happy to have their pictures taken with a storm trooper and an X-wing pilot. They took great delight in telling the X-wing pilot about the Helmets they made a couple of years ago, and the storm trooper mask too.

We had a fantastic time at the UK Maker Faire, and are really looking forward to the Manchester Mini Maker Faire that's going to be taking place in August.

Here's a link to some of our other Star Wars themed posts from the archives (It seems there have been quite a few!) May the force be with you!

Mar 27, 2013

Easter bunny printable wrappers for your Cadbury's Creme Eggs.

Hello! Just a fly by post to let you know that I've done a post over on Alphamom.com showing how to make these little Easter rabbits easily from a baby wipe, a Cadbury's Creme Egg, and a little free printable that I made for you to download over there.

They would make a cute little gift this easter for kids to give to their friends. My kids saw me making these ones though, so they are nommed already! Happy Easter my Peeps!

Mar 22, 2013

Easter crafts from the archives

Today is the last day of school before the Easter break here, where the kids get two weeks off school, so I thought now was a good time to post a reminder of some of the Easter/Spring type crafts that we've done over the past few years, in case any of you fancy trying them.

I'm sure we'll be doing some new things over the Easter break, but you know what I'm like, we don't do crafts well in advance to blog about them at the right time. We do the crafts and then I blog about them with the excuse that you might want to do them next year! Ha! So, this is what I found in the depths of the badly organized Filth Wizardry archives of yore...

Hope some of you fancy having a go at one or more of those ideas. I think we may have a bit of a weekend of crafting indoors here, because although yesterday was the first day of spring, today it has already snowed, hailed, and now it is raining/sleeting and blowing a gale, with more of the same forecast for tonight and tomorrow! Brrrrr.

We were going to go down to Bristol for it's Mini Maker Faire, but it looks like traveling in this weather isn't advisable. Thought I'd put the link in there though in case any readers are down south and nearer to it and might want to pop in. It's free and is from 11am until 3pm at Bristol's M Shed museum. This co-incides with the last couple of days of National Science and Engineering Week.

Mar 14, 2013

DIY custom cookie stamps.

Whooo, it's the month for patron saints everyone! No sooner are we done with Saint David's Day, than Saint Patrick's Day is upon us! We got our leprechaun gold sorted in the form of some golden coin cookies, minted with some home made custom cookie stamps! I've posted about it over on Alpha Mom, with lots of photos and details on what worked best as far as materials and cookie dough went.

Pop and check it out, and even if you're not into the idea of golden leprechaun treasure, this technique can be used to stamp cookies for any event that you want a custom design for, at very little cost! Birthday parties, birth announcements, valentines, Christmas, Graduation, Bad hair days, bin day, days with the letter Y at the end... you get the idea.

For me, I love it because it removes the need to do complicated cookie icing, which I suck at and have no patience for, and you can't dunk iced cookies in your tea! Well, you can, but your tea would be sweet,  and eugrchhh sweet tea?! Are you trying to poison me?!

My kids have told me that we need to make custom cookie stamps with the names of the members of our family on. There are some serious cookie ownership issues simmering beneath that request if you ask me. I would feel slightly guilty if I ate a cookie with someone else's name on though, so maybe they have something there.

Do I have any long time readers among you? Do any of you remember way back in the distant past of 2009, when the kids were all tiny and we made golden leprachaun cookies with some friends back in the US. Some Irish friends no less! That's what gave me the idea to try and make our own cookie stamps. Something a bit more suited to my now seven and eight year old's crafting abilities, but still fun and edible. Awww, just look at little barely three year old Ffi, all covered in flour. I'm looking forward to doing more of those preschooler crafts again with Delyth!

UPDATE (16th March 2013): Alpha Mom has cautiously recommended that you do not use the polymer clay version of the stamp on foods. The reason for this is potentially twofold. They are mainly bothered about phthalates (plasticizers that until 2009 were used in all polymer clays). If you purchase your polymer clay from anywhere in the EU, or California then it will be phthalate free due to regulations that were introduced several years ago, but if you are buying it from elsewhere then you will need to be aware of the fact that your clay may contain phthalates.

Polymer clay has been thoroughly tested by ACMI (Art & Crafts Materials Institute in Boston) and by CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commissions) It has been evaluated to be non-toxic, meaning there are no acute toxicity concerns even when assuming a large (24 mg) daily ingestion of polymer clay, but don't be doing that m'kay? Yuck! Understandably Alpha Mom did not want to recommend the polymer clay option to it's readers when they couldn't be sure if the readers had access to phthalate free clay.

The second issue is that polymer clay is designated as non-food grade plastic. This is not because of toxicity, but rather because it is more porous than food grade plastics, meaning that it is harder to sanitize properly once it has come into contact with food. So, not a good idea to make yourself a dinner plate or a mug to drink your Bovril out of with it, because it could harbour nasty bacteria from the food making it unsafe to use a second time. With this in mind, if you feel that is an issue with using it with raw cookie dough, then you can always make it a one use item and throw the stamp away (the same applies obviously to the salt dough version, which is even more porous than the polymer clay). I will not be throwing away the wooden rolling pin that also came into contact with cookie dough and is porous though, so you've really got to make your own informed decisions about these things.

So, there's a bit of info for you to make a judgement call. If you want to be super cautious then just make your cookie stamps out of the salt dough and then chuck them in the bin when you're done (the stamps, not the cookies silly!).

Here's a hazard risk assessment study done by Duke University Medical Center in 2000 on polymer clay that DOES contain phthalates. (this also addresses the PVC content of the clay for those that are concerned about PVC in their products)

Mar 11, 2013

Recycling containers with crochet

This is a post that has been lurking unfinished in my drafts for YEARS!!! How bad is that! The first one of these I made was I think in 2008 maybe. I've made loads since then, for halloween trick or treat pots, for Easter egg hunt baskets, and just randomly to store things like bits of polly pockets, or pens, or any one of the zillions of odd little collections that the kids have. For a while we had one that contained sparkly bits of asphalt?! I always liked the glass jars with crochet over them thing, but everyone would end up in the ER if I made those and left them around the house. The ones above are made from an old plastic mayo jar and an old plastic cordial bottle, and that way the kids can swing them around their heads and bash them on the floor and no one's going to require stitches. The mayo jar one is my favourite, and it's been used so much. Right now it's full of crayons (you can see Del using it in the background of this pic from the dragon mask post)
You can even make them really small if you have something like a dremel to drill little holes into a travel sized shampoo bottle, and a teensy crochet hook and thread. Very useful for collecting random small objects as my children are wont to do.
This one was for Ffion to use as a trick or treat pot. It was made from an old protein shake plastic jar that a friend gave us.

Anyway, I've been wanting to show you how I make these for ages, because they are really useful for a number of reasons.
  1. the kids can see what is in them (if you use clear plastic jars or bottles to make them), and can root around for stuff without having to tip it all out.
  2. They hang up places, or can be carried around easily.
  3. They are pretty easy to make (very basic crochet stitches) and are really cheap as they are made from old plastic bottles and jars.
  4. They are virtually indestructible. We've not had to throw a single one out due to breakage yet, despite them being dropped all over the place and flung around.
  5. I think they look pretty, given that they are made from trash, especially if the kids decorate them with stickers or sharpie pens.
  6. Because the crochet narrows the opening to the basket, generally if you drop it, whatever is in it doesn't come spilling out all over the floor.
Here's one that I made from a yoghurt pot for Del to egg hunt with last Easter. She was only nine moths old, so she really enjoyed taking the eggs out of it and putting them back in again.

Given all that, and the fact that Easter is around the corner and a few of you that can crochet might want to make kid's Easter baskets with this technique, here's how I make 'em...

You'll need a plastic container, so go rummage around in your recycling. It doesn't have to be transparent, but the plastic does have to be reasonably flexible if you are going to punch through it with a regular hole puncher. If you have something like a Dremel that you can use to drill holes then you don't have to limited by that. You do need to make sure that your crochet hook can fit through the holes you drill though! I've happily used a hand punch on all the baskets that are shown here (except the tiny necklace one) The easiest to punch through was the yoghurt pot.

If you've got a container with labels on then weight it down in some water to soak them and make them easier to peel off.

It's handy to note that if you have a container that has printing on it that you want to get rid of first, then giving it a scrub with a Mr Clean Magic Eraser or similar product will take off the printing (on a transparent plastic it will make it translucent though) here's the yoghurt pot with some of the printing scrubbed off.
 Sometimes a container will have a thicker rim that you need to cut off to be able to punch around the top. You can see below that I cut off the rim of the yoghurt pot with a pair of kitchen scissors before punching the holes.
Here you can see that I also cut off the top part of the protein shake container before punching the holes into it.
The littlest one was made from a travel sized shampoo bottle that I cut the top off and used a small drill bit to put the holes in it.
To do the crochet part you can use whatever yarn you like. Chances are if it's going to be dragged around by children you won't want to use white cashmere, but anything will do really. I've used various coloured cheap acrylic scraps for mine. The tiny one was cotton fine crochet thread though. The basic method to start these off is to treat the row of holes as though it is a row of stitches and just crochet into them all the way around the container. I start off with a single crochet into each hole by pulling through the yarn like this to make a second loop on your hook.
and then making a single crochet stitch with it by hooking the yarn over the top of the rim and through the two loops on the hook, like this.
If you keep going round the whole container like that, then you'll end up with a nice base to then crochet further rounds of stitches into.
Here you can see the base round crocheted onto the protein shake bottle in pink yarn. I joined the round with a slip stitch and chained one before starting the next round.

From here on out you can just wing it really to get the shape you want from your basket top. Each basket I've made has been different and I kind of like the "make it up as you go" way that these come together. With this one it looks like i made two single crochet stitches into each of the base round stitches, but generally if you do just one stitch into each of the base round stitches then the top will start to pull in like the style of the larger ones I've posted pictures of in this thread.
To make the handles for most of these baskets, I started a round and then made a length of chain stitches the size of the handle I wanted and then joined it again to the round with a single crochet stitch, carrying on around with single crochet stitches and then doing the same thing on the other side for the second handle. Then I just continued to do single crochets into each stitch of the much larger round that now included the handles. A couple of rounds of stitches is enough to make the handles really quite sturdy, but you can see that with Del's little purple easter basket I didn't even bother with that and just left the handles as a single row of chain stitch.
The teensy necklace one just has one big loop of chain stitch for it's handle too.
Once you're done with the crochet (which doesn't take that long unless you make really big handles or something) the kids can decorate their baskets with stickers or sharpie pens.

I need to find more little plastic bottles, because they all want one of the little necklace versions now!