Archive for the ‘Craft’ Category

Craft: Halloween pumpkin & be safe message

October 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Using the right pumpkin makes the job EASY!

Brisbanites frequenting supermarkets have started encountering big, overpriced, yellow pumpkins just lately. I took it upon myself to see what all the fuss was about.

In the name of craft and open-mindedness, I put aside my reservations about ‘celebrating’ Halloween, to see whether these pumpkins were anything special. To be honest, I’d wondered how hard it would be to carve one up, given the near brute force needed to cut up our typical Butternut pumpkin for dinner.

In short, it was as easy as falling off a log. Using the right kind of pumpkin makes all the difference. As you can see from the photos below, it’s a softer pumpkin which has a lot of ‘guts’ that’s easily scooped out by little kids. The cutting must be done by an adult (obviously, one would think). The supermarket instruction sheet sets out 8 steps, but really, there are only five, tops. To be clear, the hairy fingers in the photos are not my own. Yours Truly suffered a shoulder / neck injury while sleeping (how sad is that?) and couldn’t operate the knife without screaming like a banshee, so Dear Brother did the honours.

1. Carefully cut the top off using a knife (operated by a competent adult).
2. Scoop out the insides.
3. Draw a face with a permanent ink marker or mark the outline of a face with pins (eg. using a template).
4. Cut out face
5. Insert a tea light candle and light it.

Easy carve pumpkin

Instructions & template

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Carving up a pumpkin and having a bit of dress-up fun at home is one thing. But if you are taking kids out for trick or treating, do keep in mind the contradictory messages (Don’t take lollies from strangers, except on Halloween. Don’t be mean, unless the neighbours don’t give you sweets. Bullies are bad, except on Halloween.) which can set you up for trouble down the long and winding road of parenthood. While you might be going with them this year, there’ll come a time when they’ll think it lame that their parents tag along (and by that stage, they’ll be too big to say “No” to, with any sort of moral authority). And please don’t kid yourself that children in a group are safe. Sometimes, a group is the most dangerous place to be.

Keeping kids safe is hard work. In a perfect world, there would be no begging for lollies (as opposed to nuts in days gone by, in preparation for winter), but if it must be done, then perhaps consider door-knocking just your friends and family and by prior arrangement. Don’t freak out the elderly, or people who don’t understand or want to have Halloween thrust upon them. Realistically, anyone opening the door to strangers on Halloween is crazy, even if it’s a little kid standing at the screen door (who’s standing behind him?).

A bit of consideration goes a long way in not only keeping good neighbours, but in keeping EVERYBODY safe. Go look up some statistics about how many kids go missing on Halloween overseas. Ask your friendly police how many assaults happen and how many complaints they clock up. Fun should never be at the expense of others.

And this is the end of the government, anti-fun policy.

Have fun, responsibly. And regardless of your religious beliefs, think about the dearly departed on 1 November, which is what it’s all really about.

UPDATE: To avoid being gouged on the price of a Halloween pumpkin, try using a watermelon – it does work and you get to eat the insides. The Halloween pumpkin isn’t good eating. See my later post with photos of a Halloween watermelon, thanks to the Auntie-who-thinks-of-everything.


Craft: Roses made from leaves

October 29, 2010 2 comments

To cater for my international readership and for the love of craft, I’m bringing on board ‘The Stig’ of craft, my new, northern hemisphere based Occasional Craft Correspondent…. (with thanks, E.P.):-

The Occasional Craft Correspondent

Am I crafty? Nope. I potter around. The words ‘you could sell those’ fill me with dread because the very thought of ever doing something crafty for sale means that I’d HAVE to do it and then it’d stop being fun. So, I potter around. Occasionally. Sometimes the bug bites and then I HAVE to make something and once I get a project into my head, I really DO play with it. Take these roses for example – it started with one and finished with 60! My husband already knows that this is the moment when he has to step away and let nature take its course. I find that this generally happens in autumn and winter – maybe because it starts to get cold and this means I’m inside more. Unfortunately, the bug generally bites at rather inopportune moments, which leads me to believe that this could be a form of seasonal procrastination (seasonal in that it’s centred around seasons, unfortunately not in the procrastination).

The problem is that I’m a bit unco. I’d like to be less unco. This, however, ensures that any crafty stuff I do has to be 1. easy 2. quick 3. effective.

I once saw these roses many years ago but it took me almost 10 years of living in a country with a real autumn and real autumn colours (at autumn, no less!) to get around to trying. It looked really hard, but really – it’s not! An evening in front of the telly is enough.

What you need:

4 or 5 fallen but not completely dry maple leaves – it’s better to have some smaller leaves for the inside and some bigger ones for the outside.
A piece of string/cotton
Some floral tape (I bought a roll off my local florist)

Take one smaller leaf and fold it back in half (with the stalk facing down). Roll the leaf quite tightly.

Take another leaf. Fold it back in half. Put the rolled leaf in the middle and just a bit down from the top edge. Fold it over from the left and the right. Hold tightly and repeat with the remaining leaves. You should have a rose-shaped thingy.

Tie it together tightly. You can also use thin elastic bands, but you need to be careful not to break the stalks.

Take the floral tape. It looks a bit like crepe paper and isn’t sticky. You need to moisten your fingers and when you place it on the leaves, you need to stretch it a little and wrap it around the stalks so that there’s an overlap. If it breaks, don’t worry about it, just overlap that bit and keep going. The important thing here is to keep your fingers moistened.

1. Can I use other types of leaves?
Yes, I guess so, but they need to be wide enough – and have a ‘square’ shape. Also, can’t be very green because they’ll crack. The florist I bought the floral tape from said that she’s seen people make roses by folding them long-ways along the vein. I haven’t tried this method though.
You don’t have to use big leaves. I found a sapling of a red maple and made the tiny little ‘buds’ in the photos.

2. If I don’t have floral tape, can I use anything else to wrap around the stalks?
Yes, you can. I’d probably use crepe paper tied down with some green cotton, or some green duct tape. The problem with this is that the floral tape is quite muted in colour and as the leaves dry, it doesn’t stand out and looks quite natural.

3. Do I have to use cotton or string to hold the leaves together?
No, you can use elastic bands but then need to be very thin not too small because you don’t want to break the stalks.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

Step 8

Step 9

Step 10

Step 11

Step 12

Step 13

(UPDATE: N.B. the rose in Step 12 is not the same one as in Step 13 – i.e. Step 13 demonstrates what happens when the autumn colours take hold of their own accord – they change colour themselves.)

Step 14 - go crazy

Step 15 - how lovely is that?

Categories: Craft

Craft: DIY hairclip hanger

October 11, 2010 Leave a comment

I spotted this beautiful hair clip organiser at the impeccably styled home of the Aunt-Who-Thinks-Of-Everything. It looks like something one could make …

And, that would be my 2,000 words on craft for the week. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Reader Anita has kindly sent in a picture of another:-

Categories: Art, Australia, Craft, Parenthood