Thursday, July 23, 2015

Kitty Craft

Hoarding is the Cat's meow...

I cant help but wonder, what life would be like without, packets of tiny pompoms, pipe cleaners, scraps of ribbon, random feathers and balloon sticks?

She-Who-Still-Worships-Pink broke The Six Million Dollar Kitten’s favourite toy this week and she was distraught - far more so than the kitten, April.

But mummy-fix-it, pulled out a hollow plastic stick, that had previously held a balloon, and within seconds the Cat’s wand was longer, stronger and swishier than ever.

You may consider yourself a hoarder, you may even have saved the sticks that hold non-helium balloons. But I bet you haven’t thought of saving those annoying ribbon loops that you clip out of the shoulder seams of your new sweaters though - eh?

Didn’t think so.

One of the easiest fastest and most gratifying projects we took on this school holiday was making cat wands.
Pinkster had a play date with another cat owner and, following on from our successful fix of the broken wand, the girls spent hours designing and making new wands.

The filles and felines were united in their mutual delight.

Cat toys from scraps of everything

With our many, many trips to Bunnings hardware lately (three of those just on the picket gate procrastination project) and Pinkster's enduring balloon fetish, we have many many sticks saved up. 

We also have a take-out container full of ribbon scraps, many clipped from the shoulders of new sweaters.
There’s another container of random items like feathers, odd beads and a small tub of googly eyes - another full of pompoms.

Here are some of the tips ideas the girls came up with making wands with ribbons - wands with insects attached to the end of twisted pipe cleaners - and combinations of both.

  • Everything holds together better (and neater) if you can get it all into one end of the balloon stick. Wooden skewers are good for stuffing it all down the chute then plug it up with glue.
  • Two pompoms either stitched or glued well together with either googly eyes or two smaller pompoms make great little insects. Stitching makes a more durable toy and you only need run the needle and thread through the centre of the pompoms and back.  If you want to add legs you can glue or just these in between pompoms. (see below)
  • Apply a blob of glue onto the end of a pipe cleaner and thread it into one end of a balloon stick - once that's dry wrap it evenly around a pencil to make 'the twist'. Making a small loop in the other end of the pipe cleaner (I use jeweller's pliers) gives you something to sew your bugs onto.
  • Another bouncy bug style uses a length of shirring elastic. (see below) Shirring elastic is safest because it breaks more easily which is what you want with any cat toy that may get wrapped around their necks. (ideally don't make them too long for that reason; maximum 15cms)
bouncing bug on shirring elastic with ribbon legs

As an aside; I have to say I'm really loving store bought pompoms; there's just so much you can make with/from them, like Pinkster's microscopic cat from this post.

We have however been making our own adorable pompoms: if you missed the PomPom Pups in tea-cups post click here

linking with Amanda Jean's Friday Finish

Linking with Craft Frenzy!

Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


School run at a snail's pace

You know those notes that keep turning up in the school bag? The ones that remind you to have your child at school before the bell?  We get them a lot. They come in many, bright colours - so that they get noticed and read.

"Dear Parent, please ensure your child arrives promptly for a  9:10am start. 
Late arrivals are not only a disruption for the child involved, but the whole class is also disturbed as they wait for instructions to be repeated..." And so it goes on, generally for another paragraph. 

So these notes are working on the assumption that it's the parents who are tardy, disorganised, late sleepers.  
<Clearing of throat> 
I beg to differ.
I don’t know about you, but I have a child who could win a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for the slowest consumed slice of toast. Forty five minutes remains her record; thirty minutes is the norm as she says "I'm full!" halfway through.  Ok it is thick cut raisin toast topped with mashed banana but seriously; just two corners? That's it? And that took half an hour?

I have to nag and nag and nag...

Can you PLEASE hurry up? You're moving like a SNAIL!

‘Put your shoes on!' proceeded by the mandatory 10min follow-up: 'why aren’t your shoes on your feet yet?'

Any my old favourite; 'Brush your teeth!; that toothbrush only works if it's in your mouth and moving!'

Four years with a mouthfull of choppers you'd think she'd grasped the concept by now.  
Nope, she still thinks that wandering around the bathroom waving her brush around in the air, like a frenetic conductor at the tail end of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, is actually doing anything but driving her mum nuts.

I’ve even stooped to tacking ‘I am BEGGING you!’ on to the end of my repeated requests. So I told her this morning about the notes. And how parents get the blame for their kids being late.

She was mortified: ‘ YOU get in trouble when I dawdle?!’  
She takes school notes more seriously than Moses took the Ten Commandments.

So running now for the school gate, she shouts me a promise over the booming peal of  the school bell;
‘I promise to try not to dawdle anymore mummy.’

I know my little angel sincerely means this, but she’s seven…

I won’t hold my breath.

the rugrat's snail rodeo

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Political correctness..

Pinkster and I discuss a lot of things I don't suppose many mothers discuss with their seven-year-olds.
I'm not saying this is good or bad practice; it's just US.

The rapid fire questions are at times pretty tiring, but I love that she's curious and endlessly interested in the larger world and the way it works. These discussions usually start out as a small issue, a random observation and the many, many questions that follow. Her environmental awareness for example came from flying home from France and passing over some open cut mines, Pinkster asked me; "Mummy! why are there big ugly holes down there? Where are all the trees?"
I explained about mining; the digging up of stuff to sell to people and countries that don't have it and want to buy it.
"It's horrible," was her verdict and she's been a budding greenie ever since.

I was reading about the government awarding the environmental vandals Adani to expand and oversee the worlds largest coal mine on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.
You may or many not be aware of Adani's rather less than exceptional environmental track record, but the more I read about their damage tally on so-called protected and delicate ecosystems, the louder I cursed. Until my curious offspring asked me to explain what was upsetting me, and then the outrage really hit the fan.

Then there was the issue of the government posing as an environmental group to recommend chopping into the 70,000 hectares of forest from Tasmania's World Heritage Area for logging.  I was cursing again so I had to explain. The poor little lamb. At seven you think the work is a fair place and the people in charge are to be trusted. She knows nothing about overreaching ambition or greed.

Speaking our our beloved prime minister <cough> at a recent family get together there was a vote taken on who or what creature most resembled our 'lucky' country's leader. Pink had drawn some impressive images of him as a monkey, a lizard, and elephant, and a galah.

Pinkster and her friend Muso, (a slightly older boy who's a pretty wicked guitar player) got into a lively Tortures for Tony discussion.
Now Muso has always been partial to making the prime minister walk the plank into a pool full of great white sharks.  Where Pinkster yearns to sit him on a cactus in his underpants (I suggested his budgie smugglers - but turns out she thought were his underpants). But it doesn't stop there, no; then she'd drop large coconuts on his head while he was still perched on the cactus. She's an imaginative torturer; what can I tell you.  Muso and Pinkster decided to just make him do the lot keeping the sharks for last.

So recently Pinkster heard about 8000 asylum seekers including women and children trapped on boats with no more food or water - as she tells it:  'trying to escape bad people who wanted to hurt them. Even maybe kill them and Tony Rabbit pushes their boats away and that is horrible.

She may not have the vote, but she has a voice none the less:

Just an end note - she's very impressed with the word 'persecuted'; "it's a lot shorter than writing people running away from bad people who dont like them and want to hurt them."


Monday, July 6, 2015

Pup in a Tea cup

awww cute tea-cup-pup
One good thing about my not having sponsored posts is that when I write about a product, you know that I've been motivated purely by my need to share in its awesomeness.  So let me tell you this one is a gem and after learning the technique it inpired my 7-year-old to make up her own designs...

She-Who-Still-Worships-Pink found this wonderful Pompom Puppies kit, in a local book store, and not only has given her hours of delight, but it's been a stand out winner for birthday gifts. The parents of the recipients may not thank me for the mess, but what little girl doesn't like this tri-fecta; making stuff, puppies and soft toys?
The kit contains everything you need, instructions and materials, to make your own collection of puppies.

Pompom puppies kit contents

Be warned though, these projects are something you'll need supervise and/or  help with; for under-nines.  Tying off pompoms can be very tricky and the trimming instructions, especially on the tri-coloured pups, take a bit of concentration and patience. But the results are uber-cute. I would suggest anyone start with the Chihuahua.

Pinkster has made up some of her own, her first attempt at design was the little blue pup below, with hand-made felt eyes. We've also been up cycling cat food tins to make tea cups.

blue puppy's eyes are made from black felt circles with a tiny dot of white paint.

I've shown her how to cut out the ears more efficiently (so as not to waste fabric) and how to part and position the fur before gluing eyes and ears on.  Now, so long as she has help tying off the pompoms, at seven years old she can pretty much handle a single colour puppy by herself.

If you're looking for this kit, we seen it in good bookstores and toy stores all over and if you Google it, you'll find loads of sellers on the Internet.

Friday, July 3, 2015

On the House

One minute we're enjoying a movie and Suddenly we're Building ...

Now that Pinkster and I watch 'some' of the same movies, I came across and old favourite of mine starring Jennifer Garner and Mark Rafallo: Suddenly Thirty (Also known as 13 Going On 30).

It's about a typical preteen girl who wants more than anything to be grown up and popular. Thanks to some magic wishing dust, she wakes up the next morning; a 30-year-old, successful magazine editor, friends with Madonna and dating a famous hockey player. Terrified, she asks her personal assistant track down Matt, her best childhood friend, to try and figure out what happened. 

It's a cute and engaging story with a very self-empowering message at it's core, so it ticked all my boxes.

Pinkster loved it: She loved the music (there's a wonderful dance party sequence to Michael Jackson's Thriller), she loved the story, also the idea of stuffing tissues down your top, but most of all she loved  'Jenna's Dream House'.

Jenna's very best friend Matt, gives her a dream house he's made himself. He's included a miniature of her and everything she wants for when she's grown up including her favourite pop-star sat on her sofa.

Suddenly this has become our school holiday project.
Off to Bunnings hardware once again to buy balsa (craft) wood, PVA glue and teeny tiny nails, although we soon discovered cut down tooth picks work much better.

Pinkster's Dream House - a Work in Progress

As you'd expect, Pinkster is as tough an architect as she is an art director: she wanted a fridge with opening doors and shelves inside (!!) - 'sweetie, they just don't make hinges that small!'  (the appliance is only 4x1.5cm)

I'm quite proud of the bathroom vanity and concealed cistern toilet which is a replica of the one we had designed during the Flat Out apartment renovation (feel free to click the link and compare).

But she hasn't assigned all tasks to me; she made Snowy her cat of the future..

I'm quite proud of her ingenuity of design here; putting two of the tiniest pom-poms together on a toothpick and gluing on a bead for the nose. We added another half toothpick, poked though and trimmed and painted the ends of those to make Snowy's ears.

Later in the week we added some essentials to the living areas, Harry Potter on TV (her new favourite), some books and an Adirondack lounger for the conservatory.  We've borrowed some garden accessories from the Sylvanian families (who may end up moving in).

We still have to make some figurines, using photograph cut-out faces.  She can't decide if Thor will be one or the "Mystery Boy" from school she has a crush on. Unless the next school newsletter includes Mystery Boy's photo from the recent eisteddfod, it may just have to be Thor. Or perhaps Harry Potter - although she says he's not funny enough to be a good boyfriend. Funny is her romantic priority, then kindness then good looks. That's my girl.

She's promised to be more hands on on this project and make all the soft furnishings and help paint and decorate.

We'll see..

Thursday, July 2, 2015


No one does Avoidance like me; forget false modesty - I totally rock at it.
Talk about your serial procrastinator - I can really pump up the 'pro' in pro-crastination and my typical delay tactics usually involve power-tools.
I will build a fence or paint the house or landscape the garden before I get on with doing what I should be doing to earn a living.

But no more.
I've made a career changing list.
I wrote it down on my Kiki-K weekly-planner last night which I then dutifully broke down into daily tasks:
  1.  Notes to read through from my photography course;
  2. Canon software to load on my laptop for my new camera (actually I've had it quite a few months now);
  3. Image editing software to download and practice;
  4. Edits to my Linked In profile because it's a shambles that makes a mockery of my claim to 'creating clean compelling copy to tight dealines' (there is nothing clean or compelling about my Linked In profile) and don't even talk to me about deadlines; mine are floating bits of mist wafting around in the fog of my motivation.
  5. Work on my novel which is in the home stretch (and must NOT remain there for another six months - or else!) What?
  6. Add some blog posts, (if I intend Rugrat Rodeos as a showcase my prolificity in writing and ideas generation, then maybe future online editors should be able to see more recent posts than er, last April?)

So today I had a plan.
A clear cut and productive plan to clip the jumper leads on my (not-so-much-lately) brilliant career.

What's that I hear? The council guys scraping the bins around, so after reviewing my plan, I nip outside to quickly bring them inside the gate.  (the bins, not the guys - friendly as they are)
While swapping the bins over I bump into my new neighbour.
'What are you doing today', she asks.
'Oh I've made a list' I say crisply, nodding; 'Working through that, you know..lots to do... 
Hey would you like to come in for a quick coffee?'
I insisted on making her two.
After she left I finished putting the bins in the side passage and then I noticed the lawn!
Had it only been two weeks?
Putting the mower and the broom away I looked at my watch in horror.. what about my list?
But look, now it's lunchtime...
Thanks to Mister Frenchie I scored a new office chair. A very cheerful Kermit green glossy chair. But now I'm thinking: it would look very much nicer with a brighter seat cushion; a bit of colourful padding, maybe some retro, 70's style psychedelia. I could just whip over to Ikea... wouldn't take that long...

I have made an art form of procrastination.

Every time I have work to do that may actually eventually generate cash income, I feel suddenly compelled to build something, or clean the oven, the house, the yard, the pets beds, or even the pets themselves... I have very clean pets. Ooh that reminds me I need to take the dog's clean bedding out of the dryer.

So last week I made a gate!
I couldn't possibly get going on my writing, reading notes, or playing with my camera equipment if every time I stopped for a coffee I had to look out of the kitchen window at that monstrosity my neighbours called a gate.
You see it wasn't even entirely my own gate.
But it was a rusted  patched up cyclone wire mess hanging off an even more rusted tubular frame. It's been bothering me for four years!  An complete eyesore, clinging limply onto a post that is leaning over so badly it looks like it was trying to divorce the smelly old wall it was attached to.  How could I be expected to be creative when that was my coffee-break view?

So I pressed the pause button, yet again, on 'The List' and headed off to Bunnings hardware for pickets and brackets and basically any other hardware that took my fancy. (There are lot of jobs to do around this old house.)
I had a few return visits to the hardware store, for touch up paint and one more picket.
Then I right into the painting of it.
It looks lovely. Really.

My four hour extreme gate makeover*
 Well at least I've written two posts today, I've packed away my sewing projects, tidied the office, put away the filing, and shelved the psychedelic cushion idea for another day.

I will NOT give in to the urge to redecorate my office; I don't need an office, if all I do in it is tidy and decorate. I will not offer to fix the neighbour's fence so it looks as good as the gate. Not necessary. And they're renting from an awful stingy landlord anyway..

Avoidance stops here!
At least I've done two things from my list: two out of five isn't so bad is it?

high saddle clamp

*It is a damned shame I neglected to take a before shot, because this was one fast, sexy and easy-peasy gate makeover - where the four hours included shopping.   I used 7 pickets, 21 saddle clamps and one can of Dulux Ironstone Spray enamel. and of course a bunch of screws.

Most appropriately I'm joining Amy's Anti-Procrastination linky

Mummy Mondays: Always!

another fun linky...