Birthday chalkboard

A couple of weeks ago my little girl turned one, and whilst we didn’t have a big party for her (just small family tea parties) I did want to get some decorations, make a few things and get creative for it. I’d seen on Etsy and Instagram people selling birthday chalkboards and I pinned a few designs on Pinterest, but it was only when I spotted an A3 board in Wilko that I decided to try making one myself. (And between you and me, reader, I’m so glad I didn’t shell out a tenner for someone else to make one as, frankly, the ones I’ve seen other people have bought recently look… not as good as mine!)

I sketched out my design on paper first and painted the frame of the board. My sister suggested orange to complement my rainbow theme. To be honest I was sceptical initially about the colour, but loved the end result. I used my cheap and cheerful Poundland paint which needed a fair few coats to build up the colour as it is rather on the thin side. 

Start with a plain chalkboard
Get some paint
Paint the frame

I pencilled my design onto the board rather than go for it freehand, and I went over it with my set of chalkpens. I did sections at a time so not to smudge the work. A slight issue was that I couldn’t give it all a second layer of paint as the pens scratched the first coat off, but as long as you look at the board from a distance, you don’t notice that. 

Sketching the design
Chalk painting section by section

I’ve had so many compliments for my chalkboard and I’m delighted with how it turned out so I may now make one every year for my daughter! 

Ta-da!

Links here: https://pin.it/a9sYPfp, https://pin.it/wvVHp1-, https://pin.it/Ft6EzwT

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Sensory discovery bottles 

Typically, my daughter seems to enjoy ‘non toys’ more than her proper toys – mobile phones, tv remotes, coasters – though she does love shaking her rattles around so I had a little brainwave to make her a simple ‘rainmaker’ rattle. An empty (clean) bottle and some (uncooked) rice later… voilà! She loves it! So I looked on Pinterest for some more ideas… 

1. Marbles. I got some marbles and put them in an empty bottle. Simple. This is her favourite as it’s really loud when she shakes it! 

2. Water. Just plain old water from the kitchen tap. It makes a great noise when being shaken around, and it can be made more exciting with a few drops of food colouring (or fruit squash even!). 

3. Water beads. I have two bottles with these in. One is full of water beads and we can watch the air bubbles weave their way up through the multicoloured beads. The other has less beads in and some baby oil in the water – I hoped to make something like a lava lamp, but failed. It looks pretty though! 

4. Rice. Our original rice bottle got pimped with some multicoloured rice (see this post for how I made it). 

I haven’t got round to making any of the fancy Pinterest ideas with glitter and tinsel and stuff, but the good thing about these bottles is that they can be changed quickly and easily, so when my daughter tires of these ones, I’ll be able to make some new ones to retain her attention. 

Link here: http://pin.it/WnKrFeM

Multicoloured rice

Making multicoloured rice is so easy to do, though a little fiddly – an upgrade to the humble grain of white rice! 

The humble grain of rice being tarted up!

You need… rice (obvs), food colouring and ziplock bags. Put the rice in the bag, add the food colouring (a little at a time to get the colour just right) and shake the bag. Then comes the fiddly bit: tip the rice out onto a paper plate or some greaseproof paper – the rice likes to stick to the inside of the bag- and leave it to dry. 

Take some rice, a bag and some food colouring…
Shake it up…
Looking bloodstained!

Is this how you get the grains of pink rice in the Indian takeaway rice?!

For my first attempt I just raided the kitchen cupboard and found some ancient red, blue and green food colouring I had. I didn’t attempt to mix any colours, it would probably be easier to just buy the different colours! The red came out brilliantly but the blue and green are a little pale. Also the red dried so quickly in a few hours, whereas the blue and green took several days to dry out completely – they were different brands (Langdale and Tesco respectively) so I assume that’s why. 

Still waiting for the blue and green rice to dry out!

For now I’m using the rice in some homemade shakers, but when the baby is older (and less likely to try and eat the uncooked rice) it could be used in sorting or pouring games and all sorts of other activities. If kept in a ziplock bag or airtight container it should last for ages too. You can also do the same with oats, which may be a little safer if the baby attempts to eat them! 

Et voilà, a homemade shaker.

Link here: http://pin.it/BDmjfkO

Nursery bookshelves 

I’ve bought or been given lots of books for my little girl but had nowhere to put them in her bedroom; it’s far too small for a freestanding bookcase. Whilst having my daily browse of Pinterest and looking up ideas for nursery decor and baby play, I kept spotting the same pin, which was for a reading corner using Ikea spice shelves as bookshelves. 

A different way to store books

At only a few pounds each, the spice shelves are so cheap, but really effective as they display the books nicely rather than just seeing the spine of them, and as they’re bare wood, you can paint or varnish them any colour. I chose white as I had a tin of white satinwood paint lurking at the back of the garage, though I do regret using it; gloss paint takes ages to dry in between coats, and these needed three. 

Cheap as chips spice shelf
Gloss paint, not the best choice

I painted each part of the shelf individually before screwing them together, but in hindsight assembling them before painting may have been a better idea. 
A tedious painting job

I chose to turn one shelf upside down to display some kitsch ornaments I had as a child and to hang some decorations from, but it can easily be turned around to use for more books if needed. I think this is a really cheap but effective idea! 

A little reading corner in my baby’s tiny bedroom!

Link here: http://pin.it/umSxcaV

Baby’s first art

Whilst browsing for baby sensory ideas, I spotted this pin for mess-free art – as I mentioned in my last blog post (here) I’m not ready for too much mess just yet! – and this seemed like fun. So off I trooped to Poundland to pick up some paint and I spent a few minutes setting up the paper, paint and cling film: a bit fiddly but nothing too strenuous. 

All the ‘ingredients’

I set up the painting on a tray in the garden as it was a nice day and the baby’s high chair tray isn’t at quite the right height. 

Paper with paint dots, wrapped in cling film, ready to go!

Well let’s just say that Pinterest does make these things look so easy! 

Firstly, the baby was more interested in the tray than squishing the paint around to make some beautiful art. Even me demonstrating didn’t help. 

More interested in picking up the tray and paper than painting!

Also, paint from Poundland… you certainly get what you pay for. It’s very watery so soaks through the paper. 

I’ve since seen a version where you use a zip-lock bag rather than cling film, and tape it to a window or high chair tray. That does seem fiddly but I may give it a go some day. I was able to make something from the ‘art’ though… 

From this…

… to some artwork for the baby’s bedroom wall.

Link here: http://pin.it/TtN04FU 

Jewellery pegboard

Whilst I have some nice jewellery boxes, they’re stuck beneath baby paraphernalia on my bedside table and so get forgotten. I came up with the idea of using some pegboard to create a hanging space for some of my jewellery (and to actually wear it!) after seeing on Facebook someone’s board that they use for their craft supplies. I looked first on Etsy and Not On The High Street for boards to buy, but for at least £30 each I felt I couldn’t justify the cost. Then I turned to Pinterest for ideas to make my own and got lots of inspiration. 

The end result

I bought a piece of pegboard, some dowels and pegboard hooks from Amazon – this all could be bought from a DIY store but with a baby on the scene I found using a seller on Amazon to be far more convenient. 

I used some leftover paint from painting my mirror frame and wicker basket (see links for old posts) and gave the board two coats of paint, as well as painting a few pieces of dowel. It was very quick, only taking about 30 minutes in total. I then rummaged around in my sewing basket for some ribbon to use to hang the board, and found some nice gold stuff that had probably been salvaged from an old box of chocolates! 

Yes, that is a baby changing mat underneath!

I love the end result and it fits in well with the mirror and basket in the corner of my bedroom. 

And the wicker basket is just underneath!

Link here: http://pin.it/RNACchY

Baby scans frame

I wrote this post over three months ago, but something happened to delay it being published… I became a mother! Elise Patricia James was born on October 5th. 😀 So here is the original post, as I quite like how I ended it. 

Another nursery decoration make for today; I’ve been gathering ideas over the past few weeks for decorating baby’s room. I wanted a way of displaying the scan photos and thought this was a lovely idea, especially as I already had an IKEA frame that was perfect for it.

I used leftover wallpaper samples from my butterfly frame project and cut them to the right size to use as colourful backgrounds for the scans. I wanted each background to be different to make it colourful and interesting, and to link in with the butterflies. 
I tried out different layouts with the photos and labels – both in the middle (scan in top, label beneath); label on the mount; alternating photo on the left in one and on the right in the other – but I thought this layout worked. 

I did attempt to write the labels myself by looking up some simple hand lettering pins, but they didn’t work so I settled on printing the labels in a nice font on some fancy paper leftover from my wedding invitations (nice link, I thought). I now need baby to arrive so I can fill in the final frame. ❤ 

And now it is filled!

Link here: http://pin.it/VjVSkQc