Making your own Elf on the shelf October 28, 2016 12:13
I've set out a few steps to help you make your own Elf on the Shelf so that you can put your own twist on the traditional elf. Our Elf (Dobby Snowland) has jewellery wire within both arms and legs and so is much more manoevarble than most that you can buy.
If you want to make a similar elf then you will need:
Red, white and green felt
Silver beads for the shoe 'bells'
Thickish jewellery wire
A large wooden bead
A small wooden toy wheel
Needle and thread and a small amount of paint for your elf's face
I obtained all of these items from my local craft shop.
1. Thread some jewellery wire through the hole in the large bead and create a knot at the top (which will be hidden by the elf's hat). Allow a length of wire of about 10 cms for the length of the body to enable the wires from the legs to join to the body wire.
2. Cut out a 'leafy' shaped collar out of the green felt and thread it underneath the large bead. Then thread the small wooden wheel underneath the green collar to give stability. Add a green bead to the tip of each leaf on the collar for extra detail.
3. Create a rectangular shaped 'pillow', approximately 10cms by 9cms. Sew inside out (leaving gaps for the arms and legs to be inserted) and turn back through. Stuff with wadding.
4. From the central wite within the elf's tummy attach two separate pieces of wire forking out through the gaps left in the tummy for the legs.
5. To create the elf's stripey legs, cut a rectangular piece from the red felt of approximately 11cms by 5cms. Cut strips of white felt approximately 0.5cms by 5cms and glue to the red felt as shown in the photo. Add a layer of wadding the same size as the felt rectangles.
Create two separate cylinders by wrapping the felt and wadding around the legs wires. Fold the edges and stitch in place as shown in the photo.
Insert the top of the leg into the gap of the tummy section and stitch in place to secure.
6. For the elf's hat cut a circle with an 8cm diameter. Cut a wedge out of the circle and fold to create a cone shape and stitch to maintain this shape. Measure out a length of white felt that will fit along the bottom edge of the hat and which is 1cm thick. Fold in half horizontally so that the red felt of the hat is sandwiched between the white felt and sew in place. Glue the hat to the elf's head.
7. For the elf's shoes cut out shapes as below from green felt. Join all the shapes together with the oval shape as the base of the shoe and pad out with wadding and attach to the base of the elf's leg (exactly where you'd expect to find his shoe ;). Add a silver bead as the bell of the shoe.
8. For the elf's arms, cut two pieces of red felt approximately 20cms by 2cms. Fold in half to create a length of 10cms. Insert a 10cm length of wire for each arm. Fold the end of the wire so there's not a sharp end. Fold the side edges of the felt and sew in place. insert the arm into the gaps in the elf's tummy. Sew a 0.5 cm width of white felt around the arm approximately 1cm up from the tip to give the effect of mittens.
9. For the belt cut a 20cm long piece of black felt that is 0.5cm wide. Glue in place around the elf's tummy. Glue a brown felt buckle as per the photo below.
10. Paint a smiley elf face :)
Ideas for Elf on the Shelf antics October 28, 2016 12:13
December is a crazy busy month for me due to Flitterbee Christmas orders on top of normal festive busyness. So it probably was a little crazy to add another Christmas tradition (chore?) to the list. Especially one that involves daily input along with the inevitable constant questioning and theories from my children about how the elf works. However, that said it is great fun and something that my two children LOVED!
What we did find helpful was seeing other people's ideas about what a mischievous elf could get up to which would inspire us (or sometimes we would simply replicate!). So with that in mind I've put together some photos of what our Elf, Dobby Snowland, got up to over December 2015. Now to think up some more ideas for this December...hmmmm
Elf on the shelf October 28, 2016 12:12
The Elf on the Shelf is an American Christmas tradition, which I only came across myself last year but it's definitely catching on over here. And since I love everything that is Christmas it's already a firm tradition in our house :). The concept is that a special elf is sent from the North Pole on 1st December to help Father Christmas manage his naughty and nice lists. The elf can fly back to the North Pole each night to tell Father Christmas about all of the day's adventures in his new 'adopted' family. Each morning, the elf then returns to his family and the children wake up to find him in a different location in their house. This is the type of Elf on the Shelf you can purchase on the internet.
I wanted an elf with a different look to those you can find online and also one that was a bit more manoevourable, so set about making my own. Our elf duly introduced himself (with a note on a scroll) as Dobby Snowland on December 1st.
Dobby perhaps set his mischievous standards a little high from the off and instead of just moving from one shelf to another, he would get up to complex and time consuming antics. Maybe this year Dobby will start off a little slower in his mischief making. I lost count of the times my husband and I would get to the end of the night and remember that we hadn't set up Dobby's antics ready to be discovered the next morning.
Despite the additional responsibilites that our cheeky elf on the shelf brought with him he was definitely much loved and although it's only October my children are already talking about Dobby and wondering whether they'll be lucky enough to have him visit again this year.
For some ready made elf on the shelf ideas check out my blog post 'Ideas for elf on shelf antics'.
If you want to make your own elf check out my blog post 'Making your own elf on the shelf' for a tutorial.
We caught the tooth fairy in action! May 17, 2016 12:28
Although my nearly 7 year old daughter is starting to think maybe Father Christmas isn't as real as we say he is, strangely enough her belief in the tooth fairy (and fairies in general) remains strong. Her fourth tooth fell out yesterday and she was so excited as she went to bed asking if we could perhaps set up a video camera to capture the tooth fairy going about her work. After she went to bed I found the perfect app on my phone called 'I saw the tooth fairy'. It requires you to take a photo of your sleeping child and then the app adds a video of a tiny green tooth fairy flitting about your child and leaving some sparkling fairy dust as she flies. I didn't think my daughter would believe the video but I took a few screen shots during the video and cropped them to remove the app frame. She was beside herself with excitement when we showed her the next day!!!! And spent the morning before school started showing all her friends in the playground. It was lovely to see all their little faces light up when she showed them. :)
Being a mumpreneur October 15, 2015 23:06
I'm not quite sure whether I like the term mumpreneur or not – it's a bit cheesy – but it seems to encapuslate exactly what I spend my time doing and for the want of it, I couldn't think of a better one! I've managed to grow my business, Flitterbee, from a mere concept to a now flourishing online craft business. It's given me the flexibility I desperately needed to combine being a mummy and making a living, and it has resulted in a great work-life balance.
The business seems to have grown at exactly the right rate. It started slowly, providing just enough pocket money to cover the cost of running my car and maybe a few swimming and ballet lessons (for my daughter not me!). When the children were very small I just didn't have the time to develop new products and market the business as I didn't want to miss a minute of them growing up and there were too many coffee mornings to attend :) However, as they have become older, I have been able to dedicate more time and focus to running the business and as a result it has become much more successful :)
Flitterbee originally began because my previous job was extremely inflexible and wouldn't allow me to return on a part time basis after my maternity leave. I didn't want to be a full time working mum, especially for a company that didn't share the same ideals, so it actually turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. As a result I had a great motivation to start Flitterbee and pursue my own career path, plus I'm the definitely best boss I've ever had ;)
The success of Flitterbee has honestly changed my whole outlook on life. I vividly remember saying 5 years ago 'if only I could make a good enough living from this that I could remain working from home'. It goes to show that you never know what is around the corner.
At times it can be difficult to balance both roles, particularly in the run up to Christmas when it gets crazy busy with orders, but you have to keep plugging away and recognise that it's a privilege to be making money from something you love doing. As sales have increased, my mind gets distracted with all of the orders I need to make and it can be hard to concentrate on playing with the children when your work is waiting for you in another area of the house! I hope it's not something the kids notice – I'm pretty sure they don't – in fact they probably think that I don't actually have a job at all, and that painting plaques and fairy doors is my crazy hobby!
Here's a few things I've learnt along the way that may be of some use to any of you thinking of going it alone as a mumpreneur.
1. Be organised! I try to get the work done as soon as it comes in because in my business you don't know how many orders are around the corner or how many kids parties there'll be on the next weekend. People who know me will know I'm not the epitome of organisation around the house, but when it comes to work I try to keep it as one of my top priorities.
2. Do something you enjoy! My work is time consuming and I spend most evenings working on orders but it's not stressful, in fact its quite the opposite - I love it! So painting plaques, illustrations and crafting in the evening and when my children are at school is like a hobby, with the added bonus that I'm making a living from it. It's a great feeling!! When I go away or on holiday I can put my online sales on 'holiday mode', but my work is pretty mobile so I can take it with me if needs be. Perhaps I'll get better at taking a break from it in the future but I'm still in the overexcited honeymoon phase!
3. Be prepared to become “Jack of all trades” - as you won't be sticking to just the one role when starting up and running your own business. You will actually need to learn a little bit about a great many specialised roles. From accounting and advertsing to marketing through blog posting and facebooking.
4. Take care of your customers. I always put all my efforts and focus into customer service and the quality of my products. I'll only send out something that i'm 100% happy with and a product that would take pride of place in my own house. I'll also always try and help a customer as much as I can, whether thats through being flexible, delivering a quicker turn around time or simply drawing an extra pelican on its perch. People seem to appreciate it and there's nothing more satisfying than positive customer feedback.
5. Network - Get talking and use the skills of people you know! I'm very fortunate that my husband also has skills in graphic design which I've learnt from so we could work together to create my brand identity and set up my website (I do recognise that this is not strictly networking ;).
Anyhow enough blogging from me, I've got two kids lunches to make, my husband's dinner, fairy dust to gather and 3 illustrated plaques to paint! Now who said I had the perfect work life balance all sussed out!
Creating fridge magnets - hand sewing project ideas September 14, 2015 18:15
It's very simple to create felt fridge magnets - all you need is various colours of felt, thread, padding and some strong magnets (I recommend neodymium magnets) and a love of hand sewing of course! The magnets are crazy strong and so are great for pinning up the mountains of paperwork I get from school and preschool and help towards keeping me half organised.
I started off creating some little people for our fridge to mirror our family members.
First of all you need to cut out the shapes in felt and then add the detail of the faces with sequins and beads before sewing it together with wadding inbetween and a magnet. It looks like Chloe and I are the most important people in our household as two years later I still haven't made a Daddy and a Louis! I got side tracked by another project of making a 'weather and day' felt magnet set and fridge magnet vegetables. I'm very rock and roll ;)
This day and weather magnet set was inspired by getting my children to be more aware of the days of the week, and learning about the weather seems to be a big thing in preschool. They enjoyed doing it themselves in the mornings.
These felt vegetables add the cute factor to my fridge :)
On my Flitterbee website I now sell peg fridge magnets which have a shabby chic feel and come in a floral design in a bird shape or heart shape.
Fairy immigration control September 12, 2015 11:25
I recently came across an article in the bbc news about a woods in Somerset that has had a sudden influx of fairies. Local children have installed these fairy doors at the base of trees so that they can leave notes and gifts to the fairies. 'How lovely' I thought! I've seen first hand, through my 6 year old daughter, Chloe, the inspiration for creative play and enthusiasm a little belief in fairy magic can bring. Unfortunately the manager of the woods doesn't share the enthusiasm and is insisting on implementing control for this fairy immigration! Can you imagine how sad these children would be when they go to the woods to see if a letter has been left for them, only to find their fairy door has been ripped away! Not to mention that some of these doors are very skillfully made and look amazing!! I agree some are slightly more garish and don't quite fit in with the aesthetics of the woods but these will gradually fade as they weather in the environment of the woods.
Luckily Flitterbee has rehoused quite a few of these evicted fairies with each fairy door that is sent out to a little girl or boy. We will continue our good work helping the homeless fairies :)
Noah's Ark name plaque September 01, 2015 18:56
My favourite ever plaque request was to do a really quite huge Noah's Ark plaque.
I love doing new designs and once its all pencilled out I particularly love all the detailed painting work required to bring it to life.
Leaving letters for your fairy August 20, 2015 12:54
What do you do when you have a fairy move into your fairy garden? Write them letters of course! My daughter delights in writing little notes (usually requesting something from the fairy!) and rolling them up into a tiny scroll to fit in a miniature glass jar. Her first letter requested fairy dust so that she would be able to fly. She quite sensibly said to me afterwards that she'll need quite a lot of fairy dust before she can fly since she's a lot bigger than the fairies. Love the applied logic! :). Our fairy delivered the requested dust and also a tiny letter and I can't explain how excited she was when she found it all. I think the next street heard her shriek 'muuuummmmmmmmy!!!!!!' She's since written another note, this time requesting a special jewel. I'm hoping the requests don't escalate!
j''Please may I have lots of dust because I want to fly, love chloe''
The letter in the glass vial that we left in our fairy garden
My fairy garden is finished! Happy fairy day! June 24, 2015 13:52 1 Comment
Happy Fairy Day everyone! I've taken a short break from the celebrations to write this post and show you some photos of our finished fairy garden. My children and I have been working hard planting and crafting to make the garden lovely in the hope that some fairies might come and stay. It was a lovely surprise for my daughter this morning when she noticed that our efforts had been rewarded. A fairy had indeed moved in; the evidence being some fairy dust sprinklings and an erected washing line on which hung some freshly washed fairy clothes. Horaah!!
Chloe painted stones to make toadstools. Louis collected twigs in order to construct our fairy swing and the fairy ladder. This was fairy swing version 2.0. Version 1.0 was constructed using garden twine and the end product looked like a pile of twigs and twine. Hot glue guns are the way forward and it was 100 times less fiddly! Our garden fence is made from mini craft sticks and fine wire and finally a miniature garden pond which is simply a small metal lid which I lined with foil and added a few blue glass nuggets.
We went to our local garden centre to chose some alpine plants, a nemesia (because it was cute) and a little birdhouse. The alpine lime green moss was a great find as it looks like little areas of grass. After planting these all we laid out our stone pathway and then placed in all our crafted handiwork.
I definitely recommend making a fairy garden for yourselves. It's been a lot of fun!
Making a fairy garden in honour of national fairy day! June 10, 2015 13:53
In honour of one of the most important days of the year, National Fairy Day, I'm going to stop researching ideas for my fairy garden and actually start making it! I'm so excited as I like all things miniature and I know my daughter Chloe will love it too. Fairy Day, which is on 24th June, happens to fall on her 6th birthday so it's an added motivation to get it completed. I'm not sure how the end product will look but I have lots of ideas of what I envisage it to be! Read more...
The tiny world of fairies is massive! May 19, 2015 17:00
Since I began to make and sell fairy doors I've become slightly obsessed with all things fairy related. The world of miniatures is massive!! There's so many fun things to add to your fairy door to bring the whole idea of a fairy world to life, like little picket fences, grass mats with little daisies, little newspapers and bottles of milk to leave outside the door. Read more...
and so the story began... April 02, 2015 11:30
Back in 2009, I was sitting in a costa coffee trying to revive myself after another sleep deprived night and pondering what to do for the rest of the day. At the time I'd just had my first child Chloe and decided to spend the afternoon decorating and personalising her bedroom (well as much as you can get done with a 2 month old baby!!). I'd always been interested in crafts and design and have painted from a young age, but before becoming a mother I'd never had the opportunity to give it as much time and dedication as I would have liked. I'd seen products on the market that had given me ideas and inspiration, but I'd always rather get my hands dirty and create the look and feel myself. I set about decorating some wooden letters that I had at home, hand painting each letter of Chloe's name with an individual style. Read more...
Plaques of all shapes, sizes and interests! February 27, 2015 08:46
I absolutely love creating new plaque designs and am always pleased to receive orders requesting something unusual. I recently had a request for a plaque based on trains because the customer's son loved trains, particularly Virgin trains! I'm definitely used to children with 'particular' (unusual) interests; my son Louis isn't into trains at all but loves animals, his personal favourites being cows and brown (?!) hippos. He even had a hippo themed birthday party for his 3rd birthday. It's on my to do list to create a hippo plaque for him but I'm not expecting this design to catch on and be a best seller! Read more...
The children really do believe in fairies! February 02, 2015 20:25I love hearing little funny stories from customers who have bought my fairy doors. One customer had bought a pink fairy door for her daughter but hadn't realised her son would be jealous and want one too. Her daughter wrote a little note to the fairies asking for a fairy door for her brother! And the brother was checking his room every day to see if the fairies had delivered! I had an urgent request from the customer for a blue fairy door otherwise doubt in the fairies magical abilities may have set in. Read more...
I need to be prepared for next Christmas! January 06, 2015 00:00
I was completely and utterly unprepared for the sheer volume of orders I received at Christmas. Read more...