Friday, 1 August 2014

Doctor Who Printable TARDIS And Editable Party Favor

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Last month I hurriedly assembled some Doctor Who printable TARDIS boxes to hold party favors for the kids at my son's birthday, (in a ditzy moment I'd forgotten that 9 year old boys still expect to go home with some sort of token gift). I never intended for the finished printable to make it onto the blog, but since the new series of Doctor Who is only about three weeks away I thought that other people might appreciate the printable too.

FYI, if you like Doctor Who or are arranging a birthday party for a young fan, I should be sharing some more printables over the next few weeks.

The first free printable is a straightforward do-it-yourself TARDIS. Simply print the template onto card, cut out the pieces carefully, apply glue to the tabs and fold into shape. Folding is much easier if you gently score the fold lines first.

The second printable is intended for parties. You can either give the paper model itself as a party favor or use it as a party favor box (just leave the tabs at the top unglued and pop some sweets or candy inside). But what makes this printable a bit special is that it is editable.

You can add in your party guests' names...

... and you can also add a personal message to the back of the TARDIS.

Ten points if you can identify where the quote is from. Twenty points if you realized that the correct quote is "always take a banana to a party". (I noticed my mistake the second I hit print, but wasn't going to correct it since my printer was running low on cyan ink).

If you like these printables, please spread the word. Pinning is appreciated, so that other Doctor Who fans can enjoy these freebies too. :-)

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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Vinegar Uses In The Garden

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A quick scan of my many cleaning posts will show that I am a huge fan of white vinegar. But it is only recently that I have also started to use it in the garden, and now I love it even more!

Not only is vinegar very effective for a lot of garden jobs, it is cheap and not full of nasty chemicals. This means that you can use it on areas where children and pets might go, and in patches where you are growing food.

Here are some of the best uses for vinegar in the garden.

Natural Weed Killer

White vinegar will kill most types of weeds and is far safer than commercially available weed killers. You can pour it straight from the bottle, but it is easier (and less wasteful) if you put the vinegar into a spray bottle and mist the weeds thoroughly. Most weeds will only need one application, but vigorous weeds may require two or three. You could also add a couple of spoonfuls of salt into the spray bottle for extra effectiveness.

Be careful not to spray the vinegar onto any vegetation which you want to keep, such as grass or plants.

Tree Stump Killer

Tree stumps will often continue to send out shoots and leaves, which can be a real problem  if you don't want to resort to a chemical stump killer. The first thing you should try is spraying the shoots with undiluted vinegar (do this on a sunny, dry day for the best results). If you do this regularly, the tree will stop photosynthesizing and the stump will die.

For a quicker and more direct approach, drill holes into the top of the stump and pour in white vinegar. You can also pour in rock salt to kill the tree stump. It is not advisable to sprinkle salt or vinegar around the stump, as it can seep into the soil and affect the surrounding vegetation.

Kill Mold And Fungus

Seedlings need nice, clean containers as any mold contamination from previous plants can infect them. Rinse your seed trays with diluted white vinegar before you reuse them.

Giving your tools a quick spray with white vinegar before you store them will also kill any fungus which they picked up from the soil.

Remove Rust From Garden Tools

Many garden tools are prone to rust, which can leave them working less effectively. Soak affected tools in undiluted white vinegar for a couple of hours and the worst of the rust should be removed. For larger or more awkward tools, you can spot clean rusty areas by soaking a rag in white vinegar and applying this to the affected area for one hour.

Raise Soil Acidity

Although many plants will wither in acidic soil, there are a few plants which need a less alkaline dirt (such as hydrangeas and azaleas). To raise the acidity of your soil, add one cup of vinegar to one gallon of water and use it to water any plants which thrive in acid.

Deter Ants (And Other Pests)

Ants - and many other garden pests - do not like vinegar. If you are suffering from an infestation, spray the area with white vinegar every few days. This should resolve your pest problem.

Vinegar will also deter cats from leaving unwanted 'presents' in areas such as your child's sand box.

Fertilize Your Pot Plants

White vinegar may kill most vegetation, but apple cider vinegar is great for plants. To fertilize potted plants naturally, add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to one gallon of water and use it to water your plants.

Make Your Own Plant Food

Plant food is great for homegrown crops, potted plants and indoor plants. To make your own, mix one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of sugar and one cup of water. Use as needed.

Prolong Cut Flowers

You know those little sachets of feed which sometimes come with a bunch of flowers? You can make your own using vinegar! Fill a vase with water and then add in a couple of spoonfuls of apple cider vinegar and one tablespoon of sugar. This will keep your flowers fresh for 5 to 7 days.

How do you use vinegar in your yard or garden?

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Thursday, 17 July 2014

Printable Placemats For Kids To Color

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I really love the coloring and puzzle pages which many family friendly restaurants provide. They are a great way to keep children occupied while they are waiting for their food, especially if they are preschooler age. I've always thought they would be great to have at home on special occasions or when we have extra children round.

If you want to rack up the dinner time entertainment factor at home you can buy tablecloths which kids can draw on, which I have considered purchasing for when we have younger visitors. But then I decided that I would take the cheap and easy option and simply create my own printable placemats!

You can provide pencils or crayons so the children at the table can color them in. It will keep them happy and quiet, and you will have a no fuss placemat which can simply be recycled once dinner is over.

Alternatively, if they are particularly proud of their efforts, you can laminate the finished picture. This means that the placemat can be used over and over again.

Click on the link above to download the printable PDF. It can be opened with any free program such as Adobe Reader (or you can print it directly from the link above).

Meal times have never been so much fun. Enjoy. :-)

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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

How To Make Loom Bands Without A Loom

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How To Make Loom Bands Without A Loom

I pondered over whether to share a tutorial on how to make loom bands with a hook, as it isn't my usual sort of post. But then I figured there are a lot of other parents out there who are look for cheap and easys way to keep their kids amused over the summer.

Unless you are a hermit, you will almost certainly be aware that loom bands are a big craze (both with boys and girls). It involves weaving tiny rubber bands into a friendship bracelet using a plastic loom. Frankly, I didn't want to spend £15 on a kit when a basic pack of bands and 's' hooks can be purchased for less than £2. But if you follow this tutorial you wont need to. :-)

How To Make Loom Bands With A Hook

There is more than one way to create loom bands without a loom, and a lot of kids like to make loom bands with their fingers. I prefer this method though as it is less ouchy, and a lot less fiddly. Most packs of bands come with a plastic hook included, but a small crochet hook works brilliantly.

FYI, this tutorial is for a double banded loom bracelet, which is more durable and looks better than using single bands. But if you are just starting out, I recommend using single bands to practice. Just substitute two bands for one at the relevant parts of the tutorial.

Step one. Although there is no reason why you can't start off with two bands when you are creating your bracelet, I just use one. Squeeze the sides of the band together...

... then push it into one side of the 's' clips. If your bands didn't come with the clips, you can create your own clasp using something like thread or narrow ribbon (but the plastic clips are super cheap anyway so in my opinion it is far easier to use the real deal).

Step two. Thread both sides of the band over your hook, as shown in the picture, so that the clip is hanging down in the middle.

Step three. Thread two bands onto the end of your hook.

Step four. Push the loops of the first band over the two new bands...

... so that it is now hanging over the bands instead of the hook. This is easier to do if you insert a thumb or a finger into the two new bands to keep them taut.

Step five. Lift the end of the two new bands up so that both sides are hanging over the hook, with your first band dangling in the middle.

Step six. Insert two more bands onto the hook...

...and repeat the process... so.

Step seven. Repeat the steps until you have 20+ links in your loom bracelet.

Step eight. To finish off, I add a single band onto the hook and weave it onto the bracelet (as per steps four and five)...

...Then, as in step one, I push both ends of the band through the 's' clip to secure it.

The loom band is ready to wear! You can vary the pattern and design by using different combinations of colours or number of bands for each link.

I hope you find this tutorial useful. Since you can pick up hundreds of bands very cheaply, it is such a good way to keep the kids happy for a few hours!

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