Breaking Ice with Parlour Games

Playing parlour games was considered to be part of every day life just a few short decades ago. Digital games tend to be quite solitary – unless you’re on an online team game I guess!

But what happens when the internet’s down or there’s a power cut? Relying on ‘the system’ can be very disempowering but I’m here to say ‘Bring the fun back whether the leckie or the teckie is working or not!’

So let’s break some conversational ice. When you play games, whether they’re board games, card games, pencil and paper games or any other game that doesn’t need to be ‘plugged in’, you do have to speak to each other.

That could mean simply saying things like ‘it’s your turn’ or ‘pick a card’. But if there’s someone in your game who can press his or her fun button, these quick speaks could be lengthened and before you know it, you’re all chatting and having fun. For example…

  • Pretending that you’re going to cheat can cause riotous behaviour, although how riotous will depend on the atmosphere and length of fuses the players have.
  • Getting it wrong as an adult always makes the kids chuckle. Happy kids are what we’re going for after all. I employed this tactic many times over the years and although my grown up children still probably think I’m a bit dippy, I can laugh alongside their sibling jokes about me (sssh… because I know better!)

So, here’s a game that’s been played for many years in various forms and is suitable for all ages who can put pencil to paper. Young children especially like this game.

The more players the merrier but the game can be played with just two players. Each player will need a piece of paper and a pencil. Cut A4 pages in half lengthwise and give one piece to each player. I would also have some paper clips ready if you have some and if none of the children are likely to put them in their mouth, nose or ears 🙂

Each player draws a picture of a head and neck at the top of their paper. This could be the head of a monster or a person or maybe a robot? The drawing must be kept secret. Make the neck slightly longer and fold over the paper twice to hide the drawing but leaving the two marks for either side of the neck visible.

Pass the piece of paper to the player on your left. You may find it easier to use a paper clip to hold the paper in place.

The next drawing is a body and arms. Each player draws a body and arms taking the two neck marks as guidelines but not looking at the head that was drawn by the previous player. Mark the bottom of the body so the next player knows where to start the legs. The paper is then folded over as before and passed on to the next player.

The next drawing should be the legs. You could include the feet on this one or make the feet another stage. Using the mark at the base of the body drawn by the previous player, draw the legs and fold over the paper again. Mark the bottom of the legs if you are passing it on again for the feet to be drawn by another player, or include the feet in your drawing.

Fold over the paper after the final drawing and pass on to the next player to open and reveal the weirdest and funniest people/monsters/animals that you’ve ever seen!

I love to share fun games we used to play in days of (not-so) old.

There’s a free printable of ten games on this page somewhere when you join the ‘Happy Families‘ community.

Have Fun

Linda x

P.S. In case you’ve just about topped your email capacity, there’s also a book download on this page. Indoor Family Games is where I extracted this little game from!

Pocket Crowdfunder

Yes! The Crowdfunder campaign’s published. Not sure what to do now.

But I guess I need to tell as many people as possible about it. The idea has so many good points to it that I really want to get it off the ground.

The money isn’t as important as the exposure – well, the small target of £150 would get the idea launched of course but overall I want to help support small businesses and local communities.

Here are some points about Pocket Bags and where they’re going:

*Practical handmade extra ‘pockets’ that tie onto belts, bags purses etc;

*Lovely gift idea for you or a friend

*Goal is to launch a local cottage industry and a business model ready to share nationally or even internationally.

*New designs, colours and sizes in development all the time

If you’d like to take a look at my Crowdfunder page and share it, I would be so grateful. It’s not a highly polished affair just a simple homemade campaign for simple handmade products.

Stay Safe

Linda x

Pocket Bags: Name Change!

Well, they’ve taken on a few names over the past few months and many different design ideas but after much polishing of the pattern and playing with catchy names, I think I’ve got there – finally!

Honestly, when I first had this idea, I thought it was going to be straightforward. I mean, it’s just a tiny bag after all and if I was making them for me or the family then the original version would probably have been fine. BUT my mind went off on a creative escapade of its own and I had no choice but to follow 🙂

So now I’m ready, or as ready as I’ll ever be, to get this Crowdfunder campaign rolling. I’m only looking for a few donations to pay for the packaging – the bags have to be presented nicely and if they’re in their own little box, they make great gifts as well.

But more to the point, I’m doing this to showcase small and local businesses and with a view to keeping everything as enironment friendly as possible. The bags will eventually be on sale on a new UK creative sellers platform – Home of the Mall – which was recently created as an alternative to Etsy because, although a great site, Etsy has got so big that it’s not easy to get seen, however good your product is.

So my biggest task now is to promote the crowdfunder campaign as much as possible and, hopefully, find a few people who would love to support small businesses and the creative arts. Fingers crossed!

I should be able to publish tomorrow and I’ll post a quick update here when it’s live just in case you’d like to see what I’m up to!

Stay safe

Linda x

B-Bags

No, not a typo and I’m not going to write about tea bags, although I could probably write a book on tea and it’s variations!

But no, today I want to share a brand new and exciting project that – hopefully – will launch in a few days. It’s a Crowdfunder campaign to jump-start a product and support small and local businesses.

The B-Bags in question are mini bags that tie on to belts, belt loops, scarves, bags and loads of other things. They are also big enough to hold a special item such as an amulet or a moonstone. Or something less zen such as a few coins or a small lighter. Here’s a quick snapshot of ideas:

And they’re hand-made – crocheted with love and care by yours truly.

But my ultimate aim is to create a stir and receive so many orders that I HAVE to get someone else on board too. There are after all only so many hours in a day and sometimes Netflix beckons 🙂

Giving someone else, and hopefully lots of someone elses an income, albeit a fairly modest one, will develop quickly into a cottage industry for local people and my huge ginormous goal is to set up a kind of mini franchise system that may appeal to many areas of the UK, especially high unemployment areas.

And I guess, as my imagination seems to know no limits at the moment, this could also be a global network of cottage industries.

This is the kind of work where social distancing is fairly simple – not necessarily enjoyed but the operational plan will be easy to install. Also, of course, crocheters, packagers and administrators will be able to more or less choose their work hours and times to suit their lifestyle.

I’m so excited about this project as it ticks so many boxes:

*Local employment
*Supporting small business
*Eco – friendly product
*Hand-made
*Extensive colour choices

And on top of all that, it’s a fabulous new idea that’s practical, pretty and affordable. A perfect gift for a loved one or yourself!

Now, I have to polish the Crowdfunder story a little, sort out some images and then bombard Facebook and Instagram with some fabulous posts. Wish me luck!

Love and Peace
Linda x

Homemade Gifts

Homemadegifts-pin

Making gifts for family and friends is so rewarding and there are many crafts that can be turned into pleasing and organic homemade gifts.

And you don’t have to be a crafting expert to create beautiful gifts. A while ago, I wrote an article called ‘Giving Green which includes a few project ideas to inspire new ways of giving gifts.

We all tend to live busy lives and often realize a week before a special birthday or a celebration such as Christmas that we haven’t sorted out gifts and/or decorations. So, off we trot to the shops and buy something we hope will be gratefully received.

And if you’re living on a tight budget as many of us are, that purchase can be based on cost and will possibly create a hole in the budget that week or month.

A couple of years ago, I found myself with a huge amount of knitting yarn in October and very little money so I bought a knitting pattern from Etsy (only a few pounds) for a pair of cozy slippers and spent most evenings knitting for my family.

On Christmas morning, they were all delighted with their gifts. I also made some finger-less gloves and, to avoid buying plastic coated wrapping paper, I tied each ‘package’ with a wide red ribbon.

Altogether, I had to buy some stop slip glue – which, yes, is plastic based, but unfortunately I couldn’t find an alternative at the time. It seemed quite expensive – around £5 for a small bottle, but the bottle covered all 12 pairs of slippers.

And I bought a few metres of wide red ribbon (Instead of wrapping paper) which also only cost a few pounds. Oh, and the original pattern, because I couldn’t find one I liked in any of my knitting books.

All, in all, I spent around £12 and created 12 gifts. Now, I did have the yarn to begin with, but a lot of that yarn was bought in charity shops and some was recycled by un-ravelling previously hand knitted items.

knitting

Getting into recycling and handmade mode is incredibly good for the soul. Even if you have to go to work every day, there are still evenings or a couple of hours every day when you could be enjoying a creative hobby, and turning that hobby, not necessarily into a side hustle business, but a way of giving handmade and unique gifts as well as saving money.

And a special bonus, is that you have complete control over the materials you use, which means you can be plastic-free as far as possible.

Have a quick look at the ideas in ‘Giving Green‘ and come up with some of your own that suit you and your abilities. Crafting for a couple of hours or even 30 minutes a day frees your mind from problems and as an added bonus, helps eliminate snacking in front of the TV – no more diets necessary!!

Happy Crafting!

Linda x

P.S. I’ve just updated my knitting pattern designs which are available on Etsy, Amazon and Payhip. Check them out and get knitting now 🙂 Knits U Love

Related Pages:

Where Do I Start?
Giving Green
Green Gifts
Christmas in August
Christmas Knits
Knitting for Christmas
Making Purses

Seasonal Creations

If you create products in any form, whether they are physical items or digital books, they have a good chance of being seasonal.

I use the word seasonal loosely as there are many special days throughout the year including celebration days such as Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day etc; and a whole lot of awareness days including ‘potato month’ or ‘asparagus day’ –

I just made them up but a quick google search can clue you into national or international celebration days.

Having said all that, planning your product launches can be complicated and I would suggest creating a spreadsheet or using a diary on or offline to keep track of everything; Product ideas for each month/season, ordering supplies, dates to launch and market etc;

Always allow enough time to make the items and have a strategy in place if you get more orders than you anticipated.

So apart from the great ideas flowing out of your ears and the boring admin stuff weighing you down, there is another issue that creatives have to address. It’s an issue that magazine publishers have been dealing with forever and we have no choice but to comply with the way it’s always been done. We have to have a lead time, even if you do think outside the box and want to do it your way!

I get it. I’m guilty every year of deciding to write a book about making christmas gifts or crocheting christmas tree decorations at the end of NOVEMBER! This does NOT work if you are trying to make a living from your creations or are already running a small business. Believe me….

As living beings we’re very likely to be affected by the weather, temperatures and daylight hours, hence wanting to start making Christmas things at the end of November. But there is a way to find that Christmas creative spark in July, or a summer cocktail recipe in December. By stimulating our senses we can trick our brains – left and right sides 🙂 – into finding the inspiration and motivation we need to get the timing right for our small or hobby business.

A while ago, I wrote an article Stimulate Your Senses that was related to creative writing and it was published on a few popular writing websites at the time. I haven’t edited it and it still veers towards writing but I’ve decided to apply it to my other pursuits and it seems to be working well. I’m working on Easter Bunnies as we speak!

Check through the article as I’m pretty sure you’ll get some out-of-the-box inspiration to help you get your products out on time next season.

Good Luck and stay safe

Linda x

P.S. The article is only a 5 minute read – less if you scan! Copy it onto your phone or desktop and refer to it when the weather is playing with your motivation. Stimulate Your Senses

Shopping Small

With all the upheaval in the world today, our shopping habits have changed, are changing and will probably continue to change in the future.

Just a few years ago, the only way to shop was by physically walking into a store and choosing what we wanted to buy. Then along came those big shopping-from-home catalogues – if you remember them, you’re giving away your age here! Goodness knows how damaging their thousands of glossy pages were to the environment. Probably best not to go there…

But now, only a generation later, we can literally buy more or less exactly what we want by tapping on our phones or tablets a couple of times. There are, no doubt, plenty of downsides to this system, although with the events of this year stunning us all, shopping online has literally become a lifeline for many of us.

Being a bit old-school – or possibly a lot old-school – I do prefer to shop physically for certain items. Sure, buying the same tea bags you always buy from the store you always buy from is practical and often less expensive if we take into consideration fuel costs and time. But when I need a new pair of shoes, for example, I really do prefer to try them on first, rather than wait for them to be shipped and then often having to go to the post office to return them. Not always, but it happens.

With the shopping season of the year creeping up on us, the excitement and chaos of Christmas shopping isn’t going to be the same this year, even if the powers-that-be are promising that all will be back to ‘normal’ next month.

Budgets have been severely cut and buying hundreds of cheap stocking fillers may be a temptation that’s hard to resist but take a moment to consider the implications before you dive into poundland ..

  • cheap stocking fillers are often plastic and mass-produced
  • many get broken or discarded within days or even hours of the big day
  • the extra refuse can, and probably will, end up in our already over-polluted oceans
  • is this purchase putting more of my money into a CEO’s already huge bank account?
  • are we really preparing our children for the future?

So, what’s the alternative? Well, as far as I can see ‘more’ isn’t always ‘better’.

When you buy 2 huge packets of cheap potato crisps for the price of one, isn’t that just a marketing ploy to get your family to eat more rubbish food? Those marketing experts know their stuff and cheap products are purposely targeted at families who are already on a tight budget. But we know all this, so back to this year’s Christmas list…

Rather than scribbling down names and quick gifts (e.g. “Aunt Mabel – bubblebath” ) consider the likes and dislikes of everyone on your list. Even if you just buy for your closest family members, not all of them may appreciate that family-sized box of chocolates…

  • Gluten-free, dairy-free or even sugar-free products are always loved by those with dietary issues. Jams and chutnies are a favourite too.
  • A framed print or an uplifting poem could help someone through a troubled time
  • A handmade item of clothing, or a novelty lipstick case will be unique and could even be personalized.
  • Handmade organic soaps and bath products are healthier and often beautifully packaged

So, I am writing this to help support small and local businesses who have been the worst hit in the business world – as they often are – and to encourage everyone to not only buy ‘green’ which is my usual rant (!) but also to explore the gift ideas that creative and talented folk are producing, because they are, after all, the people who live down your street and support your local economy.

For UK buyers, check out Home of The Mall – a new and exciting platform showcasing the best creations from small businesses in the UK. Not in the UK? Look at local business websites, etsy-style platforms or even Etsy itself. I have a few products on Etsy at the moment, but I’ll be changing them to Home of the Mall as soon as I get my act together!

Whether we’re stuck inside our ‘boxes’ or not, this is definitely the year to be thinking and acting outside the box, shopping small and supporting each other as much as we can.

Stay safe

Linda x

Dusting with Lemons

I’ve lived in flats, houses, a wooden shack and even a van and one thing that appears to be common to all these environments is dust – especially if you have a wood-burning stove it seems!

However, after years of ‘keeping house’ I would like to share a tip that really cuts down on the dust and the dusting chore 🙂

When you use a dry duster to wipe the surfaces, the dust tends to float around. You’ll collect some on the duster but a lot will simply float in the air until you turn your back, then it will settle down onto the surface you just wiped… ho hum…

And if you use a spray polish or cleaner first, you’re adding to the maladies of the planet, inadvertently of course.

So, here’s an idea.

Rummage around the fruit bowl until you find that lemon you know you forgot about – if you really haven’t got an old lemon, you can use the end of one or even the peel. No lemons at all? On your next shop, cross off polish and add ‘lemons’ to your list.

Then you need a clean, washable cloth and a bowl of warm/hand-hot water.

Either squeeze a little lemon juice or rub a little zest from the lemon peel onto the surface you’re going to clean. Wet the cloth, squeeze out excess water and wipe across the surface. Don’t use too much lemon. It can be a bit sticky. You won’t need it anyway.

OR squeeze some lemon juice in a bowl of water first, and just attack your surfaces with a bowl of lemony water and a cloth 🙂

As well as reducing the need to dust so often, you leave a lovely light lemon scent around your home.

AND you get to reduce the aerosols and chemicals clogging up your credit card, cupboards and our wonderful planet.

Happy Cleaning!

Linda x

Where Do I Start?

Would you love to avoid plastic, keep to a budget and give planet-friendly gifts this year? But you have no crafting skills? No problem.

You can make a personal gift for an aspiring or seasoned gardener with zero crafting skills. Here are three easy steps to make an eco-friendly gift that will inspire and delight.

Treat your family and friends to their own personal Garden Journal this year. And the more you make, the cheaper it gets!

Step One

First, pop over to Etsy and download this printable Garden Journal. Browse all the products or choose ‘printables’ from the product menu. You’ll be looking for this gorgeous cover:

The price at the time of writing is only £2.40 in the UK. and has 40 pages with gardening tips and an infinite amount of garden journalling space. Keep your download in a place you’ll remember – Desktop is usually my go-to 🙂 – then go to next step…

Step Two

Buy a folder. I prefer non-plastic wherever possible but it’s entirely your own choice. Choose something that you like if the gift is for you! – or choose a style that suits your friend or family member. From simple document wallets to glorious hand-made organic folders, the choice here is truly huge!

This assorted pack of ten document wallets are only £3.49 with free postage at time of writing Document Wallets.

For a more elaborate approach, if you’re in the UK, take a peek at Chicken Pink. I can personally recommend their creations – When I hold one of their journals in my hands I honestly want to stroke it!

But if you do go for a budget-friendly variety, you can pretty them up in step three…

Step Three

Get printing! Two options here:

1) Print the whole thing if you want to stick the cover on a plain folder, or there are lots of royalty-free images online to choose from. You’ll also need a pot of glue. Or

2) Print all pages except the cover (saves on ink!) if you’ve chosen a decorative folder.

Then put all the pages, in order, in your chosen folder. One gift sorted. Tah dah! Now you have the download you can make as many of these gifts as you want without having to download it again. Don’t you just love digital. 🙂

I hope you enjoy creating your home-made gifts.

Related pages:

Giving Green
Green Gifts
Homemade Gifts
Christmas in August
Christmas Knits
Knitting for Christmas
Making Purses

Stay Safe

Linda x

P.S. There are a few more printables in the Etsy shop – so if gardening doesn’t resonate with everyone, there are other options 🙂

Getting Ahead of Myself

..but in a good way this time!

knitateenagedoll-cover

I had hoped to get all the patterns done by the end of August, but a few – more than a few- rainy days in Cornwall had me chained to my laptop and I got them all finished. So happy. 🙂 Now I have to work out a way of getting the word out to knitters round the world!

The Ekokids were first created when my youngest daughter had a birthday coming up and we had a zero bank balance. They’ve been shared and played with for over 25 years now, and the new updated versions of the knitting patterns are pretty much perfect –
I guess they should be after twenty five years of tweaking!

They’re designed for beginner knitters and have simple step by step instructions with knitting tips and variation ideas dotted around. So if you aspire to practicing a new life skill or would love to create non-plastic dolls that are cute, cuddly and very entertaining, check out the patterns here … and Happy Knitting.

Speaking of life skills, I taught myself to crochet last week… thank you Youtube …. and just finished my first creation.

hat

Not perfect but with practice I hope to get better. Although knitting will probably always be my first love in needlecrafts, I am finding crochet very quick and lots of fun!

Learning life skills is a passion of mine (I’m doing two language courses at the moment as well!) and I’ve always found in times of financial difficulties – which happen far more often than I’d like – I can always come up with something to do, make or simply pass the time designing and working out ways of creating practical stuff.

Anyway, my crochet hook is calling me, so I’d better go but don’t forget to try out the Ekokid dolls – they make great gifts.

Stay Safe

Linda