Felted Pom Pom Necklace

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Way back when, before Christmas, we made these gorgeous felted pom pom necklaces as teacher gifts for Charlotte’s teachers. They were very simple and fun to make, and can be a great way to practice fine motor and patterning skills.

We bought all our supplies from AnnyMay, which sells eco-friendly, natural products (not sponsored). I couldn’t find an Australian seller at the time, but if you know of one, please let me know :)

Note: I’m not a proper ‘crafter’ or jewellery maker, I made this method up as we went along (as with most things!). Here’s how we made these necklaces.

DIY Felted Pom Pom Necklace

You will need:

  • felted pom poms (ours were 20mm and 10 mm)
  • wooden beads (ours were 10mm)
  • waxed cotton thread
  • a large needle (with an eye large enough for your thread)
  • pliers

To make:

  • Design your necklace. Pebble placed the felted and wooden balls on a piece of paper in the order that she wanted them to go onto the necklace. She spent a long time making sure that she got the colours just right for each person.
  • Cut the waxed cotton thread to your preferred length. As I said, I’m not a jewellery maker, so I decided to tie these off by running both ends of the cord through a wooden bead and securing it with a knot. This meant that we needed our necklaces to be long enough to slip over the head. Just measure against yourself to see how long you will need the thread.
  • Thread your necklace. This is where we hit a little hurdle. The needle was very tricky to push through the dense felt pom poms. I pushed the needle so that it was just through, then used the pliers to pull the needle and thread out to the other side. Unfortunately this meant that Pebble couldn’t help with this bit. Never mind, she busied herself making a wooden necklace instead :)
  • Tie off your necklace. Finish your necklace by threading both ends through a wooden bead and tying a knot . Cut off any long pieces of thread that might be sticking out of the knot, to neaten it up.

Charlotte’s teachers were very thankful for their custom made necklaces :)
Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}

Felted Pom Pom Necklace {via Octavia and Vicky}
Want more fun ideas for kids? Just download your copy of the Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook. Watch the 30 second video and buy your copy now or find out more.

Three to Five Playful Preschool ebook - 25+ Playful Preschool Activities

Looking for more home made gifts? Try these:

Homemade Coconut IceDIY Striped Frames - hand made by kids

Family Holiday Tips – Geek Style!

family holiday tips

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Family Holiday Tips {via Octavia and Vicky}


Our family summer break has been filled to busting with family, friends and food. While some families disappear for a week or two to a beach house, we soak up the summer break in our own way, zipping to BBQs, birthday parties and beyond. It is one of our big birthday seasons, with nine birthdays (including Pebble’s!), plus New Year Eve celebrations, the annual New Years Day BBQ with friends and Australia Day just around the corner.

It gets very, very hectic, but it’s our own kind of fun and we’re making memories every day. Pebble is getting that little bit older now and will run off with the other kids to play. She has been gushing about how much fun she’s been having. Isn’t it cool how easily kids make friends on holidays? Rocky, on the other hand, will explore and destroy everything he gets his hands on, but that’s another story!

It helps to be super organised for this time of year. We’re always taking a plate to share, packing an esky full of drinks, buying birthday presents and loading up the car with the paraphernalia that comes with parenting. Here are some of my tips for staying sane while on holidays with kids – with little geek-tech help.

Summer Family Fun - Staying Sane on the Road with Kids {Octavia and Vicky}

Family Holiday Tips – Geek Style!

1. Makes lists and check them twice. Stay on top of all your jobs with a to do list. I love using the Any.Do app on my tablet, phone and PC. It syncs easily between phone, destop and tablet and is with me wherever I need it.

2. Map it. Google Maps is awesome for checking out the deets of any new destinations, or telling you just how much more of that baby’s screaming you need to endure before you get to your friend’s place for the BBQ. It can also tell you how to get to the nearest petrol station, bottle shop or supermarket, for those last minute bits and pieces.

3. Entertain them. Rocky is a car screamer. It sucks. He’s a little better now that he’s facing forwards in the car, but one thing that really helps keep him distracted is watching his favourite TV show. He adores Ben and Holly – I think it’s the clear pictures and children’s voices that keep him focussed. As an early childhood teacher, I can’t advocate too much screen time for little ones…. but as a mother who’s about to lose her mind on a long journey – charge that sucker up and you’re good to go!

4. Save those precious memories! We’re always snapping away with our cameras using phones or tablets, but are we making sure those photos are stored safely? There are probably a few different ways to do this, but we back up all our photos taken on the phone and tablet with Google+. It happens automatically wherever we are and is a huge relief to know that, if nothing else, our photos are safely stored should our precious devices end up lost at sea or dunked in a swimming pool.

5. Chill Out. We all love listening to music, especially on long drives, and use a streaming music service to listen to our favourite artists (or a bit of Bing at Christmas time). Pandora is the one that works for us, but there are a bunch to choose from. If you have the right technology you can stream the music through your car radio or home stereo system too, so you don’t have to listen to it through tinny mobile phone speakers. Just ask at your local car or gadget store for a retractable car audio cable to connect to your phone or tablet (or even your home stereo) and you’re good to go. We picked ours up for about $10.

Summer Family Fun - Staying Sane on the Road with Kids {Octavia and Vicky}

Of course, to do all of this it helps to have awesome internet access and we’ve been super lucky to enjoy a Telstra 4G Mobile Broadband device this summer. It was a cinch to set up and is small enough to fit into my pocket. It connects easily with our mobile phones and tablets, and has made life so much easier as we’ve been zipping from here to there. I love that it’s pre-paid, so you don’t need to sign up for a plan every month. Telstra have more awesome tips for your family holiday – just download this nifty ebook (featuring yours truly) >>> http://telstra4gwifi.com.au/

Summer Family Fun - Staying Sane on the Road with Kids {Octavia and Vicky}

One last little tip before I shoot off to another BBQ – find yourself a quiet corner of the world occasionally and enjoy a cold beverage with your feet up. It will do you the world good! (Don’t forget to take a selfie while you’re there and share it with all your mates on Facebook and Instagram!).

Have a fabulous holidays, wherever you are!

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - Toadstool cupcakes {via Octavia and Vicky}

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party {via Octavia and Vicky}Pebble is FOUR! Seriously. How did that even happen? She’s grown to be a wonderfully confident, curious, thoughtful and caring preschooler, who has an insatiable love for learning new things (like most preschoolers!). She makes us laugh every day. She makes us want to pull our hair out nearly every day. Pebble is a protective and loving big sister, always looking out for danger for her baby brother and giving him long, soft kisses on his “smudgy cheeks”. She also gives him plenty of pokes, squeezes and screams of alarm when he gets near her precious toy-of-the-moment. Watching them grow into their brother-sister relationship makes my heart swell big and tears come to my eyes.

But enough to that mushy stuff! On to the party! Pebble asked for a fairies and elves party this year, inspired by her love of Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom. We all love Ben and Holly in this house, it’s one of those rare kids TV shows that can we can all have a giggle at. I got a lot of inspiration from the craft and clever Kate at The Craft Train, who has been down the fairy party road before me. Thank goodness for blogs, where else would I have found all these wonderful ideas?!

As usual I was far too busy to get many photos, especially during the party. Before every party I think, “sure! I’ll be able to take lots of pictures myself”, then after every party I wish I’d designated a photographer. Dear Future Self – ask someone to be in charge of taking pictures!!!!!

Fairie’s and Elves Birthday Party

The decorations

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - tissue paper poms and streamer wall {via Octavia and Vicky} Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - indoor decorations - tissue paper poms {via Octavia and Vicky} Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - Outdoor decorations - tissue paper poms {via Octavia and Vicky} Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - fairy crackers (inspired by The Craft Train {via Octavia and Vicky} Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - Party Decoartions {via Octavia and Vicky}

I went to town with the streamers and tissue paper this year. How awesome are tissue paper poms? I had planned to make loads of these gorgeous, fluffy things, but ended up with only a few clutches of them. They were still stunning, if I do say so myself. I followed this tutorial and it worked a treat. There are loads of tutorials on You Tube too.

The streamer wall was simple and effective. I just bunched same colours together and tied them to a piece of string which usually holds Pebble’s art on our dining room wall. Done!

On the tables I placed some little vases of flowers (thanks Aunty Julie for the vases!), fairy crackers (also inspired by The Craft Train and which Pebble made) and lots of pink and red lollies in little fairy cups on top of a pink table runner.

The food

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - Toadstool cupcakes {via Octavia and Vicky}

I made some Toadstool Cupcakes using red icing and white chocolate chips, put out loads of pink and red lollies and pink iced biscuits (VoVos and 100s and 1000s, for the Aussies reading). The legendary Aunty Julie made fruit kebabs and fairy bread, and big cousin Naomi made her delicious coconut ice. I didn’t get a photo of any of that because it was hoovered up by the kiddos lickety split! Aside from that it was the usual pastries and chips – you can’t have a kids party without a packet of Cheezels on the table, right?

Games and Activities

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - Pin the Wand on the Fairy {via Octavia and Vicky} Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - Elf Tree (Free Printable from The Craft Train) {via Octavia and Vicky}

This is the first year that we’ve had games at one of Pebble’s parties and we went for traditional games with a little fairy twist. We had Pass the Parcel and Pin the Wand on the Fairy. Pebble painted the fairy herself :)

We were very lucky to have Pebble’s super clever cousin as our face painter, which the kids loved. Thank you Naomi! x

The Elf Tree was a lovely little attraction in the garden, the kids loved going up to it and knocking on the door, trying to get the elves to come out.  That was another awesome idea from The Craft Train. Late in the party, when some people had gone home, Pebble and her friends started an impromptu disco in the lounge room and danced for ages. It looked like the best fun ever!

The Cake

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party - Gold and White Chocolate Ice Cream Cake {via Octavia and Vicky}

Oh, the cake! Pebble doesn’t like cake but loves vanilla ice cream and white chocolate – so I set out to make her a White Chocolate and Vanilla Ice Cream Cake. I invented my own, no recipe required. Surely this couldn’t go wrong, right? Haha!

To make the cake, I melted a layer of white chocolate into a tin, lined with glad wrap, let it set, then added in a layer of vanilla ice cream, a layer of crushed white chocolate Tim Tams mixed with vanilla ice cream and finally another layer of vanilla ice cream. I let it set for over 24 hours and pulled it out in time to serve.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, that sucker had the glad wrap firmly set in between little creases of hard-as-a-rock white chocolate. I tried and tried to pull it out but it just kept ripping. All I could do was laugh! I knew my make-it-up-as-you-go cake had potential for disaster, so I just laughed and improvised! I hacked off all the plastic-ridden white chocolate, smoothed out the now melting vanilla ice cream, threw a heap of white chocolate chips on top (thanks to the genius that gave me that idea – Mel?!) and sprinkled it liberally with edible gold glitter. It looked beautiful!

It got lots of ooooohs and aaaaaahs as it came out for the Happy Birthday song and everyone thought it was awesome. I’d even go so far as to say that I’d make it again, just using chocolate chips this time instead of fiddling about with a properly set chocolate layer. I wish logic had told me to try that in the first place… .

When most of the guests had gone we pulled out Pebble’s new Slip’n Slide and the few kids still hanging around had an AWESOME time until it was almost dark. We bathed the kids, put them in PJs and put on a DVD, then enjoyed some pizza and a few well earned drinks ourselves. It really was a lovely day, and best of all Pebble had a FABULOUS time. Thank you so much to everyone who helped to make it a truly special day.

Fairies and Elves Birthday Party Slip n Slide

Happy Birthday Pebble!

Looking for more birthday party inspiration?

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Octavia and Vicky: Teddy Bear's Picnic Party ~ The Food

100 kids birthday party ideas

Setting Family Goals

Setting Family Goals {Octavia and Vicky}

Setting Family Goals {Octavia and Vicky}

Family goals? What are they? Have I become Oprah all of a sudden?

After a truly hectic December (who’s wasn’t!?) and leading into what is going to be a super busy year for our family, I thought it would be a good idea to take a step back, look at the big picture and work with my family to set some goals together. Bumbling through December and hitting the ground running every day has left us frazzled, snappy and grumpy. Not cool!

I regularly set goals with the children in my classroom, but I’ve never tried setting family goals. To be honest I was laughing a bit at myself for even thinking about family goals, and thought Paul might laugh at the idea too! However, when we sat down and looked at our family as a whole, and where we are headed, it really brought us closer together and made us feel positive and excited about the year ahead.

I’m no expert on families or goal setting, but here is the process we followed. I hope it helps you set some family goals too.

Family Goal Setting

  1. choose areas to focus on. We chose Personal (career, self development, health), Home (house and garden) and Family (us as a family and extended family).
  2. look at the month/year ahead and what is important or needs special attention. This year I’m returning to work part-time, Paul will continue with his Masters after taking time off while we settled baby Rocky in to our family, Pebble is starting Kindergarten and Rocky is starting regular formal child care and care with Grandma. We looked at what needs to happen to make all these things work successfully and planned our goals around that. We also included a focus on charity and service in the community and spending time together as a family and with extended family. This should be easy, right? :P
  3. make your goals smart – and S.M.A.R.T. There’s no point aiming for weekly date nights when you have no baby sitting support, or a major home renovation when there is no money. You’ve probably heard of SMART goals, especially if you’ve worked in any kind of business-y type place. Make your goals Specific (simple, clear), Measurable (how will you know you’ve achieved them?), Attainable and Realistic (is it possible to achieve these goal?) and Time specific (set deadlines). There are slightly different versions of the SMART goals theory, just Google it and you’ll come up with lots of info!
  4. include the whole family. Discuss goals as a family and agree on them together so that everyone’s input is valued and included. This helps all members of the family take ownership and responsibility for goals. We decided that as Pebble is only three (almost 4!) we discussed the family goals separately first, then asked her about her own. Think about how to phrase this for the age of your child. When asking Pebble about her ‘family’ goals, we asked, “what would you really like to do with the whole family all together?”. For ‘personal’ goals we asked, ‘is there anything that you’d like to learn?’. It was very interesting to find out what she was thinking, she had some very clear ideas!
  5. write your goals down. Put your family goals on paper and keep them where everyone can see them or refer to them. The kids can draw and write about their goals to make them more meaningful to refer to.
  6. revisit your goals regularly as a family. We plan to revisit our goals at the end of each month and plan new goals for each new month. This will help us to know if we’re reaching our goals and improve our goal setting skills as we go. This is a learning experience for us!

In my next post about family goal setting I’ll be sharing some of our goals for January and 2014.

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