Serviette Modge Podge Project

My daughter and I used some paint, a serviette and Modge Podge to decorate some new wooden items for in my kitchen.

It was simple and quick ~ she completed the whole project in an afternoon.

Pop over to my Project page or click here for the tutorial!


Celebrate Bunting

My youngest daughter celebrated her 10th birthday recently.

I created some bunting for her party.

These simple triangle flags gave a festive air as well as these lettered

Celebrate Bunting Flags

Pop over to my Projects page for my simple tutorials!


How Handicrafts and Life Skills Become Great Assets

I strongly advocate handicrafts!  Not just because we are an “arty-crafty” kind of family and love to make gifts, do projects that beautify the home, and create things to trade/ sell.  Many gifts and ideas are frugal – making “something out of nothing”.  But I have seen the value of a child learning valuable practical skills when they work with their hands.

I seldom blog about my eldest daughter, now 16 years old, who amazes me with her flair with sewing, embroidery, flower arranging and handiwork. May I share a little about her ~
  • She is in grade 10 and has  a lovely business called Captivating Beauty Boutique  where she and her dearest friend who lives about an hour and a half away sew and create bridal dresses, bridesmaids and flower girls dresses which they rent for weddings to the workers in the district.
  • They have done 2 weddings already! They did the brides and bridesmaids’ make-up, hair and accessories, transforming these ladies into beautiful women for this special day.
  • They helped arrange tables and decorate the halls for receptions and created beautiful church flower arrangements.
  • They hosted their first fashion show in July 2010, showcasing their wedding apparel to the local community.
  •  Not only did they sew the clothes, they trained and dressed the models, did their hair and make-up and selected jewelry and accessories.
  • They created beautiful flower arrangements and they organized friends and family to help with the music and the lovely tea afterwards.
  • Right now she is hard at work preparing for the next fashion expo for the matric/prom dresses and evening gowns to be held next month.

Flower girls model pink satin and organza dresses made by my daughter

  • In addition to her handiwork skills, she demonstrates a flair on the computer with graphic art.  She designed their business cards, created professional posters for advertising, made stunning invitations and created lovely programs for their expos.  In time she will create a fantastic blog too!
  • I have every confidence in her future!  She has demonstrated the necessary skills to make and create beautiful garments, work with clients, meet deadlines, organize, prioritize, delegate and assist others in big projects.
  • Once she has completed her schooling she may well rent a gorgeous little Victorian house, convert the front into a vintage tea room and sell dresses from her exquisitely arranged boutique   … or she may join a business and be an asset as an employee.
I agree with Miss Charlotte Mason”s four points kept in mind when selecting handicrafts and life skills  (from Home Education, p. 315)

  1. The end-product should be useful. The children should not “be employed in making futilities such as pea and stick work, paper mats, and the like.”
  2. Teach the children “slowly and carefully what they are to do.”
  3. Emphasize the habit of best effort. “Slipshod work should not be allowed.”
  4. Carefully select handicrafts and life skills to challenge but not frustrate. “The children’s work should be kept well within their compass.”

This year my younger 2 daughters and I started quilting.  Our first project was an appliquéd and quilted hearts for gifts/ decoration.

Miss. L9's mini quilt in progress

The second quilt project is still in progress.  We are sewing a set of appliquéd quilted squares to hang in the dairy area of our kitchen.  My youngest (9) still needs to finish stitching the binding and my 11-year-old needs to complete the tabs and press her quilt square – quite a lovely simple project!  I can’t wait to hang these mini quilts on a dowel stick and enjoy seeing their handiwork everyday when we strain and store milk and make our dairy products.

What skills can your children learn?


  • Beading
  • Calligraphy
  • Carving
  • Ceramics
  • Chalk drawing
  • Charcoal sketching
  • Clay sculpturing
  • Crocheting
  • Cross-stitching
  • Embroidery
  • Finger painting
  • Flower arranging
  • Gardening
  • Iron sculpturing
  • Kiting
  • Knitting
  • Latch-hooking
  • Leather tooling
  • Loom weaving
  • Macrame
  • Oil painting
  • Pencil sketching
  • Photography
  • Picture framing
  • Pottery
  • Quilting
  • Robotics
  • Rubber stamping
  • Scrapbooking
  • Scroll sawing
  • Sewing
  • Spinning fibers
  • Spool-knitting
  • Videography
  • Watercolor painting
  • Weaving
  • Weaving pot holders
  • Whittling
  • Woodworking

Life Skills

  • Auto mechanics
  • Baking
  • Canning
  • Changing a car tire
  • Changing a lightbulb
  • Checking the car’s oil
  • Cleaning: mirrors, sinks, toilets, tubs and showers, baseboards
  • Clearing the table
  • Cooking
  • CPR
  • Driving a car
  • Drying: clothes, dishes
  • Dusting
  • Electrical wiring
  • Emptying trash
  • First Aid
  • Folding: clothes, towels, sheets
  • Mopping
  • Mowing the lawn
  • Organizing: closets, cupboards, sheds, attics
  • Painting a room
  • Plumbing
  • Raking leaves
  • Setting the table
  • Sweeping the floor
  • Vacuuming
  • Vegetable gardening
  • Wallpapering
  • Washing: clothes, dishes, windows, car
  • Welding

Life Skills but also Business Skills

  • Computer skills
  • Keyboarding/Typing
  • Tracking personal finances
A child is equipped when she learns practical skills.  A child may discover a gift or talent when they learn a craft.  Their self-image is boosted when they are able, useful and can say “I can”.
I hope your projects and handicraft activities bring you and family great joy!


This post has been submitted to the upcoming Charlotte Mason Blog Carnival.


Pretty Apron Gift

This feastive season I hope to make many of our Christmas gifts.

I started with this simple apron ~

A really plain apron

It was store bought and fairly cheap,  much cheaper than buying the material and clasp at the fabric store, but the fabric and sewing was very strong, neat and durable.

With some scraps of co-ordinating fabric, some re-cycled lace and a piece of ribbon,  I added the decorative patchwork over the exsisting apron pocket and bib.

And this is the finished apron!

Viola!  A pretty, original apron for a sweet friend who spends most her life in her kitchen cooking, baking and preserving for her large family.

Pop over to my Project Pages and read the full tutorial and see the photos there.

I’m off to whip up some more bags, aprons, felt toys and home preserves and natural bath products for gifts!


Make a Bag for Nature Study

Just recently, I bought the girls some new quality paintbrushes and blank notebooks for nature journalling.

I only bought some new B and 2 B pencils, and 3 different quality paintbrushes each ~ a medium pointed brush no.7, a thinner no.3 and a fine pointed brush no.0.  The spiral notebook is new too, but the rest of these art supplies are our existing stock.

If you need to know what to buy for your children’s art supplies, check out Barb’s excellent Art Supplies for kids Squidoo lens.

I always recommend moms to buy a few quality things now and then.  Before long, your art supplies will be quite established and it should not cost too much.

What do we  take on our nature journal outings?

    • B or 2 B pencil and soft, good eraser
    • Notebook or journal or a clipboard with blank paper
    • A black fineliner pen
    • Watercolours, brushes and bottle of water
    • OR water-colour pencils
    • Some toilet paper to dab messes or clean brushes
    • Sun hat, sunscreen and smiles!
    • Mom sneaks in some small reference books – a bird book, flower or veld grass, insect reference books

As we carry our art stuff around the garden and farm, we needed dedicated bags for our outdoor studies.

I was inspired by  Suzanne of Just Another Hang Up‘s beautiful lined  Lil’ Girl Springtime Tote and the zipper pouch from Stephanie at The Crimson Owl and I adapted their tutorials to make each of us a nature study bag.

I lined each bag and made several customized pockets to hold water bottles, paint boxes and our nature journals.

I decided to add a fold-over-top so that we can store extra things we find on our nature study.

I even experimented and made pocket dividers, elasticized water bottle pockets.

For a pretty finishing touch I created several gorgeous fabric flowers to decorate the bags..

Click to my project pages or click here for the step-by-step tutorial.


This post is part of the upcoming South African Carnival of Homeschooling.

Dress Up ~ How to make a “boned” girl’s corset

We all know how young girls love to dress up!

For many years my girls have dressed up for “Olden Days” games with long skirts, calico pinafores and bonnets.

This year I made them some “boned” corsets to wear over their blouses or dresses.

To read the sewing tutorial click pop over to my Projectspage~ Boned” Girl Corset

Blessings, Nadene

Mosaic Memories

I received 3 perfect, old Blue Willow plates as an heirloom gift.

Sadly, by the time I unpacked them after a particularly bumpy journey home, they had all broken.

I sat and cried.

Shattered dreams and broken plates

I had planned to hang them in my country kitchen as a feature above my window.

As I pondered over my shattered plates and broken dreams, I realized that I could use the pieces and create mosaic kitchen items.

So, with the help of my friend who came to visit for a week, we selected my galvanized metal watering can,  vase and little metal basket, and had fun making mosaic.

Broken plates, glass tiles & galvanized items

Read my Mosaic Tutorial here ~ Mosaic Memories

And here are the results ~

My marvelous plates are on daily view and in use.

My Blue Willow Watering Can

Blue Willow Mosaic Vase

“Shrektacular” Shrek Party Ideas!

We recently created a wonderful Shrek theme party for my 8-year-old.

Can't wait to decorate the Shrek cake

My children and I love planning a party!  We brainstormed our menu, games and activities, decor and party craft.

We love painting the decor and creating a craft kit or gift for the party favour. (I don’t believe in sending home a bag of sweets.)

It is much more fun to let the children create and decorate the party cake!  This has relieved me of the burden of creating the “perfect party cake” (and mine always look very wonky!)

(Don’t you agree that a large cake is wasted on little children – I’ve maintained that I might as well ice and decorate a shaped piece of polystyrene because the kids just pull off the sweets and strip the icing and leave the cake!)

We had to take our party to my Mom-In-Law’s house, so about 3 days before our party we  began our party preparations and…

  • Made Masks for decor and a charade game ~click here for a pdf download ~ Shrek Party Masks

  • Princess Fiona



    Fairy Godmother

    Puss In Boots

    And many more ….

  • I created a Shrek File Folder Game.

(I will share  more about that when I’ve uploaded the game.  Included with this are character cards and charades cards. I hope to share this on File Folder Fun, so I’ll share this with you later. 😉 )

  • Created lovely, edible cake decorations with marshmallow paste for a Shrek Swamp Cake.

Moulding a flower on icing sugar

Toadstools, lily pads, lilies, butterflies and dragonflies

Here’s the recipe for Marshmallow Paste:

15 White Marshmallows

100g sifted Icing Sugar

Food Colouring

Corn flour/ Icing sugar

  • Melt the marshmallows in a bowl in the microwave, stirring every 10 seconds.
  • Add the icing sugar to the melted marshmallows and mix till it forms a paste. (Heat again if it becomes too cool and stiff.)
  • Divide into several small balls and colour each ball separately, leaving 1 ball separate for white.
  • To colour – place the ball on a plate in the microwave for 20 sec and knead a few drops of food colouring into the hot paste. (Caution – it gets very hot!  Do NOT use your fingers – I used a table knife and pressed the flat side into the ball and kneaded it on a little sprinkle of icing sugar till the colour was right through.)
  • When the pastes gets hard, just warm it quickly in the microwave for about 10 secs and then create your shapes.
  • If the paste gets sticky use a little sprinkle of corn flour or icing sugar to reduce the stickiness.
  • Different pieces will stick together if it is warm.  Add sprinkles or silver balls for detail when the paste is warm.
  • Although this is completely edible, it is not that delicious. (smile)

We baked a large, flat chocolate cake.

I made Rice Crispies Marshmallow biscuits to use to build Shrek’s house.  We bought wafer biscuits for the ‘outhouse’, windows and doors.  We decorated lollipops and pasted paper sunflowers on the wrappers.  I bought a packet of chocolate discs for a stepping stone path.  We used Flaky chocolates for logs. We baked and decorated Gingerbread men with jelly tot buttons.

At the start of the party the children decorated the cake:

Chocolate cake with Rice Crispie Biscuit Shrek House

Adding Decorations

Excited ~ almost all done!

The Shrektacular Cake!

(The delicious chocolate cake recipe, the biscuit recipe and other ideas are in the pdf. download at the end of this post.)

And the party itself was a Shrektacular!

We lit the candles and sang “Happy Birthday” and then the gorgeous cake was stripped!  ~ just I had planned!

Play Pin the Donkey:

This is an old favourite, but it was a delightful success and everyone’s ‘mis-placed’ tails looked so funny!

Pin the Donkey's Tail

With some fast dance music from Shrek, we played Lily Pad Hop.  It is another easy version of musical chairs, but we used green paper plates as ‘lily pads’.

Who will sit on the last Lily Pad?

We played Fairy Godmother Freezes to music.  The child that moved after the music stopped is out and they then suggest the next movement everyone had to copy and stop when the music stopped.

Outside we played a Shrek version of tag with Dragon Escape!

While outside, each person used their bubble stuff to blow and catch bubbles.

We played our board game, played charades with the masks and played catch and Piggy in the Middle with balloons.

We giggled and enjoyed Princess’ Thimble where each child holds a straw in their mouth and pass the thimble along.

Princess' Thimble

I downloaded and printed a wide variety of Shrek colouring-in pages and everyone left with these, their bubble stuff and a mask.

I found awesome, inspiring party ideas at

You can download my ideas, recipes, game instructions, activities, images and ideas here ~ Shrek Party

Make a Rag Doll Family

You recently met some of my girls’ rag doll family when we shared our 3D model of  Seurat’s “Bathers” .

3D Model of Seurat's "Bathers"

We decided to get rid of all our Barbie dolls and their sexy outfits a few years ago, but we kept our beautiful wooden dolls house and all the furniture.

I decided to make each child a rag doll lady and man, and they chose whether to have a rag doll baby or toddler. Later I added the granny and grandpa.  (They are about the same length as the traditional fashion doll, so much of the store-bought clothing could still fit.)

Rag doll family

Some of you asked for the pattern, so I have created this tutorial for you and you can download the patterns at the bottom of this post:

How to make the body:

  1. Start with 3 pipe cleaners.  The wire makes a bendable skeleton. Make a loop for the head and the rest becomes the body and 1 leg and foot.  Use the 2nd pipe cleaner as the other leg, twist a foot and  twist to join the first pipe cleaner at the pelvis.  Use the 3rd pipe cleaner to  create 1 arms, wind around the body to make shoulders and out to make the 2nd arm  Twist a small loop to make hands.
  2. Cut several 2cm wide (1 inch) strips of medium thickness wadding/ padding and wind this around the head, limbs and body.  Use extra wadding to flesh out the head, the breasts and hips.  I was modest and made the breasts smaller than the Barbie’s! (This way the women can be used as teenage girls in their games.)  Create wider shoulders for the men.
  3. Using double thread, just wind the thread around the wadding tying it tightly on the skeleton.  Create knee and elbow joints by tying more thread tightly at these parts. Just knot the thread to finish off.
  4. Place the padded body on top of skin coloured stretch material and use a magic fabric marker to draw around the entire body.  Cut 2 matching pieces.
  5. Sew together by machine (or by hand if you wish) leaving the 1 side under the arm to the hip open.  Turn sewing inside.
  6. Insert the rag doll and hand sew the side seam closed.

Rag doll pipe cleaner and wadding bodies. (Notice my wooden model to help with proportion)

Rag dolls in various stages - 2 dolls with wadding untied, 1 doll tied and 2 with 'skin' on

How to make the hair:

  1. Make hair with wool.  Wrap the wool around 2 or 3 fingers (for short hair) or around all 4 fingers (for longer hair) about 15 times.  Remove this circle of wool and cut through one end of the loop.  I will use 2 layers of hair, so do this step twice.
  2. Using the same coloured thread as the wool, sew the first loop of ‘hair’ together in the middle of the loop of hair and knot it to secure.  Now place this ‘parting’ in the middle or at the side of the head (for a side parting in the men) and stitch on to the head of the doll.  Spread the wool to cover all the scalp.  Sew over each woolen thread all around the hair-line so that the hair will always cover the scalp.  Create side burns and ear space as you sew the hair down.
  3. Now use the 2nd hair loop.  Sew it together in the middle of the loop and knot to secure.  Place this over the first layer of hair.  Shape and style to cover and drape or fall as you wish.  Sew through each wool thread and on to first hair layer to keep the style.  For the women, I left the long hair loose from over the crown and below so they could braid or tie the hair up.  Trim the lengths to style.

Rag doll man's hair and face

Rag doll lady's hair sewn around hair-line

How to make faces:

  1. For all the faces I used felt.  The eyes and lips were first glued and then stitched with suitable colour thread to make features.
  2. Use pale neutral lip colour for men and brighter pinks for women.  Sew across the lips to create the mouth opening.
  3. Stitch the eyes to create the eyelashes for the women and in the pupils in the centre of the felt circle for the men.  The men wear eyebrows.
  4. The grandpa wore a mustache.
  5. Sew pearl beads for earings.

Granny rag doll with pearl earings and violet eyes

Grandpa rag doll

child-size rag doll

Baby rag doll

Some technical facts:

  • The wire is soft and can break with repeated bending after about a year or more.  I opened the seam, replaced the pipe cleaner with stronger wire in that section and sewed up the doll.  My girls thought this was major surgery, so, this procedure is best done at night while the children are asleep!
  • The dolls can be tossed in a mesh bag and washed in the machine, however the felt colour is not colour fast and it created ‘shadows’ on the faces.
  • The woolen hair does get fluffy and fuzzy if brushed.  This is good for fur on animals, but not our dolls!  I trimmed the fuzz and sewed another layer of new matching wool over the existing doll’s hair-do.
  • The soft wire body makes sewing clothes a breeze!  No awkward arms and legs to wiggle into sleeves.  The girls make most their own doll’s clothes. BUT, the waist is tiny and I battled to sew the jeans and insert the elastic!
  • My girls wanted to use store-bought plastic shoes, but the rag dolls feet and legs were a little too fat, so I did some serious ‘liposuction’  and removed a bit of the wadding in the women’s legs.  I think their legs look too spindly now, but the results delighted the girls.  If you want to use plastic shoes, bear this in mind and make your rag doll legs thin!

This rag doll family has kept the girls entertained in the most creative and wholesome way for absolutely ages!  They travel with them, make clothes for them and use Lego to build incredible yards and gardens.  At times, they play that the dolls are married mommies with children, at other times they are all brothers and sisters in a large family.  I love the innocence and freshness of child’s play with these rag dolls.

Happy rag doll family

Dolls house with rag doll family

Click here for your pattern download ~   Making Rag Dolls and these are the patterns you’ll receive:

Step-by-step how to make rag doll

Page 2 Rag Doll body pattern

Page 3 clothing patterns

Page 4 clothing patterns

I’d love to see your dolls ~ so if you make them, please upload your photos to share with us!