Cheap 10 minute Paw Patrol / Lego Batman DIY Piñata

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A few weeks ago I took a trip to a few stores to look for Paw Patrol and Batman piñatas. The average price was $20 for an empty one and you still had to buy treats! Admittedly they were very nice but I couldn’t bring myself to shred up $20! I would rather spend the money on nicer treats for piñata innards!

People online have made piñatas out of balloons, papier-mâché, cardboard…however all the youtube videos looked like it took a lot of time.

After many unnecessary sleepless nights on how to make a piñata cheaply and quickly, this is the best I’ve come up with – just decorate a paper bag!

Supplies:

  • large paper bag
  • crepe streamer ribbons (2 colors ideally)
  • hot glue
  • scissors
  • printed character decoration
  • stapler
  • broom handle (for hanging pinata on)
  • Piñata stuffing – chocolate, erasers, toys, stickers, etc.

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1. Cut up crepe paper streamers by measuring how much is needed to wrap around bag. Fold 2 cut pieces together to about 5″ in length before cutting fringes with scissors.

Note – for Lego Batman pinata I couldn’t find black streamers so I bought sheets of tissue paper. This is not ideal, it took time to cut ribbons and since the paper wasn’t long enough to wrap around bag things were a bit uneven when gluing.

2. Use hot glue to layer on crepe paper fringes onto paper bag starting from bottom. Basically squirt glue, tap on paper, glue, tap on paper…Cover bag half way before stopping. Don’t worry about perfection, this is going to be broken!

3. Fill piñata with treats!

4. Fold flap of of bag over broom handle and staple flap onto the bag. I had a long reach stapler which made the job easier. Remove broom handle until needed later.

5. Use hot glue again to layer crepe paper to finish covering piñata.

6. Last step is gluing a picture of whatever character you want!

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At party – reinsert broom handle at top and hold. Kids at our party were given a small broom that was part of a play set to break piñata with.

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At birthday parties full of toddlers under 5 years it took over 20 min before the piñata broke! Every kid got to swing at least twice which was important!

Have fun making your own! 😉

 

 

 

 

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My YouTube Diary – Opening A YouTube Channel

Similar to television channels, on YouTube you can open your own channel to upload videos to. You can even make a trailer to promote it, add your social media links and pay for ads to advertise this channel. It’s like opening a free mini tv station which you can brand and upload whatever content (within YouTube guidelines) you want the world to see.

There are step by step instructions and technical tips on Buffer Social’s site write up on how to open a YouTube channel. Basically you need a Google account which will also give you an email account, brand account, YouTube account and Ad Sense account (for collecting revenue from ads or to pay for ads). It’s handy that everything is linked and the interface is quite user-friendly for newbies.

One of my friends told me that somehow they got banned from opening a YouTube channel because someone close to her somehow had access to her email and did some odd stuff on YouTube pretending to be her. Hence she was banned for a few years. Remember that the internet is like an elephant, it never forgets! So be careful of what you write and read the warning emails if they appear because you can get banned!

After opening a brand account and YouTube channel, you may want to think of a logo. This is an extra touch which helps promote brand recognition and it’s kind of fun to have the chance to make a logo for your own channel! To make a logo, you can either 1) DIY with original art, 2) DIY with free royalty-free stock art from Pixabay, 3) DIY with design programs such as the fabulous free Canva (you can upload your own images if Canva doesn’t have exactly what you want) or 4) hire an artist. If you hire someone and buy the copyright, the content is  yours. When you use stock art or Canva, read the fine print for license details for what you can and can not do.

Here are a few of my YouTube channel logos which were created either on my own or commissioned an artist for the art:

logos

Once you have things set up, you can actually open up more than one channel. Why do this? Well, for me, I wanted to have a few different channels due to different interests that don’t really intersect. I actually created the JF Garrard channel years ago to upload a book trailer for my multicultural vampire novel, The Undead Sorceress (looks so cheesy when I re-watch it!). Now that I have a new project, to organize things better, I created a playlist specific to my project on depression, Pessimist to Semi-Optimist (PTO) project so people interested in this project can watch all the videos on this project in one go. It’s like using setting up your PVR to record all the Big Bang Theory shows in a row to watch them non-stop.

Po Po Gets Results!” is a channel I opened to make Chinese language videos with my mom to drill some Chinese into my son because it’s hard to find Chinese/English videos with toys that he likes to play with. “Po Po” means grandmother in Cantonese. Viking husband thought that “Po Po Gets Results” was a funny phrase and describes my mom’s relentless nature in shoving food into our offspring. Anyhow, getting him to learn numbers from a Thomas the Train that sounds like his grandmother seems to be working for now!

Over Christmas, my husband went crazy while watching super boring videos of Disney toy openings with children that we were babysitting. I looked up the person that made these videos and it turns out they make over $1M a year! We have a lot of toys at home, so why not try to make some videos about toys which children would want to watch? However, my interest in attempting to making videos about toys (openings and reviews) does not really fit into my channel on author and depression stuff. As a parent, I would be confused if a channel has videos on toys and advice on how not to commit suicide or vampire book trailers. It might fit into the Po Po channel, but I want to keep that exclusive for Chinese educational videos, so I opened a channel called “Kid Creatures” for toy reviews and toy opening videos.

Finally, some friends wanted to get together to make comedy skits. Good comedy is extremely difficult to do and very subjective, which makes me a bit nervous about doing this. As a big fan of BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous I always wish there was more female comedy that was not only about hot flashes, women being mean or sex. “One Hand Wave” is the comedy channel I opened to upload funny things to. My friends and I haven’t gotten together yet because everyone seems to be busy. Maybe that can be a skit in itself! Funny how the one person with a toddler is the one that set up everything and bought equipment but the single people are still “thinking” about things before they want to do anything…sigh…ok, I’m being a bit mean now…

I admit it’s a hassle to switch in between channels or personas when doing updates, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Within each channel you can create playlists, so when people are on your channel, you can create lists to link all your videos. This will help people find your videos as YouTube is a vast place with millions of videos.

One software I highly recommend to spread messages about your message on social media is Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts. For example, you want to send ten Twitter messages about a new video. Instead of logging into Twitter and typing it ten times every day (and trying to remember!) – you can schedule all ten posts over ten days in a few minutes in Hootsuite. There is a free version you can link to 3 accounts, but if you have multiple things to upkeep, a paid version costs about $200/year for up to 10 accounts.

Opening a channel is the easy part! Now it’s off to the races by making videos to upload!

 

Run to Mystical Landscapes at AGO and leave the toddlers at home!

Fantastic! This is one word which sums up the Mystical Landscape show at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) in Toronto. Running from October 22, 2016 – January 29, 2017, the show features art between 1880-1930 of artists who were disillusioned with traditional religious institutions and searched for meaning through mystical experiences.

The 37 artists from 14 countries includes: Lawren Harris, Emily Carr, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Georgia O’Keeffe and James McNeill Whistler. It was interesting to see pieces from Edvard Munch and Georgia O’Keeffe that were not a screaming figure or flowers, which they are best known for! A complete list of artists in the show is available here on activity worksheets for school children (which also explains the themes of the show quite well) and listed below.

I was impressed with the fact that audio resources for the show were available for free as a guide during the show (those plastic things you carry around) or you can download the audio onto your iphone or listen online!

During the show, the showstopping piece everyone looked at was Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles from 1888. I’m sure phosphorescent (glow in the dark) paint was not used, yet somehow this piece has stars which glow and touches the soul with curiosity. Wikipedia has a write up with details about Van Gogh writing to his brother about this painting.

Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles, 1888

My favorite pieces in the show were landscapes  by Swedish artist Eugene Jansson. The one below is Dawn over Riddarfjärden, 1899. This is a large painting and when you look at it you feel like you are part of the landscape, engulfed in the light which is spilling out from the sky.

Eugène Jansson mystical landscapes ago

I’ve been to the show twice, once with my mother-in-law and once with my toddler. It was much more enjoyable with an adult because you had time to walk around slowly and take in the beauty of the paintings. I thought that my toddler might like the beautiful colors of the art, but he only wanted to climb up and down the leather couches within the exhibit. I guess those were his favorite pieces in the show!

Towards the exit there were a few pieces with crystals and planets in space which I thought were great as well. Lots to see and take in at this show, I highly recommend that you stop by if you are visiting Toronto!

Artists List in Mystical Landscapes Show

(Source: AGO Teacher Resources)

France
Émile Bernard (1868-1941)
Richard Burgsthal (1884-1944)
Maurice Chabas (1862-1947)
Henri-Edmond Cross (1865-1910)
Maurice Denis (1870-1943)
Charles-Marie Dulac (1866-98)
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Louis Welden Hawkins (1849-1910)
Georges Lacombe (1868-1916)
Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Paul Serusier (1864-1927)
Henri Le Sidaner (1862-1939)

Austria
Gustav Klimt (1862-1918)
Egon Schiele (1890-1918)

Belgium
Fernand Khnopff (1858-1921)
William Degouve de Nuncques (1867-1935)
Netherlands
Vincent van Gogh (1853-90)
Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)
Jan Verkade (1868-1946)

Denmark
Mogens Ballin (1871-1941)
Ejnar Nielsen (1872-1956)
Jens Ferdinand Willumsen (1863-1958)

Norway
Edvard Munch (1863-1944)

Sweden
Gustaf Fjaestad (1868-1948)
Eugène Jansson (1862-1915)
Hilma af Klint (1862-1944)
August Strindberg (1849-1912)

Russia
Marc Chagall (1887-1985)

Switzerland
Augusto Giacometti (1877-1947)
Giovanni Giacometti (1868-1933)
Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)
Felix Vallotton (1865-1925)
United States of America
Arthur G. Dove (1880-1946)
Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)
Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986)
James McNeil Whistler (1834-1903)

Canada
Emily Carr (1871-1945)
Lawren Harris (1885-1970)
Alexander Young Jackson (1882-1974)
Jock MacDonald (1897-1960)
Tom Thomson (1877-1917)
Frederick Horseman Varley (1881-1969)

Great Britain
James Dickson Innes (1887-1914)
Paul Nash (1889-1946)
George Frederick Watts (1817-1904)

Ireland
Grace Henry (1868-1953)

Czech Republic
Wenzel Hablik (1881-1934)

Thomas The Train Party on a Budget

There has been enough doom and gloom lately to make me depressed for a lifetime, so my husband decided that we should do something fun and plan a kid’s birthday party instead of thinking about death all the time.

Since my offsping is into Thomas the Train, I thought a Thomas themed party would be great. I looked up some parties and thought that this kid Max’s party was the gold standard! You can click on the picture to check out the other fabulous treats served at this party.

I’m going to admit this feels like the time I was just watching exercise videos on the couch with a friend and us commenting on how much work it seems to exercise as we ate chips!

Here are collages of my hack party (certain Max’s party had a higher budget!) which ended up to being lots of fun due to the crazy kids running around the room! The younger kids were more interested in playing with the wrapping paper than the presents. Meanwhile, the older kids asked to open presents and acted like wild animals attacking something as they ripped apart wrapping paper with fury…then yelling “eww” when the presents were clothes instead of toys!

The Thomas cake was ordered from Metro supermarket and had a chantilly cream filling with blueberries. The blue/red dyes were really strong and stained a lot of hands!

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The adults were civilized, of course, drinking and eating munchies while having polite conversations. Grandma was a bit bored since she doesn’t speak English, but there were a few people who could speak to her and entertain her while I played hostess. We were really grateful for all the wonderful toys given to us as presents! Much more fancy than the toys I had while I was growing up (bootleg Cabbage Patch Kid dolls?)!

The kids I babysat that night (yes, I had to babysit even after the party) wrote on the notepad which I was using to keep track of presents for thank you notes. The word “poo” seemed to render them into hysterics for some reason. I wish I could let loose like that sometimes and not worry so much!

thomas-party-toys

A lot of free resources are available which makes it handy for those who have color printers. To make life easier, I used a 2″ puncher to cut out cupcake toppers which I used to decorate packaged oatmeal cookies.

Here are the links to Thomas party resources  for someone else wants to plan a similar event!

Doodle Bug Designs Thomas “Happy Birthday” banner (free)

halegrafx.com has Thomas Cupcake toppers, water bottle wrappers, invites, thank you cards (free)

Official PBS website has free coloring pages and activity sheets (free)

Passion for Savings has “Happy Birthday” banner, cupcake toppers, food labels, water bottle labels, loot bag labels (free)

Thomas cake purchased from Metro grocery store ($)

Partycity stores had Thomas decorations, loot bags and assorted party supplies ($)

 

Making a Family Crest

On a rainy day, this might be something you might want to do for fun. Digital art in a way has replaced scrapbooking/colleague art for me and leaves less of a mess! If you have been watching any historical stuff you may notice that European families tend to have crests. It’s usually on a shield or flag and there tends to be lots of lions involved.

I’ve decided to make a new crest as a logo, so here are the few steps it took to make it:

1) Figure out if you have a graphics art program

There are free ones available with basic to advance levels –  Paint.net (free – basic) – Gimp (free – advanced). Many professional artists use Adobe Photoshop, but it’s a very powerful tool and you have to buy it.

I have Paint.net installed and will be using this program.

2) Look for stock art

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There are two great sites with FREE stock art – Stock.xchng & Pixabay.  There are license agreements for this royalty free art, but if it’s for personal use, it’s generally ok.

I looked for a few images which I knew I wanted: shield, lion with sword and chrysanthemum flower.  I couldn’t find the flower on it’s own so I will have to manipulate and cut the flower out for use.

The lion stands for courage and strength (tribute to Garrard name as the ancestral shield features a lion) while the chrysanthemum flower represents hope/light in darkness.

3) Open Shield graphic & manipulate 

Step 1

The idea is to put all the images into the shield. Generally, I want a white logo with “transparency” so my wallpaper on the webpage could show through.

-open up graphic in paint (File tab > open)

-click “magic wand” tool from upper left “Tools” panel and adjust tolerance if needed

step 2

-press a spot on what you want to delete; for me it’s all the white stuff in the shield.

-the wand will highlight everything in blue, then you just press “delete” and a checkerboard pattern will come through meaning image in that location is transparent

4) Add Lion

Step 3There is something called “layers” in every graphic program.  On the right hand side there is a box which tells you what “layer” you are on.  The shield is on one layer and you will be adding more layers for every graphic.

So before opening up the lion graphic, add another layer (Layers tab > add new layer) to the shield.  Then open up the lion graphic (File tab > open)and put into new layer you have opened – now you see 2 “layers” on the Layers box to the right.

The lion was a very big graphic so I had to drag the corners and shrink it.

5) Cut out flowers, leaves

The chrysanthemum flower is only a small part of its original graphic.  A few steps were necessary to make the flower work for me:

Step 5 6

-open up flower (File tab > open) in its new canvas/window and cut out the flowers by highlighting it

-open a new giant canvas (File tab > new), then paste the flowers in it so there is room to play around

-use rotate tool to move flowers around (Layers tab > Flip vertical) (Layers tab > Rotate/Zoom)

Step 7 8-cut out one of the flowers  by highlighting it and using cut & paste function to put it on an empty part of the canvas

-cut out one of the leaves and rotate to the desired angle. (Layers tab > Rotate/Zoom)

-the leaf and flower have overlapping lines. So to erase lines, use the eraser from the “Tools” box on the left.

6) Add flowers & leaves to the shield

Step 10-add another layer to shield graphic (Layers tab > add new layer)

-go back to flower/leaf window, cut & paste flower/leaf into layer in shield graphic window

-to create mirror image leaves and flowers, I played with the (Image tab > flip horizontal) function

-the shield line in the middle was created by just highlighting the top part of the shield and then cutting & pasting

7) Add “JF Garrard”

Step 12-the canvas has to be bigger (Image tab > canvas side) for adding text, so I increased it in width

-initially the added canvaspart is white, so I had to use magic wand from “Tools” in left box to make it transparent

-using “Text” in “Tools” left box, I typed “JF Garrard” using font Goudy Old Style, size 550

8) Save file in black and white

There are places where I’ll use it in black ink and others in white. Important – to keep transparency, it has to be saved as a .gif file. Also, when saving, it will “flatten” all layers, which means everything will be merged into one layer. Keep a paint.net file (.png) in case you ever want to play with this graphic again with its layers.

Step 14-default is black, just save to .gif (File tab > save as)

-to make the logo white, we have to invert the colors (Adjustments tab > invert colors)

-of course at this point I realize that the lion graphic isn’t totally transparent, so I use the magic wand tool to “erase” the white spots.  After 10 min of painfully doing this (lot of little edges/spots), I discover a flood tool, which does it in 2 seconds. (Tools, Magic Wand, Flood Mode > Global)

-now save white logo to .gif (File tab > save as)

However…

In the end I didn’t use this logo on my website as the shield graphic lines looked too thin after I put it in the header.  I’ll use it on my facebook page though, you can see it here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/JF-Garrard/406247922764234

The more you play with the program, the more you will know.  Good luck in making some fabulous crests!

Steampunk

At Anime North I had participated in an auction and bought two pieces of jewelry that were “steampunk” in style (bracelet & locket).  There were also metal goggles, scarves and pocket watches on sale, but I refrained myself.  All the pieces were just so beautiful and…shiny which is a weakness of mine as I do like things that reflect light.

Steampunk is is based on Victorian-era clothing style, but incorporates  industrial elements such as brass gears, fittings, watch parts, leather and rivets.  Many costumes for women include corsets, puffy skirts, high neck blouses and masculine style jackets.  As I had a conversation with a friend today about how obsess I have been lately about buying a corset to make a costume for the next Anime North, she pointed out how ironic this was since I was still on a journey on trying to get pregnant.  Well, whether the baby/parasite (that’s what we called them in embryology class) thing happens or not, I do hope I will keep enough shape to fit into the corset in the future.

The whole concept of steampunk fascinates me as it is so creative and cool!  As I age, it seems less likely I can dress up like a gothic Lolita without looking like an old woman-child but steampunk seems more doable and ageless.

steampunk jewelrysteampunk

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