The Ugly Bug Ball Crafts

Fans of older Disney films like myself will know and hopefully love the film Summer Magic which features “The Ugly Bug Ball” which is such a great song to sing with children.  As it’s springtime and the bugs are out in force we decided to focus our crafting this month around mini beasts specifically bugs in all of their glory.

“Once a lonely caterpillar sat and cried
To a sympathetic beetle by his side
I’ve got nobody to hug
I’m such an ugly bug

Then a spider and a dragonfly replied
If you’re serious and want to win a bride
Come along with us, to the glorious annual ugly bug ball”

Ugly Bug Ball Craft

So far this week we have spent 4 hours playing with our Ugly Bug Ball.  Arthur loves bringing new bugs into the play set and explaining what the different parts of the bugs are.

To make the Caterpillar for your ugly bug ball you will need:

Materials needed to create a caterpillar for the ugly bug ball.

4 coloured eggs or pompoms
Needle & Thread
Stick on eyes
Wire for antennae

Ugly bug ball caterpillar tutorial

Stitch the eggs or pompoms together to create the body and put a tiny dab of glue on the thread at each end to secure.

Ugly bug ball caterpillar tutorial

Stick two eyes on the face of your caterpillar.

Ugly bug ball caterpillar antenna

Push two pieces of wire into the top of the caterpillars head for the antennae and your caterpillar is now ready to attend the ugly bug ball.

Of course no ugly bug ball is complete without a sympathetic beetle to listen to the caterpillar and to make this you will need:

ugly bug ball beetle

A polystyrene ball
glue or glue dots
pipe cleaner
lace
stick on eyes

Apply glue to your polystyrene ball and stick a dark piece of lace to it.  Cut your pipe cleaner into 6 pieces and push into the polystyrene.  Stick two eyes on to the front of your beetle. Cut two pieces of light  lace into a wing shape and stick to the back of the beetle.

Your beetle is now ready to join the caterpillar at the ugly bug ball.

ugly bug ball tutorial

*Some of the craft items used in this post were provided as part of the on-going Bostik Bloggers campaign


Dressing For A Charity Ball In Your 30’s

In May NCT will be celebrating it’s jubilee and to celebrate 60 years of the charity, branches are going to promote how they have provided parent support across generations and most branches are inviting old and new members to  a Diamond Jubilee Tea Party. My branch, Warwickshire Central like to really push the boat out and to celebrate we’re hosting a charity ball which is incredibly exciting as we get to keep 100% of the profits made which will go towards helping parents in my area.

Dressing for a charity ball in your 30's

As branch co-ordinator I will be hosting the charity ball which takes place at the Hilton Hotel in Warwick.  I’ve never done anything like this before and I don’t think I will have spoken in front of more than 50 people before so it’s a little daunting and therefore important to me that I wear the right outfit.  I’ll be talking at a podium alongside a video presentation so I don’t want to be tripping over a flowing gown, I also need to make sure that whatever I’m wearing isn’t too low cut or see through and I need to make sure that my shoes are comfortable as I’ll be chatting to everyone who has bought a ticket to find out their NCT story.

I wear black, grey or dark blue all of the time and it’s a very rare occasion when I add something else into my colour chart so my first task is to decide if I’m open to colour or something pale.

I’m already a tall girl at 5’10 so I don’t want to wear heels that are over 3″ high if possible.  I’ve narrowed it down to 5 options and I’m finding it incredibly difficult to decide which dress to go for, here are my favourites:

Coast dress suitable for a charity ball with new look shoes.

This is the Roccabella jacquard dress £195 from Coast which is where I usually buy my occasion wear from.  I’ve paired it with some white leather look heels £17.99 from New Look which are the perfect height for me.  I would happily use this dress again for a wedding or to wear to the races so I would definitely get more than one wear from this.

Jenny Packham ball gown with Carvela shoes suitable for a charity ball

This is the most expensive dress out of my choices, the Jenny Packham Luna hand embellished evening dress is a whopping £225 and is incredibly beautiful, the only thing which is putting me off this dress is the fact I probably wouldn’t wear it again unless I was invited to another ball.  It’s hard ot find shoes to match such a beautiful dress especially when there is so much going on, I really love these Gel Carvela £120 at Kurt Geiger heels and  I would be able to wear them with some of the other dresses I own.

ASOS Tall range cocktail dress with Aniston heels suitable for a charity ball

The Little Mistress prom dress £65 from the tall range at ASOS is really going out of my comfort zone as I never usually wear anything so pale.  I love everything about this dress including the price and I would probably wear both the dress and the Aniston Nine West £49 shoes on a night out or for a wedding or the races so it would be money well spent.

Monsoon cocktail dress and Kathin heels suitable for a charity ball

The picture above does not do the Ceilidh pencil dress £119 by Monsoon justice, the detailing to the neck is nothing short of beautiful,  The Kathin by Vince Camuto £95 heels are the perfect height for me and I think I’d happily be able to stay on my feet all evening wearing these.

House of fraser cocktail dress with topshop heels suitable for a charity ball

My final dress is the Untold Broderie lace fit and flare dress £65, I’m still in two minds about this as it’s probably something I would have worn in my 20’s and I keep doubting myself that I can still pull something like this off.  I really love these Ninety Strappy Sandals £49 from Topshop and readers who were with me in my blogger.com days when I spent most of my money on shoes will remember that at one time I bought most of the heels that Topshop brought out, it seems a lifetime ago that I talked about shoes and my collection that at one point contained over 300 pairs, anyway I digress it’s been a long time since I purchased a pair of Topshop heels (5 years) and these heels are probably as high as I could manage without falling on my bum!

So please put yourself in my shoes, you’re 36 years old and going to a charity ball where you’re representing not only your branch but the charity as a whole – which dress do you pick?

If anyone has hosted a ball or done a presentation I’d love to hear from you for hints and tips!

*This is NOT a collaborative post and links are NOT affiliate

 

 



3 Years of Chaos, Laughter and Learning

This August I will have been a parent for 16 years, I’m a different person now compared to the person I was when Lucie was born.  I’d never expected to be a parent again, I was happy with the life I had and the family that we were.  When I found out I was expecting Arthur back in 2012 my world was turned upside down, Lucie was almost a teenager and I wasn’t prepared for the whirlwind that was to be Arthur.

Arthur turned 3 a couple of weeks ago and I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell anyone who thinks they won’t be able to cope with an age gap of 10+ years between their children that you can and you won’t regret a moment of it.

I won’t lie, sometimes having a teenager and a pre-schooler in the same house can be like parenting two toddlers, at times it is complete and utter chaos but I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Arthur is the most caring, considerate, intelligent and funny little 3 year old I have ever met, of course everyone says that about their own children but I’ve noticed how different he is to how Lucie was at this age. Lucie could not entertain herself but Arthur will happily play alone for small periods of time, it’s when it goes quiet that you have to worry!

I find it hard to believe that 3 years have passed since Arthur was born, when people tell you to enjoy every moment of your childs life they are not wrong, it flys past you in the blink of an eye.  Next year we will be applying for a school place which fills me with dread because I love our days together when we explore and learn.

Arthur’s perfect day is traveling to London on the train to visit the Natural History Museum which is something we do twice a month, he loves to learn about animals, planets, vehicles and history and he takes everything in.

Dunkin Donuts

Like most children Arthur has developed a sweet tooth although he doesn’t get to partake in said sweet things all of the time, this is one of those occasions where moderation is brought into force, we did make one exception to this rule though when Arthur requested Dunkin Dounuts instead of a birthday cake.

Arthur eating Dunkin Donuts Arthur eating Dunkin Donuts

Slow down little boy, I’m not quite ready for you to grow up just yet, I wonder what the next 3 years will bring?



What is a Virtual Assistant? How Do I Become One?

I’ve been working as a Virtual Assistant or VA on and off for the past Ten years now, working remotely suits me and my family because it means I can pick my own hours, set my own rate and work from home meaning I don’t have to rely on full time childcare.  There are of course downsides to this way of working, I don’t get paid for holidays, I don’t get paid for breaks, If I’m ill or my children are poorly I can’t call in sick and it can get quite lonely when you’re the only person in the company.

What is a virtual assistant and how do I become one?

This post is aimed at people who are thinking about dipping their toes into the world of being a freelancer or VA but don’t know where to start. There are hundreds of posts like this on the internet and tons of websites and facebook pages offering VA training courses but this post is drawing from my own experience and what worked for me.

Before you start it’s always good to sit down and work out how much time you can dedicate to clients, do you have enough savings for those times when you may be in between clients or just starting out? When I first started my business I already had a client who wanted me to work 20 hours a week so there was never a period of time when I didn’t have an income, I know of a few VAs who have waited 6 months for their first paying client so you need to work out if you can afford to be without work for that length of time.

Do you want to work for yourself as a VA or do you want to be an associate? Running your own business can be daunting especially if you have never been self employed before, not only do you need to have a solid background in the services but you also need to have the skills needed to run your own business. The most important skill a VA needs to possess is the ability to attract and maintain clients.  It’s very rare that a client will seek you out so you need to be aware that a big portion of your time will be spent marketing your services and attending networking events.

Fear not as there is a solution if marketing is not your forte, Virtual Assistant Associates work in the same way as a Virtual Assistant, you’re still self employed and responsible for your own tax, national insurance, business running costs, etc but your clients are virtual assistants themselves who pass on some or all of their work to Associates. One thing you need to remember when working as an Associate is that the clients are not yours, try to poach them and you will find yourself in court.

Anyone who works from a computer or a desk can be a Virtual Assistant, one big misconception people seem to have is that VAs only offer admin assistance.  I know VAs who are designers, seamstresses, voice over artists and writers, if you can offer your services virtually you can be a VA.

Know your worth.  Most VAs charge between £20-£35 per hour, Sarah Banks from Banks Business Solutions recently wrote an article about knowing your worth and why we charge what we charge for our services.  One quote that stood out for me in this article is when Sarah quite rightly states “If someone is cheaper – Why? Is it because they are new and unsure what to charge or are they cutting back on things like insurance?”

Sites like People Per Hour, Freelancer, elance, Fiverr all have their place but should you really price yourself at an hourly rate like £4/5 just to get a contract? When you use a site like these you will never be able to compete with foreign workers who can charge a low rate even if they are offering substandard work, most people are not bothered about that and just want a quick turnaround.

So what are the next steps?

  1. Research – Look at other VA sites, decide what services you want to offer, find out which networking events are taking place in your area, work out if you can afford to go freelance.
  2. Work on your branding – You will need a name, logo, website, social media sites, business cards.
  3. Legal Stuff – Register with HMRC and register for NI contributions.  are you going to be a sole trader or limited company? Do you need a business bank account? Which accounting package will you use? Who are you going to use as your insurance company?
  4. Niche – What is your niche area? Are you going to specialise in one particular type of work or industry?
  5. Rates – Are you going to charge by the hour or offer retainer rates?

 

Further help and information is available on the multiple VA facebook groups and websites.  Like I said at the beginning everyone has a different story and will give you different information, it’s always best to do as much research as you can,  take what you find useful and ignore the rest.  I’m more than happy to help answer any questions where I can so please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you would like any advice.



How to Make a Dragon With Your Child

I would like to start off by saying that if you arrived here looking for a Jurrasic Park kind of experiment with dragons I’m afraid you’re at the wrong place, there was no DNA extraction going on here and to be perfectly honest the thought of someone wanting to create a dragon scares me a little.  Anyhow if you would like to know how to create a dragon with some odds and ends you may have lying around the house you are in the right place and I’m about to show you how to create an awesome dragon that can be used as a facemask or as part of a larger display.

how to make a dragon

You can use the dragon face either on it’s own as a mask or by sticking it on to a paper cup you can turn it into a dragon display as shown above, the dragon egg can be made using the same method as I used in the Easter crafts only this time I used silver drawing pins.  The body of the dragon is just some green felt wrapped around an empty box of chocolates and the tail is made from some corrugated cardboard but you can use any supplies you have around the house.

dragon crafting pieces

To make the dragon face you will need: 1 A4 piece of green card or funky foam, 1 A4 piece of white card or funky foam, 1 A5 piece of red card or funky foam, a pen, scissors, glue and eyes.

Dragon cut out

Using your pen draw the outline of your dragons face, you can be creative here and make it any shape you would like, cut the shape out and put to one side.  If children are using scissors make sure they are supervised.  Cut out shapes for the facial features and the flames which will come out of the nose.

dragon face

Using glue or glue dots, stick your eyes on to the dragon and repeat for the facial features.  To make the nostrils you can use a pen or my 3 year old’s preferred tube of glitter glue and stick down the flames.  You can now attach some elastic to turn this into a mask or stick it to a paper cup to use as part of a larger display.

dragon

Your dragon is now complete and ready to protect your belongings.

*Some of the craft items used in this post were provided as part of the on-going Bostik Bloggers campaign