The Ultimate Art and Craft Box / Kit !

How to diy art and craft kitThis is a simple post about helping Moms, new Moms, creative and Non-creative Moms understand, how you can get alittle organized beforehand and make beautiful memories while your little one enjoys spending that special time with you.

I’ve been a craft artist for nearly two decades. I love crafting. It is not only my passion, but it also completes me.

“Crafts” is a tiny term which encompasses a whole range of activities.  Unfortunately most of us, tend to associate it with painting or drawing or probably alittle bit of cutting.  But that’s not necessarily all that there’s to it.

I’ve taught in a couple of schools but several prestigious art institutes.  I’ve held Mother & Toddler classes, Workshop for ladies and classes for youngsters as well.

Today, in this post, I will address one concern that most moms have echoed over the years to me, how they find themselves all over the place when it comes to having some craft time with the kids.

There are 4 things, I’d like for you to remember before we address the craft dilemma :-

  • Please hold your ‘fun craft time’ – as a time to explore new activities TOGETHER. It is a time when you actually MAKE MEMORIES – its supposed to be FUN. Not a task.
  • Please know, that NO ART WORK is ever “COMPLETE OR PERFECT” – it is ALL in THE PROCESS.
  • Please remember, appreciate your child’s effort, no matter how tiny. He is trying to please YOU as well.
  • Long after they have grown, they will still cherish these priceless moments. So don’t try to work on making it “Perfect”.  Remember, “its the imperfection that adds character.”

Here are some of the issues  :-

  1. Insufficient tools
  2. Inadequate know-how
  3. Unaware of places to shop at for supplies
  4. lack of energy to drive around to places for supplies
  5. Packed craft kits are expensive
  6. Packed craft kits have limited supplies

So, I’ve decided to address all of these 6 issues one by one.

FYI, One of my most visited blog post is where-do-you-buy-craft-supplies-from-in-dubai

Moms who have toddlers in their troublesome twos, realize that children need various activities besides toys, to keep them stimulated.  Hence in a desperate attempt to help the little one, they grab the first craft kit that they come across in the supermarket aisle.  However, I agree that most craft kits are aimed at a specific activity and supplies are really limited.

I’m going to advise you on how you can ease the process of crafting with your toddler/little one.

Please remember, children are not just visual learners. They learn by touch, feel, smell, sight, sound and THE PROCESS !

For the first 5 years of their life, they are still getting the hang of the hand and eye coordination – gross motor skills.

They are virtually charged 10 hours of the day to play, practice and have fun.  Thru it all, they are LEARNING.

Adapting to their environment and understanding their own movements.

Let us consider a routine scenario.

Our young first-time-Mum watches this youtube video about 5 easy crafts to try out with little Sarah.  (point2 addressed) [Google and Youtube videos ‘can be” a new Mom’s best friend since they can guide you tremendously around the process of crafting with kids]

She thinks its easy enough to try it out with her little one.  She rushes to the nearest Toy store and searches high & low for a craft kit for toddlers ! { point3 – this mom had the strength and enthusiasm to drive to the Toy store. Full marks to her but (point4) not all of us drive or have a store close by, hence we can buy online as well } Refer here

Realization – most crafts kits are aimed at children older than 5 years !!  Heaps of toys are available – but not craft kits !

FYI – one of the reasons for this is that alot of craft supplies have small objects which can cause choking hazard for little ones and companies do not want to risk getting into such waters.

Ofcourse you can opt out and buy one of those ridiculously expensive painting kits with sponges and fancy brushes (Point 5 is valid and real)  But then of course, Mom can splurge over little Sarah.

So Mom buys it and brings it at home – 2 days of fun and mess later, chances are a few of the brushes ‘may’ have gone missing under the sofa, the paint tub is all but nearly over and our little Sarah has decided, she’s had enough of Mona Lisa. (point6) Most little children have a short attention span. Give them easy crafts to work with. They may work with one painting but once its over, they need something different. 

This is where little Sarah is restless and Mom is getting frustrated too as her she realizes these craft activities are probably not her cup of tea !!

THIS IS WHERE I STEP IN !! Don’t fret and fume Mama.  Read on …. there is relief for you.

We’re going to assemble the ULTIMATE ART AND CRAFT BOX for you so that every time, you want to try out an activity with your child, all you have to do is, spread the ‘drip sheet’ on your table or work space and get the supplies you need, out and voila ! Start your crafting adventure !! You never know – you might discover you really like crafts 🙂

First thing –  Chances are, you might already be having a plastic box, bucket, basket or a large container at home. Its best if it could be large and preferably with a lid. In fact, the large transparent bin with wheels from IKEA is most ideal for this purpose.  Here are a few options :

Here are some of the most basic supplies :-

I highly encourage little children who are still developing their gross motor skills to use crayons or color pencils rather than colored markers.

Please remember, a scribble made by a 2 year old, might be an entire story from his imagination. Hence please appreciate it and ask him/her questions relating to that. See how his/her eyes sparkle as he describes 3 stories from one picture !!

Avoid buying large A3 size drawing books becoz children tend to use only a partial amount of space. Infact, I keep photocopier sheets handy, which can later be framed or placed in protector sleeves and hung up on the fridge or their study desks.

Don’t underestimate the importance of the humble rubberband.  Also remember to pack a few of the large black paper clips.

Alot of crafts ask for pipecleaners too. From acting as the stem of a flower, to the antenae of a butterfly, pipecleaners/chenille have plenty of uses.

Several crafts require drinking straws. They are colorful, they are easy to manipulate and children associate blowing air or making bubbles with them.

Long after the clothes have been dried, these clothespin will be super handy in the craft box. From the body of an insect to decorating a recycled jam jar, there are endless uses of this innovative creation. An absolute Must-have for our craft box.

Styrofoam balls come in various sizes. Apart from the easy snow man, you will find several sites full of ideas on how to use these, creatively.

Below, you will find tiny sparkling stars in packets,  pipecleaners which are plain and sparkly, styrofoam balls, childproof scissors and glitter tubes.  I would definitely include all of these EXCEPT GLITTER tubes.  They are a highly messy idea and I would prefer the children to be atleast 6 years old  before they get their hands on glitter.

I absolutely LOVE this bumper kit. You could buy the items individually or just add 2 packets of these in our craft box and Voila !  Tip – These could be included as return gifts for birthday parties too !!

If you are not able to get crepe paper, the below tissue gift wrap paper will do the trick just as well. Most crafts for tiny toddlers revolves around tearing bits of pieces of these sheets and sticking it to various items.

I don’t think, any craft kit can be complete without a Sharpie marker. Although the below marker is NOT a sharpie, I think, it might do the job ! Traditionally these are alcohol based hence you can use these to draw on plastic and metal.

The value pack with 25 pieces is ideal.  It is always advisable to use the thicker paint brushes for children.  Don’t expect little fingers to hold tiny brushes. These kits with sponge faces are also fun for little ones. Just drop alittle paint in a paper plate and dab the sponge for endless hours of fun !!

These alphabet stampers are good when you want kindergarten children to practice remembering their alphabets OR sounds. It takes the stress off, from having to write. But they are optional.

 

  • Every mothers nightmare is the aftermath of an art and craft activity – This drop sheet should be able to solve that issue, Mom !

Just spread it on the table or floor and use the spring clamp (in the below picture) to hold it tight to an object, alternatively, you can use the white and blue striped sheet rolls, available in supermarkets. They too are efficient.
One fun item I would include would have to be these Ketchup dispenser bottles.

Use ? – You can find several recipes for puffy paint and these bottles are perfect for squeezing the paint and designing with.

Here are some more tips.

  • A glue gun is a handy tool (almost an essential item for every Crafter) . However, it can be introduced to  children once they are over 10 or 11 years of age.
  • When working with little children, use only paper masking tape. Not the plastic kind.
  • Please don’t buy the plastic scissors for toddlers. It practically NEVER works.
  • If you want to know which is the best brand for erasers and sharpners, kindly subscribe to my blog for the next post which will have details on various brands.
  • Over the years, I have realized, aprons don’t help all that much. It inhibits their movement and if anything, the plastic rubbing against eachother is a bother to most kids. Just get them dressed in one of your husband’s old Tshirts !
  • Red, blue and yellow are primary colors, inorder to attain any other color, you just have to mix, any two of these two colors.  So you don’t need a dozen tubs of colors. A few will do.
  • I have compiled this list considering almost all homes have paper staplers and paper punches !

So there you have it !

All the pictures in this post were taken at Dollar Plus. *However please note,  this post is not in affiliation with them. I am NOT being compensated by ANY Dollar store for this post.

When I share my experience or any information with you over here – it is done purely to help, moms, teachers, crafters, students and people who don’t have the time or energy to research these avenues.  I have NOTHING to gain from it except perhaps some appreciation from people who leave kind words of gratitude in the comments.

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Dollar Store – in Dubai ?

Dollar stores have been sprawling all over the US and Canada for several decades.  England has its own version as the Pound store and I am sure, the rest of the world too has them.

Here in Dubai, we’ve been spoiled for choices at the numerous 10 dhs – 20 dhs stores and Day to Day stores.

We even have a Japanese counterpart ‘Daiso’ providing most items at dhs 7.

Dollar store in Dubai (1)

Let me tell you 26 years back, when I landed in Dubai for the first time, these exact stores offered 1,2 and 5 dhs items. Infact you still might find a few of them in certain pockets of Sharjah and Ajman.

A “certain class” of people tend to have a biased view about their products, looking down upon them as cheap Chinese goods. However, I believe that is a blanket statement that just does NOT apply.  Some of the items you find here, are really good quality and some are far from it. But I would not generalize it.

For the longest time, I used to pick bulk goods from these stores for filling “return gift bags” for my children’s birthday parties.  (from Kindergarten to grade 5 !!)

Infact I remember, I used to add note pads, pencil cases, little stuffies or toy cars and some cupcakes or juice packets for valentines days for all my boys’ classmates till they completed Primary schooling, alternating the items with puzzles, popup books, coloring books, stickers, rubic cube, etc as they grew older.

When you have to pack, 70 – 80 bags, one has to be wiser with the penny and the pound ! For years, my sons’ friends looked forward to these bags.  Once secondary school began, everybody had such tech-related needs !!

Finally a few years back, Dollar Plus opened its doors at Madina Mall.

Located in Al Qusais – closer to Al Muhaisnah

This is just a quick glimpse of what you’ll find at the store.

My next post will be more elaborate with a theme !

Click on the above photos to view them in detail.

These colors are so delightfully appealing !

I love their collection of earthen mugs, colorful pails, fancy candles, baskets and those lovely vintage pictured vanity/mirror cases ! Oh so chic !!

My next blog post will also be related to the Dollar store but it will be focused around the creative aspect of what appeals to a Crafter in a Dollar store.

I am very excited to share plenty of tips and ideas of how and what to make use of, at the store. Please be sure to SUBSCRIBE to my blog, lest you don’t miss that post.

PS. I am NOT being reimbursed by ANY Dollar store for this post.

When I share my experience or any information with you over here – it is done purely to help, moms, teachers, crafters, students and people who don’t have the time or energy to research for these avenues.  I have NOTHING to gain from it except perhaps some appreciation from people who leave kind words of gratitude in the comments.

Thank you for visiting me today. Have a lovely day and be sure to subscribe to my blog (top right column)and my instagram here.

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10 AMAZING PLACES TO VISIT IN DUBAI FOR FREE

Ten places to visit in Dubai for free

 

Dubai is the hub of amazing adventures, never-ending entertainment and exciting activities to keep you and your family occupied!

However, Dubai is alot more than a desert kingdom with outrageously magnificent structures.  It is not reserved exclusively for the rich & famous, or the exuberant tourist.  It is a city which beautifully caters to the needs and aspirations of its local and expat population.

Not every family can enjoy the luxury of shopping at world class malls, cinemas, golf courses or museums.  And hence we scoured deeper to find 10 fantastic places where families can enjoy the lovely weather outdoors with some sightseeing, perhaps a barbecue or a fabulous picnic by the lake.

After enduring the sweltering summer here in the UAE, it’s finally safe to step outdoors once again !!

Here are our 10 picks of the places to visit in Dubai FOR FREE !!

  1. Dubai Creek Harbor – The best fun-filled family destination in town, DCH features a showcase of live performances, unique food concepts, workshops, kids activities and a varied pop up market. For more : https://risedubaicreekharbour.com/  
  2. Al Qudra Lake   –  Al Qudra Lake is a man-made lake in the middle of Saih Al Salam Desert and Bab Al Shams in Dubai, UAE. It is the home of local trees and almost hundred species of migratory birds, ducks, swans and flamingoes.
  3. The Yard –                    http://www.meraas.com/news/the-yard/                                                                             An eclectic new lakefront destination in Dubai’s rapidly developing Al Khawaneej area. The suburban hideaway encompasses Last Exit D89. An exciting family-friendly destination blending rural farm environment with urban accents. The Yard has a distinctive visual identity with playful murals that provide an ideal backdrop for photographs. An 18-metre-tall windmill, a water mill, a wishing well, a Promise Bridge, decorative vintage pick-up trucks, farm animals and bird houses further augment the photogenic appeal of the destination.
  4. Al Barsha pond park      -Al Barsha Pond Park sits around the perimeter of a large 50 acre man-made pond with activities for the entire family. There is a jogging and cycling track along with beautiful play area for children.  Cycles and boats are available for rent at reasonable prices. The most ideal place for families to spend few hours in this beautiful, serene, quite park in the middle of fast paced Dubai.. Al Barsha Pond Park has all facilities such as a restaurant, clean toilets, mosque, some food and ice cream booths. Even on weekends the Park is not annoyingly crowded.  Most of all entry to the Park is absolutely FREE !!!  The evening Ripe Market makes this a top attraction with crafts and delicious foods, every Saturday.
  5. Kite Beach –                              http://www.kitebeach.ae/                                                                                         While the entire coastline between Jumeirah Open Beach and Umm Suqeim/Sunset Beach was being revamped, with the addition of new jogging and walking tracks, showers, toilets and kiosks as part of the 18km Dubai Corniche project, this particular segment got special attention. Now beach tennis, volleyball and watersports (including an inflatable assault course on the sea), plus soapy soccer are organized at intervals throughout the year. There’s a small precinct of cafés, a scattering of food trucks, Wire world adventure park and XDubai skatepark.
  6. Dubai Canal  –   With the Dubai Canal, the city has developed one of the more stunning examples of urban development–a pedestrian friendly retreat from the hot weather and the concrete jungle. Whats more ? Along its path is free WiFi, and stations with USB ports to charge smartphones. It’s as if Dubai designed a public park for the selfie-obsessed social media generation.
  7. Horse Race at Meydan – The race season will continue till 31st March 2018. It is one of the most spectacular race courses in the Gulf with exceptional dining and entertainment packages.  There is a general admission section too, which is FREE !!  This free admission area gives access to a limited section within the Meydan Grandstand with a large number of Grandstand seats available boasting excellent views. With sufficient room on the vast apron area between the track and the Grandstand, visitors on the sides of the apron can get a close view of the thoroughbreds in the Parade Ring, before and after the race. 
  8. Bird watching at Ras Al khor wild life Sanctuary –        http://wildlife-ae.herokuapp.com/            Dubai is not just a desirable hotspot for millions of tourists each year — it’s the destination of choice for tens of thousands of migrating birds. In the wetlands, just metres away from the busy city, you’ll find the Ras Al Khor Wildlife Sanctuary. Please visit the above website and book online.
  9. Al Serkal Art Avenue –                       http://alserkalavenue.ae/en/index.php                                                        In a world obsessed with technological advancement, it’s worth making some time to simply appreciate local and regional art initiatives, artists, art galleries, creatives.  It is a place where one can engage with the cultural content.
  10. Dubai Fountain.                                                                                                                                                        Choreographed to music, the Dubai Fountain also known as the Dancing fountain, shoots water as high as 500 feet –that’s as high as a 50-story building !!   The Dancing  Fountain performances occur daily in the evening, from 6:30,  every half an hour, on the 30-acre Burj Khalifa Lake.  The best show would have to be the 8:00 pm one. There is a light show as well. The Dancing fountains synchronize to light and music, some classical, some pop and some Arabic.  Its definitely worth watching this phenomenal event.                                                              To make the experience even better, the organizers have set up a fountain broadwalk to take you closer than ever to the fountain. A brand new floating platform located within the fountain pool area will give the audience a whole new perspective of the captivating performances. That is chargeable ofcourse.

 

So there you have it. 10 Places to visit, picnic or rest out, with your family or friends in Dubai FOR FREE !!

There are some more places where you could have long walks,  chill out over some coffee or just drive through.  However, since they are not ideal for a picnic spot, or a family gathering and are focused more on shopping, they have not been included in the above list.

Box park

City Walk

The Walk

Marina Walk

Cornish of Atlantis Hotel

I hope this list benefits you.

***  If there is one request I have, it is that we should be conscious of our environment.  Picnics and outdoor parties are great but leaving your trash behind is not. Please remember to carry a bag to collect all your trash and dispose it responsibly. ***

***  Please remember – Our children learn from us, they are watching us and will imitate us. We have to demonstrate to them how to be responsible and environmentally aware individuals. ***

*** Please adhere to notice boards that state, what is forbidden and where. eg, barbecue fires close to a pond which can damage the flora and fauna in and around the pond. ***

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Creative Craft Mornings

Over the past several years, my skills have evolved.  I feel a sense of satisfaction after every completed project. Sometimes, even a little disappointed after a failed completed project – never the less, just the sheer joy of being able to create something with my own hands is exhilarating.

Till the period we were living at Arabian Ranches, I held craft workshop for ladies and art classes for children. That was, till 5 years back.  And then we moved to Al Warqa.

I missed my routine friendly creative exchanges with ladies and the young ones too.

There is such immense joy, when you have been instrumental in helping someone discover a latent talent.

Hence, moving to The Villa – Dubailand, gave me the opportunity to restart my workshops.

It was one of the best things about 2017, for me – CCM (creative craft mornings).

I was conducting craft workshops for women at my villa.

After a hiatus of nearly 5 years, I restarted this initiative and I was overwhelmed by the response.

In Dubai, we have sewing/quilt/crochet clubs, and we have quilling/papercrafting classes, however, I feel, there are far too many crafts that cannot be categorized and thats exactly, what I was offering.

There were ladies from the age group of 22 right upto 72 years !!  These were ladies, who had the zest to learn, inspite of busy schedules and running a hectic lifestyle, between career and family.   Ladies, who had to pick children from school, prepare a meal, manage their homes, attend meetings and yet they believed in giving the workshop, a chance.

I prefer to address all of them as my friends, rather than my students becoz, in essence, I learnt more from them than I taught them.  If we are really passionate about something, we will find a way to pursue it.  One of my dear friend came from Arabian Ranches and another friend from Mamzar while yet another from Jumeirah Beach Residence !!!

Finding a haven where you won’t be judged or laughed at, is precious. We learn better, we explore deeper, we grow further and we develop faster.

We did a project, where my friends had to hammer nails into a block of wood. I was really surprised to observe how quickly they learnt, steadied their hands and hit the hammer with firmness and not only that, its quite tiring having to hit the hammer 25 – 30 times.

Every project they attempted was remarkable, considering no one had attempted such projects before.

Every one learnt something new, a skill, a technique, a design,  especially me.

I learnt that, making friends with like minded creative people is A GIFT !!  And I cherish these friendships.

I was truly overwhelmed.

Enthusiasm, patience and perseverance are the only ingredients needed to brew any success story.

Needless to say, the results were amazing.

Here are some photos :-

I am determined to restart these workshops again this year as well.

I truly hope to be able to carry on with newer projects here in Mirdif too.

Do you enjoy a particular hobby ?  Are there any workshops close to where you live ? Would you like to join CCM in Dubai ?

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Summing up 2017 – fateful or grateful.

Hello friends,

How have you all been ?  I hope and trust, life has been kind to you all.  Thank you for still following me, inspite of my unpredictable and erratic presence/absence in the blog-world.

2017 was a mixed bag year for us – literally !! It felt as though some one dumped us all in a bag and mixed us rather hard !!

It was a year where we lost a dear friend to a rare disease. Another dear friend buried his only 18 year old daughter due to abdominal adhesion.  Some family issues which I prefer not to discuss here. It was a year, we decided to take a hard look at our own circumstances, priorities and make some firm decisions about our near future. We moved homes, lost jobs and somewhere inbetween all this, discovered our own threshold of strength and patience.

I have always been a very firm believer of being GRATEFUL.  Grateful to Allah swt for every single blessing bestowed upon us.

In the absolute order, I am grateful for my health, my healthy and compassionate children, my healthy and caring husband, my healthy and blessed parents and I am grateful for all the comfort, I am living in. I am even more obliged that Allah bestowed me with immense talent.

Every second year, I find myself evolving ; a restless spirit, on a creative journey.  From paper, to wood, to wire to jewelry … it keeps feeding my inner drive to create, to change, to complete, to develop.

How can you complain, when you have been blessed with the medusa touch ? And yet, we mere mortals, chase materialistic gains, lofty positions and a shimmering facade.

Kuwait was our home for over 23 years.. My parents loved to play demi God, making plans and trying hard to make them a reality. Problem is, all Indian parents were doing the same, those days..  Then came 2nd Aug’ 1990 and it changed everything.  Our world was crushed under the armored vehicles and military tanks that Saddam Hussein sent to Kuwait.

That chapter taught me a very essential lesson in my life.. ..

” Take each day as it comes …. don’t PLAN for too far ahead …  ”

This vital principle is now ingrained in my entire being.  We are expats, living in a foreign land, which would never give us a passport, regardless of how many years, we give the country. That thought has always been a bit unnerving but then again, I took each day as it came, with optimism and gratitude.  Perhaps, I became too complaisant …….and 2017 was a jolt for me.  A wake up call.

I am pleased we were able to make firm decisions and take positive actions on those decisions.

I am an optimistic soul – the silver lining is my goal AND my armor.

So the clouds may have been a bit dark and heavy, but we still have a long way to go, and I’m pretty confident, Allah swt will reward us handsomely for our patience, in sha Allah.

2017 – reaffirmed my belief in being grateful.

…………….. in turning ONLY to the Almighty for all your needs.

………………complain to him, weep and share your insecurities with him.

He WILL answer ….. but remember, believing in him, also means believing in His Timing.

May all of you have a pleasant year, full of achievements and good health. ameen.

Thank you for visiting me today.

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Organizing Craft workshop and designing masks.

Did you know, not every great artist can be good teacher.

Arts and Crafts are a very personal affair and very few of us have the flair to “teach”.

Most of us are excellent at demonstrating our skills as artists and designers but teaching is a skill, all on its own and not all of us are equipped with what it takes to be an motivational teacher.

I believe a ‘good’ teacher is one who can inspire you, one who has patience, and one who is prepared to accept the chaff (those who may not be exceptional talented but who are zestful and eager to learn ) as well as the wheat grain.  Alot of people believe that you have to be born with artistic skills – but I don’t adhere to that theory. Skills can be cultivated and talent can be honed.  Everyone who stumbles upon a craft-kit, is not looking to build something magnificent – but he might find comfort in simply ‘trying’ to build something abstract out of it – maybe that is his prowess. That’s where the creative adroitness of the instructor comes handy.

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I’m going to talk more about crafts here, rather than arts.

I have been teaching crafts for the last 12 or so, years, in schools, art institutes, with corporate organizations, and one aspect that stands out in “crafts” is that, alot of planning and organisational skills are required for a workshop or class.

Some of the aspects, you should figure out before committing to a workshop are :-

  • The length of the activity
  • The age of the group
  • The ability of the group
  • Will any assistance be provided for a group larger than 7 or 10 participants ?
  • The venue and availability of wash basin, electric socket.
  • Hanging equipment if project needs to be hung for drying.
  • Leg work on the theme :- research the theme, source photographs, make a fancy power point presentation and have a small write-up to introduce the background story to the students
  • Plan all the supplies needed.
  • Inorder to calculate all the supplies and quantities needed, I suggest to ‘actually’ work this activity out and figure out how much time and the quantity of supplies needed. Then add that by the number of participants.  And remember to carry spares.
  • Visiting the venue atleast once before the workshop is a good idea. And it also helps to develop a smooth rapport with the coordinators.
This December, I was invited to give a workshop at DUCTAC located at Mall Of Emirates.

Crafts are so much fun but it can be challenging when we coordinate the activity with the curriculum or in this case, the theme.

The theme was Threads:  A link between two totally different cultures or countries, of a peculiar habit, tradition, game, food, ritual, structure etc. Obviously, I had to come up with a craft based on it as well.

I found this theme very exciting and after a day of relentless research, i was fascinated with what I discovered. While at it, I also realized, what separates us, are our differences, while in our similarities, we find solace and unity.

Here are just a few of the similarities I found, in my research. (ofcourse, there must be a few hundred more !!)

  • China – India                                                            ⇔ Kites

    Both the countries are known for the zest with which they enjoy the sport of playing with Kites. However, kites in China, are much more elaborate and designed in various shapes, much unlike India.

  •  U.S.A – Russia – China – Burma                       ⇔ Bells

    Amongst many other countries, these four countries are known to have Bells playing a remarkable and important historical role.

  • Egypt – Mexico – Cambodia – China                ⇔ Pyramid structure

    Although the Egyptian Pyramids are the most popular structures known worldwide, Mexico, Cambodia and China are also known to have their own ancient mystical prism structures.

  • Africa – India – China – Japan                           ⇔ Masks

    Different cultures symbolize the mask with various deities, animal, spirit or human. Made from ceramic, wood etc, communities use masks for weddings, funerals, coming of age. They ask for spirit blessings, protections etc. They use it to tell stories and impart wisdom. Used in puppetry as well as ceremonial celebrations.

  • Australia –  USA Arizona                                    ⇔ Boomerang

    Although the earliest boomerang was designed in Australia, it is widely used and played with in Arizona – USA.

  • Mexico – China                                                     ⇔ Bowls

    (Taco Bowl / Bowl to eat rice and noodles) Rice is one of the staple grains in both Mexico and China – Infact they handicraft their own bowls to eat it in !

  • Bali – Mauritius                                                    ⇔ Woven baskets  

    Both Bali and Mauritius weave their own baskets but in different designs and colors and techniques.

I decided that my subject would be Masks.  It intrigued me just as much it did, to the children.  I provided the children with cardboard after the power point presentation on how, why, when and where masks are worn,  all over the globe and then asked them to design their own masks, providing them inspiration and a whole lot of recyclable material. It was amazing what the children came up with – far beyond expectation. mask-making-craft-3

Here are a few samples from one of the groups.

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One of the reasons, I love this project is becoz it helps children play and utilize scraps of foam, cardboard, buttons, macaroni, foam cups, beads, thereby realizing and understand the main concept of reusing items found around the house.

Clearly the kids enjoyed it and got to take a little of History and Geography back home too !!

I believe imparting  knowledge and information is very gratifying.

I hope I have been able to inspire you into trying something new, something unique and something fun today. If so.. please do write to me.

Thank you for visiting me today. Trust you will stay a while and leave some love in your comments.

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Where do you buy craft supplies from, in Dubai ? Part 2.

24 Years in this beautiful city called Dubai, and I’m still in love with the spirit of this city.  I believe, Spirit is not defined by tall, fancy structures, sophisticated transport system, exuberant hotels or a show of unimaginable wealth. But the spirit of a city engulfs, the culture of its native inhabitants, the simplicity of their existence in a rapidly growing and glowing environment. It is also characterized by how quickly, it can adapt to change while preserving its hospitable nature as hosts. The maintenance of regulations, the observance of discipline and respect, the conservation of its fauna and flora are just a few to name.  Infact, today, I feel, this vivacious city, bloomed right before my eyes.

From harsh unforgiving dunes rose a mighty tower that attracts more visitors from all over the world – by the hour !!! From a trading port, today, it is recognized equally for being a tourist haven. Dubai has changed perceptions.  Dubai has challenged and accepted challenges. Dubai has morphed from a transit city to a tranquil dwelling for thousands. It has smoothly flourished and enabled thousands to burgeon as well.

15 years back, I started toying around, with the idea of crafting with my toddlers, reawakening a latent passion for arts.  However, there were no classes, workshops or tutorials to cater to the craft enthusiasts. (ie non-art academic students) And neither were there, any specialized hobby stores.

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Ofcourse, where we’ve been fortunate with some excellent stationery stores like Dubai Library distribution, Farouq Stationery, Al Furqaan, which, carry basic school, office, art supplies in addition to kits for various activities eg. knitting, jewelry making, cardmaking and such  .. but there were limitations … infact plenty of limitations back then.

From an ‘era’ where internet was about the long and erratic wait to a dial up connection and where, skills were limited to enrolling in specialized classes, the average ‘crafting Joe’ struggled with realizing his potential quirky element !! Infact, names of some supplies were still unheard of then !  While rubberstamping was a rage, soon scrapbooking and Card-making followed suit.  Dozens of  hobbies became easily attainable and convenient for the avid but non-art-student with the advent of the ‘world wide web’ like quilling, decoupage, mixed media, paper-making, mosiac, print-making, flower making, sewing, knitting, origami, photography – just to name a few !

However, an optimistic craft enthusiast and an ardent shopper, has been a beastly concoction brewing within me ! My pursuit to explore and ‘gather’ (notice I used the word, ‘gather’ which gradually qualified into hoarding !!) rubber stamps, embellishments, die cuts, decoupage sheets, quilling needles etc,  had me rummaging through the bustling nooks and crannies of a ‘more tame’ and much more smaller Dubai and Sharjah !  Stores in Deira that would stock laces, beads and buttons – the local haberdashery, mainly for fabric and textile purposes – but it was an adventure and when I would finally land on an ‘ideal’ store – it was like hitting jackpot !!

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Paper lane, Creative Hands and Elves and fairies were one of our first sources for scrapbooking and card making supplies.craft-supplies8

While Wasco White star in Jumeirah, was a teacher’s paradise. They hosted top quality, costumes, party ware and school supplies, all made in USA.

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I bought my son’s first craft kit from …………………………………….. Toys r us !!!! (In all honesty, my little guy never got to use it – It was mine from the moment we got home  😉 )

If you ever google “hobby crafts” – it would lead you to stores which carry motorized toy cars, helicopters, boats and hummers ! ( you get, which ones I mean, right ?)

STEIN, GERMANY - JULY 05: A variation of colour pencils are displayed at the industrial selling shop at the Faber-Castell factory on July 5, 2011 in Stein near Nuremberg, Germany. Faber-Castell is among Germany's leading manufacturer of pencils, pens, art supplies, office supplies and high-end writing instruments, and was founded in Stein in 1761 by Kaspar Faber. Through a marriage in 1900 to the noble Castell family the company took its present name and is currently lead by Count Anton von Faber-Castell. The company still has two production plants in Germany but has its biggest manufacturing centers overseas, including in South America, Indonesia and China. The company will mark its 250th anniversary on July 8. (Photo by Ralph Orlowski/Getty Images)

Fast forward 2016, we are spoilt for choices !! Some amazing stores that have been providing a vast variety of scrapbooking, paper crafting, decoupage, fabric, textiles, paints, canvases and other hobby supplies are :-

Three stores that carry a wide stock of art and craft supplies as well as ready made products are :-

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I would not like to belittle the importance of the dhs 1 – dhs 10 stores, scattered all over the city, much like the Day to Day stores, these outlets can also act as catalysts for the innovative mind. (Their only shortcoming limited to their quality)

Ofcourse, Ace Hardware is every DIYer’s paradise ! But I also loved the DIY section at Clas Ohlen .

Naif Road and the back alleys of Gold souk still remain my favorite hotspots for buttons, beads, lace, fabric and embellishments. However, these are stores that are wholesalers, hence if you are looking for only a dozen buttons, its not worth struggling in this area – the store keeper is not going to entertain any quantity, lesser than a carton !!!

There has been a positive shift and crafters are utilizing the convenience of online shopping as well !!

My previous post on the same subject was nearly, 4 years back. Its pretty obvious how many more outlets have opened doors and virtual doors to creative individuals.

One of the most common comments, I receive on this blog are not comments – but questions !

Questions about where to buy supplies from, what material is durable, which glue is best for which surface, what are my go to stores for which items, which paint for what project, how to design a small garden etc. These are some of my most asked questions I receive.

I hope to be able to enlighten you with all the answers in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I hope you take advantage of all the above information and enjoy, shopping and completing creative projects.

Thank you for visiting me today. Trust you will stay a while and leave some love in your comments.

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Tour of my Ikea Craft Room !

 

For the last 4 years, we stayed in the newly developed Al Warqa area of Dubai.

We went from a community living in Arabian Ranches to a stand alone 12,000 sqft villa.

Visit here for my craft room in Arabian Ranches.

What was spectacular about the villa, is that it was designed by an Emarati for an Emarati lifestyle. Whats different about Arabic styled houses ?

Well, Arabic style houses generally have two main entrances to the main building, one for the family, and another one for the male guests. The men guest entrance is greeted by a very large hall which is called the Majlis. This comfortable large space is generally where the men of the family entertain their male friends, hence it is lavishly large.

Another significant thing about the villas’ is that every bedroom is ensuite. Which meant, my 5 bedroom home had 7 bathrooms !!! (1 extra for the lounge room and another for the dining room)

Cleaning such a large house is not for the faint of heart ! But Thank heavens for the abundance of easily available part-time help in Dubai.

Another aspect, which we were lucky, we did not have, is the presence of an entire block of an adjoining building which houses the maids and drivers of the house.

Most of the times, the kitchen is also a part of that building block. But we were lucky, our kitchen was in the main building.

That was too much space for a family of five, however, it would benefit, the constant arrival of relatives and feline friends ( fostering that me and my family volunteer for.)

Thanks to alot of persuasion and prodding – We decided to convert the majlis into my craft Studio.

Was it a dream ??

Absolutely YES !!

For someone who started crafting 12 years back from a modest desk  placed at the  corner of her bedroom … here I was, in a HUGE studio with craft supplies and goodies, I could have only dreamt of years back !!

The studio took nearly three months to be shelved, stacked, stored and organized.

As you will notice from the pictures below, 100% furniture and 95% storage items (like boxes, pots ) are from #Ikea !!

I think, for artists, Ikea is a PERFECT !! They cater to each and every need of ours brillaintly and I have NOT been compensated to state so 🙂

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Don’t they look organized ? Even the white pots holding markers are from Ikea.
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The large striped boxes as well as the white bookshelf is Ikea.
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These wired racks make it easy to locate ribbons etc
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Different sizes of #Trofast boxes
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The white cookie or cupcake , wire stand is also Ikea.
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This PVC rack was designed and constructed by yours truly !
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Ribbons, twine, yarn, embellishments all stored in the ikea wire racks
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Linnamon study desk ! Notice my delicious pinking shears ! Over the years, I have picked quite a few diecut machines, as you will notice, there’s the Silhouette, Revolution, Cuttlebug, and Big shot !! What ?? Hoarder, you say ???? No way – just moving with time !
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4 Glasholm glass tables !! Every shelf counts as storage !!
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The two drawer racks on the left of my chair, houses all my rubber stamps and diecuts. My throne is the Marcus swivel chair from Ikea
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I picked these white storage boxes from Ikea as well as the Trofast shelf and storage boxes.
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Unfortunately these wire racks have been discontinued by Ikea !! The newer version are not as sturdy as these.

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Trofast storage combination
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This stores my jewelry making supplies

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Most of those colored plastic drawers have paints and glue
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10 Snille swivel chairs.
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My precious books and notes – one of my fav Ikea cubby cupboard
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Felt, fabric and more stored in the Ikea cupboard
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Another Ikea cupboard

Was the craft room a  good idea ?

Absolutely !!

How long did it take ?

Very long to organize it all ?

what happened next ?

We moved out of this house this January (2016)  !!!!!!!!

How do I feel about it ?

Miserable !! I miss the sprawling length and breadth of that room so much, so dearly 😦

It was perfect in every way and the  best possible gift, my husband could give me !!

Our new home is in the area called The Villa – Dubailand. Its a modern villa and the added benefit of the majlis is deducted in the form of a pool. We have converted the 5th bedroom into the craft studio – but it is still a project under progress.  Will share with you the development in another post.

I hope you enjoyed my craft studio tour and found inspiration in some of the ways in which I manged to store some supplies.

I’m sharing this post at the following parties here.

and

Monday
Inspiration Monday – I Should Be Mopping the Floor
Inspire Me Monday – Create with Joy
Clever Chicks Blog Hop – The Chicken Chick
Monday Funday – That’s What {Che} Said
Craftastic Monday – Sew Can Do
Mix It Up Monday – Flour Me With Love
Munching Mondays – Nibbles by Nic
The Creative Corner – Curly Crafty Mom
Frugal Crafty Home Blog Hop – A Blossoming Life
Block Party – Rae Gun Ramblings
Create and Crave – Pink Heels Pink Truck
Melt in Your Mouth Monday – Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Best of the Blogosphere – It’s Me DebMCb
A Round Tuit – Creating My Way to Success
Something To Talk About – 2 Bees in a Pod
Inspire Me Monday – My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
The Scoop – Worthing Court
Create Link Inspire – Naptime Creations
Dream Create Inspire – Whimsy & Hope
Much Ado About Monday – Huckleberry Love
Monday Madness – How to Get Organized At Home  

Tuesday
Turn It Up Tuesday – A Peak Into My Paradise
Treasure Box Tuesday – Memories By the Mile
Lou Lou Girls Fabulous Party – Lou Lou Girls
Project Inspire{d} – Yesterday on Tuesday
Two Cup Tuesday – Pint Sized Baker
Simple Supper Tuesday – Hun What’s For Dinner
Show and Tell – Sugar Bee Crafts
Tutorials & Tips Link Party – Home Stories A to Z
Totally Terrific Tuesday – Live Randomly Simple
Two Uses Tuesday – Sarah Celebrates
Tuesday at Our Home – Our Home Away From Home
Tip Me Tuesday – Tip Junkie
From Dream to Reality – The DIY Dreamer
Hit Me With Your Best Shot – Just a Girl and Her Blog
Fluster’s Creative Muster – Fluster Buster
Create and Share DIY and Recipe Party – A Simple Pantry
Moonlight and Mason Jars – Cherished Bliss
A Little Bird Told Me – The Life of Jennifer Dawn
Tutorial Tuesday – Hope Studios
Inspire Me Tuesday – A Stroll Thru Life
Awesome Things Tuesday – My Craftily Ever After
Tasty Tuesday – Creative Kids
Share It Link Party – The Winthrop Chronicles  

Moonlight Mason Jars link Party – The newly wed Pilgrimage

Friday
Friendship Friday – Create with Joy
Friday Flash Blog – The Jenny Evolution
Craft Frenzy Friday – Craftdictator
Freedom Fridays – My Turn For Us
Kitchen Fun and Crafty Friday – Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons
Foodie Friends Friday – Walking on Sunshine
Foodie Fridays and DIY – A Dish of Daily Life
Weekend Bites – Homemaid Simple
Friday Feature – Oh My Heartsie Girl
What To Do Weekends – Crafts a la Mode
Friday Favorites – Diary of a Real Housewife
Pretty Pintastic Party – Coffee With Us 3
Weekend Potluck – Sunflower Supper Club
Pinworthy Projects – Just Us Four
Inspiration Spotlight – Dear Creatives
Weekend Recipe Link Up – Gator Mommy Reviews
Pin Me – Diana Rambles
The Creative Collection – Lolly Jane
Link Party Palooza – Tater Tots and Jello
Weekend Wind Down – Snippets of Information
Linky Party DIY Inspired – The Girl Creative
Dare to Share – Pam’s Party and Practical Tips
Simple & Sweet Fridays – Rooted in Thyme  

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment.

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Gift wrapping, Gifts and Favors in Dubai.

Hello friends,

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I find myself struggling more and more to find time, between the various arty crafty projects lined up for Doodle Buddies and the favor company, Aspen House Gifts, that I have been working on.  Aspen House Gifts is purely a reflection and an extension of my love for creative design and presentation.

Kindly visit :-  Facebook Aspen House Gifts or Blog Aspen House Gifts, if you’re looking for some outstanding party favors, bridal shower favors, Baby shower favors, Wedding favors, Eid Favors or corporate gifts.  We specialize in personalized party favors, bespoke keepsakes and corporate gifts.

With an eye for design and a love for all things creative, each gift reflects your lifestyle and personality, complete with glitter, ribbons and innovative ideas.

Paper World Middle East took place between 2nd and 4th of March 2015.    Over the years, it has developed into my most anticipated event of the year. The marketing world showcases its products on the internet however, to have a proper glimpse and examine the product, meet the manufactures, distributors etc is an excellent experience. And a very rewarding one, at that !  It poses as a fantastic opportunity to meet the people of your industry and familiarize with the latest trends, virtually at your door step !!

If you were unable to attend this year, fret not. I’m sure you will indulge in the following photographs which cover some of the gift wrapping stores that were participating in the exhibition.

Boxes and bags !

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Party supplies.

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Napkins, tissue paper.

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Paper bags (Love the polka dots)

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Innovative gift wraps.

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Apothecary bottles.   A recent trend in the favor business.

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Embellishments

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Pastel shades

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It was a pure feast for the eyes ! The colors, the presentation and the designs ! My next post will contain the other aspects of the exhibition.

Thank you so much for taking the time to visit and comment.  I really appreciate it and I hope you join me next year in visiting the Paper World Middle East.

Before you leave, just a quick reminder :-

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