Last Minute Teacher’s Day Craft Ideas: Photo Pen-Holder Card

Teacher’s Day is just around the corner, and the kids and I were trying to come up with simple gift ideas.

J wanted to give each of his teachers a pen as he noticed that all of his teachers seem to use up pens very quickly. I thought that this was a very practical but rather impersonal gift, so our challenge was to come up with a way to present his gift that was not only unique but memorable.

We decided that we would make Teacher’s Day cards using J’s photo and slot a pen into each one, so that it would look as if he was holding the pen like a light saber!

A unique card for Teacher's Day!

A unique card for Teacher’s Day!

What you will need:

  1. A computer
  2. A digital camera or smartphone
  3. A printer
  4. Blank card paper or matte photo paper (we used matte photo paper)
  5. Scissors
  6. Paper knife or craft knife
  7. (Optional: Alphabet stamps and ink)

How we did it:

  1. We started off by taking a picture of J holding a small object in his hands (so that his fingers would curl naturally) against a white background.
  2. To make J stand out against a white background, I asked him to choose dark clothes with a bright pattern on it.
  3. Using a word processing programme on the computer, I inserted J’s photo into the file, carefully positioning it so that his hands were roughly in the centre of the card.
  4. I printed off the cards onto matte photo paper, and J carefully cut them out using scissors.
  5. You can actually just print out a message on the left side of the card, but we decided that it would be more personal if J handstamped his message. We got our alphabet stamps from The Paper Stone (the stamping ink was a gift from a friend), but most scrapbooking or craft stores will have something similar.
  6. Using a sharp paper knife, I carefully cut along the outline of his hand and arm, making a slit big enough to slot in the pen.
  7. I had J stamp his teachers’ names on the front of the card, and write a personal note to each teacher in the blank space next to his picture.
  8. Ta-dah! The card is done!

I really liked how the card turned out – so I might use this technique to make party favours or maybe have J holding a pencil, a lollipop or a party whistle!

The options are endless!

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The Paper Stone: Stationery for everyone (and a Giveaway!)

In my life, I have been truly privileged to have the opportunity to befriend some very talented individuals, and this includes my friend, Allison, who is the chief in-house designer at The Paper Stone.

The Paper Stone is a local stationery store selling beautifully and thoughtfully designed wares from notebooks to stickers to bags to mugs. A trip to The Paper Stone is like going to stationery heaven. Every nook and cranny of the store is filled lovely things – all of very high quality and surprisingly affordable (Unlike some other super-expensive stationary stores selling fancy Swedish and Ozzie-made things – support local, I say! Singapore Boleh!)

Lovely things from a lovely person

Lovely things from lovely people

Allison was kind enough to pass me some of The Paper Stone’s gorgeous stationery before our recent trip to the UK this year, and the kids and I were so happy receive so many pretty things! Thanks, Allison!

Little E and J went into raptures over the cute little animal erasers from The Paper Stone. I’ve always loved animal erasers because they remind me of my primary school days, when my form teacher would give out fancy shaped erasers to those who had done well in class and we would hoard these treasures and play games with them underneath our desks. J and Little E played with those little creatures for hours, creating stories and adventures for them.

Playing cat-and-mouse

Playing cat-and-mouse (Animal erasers SGD$2.90, 2B earth friendly pencil SGD$1.00)

I think these pretty pencils (they are made out of recycled newspapers! Cool, huh?) and fun erasers (made out of top grade material that makes minimal shavings – wonderfully tidy for messy writers) would make great stocking stuffers or wonderful additions to a party bag! Much more long-lasting and sweeter than tooth-rotting candies.

J and Little E also really like their journals from the ‘Just Lines’ range, which (despite their name), contain more than just lines in them. This range has 160 full-colour pages and is a mixture of ruled pages and black pages, with some pages containing plenty of space for journalling and for doodling. I especially like the map at the back of the book!

More than 'Just Lines'

More than ‘Just Lines’

I like the spiral bound nature of the ‘Just Lines’ range which means that the book’s pages lie completely flat when on a writing surface, making it easier for writing and drawing. The hardcover protects the book from rough use, works well as a makeshift writing surface and the elastic band keeps it securely shut tight when being transported. This makes it a perfect notebook for travel journalling!

I particularly like the nice thick pages which hold up well when using small amounts of wet glue – it makes a wonderful scrapbook for my kids love sticking mementos of their travels inside. Markers and paint don’t seem to soak through easily either, so it’s pretty decent for art journalling too!

The ‘Just Lines’ range comes in many different designs, suitable for both boys and girls of all ages – and grown ups too! There is a Little E just loves her travel journal with the ‘Charm Necklace’ design – I quite often catch her running her fingers lovingly over the embossed surface of the book.

J chose the ‘Toy Soldiers in the Park’ design for himself, which has a fun and busy cover! When we’re travelling, sometimes I play a game with him that is a kinda cross between ‘Where’s Wally’ and ‘I Spy’ – one of us will pick a soldier on the book’s cover and the other has to guess which soldier it is. It’s a game that entertains for hours on the plane or in the car.

The ‘Toy Soldiers’ design also comes in a whole matching range of  products – pens and pencils, pencil cases, backpacks, ring binders, mugs, and stickers! I think a selection of these would make a great ‘back to school’ gift set to get kids excited about the first day of school.

If you’re looking for a simple ruled notebook for penning down thoughts, stories or recipes, then the ‘My Story’ range is just the thing – it’s super cute and a real bargain at only SGD$4.90!

I got all nostalgic over the ‘A Day in London’ series which sports all the iconic landmarks of London on the front cover! J and Little E were very excited during our trip to London, especially when they recognised some of the landmarks from my notebook.

The Paper Stone also has a range of cute silicone luggage tags with the London Bus and London Guard design on them which are very eye-catching!

Writing 'My Story'

Writing ‘My Story’

The ‘My Story’ range (as with all of the paper products at The Paper Stone) uses finer paper that is thinner and lighter than the ‘Just Lines’ range – so it works great for pens, pencils and markers. Each page is a delicious cream ruled with grey lines, and is just a joy to scribble on! There’s nothing like the rustle and smell of paper to get the creative juices flowing – and it helps that my pens and pencils never snag on the smooth, matte paper surface.

I really appreciated the rounded corners of the notebook and pages which suits clumsy people like myself who are highly prone to papercuts!

The Paper Stone has also very recently launched their online store which offers free local shipping for orders over SGD$50 and a hefty 20% discount off all online orders! Just enter the code ‘TPSONLINE’ at checkout!

If you prefer the more tactile experience of shopping at their brick-and-mortar stores (conveniently dotted all around Singapore), I really recommend purchasing the TPS membership card which is a prepaid card which gives you more bang for your buck. Not only are you entitled to exclusive membership discounts and promotions when you flash your card in-store, but you get extra credit every time you top it up – for example, the SGD$55 card actually has a stored value amount of SGD$58! Not bad, huh? It would be a pretty great gift for the stationery and scrapbooking addict in the family!

A Special Giveaway for Owls Well Readers: The Paper Stone is generously sponsoring a whole load of great prizes to be given away on Owls Well! Hurrah! TWO lucky Owls Well Readers will win a TPS Membership card each (worth SGD$58) and FOUR lucky Owls Well Readers will each win an exclusive The Paper Stone goody bag containing some truly gorgeous items carefully handpicked by The Paper Stone’s designer, Allison. 

To take part in this fabulous giveaway just complete the following: 

1. Be a fan of the Owls Well Facebook Page

2. Be a fan of the Paper Stone Facebook Page

3. Leave a comment below and tell me which design and product from The Paper Stone you like best, and why! Don’t forget to leave your Facebook name and your email address so that I can contact you if you win – or if you’re really shy, you can email your details to me separately at 4owlswell@gmail.com

4. (Optional) To increase your chances of winning, share or reblog this giveaway on any form of social media that you fancy and leave a comment below with the link!

(This giveaway is open to anyone with a Singapore mailing address and ends on 29 August 2014. Winners will be picked via Random.org – just make sure you complete the 3 required steps!)

Update: This giveaway is now closed and the winners have been emailed. Thanks for playing!

Sunday Special: The MINDS-craft Project Conclusion

MINDS Special Eduation Schools (SPED schools)

MINDS Special Eduation Schools (SPED schools)

So the MINDS-craft Project concluded last Sunday, on Mother’s Day 2014, and I’ve been working hard this week making sure all the accounts were in order before submitting the money to the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS)!

We raised a grand total of SGD$1385 across all the blogs involved in this fundraising project, of which SGD$490 was from Owls Well alone!

I met with Jeannie (the Director of Corporate Development & Outreach at MINDS) this week to pass her the cheque and she said that the money would go directly towards covering the transport fees for particularly needy students who attend MINDS Special Education Schools (who otherwise would not go to school as their families cannot afford to pay for public transport).

Little E, J and I also had a brief tour of the Lee Kong Chian Gardens School at Margaret Drive this week, and I gotta say that I am really impressed with their facilities and their curriculum, which aims to empower and train intellectually disabled pupils to have a productive and purposeful life.

Apart from the usual curriculum (English, Math, Science, Art, Music, Sports and 2nd Language) that you would normally find in a regular school, each child has the opportunity to take part in co-curricular activities like Scouts, Performing Arts and Gardening Club as well as sports teams that have represented Singapore in the Special Olympics! Additionally, there is not only an emphasis on equipping students with necessary skills for daily living but also roleplaying using technical equipment that will help them to be more confident and independent in the future.

I’m so glad that we are helping kids go to school!

Thank you to all the RAWKmums who took part – Mama JSusanPamelaCorsageJuneMummy Wee and V – all of you worked so hard and made some beautiful things. It was wonderful working with such a fun bunch of people! We had so much fun chatting and laughing during our cardmaking meetings – I am so glad for the opportunity to get to know you all, and I have learned so much about the tricks and tools of the scrapbooking trend!

I am also so impressed by the generosity of scrappers who heard about our project and lovingly donated scrapbooking materials or volunteered their own services in cardmaking! The MINDS-craft Project would like to thank Claudia, Dorcas, Huayi, JoannaLyn LeeMichelle, Rosalind and Yenni for contributing, as well as Xavvy, Dotz and Felicia for donating handmade cards!

A very, very special Owls Well Readers for your support of the MINDS-craft Project, and also for all your encouragement, especially those of you who ordered cards and shared this project with your friends on social media! You guys are awesome! 

Another MINDS-craft Project update!

So it’s time for another MINDS-craft Project update!

To date, we have sold 161 cards from Owls Well alone, raising a total of SGD$402.50 for the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore! Across all the blogs taking part in this charity fundraiser, we have raised a grand total of SGD$1159.50!

That’s a ton of awesomesauce, you guys! *confetti*

Most of the cards were custom orders from readers of this blog – so thank you so much for getting in touch with me and doing a little bit for charity.

In fact, I just finished fulfilling a custom order of photocards – such a brilliant idea! The challenge for me was to make the card layouts suitable for both a portrait or landscape photo, so that really required some planning on my part, but I am so pleased with the results!

MINDS-craft-charity-cards

Anyway, I still have a couple of Birthday cards and gift toppers left unsold, so if anyone would like some handmade pretties and the self-satisfied glow that comes with doing a good deed for a good cause (and all for the low, low price of SGD$2.50), do drop me a line at my email address 4owlswell at gmail dot com.

There are still a few more days until the end of the MINDS-craft Project (our last day is Mother’s Day – 11th May 2014), so if anyone would like to make a custom order, you can email me or you can check out the range from these fine blogs:

MINDS-craft Project update!

Mother's Day, Teacher's Day and Birthday cards for sale!

Mother’s Day, Teacher’s Day and Birthday cards!

Mama J recently hosted another MINDS-crafting Party, so I have a new batch of cards available for sale in aid of MINDS (Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore) on the Owls Well Facebook page. I still have some lovely gift toppers available too, so go ahead and check it out!

Just check out the MINDS-craft Album here and email me at 4owlswell@gmail.com to place your order.

All the cards 6×6 inches and are made from high quality acid-free scrapbooking material and have been painstakingly and lovingly put together by yours truly (under the watchful eye of experienced scrappers like Dotz, Susan and Mama J and with tons of help from Pamela and Mummy Bean).

Each card comes with a matching square envelope and is available for the cheap-as-free price of SGD$2.50 apiece.

And if you like, I will personalise the front of the card using a gorgeous 3D glitter gel!

All proceeds from the card sales will go directly to the MINDS charity (that is, the entire $2.50 that you pay for the cards) – card materials and workmanship are already sponsored by myself. If you want to find out more about what MINDS does, you can check out my post here.

I’m also taking custom orders – with Mother’s Day coming up and Teacher’s Day not far off, now is the time to start looking for cards! Just email me at 4owlswell@gmail.com if you want something special for someone special!

P.S.Here are some more gorgeous heartmade cards and gift tags for sale as part of the MINDS-craft project – we all have different colour schemes and styles – do head on over and support them if you can – every cent counts!

 

MINDScrafting Party (and Charity Drive!)

Last month, I got together with a group of Singaporean blogger moms for a crafting party for MINDS online charity drive (henceforth known as the MINDScraft Project) that we are hosting on our blogs (I’ll link to all the other moms blogs at the end of this post!).

We all met up at Mama J’s place. Mama J (from Mum in the Making) is into scrapbooking and crafting, so she had a fantabulous array of equipment available for us all to use. It was incredible!

Each of us got to choose from a selection of gorgeous acid-free papers that was given to us by Claudia from The Loving Mum (Thanks, Claudia!). But the real fun was playing with Mama J’s scrapbooking tools.

Scrap Party!

Scrap Party!

There were all sorts of specialised hole-punchers and stencils and stamps and different types of adhesives and fancy cutters and ribbons and buttons and sequins and yarn and washi-tape! I had no idea that half of this stuff was out there on that table. It was like a crash course in papercraft for me.

I mean, here’s what I brought to the MINDS-craft Project:

Cheap scissors from stationary shop

Cheap scissors from stationary shop

I learned so much about layering and matching papers, and distressing and how to correctly ink stamps. Mama J showed me how to use a sponge and ink to add depth to layers, and Pamela from The Tan Family Chronicles took charge of this incredible die-cut machine and happily cranked out dozens of die-cut flower petals.

Fancy tools and techniques

Fancy tools and techniques

In the end, we each took home a stack of papers and embellishments, and you will be seeing (and hopefully, purchasing) the work off our blogs pretty soon!

Here are some of the cards that I made:

6x6 inch handmade cards

6×6 inch handmade cards

These are all 6×6 inch cards, all handmade from quality acid-free scrapbooking paper. The inside of the cards are left blank for your own personal message! Each card comes with a pale pink square envelope.

I also made some gift tags, or gift toppers, out of thick and sturdy cardboard coasters. I think these would look really pretty on the top of a present! The backs of the tags are left blank for your own message.

4x4 inch gift tags or toppers

4×4 inch gift tags or toppers

I will be selling the cards or gift tags in sets of two (check out my Facebook page to see what sets are still available), for the low, low price of SGD$5.00 a set (not including postage) and 100% of the proceeds will be donated directly to MINDS.

Please email me at 4owlswell@gmail.com if you would like to support our cause and bring some of these pretties home!

If you would like to know more about MINDS and the good work that they do, check out my original blog post here or visit the MINDS website.

If you want to check out some of the other Mom bloggers who are taking part in the MINDScraft Project, follow the links below:

  1. Mummy Wee
  2. Mama wear Papa shirt
  3. A Juggling Mum 
  4. Mum in the Making
  5. A Dollop of Me
  6. Life is in the Small Things
  7. Tan Family Chronicles 

The MINDS-craft Project

In Singapore, we don’t have an integrated education system which allows the intellectually disabled to attend a mainstream school, so my children have never had the opportunity to meet or interact with people who have special needs in this area. Since, I feel that it is important for my children to understand the needs of others and be socially aware. This is why I arranged for J and Little E to visit the Movement for the Intellectually Disabled of Singapore (MINDS) at their headquarters in Margaret Drive last month.

MINDS is one of the oldest and largest welfare organisations in Singapore. It specifically caters to people with intellectual disabilities, helping them to advance their development and well-being so as to allow them to participate as fully as possible in society.

Before this visit, I knew very little about the work of MINDS other than the provision of special education services for 7 to 18 year olds in their four Special Education schools and their children’s home for 6 to 18 year olds at MINDSville@Napiri. I had always wondered if we had support in Singapore for adults with intellectual disability.

MINDS Special Eduation Schools (SPED schools)

MINDS Special Eduation Schools (SPED schools)

I was very impressed to find out that MINDS provides support to intellectually disabled adults through services and facilities for their students who graduate from the special education schools at 18 years of age.

Equipping pupils for employment in the F&B sector

Equipping pupils for employment in the F&B sector

These pupils have the opportunity to be admitted to either Employment Development Centres or Training & Development Centres, depending on the level of specialised intervention needed to enhance their independance.

Hopefully, many of them will eventually be employed outside MINDS, usually in the Food & Beverage sector, where they benefit from a routine-filled and orderly environment.

Not every intellectually disabled person is able to survive in open employment, so I was excited to learn that MINDS tries to provide contract work for their clients, and that one of the contracts that they recently won was with Singapore Airlines.

Airline headset assembly and packaging

Airline headset assembly and packaging

Singapore Airline’s headsets are meticulously cleaned, assembled and packaged by the clients at MINDS within a sheltered workshop environment. We were allowed to peek into the SIA-MINDS Employment Development Centre, where over 380 trainees were busily engaged in their work. It was obvious that all of them took great pride in their jobs, only stopping occasionally to wave at the kids as we watched them work.

The Craft Unit

The Craft Unit

We popped by their craft workshop, where teams of artists were busy creating glass tiles in the style of aboriginal dot-paintings. MINDS is active in nurturing interests in art, music and dance; encouraging creative souls to really shine.

In the corner of the workshop were beautiful oil paintings of flowers, homemade candles and glazed pottery with intricate designs on them, even a loom for weaving. The completed handicrafts are then sold to corporate customers and galleries to provide an income for each client.

SONY DSC

There’s plenty of opportunity for each client to find their niche!

MINDS also runs a series of shops featuring a range of carefully curated preloved and vintage items (furniture, clothes, books and housewares) as well as a car wash. These enterprises are all staffed and managed by MINDS clients and provide an avenue for them to learn how to interact with customers and handle the day-to-day retail and service operations.

At the MINDS wash

At the MINDS Wash on 616 Telok Blangah Road

One of the ladies working at the MINDS shop at Margaret Drive shyly gave me a brochure for the MINDS Perform, a professional performing arts group comprising of talented MINDS clients who love to express themselves through music and dance! This group has performed for national events and is frequently engaged to perform in corporate events as well. I’m told that the MINDS Taiko Drum Troupe is particularly popular, as their performances are both energetic and expressive.

Of course, MINDS also provides an adult residential service at MINDSville@Napiri (which is like a hostel or group home) as well as allied health services such as physiotherapy and occupational therapy. There is also support and training for caregivers to enhance their skills in the management of their loved ones, both young and old.

Working hard with the Allied Health Professionals

Working hard with the MINDS Allied Health Professionals

My children were really very fascinated in the work of MINDS and how the people there all work so hard every day. As my 5 year old, J, said to me afterwards, ‘They have to work harder at everything! Everyone should try to help’. *Mommy Pride Moment*

This why I have clubbed together with a group of mom bloggers in order to start an online charity fund-raiser (which I will henceforth refer on Owls Well as the MINDS-craft Project).

From now until Mother’s Day 2014, the MINDS-craft Project will be selling handmade cards and gift tags off our blogs in order to raise funds in support of MINDS. The materials and workmanship is our contribution to the cause, so that 100% of the proceeds will go directly to MINDS. I’ll be posting more on this later on this week.

I hope that I will have your support in this endeavor of mine!