Love From… Magazine Review & Competition

I used to be a big fan of children’s magazines – I used to get the CBeebies one for my daughter each month. They are a great educational tool, helping kids with pen control and learning to read, but they are also great ‘prizes’ for completing a reward chart or keeping them amused on long train journeys. Kids magazines are a win for them and a win for me!
I say I used to be a big fan because there seems to be a gap in the market between preschool and being able to read competently. What we have tried my daughter has objected to on the grounds of it being too girly.
For this reason I was keen to try Love From… magazine; could it be aimed at the right age and not be too girly?
Magazine, craft supplement, stickers, glitter craft, rings, notebook, mini clipboard, rubber and sharpener
The answer seems to be yes. Although I was a bit worried when it first arrived. The selling point of Love From… magazine is that the characters featured changes each month (hence the “…”), and this month is the turn of the Rainbow Fairies. We’ve not read any Rainbow Fairy books because they seem so girly. What I have learned is never judge a book by its cover, because my daughter was more than happy with the level of girly-ness.

The day it arrived we headed out to our local Italian for lunch, taking the magazine and some colouring pencils with us. We didn’t hear a peep out of my daughter until the food arrived. She was totally engrossed.
Back at home we turned our attention to the craft activities (the magazine comes with an additional craft magazine). The one my daughter wanted to try most were the pompom pets, so I let her loose on my wool drawer and she quickly made these:
Last months issue….
…and next month’s

We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this month’s issue and will be buying next month’s (featuring Tatty Teddy), but you, lucky reader, can be in with the chance of winning a 6 month subscription to Love From… just by entering the competition below.

Making a Children’s Art Book

My daughter is a prolific artist. We are presented with handfuls of paper at the end of each day, usually covered in pictures of cats; cat pirates, cats having tea parties, cats in hospital, once we even got a cat in prison! I adore these pictures but I just don’t have the space to file these piles of paper away, so I decided to make a photo book of them. That way I can enjoy her drawings and store them away neatly.
It was really easy to do, if you want to make one too follow these steps:
Scanning

I started off by scanning all the pictures into my computer, labelling them carefully with the date, so that once I had collected enough I’d know which order to put them in. Make sure you scan them as .jpg not .jp2 (as my scanner automatically did) or you’ll spend a lot of time converting them.
cats on the Olympic podium (and a bit of Mondrian)
Remove the ‘paper’

Scanning the pictures can leave the white background a bit dull and grey as you can see the paper they were drawn on and sometimes whatever was on the other side of the paper shows through. To get rid of these you will need to open each picture in some photo editing software. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, whatever you use to manage your digital photos will probably do this. I used iPhoto.

First slide the brightness settings up, until the background appears white and any blotching from the back of the paper disappears. This will lighten the drawing itself, to bring it back slide up the contrast settings.

Even if the background isn’t white, it really helps to slide up the contrast a bit anyway, it just gives it a boost.
bottom left – a cat meets an elephant
Upload to Snapfish
I’ve tried this on a couple of sites, and I had a few problems uploading pictures on the other sites, so I would recommend Snapfish. The problem is that the sites are set up for photographs which have lots of detail and therefore a large file size. Scanned line drawings are not big, even if they are good quality and many were rejected for being poor quality on other sites. Snapfish seemed to deal with them just fine.
I included some photos of my daughter painting (in this case her face!)

Follow the simple instructions to create your book

 

Its pretty intuitive how to make your book on the site, and there is an instruction video you can watch. As you will be loading in pictures that aren’t a standard photograph size I would remove all “page layout” boxes then drag each picture directly onto the page. That way you won’t have to resize all the boxes to get the whole picture in. There are guidelines to help line up the pictures, but because they aren’t going to be a standard size sometimes they just won’t line up nicely. If this happens I found it helped to put the pictures in at an angle, there is a control at the top of each picture to tilt them. I found it really useful to be able to label some pictures – especially the earlier ones when its not so obvious what they are supposed to be.Most of the pictures you can see here started out life as A4 pages and they look great shrunk down to fit several on a page. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you need to make the pictures as close to the original size to work – you’ll end up spending a fortune and have a very thick book – which kinds of defeats the point of doing this!

 

Our book covers 3 years of selected artworks and came in at a very reasonable £34.86 (I selected an 8×8 book at £24.99, then added more pages to bring it up to 40 pages).

Uploading your own images to the Cricut Explore

I’ve been having great fun playing with my Cricut Explore. One of the functions new with the introduction of the Explore is the fact that you are not limited to the images in the Cricut library – it is possible to upload your own images. As I had felt very limited by using the Cricut images  I desperately wanted to do was see what I could achieve with images of my own.

The first thing I needed was an image. Having recently made a photo book of my daughter’s drawings they were already scanned into the computer, so they seemed like the perfect place to start. My daughter draws A LOT of cats and this obsession started with one picture of magical Mr Mistoffelees from Old Possum’s book of Practical Cats. Its one of my favourite drawings.

It took me a few goes to upload the image correctly. Once it is uploaded it needs “cleaning” where bits you don’t want are erased and you help the software figure out what you want cut, and what you want as background. The first couple of times I missed bits of background, so he ended up with no details on his face, or I didn’t erase sections properly, so I ended up with some blobs around the picture. Here you can see below the first version (the black one) I uploaded incorrectly and the final version. In the end I decided not to use the ‘eyes’ floating around behind the main picture.

 

Third time lucky the picture came out as I wanted and I was able to cut this lovely image out on glitter iron on, so it could be put on a T-shirt, (unfortunately I couldn’t get a photo that showed off the glitter well, believe me its really sparkly).

My daughter's favourite Tshirt

My daughter’s favourite Tshirt

Having just renamed my blog “Dreaming of a Craft Room” the next image I wanted to work with was my new logo. I’m very pleased with the results – so much so that it requires a little film reveal!

 

Disclaimer: I was sent a Cricut Explore, Iron on and Vinyl for the purposes of this post. All opinions are my own.