Jennie Maizels Sketchbook Club

Anyone who knows me, knows what a massive fan I am of Jennie Maizels…

I became aware of Jennie’s iron-on patches when I was working with Green Baby – so quite a while ago now!

So when I found a love for instagram, I was delighted to catch up with Jennie again and to tell EVERYONE I knew to take a look at her fabulous visual sketchbook holiday diaries.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spread 3

Recently I have started a weekly instagram photo challenge #sgiew (more on that here) and asked Jennie if she would be a guest judge – we were delighted when she agreed, and I asked her to tell us a bit more about herself and her new #sketchbookclub:

Jennie in the Studio We asked Jennie what had influenced her early days as an artist:

Jennie: I grew up just outside London, my parents are both Artists too, so it was a very creative childhood (we didn’t even have a TV!). Growing up with two artists could not help but inspire me. My parents run the Outsider Art Magazine, Raw Vision

My father is also an art collector, so our house was crammed with sculptures, paintings,
murals and mobiles. I cannot think of a more creative environment. My parents receive
coach loads of visitors who wish to see my father’s amazing Outsider Art collection, so I
feel very privileged to have grown up surrounded by such inspiration!

I am very lucky, I live in heart of the beautiful Hampshire countryside in a village called
“Braishfield’ with thatched cottages and a village pond. It is classically English and we love
it! I have a studio on a remote farm, it’s incredibly peaceful but very hard to find, we have
to string up balloons and signs every time we have a visitor so they can find us.
Primarily I am an illustrator but I also hold online courses and run my small business where we supply my Pop-Up Books, Stationery and Iron/Stick-on Patches to the world…


My studio is crammed full of sketchbooks, paint and of course pencils. I have always had a real love affair with coloured pencils and keep them in colour coordinated tins, I use a
brand called Prismacolor that I have shipped from the States, so I have a vast collection!
Sketchbook Club started as a result of my complete obsession with Sketchbooks.
I keep prolific holiday journals, I find them so absorbing, relaxing and fulfilling, I now can’t
go on holiday without completing one.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spread I am a complete Instagram addict, I love how it connects people, an instant snapshot of
what people are up to, both creatively and domestically, I find it fascinating. (it also appeals to my nosiness!). Illustration can be quite an isolating profession, so being able to show the world your work in progress is incredibly positive and a great way to gauge future reactions to your published work.

It was through Instagram that Sketchbook began. I was posting images of my holiday
journals and also of the work I was teaching in my Sketchbook Club here in my studio and
was overwhelmed by peoples responses. This lead to an huge demand to hold an online
version, so the Online Sketchbook Club was born.

Jennie sketchbook studio
It’s been absolutely amazing, so fabulous to see the community growing. Each module has a hashtag so people can show/comment/advise etc. on pieces of work. Have a look at the first model #SketchbookclubHouses and you’ll see what I mean.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spread club

I actually get quite emotional when I scroll through the feeds, I can’t believe so may people
are taking part!
Sketchbook Club Course two is launching in a few weeks and I can’t wait to see what
people create from it.
I truly believe that given the right tools and guidance, anyone can draw.

It is all about having the fear of the blank page taken away, I never start to illustrate without knowing what I am about to draw, you wouldn’t bake a cake without a recipe, or play the piano without music, so I don’t see the difference. I am just giving people the ‘recipe’ to create something they will be enjoy creating and be hugely proud of.

Jennie Maizels sketchbook spread 2

I have kept sketchbooks since I was a little girl and encouraged my children to do the
same. there is something a little bit magic about them. No pressure (just turn the page and
start over if you are not happy), portable (I never leave home without one) and completely
People who have literally never drawn before, have got involved with my Sketchbook Club
and are now drawing as their main crafting hobby. It fills me with indescribable pride and
makes me happier than I have ever felt before in my career.

online club Jennie Maizels

Check out Jennie’s website here:
and don’t forget to follow her on instagram here @jenniemaizels, and me too!>> @incredibusy and fellow #sgiew host @redtedart

Milk Carton Skull Lanterns

Milk Carton Skull Lanterns

So with much delight, we introduce our latest invention, the Milk Carton Skull Lanterns!

I really wanted to have a go at making some skull lanterns, and thought the milk carton would be perfect for this, and it wasn’t until I started planning the graphics for it that I realised how brilliant it was that the handle itself created two brilliant indentations that were perfect for the skull’s eye sockets!!

We’ve since made LOADS of these are they are so easy to make, you can either print off the FREE printable here, or use marker pens, like these * affiliate links which work really well on plastic bottles – for full instructions watch the youtube video here.

For the PRINTABLE Skull’s face template click here

For more FREE printables for Halloween click here for Pumpkins
and here for brilliant Witches Hats
Some fab paper skull potato print Halloween party bags
How about Toffee Apples!
And some wonderful FREE printable, Skull Bunting

Ali also blogs over on and and is a lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!


Oxygen FreeJumping birthday bouncing

September means birthday cakes in our house, and every year the boys put in their requests for party fun and cake style and flavour… from a Star Wars themed Yoda, to a Dragon (same food colouring, so that was OK!) through to your standard Lemon Drizzle Cake… This year however, the party request was for trampolining, ‘free jumping’ and his OWN chocolate cake recipe! So 10yo-soon-to-be-11yo spent the evening before his birthday MAKING and BAKING his own cake, and a quick dash for some Maltesers in the morning, decorated it himself before we bundled five of his friends off to Acton for some bouncing action over at Oxygen FreeJumping.
RB-cake Well, we couldn’t be more impressed – all of us (five boys, and two mums) LOVED it – we started off with a game of dodge-ball – this was a great introduction, as we weren’t quite sure where to try first – the Oxygen FreeJumping staff were lovely and organised a game, explaining the rules, so we got stuck straight in! And guess what? I won! Acton-oxygen-dodgeball this-place-is-jumping The design of the venue is stunning, the bold bright blues and yellows are really striking – loved the strong graphics – this place really IS jumping.

The boys’ absolute favourite activity was the Gladiator style jousting area over a large pool of blue foam… they spent AGES battling and giggling, and tumbling into a pit of spongy foam blocks.

I personally loved bouncing on the trampolines around the basketball hoops, probably because a simple bounce helped you score with EVERY throw!

Every participant wears a pair of ‘jumping socks’ which caused some amusement, and then delight that they got to keep them – and it was great to see the kids having such a brilliant time on the expanse of trampolines – we so want to go again!



A big thank you to the team at Oxygen FreeJumping, for their fabulous facilities, great family fun, and to the cafe staff who also made us so welcome with great coffee too.

Find out more here:

Ali also blogs over on and and is a lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

social media optimisation – BritMums Live 2015

BritMums Live 2015: Social Media Optimisation – doing it all at once (yes, you must!)
Facebook tweaks its algorithm and suddenly nobody sees yours posts anymore. Pinterest fiddles with its feed and your referrals go from 1,000 to 100. It’s no longer good enough to be excellent on one social platform; you need to be working them all.

social media optimisationSocial Media Optimisation

Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, G+, Twitter all at once? Yes, you must! The why and how

Social media is constantly changing. We don’t *own* our social media platforms, third parties do. To effectively use social media for your blog or small business, you must keep up and evolve with the platforms. Myself, Ali Clifford; and Maggy Woodley, Red Ted Art presented a session at BritMums Live, 2015 focusing on Social Media Optimisation.

We shared our strategies and talked about how to cope with the various platforms, use the right tools for the job and make the time you spend on social work for you. CLICK HERE for a slide show of the presentation

BritMums Live! is the UK’s biggest and best social media conference and blogger event, where lifestyle bloggers and social influencers gather to meet and socialise, network with brands, improve their skills, and fire their creativity. BritMums Live has grown out of BritMums, the UK’s largest parent blogger community, made up of nearly 8,000 influential bloggers who create content about lifestyle, crafting, food, health, travel, education, tech, style and more.

Join the Tribe

I have always loved my Mum’s old typewriter – it was amazing to us to see her tapping away at full pace, she filled us full of wonder, glancing quickly at her shorthand notes and slamming the carriage return. tribe originals

The boys and I have been over to her house to start clearing as she’s moved to a care home closer to us, and they’ve delighted in the old Imperial’s discovery and have been typing amusing sentences to each other – and I’m so glad it’s in my life, as look, what an amazing photoshoot prop for my full collection of Tribe Originals! Pictured here are my new Maverick sunglasses, Coast watch which we are giving to Daddy for his birthday next week, sssshh, and Oak Wooden Cardholder which you can **WIN** {click here}.

Responsibly sourced, Tribe Originals are also offering an exclusive 25% OFF on their Wood Wallets (one of which you can win here)
Wood Tribe Originals Sunglasses – just love all of the designs, Maverick is so ‘me’ though – retro-chic!
Wood Watches – loads to choose from – pictured here, the Coast Hybrid Watch combines a tough stainless steel casing with real wood dials, to create a new generation in watch styles. We love how each dial is totally unique and will tell its own story…..
and Hollow Balsa Wood Surfboards – for 25% OFF use the code **incredibusy** at the checkout until 29th August 2015 here

Coast-crate Maverick-sunglasses-2 Oak-Cardholder-001-312x312

Ali also blogs over on and and is a lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

Button Crafts for Get Your Craft On Challenge

Every month we run a craft challenge on a theme – May is #ButtonCrafts.

button crafts Share your Button Crafts photos on Instagram, or over on Twitter, using the hashtag #GetYourCraftOn, add your link to the linky below, and we’ll pick the best ones to feature here on the host blog the following month. (and on our Pinterest board too)

The photos you share do not have to be of the finished article – let’s see your work in progress as well as your completed masterpieces! Anything related to the #Button crafts topic. Just tag them with #GetYourCraftOn and follow and tag us too so we know you’re taking part) Our team’s four Instagram accounts are: @incredibusy (that’s me!), @redtedart @bluebearwood & @missielizzie.

This month’s Craft Challenge is #Sheep Crafts in honour of the #ChineseNewYear #GetYourCraftOn, and add your link to the linky below and check out our Pinterest board too.

FOLLOW #GetYourCraftOn team’s Instagram accounts @incredibusy @redtedart @bluebearwood & @missielizzie

BritMums oh, and if you have a couple of minutes, any chance you can vote for me for best social media expert in the BritMums BiBs awards HERE

Kids Company Plate Pledge

Camila Batmanghelidjh and Kids Company Plate Pledge

You may have previously read my Kids Company article for Britmums – and I have been lucky enough to meet Camila Batmanghelidjh on a couple of occasions – She is an amazing and awe-inspiring person. Plate-Pledge

Every week, thousands of children rely on Camila’s charity Kids Company for their main meal of the day. They come to be fed, to learn how to cook, and to find a safe place to be a child. Cooking together and meal-planning, has been a really important time for my children and I, and we often find time to bake the odd cake together even now with all of the homework they seem to have as they get older.
We were reading Jay Raynor’s article in last month’s Observer and the statistics still astound us – that today through Kids Company’s centres in north and south London, Liverpool and Bristol, they now support 36,000 children and provide 3,000 meals a week. Of those children, 85% rely on Kids Company for the main meal of the day. “We find children coming to us with quite severe issues of malnutrition,” says campaigns director Laurence Guinness. “We have toddlers with rickets, 10-year-olds who look like seven-year-olds. When you see adolescents looking skeletal you understand why they join a gang.” “There is no responsible adult caring for these children. There’s a gaping hole in the safety net. There is no allocation of resources to the lone child.”  

My 10 year old son has pledged £2 today to the Plate Pledge – he asked me to type:
“This is from my 10year old son – who today cooked a fish supper for our family and baked and iced a cake. He is giving £2 from his piggy bank towards a healthy tasty meal for another child tonight.”

As well as having the privilege of meeting Camila, I have also been lucky enough to work with some amazing beautifully minded brands, and I was very proud to read this little note from Camila and Kids Company last week:

“We are delighted that 1 Two Kids has decided to continue its support of Kids Company through the Sophie La Girafe Baby skincare range in the UK and Republic of Ireland. It is wonderful to have this support for our 36,000 vulnerable children, young people, adults and their families,” says Camila Batmanghelidjh CBE. 

Kids Company recently launched a challenge to pledge support for a further 580,00 meals for these children – so far, with donations from as little as £2 each, equivalent to a plate of food to help make a hungry and vulnerable child happy – they have reached an amazing 549, 833 – to reach their TARGET: 580,000 visit to learn how you can help too.

Ali also blogs over on and and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

The Penguins of Madagascar at Chessington

The Penguins of Madagascar at Chessington World of Adventures

We’ve been fans of Chessington World of Adventures for several years now, and were super-excited to have the chance to stay at the hotel and take a look at their new Penguin themed family rooms, and to check out their Year of the Penguins’ spectacular. Penguins of MADAGASCAR kidschaos

With the Penguins of Madagasar movie out 30th March 2015 on DVD and Blu-ray, Chessington has a whole host of penguin fun to celebrate at the theme park as part of their ‘Year of the Penguins’.

penguins-cheezy-dibbles-logo They even have a ‘Penguins Live’ Show based om DreamWorks Animation’s PENGUINS OF MADAGASCAR which is a singing and dancing spectacular indeed!

So Chessington’s Year of the Penguins features:

A new Penguin Bay and the arrival of six new Humboldt Penguins in April for the new Penguin Presentation (too cute!)
NEW Penguins of Madagascar themed hotel rooms at the Safari Hotel
The new Penguins of Madagascar Mission: Treetop Hopper ride experience
A celebration of the partnership with DreamWorks Penguins of Madagascar and the new show: Penguins of Madagascar Live! Operation Cheezy Dibbles!
It is running for the whole year and tickets start at £26pp for the day click here

If you have a chance to visit, or indeed stay at the hotel, your kids won’t be disappointed – the rooms really are rather special and the boys couldn’t wait to get into their bunk beds. On a grown-up note, I have never had such a comfy night’s sleep in a hotel, and to wake up to see wild safari animals roaming around outside our window was really quite special!

Disclosure: We were invited to this event courtesy of Dreamworks and Chessington World of Adventures for the purposes of this review and it was my birthday too. :)

Ali also blogs over on and and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

Penguins of Madagascar


Penguins of MADAGASCAR DVD kidschaos If you’re a fan of the Madagascar Movies, you’ll be familiar with the penguin characters Skipper andKowalski so in their own fun film, The Penguins of Madagascar.

The film is available on DVD and Blu-ray and opens with a young Skipper, Kowalski and Rico leaving the other penguins to rescue a runaway egg. This egg hatches (hoping this doesn’t spoil the surprise!) into cute little Private, and they set off together on their adventures as one big happy family!

There was much hilarity at the penguins addiction to Cheezy Dibbles – a rather brightly coloured orange cheesey puff snack (the kids couldn’t wait to act out the scenes!). PenguinsofMadagascar_4028x2692_4

And there is also a rather hilarious character Dr Octavius Brine (part man, part evil octopus) and his plans to take his revenge on the world voiced by John Malkovich.

The film is action packed, and as a grown up, you really have to pay attention to keep up, yet the kids LOVED it, and can’t wait to watch it all over again now they have it on DVD.

Penguins of Madagascar is out on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on 30th March from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment.

Ali also blogs over on and and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!

Minecraft toolbox – Build electronics with Piper

Piper – a Minecraft toolbox for anyone to create and invent with technology. Build electronics. Invent power-ups. Create the future.

So – the kids were pretty excited last week to hear from Mark at Piper all about their fabulous new toolbox for budding engineers who happen to like Minecraft!
As a family we tend to use ‘screentime’ as a reward at the end of the week, for best behaviour, and finishing homework without it being an excruciating teeth-pulling exercise. Minecraft is their favourite ‘go to’ game, and without further ado, read what our 10yo thought of Piper, and then watch the video!

In short, my son, 10yo RB says this:

“Minecraft toolbox – Build electronics with Piper. Piper is brilliant for seven and ups. I think it is really awesome because the instructions are in the game so it would make children and adults interested in making things outside of the game. Minecraft is a good way to get people that like Minecraft to play it. It will make a brilliant Christmas or birthday gift. It will entice people to play because it is easy to build so you can get started really quickly.  Raspberry Pi is what all of the software runs on. Raspberry pie is a mini computer if you’ve got all the right equipment and gadgets luckily all of that comes in a really well made wooden box. The screen comes readymade and all fits in.

There are ten action-packed levels to complete in the game. You have to make your own buttons and fit the wires in the right places. The mouse comes with the box so you can look around.

There are lots more interesting exciting things about the game but they are for you to find out.”

RB Age 10 says – “NOW watch this video!”

How it works:

– First you assemble the wooden toolbox and connect it with the Raspberry Pi 2, a 7 inch LCD display, a power bank, and an assortment of electronics.

– Once assembled, you enter a Minecraft adventure map viewable on the LCD screen.

– Your Mission: guide a robot to rescue astronauts on a foreign planet. The robot’s hardware is damaged on the way over, and you have to build it in real-life to control the robot in the game to save the day!

How this educates kids:

– Each gadget you build gives you a special power-up and progresses you through the game

– First build the controller to navigate your robot. Add switches to activate hidden bridges and doors. A row of lights to serve as a proximity sensor and more.

If you want to find out more, click here. Piper are on facebook and twitter.

Ali also blogs over on and and is a new lover of Instagram too… pop over and say hello!