Love Bird Valentine

Valentine’s Day is something I’ve always liked, not in a cheesy way, I just have fond memories of my mam buying a special cake or treat for supper on Valentine’s Day and it’s a tradition I’ve always kept to, sometimes baking something for the loves in my life, sometimes just grabbing a treat from the shops after a busy day.
Joss and I have made a Valentine for Daddy this year, sadly she was too excited to keep it a secret but I’ve squirreled it away and I’m sure he’ll have forgotten in a month’s time!

If you’d like to make your own love bird it’s really easy.

Love Bird Valentine

I drew a rough bird shape on white card and cut it out for Joss to decorate.
Once she’d had free reign with the glue, glitter, foam stickers and strips I’d cut from leftover tissue paper wrapping we popped it to one side to dry. This took a long time, Joss LOVES PVA glue!

I took some twine and cut three lengths, one for the hanger which is taped in a loop with washi tape to the back of the bird, and two for the legs, adding a foam shape for feet and again attaching to the back of the decoration.

Finally I cut a rough envelope shape from stiff card to carry the love bird’s valentine message, ‘Daddy x’ and glued this to the bird’s body adding the finishing touch, a googly eye and ta-da, Happy Valentine’s Day Daddy!

valentine

Focus in 2015

Quite by accident in December last year I found out about Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word mini-course via some planner addict friends and I found it to be a really helpful process to go through in terms of defining some personal goals for myself in 2015.

Focus in 2015

My word is FOCUS, there were other words that really appealed, including connect, and simplify but focus is what I need to get to and focus is not where I am right now. I also felt that this word was sufficiently action orientated to be encouraging – I will ask myself “am I focussing on being present in this moment?” “is my focus elsewhere or where it needs to be?” “how could I focus better on switching off?”

focus

Through counselling last year I’ve learned to expose myself to experiences I find uncomfortable and I also learned a lot about anxiety and how it holds me back. Managing anxiety takes focus and practice and this is increasingly becoming important to me as I have a lot less time to myself, and a lot less time to practice, now I’m back at work, working longer hours and nap times are a thing of the past.

I arrived at FOCUS after exploring my anxiety further last year. I learned that at its root, for me, is a desire to be productive, it’s in the quiet moments when I have nothing to do that I find a disquieting voice creeps in and I start to worry (hello ‘what ifs’ goodbye ‘calm collected’ self, if you will). I’ve learned a lot about managing this; if I step up my productivity I risk taking on too much and burning out, but if I listen to the disquieting voice, and just learn to let it be, paying it a low level of attention and moving on I find I start to enjoy life more and the noise in my head lulls again. So focus is a good starting point.

I am not a very focussed person, I flit from one thing to the next. I have lots of ideas, so many that I struggle to prioritise them, and I take too much on to fill the gaps. I’ve always done this, at primary school when the teacher gave out ‘jobs’ to do I’d always have my hand up, not just for the first job, that too, but also for anything that came later, I have an acute ‘fear of missing out’ and that can be disruptive; it’s where I lose hours to Pinterest or flitting between the open tabs of the desktop that is in my head, planning, thinking, being productive.

I’m sure I’m not alone in browsing pins for inspiration, but it’s more than that. It’s getting caught up in something and suddenly realising it’s 11pm and that book I’d been looking forward to reading hasn’t been read, I’ve distractedly binged on food I didn’t want or need and all that would be OK if I even enjoyed the browsing but there was just something driving me on, a compulsion, and one I have been working hard to get under control. I’m getting there, last week I sat for an hour and had a cuppa and just sat alone with my thoughts, not trying to collect them, but just let them be there.

So in 2014 I learned to control this to a degree, but in 2015 I need to start to focus myself further. In 2014 I achieved two big lifelong aims, I finished my Masters after many long years of part-time study, and I had a research report published that I feel really very proud of. In both cases I showed my ability to focus, but it was at a cost to other areas of my life where procrastination reigned supreme again.

I’ve started 2015 with a renewed energy, and took this focus into this weekend taking a trip to the beach despite the blustery weather. We probably chose the coldest day of the year for it and were all blue after 15 minutes but man it blew away the cobwebs, it’s hard not to focus on the moment when your toes are freezing!

beach

The word ‘focus’ came to me when I was at my computer. I saw a photo on my desktop, a piccie of my darling girl in the sun, I was at work but wanted to reach out and hold her hand. I wanted to go back to that day, a day where I was really present in the moment and bring that presence into all aspects of my life, so that is why I now have a small card in my planner, and another on my computer screen with one short five letter word, I’m ready for the challenge, let’s see what FOCUS is all about in 2015.

beach1

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

New Year Mini Home Makeover

I don’t know about you but I go into overdrive with cleaning in January. I’m doing a 30 day declutter challenge (sweet joy!) and in the course of doing it I’ve also been doing some jobs that have quite frankly needed doing for some time. The nice side to all of this is appreciating the lovely things you have, that you love and want to keep (check out Marie Kondo for more info on cutting clutter) 43d17d4a071d0183b39de9e66aca8eb2

New Year Mini Home Makeover

Our mini makeover has seen us finally get round to hanging some artwork we’ve been keeping under the bed in Joss’ room, a Chinese kite which I love on the wall, and a French alphabet poster (shh, it’s a sheet of wrapping paper but you’d never know it wasn’t from a chic boutique! bird french And this latest offering by the little lady herself, a starry sky painting starry skies picture I’ve also really appreciated the little things, always floral, always gorgeous, including bulbs I’ve grown myself and prettied up by covering their pots with fabric and ribbons, and some pink hyacinths from a flower market. I can appreciate them more now the surfaces have been cleared of clutter and my mind feels less ‘busy’ too flow flowers While this has been happening Joss has been jumping, a lot, from the sofa onto her Christmas beanbag and keeping her beady eye on me so her toys don’t get culled! action And finally we’ve all been enjoying a spot of winter sunshine to blow away the cobwebs. toby Some proper planning for 2015 comes later this week when I’m back at work and thinking about some goals for the coming 12 months, but after a busy 2014 I’m ready for the challenge, and the house is ready for it too!

You Baby Me Mummy

November’s Organic Round Up

It’s time for my latest organic roundup. I’ve decided to try to do these every couple of months after my Organic September post was so popular! This month we’ve been trialling three new products that I’d like to share with you.

Organic Round Up

First up, and helping me with potty training on the go, is Organyc’s Organic Baby Wipes. About a week ago Joss woke up and announced she didn’t want to wear a nappy. A week on she’s doing brilliantly, we’re using cloth wipes at home but I needed something quick for out and about as she’s often using the potty when we’re literally on the go! Made from 100% organic cotton infused with organic Chamomile and organic Calendula these are a great choice of more eco-friendly wipe. They’re a really good thick quality cotton, smell refreshing but without overpowering and the addition of the essential oils is great as these are the same oils we use at home with our cloth wipes.

organyc

Next up, for the past month I switched my usual moisturiser for these Oriflame eco-beauty smoothing day and night creams, priced at £16.95 each the two come in cheaper than my usual buy. I really liked the packaging, with pump action nozzles they dispense hygienically and you can still control the amount you use. The day cream contains a blend of Fairtrade Shea Butter and Fairtrade Organic Coconut Oil for a gorgeously smooth base for my daily make up routine and after a few weeks people commented that I was looking well so I assume the cream did the trick! The night cream has a similar blend of shea and coconut oil but is slightly heavier, it smooths on nicely and after about ten minutes my skin felt plumper; this cream feels like a luxurious treat for my skin. That it’s paraben free, fairtrade and organic makes this a really attractive eco-buy too.

The most noticable result for me is that the flaky patches I struggled to fight with my usual cream are gone, this is a brilliant result for me as they were really stubborn and could leave my makeup looking patchy on a bad day. This is a product switch that I’m really pleased with, and sticking to!

oriflame

Organic News

In other news, Aldi, our beloved local store that we use so heavily because we don’t have a car have started stocking a range of organic fruit and veg, brilliant! They now have a wide selection of organic products to choose from including meat and diary produce too.

Egg Carton Christmas Trees

egg carton christmas trees

Joss and I have been getting crafty most evenings for the last week. After dinner we clear the table and she asks to draw, once she tires of another round of drawing pigs and slugs (it’s always pigs and slugs she draws, I don’t know why!) she usually asks if we can do some painting.

I thought we’d use this time to start to make a few little Christmas decorations together. As I was clearing the kitchen last night I was about to pop the egg carton into the bin when I thought about using it for painting instead. Cutting out the centres of the carton I made some of them taller and some shorter and trimmed any rough edges before letting Joss go crazy on them with the glitter and paint!

Make your own Egg Carton Christmas Trees

If you’d like to make your own egg carton trees here’s the lowdown:

egg carton christmas tree

  • Cut out the pointed centres of your carton, remove any rough edges and prep them for your toddler by cutting them into different sizes.
  • Get decorating with paints, glitter glue and stickers
  • You can either keep them as they are or stack a shorter tree on a taller one as we have done to make them look more ‘tree like’
  • Then either keep as a snowy scene as we’ve done, or pop a little hole in the top with a pencil and add ribbon to make them into ornaments for your Christmas tree.
  • Enjoy!

Smiggle 30 Pack Pens Review

Smiggle that’s where a smile meets a giggle, is the latest stationary brand to really catch my eye. They have brought bright fun stationary to the marketplace with something for all ages and great quality too.

I was recently sent a Smiggle 30 pack of pens to get my creative juices going; this would make a great Christmas gift for a stationary lover or to encourage the kids with their homework.

It includes a mix of gel, glitter, neon and pastel Smiggle pens, scented, which is where the Smiggle fun comes in, yum! And all tucked nicely away in a handy carry case; my Smiggle 30 Pack Pens Review gave me the excuse to get organised!
smigg

I just knew these would make a great addition to my family planner. I usually colour code each person’s activities and my own work tasks, I thought I’d take this opportunity to show you how our little family stays organised!

Keeping my To Do List out of my head really stops me feeling overwhelmed, and juggling work, blogging, family life, volunteering and studying too gets overwhelming, trust me!

My planner gives me confidence that I won’t forget to do something important!

Smiggle2

Essentially I have a little colour coded system to make it easy to see what’s coming up for who at a glance, I use my blog like a memory journal so sometimes I jot down ideas so I don’t forget what we’ve been up to, or if Joss say something that I want to remember that gets jotted down too!

I get my planner out on a Sunday morning and meal plan for the week ahead, making a shopping list alongside.

If other stuff runs out, like washing up liquid or hand wash I keep a set of post its in my planner and add to a little ‘on the go’ shopping list to go alongside my main list when I finally hit the shops!

Do you keep a family planner? How do you stay organised and in control?

A Simple Toddler Firework Activity!

simple toddler firework activity

It’s that time of year again, the time when Sarah and Duck’s firework dance is once again carefully choreographed by my tot and we all get the sparklers out!

We’ve had such fun at Joss’ toddler group this morning that I had to share her firework pictures; these are so simple and effective.

Take some black card, oodles of glitter glue and sparkles and let your little one go wild!

A Simple Toddler Firework Activity

You will need:

Black card

Glitter pens

Or glue and glitter

simple toddler fireworks

Let your tot go wild with the glue and glitter, there’s no exact science to fireworks so don’t intervene, just allow them to crack on and get messy!

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Once they’ve made the firework designs write their name in glitter glue, then while it’s all still wet sandwich a piece of paper over the top of their picture and rub down hard to spread the glitter and the glue out and help it to hold.

Then peel off the top sheet to leave the sparkly design in place, allow to dry, then display!

Park Photostory

Saturday mornings are Mr B’s lie in day and Joss and I get a bit chewy in the house so the last few weeks we’ve been going to ‘the big park’ – I’ve noticed the sun is out at it’s best 9 – 11am at the moment so it’s the perfect time to get some vitamin D and for me to shrug off the working part of my week and get into relax mode.

Park Photostory

I love this kid, she’s such a sweetheart, when we left the park she hugged this dog and fed him some sand, “you alright puppy? here’s your dinner! Good boy!”
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Headed for the bigger kids climbing frame, I was glad I had my running shoes on, she’s so quick around it!

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These water pumps are ace, I love playing with them too!

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She’s really honed her climbing skills lately!

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And finally we rounded off the day with new boots for a cheeky monkey (tonight she told me she was “chillin’ like a villain” – haha) we get very little choice of shoes in J’s size, she has such narrow feet, but these will see her through the autumn and winter just fine and dandy!
boots

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Present and Party Life Hacks and Moneysaving Tips

I’ve been invited by Voucher Codes to take part in their Life Hacks challenge and I’m really excited to share my tips with you!

Why present and party life hacks?

I decided that I’d theme my ideas around presents and parties because I think birthdays are such a special occasion that it’s important we treat our loved ones to the personal touch; it’s one area where we save whilst having fun crafting too.

1) Handmade cards and gifts demonstrate that we want to put the time and energy into showing that we care, and these small touches can often mean more to their recipients than big flouncy gestures! This is where life hacks and budget busting tips really come into their own as they’re the gifts that keep on giving, both to the person receiving them and also to your purse!

present and party life hacks

2) This past year all of the gifts I’ve given have been prettily wrapped on a budget. I buy huge, huge rolls of brown paper from our post office for £1.20 for a whopping 30 metres and either cut off sheets which I get Joss to decorate or I use my stamp sets to decorate them myself. A favourite life hack is to get a pencil that comes with an eraser on the end and dip the eraser in paint to stamp cute polka dot paper! This means we can tailor the decoration to each person and don’t have loads of rolls of half used paper around the house.

Present and Party Life Hacks

3) This brings me to my next hack, recycling wrapping paper. I’ve blogged about this before but my favourite tip is to use wrapping paper to make pretty envelopes. Look for a simple template online, print and hey presto, you’ve a sweet little envelope to pop that giftcard into, or to house a homemade greetings card!

Present and Party Life Hacks

4) One of my favourite home organising tips is to keep a wipe clean board in the kitchen to jot down bits and bobs you need from the shops as you finish them, this one was just a quid but it’s so handy. Try to get everyone into the habit of writing on there when they notice the washing up liquid is running out or they’ve just used the last scourer and as you’re washing up or cooking you also have a space to make a note of any random ideas that pop into your head, I often jot down ideas for birthday gifts for people whose celebrations are coming up!

Present and Party Life Hacks

5) When I made these recycled milk bottle elephants it struck me that this could make a great kids party theme; you could have enough bottles washed and pre-cut for little ones to decorate, just pop some glue and crafty bits and bobs out for them, and everyone gets their own recycled Nelly to take home!

Present and Party Life Hacks

6) Keeping on the party theme I settled on a winner when I started making our own birthday cakes, my top tip for tasty bakes is to use value jams and preserves for fillings, this gorgeous lemon curd cake was made with a 59p jar of lemon curd and it was so zingy that I’d definitely use a budget buy again!

7)I also made the little flower decorations with bits and bobs from my cardmaking set, decorated with buttons and stuck onto skewers, this was one seriously thrifty cake!

Present and Party Life Hacks

8) Two more tips from the recycling box, this time using old jars, I like to make party lanterns with mine, simply wash them out and decorate with washi tape, then pop a tea light in and enjoy the glow.

9) Or make party sweetie jars by gluing a small plastic character or animal to the lid and spraypaint, filled with sweeties these would make lovely take home gifts!

Present and Party Life Hacks

Present and Party Life Hacks

10) And finally, one of my favourite hacks uses printable transfer paper, this stuff is great and can be picked up for a couple of quid for two sheets. I used my transfer paper to make affordable personalised gifts like these drawstring toy bags, sometimes I’ll print the recipients name out and iron on the fabric, most recently (pic 5 below) I used a seashell motif with some jazzy striped fabric for a summer seaside feel!

Present and Party Life Hacks

Happy Partying Folks!

Disclaimer: In association with Voucher Codes

Sugru review and giveaway

Merry Fixmas from Sugru!

Sugru is a highly addictive mouldable glue, a crafter’s dream and a great addition to any home. It’s a new wonder material that feels like play dough but acts like superglue and sticks to pretty much anything!

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Sugru review and giveaway

I’ve spent this week with my Sugru multipack fixing and sticking; I started with a pack of black Sugru and fixed a hole in the sole of my favourite winter boots and patched the seal on our washing machine, then I hit Pinterest and saw some great ideas for using Sugru to make your own coloured key covers so I can now quickly find my housekey in vibrant red, and finally I set about making some fun stamps moulding strips of Sugru to form a shell shape and embossing then sticking to a bottle top for a quick crafty fix. Left to cure for 24 hours the Sugru putty cures and becomes a firm silicone, completely waterproof.

Sugru review and giveaway

Each pack of Sugru stays mouldable for 30 minutes so you can really work the putty to form a firm bond and shape it to suit you. I am delighted with the results, I thought my winter boots were past their best when the cobbler said they’d be over £30 to resole and they couldn’t be sure they could definitely do the job, they’re lovely boots and thanks to a spot of Sugru they’re fixed and waterproofed again. I really liked the ideas on the Sugru website, especially using Sugru to colour code, fix or secure wires for cameras and mobile phones as these break really frequently in this house!

Giveaway

Sugru have introduced a new range of colours this Christmas (- available from 21 November) all packaged neatly into Limited Edition tins – a perfect stocking filler or secret santa gift! Priced at £9.99 each give your loved ones a Merry Fixmas with these great value sets exclusively available from Sugru.com the lovely Sugru team have given me a tin containing five of the new colours to inspire some creative DIY in my readers!

Sugru review and giveaway2

From fixing broken toys to making childproofed corners and patching up winter boots, you’re sure to find something to Sugru!

To enter this giveaway simply use the Rafflecopter tool below, terms and conditions as follows; UK postage only, winners notified within 24 hours of the giveaway closing, responsibility for sending out prizes is with the press team associated with the brand, there is no cash alternative or prize alternative.

a Rafflecopter giveaway