Gathering items for an Autumn box

I blogged about treasure baskets a while back. Today we wrapped up warm and wrapped Joss in our winter wooly sling and headed out for a walk.

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We gathered items for an Autumn treasure box, leaves, pinecones and conkers, a seed head, and other nice bits and bobs that we can explore together. I have in mind to create a lion picture with yellow and orange leaves for the mane, I think we might also gather a big pile of leaves for in our yard and play with the wooden animals in them on a nicer day! I really enjoyed going out as a family today, and having a purpose in mind, to gather items, made it a really worthwhile fun walk!

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Toddler Play Monday and Autumn Fun

For this week’s Toddler Play Monday another blogger, the lovely Anna from In The Playroom, is picking up the Meme mantle with a great idea for cooking with kids, but I do have a quick idea to share. We saw lots of ideas on pinterest and I liked the idea of a threading project for Joss. This was a very quick activity which we tried one work morning when I was getting my hair dried! We got a piece of ribbon, and cut two large toilet roll inners up into inch thick pieces, Joss enjoyed threading them onto the ribbon and I think next time we’ll decorate them with some washi tape to make it more eye catching!

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I couldn’t resist sharing this photo from this weekend, I find this time of year tough for the weather and dark days but there’s something really fun about wrapping up warm and heading to the coast for a blustery icecream!

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there and back

What’s the Story?

This weeks What’s the Story? is a very simple one, a photo from earlier this week taken on a walk. Joss has just started to look up when we’re out and about, looking for stars, aeroplanes and clouds. Mr B and I love this walk that we do, I’ve often blogged about it. We like to spot things we haven’t seen before, seasonal changes and of course patterns in the clouds!

When I was younger my parents used to bemoan the fact that we kids weren’t interested in the world around us, now I know that comes with age!

So what do you see in this photo?

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At first I pointed it out because I saw an elephant, but once Mr B had spotted the crocodile I saw it more clearly too, snap snap!



Children’s Centre Funding Proposals

This week at work I was engaged in responding to Budget Proposals around Adult Social Care. In doing some research and reading I came across a campaign urging me to respond to proposals around our local children’s centres. I have blogged about their importance before here.

The local campaign page can be found here:

The Facts

  • The proposed budget cuts may result in a 56% reduction in Gateshead Sure Start centre funding.
  • If these cuts go ahead some of Gateshead Sure Start centres may be closed.
  • It is not known yet what the criteria will be for closing centres; it may be down to areas of higher disadvantage or it may be down to current centre usage.
  • Sure Start staff members may face disciplinary action if they help with this campaign.

You however, can help!

I was doing some further reading around policy and development this week for a secondment I applied for recently, more on that later, but I came across a great read arguing for longer term thinking about children’s services, you can read more here

This was my response on Facebook:

As their parents face cuts in other areas of their lives, job losses, reduced family budgets and increasing prices the idea of cutting their children’s opportunities to access play and learning facilities that support their development, whilst often supporting parents’ mental health and opportunities to engage with other parents is not a sustainable long term solution. Children’s Centres should be seen as a long term community asset, and other options for their future explored. As a new parent last year I was offered no antenatal classes, there were no support services for new parents, and I had three health visitors in six months. The Children’s Centre baby massage class was where I learned to parent, the sensory rooms provided free opportunities to talk to other new parents and the brilliant parent outreach workers provided a friendly welcome and sympathetic ear. I fear for new parents who couldn’t access these opportunities, there is very little available for under fives outside of them.

Please do respond to similar consultations in your own local authority areas and get involved in the debate about funding our children’s futures, its vital we speak up now before it’s too late.

Cowl not scowl

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I’ve mentioned before I like crochet but I’m not very good at it and tend to go off track a bit and get bored, hence making smaller projects rather than the blankets that I love but would take me the next five years to complete. This wee cowl took around five hours, not bad for an amateur and was a good excuse to practice the basics, it’s made of a chain 100, then a row of double crochet, a row of treble and another double, a row of three doubles and three chains repeating to make some little holes, and then the first three rows repeated, and joined with a darning needle. I am quite pleased with it now I’ve seen it on her!

All About Me

I was tagged in this All About Me meme by the lovely Chantelle from Mamamummymum which originated on the wonderful Gina’s Cold Tea and Smelly Nappies blog

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First of tell us your name and what you do……

I am Angela, Mammy to Joss, wife to Alex, part time charity project manager, part time student, full time ‘tired busy but just keeps going’ person!

I live at home with…..

Alex, Joss and our dog Toby. I’m writing this from home on a wet and windy day, I look knackered, but on a good day we look like this:

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My favourite thing to do is…..

Heading along to the Farm at the end of our street for a walk, to feed the animals and a breakfast in the cafe is always a welcome treat on a day off

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My favourite thing to eat is……
Ooh, tough one, I just love to eat! If I really had to choose then homemade pizza, I love bread and cheese!

When I get cross I……

Stay really very quiet for a while, then I explode, I’m not proud of it but am learning slowly to get a handle on it!

Sometimes I worry because….

I worry, that’s right folks, I am an anxious sort of person generally so I get caught up easily in worries, and then worry about my worrying. Sometimes it feels like I carry my worries around in a suitcase and sometimes I get them out and unpack them to get some space, I am learning to leave things out of the suitcase and forget and move on about others.

My favourite book is……

Alice in Wonderland, young or old it’s pure magical escapism, and the fancy dress options are endless!

My favourite toy is…..

My tablet, as I use it all the time for uni work, but my favourite of Joss’ toys is her Lego, I very much get involved in playtime and am a big kid at heart!

I dislike…..

Empty chocolate boxes, dark winter days and itchy scratch wool

When I grow up I want to be…..

A fun parent to this lovely lady with lots of creative ideas in all aspects of life!

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So now I am to tag 5 others to take part, if you’d like me to tag you please leave a comment!

My first tagee is Jen Palmer from http://www.smilesandtrials.net – hi Jen!

And finally, don’t forget my competition to win one of five Nursery Trader VIP passes is still running here!

Halloween, a family tradition

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Last year’s photo, a six month old Jossy dressed as a frog, comments ensued about child cruelty and even haha, roadkill :/ but nothing can take the fun out of the 31st October for me. As a child we did something special every year, a spooky tea, or a visit to the local Farm for ghost stories and a lantern parade. Never trick or treating, which my parents see as ‘begging’ but it was always a really exciting time of year, not least because it’s closely followed by Bonfire Night, and soon after talk of Christmas!

I’m not sure what we’ll do for a costume this year, but I know we’ll enjoy creating our own special memories of this magical night!

Greenfrog Product Review

In my quest for eco-friendly household products I recently came across Greenfrog Natural Soap Products. Soapnuts are environmentally friendly, sustainably produced and bio-degradable with their natural cleaning properties coming from nature’s detergent, saponin, which soapnuts are rich in they make a great non-toxic home cleaner. I am new to soapnuts and their derived products, but wanted to give them a go in our home. I had some questions, like whether they would smell clean, would they be as effective as other cleaners, and with these questions in mind I undertook a test of Greenfrog products!

Greenfrog’s range currently comprises of laundry soapnuts, natural washing up liquid, liquid soap and kitchen cleaner. The products are free from nasty chemicals, have naturally anti-microbial and antibacterial properties and can be used instead of laundry detergent for soft, clean clothes on sensitive skin.

Here’s what we tested, over the course of a fairly average week in our busy household:

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First up was the bag of soap nuts, these really intrigued me, they look like wrinkled hazelnuts and smelled a little like vinegar, but they are in fact little gems. Through using cloth nappies I learned that when things are clean and detergent build up free they should smell like nothing at all, and that bubbles are just to make us think things are clean, so I quite like clean washing without the smell of flowers or other strong smells, the soap nuts did their job with two big loads of family washing, the instructions were easy to follow and I was delighted by how everything was cleaned. I also tried them with a nappy wash as we’re fairly low soiled at the mo, and again was impressed with the results, the nappies didn’t smell of anything at all which is what we want!

Next up was the cleaning spray, with a really lovely lasting neroli and geranium scent this made me feel happy to be cleaning! I’ve tried lots of natural cleaners, I haven’t used anything that did as good a job of degreasing in the kitchen as this spray, and we all loved the smell, this was definately my favourite product, and one we will use again! I can see why this was shortlisted for ‘Best New Natural Living and Home Product’ at The Natural and Organic Awards 2013! Our kitchen has never looked so clean!

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Geranium features again in the handwash, alongside mint and aloe vera with softening honey too, a lovely creamy handwash with a peppermint kick, low foaming for a fast but clean wash.

Last up, the washing up liquid, lemon and neroli, both naturally anti-bacterial, this was easy to get along with, I like a low foam for the dishes as it makes drying them so much easier!

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This is a really impressive range, I would like to try experimenting with different oil blends alongside the laundry nuts for our less soiled cloth nappies as I think with teatree we would get a great antibacterial clean, I’ll be seeking some advice on this one, and heading to our local Greenfrog stockist in York as this is easily the best eco range we’ve tried!