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!

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A sprinkling of snow

Have I mentioned I don’t like winter? Well I really don’t get on well with the dark evenings and dull skies but I blooming love snow!

Joss hasn’t seen much of the white stuff in her two and a half years, so when we took a walk to the supermarket yesterday and found ourselves in a flurry I loved seeing her little face light up!

She had 101 questions as always “is it Christmas? Where’s there a snowman?” and “can I eat it?” – “it tastes like custard!”

I just loved her reaction as seen in this little photo story, no captions, her wee face says it all!

Whilst I’m capturing memories I must write this one down, we were making a pizza for dinner and I’d added a raw egg to the dough, stirring the mix Joss looked up and asked ‘can I lick the spoon?’ – I said no, and she replied “will it make me go mad?” (it’s a geordie thing I think, to say something will make you ‘bad - read poorly’ so I think that one got lost in translation!)

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Book Review and Giveaway Peg Conley: Imagine the Life You’d Love to Live, Then Live It

Peg Conley has been an artist all her life, her watercolours are beautiful. After being a part of the corporate world for 25 years, Peg had an aha! moment after telling herself, “Imagine the life you want to live, then live it. It’s that simple.” Along with her family’s support, she was able her to move to San Francisco to pursue art and start a business based on her artisan stationery.

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Now she’s written about making our goals happen; have you ever had the means to meet a goal or fulfill a dream but couldn’t find that bit of motivation to take that first step? Imagine the Life You’d Love to Live, Then Live It could be just the kick start you need.

Separated into 52 chapters that offer both small steps and huge leaps in growth and advice for each week of the year each chapter is carefully crafted to offer words of wisdom and encouragement in Peg’s quietly reflective voice. I recently started journalling as a way to help me map some of my bigger life goals and work out the direction I’d like to take my working life in as well as our family life, I suppose doing this has helped me to be more mindful and work on my ‘presence’. Peg’s chapter on journalling is a great way to get started and is probably one of my favourite chapters.

An inspirational read

Talking to friends about what I’ve been reading has sparked some really interesting conversations, so I thought I’d share some of my favourite lines from the book to give you a flavour:

There’s an exercise in the book about visioning – “imagine, what will your life be like in 10 years if you stay within your comfort zone? What if, instead you continually expand your boundaries from the comfort zone to the courage zone” – this exercise really helped me to set some solid goals for 2015, Conley includes quotes about courage to inspire and encourage and I felt re-energised after some very tough weeks at work where I felt I’d lost my sense of purpose.

There’s also a section on creating a calming space in the home that inspired me to reclaim our bedroom from toys, Conley asks “where can you find a physical space that can become a sanctuary for you to retreat to?” – I feel like my head can feel cluttered if I don’t have somewhere calm to think so this section really made me think about other areas of the house that I could keep less cluttered to release my mind from clutter too!

And finally another great chapter for the New Year is about doing something to discipline yourself, this appeals to me as I tend to procrastinate and put things off but I 100% feel great about myself if I kick a habit or manage to start a new one. Conley uses the idea that you can “do anything for 15 minutes” to shift the inner voice that says “I can’t”

Want to give the book a go yourself?

I have three copies of this brilliant inspirational book to giveaway, please enter using the rafflecopter form and read the T&Cs (UK entries only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

Organic January

Hi all, my eco-mini series is back in 2015 and I will be continuing with my bi-monthly organic and eco round up of news and reviews.

This past two months I’ve been reviewing some lovely goodies that you might like to try out for yourselves.

organic january

Pukka Herbs Tea

First up the new Pukka Herbs teas; the organic herb specialist has just launched a new selection box of herbal teas comprised of five of the nation’s favourite, award-winning Pukka blends: Elderberry & Echinacea; Lemon, Ginger & Manuka Honey; Night Time; Three Mint and Detox. Oh my, what a total treat in a box, this is a brilliant little package to take to work to keep you going! I’ve finished this box and bought another, my absolute favourite from the selection is the Elderberry & Echinacea – great for this time of year to help ward off colds and packed full of rich dark berries it’s a really warming and pepping drink, a hug in a mug if you will! (Find the full range available at www.pukkaherbs.com with an RRP of £2.39 per pack of 20 tea sachets)

Green People Age Defy+ Purify & Hydrate Cream Cleanser

Another caring product is the new Green People Age Defy+ Purify & Hydrate Cream Cleanser; a total treat for the skin and absolutely divine. With hibiscus extract to purify and add gentle exfoliating properties and pineapple extract also used to gently exfoliate, the addition of rosemary extract gives a gorgeous luxe scent and brings powerful natural antioxidants to protect the newly exposed skin cells. I wish that I could capture the aroma of this beautiful cleanser for you; the essential oils of Mandarin, Ho Wood and Ylang Ylang make this rich lush cleanser really ‘sing’ it adds to the spa-like experience as you breathe in a deep note of ylang ylang as you gently massage your skin. My winter dry patches are long gone and I was really surprised to find that, unusually for a cream based cleanser, this rich cream melted away my stubborn mascara negating the need to use an additional eye make up remover, money saving and a big time saver for me too! Age Defy+ Purify & Hydrate Cream Cleanser is £24.95 for 150ml, a little goes a long way and the quality is amazing.

Naturally Gorgeous

I’ve also been doing some reading this month, the time off over Christmas has served me well! Charlotte Vohtz, Founder of Green People has written a book entitled Naturally Gorgeous; a treasure trove of tips this book was like a warm hug when I was going through a rough patch recently, I learned to take care of myself again and I really needed some support to think about my body and the impact stress was having on me. The recipes for making your own natural beauty products are a must read and I highly recommend the oatmeal and banana mask which is so nourishing that it’s now part of my weekly skincare routine and cheap as chips to boot! There’s loads of stuff to read here, some to jog my memory, like the sections on feeding your skin from the inside out with a balanced diet, and some new-to-me material like the instructions on sprouting your own seed mixes to snack on. If you’re looking for a smart read to kick start 2015 this is a great all rounder.

Comfort, Settle and Sleep

I’ve also been reading Comfort, Settle and Sleep by holistic therapist Samantha Quinn which another mama recommended and though aimed at new mums I always like to read new books around gentle parenting as I know this interests my blog readers. I was glad to see a very sensible section on postnatal depression and sleep deprivation too, as an aside many books on new motherhood do not cover this and it was a real positive to see tips and advice on seeking support, and wise words about being kind to yourself. The step by step baby massage guides are brilliant for introducing mums and dads to gently soothing their new baby, and the natural remedies for common ailments make this a great addition to a new parents bookshelf and a great reminder for those of us who still use baby massage techniques to soothe our toddlers.

Pure & Light Rose Damask Face Oil

essential skin face oil

This Pure & Light Rose Damask Face Oil was a new brand to me. I turned 30 this year and although I take good care of my skin and avoid the sun’s harmful rays early signs of aging are beginning to show and I would like to offer my skin more ‘food’ to keep it plump and supple. Pure & Light Organic’s signature cold press organic oils form the basis of this infusion, which features 18 certified active organic ingredients. The facial oil is naturally rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids and omega 3 and 6 and these penetrate the skin to enhance blood circulation. I’d read that a Facial Oil should be used daily for over 25s and so I’ve incorporated this into my routine for the past month. Aside from being a treat for the senses (I adore Rose Damask fragrances) I was surprised at how well my make up smoothed on after I’d prepped my skin with the oil, just a few drops gave great coverage and it was rich but not at all greasy and quickly smoothed over my skin. The Essential Face Oil is priced at £55 and is available to purchase at Janna Organic Remedies, London or online at http://www.pureandlightorganic.eu

Disclaimer: I am sent products and snippets of news about Organic products and trends throughout the year to review as part of this mini-series, if I like them I include them in my round-up all views are my own.

Christmas goodwill and cheer to all

Dear readers,

It’s time for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and all the best for 2015.

I’ll be back in the New Year with some ideas for goal setting for working parents, more crafty bits and bobs and play ideas for toddlers too, and of course my eco-series will be back for Organic January.

All the best to you and yours and thank you for joining me this year.

Love and blessings from Angela and Joss x

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Enchanted parks and winter walks

A short photo story from us this week, Christmas planning has taken over but I just had to post these pics, so it’s like a bumper Sunday Photo from us!

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Gro Clock for sleep training – a review

Gro clock for sleep training

Long time fans of the Gro Company range, particularly their sleeping bags (remember this photo of J, cute or what!?) I was delighted to be offered a Gro Clock to review, having heard such great things about them.

Reticent though I am about ‘sleep training’ per se, Joss is now of an age where her night owl habits are taking their toll on her daytime behaviour, she’s often having crashes during the day where her mood drops because she’s not getting enough sleep. Although we’re managing this with the odd daytime nap this isn’t going to be sustainable for much longer.

It was with interest then that we looked at the Gro Clock as an option. The Gro message is “How do you get your children to understand when it’s time to get up? SIMPLE “stay in bed until you see the sun!” It’s aimed at toddlers aged two and over and Gro Clock uses fun images of the stars and sun to communicate when it’s time for your tot to go back to sleep and when it’s time to get up, it glows blue at night and yellow with a sunny smile in the morning.

You set the time of wake up and can set the clock for a nap time too, it was really easy to get set up and the brightness is adjustable too, handy as we don’t use a night light but needed to introduce one this winter after frequent wake ups when Joss was a bit poorly recently. The Gro-Clock is mains powered and the cord is long enough to reach up onto Joss’ toy chest to make it easy for her to see it in the night.

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I liked that the clock comes with a story book so we were not introducing something new into the bedtime routine totally cold (sleep deprived parents will sympathise, the idea of introducing something that could make a tot go the other way is something we’re loath to introduce!) – the characters are fun and the story is really sweet, the moral of the tale is that if you’re late to bed or too early to rise you will be too tired to have fun the next day! The book is really nicely illustrated and a good size for small hands but a hardbacked version would last a little longer I think!

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Gro-clock features:

  • Glowing screen shows images of stars and sun to communicate ‘sleep’ and ‘wake-up’ time
  • Includes bedtime story book
  • Stars go out one-by-one during the night to show the passing of time
  • Key-lock option
  • Option to set two separate wake-up times (weekday/weekend or night-time/day-time nap)
  • Adjustable screen brightness
  • Silent operation
  • Optional audible alarm feature
  • Mains powered. Suitable from age 2+ years

How did we get on?

The first night we used the Gro Clock Joss was VERY interested in the blue light and stars and I was worried it was too distracting but by night two the soft blue glow seemed to comfort her and she went happily off to sleep. It’s hard with a tot that has quite changeable night time patterns to say how effective Gro Clock has been at establishing a better bed time routine but I would say the night light element has reduced her crying at bedtime and there are more nights than we’d had previously where she goes off to sleep chatting happily, which reduces our stress and worry as parents too.

In the dark mornings Joss would usually cry out or yell “it’s morning time” despite it being 5am, after about three days we started hearing her say “it’s not dark, it’s morning time” – I think having a night light is a big help for her now and we’ve cracked the early morning starts too.

I can’t say she’s sleeping longer but she chatters on quietly in her bed instead of starting the day with yelling, a much more gentle start to the day for all of us! I like that the stars count down to show time ticking over as this prepares her for using a ‘big clock’ when she gets older too.

I think the book is great for starting a conversation about the importance of sleep; we’ll definately use it for a refresher as Joss’ sleep patterns can be quite changeable!

Priced at £19.99 and growing with a little one as it has an audible alarm feature too I’d say this makes a great value addition to a children’s bedroom and is well worth a try for any parents struggling to establish sleeping and waking routines.

 

Disclaimer: We were sent a Gro Clock for review purposes, all views are my own

 

 

Smiggle Review – Give a Smile and a Giggle for Christmas

We’ve long been fans of Smiggle’s fun range of quirky stationery, their strapline, ‘where a smile meets a giggle’ brilliantly reflects their light-hearted, bold and colourful range.

I think stationery makes a brilliant gift, of course I’m a real stationery-lover but it’s something we all use and I think that bringing a little fun to someone’s play, study or work can be a really thoughtful present, and can help spark their creativity too.

With novelty pens starting from just £1.50 Smiggle offer a huge variety of stocking stuffers and perfect presents too. I was delighted and a bit overwhelmed when Smiggle asked me to review their range of Christmas gifts this year, I have to say a big thanks to them for this bundle as I absolutely love the selection and they’ve captured the things that Joss and I love perfectly!

Brilliant bags

smiggle bag

The Macarons backpack is a really great size, I know a few teens that would love to take this to school with them, vibrant, with pockets to stay organised and sturdy canvas fabric with a really fun design this is a really nice twist on a classic bag and I’ll be using this myself to carry the shopping home when I carry Joss in the sling!

Stocking fillers to delight and spark creativity too

smiggle stocking fillers

I love activity books, they’re great for keeping little ones busy between courses when out for a meal, or for encouraging quiet moments of play on Christmas day when everything gets a bit too much! These Konnichiwa stencil books bring hours of fun and are great for getting creative juices going too!

The range of pencil cases and accessory cases are to die for! I love the idea of this speaker case, with room for a phone or i-pod, speakers and space to store other essentials I think this is a really unusual gift idea for a music lover. The pencil cases range from £5 to £15 and are fantastic quality. I always carry a pencil case with me as I do a lot of writing on the go, these are long lasting, made from sturdy high quality materials and how fun are they! I am loving these designs, they’re so light hearted! The purple one is a Kimono wrap and opens out into a HUGE pencil case!

One of my favourites from this fab set of gifts is the heart shaped lights; the perfect addition to any youngsters’ bedroom Joss absolutely loves these, when I put them up in her room she got into bed and just stared up at them in delight! All little one’s love bright lights and this is a great way to keep that Christmas magic going, at £15 a set they’re really competitively priced and great quality, their lightweight battery pack makes them really easy to hang anywhere.

Finally, more cool stocking stuffers in the shape of watches and toys, wallets and loads of brilliant novelty pens and pencils, practical but with a smart design edge. Smiggle’s range of gadgets and games make really unusual stocking fillers. There’s something for everyone and for every budget; from a £5 secret santa to filling a stocking for a stationery lover, check out Smiggle’s website, you’ll be hooked looking at their fantastic designs!

Disclaimer: we were sent a bundle of goodies for review purposes, all views are my own

Sensory play at Christmas – feat Hexbug

I think Christmas can be a brilliant time of year for sensory play. Earlier this week Joss and I spent an afternoon with a bowl of water, some ice-cubes and blue food colouring and had an amazing time playing with her plastic sea animals in the water and watching the ice cube ‘icebergs’ melt!

This year these are some of the gifts that Joss will be receiving, bath crayons, foam shapes to stick on the walls of the shower, and foam silly soap all intended to encourage more sensory play.

Image from Magic Toy Shop

Image from Magic Toy Shop

I’ve also bought a set of these sensory tubes for scientific explorations; I’ll be filling them with water, glitter and glue to make sparkly sensory tubes; Joss loves putting things in and out of containers so I know these will be a big hit.

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Now that she’s getting older I thought about other toys to support her learning. When HEXBUG contacted me about their range of robots for children I was really intrigued! By leveraging their robotics expertise HEXBUG toys launched a Micro Robotic Creatures product line designed to give children a positive experience with robotics at a young age – these are some of the coolest toys I have EVER seen! Look at this Battle Bridge, a brilliant arena for HEXBUG toys robots to interact in.

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Our childminder has a selection of HEXBUG toys and Joss loved playing with them, so I was only too happy to add a HEXBUG toys review to this sensory play post. The Aquabot range starts at a super reasonable £7.99 for a single Aquabot; a robotic fish that really swims, these totally delight children, and why not, they move with such realistic actions that it’s hard to believe they’re robotic!

We reviewed the Aquabot 2.0; this interactive environment provides the fun experience of having a pet fish, without all the messy clean-up or need to remember to feed the fish, perfect for us and even better Joss can get her hands in and get wet too! The comes pre-set with batteries and spares, and with a small tank and stickers to decorate the environment for the fish! At £14.99 for the Aquabot 2.0 and bowl this makes a great all round gift.

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The Aquabot encourages kids to let their imaginations run wild as they care for their new pet. After five minutes without activity, the fish goes into sleep mode to conserve battery life, Joss found this utterly fascinating and even more fun as the fish can be awakened by tapping on the tank, and off it goes swimming again!

Other robots in the HEXBUG toys ranges react to light and sound or movement, these are brilliant little toys to introduce children to science and foster a love of engineering too; oh and they’re pretty fun for grown ups too!

Why not think about giving a fun sensory or scientific gift this Christmas?
Disclaimer: We were sent an Aquabot 2.0 for review purposes, all views are our own