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Saturday morning at the drive in!

7 Jul

With the weather like it is we thought we would have a day at home! After a huge delivery of nappies this week we had plenty of cardboard boxes to keep the children amused…

We’ve been talking about America lately so decided we would go to a drive-in movie! This caused a great deal of excitement and they had lots of fun with their cars even after the film had finished.

Which way to the drive in?

Snacks delivered by waitress Mummy

A Saturday filled with sunshine, swings and treehouses

26 May

Today we went to visit my mum and stepdad and spent the day in their GORGEOUS garden.  We are so lucky that all sets of grandparents have wonderful gardens for us to enjoy.  Our garden is very small in comparison but we do try to make the most of it when it comes to playing outside.

Look at all the fun we had today…

First look at the new Treehouse!

What a cool slide!

I love the lights inside the treehouse…

The new Treehouse is amazing. Lily and Thomas loved it and the slide was a real treat.  We certainly made the most of the sunshine today and spent hours playing outside. Lily also had a chance to test out the new tyre swing from Garden Games Ltd. The company asked us if we were interested in reviewing one of these and we were thrilled to do this.  The tyres are all old car tyres that would have ended up in landfill.  Lily loved the swing and I loved the simple pleasures that she got from messing around on an old tyre!  The swing is put together very safely and I was very confident and happy for the children to play on it. It comes fully assembled and is easy to secure.  My only advice would be to check that you have the space for a tyre swing. You need a lot of space around the swing to ensure that you don’t crash into anything!

Thank you Nanny and ‘Grumpy’ for a lovely day. We can’t wait to come back!

Save £200 by using washable wet wipes

26 Apr

If you use disposable wet wipes, have you thought about changing to washable wet wipes?

They are a totally natural alternative to disposable wipes which contain a variety of chemicals and can cause bad reactions if you have a baby with a sensitive bottom. Using washable wipes can also save you around £200. They are far more practical than cotton wool on newborn babies. A big explosive newborn poo can sometimes take 10 cotton wool balls to get baby clean. A couple of washable wipes will do the job much more efficiently.

Using washable wipes is very easy. You can either purchase ready-made wipes or if you are feeling clever just make your own. Leave them soaking in a pot next to your changing table so that they are ready for each nappy change.

What to put in the water

You don’t need to put anything in the water but if you want to add something you could try a couple of drops of baby oil.  This will give your wipes a silkier texture and a little scent too.  You can also add a drop or two of essential oil to your water. Lavender and Chamomile are safe to use in this way.

You can also use washable wipes when you are out and about. Simply put a few wet ones into a waterproof bag or Tupperware pot and put them in your changing bag. If you are already using cloth nappies then you can just put them into you wet nappy bag when they are dirty.

What do I do with the dirty wipes?

Just put them into your nappy bucket with your nappies and wash when you are ready. It’s as simple as that!

We sell a Cheeky Wipes Kit which gives you everything you need to start using washable wipes. We loved using these on our children and the solutions that you get with the kit smell divine!

 

Fairy birthday party on a budget

25 Apr

When my daughter said she would like a fairy birthday party, I have to admit I was very excited! I did go a little bit over-the-top with the planning  but it is difficult not to when you google ‘fairy party’ and find so many fantastic ideas and beautiful pictures. I mustn’t forget to mention the Disney Family site where I found instructions for making a fairy door and the BEAUTIFUL blog ‘Not my Own’ for lots of fairy inspiration.

I didn’t manage to use all of the ideas that I had, Lily’s party was at the end of a very busy Real Nappy Week and I just ran out of time.  I’m very happy with how it turned out though.

The 'party room' was decorated with balloons, organza and tissue paper pom-poms.

The tissue paper ‘pom-poms’ are really simple to make. You can find instructions on Martha Stewarts site

Papier mache Toadstools

There are lots of pretty expensive handmade wooden fairy doors on the market. They are gorgeous but you can easily make your own out of cardboard.

Apart from a few games of ‘Musical Fairy Statues’ we didn’t have many of the traditional party games, instead we decorated their goody bags with fairy stickers and glitter, decorated some butterfly biscuits and had a ‘Fairy Treasure Hunt’ We decorated their bags first so that they could use them on the treasure hunt.

The children were each given a little scroll wrapped in pink ribbon and inside were the instructions for their treasure hunt.

Then they had great fun running around the garden desperately trying to find everything. It was quite difficult trying to keep track of who had found what but we got there in the end! Here are some pictures of the Treasure Hunt and the things they were searching for.

It is serious stuff this treasure hunting...

Fairy wands were hidden all around the garden with their names on

Pine Cone Fairy. I got my inspiration for these from the lovely blog 'Paint Cut Paste'. Click on the image and it will take you through to her site.

No party is complete without Jelly Beans!

Personalised Fairy Charm by Bjewelled. Click on the link to take a look at more of Bjewelled Products

These personalised ‘Fairy Charms’ were handmade by the lovely Bryony at Bjewelled.  I think these are lovely little gifts for a goody bag and it’s nice for them to have something that they can keep to remember the party.

For the biscuit decorating, we used my favourite biscuit recipe which is so simple.  I made the biscuits the night before and we had lots of things to decorate them with. Mini marshmallows, mini smarties, sugar sprinkles and of course lots of lovely pink icing! The girls really loved doing this and I wrapped up their own biscuit to take home in their goody bag.

I ran out of time to ‘theme’ the food but we did have some lovely pink cakes, some with flower fairy toppers and some with mini marshmallows.  I used my favourite cake stand and also splashed out on these adorable flower fairy plates.

 I made the cake myself, it’s a little wonky but I think you can get away with that with a toadstool!

Happy Birthday to my big six year old girl! I love you to the moon and back.....

Say Poo to Poverty with our Real Nappy Week event!

4 Apr

Real Nappy Week 2012 is from 16th – 20th April.  We’ve got lots of nappy events scheduled for the Plymouth area but we are also planning something which anyone can take part in.

We are holding an event called ‘Real Nappies are great, pass it on and make a change!’ You can view our event page on Facebook here.  Basically, we are asking lovers of real nappies to have a look through their nappy stash and see if they have any nappies they no longer want.  If you find you have some you no longer need, why not pass one on to a friend and see if you can convert them to cloth?

If you don’t know someone who can use them then we know of a fantastic charity who can! Operation Sunshine South West are based very near to us in Tavistock and they send practical aid to people in East Africa who are living in desperate poverty. They also supervise the distribution of all donated items so they KNOW that their work makes a difference.

One of the items they are always desperate for is cloth nappies.  They work with orphanages, hospitals and refugee camps and cloth nappies are always in short supply.  At the moment they are fashioning nappies out of bits of cut up towelling and they have told us they would be very grateful for ANY cloth nappies.  This includes pre-folds, terry squares, pocket nappies, two-part nappies and wraps – basically, whatever you can spare.

We are asking people to bring any unwanted nappies along to our Plymouth events during Real Nappy Week but if you are not local you can still help out.  We will be arranging a delivery to Operation Sunshine at the end of April so up until the end of the month you can send these nappies directly to us and we’ll do the rest. You can find our address here. We understand that the container will be leaving for Africa in May. We’ll keep you up to date with how your nappies have helped, so look out for more blogs later in the year.

You can find out more about Operation Sunshine here

Please say Poo to Poverty and help make children’s lives better in Africa.

Vegetable growing with children

2 Apr

No matter what size garden you have, there is always some kind of space you can use to grow things in.   If you have no garden you can use a sunny windowsill, a window box or even a pot outside the door.  Children LOVE to see something grow which they have planted themselves.  It is a good project for teaching them how to look after something and if they forget to water it for a few days it has less scary consequences then forgetting to feed the pet rabbit!

This year we thought we would attempt growing some vegetables with the children.  We wanted them to be able to see the whole process through from sewing the seeds to picking the crops. In an attempt to keep it fairly easy for them and to keep everything in one place, we invested in a raised bed from our local garden centre. It is easy for them to access and just the right height.

Watering in our seeds!

We decided to grow a few easy crops to start off with. Carrots, Beetroot, Lettuce and Green Beans. They are all vegetables that they enjoy eating, and I’m hoping this will help to keep them interested. We’ve also got a couple of half barrels which we have planted up with potatoes.

The following crops are all suitable for growing in pots or grow bags. If using pots then plastic is better than clay as they are less quick to dry out. Just make sure that your pot is deep enough to accommodate the roots and that the vegetables have enough room to grow.

  • Tomatoes
  • Beans
  • Lettuce
  • Radish
  • Herbs
  • Beetroot
  • Strawberries

If you have a greenhouse or a very sunny window sill, you could also try peppers or aubergine.

Of course you don’t have to use conventional plant pots, why not reuse other containers. You can use old baskets lined with plastic, old buckets and boxes and hanging baskets. As long as there are suitable drainage holes in the bottom and it will not dry out too quickly, anything goes. I once saw a row of old wellies all planted up with salad leaves – I think we might give this a go too!

I will let you know how we get on later in the year.  Are you growing anything with your children this summer?

 

 

Pressed flower prints – a gift that will last

22 Mar

Preparing flowers to be pressed

Ok, I know Mother’s Day has been and gone but I couldn’t post this before the day as we were giving these as Mother’s Day presents.

A few weeks ago we picked some flowers from the garden and pressed them between some normal sheets of paper, in preparation for this craft idea.  You don’t need a flower press, just pop them between the pages of a heavy book.

Two weeks later and the flowers were ready to use.  I asked Lily to tell me what she loved about her Nanny and her Grandma and we started by writing this in the centre of our card.  Lily had lots of fun arranging the pressed flowers around the words and then decorating it with some flower stems.

She was very proud of the finished gift and Nanny and Grandma loved it too! You could use this idea for any special occasion – or just to say ‘I love you’

One for the mantlepiece!

Brilliance in Blogging Awards

5 Mar

We have entered the Brit Mums Brilliance in Blogging awards, under the category ‘Change’

If you like our blog, we would love it if you would vote for us!  It only takes a couple of minutes and would make our day!

Here is the link *bows gratefully* xx

Mini aquarium and other ocean crafts for children

1 Mar

We are very lucky where we live, we are so close to the National Marine Aquarium. We have been here many times with the children, they never tire of it.  They love to see to see all the sea creatures, get crafty in the classroom area and of course, visit the sharks! We have recently been inspired to get crafty with some ‘under the sea’ activities so I thought I would share them with you here.

Firstly, here is our very simple ‘Aquarium Shoebox’. Just find an empty shoebox and paint it blue then fill it with sea creatures. Luckily we spotted these little creatures at the aquarium and they were very cheap, I expect you could find similar things on the internet. The sea shells and seaweed have of course come from the beach, in fact we tend to bring something new home for our mini aquarium every time we visit the beach now! It is a very basic little box but the children really love it and it has really sparked their imaginations. I especially like the little pink treasure chest that Lily added.

Mini Aquarium Shoebox

Can you tell by this little piece of artwork which are our favorite creatures at the aquarium? Yes,  you guessed it – most definitely the seahorses, starfish and clown fish. I cut out these templates for the children and gave them lots of paints, glitter and other bits and pieces. They came up with the all the designs themselves and spent ages doing this.  We had so many fish at the end of this we could probably have wallpapered the whole house with them!

'Ocean Life' by Lily, Megan and Thomas

Finally, here are some books that we love, which are all ocean themed. Our top recommendation has to be Tiddler: The story-telling fish it is amazing. The children get so involved in the story and are always acting it out and joining in. After the Gruffalo I think this has to be our favourite book by Julia Donaldson. We also love  Tickly Octopus
and The Rainbow Fish both are lovely, heartwarming stories.

Is there a place of interest near you which inspired you to ‘get crafty’?

Thrifty tips for families on a budget

22 Feb

I had a nice letter from the tax man today saying that our tax credits were going to be stopping in April. Not a great surprise, we all knew it was coming but it’s still a shock when you see it in black and white. Families all over the UK are struggling to meet the cost of rising fuel and energy bills and this just feels like one more struggle that we have to cope with.

So in an attempt to help each other I thought it would be good to share some money-saving tips! Here are our top thrifty tips for families on a budget:

  • Reduce your heating bills by turning down your radiators or your thermostat to a lower temperature. Get into the habit of wearing an extra layer and you probably won’t notice much difference.
  • Use energy-saving lightbulbs and always ensure appliances are turned off, not left on standby.
  • Wash at 30 degrees and always with a full load. Avoid tumble drying as they are very expensive to run.
  • Don’t buy new goods. Try ebay, charity shops, car boot sales and freecycle. You can save a lot of money buying this way.
  • Sell on any items that you no longer need. Again, ebay is a good one for selling used baby equipment and the like. There are lots of Facebook pages devoted to selling second-hand baby goods.
  • Cut down on your food bills by planning your weekly shop ahead of time. Ensure that you only buy what you need for that week. Check out our post here for more info. Talking of saving money on your food shopping – try to avoid going shopping with children. They are sure to plead for those little extras and it’s always hard to say no!
  • Use the library. Rather than buying books just borrow them. Libraries will reserve any book for you and email you when it is available.
  • Do you need all those TV channels? With so much choice from Freeview there is more than enough to keep the whole family amused without spending out more each month.
  • Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This applies to so many things but basically before throwing something away think if it can be reused for another purpose. Use cloth nappies instead of disposables. At a saving of around £500 per child it’s a no brainer really.
  • Shop around for Insurances. House Insurance, Life Insurance, car Insurance, Pet Insurance, Breakdown Cover… the list is endless. Ensure you are not paying over the odds by using a website like Go Compare
  • Avoid eating out too much (oh how I wish!). If you are dining out check the restaurants website or ap before you go. They may have a special offer or voucher. Have you heard of the Tastecard? This card gives you 50% off many restaurants. Check out their website as they are offering a free 1 month trial.
  • Finally… grow your own fruit and veg. Even if you only have a small garden it’s amazing what you can grow in pots. Have a look at this link for more info.

This post is my entry for the BritMums Piggy Bank Tales competition, sponsored by Virgin Money.

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