Thursday, 31 July 2014

Book Review - Troll Two...Three...Four

For the last few months as a Parragon Book Buddy I've been reviewing recipe books, but this month I decided to change back to books for the children, particularly books for slightly older children. This month's book is Troll...Two...Three...Four, written by Steve Smallman and illustrated by Jaime Temairik.

Troll...Two...Three...Four book review

One day Boogaloo, a curious and lonely troll from Troll Land, sees a red balloon floating by and accidentally follows it all the way into People World. His fellow trolls decide that they want to go that way too, and soon an army of trolls is marching through the streets, singing as they go. Although scared at first, the humans soon realise that things are a lot more fun when Trolls and Humans can be friends.

Troll...Two...Three...Four book review

The story is written in rhyme with a lovely rhythm that makes it easy and fun to read aloud. I pitched it to Harry as book for him to read himself and he managed really well, the vocabulary was simple enough for him and he loved the story. The illustrations are fantastic, bright and cheerful and I particularly loved that all the trolls were so different to each other!

I received a copy of this book to review as a Parragon Book Buddy.

Review - Medieval House 3D Puzzle from Ravensburger

A few months back Harry and I had a lot of fun reviewing the 3D Taj Mahal Puzzle from Ravensburger, so when I was offered the chance to try another puzzle from the range I knew that we'd enjoy it. Harry was so excited to see the parcel, and he wanted to get started immediately!

The Medieval House 3D Puzzle has 216 pieces and is aimed at builders aged 10 plus, although I think that children younger than that could definitely complete it with some adult help. The house is mainly put together with numbered plastic puzzle pieces. There is also an instruction booklet to help you with the order of assembly that you need to follow.

For a more difficult challenge you could complete it using just the picture side, but you do have to be careful that you've got it right, as sometimes the pieces can be put together in several different ways.

Ravensburger 3D puzzle medieval cottage

The main part of the house is built using the jigsaw pieces, then there are additional plastic pieces to slot in for the roof and chimneys. It all fits nicely onto a base board, and it didn't take us too long to put the house together. It's a fantastic exercise for Harry to practice his numbers. I helped him to sort the pieces out into tens and then he put them together in the correct order. He loved joining all the pieces together, and then I helped with bending the corner pieces and fitting it all onto the board.

ravensburger 3d puzzle medieval cottage

This model was a lot simpler than the Taj Mahal with not nearly as many extra pieces. It perhaps doesn't represent much of a challenge for an adult puzzler, but it is a lot of fun for an adult to do with a child. The finished cottage is sturdy, lovely to look at and it would look nice on display, I know we'll have it out for a few days before packing it away for next time. Harry has also been having fun just playing with it, and flying it around like a spaceship!

We'll definitely be looking out for more of the puzzles in this range.

ravensburger 3d puzzle medieval cottage

We received this puzzle to review.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review - Wool and the Gang Knit Kit

I was recently contacted by Wool and the Gang, and asked if I would like to review one of their Knit Kits. Wool and the Gang is a diy fashion brand making knitting cool and fun again. You can buy yarn to make your own projects, try a Knit Kit which has everything that you need to complete a project, or buy the items ready made by a member of the team.

I'm not the most confident knitter, but I had a browse of the website and decided that I could easily manage a simple scarf. I chose the Lil' Foxy Roxy Scarf Knit Kit. You can choose the colour scarf you'd like to knit from a huge range of colours, both brighter and more subdued. I chose Shacklewell Grey, a black/grey striped mix of yarn. The kits come with everything that you need apart from the knitting needles, which you can easily add to your order.

My order arrived in a couple of days in a personalised box, what a lovely touch!

wool and the gang knit kit review

I was very relieved to see that the pattern was indeed very simple, and I was easily able to manage it. The scarf is knitted on 15mm needles, so it knitted up really quickly. I managed to complete it across a couple of evenings and it was a very satisfying project (although it did feel odd to be knitting a chunky, super warm scarf over the hottest days of the year!).

wool and the gang knit kit review

I really like the colour that I've chosen. I deliberately chose a more muted colour because I have coats in several different colours and I wanted to make sure that it matched everything. I'm hoping to be able to wear it for a long time so it needs to continue to match with a variety of coats! My progress below is after just one hour of knitting. As you can see the yarn itself is striped, but when it is knitted up it all mixes together nicely.

wool and the gang lil foxy roxy scarf

The yarn is called Crazy Sexy Wool and is grown by Peru's finest Andean sheep! It's certainly lovely and soft, and it will definitely keep me warm this winter.

wool and the gang lil foxy roxy scarf

Here I am, proudly wearing my finished scarf, don't I look nice and snug!

I received the Lil' Foxy Roxy Knit Kit to review.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Ladybird Tuesday - Prehistoric Animals and Fossils

Vintage Ladybird book Prehistoric Animals and Fossils

I'm slowly working my way through my new haul of vintage Ladybird Books, and this one caught my eye. Harry, like many children, has always been fascinated by dinosaurs and fossils, and so I knew that he'd enjoy looking at this book, even though the actual text is far too complicated for him!

Prehistoric Animals and Fossils is from Series 651, a series of natural history books which are definitely aimed at older readers or adults. I've also looked at another book in this series - Plants and How They Grow. It was published in 1974.

Vintage Ladybird book Prehistoric Animals and Fossils

The book begins with an introduction to fossils, what early people thought about them (perhaps that they had fallen from heaven, or were the remains of animals that had died during Noah's flood). It's only been during the last two hundred years that scientists have really understood what fossils are and how they were formed, fascinating stuff. I learn so much from these books - did you know that the word fossil comes from the Latin word 'fossilis' which means something dug up?

The book describes how fossils are formed, the different types of fossil that are found, and has some tips if you want to go fossil hunting yourself. Then it takes us through various periods in Earth's history and the different types of plants and animals that lived in each era.

Ladybird Prehistoric Animals and Fossils

It finishes with some ways to further develop your interest in fossils. I really liked this page about making your own museum for the fossils that you have found. I did something similar with Harry the other week with some small fossils that he has collected from various places, although his wasn't quite as advanced as the example in the book!

I'm joining in with Ladybird Tuesday at Being Mrs C. You can see all my previous Ladybird Tuesday posts here.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Felt and ribbon purse for carrying little treasures about

In this post I'm going into more detail about the felt, ribbon and button purse that I made for Mia, using some ribbon that I received from Fantastic Ribbons. It's really simple to make, and she is loving using it to carry her little treasures around the house while she goes about her role play. I should mention that this isn't a toy and you should always supervise your child while they are using it as the ribbon around the neck could be dangerous.

Felt button and ribbon purse for girl

All you need is a piece of felt, some cord or ribbon, some velcro and some buttons. I chose purple felt to go with the pink dotty ribbon and buttons.

Ribbon, felt and buttons

First work out how large you want the purse to me. Mine measures about 12cm wide by 9cm high. Your felt needs to be three times the height that you want the purse, then cut the top section so that it is shaped like a flat topped triangle. I made a template in paper first to cut out from the felt.

Fold up the bottom half of the purse and sew down each side. Then sew the ribbon down each side so that it covers up the sides. I suspect that there is a better way to do it than the way that I did it, possibly involving an iron, I did find it rather fiddly! Then sew in a small piece of velcro so that you can close the purse.

Felt button purse tutorial

For the button embellishment I sewed the buttons onto a piece of felt first, then cut around it. It is sewn over the part of the flap where you could see stitches from the velcro underneath.

Finally, measure a long length of ribbon so that the purse will either sit over the recipients tummy or hang to about their waist, then sew in securely at each side. I twisted the ribbon so that the dotty side is always showing. Make sure that it is sewn as firmly as you can, as the purse is bound to be swung about while full!

And here's a photo of it in use! I'm sorry that it's a bit blurry, she doesn't stay still for long, and I've cropped out her head because (as usual) her hair desperately needed a good brush!

Felt button purse tutorial

I'm linking up with #handmadeinjuly and:

Crafts on Sea

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Paradise Park, Newhaven, East Sussex

We have a busy summer ahead, and with some saved up Tesco Clubcard vouchers we have lots of days out planned. We have our favourite places to visit, but we tried to come up with some new attractions and picked out Paradise Park near Newhaven. We'd never been before, and didn't know anyone that had, but we took a chance and I'm so glad that we did, as we loved it!

The visit starts with The Planet Earth Museum. It's the life story of planet Earth from the very beginning, in particular with lots of ancient fossils. There are also some fab dinosaur displays with dinosaur models that move and that you can control yourself using the buttons. Harry has an interest in fossils and he loved picking out ones that he recognised.

Paradise Park Newhaven

Then we moved onto the Plant House. You start in the desert zone, filled with cacti, then move through different collections of plants before finishing in an Oriental garden with a huge collection of Koi carp. We had arrived early so they were empty, and it was really peaceful. Then you come outside into the main gardens.

Paradise Park Newhaven plant house

At this point the children saw the play area and there was no distracting them from that, so we let them loose. Some of the areas were designed for older children but there were some swings and slides just right for them. There was also an undercover sand pit where they spent ages digging for plastic dinosaur 'fossils', then we spent quite a bit of time in the large indoor soft play area. They had also spotted the Crazy Golf and so we treated them to a round  for £1 each.

Paradise Park Newhaven Crazy Golf

Then we explored the gardens. There is a Sussex History Trail to follow as you walk around the gardens which was very interesting, with lots of little models to look at, some with buttons to press to make appropriate noises. There are also several large fish ponds, so we bought some fish food for the children to feed them which they loved. You can choose a longer or a shorter trail to follow.

Paradise Park Newhaven feeding fish

Part of the gardens is a Dinosaur Safari, with cheerfully coloured, roaring dinosaurs to wander past. The children were fascinated, although a bit timid when it came to the loud noises.

Paradise Park Newhaven dinosaur safari

We finished our visit with another trip to the indoor soft play area. Unfortunately the miniature railway driver was on his lunch break as we were leaving, so we had to distract the children away. The little train did look like a lot of fun, it kept passing us as we were walking through the gardens and the driver looked as though he was really enjoying himself!

We spent about four hours at Paradise Park and could probably have spent longer on a cooler day. If we lived nearer I'd definitely be thinking about an annual pass!

We visited Paradise Park using Tesco Clubcard vouchers. Individual entry is £9.99 per person, with children under 3 free, or you can buy a family ticket (2 adults and 2 children for £29.99. An annual family park pass is £69.99. See more information on the Paradise Park website.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Crafting with some Fantastic Ribbons

I was recently chosen to review some products from Fantastic Ribbons. Fantastic Ribbons sell a great selection of ribbons, and also many other crafting products like buttons and washi tape. I've never actually bought ribbon before (I scavenge it from boxes of chocolates, clothes and so on) so it was lovely to be able to browse the website and choose some ribbon to use in my crafting. I chose a roll of pretty pink ribbon with dots (5 metres) and some bold cobalt blue side stitch ribbon (4 meters). Each roll cost £2.50, which seems pretty good value to me.

fantastic ribbons craft supplies review

I love the colour of the blue ribbon, and I decided to use some to create a simple ribbon bookmark. There are more complicated ways of making these, but all I did was cut a length of the ribbon and secure in a loop at the bottom using a large bead. The bead can then be slid up and down the ribbon to suit books of different sizes.

simple ribbon bookmark

Then I moved onto the pink spotty ribbon. This ribbon really appealed to me, it matches some washi tape that I have! I found this small cardboard box treasure chest on special offer in our local craft shop and painted it pale pink with poster paint. When it was fully dry I used double sided sticky tape to glue the ribbon to the box. Really simple, and it's a great place to keep some of my smaller crafty bits. At the moment it's filled with buttons!

ribbon covered treasure chest for storage

I used some of these buttons for my third Fantastic Ribbons craft. Mia loves playing going to pre-school/going to the shops/going for a picnic games around the house, and she has a variety of bags that she uses to transport everything that she needs. I thought I'd make her a little purse to keep some of her smaller treasures in. (Remember that if you are making this for a small child it's important to supervise them while they are playing with it as it may go around their neck). I cut a long piece of purple felt which is folded over and stitched up the sides. Then some ribbon is added along the sides. It closes with velcro, hidden by a small design made from an offcut of felt and decorated with buttons.

ribbon neck purse for a child

You can see the full range of products available on the Fantastic Ribbons website.

I received the ribbon to make these projects from Fantastic Ribbons.
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