Monday, 25 September 2017

The children and their comfort objects

Over the summer I had to sort out all my blog posts thanks to Photobucket changing their subscription terms, and while it was a massive pain it did give me the opportunity to go back over old posts, reminding me of old memories, which is the reason that I started writing this blog in the first place.

One of the posts that I uncovered was this one about Harry and his Giraffe. Harry's Giraffe was bought by my brother when he was born. He's made by Gund, and he's really just a square of soft fabric with a giraffe head, feet and a tail. When Harry was about two we realised that he was becoming very attached, and anxious to avoid any missing Giraffe trauma we managed to track down a duplicate. It's very useful as I can wash them regularly, and even though Harry knows there are two he'll accept either.

So before Mia was born we chose a similar pink teddy comforter from Tesco, again buying two. Unfortunately she can tell the difference, and will only accept one of them! Fortunately she's not so completely attached to Teddy that she can't sleep without him, and she's easily placated with one of her other numerous cuddly toys.

Even though Harry is now coming up to 9, he's still very attached to his Giraffe. He doesn't just have him to sleep with, he'll carry him about the house with him and involves him in his games. Both children still play a lot of imaginative games together, and they love getting food from the toy kitchen and making tea for their teddies. Sometimes when they go to school in the morning he'll ask me to look after Giraffe, and he's delighted if he comes back to find Giraffe doing something like reading a book, or sat in front of a plate of cake.

Sometimes if I think that they've had a long day at school, or they are just very tired, I'll take Giraffe and Teddy along in the car so that they can cuddle them on the way home. That's the only time that I'll allow them to leave the house though - they don't come out otherwise!

A few years back we bought a large photo frame, with lots of slots for multiple photographs. Ram and I spent some time going through all our photos, choosing our favourites, printing them and arranging them in the frame. We unveiled our handiwork to the children, expecting them to be thrilled to see themselves up on the wall. They rewarded us with outrage and upset because none of the pictures showed Giraffe or Teddy - they are part of the family too!

Two children and their comfort objects

I'm fully aware that as Harry gets older I don't want him to be embarrassed by Giraffe. If he has friends coming around I try to make sure that Giraffe is safely tucked up in bed, although it doesn't seem to bother him yet if they see him. I told him that when he goes on a school residential, which isn't for a few years yet, he can take Giraffe with him but he seemed a bit unsure. I'm sure that he won't be the only one to take a teddy though - I always took my teddy with me whenever I went away, even alloting him precious suitcase space when I was in Germany for a year!

Do your children have a favourite cuddly toy? 

Friday, 22 September 2017

Toys I made for the children that they still play with

I've blogged a lot in the past about the homemade toys that I've either made for the children or we've made together. Some of them, especially the bulky ones made from cardboard boxes, were definitely temporary additions to our home, but others have surprised me with their play value and durability, and many of them are still being played with today.

So I thought I'd share some of the favourite things that I've made for the children that they still pull out to play with!

Toy food has always been very popular in this house. They have a lovely wooden toy kitchen which is great, both for playing with and for storing all the bits and pieces. Mia is always pulling out the play food and setting up little picnics for her teddies, choosing unusual combinations of dishes to tempt them with. She also loves writing up menus so that we can choose something to order from her restaurant, and delivering it to us on a little pull along truck.

The salt dough and felt pizza is admittedly looking a little battered now, and looking at the picture below I can see that lots of the little pieces have gone missing, luckily they are easy to make, I need to sort out some replacements! The felt biscuits and cookies have held up really well, and I always request them when I'm offered a snack!

Homemade felt and salt dough pizza toy

Another toy that has stood the test of time is the I Spy Jar. It sits on a bookshelf in Harry's room and I often see him shaking it about to find new items. Sometimes I spot things in there that I had forgotten putting in! It's a few years ago that I made it now and the rice has held up fine, it looks the same as it did the day I made it.

How to make an I Spy Jar toy

Our magnetic felt fishing game was a big hit when I first made it. Unfortunately the fishing rod is now long broken, but the little felt fish are still played with. The children love hiding them around the house for each other to find, and giving them as 'teddies' for their own teddies to play with.

Felt fish for a magnetic fishing game toy

My bean bag comet is also still going strong, it lives in the summer house with the garden toys and I often see it being chucked about. I should make a few more really, they were so easy to make!

How to sew a bean bag comet

You can see all the toys that I've made for and with the children here on my homemade toys page - have you made toys for your children? Which were the ones that have lasted the best?

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Everything always needs charging

Before we go to bed, we make sure that all the tablets (currently three in active use) and our two phones are plugged in to charge ready for the morning. It's as much a part of the bedtime routine as brushing teeth and turning out the light. We have many chargers throughout the house, and two in each car. 

It's not just the phones that need to be kept topped up. I tried to make a list of how many things we have in the house that need to be kept charged and there are so many. There's my Fitbit - it can last for a week without being charged which is really handy, but I'm always loathe to take it off to charge as I don't want to miss counting any precious steps.

Then there's my Kindle, fortunately this can go for several weeks without a charge, but I like to keep it topped up in case I fancy a long reading session.

In addition there are all the toothbrushes - we each have an electric toothbrush now. The children have one with an app on the tablet and a little character to earn rewards for, I've only had mine since Christmas and there's been a noticeable improvement in the cleanliness of my teeth. But the children's toothbrushes don't have a low battery indicator, so I can't keep track and remember which one I've just put on to charge. This has led to Mia having hysterics at bedtime in the past because she's had a message on her tablet to say that the battery is running low.

I found two old digital cameras the other day which I passed on to the children, and they were delighted. The trouble is that they need charging before they can be used and I always forget, meaning that some planning is required before use, they can't just be pulled out spontaneously.

All these things need so many different cables that are lying about all over the place in every room, getting tangled up and generally adding to the visual clutter. My husband assures me that it's not long before we'll have some kind of mats that will charge devices without the need for tangled cables everywhere. Just the other day he was showing me some new magic Ikea wireless charging pads that look very good, even if they do require you to bore massive holes into your furniture to fit them in nicely. 

It's one piece of technology that I can't wait for!

Person charging a phone with dead battery

Image credit rawpixel.com via Unsplash.

Monday, 18 September 2017

A knitted scarf with pom poms

I was recently contacted by Love Crochet and asked if I'd like to receive some yarn in exchange for sharing a craft tutorial on my blog. Of course I said yes, I find it very difficult to turn down craft supplies! So here's how I used the yarn to make a little knitted scarf for Mia, complete with pom poms on each end.

How to knit a pom pom scarf for a child

I was sent four 100g balls of Painbox Yarns in pastel colours. The four colours are 146 Dusty Lilac, 152 Ballet Pink, 138 Sky Blue and 131 Seafoam Blue. They all co-ordinate beautifully together.

Painbox yarns in pastel

To make the scarf I decided to use two strands of yarn at a time and I knitted with 5 mm needles (UK size 6). I cast on with 16 stitches which made a scarf with a width of about 10cm. It makes quite a narrow scarf, but Mia is only little so it fits her perfectly!

Painbox yarns in pastel

The scarf is knitted entirely in garter stitch, knitting every row. Each stripe is 12 rows which makes them about 4 cm wide. The entire scarf measures about 115 cm - I read that the length of a scarf should be the same as the height of the person that it is intended for and that seemed pretty accurate. I made sure to try it out on Mia before I cast off!

How to knit a simple scarf

Then I used the yarn to make a coloured pom pom for each corner of the scarf. I used a pom pom maker which was brilliant, it made the pom poms really quickly and easily, quite a revelation after I've always faffed about with cardboard rings!

How to knit a simple scarf

Make sure to leave long tails on the pom poms when you tie them off so that they can be sewn firmly to the ends of the scarf. I suspect that they are going to be fiddled with!

How to knit a simple scarf

I'm really pleased with this scarf and Mia is too!

Child wearing a hand knitted pom pom scarf

How to knit a simple scarf

I received the yarn for this project and a pom pom maker set in exchange for a review.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Crafty ways to get organised

If you read this blog you will probably have noticed that I love crafting and yet I also yearn for an organised, minimalistic home, two things that are a bit at odds with each other. Being a crafter involves gathering and storing a stash of different supplies, as you never know what might come in handy one day, especially if you flit between different crafts like I do. Then you are left with the dilemma of what to do with the finished product - there is only so much wall space in the home for cross stitch samplers and embroidery hoop art.

So it's always good when I can find something to craft that is useful as well as being decorative, and I thought that today I'd share some of my crafty projects from around the home that help me to stay organised.

Crafty ways to get organised in the home

First up is this week to view patterned wall calendar. I can't quite believe just how much this has helped me with day to day organisation. Every Sunday I open up our shared Google calendar and write down the things that we are up to that week. Some come around each week, like swimming and piano lessons, others are specific to that week. I can write on the glass with a dry erase pen and then easily rub it out the next week. It was so easy to make with just a picture frame and some patterned paper.

Week to view dry erase calendar

Also in the kitchen, it's really useful to have a noticeboard where I can store the little bits of paper that accumulate in the house - letters from school, party invitations and so on. I shared how I made this padded fabric and ribbon pinboard using some lovely blue and white fabric with matching ribbon. It's really handy and looks lovely too!

Padded fabric and ribbon pinboard

I love the little wooden Ikea drawers for storing small craft supplies, but they are quite plain to look at. I used some paint and patterned paper to upcycle the Ikea wooden drawers, and I was really pleased with how they turned out. They've help up well to plenty of opening and closing and they still look really smart.

Upcycled Ikea wooden drawers with paint and patterned paper

Finally, to keep myself organised I have lots of notebooks. Lots of my organising is done electronically, but nothing beats writing something down with a pen and paper, it just seems so much more solid! I used to decorate my notebooks back when I was at school, and the children and I recently used some Posca pens to decorate some black notebooks which was really effective.

How do you keep yourself organised?

Thursday, 14 September 2017

The names I didn't choose for my children

I was reading something the other day about the meaning of names and why people had chosen them for their children, and it got me thinking.

I'll start by saying that I'm very happy with the names that we chose for our children. I had Harry's name in mind before we were even pregnant. I wouldn't say that he's named after Harry Potter, but I probably wouldn't have thought of the name if it wasn't for Harry Potter! However I'm honestly not sure where the name Mia came from, I can't remember any book or film that would have put the name in my mind, but fortunately it's one that we both like!

But each of my children does have an alternative name that I probably would have chosen first if I had a different surname. I've always really liked the name Jack for a boy, again I'm not sure where it comes from, but Jack Jain just didn't sound right to me (I'm not very sure about Jennifer Jain to be honest, but I'm stuck with it now!) so I reluctantly put it to one side.

As for a girl, well I really like the name Daisy. But again, when you put it with out surname it doesn't really go. Actually I think it does, but I'm not sure that we could have lumbered a girl with the name Daisy Jain also known as daisy chain. We had the name Mia picked out first time round, and when we found out it was a girl second time around I did suggest calling her another name that I really like - Sophie - but we decided to use that as her middle name instead. I liked the idea of using Elizabeth for her middle name, which is mine and I think it goes really well, but Ram wasn't keen!

If I ever become paranoid about sharing their names on this blog and social media I may well change them to their alternative names so at least I get to use them!

Did you have alternative names for your children? Are you happy with the ones that you settled on?

Mum with her children

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Miniature Halloween knitting for the dolls house

Today I have a guest post from my sister Anna. She's sharing some of the gorgeous miniature knitted items that she has made with a Halloween theme, great for adding a seasonal touch to your dolls house!

You can purchase the knitting patterns for these items in Anna's Etsy shop here - Halloween Knitting Patterns for Pukifee and Lati Yellow


Miniature knitting patterns for Halloween - Pukifee and Lati Yellow dolls

Jen has very kindly invited me to talk about my Hallowe’en knitting pattern book! It’s one of five knitting pattern books I’ve written for 1:12 scale ball-jointed dolls, especially Pukifee and Lati Yellow. I love these dolls, they are so cute, and it’s easier than it looks to knit clothes for them. All my patterns are designed so that they can be made by any intermediate (or adventurous beginner) knitter.

Because these dolls are the same size as dolls house dolls (other than their heads) a lot of the patterns in this book and my others can be used for other dolls, or for decoration. Also of course you don’t need to make them so tiny – using thicker yarn and bigger needles will make bigger items.

My personal favourite in this collection is the little pumpkin – at the smallest size it is very cute, and you can make it using any yarn and appropriate-sized needles, to make pumpkins in any size you wish for decoration this Hallowe’en!


Miniature knitting patterns for Halloween - Pukifee and Lati Yellow dolls

The pumpkin hat has also been very popular, especially in my shop where I also sometimes sell finished items.

Miniature knitting patterns for Halloween - Pukifee and Lati Yellow dolls

There are also patterns for a witch’s hat, witch’s cloak and a trick-or-treat bag in the shape of a little cat. Knitting miniature items can be a lot of fun – a bit fiddly but as they are so small they are quick to finish and you can outfit your whole dolls house with tiny jumpers in no time.

So why not give it a try!

Anna's Etsy shop is here - beepbeep - where you can find the Halloween Knitting Patterns book along with other books of knitting patterns and more gorgeous crafty things.
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