Friday, 24 February 2017

My two little bookworms

Both of my babies were very different when it came to books. Harry was looking at the pictures in books almost from day one, he particularly loved the books with the black and white pictures and would gaze at them for a few minutes. By the time he was three months old I was reading him The Gruffalo and he was paying rapt attention. It took Mia a lot longer to develop an interest in books. She wouldn't sit still for a minute when I tried to read to her, and she was more interested in pulling at the pages and wriggling to get away.

It wasn't until she was about three years old that she would sit still for a story at bedtime, and she quickly found the favourites that she wanted over and over every night. She had quite a slow start to learning to read herself, but in the last few months her reading has really come on, and although at school she's working her way through Biff, Chip and Kipper at home she's started picking up and reading more complicated chapter books. She can't read every word, and she skips the ones that she doesn't know (she gets very cross if I try to help her so I leave her to it!) but she seems to pick up enough to make sense of the story and to keep her interested.

Child reading in bed

Harry has been able to read longer chapter books for a while now, but he's always preferred his non fiction books. He has some fantastic factual books and he loves going through them and calling out to me to tell me an interesting fact that he's picked up. I had recently been struggling to get him to read fiction books, so I was delighted a couple of months back when he picked up the first Harry Potter book, and now he's almost on book seven. I wouldn't say that he's named after Harry Potter, but I probably wouldn't have thought of the name Harry if I hadn't discovered the books, so it's nice to see him reading and enjoying them. He received a lovely box set of the Chronicles of Narnia books for his birthday, so he's decided that he's going to go onto those next.

Child reading in bed

I'm so glad that my children are turning into readers, I'm looking forward to sharing all my old favourite books with them as they grow up!

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

My new school run

Last September, the children started at a new school. It was quite a change for us all, but fortunately they have both settled really quickly and it has been a really positive move for both of them. We are so proud of how they are doing.

They have moved from a school which was within reasonable walking distance of our home to a school in a nearby town centre, so it's made a big difference to my school run. It means that I don't do nearly as much walking as I used to, and the school run involves battling the traffic - fortunately my husband does most of the drop offs in the morning, as I'm a nervous driver and I really don't enjoy it!

My new route has meant that I have discovered a new love for the beach, as I drive along the coast to town each day. I've started leaving early, parking up along the seafront, and taking myself off for a walk. After spending their first term mainly sitting at my desk and not doing nearly as much exercise as I should have been, I've really noticed a difference since January when I began aiming to walk 10,000 steps each day.

It's not the best time of year to be starting a walking habit, and it has been very cold outside over the last few weeks. But I've been pushing myself to make the effort and feeling much better for it.

Waves at Goring beach

It's another really positive thing which has come from the new school, and I'm looking forward to the summer and lighter evenings when we can all stop off on the way home for some fresh air and beachcombing!

Monday, 20 February 2017

The Sky Blanket is finished, what's next?

For the whole of 2016 my crafting was pretty much dominated by my Sky Blanket. I completed a few other projects here and there, but the Sky Blanket was always there to be worked on and with a strict timetable to stick to. Now that it's finished, I can pick up some of the other projects that I've been thinking about!

My next crochet project is this Pink Crochet Bunting using a kit from Attic24. I'm not very good at following crochet patterns but it really is quite a simple pattern (assuming that I've got it right!). There are twelve triangles to make with four colours to choose from, then they are all joined together in a line and embellished with buttons. It's a nice portable project to take away and I'm hoping that it won't take me too long to finish. I'm not sure where the bunting will end up, but as it's pink I think that Mia may have her eye on it!

Crochet bunting from Attic24

I really want to make another crochet blanket, but I have three now and although they are used (I'm always sitting under a blanket if I'm watching television) I have enough for the time being. My sister bought me this book for my birthday - Crocheted Mandalas (affiliate link) - and I'm thinking that a large mandala would make a nice lap blanket for when I'm sitting at my computer during the day. I've not decided which one to go for yet, I want to start with something simple and it would be nice to find one that I could just keep making bigger and bigger until it reaches the right size. I'm thinking perhaps to start with a Granny Square mandala. It will probably end up being mainly blue, as I have plenty of sky coloured yarn left in my stash!

Crochet Mandala book

I'm also thinking that I'd like to make some crochet cushion covers. I've ended up with quite a lot of white yarn in my stash which needs a project, and I've seen some lovely granny square designs which are white with a different pop of colour in each one. We also have lots of old cushions hanging about that are looking very sad, I think that a nice cover would make them look lovely.

In addition to all this I have lots of Easter crafting planned for the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to some nice, bright cheerful crafting and hopefully some sunshine to go along with it!

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Review - Aquabeads Disney Princess Cinderella Set

As an Aquabeads blogger, the latest set that I received to review was the Aquabeads Cinderella Set (affiliate link).

Aquabeads Cinderella set

The Cinderella Set comes with three template sheets. With the first two sheets you can make Cinderella's head, and a glass slipper and carriage. Then the set also comes with a large plastic Glass Slipper Ring Holder, two ring bodies, and the beads to make two rings, which can be stored and displayed in the ring holder. There is one layout tray and a sprayer in the set, along with all the beads that you need and full instructions.

The beads come in a range of Cinderella colours and there were plenty of beads in the set to complete the designs. The set includes both plain beads and jewelled beads, which look really pretty in the finished designs as when they are fused together with the water they become really shiny.

When you have placed the beads on the board, you need to spray them with water which makes the beads stick together. You need to use quite a bit of water, and then tilt the board slightly so that the excess water can drain off. Leave to dry for several hours and the finished piece will be nice and sturdy.

Cinderella from Aquabeads

Mia really loved the idea of the glass slipper ring holder, and the fact that the set made two rings that she could wear and then store in the holder. The ring pieces were simple to make and stuck together well, and she was really pleased with it.

Aquabeads Cinderella glass slipper

Unfortunately we didn't have as much success with the Cinderella head. I sprayed with water and left overnight, and when I came down in the morning it had curled up and come apart. I tried my best to rescue it but it was too fiddly and so I had to give up. We've made similar sized pieces before with the Frozen Playset so I'm not sure what I did wrong this time, I think that perhaps I should have placed something over the design to flatten it while it dried.

Aquabeads Cinderella broken

The shoe and the carriage worked really well and made some nice little pieces to play with.

Aquabeads Cinderella set

As we've found before, the Aquabead designs can be quite fiddly, and even though the packet suggests suitable for children aged 4+ I think that older children will have much more success with Aquabeads. Mia at 5 still finds them quite frustrating, especially larger designs, whereas Harry at 8 enjoys using them much more. The trouble is that if you knock one bead it can push all the others out of place, and as you can no longer see the design underneath you effectively need to start again. I personally find it much easier to use a bead dropping tool to place the beads (available to purchase separately or included in some of the larger sets).

The big advantage that Aquabeads have over other similar bead crafts is that the beads are stuck together with water so even young children can complete them by themselves. There are also plenty of different character options available so you can find a theme to suit any child.

Aquabeaders bloggers


I received this Aquabeads set in exchange for a review, Amazon link is affiliate.

Friday, 17 February 2017

A February walk along Goring Beach

Even though we live close to the sea, I must admit that over the last few years I've not spent nearly as much time at the beach as I should have. But since the children moved schools last September I'm spending a lot more time driving along the coast to pick them up, and along with trying to increase my exercise levels I've been making the effort to leave home early a couple of times a week and take myself for a walk along the beach.

Goring beach seafront shelter

I've found a car park where I can park for free on Marine Crescent in Goring, which is pretty much empty at this time of year. There is also plenty of free parking along the seafront itself. The footpath is separated from the road by a stretch of grass, so it's nice and peaceful, and at this time of year there aren't too many people out and about. 

Goring beach beachhuts

I like looking at the beach huts, although they are all shut up at the moment, I don't know anyone that owns one. They seem to sell for around £15000-£18000, and there are also council owned ones that you can rent although there's quite a waiting list. I must admit though that even in summer I never seem to see them being used very much!

Goring beach huts

On my most recent walk the tide was out, and there was actually quite a lot of sand on the usually pebbly beach. You can walk quite far out before you get to the sea. 

Goring beach at low tide

I'm always keeping an eye out for beach treasures, in particular nice shells or sea glass. I'm also secretly hunting for washed up Lego or rubber ducks. I'm terrible at finding things though, the best I usually manage is mermaid's purses, cuttlebones and crab legs, which I leave where I found them!

Goring Gap information sign

After a short walk west you come to Goring Gap, the stretch of coast between Goring and Ferring. It's a protected area, and you can't see any buildings to the north (although there are a few houses and a main road) right up to the South Downs.

Fishing boat at Goring Gap

This fishing boat has been here for years, I assume that it goes out to sea because it seems to be in good condition!

Groynes on Worthing beach

On my way back I spotted this buoy which must have been washed up on the beach at some point - the sign on it says 'Beach Office Aware'. I've had a quick look online and it seems to be a navigation buoy, I hope that its absence hasn't caused any problems!

Navigation buoy washed up on beach

It's a lovely walk along the coast and I'm looking forward to seeing how it changes throughout the year.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

February - Lately I've been...

I thought it was time for another catch up post, so here's what I've been up to lately!

Thinking about - ideas for blog posts! December was such a busy month and I had loads on, then in January it all went very quiet. Along with the gloomy days and drizzly weather I've found it a bit difficult to drum up motivation, and because we are going away in a few weeks I like to have content planned well in advance. I've got lots of things planned out now though, I just need to put my head down and get on with it!

Crafting - My Sky Blanket is finally finished! It was a long long project but I'm very proud of my finished blanket. Although it is large it spreads out nicely across the sofa and is long enough for two or more of us to fit underneath at once! My next crochet project is some crochet bunting that has been waiting for me to get to it for far too long, and I have in mind to make a crochet lap blanket as well. I am also coming up with ideas for Spring and Easter crafting to share on the blog.


Watching - We don't have a television series that we are working through at the moment. We've recently finished the latest series of Vikings which we enjoyed, but we started the second season of The Man in the High Castle and it didn't really appeal so we may not stick with that. We've caught up with a few movies recently, I really enjoyed La La Land and Arrival. When Ram is out I stick on an episode of Sherlock to accompany me with my crochet. I wasn't quite sure about the last season though, I prefer it when it's just about solving the crimes, it all got a bit too complicated for me.

Eating - I really have been trying to cut back a bit since Christmas as I'm starting to develop a tummy that needs to go. But I'm hopeless, if there's a pack of biscuits about my will power is terrible. I've stepped up the exercise a bit so I'm hoping that will help, but I really do need to think a bit more carefully about what I'm eating. I can't resist a weekly cake when I'm meeting up with a friend but I know that's not rally the problem, it's all the other snacks that I eat when I'm at home!


Travelling to - We are lucky enough to have a few holidays lined up this year, and we will very shortly be heading off once again for a Center Parcs holiday in Belgium. After two fantastic holidays at Center Parcs, Erperheide, this time we are trying out a different park - De Vossemeren - still in Belgium but almost on the border with The Netherlands. It's actually very close to Erperheide and a similar driving distance. It will be nice to expore some different activities for the children including an awesome looking indoor pirate themed play area, indoor mini golf and of course the indoor swimming area Aqua Mundo (at this time of year I'm anticipating that we will be spending most of our time indoors!).

Center Parcs Erperheide accommodation

Reading - Just before Christmas we went for a health check up thanks to Ram's work. Everything was fine fortunately, but in my half hour chat with the doctor I mentioned that sometimes I find myself getting a bit anxious about things. She recommended that I have a look at some mindfulness techniques and recommended the book A Mindfulness Guide for the Frazzled by Ruby Wax (affiliate link) so I popped it on my Christmas list and have just finished it. It made a lot of sense and I can see how it would work, so now I need to set aside six weeks to follow through her mindfulness program (I skipped that bit to concentrate on the text). Next up is Happy: Why More or Less Everything is Absolutely Fine by Derren Brown (affiliate link) and then I have the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them screenplay (affiliate link) to read, although I want to wait until I've finally managed to see the film first!

Listening to - I seem to spend quite a lot of time in the car doing the school run, and so I listen a lot to the radio, usually a local station. The station I'm currently listening to has a secret sound competition that airs when I'm driving and no-one has guessed the latest one since we started our new school run, I'm desperate to know the answer now! I do like having a sing along while I'm driving.

Planning - We spent quite a bit of time after Christmas planning our holidays for this year, and we have a very exciting one planned for later this year.

I've also been planning how I can resurrect my second blog Toddler Things. I really like the domain name, and it would be a shame to lose it because it does bring me in a few pennies from AdSense and YouTube views (I have written posts which link to my popular Playmobil toy review videos). But of course I don't have toddlers any more and so I feel a bit removed from the subject, and hadn't published a post in over a year. I need to go back through and rewrite the older posts (most of them are terrible) and try and get some new content in there. I get sent plenty of press releases related to babies and toddlers so I'm hoping that I can find some things from there that I can quickly use for post ideas.

Looking forward to - some sunshine! It's very frustrating being a blogger at this time of year when it's so dark and dull all the time and you need to take photographs for posts! It's also far too cold for me at the moment, I enjoy running and walking outside but over the last few weeks there have been a couple of occasions when I've let myself get a bit too cold when out and about and I don't think it's done me any good.

What have you been up to lately?

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Spring crafts from Baker Ross

It seems to have been a cold winter this year, and I'm sure that I'm not the only one longing for a bit of warmth! We've been cheering ourselves up with our latest box of crafting goodies from Baker Ross, all with a Spring theme.

We started with these Creative Colouring Flower Wreaths. Mia loves colouring and she's very neat, so these detailed designs kept her busy. She took a lot of care making sure that she had chosen bright colours and matched them to the intricate design.

Baker Ross spring wreaths to colour

Then we made some Happy Face Flower Suncatcher Decorations, plastic suncatchers with thick black lines that can be coloured using Brilliant Glass Paint Pens. The paint flows smoothly from the pens and leaves a lovely bold colour.

Baker Ross painting suncatchers

They look great hanging up in the window! There are eight in the pack, or you can also buy a larger pack of 32, and I think that they'd be a fantastic craft for a birthday party or similar, where the children could take home their finished craft.

Baker Ross flower suncatchers

Mia and I also had a lot of fun with these Peacock Crinkle Decoration Kits. They are very simple to make by folding up the tissue paper and sticking together, with lots of little bits and pieces to decorate them with. They are glittery and shiny, and make a really cheerful decoration.

Baker Ross crinkle peacocks

The Bug PomPom Decoration Kits are very sweet. There are three in the pack - a butterfly, a bee and a ladybird - and Mia was immediately drawn to the butterfly as it's bright pink. She needed a bit of help with making the pom pom, but once I'd made it she loved decorating him with all the self-adhesive stickers.

Baker Ross butterfly pom pom

This year, Mother's Day will be celebrated on March 26th 2017, and these Mother's Day Handprint Poem Decoration Kits make a lovely gift. The child makes the plant using a cut out of their handprint, which is a lovely keepsake, and it makes a lovely personalised decoration for the noticeboard or desk.

Baker Ross Mother's Day handprint flowers

Easter Sunday this year is on April 16th 2017, and we really enjoyed putting together this Easter Bunny Train Kit. I must admit that it was a little fiddly to assemble so I did that part and then let Mia loose with the plentiful selection of stickers to decorate it. The train also comes with a large bunny sticker to sit in the back.

Baker Ross making an Easter train

The train would make a lovely Easter decoration, and you could fill it with chocolate eggs or other small gifts, perhaps as a table centerpiece.

Baker Ross Easter train craft

You can find all these products and many more in the Baker Ross Spring Shop.

I received these craft kits to review as part of the Baker Ross Blogger Network.
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