The Weekend Box Club and Try It Free code!

Fancy something crafty for the weekend? We’ve been reviewing The Weekend Box club this week!

The lowdown on the Weekend Box Club

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In November (2014) Weekend Box won ‘Start-Up of the Year’ at the Start-Up Loan Competition in London, the Weekend Box activity packs are designed to fit through your letter box fortnightly and contain four activities to keep little ones aged 3 – 8 busy over the weekend.

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Each box has something foodie, something to upcycle, something to make and something sensory too. Sectioned into handy activity packs with a ‘how to card’ and stickers and certificate on completion the pack is so handy for getting some quick and engaging play off the ground!

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I love that the packs are designed to encourage discussion of healthy eating, recycling/green living and something sensory too, it’s a really well rounded selection!

Each box has:
Something to Cook
Something to Make
Something to Explore
and Something Green

The Theme

The theme of our box was The Aztecs, although Joss is still a little too young to get the deal behind the theme we looked at some cool Aztec prints online in preparation for getting started! When the box arrived I was really impressed with the thought put into the design, how exciting for little ones to receive their own post in a beautifully printed box full of things to make and do.

The Activities

We had a whale of a time with our four activities. We made hot chocolate together and this was a bit of a special moment as J had her first ever hot chocolate and boy did that go down well! We talked about how it was a treat and the spice mix included in the pack smelled so good that it was a sensory activity in itself!

The crafty bits were brilliant, we loved making an Aztec parrot and as J has just learned to get to grips with little scissors making a coaster from foam was fun and resulted in a sweet little gift for daddy to take to work too! Although not the mosaic design that the pack suggested this demonstrates that the materials included can let kids do their own thing too! Finally we both enjoyed making the Aztec prints from string and this is something we’ll definitely do again to make wrapping paper on a larger scale!

What we think

I think this is a brilliant idea and perfect for a rainy weekend or to dip into on a slower day, I’ve just recommended it to a friend who is stuck at home with a tot with chicken pox too! The age range, 3 -8 shouldn’t put anyone with a younger toddler or older one off as the activities are really engaging at both ends of the spectrum (my little lady is almost 3). J and I were delighted with the contents, I loved the powder paint, ingenious stuff, and the resulting makes are brilliant and now taking pride of place in our craft gallery!

Try it for Free!

The lovely people at the Weekend Box Club have given me a promo code for you guys to get your first Weekend Box for free. Boxes can be redeemed from www.weekendboxclub.com with the code ANG236 (new customers only please and just one free box is allowed per household) – I’d love you to share your makes with us!

Washi tape beach huts

washi tape beach hut

This one does what it says on the tin, it’s a swift tutorial using washi tape, I know it’s winter but I’ve made a stack of these using different tapes and am going to string them onto bunting for in J’s bedroom, there’s something really jolly about stripy beach huts, whether using traditional blue and white tapes or something a bit jazzy like this one!

How to make washi tape beach huts

Make yourself a beach hut template (essentially a rectangle with a triangle on top!) and draw around it onto plain card.

Use your tapes to fill out the design, hoops work well but any design would work really!  You can overlap the tape and be quite rough with it as long as you cover the hut shape.

Finish the hut by using a wide tape in a contrasting colour to make the ‘roof’

Decorate as you wish, I used wide blue tapes to make a door and windows and decorated with a sharpie, a button and some washi curtains and a gold ‘rope’ effect embellishment.

Cut out your beach hut and use as a card topper, as bunting or a jolly postcard!

 

Chinese New Year Toddler Paper Fish Kite

chinese new year toddler kite

Newcastle’s Chinatown lies in the historic heart of Newcastle in Grainger Town and we use the Chinese supermarket down there a couple of times a month.  I’ve always loved Chinese New Year, the street parade and fire crackers, and last year J visited with her Daddy and loved it too, coming home with fortune cookies and a paper dragon and a big smile on her face.

This year we’ve made some lanterns but I’ve seen lots of tutorials about those, we decided to make a paper kite this week and I’ve shared some step by step instructions below, with lots of room for artistic license.  For J this activity was about a new skill, paper scrunching and sticking, so she made the scrunched paper cuff whilst I assembled the main body of the fish.

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Chinese New Year Toddler Paper Fish Kite – step by step

You need:

An empty toilet roll

Three sheets of tissue paper in different colours

Plain white paper

Glue

String/thread

Scissors

How to (tots)

Set them away with a sheet of paper and scraps of tissue paper and show them how to scrunch and stick the tissue down to make a cuff to decorate the fish.  Adding glitter is always popular with toddlers!  When finished attach the cuff to the fish with tape

How to (grown ups/older children):

Take a large sheet of tissue paper and place the toilet roll inner at the top left of the sheet, then roll the inner to cover it in tissue paper, secure with glue or tape, this forms the mouth of the fish, at the other end make a tail by cutting a deep v.

Decorate the body of the fish by wrapping with strips of different coloured tissue paper and tape/glue in place.

Cut fins from tissue and attach them to your fish

Cut and attach circle shapes for the eyes

Cut long strips of tissue to form the tail pieces and attach inside the tail with glue

Finish by carefully punching two holes in the top of the fish (in the toilet roll inner) to attach a string to ‘fly’ your kite!

 

Displaying beachcomber finds

Displaying beachcomber finds

Finally I got round to doing something with the beachcombed finds we brought back from holiday in Druridge Bay late last summer.  As we started our little hoard and Joss sat playing ‘shell shopkeeper’ on the beach I thought we should bring some home as souvenirs but it wasn’t until we got home and I photographed them that I realised how many we had!

Displaying beachcomber finds

I scoured Pinterest for ideas and settled on a simple glass jar for our bathroom window, TK Maxx came up trumps with this beauty for less than a tenner and I really love how it turned out after some careful curating.  I saw lots of other ideas but felt they might detract from the natural beauty of the shells, displaying beachcomber finds is easy if you let the treasures do the talking!

Displaying beachcomber finds

Displaying beachcomber finds

That teeny tiny shell dangling from the top is smaller than my little fingernail and in perfect shape, Joss found it for me and I loved how perfect it stayed despite its tiny size, I may pinch it back and pop a jump ring on it to wear on a necklace from time to time!

Displaying beachcomber finds

So there we have it, happy memories captured to enjoy back home!

BabyThingz Changing Bag Giveaway

I’d heard of BabyThingz via a friend, based down the road from me in Newcastle they have a huge showroom, and with a brilliant online site too they offer everything a new parent could need from a huge range of brands including Chicco, Britax and Maxi Cosy as well as brands that make smaller products like Clevamama, whose cups we loved when J was little.

From highchairs and carseats to baby proofing equipment it’s all available from one handy website.

BabyThingz have kindly offered a great prize for one of my lovely readers, a Babymoov Baby Chic Changing Bag.

BabyThingz giveaway

babymoov

Perfect for carrying mum and baby’s essentials this stylish bag has all of the features I love in an on-the-go tote at a competitive price of £44.99

Features:

  • Detachable changing bag mat pocket with travel change mat (55 x 45 cm)
  • Removable insulated bag with universal fastening system
  • 1 transparent pocket (nappies / clothes)
  • Soother pocket with universal fastener
  • Polar fleece
  • Adjustable universal stroller harnesses
  • Multiple storage compartments and pockets
  • Reinforced base and metallic, magnetic clasps
  • adjustable quilted shoulder strap, carrying handles

(Dimensions (Approx): 27 x 20 x 36cm Weight (Approx): 1.25kg)

If you’d like to win a Babymoov changing bag (design may vary) simply enter via Rafflecopter below – UK entries only, see T&Cs

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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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Focus in 2015

Quite by accident in December last year I found out about Susannah Conway’s Find Your Word mini-course via some planner addict friends and I found it to be a really helpful process to go through in terms of defining some personal goals for myself in 2015.

Focus in 2015

My word is FOCUS, there were other words that really appealed, including connect, and simplify but focus is what I need to get to and focus is not where I am right now. I also felt that this word was sufficiently action orientated to be encouraging – I will ask myself “am I focussing on being present in this moment?” “is my focus elsewhere or where it needs to be?” “how could I focus better on switching off?”

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Through counselling last year I’ve learned to expose myself to experiences I find uncomfortable and I also learned a lot about anxiety and how it holds me back. Managing anxiety takes focus and practice and this is increasingly becoming important to me as I have a lot less time to myself, and a lot less time to practice, now I’m back at work, working longer hours and nap times are a thing of the past.

I arrived at FOCUS after exploring my anxiety further last year. I learned that at its root, for me, is a desire to be productive, it’s in the quiet moments when I have nothing to do that I find a disquieting voice creeps in and I start to worry (hello ‘what ifs’ goodbye ‘calm collected’ self, if you will). I’ve learned a lot about managing this; if I step up my productivity I risk taking on too much and burning out, but if I listen to the disquieting voice, and just learn to let it be, paying it a low level of attention and moving on I find I start to enjoy life more and the noise in my head lulls again. So focus is a good starting point.

I am not a very focussed person, I flit from one thing to the next. I have lots of ideas, so many that I struggle to prioritise them, and I take too much on to fill the gaps. I’ve always done this, at primary school when the teacher gave out ‘jobs’ to do I’d always have my hand up, not just for the first job, that too, but also for anything that came later, I have an acute ‘fear of missing out’ and that can be disruptive; it’s where I lose hours to Pinterest or flitting between the open tabs of the desktop that is in my head, planning, thinking, being productive.

I’m sure I’m not alone in browsing pins for inspiration, but it’s more than that. It’s getting caught up in something and suddenly realising it’s 11pm and that book I’d been looking forward to reading hasn’t been read, I’ve distractedly binged on food I didn’t want or need and all that would be OK if I even enjoyed the browsing but there was just something driving me on, a compulsion, and one I have been working hard to get under control. I’m getting there, last week I sat for an hour and had a cuppa and just sat alone with my thoughts, not trying to collect them, but just let them be there.

So in 2014 I learned to control this to a degree, but in 2015 I need to start to focus myself further. In 2014 I achieved two big lifelong aims, I finished my Masters after many long years of part-time study, and I had a research report published that I feel really very proud of. In both cases I showed my ability to focus, but it was at a cost to other areas of my life where procrastination reigned supreme again.

I’ve started 2015 with a renewed energy, and took this focus into this weekend taking a trip to the beach despite the blustery weather.  We probably chose the coldest day of the year for it and were all blue after 15 minutes but man it blew away the cobwebs, it’s hard not to focus on the moment when your toes are freezing!

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The word ‘focus’ came to me when I was at my computer. I saw a photo on my desktop, a piccie of my darling girl in the sun, I was at work but wanted to reach out and hold her hand. I wanted to go back to that day, a day where I was really present in the moment and bring that presence into all aspects of my life, so that is why I now have a small card in my planner, and another on my computer screen with one short five letter word, I’m ready for the challenge, let’s see what FOCUS is all about in 2015.

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Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

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