Bring spring to your garden with Dobies

Spring is upon us, the nights are getting lighter, the sun has made a few joyous if fleeting appearances. There have even been a couple of warm days and it isn’t even the end of March!

I’m definately a winter hibernator and this combination has roused my mammalian instinct to move and stretch and leave the comfort of my burrow to go outside and see the flowers and foliage bursting into life! I love browsing seed catalogues at this time of year, it’s lovely to do a spot of yarden planning and think about what we could do with our little space.

I’m a keen yardener and JD is my budding apprentice. She’s a sucker for brightly coloured bedding plants and flowers, and I love how quickly pots can be populated on a budget. We’ve spent lots of time wandering through parks and countryside enjoying the daffodils, snowdrops and crocuses and have decided it’s time to get some new bedding plants for the yard to brighten things up.

crocus

JD loves blue Forget-Me-Not’s with their array of delicate blue and white flowers which provide great cover for the bare earth waiting to be populated with foliage at the end of winter. I’ve decided to go for some Polyanthus too, I just love the bright variety of colours. We found both on the Dobies website (much easier to look there than dragging JD out to the shop!)

We’re also thinking of getting a little plant house (we don’t have room for a green house) and hope to grow some tomatoes from seed as JD loves to eat them straight from the plant when they’re ripe. We’ll be looking back to the main Dobies site again soon to get started with planting veggies for the summer!

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Happy planting fellow yardeners!

Collaborative post: all views are my own

National Stationery Week 2016 is Coming!

National Stationery Week 2016 will soon be upon us and I’ve been reviewing a bundle of great goodies from NSWs official sponsors lately.

NSW is all about promoting writing this year, with opportunities to get involved, and promotions and events to get us all thinking about why writing matters.

This is quite a personal theme for me, as a researcher I spend much of my time coding data, making sense of complex themes and theories and trying to manage large swathes of qualitative data. Coding for me means colour coding and mind mapping, so I prefer to work with paper and pen and put the laptop to one side; working with coloured pens, highlighters and pencils to help me map out ideas.

NSW is a great opportunity to get back into writing, whether at work or play, or in encouraging your children to get writing too. Perhaps you’ll spot something you like in this review post, there’s something for everyone!

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I am mad on grown up colouring books, they fit so well with my mindfulness practice that I always have a book on the go.  These Staedtler Noris colouring pencils are superb, I have to say I was very happy to receive two packs of these because I had my suspicions that little miss might have her eye on them and lo and behold I lost a pack to her pencil case!  Great for young and old they’re lovely quality, vibrant and very soft, I’m really pleased by how rich the colours come out.

Natstatweek pencils

BIC pens are the ultimate convenience pen for me, quality ink, they dry fast and I see them as a ‘scribbler’ – great for when I’m writing up an interview or minuting meetings. At the moment I both chair and take notes for some quite long meetings so I like to colour code actions and my own actions particularly. Speed and convenience is key so the new BIC 4 colour pens are perfect for quickly switching colours. I think colour switchers still feel very 80s, so I like the retro colours too!

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A Sheaffer Sentinel is always gratefully received by me, I was given one when I left a job a few years ago, weighty but still great value at less than a tenner this is a brilliant everyday pen for in my work bag, that bit more special than a workhorse biro it’s a great value rollerball and would make a lovely gift especially with the colour choices now available; there’s something for everyone.

Natstatweek pen

Next up the Maped twin tip, source of much fun this week, I could not get the hang of this at all, but it was good fun and writes beautifully! Essentially the colour switches are at each end of the pen so it writes from both ends, I’m giving this the thumbs up because it does write really nicely, a lovely flow and great grip, I think I’ll grow to love it for coding research papers but it might take another week or two to understand which colour is connected to which end of the pen, it just didnt come intuitively to me!

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NuCo Notebooks are a staple of mine now, I like the tactile covers and perforated sheets, a great workhorse notebook, compact but chunky for lots of use and the elastic close handily keeps everything together. I have these in different colours for different projects, the paper is great quality 120gsm and at roughly a fiver these are great value too.

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Finally the Maped Kidy Board, truly one to help get kids writing, J absolutely loves this and I do too, it’s really innovative and fits so well with her current learning phase. At preschool she’s learning to write numbers and letters, the Kidy Board has a great grid for helping to keep writing straight and there are printables available for download to slip under the frame to practice writing and drawing. The soft non slip frame helps encourage a steady hand and it’s also come in handy for me to write up the odd shopping list too! Creative, fun, and educational, this is a brilliant addition to the home of any young budding writer!

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I’d love it if you’d consider voting for this blog in the NSW Blogger of the Year awards!

What are your plans for National Stationery Week? There are some great ideas to help you get involved here!
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Brantano Kids Shoes for Spring

Buying a new and ultra comfortable pair of running shoes recently reminded me how important it is for footwear to be durable and comfortable. The pain of an uncomfortable pair or the disappointment of shoes that wear out too quickly isn’t worth hanging on to a pair that no longer cut the mustard.

With this in mind, I’ve been thinking about getting JD some new kids shoes for spring / summer and having a good look around for a pair that will be super comfortable and durable for her needs.

JD isn’t a child who is afraid of running around like mad, getting dirty or running into the sea with a normal pair of shoes on knowing full well she’ll end up with soaking wet feet, as I learned on a recent trip to the Coast!

That said, she likes casual but pretty shoes – her last pair were covered in glittery sparkles but there were hard to get on and I’m not sure they were as comfortable as they might have been on longer walks / outings.

I checked out Brantano kids shoes for Spring online which I found useful because of the ratings and reviews. I found a couple of pairs to talk to Joss about (if she’ll even entertain the idea for more than two minutes!) The shortlist I’ve identified is:

skechers

Skechers Twinkle Toes – Chit Chat Canvas Shoes from www.brantano.co.uk

I like the colours, sparkles, velcro fastening (anything for an easy life!) and the good reviews. I’m a bit biased towards Skechers at the moment anyway as I got such a great pair for running recently.

Skechers Shuffles Critter Buds  from www.brantano.co.uk

Skechers Shuffles Critter Buds from www.brantano.co.uk

Another colourful, sparkly, velcro fastening relaxed style, this time with a cute animal face on the front (very JD!). Good reviews again too and a reasonable price.

Both of the above shoes also light up when you walk. I’m just disappointed my running shoes didn’t come with the same feature!

Osaga Oasby Purple trainers from www.brantano.co.uk

Osaga Oasby Purple trainers from www.brantano.co.uk

As a more economical option that looks comfortable, durable, good for active kids and still looks great, the Osaga Oasby Purple trainers with velcro fastening have made the shortlist too.

Brantano are running a competition at the moment, you could win a family day out worth £500, be lucky!

Whatever you’re looking for there’s a great range of fashionable kids shoes available, what would your little one choose?

Disclosure: collaborative post, all views and choices are my own

 

Why I support #natstatweek #writingmatters each year

I have a confession to make, I have terrible handwriting, always have, and probably always will.

But writing still matters to me.  I think ideas flow more naturally on paper and I like to map out thoughts, linking ideas and colour coding, it’s something the researcher in me loves about working on a big blank sheet of paper!

This year National Stationery Week is running from 25th April to the 1st May, and it’s my third year supporting as a #natstatweek blogger.

I love to get involved as it takes me back to the beginning of every school year, the promise that came from a new pencil case, new colouring pens, and later even the boring stuff, the maths sets and protractors; I always have and always will love shopping for stationery, I know it doesn’t set everyone’s world on fire but I find it utterly joyful!

Over the coming weeks I’ll be reviewing a selection of products from Staedtler and Scheaffer to Maped and NuCo, here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come, and I’d love to hear about your must have products too!

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