24 September 2015

Muddy puddles in (little) muddy puddles

My toddler loves wearing wellies. And why wouldn't she - they are meant for puddle-jumping which is the best thing since sliced bread as far as she is concerned.

Polka-dot shirt Marimekko / polka dot jeans Benetton (similar here) / boots Muddy Puddles

After a big rain fall we often go out puddle hunting for some puddle jumping. No puddle is deemed too insignificant. It doesn't matter if it is on the side of the road, or in the park. It doesn't matter if it gives just one splash before it is gone, or thoroughly manages to soak your bum and your mum. It is all good.

So, on our puddle hunting exploration we found a little puddle in the park.  I thought it was far too small and the splash far too unsatisfactory. But my daughter zoned in on it and there was no way to get her walk further in a search for a better puddle.

Being happy with what you have and finding joy from the little things in life, I guess that is something that many adults could learn from. I know I could. 

It is all about those little things in life. Little things like getting new wellingtons from Muddy Puddles and immediately insisting on wearing them. And then insisting on wearing them every day (must be a very comfortable pair!). They were sturdy enough for a long walk in the forest,  with a good grip on the soles so no muddy paths stopped us. Being quite long on the legs I am sure will serve us well and last several growth spurts. After much, practically everyday, use and much bashing around the house they have lasted in a beautiful condition, with the Louboutin-like splash of red still brightening the soles for those gloomy, muddy, welly-wearing days.

Here's to many more puddle jumping adventures to come! *splash!*

puddle jumping in muddy puddless classic wellies navy

jumping in puddless muddy puddless classic wellies navy

muddy puddless classic wellies navy

*Thanks to Muddy Puddles for a sample of the Classic Wellies in Navy (£12 RRP)

18 September 2015

Using self-storage to help house move

Moving is pretty much the most stressful thing you have to do as an adult. Ok, getting married, applying for jobs and giving birth are pretty stressful too, but moving is definitely up in the top five (I should know - I've gone through all of these in the last few years!). 

There you are, trying to move all your worldly possessions from place A to place B while needing to deal with everything else as normal. Your job still needs doing, your kids still need to be cared for and your plants watered / dog walked / and so on. In our case, we also had our new house to be renovated! 

It is quite unbelievable how much things a fully furnished two-bedroom house holds. We also had a loft full of stuff. Ahead of time we were really stressed as there was just so much to pack, and so little time with everything else going on. We were due to move out of our house on completion date which brought additional stress on how to accomplish a full house move and a clean up in just half a day.

Self storage was an immense help with our move. To release some of the pressure on the big day we started packing some key items a few days ahead. However, once you start clearing out the cupboards and drawers you soon realise that you are running out of space in your own home. We popped the packed bags and boxes down at a self storage facility, which instantly freed up some space in our house to enable more packing to be completed. 

Self storage facilities aren't as expensive and as far away as you might imagine. They tend to be located in convenient places within easy reach of cars. For example, in London and Thames Valley there are more than 20 facilities for Shurgard, the self storage expert in the capital. It is so easy to find a nearest one just by inputting your postcode. 

And during that very expensive house moving business every penny you can save is a penny more to redecorate. For first time users there are lots of great self storage offers, like Shurgard's £1 storage for one month, amongst other promotions and discounts on their site.

As we had to move out of our home while our new home was still being renovated, we really needed a safe place to store our vast belonging while waiting for the house to be ready to move in to. We aren't 100% sure when the house will be ready, so needed flexibility too. And that was exactly what self storage provided us during our move - safe, reliable and flexible place to leave our stuff. 

We are now using a storage facility of about 125 square meters, which houses all our furnishing and other random junk. You can get pretty much all sizes - for example Shurgard offers storage rooms from 10 to 240 square meters for as little or as long you need them. I am sort of tempted to just remove the most important things and take them to the house, and move the smaller bits into a smaller storage room and just sort them out there over a few nights... 

Have you or do you think would ever use self storage?

*Thanks Shurgard, the self storage expert for sponsoring this post

14 September 2015

10 great ideas for a toddler airplane activity pack (and other long journeys)

Since we travel a fair bit and have spent a lot of time on planes, I wanted to share some of my top tips on how to manage toddlers... Particularly on how to entertain those tricky creatures that are toddlers! So if you are packing for a long journey, be that for a flight, or a car journey, or a long train ride, here are ten ideas you could include in a toddler entertainment pack. (Here are my top tips on how to manage a flight with a baby)

These are the items I have found are the most important to include if you want your toddler and pre-schooler to be entertained throughout a long transit. I find it is good to include a variety of items, from different categories, as tots get bored so quickly. 

10 ideas for toddler entertainment pack for flying travel long journeys

1. Favourite plush toy - provides a buddy to cuddle if they are a bit scared and brings comfort in strange surroundings.

2. A tablet full of their favourite programmes or movies - My daughter loves Peppa Pig and I have about three hours worth of pigtastic entertainment downloaded on my tablet. I like to hang our tablet off the magazine holder rack from its case so it works a bit like a TV. A great way to ensure they stay still, at least for a bit. You could also download some games and other apps to entertain your toddler.

3. A smart phone - it's a great idea to download loafs of kid-friendly apps. Fischer and Price do some excellent and free apps for babies and toddlers on iPhone.

4. iPhone case - with drooling babies and object-throwing toddlers, all manners of bashes occur but a case will help protect your very expensive phone. Ensures they are stuck on whatever app you have chosen for them as well and won't go on a picture-deleting rampage... Doubles up as an extra toy too!

5. A children's magazine - you can pick one up from the airport. There are lots of different ones, and they provide hours of entertainment. You often get stickers and some cheap plastic toys to occupy your child with - bonus! We bought the Peppa Pig magazine for our Peppa-mad toddler a while back and it has lasted us 4 flights. The Milkshake was a recent PR sample, and would be great for past toddler-age as well, with stories and a variety of children's TV references.

10 ideas for toddler entertainment pack for flying travel long journeys

6. Crayons - to draw with and colour in the children's magazines! I think these are great. No need to sharpen, don't make a mess and if you get them on your clothing they should come off in a wash.

7. Finger puppets - something small and entertaining. Great to break out for a little surprise when everything else fails. Hand puppets are great entertainment as well.

8. A magnetic board - this is a brilliant addition to an entertainment pack as it allows your toddler to draw anywhere, and you won't have to worry about the mess or losing the crayons. Sometimes I draw pictures for her, and sometimes letters and numbers if I want to make it a bit more educational.

9. Finger foods - Lots of little snacks, like raisins or crisps, allowing toddlers to practice their pincer movement and finger dexterity. As a bonus, this should keep them occupied and contented for a while.

10. A new toy -You could also get a toy at the airport, like a plane (very entertaining playing with a plane in a plane, their little brains will explode with excitement!). Or a train on a train journey, or maybe a truck for that long car ride.

Pack this entertainment pack in one bag, so it is easy to pull out whenever you might need it. A basic drawstring bag works well, light and you can close it so nothing falls out. A lot of these ideas work for kids of all ages as well, not just toddlers, so hopefully you have found some suggestions what to pack even if your children are older. Or, if you have a baby, do check out my top tips on managing flying with a baby.

Any other ideas to entertain your toddler on a long trip or on a plane ride?

10 September 2015

A year of toddler outfit posts

One of my favourite features on my blog has to be the "Toddler OOTD" series. I started it pretty much as soon as I started my blog and have kept it up throughout the year. I love that through looking at these posts I can see her change from a little babyish toddler into a proper little independent madam. It has also been fun to write a bit more about my passion for fashion through a children's clothing lense. 

I have shared stories about her development, about my fashion choices (for her), about clothing in general, about what we have been up to, and about our lives - and of course lots of cute outfit pictures alongside my musings.

I started my Baby OOTD series in August 2014. The very first outfit picture post I took of her she was wearing the cutest little dungarees and I bemoaned how difficult it was to take pictures of her. Oh, if I had know how much more difficult it would get the older she gets... This gorgeous hand-made crocheted piggy hat has gotten us numerous compliments over the year and people always ask where they could get a similar one. Answer - on an obscure little market place in a foreign country... I've also loved the second hand steals I have found her abroad.

My husband has mucked in as well, firstly buying her clothes and styling our daughter and secondly by providing me with pictures of her outfits chosen by him while I am at work. This denim ra-ra-skirt is a firm favourite for both of us. Sometimes I do wonder about how practical are the clothes she wears - answer, not always very!

In autumn time we visited a farm during the national Apple Day, and she wore the most adorable bunny dungarees from Next. For Halloween we had three options to choose from - a Halloween bat, a kitty and Luke Skywalker.  I shared my older pre-blog Instagram outfit snaps and a gloriously huge furry pom-pom hat my mum got her. I do like quite unique children's fashion, so one of my top finds was a baby kimono from Spitalfields Market. For Christmas I got her a Polarn O Pyret snowflake cardigan. The very last Baby OOTD post was in December 2014 - it was starting to feel silly calling her a baby when she really was a big girl, a proper toddler. She was wearing her bunny boots from Clarks and a knitted dress from John Rocha and looked so "big girl"-like I decided we would now be entering Toddler OOTD series.

At the beginning of this year she was starting to show what a big girl she was becoming, and started to insist on wearing particular items of her own choosing, like shoes and hats.  I shared my pictures of her snowsuits here (we spend a lot of time in cold countries over winter!), and our love for all shades of pink. We are raising a little Pink Lady over here... I have made some fabulous eBay finds over the year, like a White Company woollen dress, and another one by Bonpoint I found very difficult to style. Not all outfits were a success and sometimes I felt like I dressed her in the dark... Springtime was brought out all the colours again and she has her little pink statement jacket.

This summer I shared pictures of her in a little denim dungaree at out new house, and wrote about how much I love Scandinavian fashion and Marimekko. There were pictures of her at a teddy bear picnic in a Minnie Mouse dress (which by the way is her favourite dress that she has been wearing last two weeks nearly everyday...) and her first "review" of her in her new pink sparkly trainers by ShoeZone. I have long been talking about what a big girl she is becoming, and how she loves selecting her own clothes now. Especially shoes... And a cute little strawberry print dress she wore at a sandpit.

There have been two pieces pieces of clothing she has had that have been really quite special. There was that shirt of mine (about 30 years old!) she wore, and the dress I made her in school when I was just 14 years old. These hold special significance to me - it is lovely to have something that special and unique for her, something from my past to hand over to her, and hopefully to her daughters. 

So that was our year of outfit pictures... A lot isn't it, but at the same time it is lovely to look back and see how much she has grown over the year. From a baby-toddler to a big girl.

Which one was your favourite?

9 September 2015

Our renovation story Part 6 - Near the finishing line

I'm so excited (and I just can't hide it!)

Our huge renovation project is nearing the finishing line. OK, let's be honest, it is an Edwardian house and as far as old houses go, there will be PLENTY more to do and plenty more to spend. But, as far as us moving in goes, it is looking more and more like we will be moving into our beautiful house soon. Although, not quite yet. We are supposed to be moving out next week. We still have no floors, no staircase, and no kitchen... Will update you next week on how that has been solved!

We have so far had all the rooms plastered and painted, the kitchen is part installed, and electricity is all re-wired. There are still a few minor things to do, like ceiling roses and coving, and some slightly bigger jobs too like the floor and the staircase. 

We have had a few heated discussions about design decisions. Me and my husband both like similar design but we have our differences too. And as we both consider we have superior tastes, you can imagine we have been at loggerheads a few times. One of my absolute musts was to have a blackboard painted wall in the kitchen, and a patchwork encaustic tiling in the hallway and the hearth. Well, the blackboard paint wall is now up and oh my, do I think it will look stunning. And my husband is coming around to it now too. What do you think? Yay or nay?

Then, another decision I sort of wish I hadn't made. My idea for the upstairs bedrooms was to have one yellow, one green and one blue, sort of sliding scale concept. Well, as hubby was dead-set against yellow I conceded and picked a grey-based pale purple for that yellow room. Based on a paper swatch it looked lovely and mellow. On the wall it is, mildly put, in your face. Learning point - do a swatch test on the wall! I think we will attempt to live with it for a while and we will see if we will re-paint it in a few years. Or a few months... And this time I will insist on yellow and will do my swatches. 

So here are a few pictures to update you all - you can start to see now what the finished article will be. There will be that modern kitchen with stainless steel appliances and worktops. There will be that fireplace (eventually) with an original Victorian mantelpiece. There will be that open space and grey scale paintwork.  

And there will be that grand reveal, soon, I promise!

Can you already picture the finished article? I sure can! 

Check my renovation series here:
Part 1 - Our new home
Part 2 - Surprises
Part 3 - Project management

5 September 2015

It could have been me: Save Syria's Children

His name was Alan. He was three years old.

He should have been home watching cartoons. He should have been running around in the park, going down a slide. Instead, he was in his mothers arms, next to his five year old brother Ghalib and father, in the dark, on a dinghy, in the waves.  And then he was all alone, lying on a beach. Cold, alone, dead.

He was not the first, and sadly, he will not be the last. 

On that perilous journey from home to safety, any number of faiths could have met him. He could have been one of those children that sank to the bottom of the Mediterranean inside the hull of a capsized ship. Or he could have been one of those children that were abandoned inside an airtight truck on a Hungarian motorway. Or maybe, if he was lucky, he could have been reunited with family members in a safe place. 
I have been thinking also how easy it is to forget that this doesn't happen just far away. Not that long ago European families were on that perilous journey from home to safety too. 

My grandmother was a refugee. She was about six years old and escaped on a refugee train. It was winter, and the snow deep. Bombers would drop bombs and shoot at the carriages, and they had to jump out and run for the woods everytime they heard aeroplanes approaching. Their parents tried to make it into a game, to see who could run the fastest. Wading through the deep snow made them all go so slow. Later in life she would often feel how they needed to go, somewhere, anywhere, because it wasn't safe where they were. Just because you get to safety doesn't mean that the scars vanish too.

It has made me think too, would I be here, giving my two year old daughter extra tight cuddles today, if they had had to escape by a boat. Or if they had been in one of the carriages at the back. Maybe not. 

It is so easy to ignore, to think this all happens so far away. It is so easy to think there is nothing I can do. Since Thursday I have been thinking what is the point. What is the point of me writing about a cute dress my daughter wore at the cafe. Or about where we like to eat out in London. Just what is the point unless I actually do something with my voice here. And so here I am, writing, using my voice.

There are things you can do, right now, right here.

You can use your voice, the voice Alan doesn't have anymore.

You can donate. I have donated to MOAS and to Hand in Hand for Syria, one donation to help at the sea and one donation to help at land. There are other ways to donate too, if you have time but not money.

Or you can spread the word. Save the Children's Save Syria's Children campaign, tweet it, facebook it, share it. #SaveSyriasChildren. Please also take a photo of your children, or yourself, with the words "It could have been me" and share it on your social media, or on your blog.

And to donate you can either go to Save The Children website or text. 
UK: Text SYRIA to 70008 to donate £5
US: Text SYRIA to 20222 to donate $5

2 September 2015

My Monthly Roundup - My Instagram August 2015

It is that time again to share my monthly roundup... I like to share some of my Instagram pictures here, as they capture a bit of things I do outside the blog, but also the pictures from my blog I have just loved during the month. So it is a bit of everything really. 

1. This is one of my favourite pictures of the summer - it is my mum and my daughter, out at the beach in Finland, watching the swans. Happiness in one picture. A few more happy pictures are in my post about our Finnish holiday.
2. The tube strike brought misery to so many commuters. I was lucky enough to be able to work from home, and having these gorgeous little cheeks at a kissing distance really made my day.
3. This month I have been going a bit doolally with all the blackberries at our local park - oh my god, you should see those brambles, they are huge and plentiful! Many an hour has been spent there, picking blackberries and many an hour back home, making all sorts of blackberry concoctions.
4. A little Friday treat - a luxury croissant from a Real Food Market.
5. We went out to TGI Fridays (one of my favourite restaurants) with my husnbands uni friends and we all had the new mega-huge burger - called the Warrior. It was massive!
6. I've been enjoying lunch time concerts recently. It is such a surreal feeling walking from a calm atmosphere of a church and classical music into the hustle and bustle of Central London. It is lovely though to break up your day with music and beauty.

7. Gorgeous little picture where my daughter is laughing at her daddy - we had just been at the park having fun.
8. We celebrated my blogs first birthday! No, not really, the picture is from my daughter's first birthday celebrations, but my blog did turn one and I wrote some thoughts about my blogging journey.
9. We went out and shared Bunny's Ears - and I took just about the cutest little video of Aili. Do watch it, you won't regret it!
10. From those blackberries, one of my favourite things to do is a nice humble crumble - and I wrote my fav recipe for an easy-peasy oaty blackberry and apple crumble.
11. I do love these little snapshots of her, concentrating on something very very important. I do wonder what she thinks when she is there, sun warming her, sand running through her fingers. She is just happy being there, just being. There is a lot to learn about that...
12. We went on a long long walk in the woods - she got so fed up with me taking pictures and grabbed my hand to pull me along. She is one feisty little one!

I am loving Instagram at the moment and getting more and more into it - do come and say hi to me on IG!

Do you guys have Instagram accounts? And how was your August? 
Linky below - if you would like to learn more about the linky idea check my page about My Monthly Roundup. 

Wave to Mummy My Monthly Roundup

You can use this HTML code for the linky badge. 

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1 September 2015

Where are my keys? Beets BLU Key Finder Review

I have one little light-fingered toddler in this house. She frequently pilfers through my bag in search of fun things to play with. A wide variety of things go regularly missing, such as my sunglasses, wallet, umbrella and scarf. 

My keys are her favourite object to pilfer and hide. I have found them in so many different places - in the nappy bag, on her pram, on her dolly's pram, in her toy box, under the table... And out of all places, in my husbands bag, not mine. (I have to be honest though, even without the help of my little toddler girl, they would regularly go missing... Messy bugger right over here!).  

Oh the countless of times I've looked for my keys, trying to get to work on time, and ended up leaving without them, in the hope that either my husband or a friendly neighbour with a spare set of our keys is home. So when I got a Beets BLU Key Finder for myself, I was pretty chuffed. No more hopeless reconnaissance missions, no more knocking on doors.    

Beets BLU key finder pager tag

As a key finder it worked perfectly. You download an application, connect your smart phone with your key finder tag (which is obviously attached to your keys), press a button, and find the beep. Easy-peasy. I could even get the beep from another room at the other end of the house (although, mind you, it's not exactly like we live in a huge mansion). 

You can also use the Pager Tag as a remote control for your phone, so play music, or take pictures remotely. I thought this would be perfect to find your phone if you lose it (but can still find your keys), however, it only work if the application is open on your phone. We usually turn it off to conserve the mobile phone charge.  

I did find it a bit tricky to find all the functions at first - there are usage tips within the application menu options, but not very comprehensive. I was able to work out the key finder function (very easy), the remote control option (slightly more complicated but fairly straightforward), but couldn't work out how to use the  proximity warning and the regional system (which would tell you if the tag is moved outside a certain region - suggested to be handy for monitoring your purse, pets, children, or even bags on the airport). 

One thing (as a mum of a toddler who likes to eat random stuff, sigh) I was concerned is that you can easily pull out the battery compartment which contains a small lithium battery. For my peace of mind I wish the battery compartment was screwed on. For households with older kids or just adults this obviously is not a concern, and I can see the benefits (for them) of the easy access to the battery. 

Beets BLU key finder pager tag
 Actual hidey holes I've found my keys in... Toddlers!

Overall, I thought the Beets BLU Pager Tag it is a great key finder, and has some other cool functionality too, but perhaps best suited to households with older kids / no kids due to easy-to-open lithium battery compartment. 

So tell me, are you as hopeless with your keys as I am?

*Thanks Beets Blu for sending me a Pager Tag for a review

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