27 March 2016

Our Easter Egg hunt in the woods

We have had one chocotastic Easter... Our hyperactive little bunny hoppity hop has truly enjoyed the eggcitement of this spring time. There has been countless of chocolate gifts received from family, friends and neighbours, lots of bunnies all over the house and we have even been to see newborn lambs at our local farm. 

Last year we had an Egg Hunt at Nanny's house, this year we decided to set one up for our toddler at a nearby forest. Because what better way to spend a Easter Sunday morning than wondering at the woods, looking for bunnies and chocolate eggs? We woke up to beautiful sunshine, and raced to the woods before the dark stormy clouds the weather forecast was talking about would descend on us. While daddy distracted the little toddler bunny, mummy sprinkled her bunnytastic magic all over the daffodil fields and tried to get her camera ready for the very excited little girl... 

"Chocolate eeeeeeegggggsssssss!" she screamed as soon as she spotted the first pink flash...

toddler bunny easter egg hunt

easter egg hunt at whitewebbs forest

whitewebbs enfield forest

We just about managed to collect all the eggs before the skies opened and the thunder came raging in. Luckily by that point we were inside the car, off back home for a hot cup of milk with some chocolate eggs, cuddling on the sofa... OK, who am I kidding? It was more like parents plopped on the sofa watching a chocolate-fuelled raging threenager running in laps across the living room demanding more chocolate to go with her milk.... It was fun though!

How was your Easter? Eggtasticly fun too?

19 March 2016

Our little zookeeper with Zookeeper Zoe

Blogging is fun. Alongside the late nights and early mornings of typing and editing, you occasionally get to review beautiful items, even gift them to your readers, and you get invited to do fun stuff. There are exciting opportunities, invites to great parties, something a bit out of the ordinary. Not all the time of course, but every once in a while.

To be honest, I rarely get to do this other side of blogging as quite frankly, normal life and my 9 to 5 office job get in the way...But quite recently I did get to go out on a blogging-related activity, learn about a fab new book and most importantly have some fun!

We were invited to the launch of Zookeeper Zoe, a free children's book by Boots Opticians. It is a cute story about a little girl who loves animals, and wants to be a zookeeper. The clever thing about the book was that it includes four different eye tests, which help you to determine whether your child might have eye issues and whether or not you should book a trip to opticians sharpish. You can get the book from Boots, or read it online too

I really loved the idea of the book because of my background. When I was a kid, I had pretty bad eyes. Without glasses I was practically blind - I had to remember where I placed my glasses at night time, or be prepared to feel around for them a loooooong time... It took a long time for me to be diagnosed as a kid, and I remember being in school and not being able to participate in class as I couldn't see the teacher's writing. I can't help but to think that had there been a book like this, my diagnosis would have happened a lot sooner. I have since had laser surgery, but as I had bad eyes and my husband wears glasses, I have been trying to keep an eye out for any signs of bad sight in my daughter. And I think a book like Zookeeper Zoe will help when she is at an appropriate age (the book is designed especially for children aged 4-6).

at book launch zookeeper zoe eye check storybook from boots

at book launch zookeeper zoe eye check storybook from boots

At the launch we got to do lots of fun, zoo-related activities. We got to do a bit of drawing and crafts, and my little monkey managed poke her brand new shirt with a permanent marker... After that mishap we got to dance and jump around with the other monkeys kids, do the conga, and eat cupcakes. My little baboon then got a beautiful parrot painted on her arm she would not stop talking about. She thoroughly enjoyed having fun with all the other kids and experiencing it all.

The most special activity of all though were the animal encounters, with creepy crawlies, parrot, snakes and a lemur. My daughter fed the lemur a few times while I was proudly beaming at her joy and miserably failing to take anything other than blurry pictures of those two. I also got to feed the lemur (yes, big kid over here, I may have pushed a few toddlers aside to meet and feed the lemur myself... ha ha) and I pet a snake too. I was trying to encourage my daughter to come and meet the snake by petting it, but she told me she was scared and hid behind my back. Little did I know she even knew to be afraid of snakes!

reading zookeeper zoe eye check storybook from boots

reading zookeeper zoe eye check storybook from boots

And once we got back home, gosh was she knackered, and just loving her new bedtime reading. Which we have since read several times, as she loves the story. 

I had a great time at this event where we got to experience lots of fun zookeeper activities. Being a blogger does take you to strange places sometimes - like to a kids book launch downing bubbly alongside some celebrities. Unlike them, we thankfully didn't end up on Daily Mail though!

What do you think of the book idea? Didn't the event sounds like good fun?

If you liked this, you might like: Lollibop 2014, and Classic Boat Festival at St Katherine Docks

11 March 2016

Introducing the clever book storage solution for children: Tidy Books Box

In collaboration with Tidy Books

Last year I came across a new children's design company called Tidy Books and instantly fell in love with their range. I've had experience of two of their products now - the Tidy Books Box and the Tidy Books Bookcase. I have previously written about the Tidy Books Bookcase and how to encourage kids to read, so here I will be mainly concentrating on reviewing the Tidy Books Box. There is also a giveaway at the end of this review - win your own Tidy Books Box!

tidy books box toddler reading books

tidy books box review

clever book storage solution for children

tidy books box review

toddler using tidy books box

The biggest reason why I like the Tidy Books range  is that it encourages independent reading. Books are placed with the cover facing out, rather than the spines. This makes it easier for kids to identify the books they like, flip through them and grab to books with their clumsy little hands.  And this is evident in the way my daughter uses both her book box and her bookcase - she loves picking her own books out of them and finds them very easy to use.

Our Tidy Books Box is set up in the living room downstairs, and the Tidy Books Bookcase is in my daughter's room upstairs. As we often read the bedtime story downstairs on the living room sofa, over time we started to get lots of book clutter. Now we use the box storage downstairs, and one side is for children's books, and on the other side we keep magazines and other adult books we are reading ourselves at that moment.

While the design of the Tidy Books Box is quite child-friendly, I think it looks lovely in adult spaces, like the living room. It is not overly childlike, and you can make it even less so, if you don't install the clock on the side or turn the clock away from view (it is on one side only) when needed. We haven't yet started to use the play clock to learn to tell the time, but it will be perfect for that in a year or so.

The build quality and the wood used in the box is very sturdy, so I have been happy to let my child play with it and use it by herself, even if I know toddlers can be quite rough sometimes. No damage done yet! You can move the box around using the clever handle, but to be honest, when the box is packed with books I prefer to leave it in one place as it gets very heavy.

toddler using tidy books box

tidy books box for toddlers review

clever book storage solution for children tidy books box

Overall I have been really happy with my Tidy Books Box, and also with the Tidy Books Bookcase I have reviewed earlier. They look great, and function perfectly, and most importantly, my daughter loves them and finds them a joy to use. She has always been very interested in books, and she loves to go grab a book all by herself and brings it to us to read. 

Now Tidy Books are crowdfunding for new ventures and it will be exciting to see their journey into new avenues and markets in the future. I'm pretty keen to hear what other products Tidy Books have in store - apparently there is a brand new storage solution coming soon and I can't wait to see what that is all about!

You can win your own Tidy Books Box in your chosen colour below. You can enter daily with a free daily entry, and two daily tweets if you are keen :) UK entries only! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

4 March 2016

Easy cabled cowl: I made this and how you can make one too

In collaboration with Make It Coats

I made this cabled cowl and isn't it just gorgeous! It is warm and cozy, perfect for the winter winds. I've been wearing it non-stop since I finished it a few weeks back, and I am well proud of myself...

My knitting skills were a bit rusty, but it was actually a really easy knit and didn't take too long either. I think even a total beginner could do it - so if you are tempted I've also done a little tutorial for this post! I've included the pattern, but also done a totally beginner-friendly video on how to make this Cabled Cowl for which I used Rowan Big Wool. 

I used to like knitting, but I hadn't done it in years. I was always meant to get back into it. Last summer I went to a conference called Britmums, and got chatting with Make It Coats over there. The conference hosted a craft corner, and Make It Coats guided me back into knitting, showing me the techniques, and practically held my hand as I started my new cowl.

After the conference, long story short, I became a Make It Coats ambassador and they have been helping me to get my beginner-crafts on. This is my first project, and it took a bit longer than I expected as we moved in between, but I am glad I have had some use of this before the end of winter. It was so much fun getting back into knitting, and I have plenty of more crafty projects planned. I might even become one of these people you see in commuting trains with their crochet or knitting project bulging from their handbag, trying to do something useful on those long hours whittled away in transport... Maybe.

The pattern is by Rowan, and the yarn used is Rowan Big Wool. I have used 4 balls, and 10mm knitting needles and one cable needle. Start by casting on 26 stitches and then start doing the pattern.

1st row: knit 26
2nd row: knit 5, purl 16, knit 5
3rd row: knit 26
4th row: knit 5, purl 16, knit 5
5th row: knit5, cable back 8, cable front 8, knit 5.
6th row: knit 5, purl 16, knit 5
7th row: knit 26
8th row: knit 5, purl 16, knit 5
Continue the pattern until about 4 balls have been used, finishing on 8th row. Leave enough yarn to cast off and to sow the ends together. About 1.5 meters should do!

And if that is totally alien language to you (as it was to me when I began this project) I've made a tutorial video which shows ALL the steps from the very beginning to the very end (e.g. from casting on to weaving the ends), so even if you are a total beginner, you can have a go. 

I spent AGES making that video - I have never made one before and it was actually quite good fun. Maybe I should start to do some vlogging too, or what do you think? :)

Have you done any knitting and what do you think of it?

1 March 2016

My Monthly Roundup - Instagram February 2016

I have to say, I honestly can't remember much of what I have done in February.  I don't think I have been doing an awful a lot of things, other than going to work, seeing some friends and suffering from recurring colds. And oh yes, watching a lot of Bridge, the Swedish/Danish crime series on Netflix, which is seriously awesome and I'd highly recommend you have a look! It is just brilliant and has entertained me during many February evenings. 

Here are some of my Instagram pictures - although they aren't quite that instant as I have shared a fair few old ones this month. You hear sometimes people grumbling about people posting highly stylised and perfect shots on IG, how it is somehow fake or goes against the idea of the platform. And I do get it, it is in the name isn't it. At the same time I personally enjoy the more stylised feeds with pretty pictures, clever edits, and think I would rather post just the best pictures up there. Not the blurry ones, not the random ones, even if they are in the moment. I rather see the innovative angles and beautiful subject matters. 

What do you think? Should Instagram be instant or just the most beautiful imagery? Anyway, here is my Instagram February!

1.YAWN - this is about as enthusiastic as I am when going to work every morning. Ha ha. OK, I do actually have an interesting job with a lot of great things about it, but I am starting to think I am being paid way too little and it is starting to affect my motivation.
2. This could be one of those hashtagged to be from the cutting room floor, but I quite like it. We are happy, smiling, and even if it not a perfectly posed shot, who cares.
3. Higher higher she shouts - not a bad advice for all walks of life!
4. Daddy and daughter - I do love catching then off guard, just little glimpses of their relationship together.
5. Yup, it's a Christmas jumper. And she still wears it. And why not? It is cute and you might as well get good wear our of it as next Christmas it will be too small!
6. Our little Cupid. Who was impossible to take a photo of as she kept on jumping around saying she is a little bunny.
7. What is it with kids and clothes? Off they come, several times a day...
8. Making friends in Lapland! An old picture from our trip to Levi last year, and I finally wrote about all the fun things you can do in Lapland.
9. There are some beautiful areas near London - this is from our walks around Lee Valley. 
10. No matter how big she gets, she will always be my little baby with a place right there next to my heart. 
11. Sticks, stones and pine cones - endless fun when you are a toddler!
12. I bought plane tickets and will be spending a good part of April in this scenery - can't wait! I wrote down a little memory from my last summer visit there, and hope to make some new lovely memories this time.
13. It is always a struggle to leave the park, so we have to make it fun. Like riding on daddy's shoulders. 
14. And a little leap for joy - for the very special year this was! 

Do you guys have Instagram accounts? And how was your February? Come say hi to me on Instagram!

Linky below