Creating Christmas in a childs bedroom

They say Christmas is for kids, and I always like to make sure my childrens bedrooms feel festive too. In todays blog see my top 5 tricks to do Christmas in a fun and child friendly way, easily and cheaply…and best of all your kids will love it!

‘Days till Christmas’ countdown –

This is a great way to stop those ‘how many days…” questions you get pretty much every day of December. I like using a very cute, child friendly one and then have it displayed in their bedroom. Cute decoration groupings –

In the rest of my home my decorations have to be ultra stylish, but in the kids rooms? Anything goes! I let them pick ones they like then display in groups amongst their usual toys.  These were all bought in our local pound shop! Christmas duvet covers – 

This is a simple way to add Christmas cheer to their beds and there’s some lovely designs out there starting at around £9.99. We bought ours from Dunelm Mill and bought a new one this year for our 8 year old for £12.00 – find it here.Bunting – 

A great way to add decoration to the ceiling or on higher pieces of furniture. If bunting isn’t your style, making paper chains is a cheap and extremely effective solution too.
Festive soft toys – 

For smaller children a soft toy or two can really add a cute Christmas touch to their bedroom or nursery. Remember normal Christmas decorations could be dangerous for any child under 3 years, so keep safe by adding cute plush toys like the one below.I hope this gives you some inspiration to add some decorations upstairs in your home as well this year!

See my blog on advent calendars here.

Advent Calendars with style

So, today it is the 1st of December (how did that happen?!?) and if you have kids (or are a kid a heart) its time to put out your advent calendar. The question is, what do you do to count down the days of December? 

A few years back I decided that I (and my stylish home) could no longer live with the cardboard calendars filled with cheap chocolate that come covered in advertising for the latest TV show or movie. Plus when you have three children in the house under 10, you end up with three Peppa Pig/Spiderman/ Star Wars/Disney etc ones dotted around. Also just to make it a bit more complicated we are a ‘blended family’ so at different times we have different amounts of children living with us – the idea of having uneaten chocolate building up and calendars three or four days behind didn’t feel festive at all, just slightly depressing.

So what to do? I have seen some lovely ideas via Etsy of bespoke handmade creations – here are some of my favourites…

Envelope advent calendar by MummyPuddleduck  buy here

Box tree advent calendar by DorsetHodgepodge buy here

Fabric pocket bunting advent calendar by SewSweetViolet  buy here

Paper bag kit advent calendar by PeachBlossomUK 

buy here

All lovely reusable and flexible solutions.

I happened to be in Ikea when I chanced upon our stylish solution – a 3D cardboard calendar in a Scandinavian style design with 24 drawers that could be filled with whatever (and most importantly whatever amount) of sweets we wanted! We decided to fill it with milk and white Christmas chocolate coins but you could as easily add small toys, messages or small amounts of money. And best of all its completely recyclable and something we can bring out every year as a family tradition. I love that.
  The kids are happy, my partner is happy and I am happy. I call that a win!

Why not try something new this December and create a family tradition of your own?  Look out for more blogs this month on how I like to do Christmas.

The thing I fell in love with this week

Iwako Japanese rubber sets – £6.75 Paperchase  

Rubbers…boring huh?  Well not in Japan. In Japan they are AMAZING!!!

You know sometimes you don’t need something but you just really want it? Well this was one of those times. Iwako erasers are unbelievable in their detail and can be collected singularly or in sets. They come in every variation you can imagine and if you like a quirky bit of design (and maybe are a child of the 80s when rubber collecting was big) you’ll love them.    
I now have the fast food set sitting on my desk…on its own tray! They are sort of too beautiful to use! I’m a total nerd I know…

IMG_7861

Look out for my blog next Saturday on what else I’ve fallen in love with.

Childrens Book Review: Mr Cleghorns Seal by Judith Kerr

This is a new story by Judith Kerr, partly based on a true story which happened to her father and is about a man rescuing a seal pup, falling in love and ultimately finding a new purpose in life.

Our family very much enjoys the work of Judith Kerr and our nursery bookshelves have always been filled with her work – The Tiger who Came to Tea and the Mog the Cat series being particular favourites.  The story is aimed at children 7 years plus but could easily be read to children younger than that. I think that any child older than 12 years or so might find it too old fashioned and twee but I personally found the book charming and would read it to my youngest child quite happily. My eight year old enjoyed the seals antics and the zoo parts and definitely liked that there was a happy ending as he looked a bit worried after the seals mother never returned! Phew! Its a story that feels like its from another time in the very best way, with communication via letter, travels by train and an old fashioned courtship that reminded me a little of Esio Trot by Roald Dahl. Without giving the story away its a lovely adventure with a happy ending that all children (and adults) will smile at. Plus a story featuring a cute seal pup can never be a bad thing! Its 88 pages are peppered with lots of lovely pencil drawings by Kerr so is a relatively quick story to enjoy too. I also love the fact that at the back there’s details of the real story which although did not have the happy ending is still a fascinating read. My 8 year old was very interested in this particularly as it based based on how he puts it, ‘a real life story like a reality show but a book!

If you are looking for a new bedtime story that is gentle, sweet and wistful with a slight vintage vibe to it then this would be a great addition to your childrens bookshelves. It’s presented beautifully too with a dust jacket with gold embossed type so would also make a nice gift.

Mr Cleghorns Seal by Judith Kerr* is priced at £12.99 published by HarperCollins and available at all good bookshops

Roald Dahl Day 2015

When Puffin Books got in touch to ask if Reuben and I would like to make part in the Crafty Twits Challenge for Roald Dahl Day today (Sunday 13th Sept) its fair to say we were pretty excited. We both love Roald Dahl and for me, its fantastic to see your child enjoying reading particularly when its a book that you also enjoyed when you were their age.

The Twits has been reissued to coincide with this years Roald Dahl day and we were kindly sent 3 versions to review – a beardy one, a smelly one and a techy one! Plus Reuben was given the challenge to get crafty and create a Mr Twit style beard!!! He started thinking of what type of beard he would want and how it might look almost immediately, but more of that later…I love the book ‘the Twits’ – it is funny, not too long, grotesque (in the best way) and like all Dahl books has a very strong life message. In fact it contains one of my favourite book quotes ever which I’ve shared a few times via my social media –   Photo via my Instagram : @Blueskygirlie
Its a pretty good message don’t you think?

So, what about the books?  Reuben and I are both familiar with the story but a great story can be read again and again (another of the joys of Dahl) and where it is quite a short book it can be read together in just 2/3 days (we usually read together before Reuben goes to bed). The new style books themselves are lovely and definitely bring a new vibe to a well loved storybook.

‘The beardy one’ (available at all good booksellers rrp £9.99): this is a lovely chunky hardback book with a furry style beard on the front cover. This makes it very tactile and caught the eye of our almost 4 year old so could be a good one to buy for a younger child that you’d like to read to. It would definitely make a lovely gift.

As well as the story itself, theres a section at the back full of Roald Dahl trivia, writing tips and other fun tit bits. We loved these bits and definitely makes this version feel quite special.

The smelly one (available at all good booksellers rrp £5.99): this is a paperback version but has the added attraction of a selection of scratch and sniff stickers of Quentin Blake illustrations. And they do smell…awful! Being a typical 8 year old boy, Reuben loved the grossness of it!
The techy one (available via the App Store/Google Play – free): I knew Reuben would love the fact there was an app game and sure enough within minutes he had downloaded it and was playing it! You basically have to swipe away pieces of rubbish/food/ goodnessknowswhat coming from Mr Twit eating and stop them hitting and waking up a sleeping Mrs Twit while getting them to lodge back in his beard. If she wakes up she is not happy! Theres special missions to complete too and its great fun.
And finally onto our Mr Twit style beard…
Reuben loves his tech and gadgets and decided the perfect beard would be one not with hidden bits of lost food within it, but with hidden compartments for his ipod touch, video camera, ipod, Xbox controller and even a charging point! And here it is!!!
We had great fun making it together – it has hidden headphones, a chocolate bar for energy and sunglasses…because, well sunglasses are just cool according to Reuben!  
   
I reckon we could be into something here…we’re claiming copywrite now!!!

Have fun this Roald Dahl Day and spend some quality time maybe having a party, being silly, getting crafty with the Craft Twits challenge, baking some Roald Dahl inspired cakes and embracing the magical world of Roald Dahl with your kids….

Find more details of what you can do today and throughout the month here.

All books via Puffin books*

The thing I fell in love with this week…

Peacocks bird print t-shirt – £3 (in sale original price £6).   

Loving fashion I always look out for quirky and fashionable clothing for my son and stepsons.

This gorgeous little number is available instore and online at Peacocks now and even better has gone into the sale! I love its print of old fashioned bird illustrations on 100% cotton. It is from the older boys range and comes in sizes 7/8-13/14 years.

I think it has a cool vintage vibe with a modern twist. Here is my almost 9yo son Reuben modelling his new top like a pro…  

I think its gorgeous and looks like it costs a lot more. What do you think?  Find it online while stocks last here.  Look out for a new item I have fallen in love with next week…

Top – Peacocks
Jeans – F&F at Tesco 

5 things my 8 year old loves 

My son Reuben is 8 years old and like most boys his age is very into certain ‘stuff’.  We have bought all our boys up to not be always asking for whatever the new trend is and to value the things they are given and I find once he gets something he likes he really makes use of it.  So todays blog showcases 5 of the things he currently loves! 
1) Minecraft Baseball cap from BHS – £8.00. Minecraft. It seems there is no getting away from it.  If you’re not familiar, Minecraft is a game where you build your own environments or you can go into other people worlds and experience theres  (plus fight, try not to get killed by Creepers, eat and catch animals, trade and of course, mine).  Our two 8 year old’s are OBSESSED!  This baseball cap is great quality and not too over branded… and yes, thats a creeper face. 
2) Diary of a Wimpy Kid DVD set from Amazon – £5.95 (current price subject to change).  After reading ALL the books the film adaptations were next on the list. A big favourite at school – both our boys are happy to watch them again and again and we get a few quiet hours!   
 
3) Gaming chair by Argos – £39.99.   This entry level gaming chair rocks and folds up for storage.  As our boys are still young we didn’t want versions with speakers, wifi or other gadgets but this chair makes them feel very grown up nonetheless.  They may be in year 3 but when its Xbox time things get serious. 
 
4) David Walliams books by WH Smith/various from £6.99.  Reubens nanny bought him his first couple of books at Christmas and since then he has really got into them.  Walliam’s books are great – funny and clever with a hint of Roald Dahl to them but very modern too.  Its wonderful to see your child reading for fun and these books are fantastic.  
5) Boat print t-shirt by TU at Sainburys – £4.  Ok, this is more a new purchase that I like, but Reubens been wearing it loads.  Boys tend to mainly wear t-shirts and jeans and its hard to find ones that aren’t all branded with the latest rubbish TV show.  I love the retro print on this one from Sainburys and at only £4 its an absolute steal too.


All items are available instore and online now.  What are your kids currently mad on?

Ripleys Believe it or Not – London

As you may know, in our family there are 6 of us. Myself, my partner, my 8yo son and my partners three sons of 23, 8 and 3). Being in a blended family has its challenges, but also can be wonderful too. My ‘stepson’ Cam’s (although we are not married I refer to my partners younger children as my stepsons as I bring them up 50% of the time) birthday was last month and we looked to organise a fun day out in London he would enjoy.

IMG_9130 We settled on Ripleys Believe it or Not in Piccadilly and booked tickets for the Saturday. I’d been past it so many times as its in such a busy part of London but never really found out what it was. Well I think it’s a hidden gem for families! Due to the type of attraction it is we choose to not take our youngest as at three he wouldn’t really understand what he was seeing, so a family ticket for two adults and two children’s was all we needed. Now, tickets for Ripleys are not cheap – the family ticket bought online is the cheapest option at £67.96 and you can also use Tesco Clubcard tokens too. After a quick search on the internet though I found a buy one get one free offer so all together for the four of us it cost £45.82 – not bad for a central London attraction. Ripleys is in a fantastic building just off of Leicester Square and the attraction has over 700 artefacts spanning six floors, 19 themed galleries, plus an additional Laser Race area which certain entrance tickets cover.

IMG_1445 Inside it really is a mass of things to look at – mostly totally random but lots of fun. I didnt realise that Ripley has been a real person who spent his life collecting the unusual and the rare for people to then visit – there is information about him all through the tour – he must of been an amazing character. Some of it is probably a bit silly for older kids (knitted car, giant chair, upside down room) but for two 8 year olds it was perfect! There are crazy objects, models of record breaking things such as the worlds tallest man, the smallest piece of art, ornate coffins, animal skeletons and bits of meteor to name but a few…

IMG_1446

IMG_9155

IMG_9133 Parts of it are more like a traditional museum whereas other parts are much more interactive. You can walk through a medieval dungeon with all its torture equipment, see Olympic Torches from throughout the years and look at crazy optical effects like walking through a tunnel of moving light that makes you think you are moving upside down.

IMG_1633

IMG_1449

IMG_1444 I have to say I loved it! I loved seeing all the different art made from crazy things, part of the Berlin Wall and walking through a hall of mirrors. The boys loved the interactive parts such as the light tunnel, creating virtual graffiti as the Berlin Wall and feeling how cold the water was when the Titanic sank.

IMG_1447

IMG_9175

IMG_9144 The Laser Race Attraction at the end of the tour had long queues when we got to it, but to be fair we moved to the front quite quickly. You go in as a family and then have to navigate through to rob the bank vault without setting off the alarm via the laser sensors. The boys loved the idea and did really well but be warned you do have to wiggle all over the floor like a cat burglar!!! No good if you’re wearing a dress!

There were a few parts I found a bit ‘too’ weird – there was a whole section on real life freaks and some of the real shrunken heads (including a film on how they were made) were quite macabre! At the end of the journey there is of course a gift shop which is over priced and mainly full of sweets and a hard sell if the £25 posed photo books of you in Ripley style pith helmets they encourage you to pose for. However you can leave via the Laser Race route, which we did to avoid the cries of “Mum/Dad can I have…” We had a great day and I’d definitely recommend it. Book the tickets in advance and definitely don’t pay the price on the door and avoid the gift shop. But if you have kids under 12 I think its a great day out that will keep them talking (and thinking) for long after they leave. Find out more on the Ripleys website here. Photo sources my own or via the link above.