Olive and Moss Clothing

On Sunday, I shared the ‘Michael the Monkey’ book from Olive and Moss with you. You can read the review here.

Olive and Moss are a small children’s clothing company specialising in cute character clothing for boys and girls up to four years. Each character in the range- including our favourite, Michael the Monkey- have a quirky and fun personality trait. Michael’s is his love of noise – perfect for my three little monkeys!

I adore the bright and vibrant colours of the Olive and Moss clothing, and the beautiful appliqued details. Here are some of my favourites:

Girls

Olive and Moss Girls

Top left – Gilly the Giraffe Dress £25 // Top right – Floral Applique Sweatshirt £25 // Bottom left – Margot and Mo Hooded Sweatshirt £13 // Bottom right – Talluah the Tabby Cat t-shirt £20

Boys

Olive and Moss Boys

Top left – Douglas the Dog Hooded Sweatshirt £13 // Top right – Louis the Lion hooded sweatshirt £14 // Bottom left – Louis the Lion t-shirt £20 // Bottom Right – Tobias the Toucan t-shirt £20

Alex was sent a Michael the Monkey sweatshirt, and we loved it!!

Olive and Moss Sweatshirt

We had it in age 2-3, which is his usual size. It fits him perfectly, although there’s not a great deal of growing room, so next time I would possibly order a size up to maximise wear.

Olive and Moss

The sweatshirt is 100% cotton and is perfect for cooler days. The monkey is appliqued on, and the stitching is high quality, so it’s not going to fall apart. Even after a few washes (it’s back on as soon as it’s washed, he loves it!) it’s kept it’s shape perfectly. The detailing is fantastic, even down to the little ‘Michael the Monkey’ label.

10988593_10155248654845500_4498369958096825264_nThis particular sweatshirt is £25, which is a little more than I would pay for a sweatshirt for  rapidly growing toddler, but when you see how well made it is, it really is pretty reasonable!!

Head over to Olive and Moss to see the full range.

 

*We were sent this sweatshirt to review. All thoughts and opinions are our own.

 

World Book Day 2015

Today sees the annual ‘World Book Day’ celebrations. It is a celebration of authors, illustrators, books and reading, and is celebrated in over 100 countries across the world.

This year is the 19th World Book Day, and many children will be going to school dressed as characters from their favourite books. Harrison is going as The Very Hungry Caterpillar (see how we made his costume here.

World Book Day

We adore books here, and have far too many (not that it is ever possible to have too many books!) and we are really lucky to have the chance to review some fantastic books regularly. Some recent ones we have read are Michael the Monkey, Penwizard Personalised Books, and Badger and the Great Storm.

Books

Like most children, Harrison and Alex do keep returning to the same old favourites, and I thought I would share these with you.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar 

World Book Day Costume

Who doesn’t love the story of the rather cute caterpillar who munches his way through all sorts of food to become a beautiful butterfly? We love this book especially because it lends itself to some fantastic art and craft opportunities! Children at this school used Zu3d animation to bring the book to life. We’re going to have a go at this soon, although I’m sure it won’t be as good as this!!


We’re Going On a Bear Hunt

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

I bought this for Harrison when I was pregnant because I’ve always loved it, and it was the first story I read to him. He now knows it word for word and we often chant it on walks. The repetitive rhyme structure is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.

The Gruffalo

The Gruffalo

We read The Gruffalo. We watch The Gruffalo. We play The Gruffalo. We LOVE The Gruffalo!

The Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs

A very traditional tale that the boys love. There is something about ‘I’ll huff, I’ll puff and I’ll blow you’re house down’ that kids adore. As soon as we get to that part, Harrison and Alex love to shout it out!

How To Catch A Star

How to Catch a A Star

This is an absolutely beautiful book that we had the chance to review last year. We still read this regularly and will be revisiting some of these activities again soon!

Jack and The Beanstalk

Jack and The Beanstalk

Another classic book. Both the boys love to shout out ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ and pretend to be giants!

Reading is so so important, and of the most valuable skills a child can have. A love of reading starts in early childhood, which is why reading with babies and toddlers is important.

So, enjoy World Book Day, use the voucher that your child will bring home to discover new books – and have fun!

What Do I Buy?

June is a craaaazy month for us (not as much as October though, that’s just nuts!). In the space of a week or so we have Harrison’s birthday, Father’s Day and the anniversary of the date Graham and I got together.

We’ve been together twelve years this year. We met when I was seventeen and he was twenty. I never imagined for one second that twelve years down the line we would still be together, and certainly not with three children! We have been engaged for six years, but having kids put the brakes on that for a few years. We’ll get around to it one day. Maybe.

Before we had the kids (you know, the days where we could sleep and go to the loo in peace), we alway bought each other gifts to celebrate. We even went to Paris twice for long weekends away, and one year went to see Dirty Dancing at the theatre in London (amazing by the way!).Since we’ve had the kids, we’ve been too skint to do or buy much.

However, this year, I want to get Graham something nice. He’s not the easiest of people to buy for though, so I’ve started listening very carefully (normally what he says goes in one ear and out the other) for cues.

Clothes are usually a fail safe option. He’s very much a jeans and t-shirt kind of bloke. I’m thinking about getting him a hooded sweatshirt.He has about a million coats for the winter, but nothing for cooler summer days.

He gets through trainers pretty quickly because he always ends up wearing his best ones for playing footie with the kids and ruining them. I never know which style to get him though – he changes his mind weekly!

I’ve been looking at watches for him – anyone who knows Graham knows that he seems to run on a totally different time zone to the rest of us, which is incredibly annoying. I’ve seen a beautiful wooden one that I know he would love, but when he takes a watch off to wash up (yes, he does that occasionally!) he forgets to put it back on, and eventually it just ends up on the bookcase amongst everything else, and then the battery runs out….and it never gets worn again!

Like lots of blokes his age, he loves his X-Box, and so a game or two would probably be a good idea. I know he likes Need For Speed, but whenever I’ve looked to buy him one, there’s been so many different versions of the same game, and I have no idea which ones he has or which ones he has played. I also have no idea which console he actually has!

Another option, and if he doesn’t have this from me for our anniversary he can have it from the kids for Father’s Day, is a tattoo. When Harrison was born we both had his name tattooed on our wrists, and Gray also had my name. Neither of us have got round to having Alex or Ben’s name done yet and I know he desperately want it done.

Argh…what would you do? I’ve got a few weeks before I need to make a decision and start saving up!

 

 

Alfie and Grandma by Shirley Hughes

I’ve always loved the ‘Alfie’ series by Shirley Hughes – stories about an ordinary little boy and his family and their day to day adventures. I knew Harrison and Alex would love them too, so was excited when we received this beautiful copy of ‘Alfie and Grandma’.

Alfie and Grandma by Shirley Hughes
The book is a collection of three Alfie stories, all told in the beautiful and gentle style of Shirley Hughes. There is more text in this book than the books we usually read, but because there are three stories, it was easier to break it up into smaller reading sessions. The illustrations, as you would expect, are absolutely stunning.

Alfie and Grandma

Alfie and Grandma

The boys really enjoyed the book, and with Harrison being a similar sort of age to Alfie, and being really close to his nanny, really identified with it. They both loved the map at the back, plotting where the events happened and bringing the story to life.

10997298_10155247076605500_7453784050322954372_n

Watch Shirley Hughes talk about Alfie in this little video:

Grandma is available from Amazon for £6.99.

 

*We were sent a copy of this book for the purpose of this review. Al thoughts and opinions are our own.

Easy Pasta Sauce

This easy pasta sauce is just that – ridiculously easy! I’m rubbish at cooking, I truly am, but if I can make this, anyone can. Not only is it easy, it’s really healthy and it’s dead cheap! A jar of pasta sauce costs about £2. It has god knows what in (some of the big brands have six tablespoons of sugar in!) and does just one meal. With this, you know exactly what is in it, and it cost much less than £2 for a huge amount – the recipe below will do around 6 generous toddler size portions.

Easy Pasta Sauce

Ingredients

4 Tomatoes

2 Small Cartons of Passata

2 tablespoons Dried Mixed Herbs

2 Carrots

1 Medium Onion

Handful of Mushrooms

Method

Gently fry the onions for a few minutes on a low heat in olive oil.

Add chopped up tomatoes, mushrooms and carrots, and then pour the passata over.

Add the dried herbs.

Stir well and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes.

Allow to cool slightly, and then whack through the blender. We kept ours quite thick but blended it enough so the veg was hidden.

Serve over pasta.

 

We added some tinned sweetcorn afterwards, because the boys love the stuff – I’m never going to miss the chance to get some more veg into them! The random pea you can see came from my egg fried rice that Alex had helped himself to, but peas would work well in this. You could also try peppers, leeks, courgette – whatever is lurking in the fridge.

The kids really enjoyed this, and I’m glad it made a huge batch . I’ve popped the rest of it into old takeaway containers and stuck it in the freezer to pull out when I can’t be bothered to cook. It would also make a good base for bolognaise or lasagne.

 

 

 

 

 

Hillary’s Crafternoon

On Saturday, I was invited to a fantastic craft event for bloggers, hosted by Joe Blogs, Hillary’s Blinds and The Crafty Hen.

It was held at the Custard Factory in Birmingham. Despite living in Birmingham my entire life, I’ve never actually been to the Custard Factory. It is really quirky and cool!

Hillarys Crafternoon

I was a little nervous – I’ve only ever been to one blogger event before, and I had Graham and the kids with me. This time I was on my own. I soon bonded with the lovely Zara from Mojo Blogs and had a chat to fellow Brummie blogger Erica from 92three30.

The event was held to celebrate the launch of a new range of fabrics by Hillary’s Blinds.We had the chance to check the fabrics out and have a go at making things with them.

Hillary's Crafternoon

The first thing we made was a notebook cover, which can be removed and put on other notebooks. I was slightly unnerved by the fact there were needles, pins and thread on the table. I haven’t sewn since I was 14!

Hillary's Crafternoon

Luckily, the ladies from Crafty Hen were on hand to show us what to do.

Hillary's Crafternoon

The hardest part was choosing which fabric I wanted – they were all so pretty!! I ended up choosing the pink and brown floral one, with coordinating button and ribbon to hide my dodgy stitching embellish.

Hillary's Crafternoon

It was surprisingly easy to make, and definitely something I’m going to make with the boys at home.

Hillary's Crafternoon

The next activity was hilarious, and lots of fun – stuffed fabric birds. Again, we chose some fabric from the lovely selection. This time I went for the yellow one and chose the blue for the underneath. Hillary's Crafternoon

My finished ‘bird’ left A LOT to be desired. It was an absolute fail! Sewing definitely isn’t my strongest point, but hey, I had a go!

Hillary's Crafternoon

At the end of the event we could choose a goody bag (pens, chocolate and a Yankee…three of my favourite things!) which were also made out of the new fabric. I love this one!

Hillary's Crafternoon

I had a really lovely afternoon – meeting new people, learning new skills and having a look at the new fabrics. A huge thankyou to everyone involved in organising it!

Hillarys Crafternoon

Check out #HillarysCrafternoon on Twitter and Instagram to see more photos from the day! You can also visit here for more information and pictures from the event.

 

World Book Day Costume

Thursday 5th March sees the annual World Book Day celebrations, and parents all over the country will be letting out a collective groan when they realise they need to send their kids to school dressed up as a character from a book.

We don’t have any suitable dressing up costumes and I’m loathe to spend a small fortune on one for him to wear for three hours, so it was time to get creative and make one! I also think homemade costumes always have that special touch, no matter how imperfect they are.

I am RUBBISH at sewing. I’m not even sure we own a needle and thread (that’s what my mum is for!), so I needed something that didn’t involve sewing.

World Book Day Costume

I talked to Harrison about his favourite books, which I will be sharing with you on Thursday, and then took it from there. One of his favourites is ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ by Eric Carle. Last year we did a series of activities based around the book, and one of these was making hats.

The hat is simple. All you need is green, red, yellow and black paper, glue, pencil and scissors.

World Book Day

Cut the red paper in half, width ways (I call this the ‘hot dog’). Glue two ends together to make a long strip of paper. Check the fit of the hat and then secure the two ends to make a circle.

World Book Day

On the yellow paper, draw two wonky circles for eyes, and then repeat on the green paper, making them smaller. Stick the green circles onto the yellow ones, and then stick them onto the hat.

PicMonkey Collage2

On the black paper, draw two antennae shapes. Because of Eric Carle’s quirky illustrations, these can also be a bit wonky. Attach these to the inside of the hat, and ta-da, you have a Very Hungry Caterpillar hat.

World Book Day

The t-shirt is simple. I printed some Very Hungry Caterpillar images from Twinkl, and then laminated them.

World Book Day

I cut them out and used a hot glue gun to secure them to an old green t-shirt. He’s going to wear this with some khaki coloured trousers.

World Book Day

World Book Day

What are your kids dressing up as?

 

 

Baker Days Letterbox Cakes

I love cake, so when Baker Days contacted me to see if I wanted to review one of their letterbox cakes, I of course said yes. Who on earth would turn down cake???

They are called letterbox cakes because, quite simply, they fit through the letterbox, meaning your recipient doesn’t have to be in to receive it.

Bakers DayIt was carefully packaged in a pretty presentation tin and contained a card, party popper, candles and balloons – everything someone needs to celebrate a special occasion!

 Baker Days Mother Days Cake

Baker Days do a range of cakes in all sizes and for all occasions. The letterbox cakes have around 3-4 portions. We had the Ted Teapot Mothers Day one.

Baker Days

The cake was a lovely light sponge on a buttercream base. The icing, which I’m not usually a fan of, was sweet without being sickly.

10394647_10155229598445500_1285865813492055529_n

 

There is a free delivery option, although you need to allow seven days for delivery, but if you’ve left it a little late, there is a next day delivery option if it is ordered before 2.30pm.At £14.99, it is more than I would usually pay for a small cake, but would make a lovely gift for long-distance friends and family.

*We were sent one of these cakes free of charge. All thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Olive and Moss Books

World Book Day is looming, and we are so lucky to have the opportunity to read and review some new books.

The latest one we have been sent is this beautiful board book from Olive and Moss.

Olive and Moss

Olive and Moss are a small company specialising in kids clothes. As well as the book, we also received a gorgeous sweatshirt which also features Michael the Monkey. I’ll be reviewing that later in the week.

The book is really simple – it features the rather charming Michael, who is playing with his instruments. It is short, it is simple and it is repetitive – perfect for the under 4’s. The illustrations are bright, cheerful and eye-catching.

Olive and Moss

Alex absolutely loved it and enjoyed making the instrument noises. We’re going to use the book this week as a starting point for a musical activity – watch this space!

Olive and Moss

The book costs £5.99 and is available on the Olive and Moss website.

Project 365: Week 9

I can’t believe we are in March already – where is this year going?? Here is last week in photos…

February 22nd

53

Really bad photography, I know, but I had been drinking all day! Graham and me had been out to a Chinese New Year event and took advantage of the free Prosecco, and then on the evening I went out with a big group of friends for some food, drinks and to see 50 Shades of Grey at the cinema. It was a fab night, with lots of Sex on the Beach and laughs, and the film was brilliant. I am even more in love with Christian Grey now… (yes, I know he is a fictional character!)

February 23rd

day 54

This little dude is starting to show signs of teething. He is becoming very dribbly and keeps running his tongue along his gums!

February 24th

day 55

Whilst Alex was asleep and Ben was having cuddles with daddy, Harrison and me played with playdough. We made sausages and birthday cakes, which Harrison cooked in his kitchen!

February 25th

day 56

I love this photo of Alex trying to teach Benjamin to count using the abacus!!

February 26th

day 57

Whilst Harrison was at school and Benjamin was asleep, Alex and me got out some of the Happyland toys. We love Happyland toys here – this is probably only a third of them!

February 27th

day 58

Alex had this inflatable car from my brother for his 1st birthday, but just days later the cat managed to burst it. I contacted Galt, the makers, and they very kindly sent me out a replacement blow up ring. This is the first time we’ve had it out, and I love this photo of Alex and Ben!

28th February

day 59

Today I went to a blogging event at the Custard Factory in Birmingham (where I live). It was hosted by Joe Bloggs and Hillary’s Blinds to celebrate the launch of their new fabric range. I’ve never really done ‘grown up crafts’, but I really enjoyed it. We made removable fabric covers for notebooks (which you can just see in the corner!) and 3D birds (mine didn’t turn out very well!). I’ll be blogging more about that later on in the week.

Migraines

Two or three times a year, I get struck down by a migraine. If you’ve never suffered with one before – lucky you! They are incredibly painful. I’m not exaggerating when I say I would rather go through labour than a migraine. They last just as long and at least with labour you get something out of it at the end!

Migraines

A migraine is not the same as a headache. It is a hundred times worse.It doesn’t just affect your head – it can make you sick, ridiculously sensitive to light and sounds and blurred or double vision. It’s usually a throbbing pain at the front or side of the head.

I remember my very first migraine. I’m not entirely sure how old I was, but I was at primary school. My mum and dad were at work so my nan and grandad came to pick me up from school and took me back to theirs. I remember curling up on the sofa and then in my nan’s bed, crying my eyes out because I was in so much pain. I honestly thought I was dying.

Luckily, I don’t get them very often. Whilst I was at university I went through a phase of having them regularly which was probably down to late night studying. I also had them more often when I was pregnant, which is common – down to hormones or something.

Lots of people have ‘triggers’ which can set off a migraine. Cheese, wine, chocolate and caffeine are some of the more common ones. Thankfully, these don’t trigger one off for me (it’s practically my main diet!). Tiredness and stress seem to be what kicks mine off. Sometimes I get a bit of warning that one is on the way, and a couple of strong painkillers can stop it in it’s tracks. Other times, they suddenly appear and pretty much nothing will shift it.

I had a migraine on Monday night. I know this was because I was really tired and had quite a bit to drink the night before. I’d had a dull head all day which I thought was a lingering hangover. At about 7.30, I was doing a bit of blogging when BAM – it just struck. Suddenly, I felt dizzy, sick, the lights hurt my eyes and when I could open my eyes everything was blurred. I abandoned my computer mid-post and went straight to bed. I couldn’t even put my phone on charge because the glow hurt my eyes. Thankfully, by the morning it had gone, apart from a slightly groggy feeling which sometimes lingers for a day or two afterwards. I have had migraines that have lasted well into the next day, and they’re the worst. Waking up with a migraine is unbearable!

For me, the most effective way of dealing with a migraine is to go to bed. The worst part of one is the visual disturbances and sensitivity to light, so I need the room to be pitch black and cool. I have an emergency eye-mask for daytime migraines. I literally burrow under the quilt and sleep it off!

For a lot of people, chocolate is a trigger but strangely, for both my mum and me, eating some chocolate in the early stage of a migraine can actually help. My mum has always said this, and a couple of years ago she was diagnosed with diabetes, so whether her migraines are something to do with sugar levels I don’t know. I don’t have diabetes and it does seem to work for me. Whether it is just a placebo I don’t know, but I’ll try anything!! Weirdly, Mars Bars (which I don’t usually like!) seem to be the best at helping!

What are your top tips for helping with migraines?

Photo Credit: Joan ya Rojas – still here via Compfight

House of Fraser Children’s Clothes

I’m not one for spending a fortune on kids clothes – they grow out of them too quickly – but sometimes it is nice to invest in something that’s really good quality, especially when Alexander and Benjamin will get wear out of them.

I always thought that designer clothes were out of our league, so when I was given £30 credit to spend on children’s clothes on the House of Fraser website, I wasn’t expecting a lot. I was very pleasantly surprised to find a huge range of clothes from brands such as Bench, Tommy Hilfiger, Joules, Ralph Lauren and Timbaland. We decided on a pair of gorgeous slim fit dark wash jeans by Polo Ralph Lauren for Harrison, which were priced at a very reasonable £30.

Read more

Top iPhone Apps for Bloggers

Top iPhone Appr

 

I’ve been blogging now for 15 months. For a big chunk of that time, all of my blogging was done on my iPhone or my tablet. Now, I do the main bits on my laptop on an evening, but having three little people means during the daytime I need something I can pick up and put down easily – and my iPhone is perfect for this.I use my phone for checking and managing my social media, for reading and responding to emails on the go, and to catch up on some of my favourite blogs. I also use it to save notes and ideas for future blog posts. Without my iPhone, I’d be lost when it comes to my blog, so I thought I’d share some of my top apps.

Read more

WIN!! A T-Shirt Design Kit

We designed our own Batman t-shirts using a kit from Buy T Shirts Online. You can check out the full review here.

Buy T Shirts Online

Buy TShirts Online

Harrison and Alex love their Batman t-shirts, and now you can win a kit with the design of your choice, be it Peppa Pig, Disney characters, Superheroes…whatever!

To enter, follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter widget below. Please make sure you do it carefully, as I do check all entries!! Full terms and conditions can be found here.

Good luck

a Rafflecopter giveaway

TV Choices

Peppa Pig, Frozen or Cars rule our TV during the daytime, but after the kids have gone to bed, we like to relax in front of the television with a glass of wine or a beer and some sneaky chocolate.  We have a relatively decent television, but what I would really love is a Panasonic 4K TV to watch our favourite shows and movies on.

Read more

Painting with Kids

Painting with kids

 

Ever since Harrison was about six months old, we’ve done lots of painting. It’s always lots of fun, but it can get messy! Sometimes, it can be offputting, and the clean up operation afterwards can be a nightmare. After managing painting with kids (thirty of them!) in a classroom, I’ve got a few ideas for keeping it under control (as much as you can with kids), which I thought I’d share.

Read more

Pretend and Play International School Set

Learning through role play and imaginative play is an important part of children’s development, particular in the pre-school years. It develops a whole range of skills – social, language and communication and physical, amongst many others.

Harrison and Alex love role play. They have a toy kitchen, shop and various other toys to support imaginative play. It is fantastic watching them play together, and they both get so much out of it.

Read more