Thursday, 26 February 2015

Living Arrows 8/52

I've given up on waiting for spring, it's just taking too long to come around. So despite the rain and wind, I've started trying to sort out my garden this week. My first job was to dig out a bed, and luckily I had a glamorous assistant to help me. We got her this gardening set for her birthday and I think it was a very wise investment. While I was busy lugging heavy paving slabs across the garden, Ebony was entertained with her spade and fork. I'm hoping it will provides hours of entertainment this year, because my garden needs a lot of work.
Living Arrows

Monday, 23 February 2015

Room Tour: Ebony's Room

Teepee Ebony's bedroom

colourful kids room

Black and white teepee kids room
colourful kids room

homemade dolls house

wall stickers kids room

One of the only rooms that feels (almost) finished in our house, is Ebony's room. It didn't need much doing when we moved in, but we finally got around to painting it before Christmas (with a little help from my mum). 

The teepee was a birthday present from Laurie's parents. I really love the look of it, and think it makes the whole room feel a little more stylish. It's usually rammed full of soft toys and books, because Ebony sometimes sneaks in there when she first wakes up to play. 

A lot of Ebony's things are second hand, either bought from charity shops or stolen from my parents' loft. My parents have kept pretty much everything they have ever come into contact with, so we've been able to hijack lots of books, toys and games from them. The globe pictured above was mine when I was younger, and now Ebony has it. Our local charity shop sells all books for 10p, so we may have acquired a few too many storybooks over the years, if there's such a thing as too many books. She has a bookcase full up here, and always chooses three stories for me to read to her at bedtime. 

The whole room is painted white, so it needed a little bit of colour on the walls. I get photos printed each year around Ebony's birthday, so I can look back on how she's changed over the past 12 months. Some of my favourites are now hanging on Ebony's bedroom walls. The paper elephants are from India, and were a gift from my parents when Ebony was a baby. It's actually a mobile but we didn't get round to putting it up until she was long past the mobile stage. The 'ebony' frame was made by one of my clever friends. The circular frame has Ebony's foot print in from when she was two weeks old, but I was so terrified doing it that I did it way too lightly so you can hardly see it.

The dolls house used to belong to me, but my dad redecorated it and it was given to Ebony for Christmas this year. We keep it upstairs mostly because I am terrified it will get broken if it lives in the playroom, and also because it keeps Ebony entertained so I can grab a few extra zzz's in the mornings. 

I love Ebony's 'Save the planet' pillowcase, and bought it as soon as I saw it. It's a really bright and colourful design so goes great against the white walls. The room isn't quite finished yet, the curtains are just the ones from our old house, and really could do with updating. I would also love to get a blackout blind before the summer sun arrives too, because I'm already dreading those early starts. VELUX blinds have a great selection of blinds for kids bedrooms and are well worth a look. It could do with some more pictures for the walls to add a bit more colour. And a rug would go some way toward hiding the terrible carpet. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Giveaway: Win a KangaWrap

Nothing makes me broodier than the sight of a newborn baby snuggled in a sling. It takes me right back to those early months carrying my sleeping newborn nestled into my stretchy wrap. I am a big fan of babywearing, in fact the pram we bought started gathering dust from the very first time I tried Ebony in the sling. There was just no competition. I loved having her so close to me, and being able to inhale as much of that addictive newborn smell as I could. I love chatting to her as we walked around country parks, canals and the centre of Manchester.

I loved how free of hassle baby wearing was. I didn’t get stuck in doorways, have to wait for lifts, or have strangers tut because I was in their way. I carried her for miles and miles, and in my sling she grew bigger and stronger. We spent many sunny days walking around our local area, and I loved that we spent all of that time touching, rather than with her out of my reach in a pram. As she grew older, she peered out and absorbed the world around us, reached out to touch things, and pushed herself up to shower me in tiny kisses.

I loved babywearing, I think it gave me the confidence to trust my instincts as a mother. If I was going to advise an expectant friend on the must have baby items to buy, a sling would be at the very top of the list. I loved that babywearing left my hands free to do other things. I could cook dinner without having to put Ebony down. I can imagine this benefit is all the greater with a second child, allowing you to keep your baby close while you have your hands free to play with your older child.

I am really excited to be able to giveaway a KangaWrap (pictured above) to one lucky reader. KangaWraps are Fair Trade and suitable for mothers and babies of all shapes and sizes. They can be used from birth until 15kg, meaning you’ll get months of use out of this fantastic prize. They are great for even the tiniest of babies, allowing you to go skin to skin with your newborn without having to worry about sitting still under a blanket. You don’t have to worry about buckles or straps with this simple stretchy wrap, and though the instructional videos may seem slightly daunting at first, I guarantee that you won’t regret giving it a try, and will soon fall in love with babywearing.

KangaWrap are such an inspiring brand. Their wraps are made from organic cotton, and made by workers who enjoy ethical work conditions and fair pay. Not only that, but the profits from the sales of KangaWraps are used to provide maternity care for women in developing countries. You can enjoy the closeness of your baby whilst knowing that your money has funded maternity care for thousands of women living in slums in Delhi.

To be in with a chance of winning, all you need to do is fill in the Rafflecopter below. The competition closes on Friday 20 March and the winner will be contacted soon after. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Living Arrows 7/52

"Today I need to wear a bobble and two clips I think."

Ebony's hair is slowly, oh so slowly, growing, and she has now decided that it's time to start wearing bobbles. It isn't, as you can see from the photo, but she has demanded on wearing them anyway. Since I've waited a long time for this moment, I thought it was worth celebrating, even if her hair isn't really quite long enough for a ponytail yet. 

Living Arrows

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Weekend Box Review & Promo Code For Free Box

Being freelance, I find that I spend quite a bit of each weekend working while Laurie and Ebony hang out. For most of last year they spent their weekends cycling around our local area, stopping off at parks and playgrounds along the way. It hasn’t really been the weather for being strapped to a toddler bike seat lately though, so Laurie and Ebony have found themselves spending more time at home.

When we were offered a Weekend Box to review, I thought it sounded like the perfect pastime for Laurie and Ebony to get stuck into on a miserable winter’s day. Weekend Box was set by Andy, who spotted a gap in the market after searching for gifts for his nieces and nephews. Andy wanted to find something engaging, fun and educational, something that would widen their horizons and teach them about the world. Despite an extensive search, he couldn’t find anything that fit these requirements, and so he created Weekend Box.

Weekend Box arrives by post, and is perfectly packaged to fit through your letterbox, and contains a number of activities to keep you and your children entertained over the weekend. Weekend Box is about replacing parent-child time, in fact it’s about enhancing it. It is filled with fun activities for you all to try, whilst also learning about the world.

I think Weekend Box is perfect for those of us who have amazingly inspired Pinterest boards full of kids activities, but never enough time to actually put those into practice. Personally I like activities that don’t take too long to set up, because there’s nothing worse than spending half an hour preparing for an activity that only provides five pathetic minutes of entertainment. The great thing about Weekend Box is that there is no preparation, all of the planning has been done for you.

Our box arrived a few weeks ago, and was focussed on The Aztecs. We had a busy few weekends, and so instead of Laurie and Ebony doing the box together as I’d planned, I ended up doing it with Ebony during the week. She’d been a bit under the weather, it was bitterly cold outside, and I had run out of ideas for things to do (and I’d already reached my limit for how many times I can watch Frozen in a week), so I dug out Weekend Box. It was focussed and contained a few fun activities for us to try out.

The box contains a number of brightly coloured paper bags, each containing all of the bits you’ll need for a particular activity. There are colour coded information cards too, so you know what to do. We set up the dining table as a craft table, and got to work. Our first task was to try Aztec printing, so we needed to use string and glue to create a pattern on a piece of card. At just three, Ebony was a little young to understand exactly what she was meant to be doing, but she still managed to make a pretty pattern. We left that to dry, and moved on to the second activity.

We were given card and foam rectangles and told to create some Aztec mosaics. The information cards contain examples so you can get some inspiration. I cut up the foam into shapes, and Ebony took charge of the sticking. Ebony loves nothing more than sticking so she really enjoyed this craft activity. The final activity was to create some parrots with some empty toilet rolls and the materials provided. Weekend Box send small bags of paint powder out so that you can mix your own paint, and Ebony found this fascinating. For this activity we were sent a selection of feathers, which we wouldn’t use because we’re vegan. I’m not really keen on things going from the slaughterhouse floor into my home, so we decided to make our own feathers from paper instead. It took a long time to make the two parrots, and Ebony really enjoyed doing it. She called them Elsa and Anna. Obviously.

By this time, our printing pattern was finished, and it was time to mix up some more paint and get printing. Ebony had lots of fun covering the string in paint before imprinting it on the cards provided. I think we’ll try this activity again sometime because it was such a hit.

Weekend Box also contained instructions and some ingredients for an Aztec hot chocolate. This would have been easy to veganise, but Ebony is as yet unaware of the alluring and wonderful world of hot chocolate and I’d like to keep it that way for a little bit longer, so we gave this activity a miss. Instead we just had a warmed almond milk ready when we sat down to start our Weekend Box.

I have to be honest, I wasn’t convinced that the activities in the box would take us very long, but was surprised to discover that two whole hours had passed by the time we’d finished. I think with an older child it would take longer because they would probably take longer on each activity, but I was impressed with two hours for a three year old!

I think it would be great to have a vegan option on the site, allowing you to opt out of any non vegan activities. I wouldn’t really want to sign up for something that was going to send feathers through my letter box every week, and would be concerned about non vegan ingredients in any potential food based activities too. Vegan issues aside, however, this is a great product. Weekend Box is pretty eco friendly too. Everything can be reused and recycled, and 95% of the box and its contents is made from recycled materials.

It usually costs £7.50 per box, but Weekend Box have been kind enough to offer readers your first Weekend Box for free. Visit their website to sign up, and enter promo code FIONA250 to receive your free box. This offer is valid for new customers only, and is limited to one box per household.


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