What She Wore Today (The Toddler Wardrobe)

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Controversially, I am a strict avoider of the supermarket clothing aisles. Once in a while I will let my trolly venture that way, perhaps when in need of some well priced denim or when I spot the 25% off TU posters, but generally I restrict buying children’s clothing to one seasonal shop and my indulgent treat is to fill a big online Zara basket and top up with a few bits from John Lewis and H&M. This is actually not because I’m snobby.  There are some lovely items to be found in our ‘smarkets’. Rather, it is because I now realise that buying ‘cheap’ supermarket clothes for my first child added up to a massive overspend simply because I was faced with shopping options 2/3 times a week. With my track record in impulsive purchasing she had far more clothes than hot meals and that’s just not necessary, or manageable. So now I adopt the ‘less is more’ approach and try to keep my Sainsburys trips to sensible things such as bread and broccoli… and maybe an occasional random cactus…  because its a bit green like a vegetable.

The less is more approach also beautifully means those favourite items… the ones you cry when they grow out of it… get much more rotational wear and don’t tend to get lost under all the laundry.

My latest life hack has been to spend 20 mins on a Sunday afternoon choosing what Niema should wear for the week ahead. The mornings are generally a fairly calm affair in our house. The eldest 2 have school uniforms and are generally capable of sorting themselves for school.  Joel and I are low maintenance. The potential hold up is always the wild-card-toddler who, when its time to get dressed, could be anywhere (normally shouting “I’m busy clambering Mummy!” from somewhere downstairs) and is 100% wriggly and fiercely opinionated. Getting her dressed requires focus, skill, speed and she must not smell fear. If she senses you are deliberating between outfits she will intervene and then you have lost. She will be leaving the house in a bumble bee tutu with odd shoes and her brothers pants on her head. Speed is key.

She doesn’t have a ‘proper’ wardrobe. We bought this chest of drawers as her clothing storage and change station when we decorated her nursery and they still hold enough. Her hanging rail (a stick I found on the school run… bleached and painted. The bleach was mainly because I’m pretty sure it was a dogs stick and he was probably coming back for it later – sorry doggy) is still one of my favourite things in her room and teamed with these baskets are my Monday-Sunday lifesavers. No more “What do you want her to we-eeeaaaaaaaaa-r?” being yelled at me if I’ve managed to pass the job onto anyone else and would like 3 minutes work out which contact lens goes in which eye in peace.

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Into the baskets go her Monday-Sunday pants, Monday-Sunday hair slides (we REALLY know what day of the week it is at all times) and then I pick out some outfits from her drawers. Monday and Tuesday she goes to Nanny and Pappy’s and without fail gets tomato pips down her front. Those things are dangerous staining criminals so the first 2 hangers are strictly navy only. The rest of the week I am always nearby with Vanish so anything goes, even yellow or white (living on the edge my friends). Then if later on in the week I throw in her swim suit amongst the outfits it reminds me to plan a trip to the gym. Stress free mornings ahoy.

This approach also means there is no room for a classic Dad tights error. Anyone else think pattered tights should be sold with a basic instruction leaflet attached?

I am well in to anything that saves a few vital seconds in the daily routine. Another new fave is to hand the ironing over to my 12 year old. She’s ‘learning a vital skill’ and actually enjoys it (!?) Any other life hacks would be greatly appreciated – please comment and let me in on your best secrets to success. xx

 

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My DIY Christmas: The Notice Boards

I’m not going to lie. There’s not been as much crafting at the Toombs house in recent days. I do wonder how I managed to make a tipi, a mobile, sew cloud cushions, mould bath bombs, make 2 christmas puddings and hand tie tutus for the month of December last year. I guess the baby was not mobile, or so vocal.

This year the DIY comes more in the form of sourcing cheaper versions of cool expensive things. Ok. It’s not actually DIY at all. We’re planning some big room move around in the next few months and all excitement is set on the bigger 2 and their planning of their ‘cool new rooms’. I’ve been trying to hold back from getting them TOO many bits for them for Christmas. There is no where to put it all until the move happens but at the same time I do love being able to buy useful Christmas gifts. The pictures above are my pinterest goals. They both will need to priorotise a working desk space in their new rooms and though they both love the retro industrial look I want to make sure each of their spaces are characterised differently to mark the move from a shared boy/girl room into seperate spaces.

I love these retro peg boards. We had one in our old office which was still around from the 70s. I didn’t expect I’d be hunting online a couple of years later and seeing small pieces available for around the £90 mark. I wanted one for Elijah’s room that would be big enough to spread most of the width of a desk and they were looking rather pricey so I found a plain board on ebay for the grand sum of £6. I’ve taken some duck-egg Annie Sloan chalk paint to it and think it will do the trick just nicely. I just need to hunt down the best mix of attatchments to hang things from and love some of the bright pegs and shelves I’ve seen but have no idea where to source things like that from.

The grid is perfect for what I have in mind for Hollys room. I bought this 4 foot version for just under £20 from amazon. Again, its to span the width of the desk. For Christmas I plan to style it up for her with motivational postcards, prints, washi tape and bright bulldog clips. I think that might be more appealing than the plain grid in a bin bag that is currenty sitting in the loft!

I’m really keen to hear any suggestions of peg board accessories. I did order some really cure shaped wooden ones… which happen to be about 10x too big for the holes. Maths fail on that one. I have no idea what I was thinking.

Images all taken from Pinterest.

Advent Series Day 23: The DIY Nursery Mobile

IMG_0372I hunted high and low for a mobile I liked for Niema’s nursery. I really wanted to avoid a noisy plastic one. I’ve had bad experiences with the music going out of tune, the plastic cracking, the cot getting dented, the arm thing bending and the animals looking a bit like dead things on string. So I opted to get her an ipod to tick the music box (she listens to a wide variety of baby sleepy classical music that way rather than just one song) and promised to find her a pretty and non musical one to hang above her cot. I looked at some lovely ones on Etsy and almost bought one a couple of times but then when I found the Belle and Boo craft book and there was the most gorgeous mobile project in there that the kids saw and asked if we could make it. We decided it may be a nice thing for them to make for Niema for Christmas. I like the idea that we all make a handmade gift for each other. (We also have each picked out another family member to write a poem for this year – much like secret santa but not with money)

I bought the hoop from ebay and wraped it with some card I’d bought which match the Cable and Cotton lights in her nursery and some invisible thread. We sat together – (me and the 2 older children) and worked hard at this project all afternoon. Holly was drawing 33 hot air balloons, Elijah drawing from the bird templates, I did the clouds and was on cutting mat duty. Elijah rubbed out the pencil marks and Holly put sticky tape on all the folded balloons I’d scored. It was a team effort – and they did brilliantly with great attitudes. I painted the hoop white with some Annie Sloan pure and though I’ve still not tried it in the nursery… I THINK it should all go nicely! We’re all really pleased with the finished piece. It’s such a pretty idea and looks really interesting from underneath where all the balloon sections splay out which is the way she will see it when she’s in her cot.

I feel so sad there is only one more day of advent 😦 I think I love the projects we have been doing more than Christmas day itself. One more to go but I am certainly really pleased with todays and know the children will love giving this gift to their sister more than any other thing they’ve bought anyone. Hmmm how to wrap it though… it might just have to ang down inside my DIY tipi… ooh I need to post about that stress!

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Advent Day 12: Christmas Wrapping

IMG_0133Revisting those little gifts we bought on Christmas Shopping day, this evening was our chance to split off and wrap them up ready to go under the tree in 12 more sleeps!!!

My wrapping is mostly done in kraft paper – and some lovely kraft with white printed Christmas trees on. I bought it all last year in the sales (my taste is consistent enough) and kept it in the loft. I’ve teamed it with an ivory with gold polka dot one (top right above) I found in Sainsburys that was just too pretty to leave under the conveyor belt – and they look good together. I’ve also bought a tonne of neon ribbon from ebay. I love the brights with the kraft, white and gold… and its been super helpful this year as I’m adjusting to wrapping up for 3 children… so my neons have been colour coded.

I’ve done a couple with some lovely free free printables I’ve found too… and these seemed the most fun to let the children loose with to be creative. I wrapped up the little box of wrapping accessories above for them to open this morning and then each of them chose a printable to work with. I love these Merry and Bright and Christmas Tree ones from Lola Hoad… I love her style and have just bought some of her prints but she just lets you have these for free right here… click me CLICK ME and make pretty gifts!

And then this v. cool little printable set of paper and tags with this sweet little bunting is another freebie I came across by Amy Moss. You can find this one and (see how she styles her wrap NOT so much in the style of a hyperactive 8 year old – but rather tastefully and gorgeously) right here. This printable has been sitting ready for many many months to use and is one of last years but she has lots more new things in the holiday section of the site.

IMG_0307So yes… they were let loose with tape and ribbon and stickers. They are busy little gifts now aren’t they just!?

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The Nursery Project

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Ooh its exciting to get a nursery ready… and I love this idealistic stage before the reality hits and your beautiful nursery gets filled with nappy wipes! (especially true when baby gets to the stage where the best activity is sitting in the cot pulling all the wipes out of the pack you thought they couldn’t reach while you think they are sleeping).

We had fun painting this in October… a little early but a lovely way to spend an afternoon when you are excited about being pregnant. It was nice to get the boy involved one afternoon when the girl was out at a birthday party.

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At this stage we hadn’t had the 20 week scan so had no idea whether we were going for ‘blue’ or ‘pink’… so chose a beautifully simple theme that would work for either and could easily be tweaked to make it a little boys or a little girls room. I love this ‘rain grey’ colour for a nice unisex room mainly because I would choose it for a boy or a girl anyway -and so much more beautiful than the traditional unisex beige-brown tones.nursery2

We eagerly awaited the scan and were told to expect a little girl and so the nursery could start taking a few little touches. I’ve heard too many stories of friends being told the wrong gender so have tried very hard not to go overboard but couldn’t resist just a few little dresses! I’ve also gone with lots of white baby grows, white knitted jumpers and stuck as much as possible with grey and white. I like it when a baby looks like a baby. White things are just so lovely and clean. I also don’t want to deal with the fuss of having tonnes of clothes and outfits with particular tights to wear with particular dresses – there is plenty of time for that if they hit the diva stage so sticking to a simple colour scheme and simple baby appropriate items is the way I’m choosing to head forward!

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We’ve not spent much at all. For the first 7 months of this pregnancy we were scrimping on 1 income and unsure of what would happen once I was on maternity leave so everything has been focused on needing as little as possible, reusing and recycling. The cot used to be Joel’s! Its been passed through a few cousins and both of our children and now has a fresh coat of antique white paint. The blankets are all hand me downs and I do love having real knitting that Grandmas have done. One of them dyed a shade of blue accidentally in the wash with a pair of Elijah’s shorts – but I quite like it so haven’t tried to colour fix it yet! Fred is sitting ready in the cot to continue being a loved teddy bear. He was knitted for me by my Nannan’s next door neighbour and finished the day I was born. He’s been through many adventures with me and is keen to be good friends with my own children (but will always live right here- with me. I will ALWAYS be his favorite)

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We bought the change table/ chest of drawers off ebay. I was looking at second hand ones for a while but came across a seller ‘komfyliving’ who would make one for me in the size with number of drawers I wanted and deliver it to into the nursery itself – and untreated so that I didn’t need to use a chalk paint on it over any varnish. This cost just £109 and I love it. I’ve gone for my change bag from John Lewis. I had looked at change bags for a long long time and am just not a fan of plastic baby related accessories or slogans. I realised I was looking for the plainest bag possible so decided just to look for a decent sized handbag and when I read the reviews of this John Lewis one I saw some of the comments said it had been a great change bag or the criticisms were that it had been too big for a normal handbag! Its got 3 main sections and lots of zippy pockets to keep all the bits and pieces well organised.

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I’ve seen lots of blogs and pins using this idea of a twig as a hanging rail. I love it and its so pretty. Babies don’t need many things on hangers but for the few little adorable things you can’t look at enough this is a great way to get your ‘aesthetic fix’ without having to change your child 10 times a day. I found this twig on the school run. I was going to head into the woods on a hunt for a good one – and having done this every Easter and Christmas for a few years now I know that finding the right twig is so much easier said than done. On my way to the woods I was just finishing off chatting to another mum when my eyes fell on this one – right outside the school gate. I think she was quite bemused by how exciting this was for me but it felt as though it had fallen right out of the sky just for me! I think it may have belonged to a dog actually (sorry doggy) and its first use was to be our advent twig for Christmas. After a big scrub with lots of bleach I have it a watered down paint.  It fitted perfectly in our kitchen window for hanging advent envelopes and now it fits perfectly in the nursery.

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We’ve gone for totally free artwork. Me and the kids stamped these lovely Bible verses onto cuts of wallpaper sample and framed them and the Alice in Wonderland picture is from a magazine shoot in an old Junior magazine that we used for Holly’s Mad Hatters tea Party a few years ago… and I quite liked it so we kept it up!IMG_7750

This blanket is my favorite gift. I bought a beautiful Rowan pattern book of baby things when I’d just had Holly 9 years ago and my mother-in-law said she would teach me to knit. I managed some leg warmers and a couple of scarves but this book was just beyond me. A friend of my mums offered to knit me a cot blanket and had sent some patterns for me to look at. I was a bit cheeky and asked her if she thought she might be able to manage this one as I’d loved it for so long. How wonderful of her and in the perfect colour for the nursery. It’s just the prettiest thing!

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This beautiful rocking horse was passed on by a friend and this is one of our laundry crates currently being used to store a massive stock of ‘Little Lamb’ washable nappies. I love these crates. I found them on ebay, sold by a farmer, and we have now a stack of them in the lounge. Each member of the family gets their own (filled with the ironing I do on a Sunday night during Mr Selfridge) to collect and take to put away themselves… and an extra one for towels and bedding. The cute little rabbit storage bag sitting amongst them is prefect to store sudocreme and cotton wool and from Red Apple Tree Crafts on Etsy.

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Right Baby T – we are ready for you to join us now!

DIY Ruby Red Slippers

There’s no place like home. Because of that we thought we’d make our own ones at home 🙂
These are almost shiny enough. I picked them up at Sainsburys in one of their regular 25% off sales but they’re not glittery and ruby red slippers are nothing if no red, shiny AND glittery… but that’s easy enough to take care of. One big tub of red glitter, decopatch glue and a paintbrush and off we go…

 

 This glue is great because it dries shiny and clear so a coat underneath and a coat over the top means they feel smooth and less likely to all rub off when worn. 
I gave up control on these and let Holly go ahead and make them herself. If a job involves sprinkling glitter into glue its probably not a job for a 33 year old when there’s a willing and enthusiastic 8 year old to hand. For that reason they’re not the neatest things in the world but I can be OCD another day when I make some for myself!

 

DIY Dorothy Dress

This year for Holly’s 9th birthday we’re well into planning a Wizard of Oz party. Its such a great theme that I don’t think we can go through ‘girlhood’ without doing it one year properly. So aside from all the plans to create an emerald room and gingham notice boards, rainbows, yellow brick roads and hot air balloon party bags (I started these 5 months early because they are fun!) I have good reason to get the birthday girl’s outfit ready as next week is also Book Day at school – so lets get 2 wears out of the costume! These gingham schools dresses are so cheap in the Supermarkets so I picked up a blue one for a couple of quid and got straight to it with the scissors…

I chopped across the front, under the armpits and across from that point along the back.
 
 The edging on the sleeves seemed to be the ideal piece to make the straps for the shoulders from so I chopped them off and across the seam and pinned it all into place. 
 
We couldn’t find any big matching buttons in the sewing box so once I’d hemmed it all, tidying up all the edges I’d snipped at with the sewing machine, we got these buttons to cover, a bit of old curtain and a sharpie and made ourselves these matching buttons to sew onto the front to make it into a pinafore.   
And voila… very easy. Dress customised in less than half an hour. Meanwhile there is a lot of glue and red glitter around the lounge mid-ruby red slipper creation. Will post up when we have a result on those!