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

 

Copper and marble bedside tables. An Ikea hack.

The last couple of months have been somewhat of a blur of building dust and disorientation. These things are all going on… 1. The upstairs of the house has been knocked down in the middle 2. We’ve has builders starting work at 8am in our bedroom Monday-Friday while we are still using it to sleep in. The baby is turning 2, learning to use a big bed and learning to get up, find me in the night and make sure I am awake and giving her attention. Kicking has proven most effective and the method so she seems happy sticking with that. There have been so many changes and wonderful things to buy and make for what feels like an entirely new house… where to start?

Well an Ikea hack,  of course. A good cheap one.

I feel like I have looked at every. bedside. table. in the whole world. Its not been an item that’s justified being on the spendy items list. It’s hardly an investment piece. Nevertheless, the bedside table is there, faithfully standing by you night and day and looking after all the little nick nacks most precious. It deserves to be at least a bit lovely.

I decided that I wanted marble. And copper is, of course, a fave.  I have a painted bed so a standard Annie Sloan job to a normal wooden bedside table wasn’t going to cut it. I wanted something a little more statement. I actually didn’t really have a spare £400 to get one I really liked… make that  £800 for a pair of them. £11 seemed like a better idea.

I bought a couple of the Ikea Nesna bedside tables. I didn’t want anything too chunky and these are delicate, light, yet still have a storage shelf so you don’t have to be overly minimalistic. They’re also £9 – ahhhh, hurray for that.

I painted the whole lot up first with Annie Sloan Old White and wax.  The top shelf is glass but I didn’t insert that when putting it together and wanted to use that as the middle shelf. The slats across are rather charming but I opted to leave them out and rotate the 2 sides by 90 degrees so that the middle shelf doesn’t show the holes for the slats. I then stuck the glass (which should be the table top) onto the frame. I used tile adhesive for this but in hindsight I think using a glue gun would have been less messy and less visible. After I’d put it all together I tightened the screws so they went in as far I they would go and used polyfilla to cover them. (sanding this down and applying paint again) I wanted to place it so that the widest side faced fowards so these silver screws would have been a little obvious otherwise.

The marble effect table tops are made from floor tiles. I decided these were more durable and had a much smarter feel than adhesive plastic coating. They were also cheaper. I ordered 2 different styles of sample marble floor tile and they were delivered to my door for the grand total of £2.50. They were much bigger than that table top but we had a borrowed tile cutter to do the bathroom so chopped them to sit over the top of the table with a couple of cms overhang. I expect I could have found ones closer to the table size (I actually ordered the tiles before I had even chosen the table). The edging didn’t actually look as bad as I expected. I thought it would look very raw and exposed but I could have happily left it as a tile top (there’s a post on my instagram of this mid-way stage with just the tile on the table with the slats still on). I do like a fancy finishing touch though and had ordered this copper tape from amazon and used it  (just as a sellotape but with much sharper edges… be warned) and wrapped it around the tile edge. It just so happened to be exactly the same width. (I am of course going to pretend I measured it and ordered the perfect one intentionally… my dad thinks I am a scatty, disorganised decorator so I love a good fluke) I used tile adhesive again to attach the tile to the top of the table frame.

And there you have it. Super easy, super cheap and super pretty (and manly of course… Joel is v.happy to have his cup of tea sitting here)

I am by no means a tidy diy-er and am fully aware these could have been made a whole lot better by a more patient person who doesnt rush decorating jobs at 1am in the dark. Someone else out there could make a beautiful go of these. If so please tag me so I can see and feel like a useful sort of soul.

Chalkboard Wall

IMG_4517This is a DIY job I’ve been drudging my way towards for a too long. We’ve had a chalk wall in the kitchen-diner for a about 6 years. We flirted with a pale blue one for a bit of a change when I was pregnant, but I missed our chalk wall too much and realising I told practically eveyone who came round and commented on our interior that we ‘used to have a whole chalk board wall here’, basically we needed it back. We love it.

So there have been a couple of patches where we’ve taken some speakers down (I evidently painted it in a hurry and didn’t think to go behind these) and then there was the Christmas mistake.

I got some beautiful white chalk pencils from Father Christmas and thought it was the answer to all ‘not being able to write neatly in stubby chalk’ issues. So I scrawled some Christmas carols on the wall, not particularly neatly, not even necessarily the right words even. Then after Christmas I went to clear it and it stayed completely put. Oh. Ok then.

So, I’ve needed to paint over. It’s never the most inspiring job. I’m not good at prep work or anything that doesn’t have the instantaneous wow factor of a big change. So that’s why it’s stayed Christmas on our walls until February.

I decided to opt for the Annie Sloan chalk paint this time, rather than the traditional chalk board paint and actually I’ve rather loved it and had a much better afternoon of DIY than expected. I bought a pot of ‘Graphite’ – which is basically the chalkboard black but I mixed it into an almost finished pot of the Annie Sloan ‘Old White’. I was advised to water the paint down to use on walls so that did make the paining quicker (although a fair bit splattier too) and applied it with a small roller. I always use the radiator rollers to avoid too much arm ache. I found it went on black but dried fairly quickly as a lovely matt charcoal grey. The whole wall took me about an hour to do… and then task over. Time for a bubble bath.

I promise the last image shows a wonky panoramic picture and not wonky walls or wonky paining!

All ready to use bog standard, non permanent chalk to cover it with hearts and love things for valentines day.

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 Series Day 16: Lanterns

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Since I’ve been using a few glass jars for the various advents along the way I’ve been putting these aside after the day to save up for this activity today. Inside their parcel was a glass jar containing a snowflake cutter, a tea light and some table scatter. Using decopatch glue we splodged some, er, splodges onto the glass and stuck the snowflakes we made and a few little bits of sparkle and sequins around them. I wanted pretty lanters that were on theme with our white and silver dining room so that I wouldn’t feel the need to hide them for the rest of our lives… so this plan worked well as I only supplied them with things that would work well! This was a nice activity to do after their nativity play this afternoon. They were worn out and that school hall was so hot. It was exactly what we needed to grab a snack and sit gluing for a bit. I let Holly light the tea lights and we set them up along the big table for dinner. When daddy got home we enjoyed our candlelit spaghetti bolognese. These are looking pretty now on the shelves filling the gaps left by the diminishing advent calendar!

Also… how cheap?!!! (very very)

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Christmas Sparkles

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Antlers and Snowflakes

It may be a taking a little longer than usual to get our house all decorated for Christmas…little tiny demanding person around and all… but it’s certainly extra exciting to have those little eyes wide at every shiny bauble and twinkly light. She just loves looking up high and seeing all the decorations.

My best Christmas buy this year has to be these amazing paper snowflakes. I know, I know… they are free to make yourself… but these are so pretty. We filled the kitchen with homemade ones last year and after a few weeks above the table they did start to curl up and look a bit worse for wears. These are so pretty and amazingly came through the post from the Paper Snowflake Company in an a4 sized box… even the 50cm ones fold down and in half… so storage is just amazing.

The advent calendars are starting to dissapear now… as the days get less and less I’m having to find new things to fill the spaces they leave behind. The little Sonny Angels that have been inside some of these candy bag parcels are making nice little friends to keep the shelves busy!

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Sonny Angels and Advent Calendar
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Christmas Tree
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Snowflakes
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Snowflakes in the window
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Snowflake in the window