What She Wore Today (The Toddler Wardrobe)

IMG_3397

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.

IMG_3388

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

 

Advertisements

A party in the woods (Butterflies and Bears)

IMG_3127I’m usually strictly a ‘home party’ person. I do like the control of knowing my venue and having as much time as I need, plus not relying in transporting everything on the day. This year however, Storm Doris took it upon herself to destroy 60% of our fence and the prospect of keeping lively three year olds indoors or risk them escaping our open plan exterior to run up and down the street was not one I fancied. Instead we opted for a mix of a trip to the woods followed by a party tea back at home. We’d planned the party in for the date after getting back from a week away as well, so knowing time was short, the aim was to keep this one simple.

The plan: I set off to find our spot in the woods just before the party was due to start in order to set up a tipi, hide some teddy bears, and hang decorations in the trees while the rest of the family waited at home. The children arrived and selected an ‘adventure headband’ I’d made using elastic and a few feathers then walked down at 3 year old pace to find us in a little clearing. I’d picked a spot by the water, checking that parents felt ok about that first, and and warned them to bring wellies. They happily spent the first few minutes playing with sticks and running around. It was great to have an arty friend come along to help so I assigned Hannah to face-painting and set up a little blanket by the tipi for the children to sit one by one and be painted as butterflies (or rhinos, unicorns or batman… of course) We kept the activities simple.  I had cut out butterfly shapes on white card and attached pipe cleaners and a thread to hang them from the trees. I took small pots of paints and brushes along and the children could pick one at a time to paint one side and splodge over to print onto the other wing then leave them drying on their spot in the trees until it was time to head home.

IMG_3271

We took a little bluetooth speaker and used it to play pass the parcel. After games I told the children that there were some little bear friends lost in the woods and that they were hoping to be found by a new family. I’d bought a set of these beautiful bears from a wholesaler on eBay and I tied each one a different colour ribbon around it’s neck so that there would be no arguments about who’s was who’s when we got back to the house. We’d hidden them around the spot we were using, up trees, behind rocks, in the grass and all the children went to find one to keep.

While they were looking for bears with their parents I headed off first to set out the party tea, leaving Holly (my 12 year old) who had hidden the bears behind incase anyone was really stuck, and once the children arrived back and de-muddified their hands we sat up to tuck into pizzas, Pom Bears, crunchy veggies and bread sticks. For pudding I did small pots of natural yogurt with chopped fruit to add in and some pretty rice-crispy squares with edible glitter for a bit of sparkly fun.

I arranged the bits and pieces for party bags onto the shelves in our kitchen. Having it out on display is an easy way to include another themed decoration and helps me to keep the things I’m going to add in on the classy rather than tacky side. We popped in their bear hunt bear, a Butterbear bath bomb from Lush, some cake, and a bag of trail mix. Trail mix is a great way to keep party bags low sugar but still containing a bit of chocolate. I added in some chocolate buttons, chocolate pieces and mini marshmallows along with monkey nuts and alphabet cereal and tied these in a little bag just with handwritten labels.

For the cake I did a 3 layer chocolate cake and used this big Meri Meri no. 3 candle and some of our fave Shleich bears. After considering crafting some little trees I saw this fab idea of using rosemary on @buttercreamanddreams Instagram and, well, we have a forest of rosemary taking over the back garden.

Thankfully the day ended with some tired happy kids and a content newly three year old. This is despite the breakdown the day before. Even though she had decided 6 months ago it was a butterflies and bears party she wanted, talking about it constantly from November through to April, With less than 24 hours to go she decided she’d actually like to change it to a bouncy balls and Peppa Pig party. Fabulous. And no.

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 24: The Christmas Cake

IMG_0608Ahhh we are at the end! We’ve had a lovely day doing an early Christmas with my brother and his family but just about had time to do our final activity… the Christmas Cake.

Holly had already done the cake. She’s such a keen baker.

Today I wrapped up a couple of lovely Shleich deer and got out our snowflake cutters, some wooden kebab scewers and card. We added a bit of edible glitter of course… and then just a bit of neon. 😀

IMG_0606 And here are my 3 special favourites having fun with a bit of neon 😀

IMG_0483Happy Christmas!!!

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!

IMG_0378

IMG_0371 IMG_0370

 IMG_0373

IMG_0379

Advent Series Day 18: Thanksgiving

IMG_9959I love the idea of devoting a day to something as gracious as giving thanks. We don’t really do this in the UK – and Thanksgiving has just actually been and gone in November… which, for the purposes of my advent planning, is not everso helpful. Thank goodness for Wikapedia which tells me some of the first settlers used to celebrate thanksgiving on December 4th…and then forget all that because the plan to have this activity on the 4th needed changing… so it’s made its way to the 18th! We are taking our inspiration from the general theme though. No big feasts, no big get togethers or anything… today’s activity is just a simple act of saying thanks.

These cards made their way to the till in my hand in Paperchase. Things DO that in that shop don’t they??! We have one each and some of these little sparkles and words. I like to do this activity sometimes with printed words… it sometimes just helps that inspiration and the creativity to start to flow when faced with a blank page. The idea is you can frame a word you are drawn to with the rest of the sentence you choose to construct around it, or vise versa. So all that is needed is a few words, a thank you card, a glue stick and pens… and a thankful mindset of course.

IMG_9964

The children wrote some truly lovely messages on theirs and did take advantage of the words to stick in. We’ve clipped them up onto the advent shelves… helping to make the empty spaces look more loved

IMG_0339

Advent Series Day 16: Lanterns

IMG_0163

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)

IMG_0319