Monday, 29 May 2017

Where to Buy Wooden Toys.

As promised, I've composed a little list of places we get Montessori toys from. I've tried to include all of Violet's faves and my favourite places to pick them up. I'm always looking for new items to add to our rotation, which we change a couple of times a month. Especially as she's getting towards being one (how did that happen?!) we're looking at toys to add and new things for her to try. So let's get started...


Babipur & Baba Me

These two are my absolute go-to when I'm looking for something in particular or for a particular brand. I know I can easily access the likes of Grimms, Holztiger, Plan Toys, as well as being able to get my cloth nappy fix. I've made lots of purchases from these stores, particularly Babipur, they have customer service that's second to none and a great online community for discounts and advice to when stock is available. Our bright 6-piece rainbow was a Christmas present for V, from the lovely Babipur and the pastel rainbow was a little treat from Baba Me, when the new Grimms stock was released. Both were delivered quickly and I received a 10% discount, using the loyalty codes in their Facebook groups. 


Yes Bébé 

Yes Bebe is another fab company, that's a little smaller than the others but still a brilliant place to buy toys. We actually get our Holztiger animals subscription from this website. Holztiger animals are the most beautiful hand crafted wooden animals, but can certainly be on the  proper side. The subscription service allows you to build up a collection, with a discount, depending on which tier you go for. We're currently on tier 2 which gives us a 20% discount on the animals each month. There's no contract and you can leave at any time. We really love waiting to see what animals arrive each month!

Independent Shops 

Small, independent shops are a gold mine for picking up unique toys. I'm a huge fan of a little place called Hebden Bridge, which is packed full of independent retailers and has at least three toy shops. Most of Violet's instruments have come from smaller shops, it's really lovely for her to be able to pick up the items and decide what she'd like. The bells in the photo were a Hebden Bridge purchase, which were shook the entire time we walked around! Museum shops and art galleries are a good place to hunt for different brands too. 


Supermarkets

A lot of supermarkets or high street shops seem to have clocked onto the fact that wooden or natural toys are "back in fashion". We go for wooden and natural toys because they're Montessori friendly, kind to the environment and will last for year to come meaning V will be able to keep them and hand them down. Asda, Tesco, Sainsbury's and even Aldi and Lidl have developed their own ranges of wooden and traditional toys. This apple shaped bamboo plate was from Aldi, and although it's great to eat off (we got some other designs), it's also fab for sorting games or storing toys when they're not being played with. It's definitely worth shopping around, sometimes the supermarkets have some amazing bargains. 


Facebook Groups & eBay 

Facebook is turning more and more into a marketplace. Which is great if you're looking for something second hand and for a reasonable price. I'm in several Facebook groups for wooden toys, natural toys and Babipur have a buy and sell page too. I've picked up some great bargains for our collection. The crochet bowls and peg people were actually from a wooden toy Facebook page, they're hand made by people in the UK and sold for a reasonable price. They're a great alternative if you can't quite stretch your budget to new or branded products. 

Car Boot Sales & Charity Shops

There is nothing more exciting than finding a gem in a car boot sale or charity shop. In the past I've picked up some Plan Toys goodies for less than £1 when they retail over £15. A few weeks ago we headed to brilliant car boot sale and picked up some gorgeous wooden toys that have been stored away for her birthday, we will certainly be heading back in search of other bits in the next few weeks. 

They're my top picks for wooden/traditional toys, I hope I've inspired you to go take a look for yourself and don't forget to head to Facebook to find any discount codes before you buy. Happy shopping!

Katie xx

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Everyday Montessori Activities.

I've briefly mentioned in the past, that we follow some Montessori principles at home. We base a lot of Violet's play on independent learning, following her interests and "real-life" situations. She has free run of the house, with close supervision on the stairs of course! But other than that, she's able to crawl and climb around wherever she pleases and explore her surroundings. V will crawl off and play and come back to us when she's had enough or would like us to join in. She adores the independence and is constantly finding new things to investigate. With that in mind, I thought I'd share a few of the things we like to do that are Montessori-friendly. 
Violet has her own reading corner, where she can sit with her books and one of us will read with her or she'll flick through them herself. She's keen on reading lift the flap books and we tend to have a theme on going. It's usually farm or zoo related! We spend a lot of time at the library, which has a great children's area and plenty of space to crawl. But it also means we can rotate books regularly and can read new ones for free. V has her own library card too!
When we started out with Montessori, I did a lot of reading up. I remember distinctly reading that children need to see the real- life object before they can put a photo, picture or a toy into context. After reading this, it encouraged us even more to get outside and be more creative with learning. I'm the queen of finding free activities, and recently we headed to a local park to see the rare breed pigs. Violet was able to stroke them, get up close and we even fed them. We took this opportunity to get her pig toy out and show her some photos of the pigs when we got home. 

I did a similar activity after we'd been to a farm. We saw the cows being milked, fed most the animals and a calf had licked Violet's hand (which she found absolutely hilarious). We then talked about the cows and found them in her farm books. I really do think she is picking up words and will point to the cow in a book if you ask her to. 
One thing I love about Montessori is how you can use everyday objects to learn and play. All of our toys are open ended, we don't have any battery operated toys and he majority are natural materials or household items. As I've said before, we follow Violet's interests as much as possible. She loves water play, so sitting in her paddling pool is a must when the weather is nice. Instead of generic bath toys, she has pouring cups, a whisk, spoons and other kitchen utensils to use in the water. 

Violet loves spending time doing every day tasks too. She's really interested if we're in the kitchen and will often sit and watch what we're doing and join in if it's safe for her to do so. Her latest favourite task is helping me empty the washing machine. It does take a little longer than if I did it alone but she loves to get involved. We're not quite at the stage of helping me peg it out, but she will happily sit outside and watch me. We even watered the plants together the other day and she happily played with the hosepipe and watched the water for a good fifteen minutes. 
Our recent trip to the airport, ties back in with gaining real life experiences and understandings. We watched the helicopters and planes coming in and out of the airport. If we're close by Manchester airport she'll watch the planes go overhead so it was nice to get up close to smaller planes at the local airport. Plus it was another free activity that meant we had spent some time outside. 

Hope this was helpful if you're looking for Montessori ideas for little ones. I'm thinking of doing a post on where we get her open ended toys and which ones we recommend. Let me know if you would like to see this!

Katie xx


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Fighting Bleeding Gums.

Pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Violet, I noticed the changes in my gums. Weirdly bleeding gums are a pregnancy symptom and I really wanted to keep on top of the situation. I invested in an electric toothbrush too, which I'm pleased to say is still going strong (not the same toothbrush head, you'll be pleased to hear!).

Even after having Violet, your body is never the same and I still struggle with my gums at times. So when I saw Corsodyl* were looking for reviewers, I thought this was the perfect opportunity for me. The addition of Some Lulu Guinness goodies, did make the parcel even more exciting. 

According to Corsodyl, the Ultra Clean toothpaste is proven to be four times more effective than regular toothpaste, at reducing the build up of plaque, which is themain cause of bleeding gums. The toothpaste itself has a pinky colour to it and does appear quite grainy to look at. I've put this down to the sodium bicarbonate which helps to keep the mouth super clean but also gives a unique taste to this toothpaste. I would say it's an acquired taste and not your stereotypical minty flavour, it took some getting used to however both me and my hubby have commented on how fresh and clean our mouths felt. If you're not a fan of strong mint flavours, this might the perfect toothpaste for you. 

I've definitely noticed a big improvement in how healthy my mouth looks and feels. I will certainly be picking up another tube as soon as this one is finished and might even stretch to using the mouthwash alongside it, for extra protection against bleeding gums. 

You can find the Corsodyl toothpaste nationwide for £3.99 or over at http://www.corsodyl.co.uk/leave-bleeding-gums-behind

Katie xx

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

DIY Busy Board.


Violet has a keen interest in anything fiddly. I'm talking zips, buttons, toggles and those ties you have on a hoodie. You name it and she'll want to investigate it. I've been threatening to make her a Busy Board for quite sometime and as we try to follow her interests, this seemed like the perfect opportunity. 

V's Busy Board was made really simply and for less than £10, which is a bargain compared to the prices of ready-made ones on Etsy. I picked up most the things from Poundland and Wilko, and managed to find a cheap bit of MDF in our local hardware shop. 

Our board has a mixture of items; a lock, light switch, artificial grass, mirror, ribbon, zip, padlock and a wheel for the bottom of a chair. These were all easily stuck down with super glue and after letting it dry overnight, we were ready to play. 

This is a really easy DIY and definitely something you can easily tailor to the little monkey in your life. Perfect for little hands that want to explore everything! 

Katie xx

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

A Change in Priorities.

The past few weeks I've had this niggly feeling in the back of my mind. I've been neglecting my social media and blog and I was feeling rubbish about it. But then I remember what I'd been doing instead of Tweeting or scrolling down Instagram - I've been spending time with my family. My tiny girl is growing up so quickly and I don't want to miss a second. And if that means neglecting my Facebook page a couple of days a week then so be it. 

There is so much pressure to build up followers, get as many likes as possible and work with lots of brands. I love the following I've built up over the past five years and I, by no means, want to give up my blog but maybe it's time to take the pressure off. Post when I like, what I like, when it feels right. 

I don't think any anticipates how much your life and priorities change when you have a child. Now I'm nine months into motherhood and I wouldn't change it for the world. But my world HAS completely changed. I don't have hours spare to type up posts or edit photos, in fact I'm typing this after V has gone to bed and now neglecting my hubby for my phone. My little family unit come first, and if that means delaying a few posts every now and again, then so be it. 

With that in mind, here's a few photos of what we have been up to the last few weeks. We've been spending lots of time outside, making the most of the dry weather and I'm so excited to spend even more time out there. 
So you might not hear from me as often but rest assured, I will still be here. But for now I'm busy making memories. 

Katie xx

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

RNW: Weleda Nappy Change Cream.


We've been really lucky since Violet was born, in that she's never really suffered from nappy rash. Every now and again her bum gets a little pink but it's certainly nothing to write home about. We have, however, always kept on top of making sure she is well moisturised and she has a little baby massage after her bath before bed every evening. 

In the spirit of Real Nappy Week, we are kindly sent some Weleda Nappy creams to try out. They're both baby and cloth nappy friendly, so of course we were willing to give them a go in the run up to RNW. 

First up the Calendula Nappy Change Cream*, this is a sister product to the Calendula oil that we've used since Violet was born. Knowing how well we get on with the oil, I knew this would be a great product for us. The cream is lovely and thick but not sticky and melts into the skin in no time. This works as such a great soothing cream but also a barrier between nappies and baby's delicate skin. I love the natural scent of Calendula too, it's not overpowering or synthetically fragranced and leaves a really subtle scent behind. 

The second cream we were sent to try is the White Mallow Nappy Change Cream*. This is a fragrance free cream made for extra sensitive and delicate skin, making it perfect for newborns. This again is a lovely thick cream and moisturises the skin perfectly. I've been using this myself and it leaves my skin so soft too. 

Weleda are such a fab brand, especially for baby's skin. They use sustainable, natural and organic ingredients and no nasties are pumped into their products. I'm a huge fan of Weleda and will definitely continue to use their products on mine and Violet's skin!

Katie xx

P.S. Don't forget to enter my Real Nappy Week giveaway! 

Monday, 24 April 2017

Real Nappy Week 2017: GIVEAWAY.

If you've been following me for a while, you'll know Violet has been in cloth nappies since she was around 6 weeks old. I've done whole posts on starting out with cloth and FAQs about cloth which you can find here and here. Most recently I've done a guest post for the lovely people at The Essential One, to share my top ten reasons to try reusable nappies. So why am I talking about them again? Because it's Real Nappy Week! So expect lots of nappy related posts this week while I share my love for cloth bums. 

To kick of RNW 2017, I have a very exciting giveaway in collaboration with Baba+Boo, a gorgeous nappy brand that is pretty local to me. In fact, I've shared my love for Baba+Boo before and I can certainly say, they're one of our favourite nappy brands. 

So what's up for grabs? We have a gorgeous Woodland Friends birth to potty, pocket style nappy with inserts. A matching Woodland Friends wet bag to store dirty nappies on the go. And finally some reusable wipes, to clean those bums and still be kind to the environment! All you need to do is enter below, the winner will be picked on 8th May. This is a UK only giveaway. Good Luck!
Thank you so much Baba+Boo for providing us with such a fab prize, happy Real Nappy Week. 


Katie xx

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

My First Thomas Toy.


Every now and again we receive something baby related and I think that would be perfect for one of our baby friends. We were recently sent a My First Thomas Activity Plush from Tesco* and although it is a little young for Violet, it is ideal for one of her soon-to-be baby friends. 

The toy is lovely and soft and perfect for tiny hands to explore. Thomas is really well made, with lots of small details and a really gorgeous finish, perfect for any train lovers out there. It comes with a mirror, hidden by that really friendly, well known face. Above his little face, the chimney sets off a variety of train sounds which is great for that new born stage, as a little sensory experience. 

The train has lots of different textures and materials - a smooth panel and a crinkle panel, as well as a rattle inside to create lots of interest for little ones. He even doubles up as a teething toy with a cute little mini-Thomas teether to ease those little gums. 

I can't wait to give this Violet's new friend when he's born and let him explore it!

Katie xx

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Baby Led Weaning Update.

We are somehow into month three of baby led weaning and I think this has to have been our most successful month yet. Violet is consuming more and more every day and really enjoying lots of new tastes. We realised once she was taking in more, rather than just sucking and playing with the food, that she prefers much more exciting flavours. We had been playing it quite safe with fairly bland foods to start, but she has definitely experienced a whole variety of things over the past month or so. 

If you follow me on social media, you'll have seen that we were away earlier this month, which meant we really needed to get our thinking caps on when it came to meal times. Thankfully we sensibly booked a lodge with a well equipped kitchen, to ensure we could prep some food and save some money whilst we were there. I think Violet quite enjoyed the novelty of eating away from home and really came into her own BLW wise. It has definitely helped having the hubby off for the past two weeks, he's far better and more creative than I am in the kitchen!
Violet is still enjoying some of her faves. Anything with peanut butter, bananas, toast and pesto topped food. I have been trying to mix up her bread choices, and we've tried pitta breads, mini-flat bread and tortillas too, alongside the regular loaf. I know if we had a bread maker we would definitely be trying some of the homemade bread machine recipes by Panasonic. It would definitely be more economical and healthy for us to make our own with the amount of bread we go through!
We've also discovered V has some new faves too. Rice with egg, peas, onions and sweet corn - a baby version of egg fried rice goes down a storm. She is also quite the fan of sweet potato curry, red Thai curry and green Thai curry, all homemade by Daddy of course! 


We also made an exciting BLW purchase at the beginning of the month. We picked up a booster seat, we went with the Summer Infant Booster, for using when we're out and about, which has been a godsend. I dread heading to anywhere to eat out in case they have those huge wooden highchairs (why don't people use the IKEA cheap chairs?!). Violet is far too small for the wooden highchairs and constantly slips and doesn't enjoy her meals. So the booster seat has really revolutionised her eating out experience. Plus she can sit right at the table with us and tends to sit for longer and eat more - win win. 

I think you're pretty much up to date before another month or so of baby led weaning commences. I can't rave about how much we all enjoy BLW and it's so amazing watching her try new things and feeding herself throughout the day. 

Katie xx

*In collaboration with Panasonic.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Magical Cloth Bum Leggings.


A few months back I got chatting with the owner of Clayton's Cloth, a baby and children's wear brand. We chatted back and forth on Instagram and we were kindly sent some leggings* to review.    

Clayton's Cloth was a brand set up to help those wearing cloth nappies have clothes that fit well, particularly around the bum. If you use reusable nappies, you'll know the most bottoms don't fit well and you tend to have to size up. Which then means the waist is too big or the legs are too long, especially on my little dot. 

The leggings were designed with our likes and dislikes in mind and made especially to fit Violet. We chose a unicorn fabric (of course!), which is just incredible. They're so well made and fit V like a glove. She has so many plain leggings, I'm glad that we finally have some more exciting bottoms for her. Plus I'm helping to promote a working at home mum too, hooray for small businesses!

You can find Clayton's Cloth on Instagram (@claytonscloth) and on Facebook. 

Katie xx

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Manchester Gin Festival.

Last week I had a very rare baby-free afternoon. Daddy and Violet were spending some time together, while I got on with a very important task - reviewing the Manchester Gin Festival. Of course I took along a friend, and headed to the Victoria Baths in the city centre. Which FYI are stunning and it was a pretty amazing venue for the festival. 
Once inside, we collected our tickets along with some complementary tokens to try our gins of choice. If you've never been to a Gin Festival, it's a pretty great way to try out new brands and some unique flavours. We were given a booklet of all the gin available and which bar they were stocked at. The main hall consisted of four bars, each with different types and styles of gin. Every gin was labelled up with the garnish and which tonic matched best with the flavours. We tried one from each bar obviously! 

Next door to the main hall was the brands room, where we got lots of free tasters and learnt all about the new gins on the market. It was a really cool way to try some of the drinks on offer before committing to an entire glass. I particularly took to the Parma Violet gin from Zymurgorium, and of course had to have a full glass from the bar. I also tried an incredible coconut flavoured gin from a brand called Hoxton, that would just be perfect for sipping by the pool on holiday. 
The other side of the main bar area, was food and entertainment. There were live bands on all afternoon, which created the perfect atmosphere for sipping drinks and catching up with friends. 
The festival is running up and down the country over the next few months and unfortunately has finished in Manchester for this year. Tickets are allocated to time slots, meaning the event doesn't get unbearably busy and you have the perfect amount of gin-drinking time! So check out the https://www.ginfestival.com/ for dates for upcoming events near you. 

I will certainly be attending again next year, it was such a fab afternoon, especially if you like a good G&T!

Katie xx

*I received complimentary tickets for this event, though all my opinions are my own. 

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Our Montessori Shelves.


When you have a baby the entire parenting world becomes unbelievably overwhelming. There is so much advice and conflicting ideas that's it's hard to decide which path to take. And although we've made some mistakes along the way, I'm really happy with the choices we've made when it comes to bringing up Violet. 

Now she is on the move and interacting with us, other babies and her toys more, I'd been doing a whole tonne of reading into learning styles and ideas. I've read into Waldorf education, which is great but some aspects are definitely not for us. But after further reading (lots and lots of reading) we both felt that the Montessori approach really fit well with mine and Jonathan's ideas and values. We're both keen to help Violet become an independent and confident young lady and following Montessori ideas, we're pretty sure we can help contribute to that. 

So I put some things into place this week to help with Violet's learning and imagination, starting with her shelves. Luckily a lot of V's toys were already appropriate for Montessori. She has lots of open ended toys, wooden toys and spends a lot of time playing with her "realistic" animals. I've also introduced a Tuff Tray for sensory or themed activities, which I'm hoping to do a few posts on soon! I've really been trying to link up books to play too (which you may have seen on my Insta story). For example, using her animals when reading her farm book, then having some play time with them afterwards. It works well for us as she's not overwhelmed by everything out all at once. 
I've tried to organise the shelves in a way that similar toys are stored together. They're a really great height for Violet to be able to choose which toys she wants to play with and surprisingly she has chosen a few at a time - I half expected all of the toys to be pulled off immediately! I'm hoping to create a little reading nook next to the shelves too, with some lovely comfy cushions and a low book shelf she she can pick her story books. 

I'm really pleased with our new little baby-friendly corner of our house. It's lovely and light and leads straight to the garden where I know we will be spending a lot of time in the warmer months. Let's face it, messy sensory play is so much better when you don't need to worry about it being plastered all over your rug! 

We're still learning about Montessori and are by no means experts or following a strict Montessori approach, but it will certainly have some influence on the way V is brought up. 

For anyone wondering where we pick up Violet's toys, I'm more than happy to do a full post. Now let me get back to reading about bringing up little people. 

Katie xx

Saturday, 1 April 2017

The New Bag on the Block.

Violet has been wearing baby sleeping bags since she was heavy enough for the first size and to be honest we wouldn't use anything else. Before Violet used the bags, she was a monkey for kicking off the blankets and I was forever worrying that they would come loose and cover her face. Thankfully the sleeping bags give me peace of mind and allow Violet to wriggle as much as she needs to, but still keep warm during the night. 

We do have a few go-to sleeping bag brands, but we were recently asked if we'd like to try a sleeping bag from ergoPouch*. Of course, we jumped at the chance to try out something a little bit different for bedtime. I picked the ergoPouch Winter Sleepsuit Bag with Dandelion print, in a 2.5 tog which covers 18-23 degrees Celsius. The bag comes with a really handy room thermometer too.

The Sleepsuit differs from a regular sleeping bag as it can be converted from the regular 'bag' shape to a suit style all-in-one with separate legs. This is great for babies and toddlers that are crawling or walking around as it makes things a little safer when they inevitably try and stand up whilst wearing the bag. I know Violet is always trying to move around in her cot and pull herself up on the bars, I know it will be a little easier for her to do this when she's not tripping over excess material. The separate 'feet' have grips on the underside for those that are walking, to prevent any slips or trips when they're moving about in their nightwear.
The ergoPouch comes with long sleeves too, which is a huge benefit in the colder months. I'm constantly worried that V is getting cold arms, as most of the original sleeping bags are sleeveless and despite wearing a baby grow, it can still get pretty chilly. The jersey style sleeves make this a great option for the winter months and could be used with just a short sleeved vest when it does get a little milder. The rest of the suit is made from organic cotton, making it incredibly soft and durable. It's even filled with organic cotton fibres, making it super breathable and giving it a anti-bacterial properties too.

I love the fact that this sleepsuit can carry Violet through to the toddlers stage as the sizing is from 8-24 months. It certainly is roomy and Violet has tonnes of room to grow into it. As she is only small, this is still a little big for V, but nothing a bit of sleeve rolling can't fix! 

Do you use sleeping bags with your little ones?

Katie xx