Tuesday, 25 November 2014

We Like To Read - The First Hippo on the Moon

'The First Hippo on the Moon' is the latest childrens' book from David Walliams. Who doesn't love David Walliams? He is super talented in many ways (even open water swimming!) and it appears that he knows just what kids like too.

This is the story of two Hippopotamuses who share the same dream: to be the first hippopotamus on the moon! But they go about it in very different ways.

Wiss really loved this book - he asked me to read it again immediately after we finished, and we've read it repeatedly over the last three days too. It's got all the key elements: a good story (with a lovely moral to 'dream big'), lots of fun (Wiss liked the two porcupines best) and a good helping of toilet humour as well (bottoms, poo and farts!) The wonderful illustrations are by Tony Ross and they really bring the story to life.

I found some of the language tricky (hippo-po-rocket for instance!) but Wiss really liked the silliness and repetitiveness of these words. This book was a huge hit in our house and I will definitely be tracking down Walliams' other book for young children.

You can buy this book by clicking here or why not enter my competition to win one?

If you would like the chance to win a copy of 'The First Hippo on the Moon' for yourself then use the RaffleCopter below to enter. The competition will be closing on Monday 1 December. The winner will be announced and they will receive their copy in time for Christmas.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of the book for free so we could review it, but all opinions are our own. We really did love it! Wiss is nearly 5 years old but I think that it would still appeal to older and slightly younger children.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Mini Meals - a recipe invented by Wiss

I hope this post isn't too indulgent but when Wiss told me that he'd thought up a recipe all by himself I was intrigued. What would a 4 year old make for dinner?!

In his own words: "you need a bit of pastry or something, and make it round. Then you can put stuff in it like creme fraiche* or ham or cheese or anything really. Then cook it."

I have to say I was pretty impressed and thought that could be delicious - they're a bit like a pasty or an empanada. Wiss even came up with the name for them, and a theme tune too!

So here is our recipe for Mini Meals...

You will need:

  • Puff pastry - ready rolled or a block rolled out to about 5mm thick
  • Various ingredients you like such as tuna, cheese, ham, spinach, mushrooms, peas, sweetcorn, peppers, olives, tomato puree, creme fraiche etc
  • Beaten egg or milk

Cut your pastry into round shapes using a small plate or similar as a template. Use any left overs to make decorations for the tops - Wiss cut out stars and elephants!

Spread one half of your circle with either tomato puree or creme fraiche depending on your preference, but don't go right to the edge. You will need this bit free from ingredients so you can stick it together.

Then add whatever combination of ingredients you fancy. We went for ham, cheese and sweetcorn, tuna, spinach and olive, cheese, peppers and peas, and one with pretty much everything in! Everyone can choose their own concoction - great for kids!

When you have filled them the way you want brush the edge of your pastry circle with the beaten egg/milk and fold over to make a semi-circle shape. Use your fingers to pinch and crimp the edges together. Decorate with the extra pastry shapes if you have them and glaze the tops with egg/milk. We added the last of the cheese on top too...

Bake at around 180 degrees until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve with salad and enjoy!

The 'Mini Meals' were delicious! What with the recipe and the Mini Meals jingle, who knows, you may see these in the supermarkets soon!

*This is not actually a sponsored post but Wiss is addicted to creme fraiche and would eat it with everything if he could!

Monday, 27 October 2014

Kids Clothes Week - Autumn 2014: The Results!

If you are a regular reader of this blog you will already know how much I love Kids Clothes Week - I find it's a great opportunity to force myself to sit down and make stuff for fun, just for the love of it (and love of your kids.) And you can really have some fun too. You can see some of the things I have made over the years in these posts: Autumn 2011, Spring 2013,  Summer 2013,  Summer 2014 

Excuses, excuses but my new little daughter really isn't playing ball when it comes to letting Mama have time to sew but a couple of times this week she did actually go to sleep at bedtime and stay down for the night. Woohoo! It felt so good to be back behind the sewing machine again so I'm hoping that I'll be getting a bit more time now. We'll see I guess!

All my sewing this time was for Ferne (sorry Wiss!). Firstly, I decided to alter this beautiful dress I got from a local nearly-new sale. It's actually a Kenzo dress and it's wonderfully made from needlecord, but I don't really see the point of dresses on small babies: they just ride up all the time as you hold them and you spend all your time yanking them down again. So I altered this dress to become a little romper suit instead. I didn't have enough of the fabric to make a gusset though so it was a very basic alteration. I made the skirt into two legs to which I added elastic, then used bias binding to make a strong facing inside the crutch to take the poppers.

It worked really well, even if I do say so myself but unfortunately, Ferne has grown so much that it is already a bit snug on her (and when she's wearing her washable nappies there is no chance it will fit. Such a shame.)

Next I made her a sleepsack using this fab organic jersey from Birch (collection is called Elk Grove) Mine came from great fabric shop Ray Stitch. The arms and binding are upcycled from old t-shirts. I added a good few centimetres to my pattern as Ferne is very long. I really love this fabric and pattern so I'll definitely be using it to make some more clothes for her soon.

And finally I had time to make her this cute little outfit. I used a pattern for Skinny Harem Pants from Brindille & Twig, and the top is just a short version of the sleep sack. I am planning on using fabric paints to stencil 'Boo!' onto the top as it will be Ferne's Halloween outfit, but I thought it was simple enough to also be worn after the event. Both fabrics are from old t-shirts (I like to pick up shirts from charity shops or primark to use in this way.)

So this week wasn't my most productive ever, but it definitely wasn't a wash-out either. I guess I spent a total of 7 hours over 3 nights sewing. It goes to show just how much you can get done in a short space of time. So, did anyone else join in this season? Or has anyone been inspired to start sewing for their child? The next challenge will be for Winter 2014 so keep an eye on the Kids Clothes Week website for more details.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Kids Clothes Week - Autumn 2014

kid's clothes week <

Kids Clothes Week is an awesome and simple idea. We all spend an hour a day for a week sewing clothes for our kids. There's loads of inspiration, ideas, tutorials & giveaways on the site but basically it's just one hour a day. That's it! Easy, huh?

Wrong! My gorgeous and still very new daughter is not playing ball. She won't let her mama spend any time away from her and she's even decided napping is for other babies so I can't even sneak a bit in while she's sleeping. Grrrrr! Doesn't she know how many cute clothes I've got in mind for her?! So this is how I spent my hour yesterday!

I've readjusted my expectations of this week and have started by altering an existing dress rather than making something from scratch. I'll be posting a round up at the end of the week (hopefully I'll get something finished!)

Are any if you joining in with this seasons Kid Clothes Week? Leave me links below to your blog or tweet me @thisiswiss I'd love to see what you are sewing. If you're able!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

For the Kids - Toucan Box Review

If your kids are anything like my Wiss, they'll love making stuff and they'll love getting a package in the post even more! We were sent a Toucan Box to review and this exciting looking baby arrived on our doorstep...

Toucan Boxes contain everything you need to play, learn, create & explore. They come in various sizes, containing one, two or four projects and are aimed at 3-8 year olds. We received the Grande Toucan box and Wiss couldn't wait to get stuck in!

Inside were two smaller boxes, each containing a craft to make, plus there was a book to read and a colouring chart with stickers (that you can collect over time to claim a special prize.) Our box had a seaside theme which was echoed in the book as well as the makes, perfect for Wiss as he loves the beach and Octonauts, but there are loads of different themes to appeal to everyone - even a chill out yoga one! I particularly like the fact that they are non gender specific - all of them come in the same boxes.

The crafts are really original and come with a detailed and easy to follow instruction booklet. Wiss made two Hermit Crabs (pictured above) from a polystyrene cup complete with googly eyes and mini pegs for claws! And then we made Jellyfish Racers pictured below. Once you've made your jellyfish you can pull the ribbons to make them climb up the window or mirror. It got very competitive in our house!

The storybook is a great way to enjoy some quieter time together but still continue with the theme of your box. We received 'Titch the Tiddler'; a story about a little fish that saved the day.

We really enjoyed everything about our Toucan box - even the fantastic 'interactive' box has been played with regularly, as an airport and a multistory car park! I think a Toucan Box would make an excellent and original gift, and with half term just around the corner they're a great way to keep the kids entertained. If you sign up to their newsletter then you'll be given a code to entitle you to 50% off your first Toucan Box. What's not to love about that?!

Disclaimer: I was sent the Grande Toucan box for free for reviewing purposes but all opinions are mine (or Wiss's!) Normal retail price £12.95

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Graze Box Hack - part 3!

This blog is primarily about making stuff and I apologise that recently there hasn't been much of that going on. Damn cute babies getting in the way!

Anyway, today I have another brilliant Graze Box Hack to share with you. If you are a regular reader you'll know that I've been putting my empty Graze boxes to good use by turning them into portable toys. You can find those posts here and here.

This latest hack was actually made by my lovely friends & work colleagues Laurence and Laura as a surprise gift for Wiss when he became a big brother.

He was so excited as it arrived in the post for him, and look at what they made...

Graze Box Subbuteo!

They have thought of everything from the wobbly flickable players, the team names, the cheering crowd and there's even a way of keeping track of the score with little pegs in holes. Genius!

We've had loads of table top South London derbies already, and like all the other Graze Box Hacks it's totally portable. So you can play wherever you want!

Has anyone else been inspired to turn their empty Graze box into something else? Please feel free to leave me your links or photos below, or tweet me @thisiswiss I'd love to see them!

Monday, 6 October 2014

A New Kind of Normal

I've been pretty quiet on the blogfront recently. I've not really found much time for making stuff!

Yes, I had a baby 6 weeks ago, and yes, I've had a baby before, but honestly, I don't think I was fully prepared this time. I didn't realise quite how much our life would change with another one!

I think it's safe to say now, with hindsight, that I was in a bit of denial during my pregnancy. After all we went through the year before, and the termination of two, very wanted pregnancies, I guess I was worried throughout that something might happen and this baby would be taken from me too. People kept asking me if I thought I was carrying a girl or a boy, if I had an inkling either way. I really didn't know, and I realise now that I didn't dare to even think that far ahead. I was even in denial during the first part of labour! Those regular, increasingly painful 'contractions' weren't real contractions. No, of course not!

The birth was so quick that I think anyone would have been in shock, but that coupled with my minds denial and my huge desire for everything to just be ok, I really was knocked for six when our daughter was put in my arms.

Fast forward a week or so and things were going really well. My husband was on Paternity leave and we were having fun. It felt like we were all on holiday, even with a tiny baby in tow!

Skip forward another week or so and reality had hit. Except it wasn't a reality any of us knew. Wiss started primary school, my husband went back to work starting a new job, and I was also starting my new role: a stay-at-home mum of two, doing the school runs every day, looking after the house and our baby, and trying to run 'This is Wiss' at the same time. What was 'normal' life for all of us has radically changed. And it's taking a little bit of getting used to.

As well as the obvious changes there are many tiny adjustments to be made. I'm no longer able to be with Wiss whenever he wants me, for instance. If I'm feeding or settling Ferne he's had others attending to him instead. I know he's a big boy in many ways but it's still a big change to understand that he's no longer the centre of attention. He told me  that he preferred me "when you were normal, mama. Before you had Ferne in your tummy"! And to be honest, I miss being with him too. I've fallen into the trap of expecting Wiss to suddenly be more grown up a few times. He seems so big compared to Ferne that I have to remember he is still only 4 years old.

I'm also very aware that our whole life is moving at a different speed now. Before, we were able to go at Wiss's speed and enjoy the dilly-dallying, delight in taking our time. Now with school runs and a crying baby, we always seem to be in a hurry. I'm already sick of saying  "come on!"

I was feeling a little despondent last week about all this but a very wise friend on Twitter suggested we just needed to find our 'new kind of normal'. Life is all about adapting to changes big and small. In time, this becomes our 'normal' and we can barely remember how it used to be.

So I'm trying to embrace the way things are: slow down and enjoy the little stuff whenever we can, spend as much time with Wiss when Ferne is sleeping and accept that my time is not my own at the moment. But this too, will pass! Since starting to write this post a week ago, things have already changed: Ferne is sleeping better so not crying so much, I'm feeling more confident and am making a new network of friends to hang out with during the day. Plus, we're getting real smiles now and those make everything better!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Win your own Personal Planner Family Wall Planner!

Last year I discovered Personal Planner - the company that make diaries exactly how you want them. You can customise every part, from the covers to the page layout and even add extras like weekly 'To Do' lists, or colouring book pages. 

As a stationery fiend I was sold but after using one for a year I'd also say it has been invaluable. I like to see everything laid out before me, and it really helped me keep on top of all my engagements and appointments especially during pregnancy.

The time came to reorder my diary, and other than updating the covers with new photos I've kept everything the same. It was just perfect! I have entered in as many birthdays as I could so now these are printed in each time and even tell me how old the person will be that year!

In an effort to get totally organised, as well as a new diary I also ordered one of the Personal Planner Wall Planners. Our family has recently just grown, Wiss has started school and I'm off on maternity leave this year, so there's lots of changes to keep track of. You are able to customise the Wall Planners too, so you can have a calendar suited just to you.

I am aiming to plan our meals better this year, so we waste less, eat better & get more experimental with our menus. The first column on our Wall Planner then, is for 'Meals'. We then have a column each so I can keep track of all our social engagements (Wiss has way more parties than us!), school holidays & other appointments. I particularly like the fact that you can make the calendar very simple, or more decorative depending on your choice. I can't wait to start using my diary and planner - this year is going to be organised if nothing else!!

Competition Time!! The lovely people at Personal Planner are giving away a fully customisable personal Family Wall Planner to one lucky reader. You can enter by using the RaffleCopter below:
Good luck!

Disclaimer: I received the Wall Planner for free in order to review it. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Cute as a Button Mobile Tutorial

Way back in July I got a very exciting email informing me that I had been chosen as a blogger to work with Fantastic Ribbons, a great online supplier of ribbons and buttons (and washi tape!) I will be trying out and reviewing their products and of course, showing you what I've made.

For my first project I chose a packet of the 'Candy' button selections because I couldn't resist the gorgeous colours. Wiss and I wanted to make a decoration for the new addition to our family so I devised the 'Cute as a Button' Mobile!

You will need:
Origami Paper in squares of various sizes 
Scalpel or Craft Knife
Glue or Double-Sided Tape
Thread or String
Large Stick (not shown)

As our baby would be looking up at this mobile I wanted it to look best from that view. Many mobiles you can buy look great from our perspective but can be dull from underneath. I love origami, especially folded birds but I thought windmills would move beautifully in the breeze and catch baby's attention. Plus they are easier to make with a 4 year old!

To make the windmills you need to cut from each corner diagonally in towards the centre, but not all the way. I cut approximately 2/3 of the way, leaving the centre uncut.

We used small squares of double-sided tape (but you could also use glue) to stick all the left-hand corners into the middle of the square. This will create your windmills. I made some by sticking all the right corners as well (this will cause the windmills to turn in different directions.)

Using glue we stuck a button into the centre of each windmill. Not only does this give them a nice finishing touch but the button helps to weigh the windmills down and hang straight.

Next you need something to hang your windmills from. We went looking for a large stick on a walk in the woods but you could use bamboo canes, dowelling or even coat hangers if you prefer. We scrubbed our stick and let it dry before giving it a coat of white acrylic paint.

Now to hang your windmills! Make sure you hang them at various heights and spacing so they can spin freely in the breeze. I drilled holes in the stick so I could thread the windmills on cotton through them and then secured them all by finishing off with another button at the top. This looks cool but will also prevents the windmill from falling.

I hung the mobile using more thread and some invisible hooks. It looks lovely in our bay window but from underneath, the baby's perspective, it looks fantastic!

Baby Ferne is captivated by it!

I hope you have been inspired and if you do make a 'Cute as a Button' mobile then please share a photo with me, either on here or on twitter @thisiswiss. And don't forget to check out the Fantastic Ribbons website for your supplies. Happy making!

Monday, 1 September 2014

I Need to Remember This!

I came across this quotation the other day on Twitter (posted by Fritha @tigerlillyquinn) I'm not normally one for motivational messages but every now and then one really strikes a chord.

I gave birth 8 days ago and Wiss starts primary school on Wednesday. These two huge events in our life mean that there's not much time for anything else at the moment. We are juggling the babymoon period with making the most of having our little man around; getting used to caring for a newborn (and just staring in wonder at her) while keeping an energetic & inquisitive 4 year old occupied and amused.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm terrible at doing nothing. I relax by doing things or making stuff! I have a 'To Do or Make' list that grows daily (especially now there's cute baby clothes to make too!), I have tons of unwritten blog posts in my head, I'm behind on responding to emails and I desperately need to get my website up and running. But all these things can and will have to wait.

I keep forgetting that being on Maternity Leave means that I am lucky enough to be taking a break from work to focus on being a mum. It's early days yet and I have to admit, I can't do everything!

Thursday, 28 August 2014

#BlogBumpClub - 39 1/2 weeks

May I please introduce our beautiful daughter, Ferne. She surprised us all (especially the midwives!) by her very speedy arrival on Saturday night/Sunday morning, just 46 minutes after we got to hospital!

Wiss was 6 days late and although I hoped this baby wouldn't be too late, I hadn't really contemplated that she'd be early. We had a lovely Saturday evening - family film and fajitas with Wiss. I'd even had Padron Peppers, my favourite! And unusually most of them were really spicy. I'd been experiencing a slight tightening feeling every now and then from about 5pm but didn't think much of it and I didn't mention it to anyone. By about 9pm the pains were getting stronger & my husband noticed something was up, but neither of us thought it was 'it' until about 10pm - when the pains were about 5 minutes apart!

We called my parents in law to come over and look after Wiss, and I put on my TENS machine. My hospital bag was packed and ready, my husband packed snacks and I wrote a note for Wiss. My father in law dropped us at the hospital and we arrived at 11.15pm, still sort of convinced that we'd be getting a cab home as it was probably a false alarm.

My waters broke as I was being booked in. There was a lot of it and unfortunately it looked like pond water - there was merconium present. I tried not to panic at this stage and the midwives reassured me that although this can be a sign that the baby is in distress, it can also happen when things are happening fast.

It did mean however, that I needed to be put on constant monitoring so I was taken to a delivery room and asked to lie back while they put the straps around my stomach. I hadn't written a birth plan this time around but I knew that I wanted to be active if possible. The midwives said they could put a clip on baby's head to monitor it and allow me freedom to move around, but they would examine me first to see how far along I was.

The next thing I knew I needed to push (I still had my knickers on!) I got up and turned around and my body just took over. 3 more pushes and we were told that we had a daughter, born at 00.01am, weighing 8lb 7oz. Even though it was super quick, of course it wasn't a total walk in the park but I can't really complain.

I was stunned, in total shock about what had just happened. I'd been told that subsequent labours are often speedier than the first but this had been totally unexpected. And it was a girl! I'd really had no idea whether I was carrying a boy or a girl but everybody else had seemed convinced it was another boy, 'because of the shape of the bump'!

Because of the amount of merconium present in my waters, Ferne needed to be regularly checked for 8 hours afterwards so we made ourselves comfortable. The cup of tea & a Penguin I had afterwards tasted amazing! My husband had also packed 4 bananas (good for energy but not what I fancied eating) and a packet of Scampi & Lemon flavour Nik Naks. I know he meant well but I honestly cannot think of anything less appealing to eat at 3am in a delivery room!

I stayed awake all night, in shock and in awe at our new daughter, as she fed and dozed. I thought about Wiss and couldn't wait for him to meet his little sister. I was so proud and happy, and full of adrenaline! Fortunately there were no side effects of the merconium in my waters and Ferne was given the all clear to be discharged that afternoon.

We've had a couple of days at home together now and we're all finding our way. Wiss has been so gentle and attentive but of course it's been a little hard for him to understand why he's not the centre of attention at the moment. Ferne has been feeding well, and sleeping a lot ...during the day at least! And we're all adjusting to being a family of four :)

Thank you all for your kind messages and best wishes on here, twitter and Facebook, we really appreciate them. And thanks for all the support, laughs and information I've got from the #BlogBumpClub, I can't wait to see everyone else's arrivals in the coming weeks and months and will still love reading the weekly posts.

Click on the link to check out what's been happening this week:

Mother's Always Right