Wednesday, 29 August 2018

The Forgotten Forest A whole new kind of personalised book From Oh Zoe {Review}

We are total book worms in our house, it's no secret. I've shared our favourite books for a long time and my house now closely resembles a library. When Dylan got his glasses however he started to notice that not many people in books wear them, well unless they are old. Which is why I was so excited when Oh Zoe got in touch with us about the making of their new personalised book The Forgotten Forest. 

OhZoe are the new kids on the block when it comes to personalised books but they want to do it differently. Having just launched their kickstarter campaign this week they want to bring personalised books to the next level. OhZoe believe that every child should be able to see themselves inside the pages of an exciting story, they are right of course. However this isn't always possible for children who are 'different' in any way. I'm talking about children with disabilities or who come from a different ethnicity, for those children the options are limited or there simply isn't one.This is what OhZoe want to change with the first book in what I hope will be an extensive range, The Forgotten Forest. 

We have been incredibly lucky to be of a select few who have been sent an advanced copy of The Forgotten Forest By Victoria Richards for Dylan to enjoy. We followed along with the short but very accurate questionnaire on the OhZoe website to create a completely unique book. There had been options to change the hair colour, eyes, skin tone, hair style and their favourite colour. Each option has a variety to choose from with many giving you detailed tone options as well. Through the creation process there was also questions to fill in your child's name, city you live in, where you live and their birthday. All of which will be included in The Forgotten Forest. There is even an option to add glasses, a hearing aid, Ear defenders or a wheel chair to the story! OhZoe have really covered many physical representations that can make children different. You can see Dylan's above with his glasses on and the book includes his whole name. I have removed his last name from the picture so there won't be any blank spaces inside the books.

When the book first arrived I already knew there had been plans to change a few things about the pages and the cover material of the book itself but I was really impressed with the quality. The book has a clear, bright and bold cover that I think really draws readers in. We couldn't wait to get reading!

Dylan was really impressed that he was inside The Forgotten, with his glasses on! He got excited straight away and immediately wanted to know more about the story. As we followed along Dylan held onto the book and every time he heard something that was about him he almost jumped out of his seat. The detail that OhZoe have managed to incorporate into The Forgotten Forest is amazing. 

The story follows the adventure of your child as they set out on a mission to save the long forgotten forest and it's old oak trees. They have all been under a spell that cast it into an eternal winter and only one person can save them. To save the forest they must follow along to the clues of the Frost Spirit. 

The Forgotten Forest was an instant hit with Dylan as we read through the pages and talked about everything we could see along with reading the story he was delighted. We've now read the book several times. In fact as I sit here typing this Dylan is sat beside me reading the book and looking at the pictures!

The illustrations in the Forgotten Forest are very whimsical. I like this. They contain unique views and creatures that children will want to explore a little. Dylan really likes finding creatures and details in the pages while we read along. His favourite illustration is of the river. He loved all the swirls and waves in the varying shade of blue. It did take him a while to realise there was an eye! He was really impressed. The team at Sas & Yosh have done an amazing job on The Forgotten Forest.

At the end of the book, after your child has found all the clue in The Forgotten Forest their best friend is mentioned along with their favourite colour. We included Scarlet in the book and her favourite colour is pink, well our favourite colour for her in pink. The page where Scarlet comes in and her favourite colour is used is the page where Dylan finds the key to spring! He was so surprised to hear that even Scarlet was included. He had already said that "Scarlet was his number one seconds before I read it out from the book. They can be so adorable. 

Overall I am really excited to see what OhZoe can do. Right now their Kickstarter campaign is underway and they can use all the help they can get to bring this beautiful book to many more children. It's been such a hit with us and I think it's a long overdue update to the world of book personalisation for children.
The Forgotten forest by Victoria Richards from OhZoe is not yet available to buy but you can support them by donating to the OhZoe Kickstarter Campaign and helping them to launch The Forgotten Forest. By doing so you have the option to pledge £19 which will give you instant access to the book online along with the free personalised activity pack which will be followed by your very own personalised and signed copy when the campaign ends.

Discaimer: We recieved the product featured. All thoughts and opinions expressed above are my own. 

Monday, 27 August 2018

Getting Ready for Going Back To School with Maped Helix {Including Review}

This has been our first real summer holiday. This will be Dylan's first year of going back to school. He will be going in to primary two (Year one) this year andhe is so excited to go back. It's been different this year as he knows what to expect. Last year he was just excited to need a school bag and writing tools so this year is a whole new experience for us all. Back to school shopping has been no exception! Dylan is so excited about going back but with shops literally brimming with products he's had a hard time choosing which look good and which aren't going to stand up to the task. When Maped Helix got in touch about some of their back to school range I knew it was perfectly timed. 

Helix was founded way back in 1887 with the mass production of the wooden ruler. In 1894 Helix invented the modern drawing compass which was quickly followed by the first plastic type ruler in 1899! By 1912 the first Maths set was born and in 1935 the iconic Oxford brand was launched. It wasn't until 2012 that Helix became a part of the Maped Helix Group which has helped to mould the iconic Maped Helix brand that is well loved today. They now ship out to over 65 countries in the world. 

We received three products from the back to school range that range Maped Helix have to offer. I'm going to start with the Oxford Colours Maths Set which was the biggest hit with Dylan. Yes you read that right. He was instantly in love. I'm not sure he really know much about the maths set itself but that fact that it was green, his ultimate favourite colour had enticed him the second he saw it! 

Since Dylan will only be going into his second year at school I don't think they would be using any of the tools inside the Oxford Colours Maths Set but I was eager to introduce them all to Dylan and let him explore it all a little bit. After we opened the set up  we had a look at each piece I was really impressed with the pop of colour each piece had. The green was bright and vibrant while maintaining the professional look of an Oxford Maths Set.  Inside the metal tin which also featured the bright green colour is a compass, two set squares, a protector with a small pencil, a ruler, a letter stencil with small and capital letters, a timetable with maths terms and explanations on the back, a rubber and a sharpener. 

Dylan started out where each child naturally would, with the letter stencils. He of course wanted to write his name with the cool letters. He selected the right upper case and lower case letters to stencil out. 

We took to exploring the individual tools and finding ways Dylan could use them himself or give them a go at least. We didn't get too technical with the individual tools. He most loved the compass which of course makes perfect circles. Seriously impressive to a five year old! He of course wanted to give it a go himself. It did take some practice but he was able to draw a pretty good circle with little help. 

After a while we moved on to the ruler and the protector where I got Dylan to measure up lines I had drawn on page. We tried to keep this part fun and he was telling me all about how they use the rulers to measure in school too. 

We both loved this new twist on the classic Oxford Maths Set from Maped Helix. The addition of the colour makes it more personalised and it lets children of all ages be more excited about the maths set. I highly doubt that Dylan would have been as impressed by the original version. 

We also received this super cute little Bunny Innovation 1-hole pencil sharpener. This bunny shaped sharpener teaches children how to sharpen their pencils by encouraging them to turn the pencil in the right direction which sets the bunnies teeth off to chew along on your pencil. 

The Bunny Innovation 1-hole pencil sharpener from Maped Helix can be emptied by pulling off the see through plastic backing. I do recommend doing this once or twice at home before packing into the pencil case as it is initially a bit stiff but after a try or two it loosens to a smooth pull. 

Dylan loved it! He has used sharpeners before but I'm not sure he's had much success. This time around he was really excited that he got the bunny to chew away on his pencil. He was already telling how funny the little bunny was. This is the perfect tool to help children get prepared for going off to school. Being able to sharpen their own pencils is a big step and the Maped Helix Bunny Innovation 1-hole pencil sharpener helps them to grow this independence and the confidence that they know how to.

The final product we received was the Oxford Large Filled Case from Maped Helix, This case is aimed at children older than Dylan and would be perfect for those who are preparing to start secondary (high) school. 

The Oxford Large Filled Case is a see through pencil case with a zip that contains 2 black perminant pens, 5 high quality HB graphite pencils, 1 metal canister sharpener, 1 30cm shatter resistant ruler, 4 ball point pens in green, red, black and blue along with a geometry set including a 15cm ruler, protector and two set squares. This case contains everything they will need for starting back to school all in one handy pencil case. 

I do have to note that I was really impressed with the HB graphite pencils. Dylan had used the pencils when we drew out the lines for measuring along with doing some drawing but they had hardly been used at all. Since we wanted to use the sharpener to see how it worked I tried to use up the lead before giving up and attempting the break the end. It was pretty much impossible! Even with a lot of force behind it the pencil wouldn't budge. In the end we let Dylan draw for around an hour before it dull enough to let him sharpen. Such a great pencil that will really do great work. 

I also really liked that the canister sharpener was made of metal. I have used it myself a few times now and I like that it feels smooth but it's also easy to clean out.

Disclaimer: We received the products featured. All views and opinions expressed above are my own.
Friday, 24 August 2018

My Quilt 4 Kindness Journey With Crafter's Companion for Project Linus {Part Three}

Another whole month has past! Which can only mean that it is time for the third part in my Quilt4Kindness journey. If you haven't been following along and are only finding us now you can check out part one and part two

As many of you will know by now the Quilt4Kindness is a quilt along for quilters of all categories from beginner to experts. Crafter's Companion are sharing every step for the Quilt4Kindness project inside Sew Inspired Magazine. Anyone can join in by following along. There are four issues this year which will hold all the steps. There are three issues currently available with the third just been released this month. The Quilt4Kindness Project encourages us to join in and donate the finished quilt to Project Linus. A charity who deliver handmade quilts and blankets to babies and children who need them. They touch the hearts of families to those babies in Intensive Care Units right up to teenager in the care of Social Services. 

This month I have been focused on finishing up the remainder of the tasks that had been outlined in issue 12 of Sew Inspired. I had finished the Jacob's Ladder square last month which left the Ohio Star Block for this month. I didn't manage to find the fabric I was looking for so I have decided that instead of following with the greenish colour I will stick with the grey fabric I have used in the middle of this Ohio Star. This one is another which looks complicated but actually turned out to be really simple. I have to say that when I started this Quilt 4 Kindness project I was expecting every piece to be complicated, take a lot of sewing and be hard to understand but I have been pleasantly surprised. 

The Ohio Star Block is made up with one centre block of my grey fabric which is surrounded by four blocks that each contain two white triangles, one light pink patterned triangle and one bright pink triangle. Making these surrounding four blocks was the most complicated part of the Ohio Star. I loved that it was so easy to do. Sewing the four 5 1/2 inch squares to the guide makes the process much easier.

 I used my Quilting starter kit to cut each line precisely with the rotary cutter on the cutting mat. 

The final step is to place all the sections together and assemble while sewing each together. There is a guide inside Sew Inspired to help you assemble all the pieces together. Once I followed all the directions along with a little restitching after I managed to snag the fabric and doubled the bottom layer over! I still can't figure out how I managed it. The Ohio Star however was finished. Which brings me up to four complete pieces! 

The other task which was inside issue 12 was to cut out all the remaining fabric pieces. I have been doing all my cutting on a Thursday night when both children are asleep. I usually limit myself to one hour each week which is turning out to be plenty of time. I have cut out half the full colour blocks you can see above along with almost all the smaller pieces which will be needed for the remaining two blocks. Hard to believe there are only two blocks left before it will be time to start assembling the quilt. 

While I have been cutting out these pieces of fabric I have been creating my own pattern pieces. I measured up and drew/ cut the right sizes out on a piece of baking paper. By doing this it lets you move the pieces you need into the optimum position on the fabric before you cut it. I find this much easier. It means I can check all my pieces will fit before I even make a cut! Remember to label each so you can use them again. 

I still have a whole lot of cutting to do now. I need to start work on the vanilla/ white background which the squares sit in along with the backing piece and the outer rim piece which will both be in a light weight denim fabric. I will admit that I still have to get the binding which will line the outer edge of the quilt along with the inner quilt batting. Those are on my to get list at the moment. 

Next month should see me starting work on issue 13 of Sew Inspired which I think might contain the remaining two blocks. Having looked at the quilt example in the magazines they look fairly complicated so I am hoping I am able to follow along to each! 

You can join in with Crafter's Companion and Sew Inspired to help Project Linus and create your own quilt. Join in by purchasing your own Issue 12 of Sew Inspired (£9.99) you can also pick up the Quilting Starter kit (£34.99) from Crafter's Companion.

Have you joined in with the campaign yet?
I'd love to hear how it is going.

Disclaimer: We received the products featured. All views and opinions expressed above are my own.
Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Project 365 - Week 33 {11th - 18th August}

Sunday 29th July {Day 210}

Monday 30th July {Day 211}

Tuesday 31st July {Day 212}

Wednesday 1st August {Day 213}

Thursday 2nd August {Day 214}

Friday 3rd August {Day 215}

Saturday 4th August {Day 216}

There are just two full weeks of summer left and I'm not sure if I should be upset that soon Dylan will spend half his day in school or be happy that we will get a good routine back and I might not feel like I am about to lose my mind every day.

Not much has changed weather wise since our last Project 365. It's rained and then it's rained some more. we have now got everything ticked off our list for school and I just have to hope that the uniform shows up before the day he goes back! I left it longer than I usually do and I'm freaking out it's not coming in time. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

This week has saw both children have early morning wake up call for me, enjoy games together, dressing up and having a good time at home. I've been slowly getting through my overflowing to do list and giving the house a good clean. Anyone else obsessed with cleaning lately?

By the weekend I had to call it and get everyone out as much as we could. It was still to rain all day but we headed to W5 which is my favourite place inside here in Belfast. I had to include more than one photo as I just couldn't pick. We enjoyed coffee and hot chocolate to warm up before and we all had a great day. The Saturday was another day of coffee and hot chocolate but we had a rummage around some little charity shops and had a lovely walk since the sun had decided it was pushing out the rain!

How has your week been?

Thursday, 16 August 2018

What We're Reading - Hello Little Egg an Oona and Baba Adventure

With literally a house full of books ( I could open a library and still have extra!) I always find it hard to pinpoint just one or two that are well loved. Each and every book Dylan owns has been read at least once. New books never last longer than hour before they've been read snuggled together on the sofa. There is just something that entices us into the world of make believe and wonder hidden inside the pages. Every month or so we alternate the book cases both up and down stairs to shake things up and read something different for a while. I've made a habit of sharing our favourite books on the blog before and I am determined to start sharing them again. Usually I would go with which book was read most but now that Dylan is older he picks the book he liked most this month when we are changing over the books. 
Hello Little Egg Book Review - What we're reading - Hello Little Egg - Puffin Rock

This months favourite was Hello Little Egg which is an Oona and Baba story about the two little puffins who star in their own show Puffin Rock on Nick Jr. We love this show not least because the voice actors in Puffin Rock are from right here in Northern Ireland! 

In Hello Little Egg Oona and Baba go on an adventure where they find a little lost egg. They try to work out who owns the egg so they can return it to it's home safely. They must be very careful not to break the egg or put it's little chick in danger. Will Oona and Baba find the chicks home?

I love when Dylan enjoys books that have so much information inside while still being a story. Inside Hello Little Egg there is an abundance of information and facts mixed in to the story itself. It makes for perfect reading for all children. The most apparent of the facts is that not all eggs are the same. Dylan hasn't been exposed to a very large variety of eggs so he was really interested in all the colours, shapes, sizes and patterns that are featured inside Hello Little Egg. Not only are the eggs all widely talked about and described but each is matched up with the type of bird which lays them. You also learn about how protective animals are over their eggs and babies.

Oona, Baba and their animal friends on Puffin Rock all make the adventure fun and daring. They must work hard to keep the egg safe and not crack it. No easy task on an island filled with hills, rocks and cliffs. Throughout the journey you learn about the food chain on Puffin Rock and which animals eat certain types of food. Another added danger to the adventure. 

Hello Little Egg is a great book for children who enjoy adventures, nature and animals. It's filled with all three and perfect for little children to follow along to with bright, colourful pictures that span the whole page and bring Oona, Baba and Puffin Rock straight from the TV into the pages. The book also features big, bold words which are perfect for children of Dylan's age who are learning to read.

You can purchase your own copy of Hello Little Egg for £6.99 from Amazon.

Monday, 13 August 2018

Project 365 Week 31 & 32 {29th July- 11th August}

Sunday 29th July {Day 210}

Monday 30th July {Day 211}

Tuesday 31st July {Day 212}

Wednesday 1st August {Day 213}

Thursday 2nd August {Day 214}

Friday 3rd August {Day 215}

Saturday 4th August {Day 216}

Sunday 5th August {Day 217}

Monday 6th August {Day 218}

Tuesday 7th August {Day 219}

Wednesday 8th August {Day 220}

Thursday 9th August {Day 221}

Friday 10th August {Day 222}

Saturday 11th August {Day 223}

Ahh summer you've been teasing us these two weeks. We started with the glorious sun and it has some how simmered away into what seems to be an endless rain fall. The last days of July held such a great deal for us with preparation and the actual event of Scarlet's Cake Smash which was over a month later than planned but it was wonderful! She loved it, Dylan joined in, the house got covered in cake and I have so many photos! I will be sharing my favourite in due course.You ever thought about how much editing goes into 700+ photos? It's a lot. I'm thinking about sharing all our do's and don't along with how we did our shoot at home and had some great results. Let me know if you'd like to hear more about it all. 

August brought with it fun, we reached half way through summer! Can you believe it? We spent the weekend having fun celebrating the Felie An Phobil celebrations here in Belfast with lots of fun filled afternoons in the summer sun. We had a teddy bears picnic and Dylan had fun on the bouncy castles. 

The rain has returned in August and some days we've just stayed at home. We did venture out a few times but we got completely soaked one evening when we headed off to feed the ducks. The end of the week was mostly focused on starting to clear out the house which will probably be an ongoing project between now and Halloween. There is so much needs done and I am determined that we will get there. I just need to find that right balance for the rest of summer. 

How has your August been so far? 



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