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?


Monday, 20 August 2018

Scarlet at 11 & 12 Months

 


Scarlet is officially a toddler! I'm sure how I feel about the fact she's no longer a baby. This last year has flown by and I can't remember a time when she just wasn't here or on her way. So much has changed this year but she really completes our little family and I know she still has so much to show us about herself. Our monthly updates are a little behind so I am doing both 11 and 12 months together. I will be getting up our 13 and 14 months update in the next couple of weeks. You will notice that I am adding another little section on Scarlet's relationships to our monthly update now, she's growing long lasting relationships with family and friends that I feel is important to include and update as she grows. 

Personality


Scarlet is a funny, bubbly little girl who loves to talk and dance. She's girly in the sense that she loves accessories like her hair bows and sunglasses. Scarlet loves to practice putting her bows and sunglasses on and off herself.
She is so funny and loves it when anyone laughs with or at her. She has got a little cheeky streak in her and thinks she is pretty funny when she does something she shouldn't. It's cute though! That being said she can be quite bossy and loves to throw a tantrum when she doesn't get what she wants!
She will watch you before she tries to do anything. The second you look away she'll run off for that one toy she can't have or to do something she shouldn't. If you catch her out and ask her what she is doing she just giggles at you and carries on!
She's a real nature lover too which I just love. The minute she knows it's time to go out the door she gets really excited and squirms around in her pram.Once we do get out she really enjoys getting to explore the flowers and trees.



Sleep


We've never quite found a great sleeping routine for Baby S. However at 11 months we felt that we had been getting there. By some miracle at 11 months Scarlet started to do a complete u-turn when it comes to night time. She has almost slept through most nights! On a few occasions she has slept right through. It wasn't destined to last by 12 months we had gone back to her sporadic sleeping and waking up through the night for periods. She does still sleep in bed with me but I do think she sleeps better in my bed than she ever did in the crib which wasn't used often.

Scarlet sleeps for one or two long naps in a day. One in the morning and one in the evening, Her morning nap lasts around two hours while the afternoon nap lasts around 45 minutes. Which has stayed pretty consistant

Physical Ability


Scarlet's getting really good at walking already! It's a little bittersweet to see her already taking 5-6 steps at 12 months old when Dylan wasn't even attempting to walk yet! She's got amazing balance too which helps her to stand for over five minutes. I have noticed that Scarlet is very aware of her balance especially when she is taking steps. If she feels off balance she stops, adjusts her balance and starts to set off again. She does still lean over and touch the ground or sit down after a few steps but I don't remember Dylan doing this.
This last month Scarlet has been very interested in trying to walk to items and places without help or prompting. She really enjoys walking outside and regularly just holds my hand and walks around the park! We got her some little soft shoes for when is outside to help protect her little feet more on the gravel since we do mostly walk in places with hard ground. She's not a fan, in fact she already know how to take them off. 


Milestones


Over the last two months Scarlet has hit a couple of milestones. The biggest of course was turning one year old!

+

She had her first meal in a restaurant which didn't go great but she had some food and she screamed for around 30 minutes! The addition of a busy place at dinner time and the stress I was feeling probably didn't help but we still enjoyed our meal together. She loved some of the food.


We also took Scarlet to her first soft play centre for a play with all the bigger equipment for the first time. She was in her element! She loved climbing, walking around holding my hand, going inside the play cars, pushing cars and pull along toys around and she really loved going down the slide with Simon. We will be going back soon.


After her soft shoes ended up defying their purpose we decided we really needed to get Scarlet her first proper pair of shoes for going outside. She walks a lot when she holds my hand and she really enjoys it. When we headed out to buy a pair we discovered that there was only two options in the entire city centre! I was actually pretty disappointed to find out that a size 3 in baby shoes that are not pre-walkers is really hard. We ended up going to several shops before returning to the first which mum has informed me was the shop where I got my first pair of shoes! It hasn't changed much either. Isn't that cute? We choose a bright pink pair with little white line on. These are really cute but they did happen to be the only pair in her size in the whole city.

The Final Milestone over 11 and 12 months for Scarlet was going on a bouncy castle for the first time. Admittedly she did only bounce on the very front part that most children use to get on and off but she had so much fun!

Health


Overall Scarlet has been in good health since she was born. Which is why I freaked out and we spent a day in accident and emergency with her when I found a few small bright red spots on her foot. After we did 'the glass test' the spots didn't disappear and I was at panic stations! We took the walk to the children's A&E where she had a serious of tests over the course of the day. She was fine and it does happen which they are actually researching here at Queen's University. It was stressful on her and on us which is of course expected. We've not had any other issues since.

We've had a few bugs and the last two months including a bit of a cold or flu which I do think helped in the sleep department through 11 months. She did get some thrush which we had to treat with steroid cream from the doctor which was a bit of a challenge given her cloth nappies. We got there with some extra liners to protect both Scarlet and the nappy.

Scarlet has three teeth! It's been a long time since her her first two teeth now but the third has come through which has thankfully pushed the middle two front teeth closer together. 

Feeding 

Scarlet at 11 and 12 months old - Us Two Plus You - eating from a pouch

Scarlet still loves food, she's taken more interest with finger foods which are easier to eat. She mostly insists on feeding herself now which means the finger foods are easier for her hold and get to her mouth.  Her favourite foods include yogurt pouches and bowls of cup up fruit. She really enjoys hummus with crackers and carrots too.

We are still breastfeeding now that Scarlet is one. I plan to feed her to the point she naturally stops. I had never thought we'd get this far in our feeding journey but since we've previously had problems with bottles and even cups. I do think we will be staying away from bottles now. I don't want to add something which we would then be taking away again. 

Development 

Scarlet at 11 and 12 months old - Us Two Plus You - Amongst the flowers with her interest in Nature

Two months is a long time when it comes to children's development. Scarlet has learnt a lot in the last two months. She's increasingly taken an interest in the world around her, she's always wanting to head off and explore something new. She has really enjoyed all the flowers blooming and feeling, smelling and even trying to taste the new flowers. She has started walking on or trying to climb on trees and fallen trunks with some help. 

She  still loves visiting the park and playing on all the equipment. Her new favourite is the slide which she can now go down on her own! we put her on the top and we have to let go so she can slide down to daddy. It's terrifying, I hate it but she adores sliding down on her own and could have us doing it all day. 

Scarlet has also developed an interest in musical instruments of all kinds. We've really enjoyed getting out the ones we have to play with while I have been looking out for new ones to try with her. The musical instruments have been one of the many toys and activities which has peaked her interest through cause and effect. She's started to notice that doing one thing can make something else happen. She really enjoys that when she shakes a maraca it makes a sound. She has also been enjoying activities that have a cause and an effect. 

Her pincer grip has really come along through the last two months, she uses it for eating, picking up smaller items or sticks. She has also learnt to turn the pages in hard books for babies. Not so much the paper pages of Dylan's books but she does try. Her favourite books are ones which rhyme or have songs inside. She tries to copy and sing along when we read them. We've started listening to nursery rhymes and songs through the day. She's started to copy when we are doing animals sounds which started when we sang animal songs. 


Relationships


Scarlet at 11 and 12 months old - Us Two Plus You - unbreakable relationship with Dylan

Scarlet has developed stronger and more complex relationships as she has grown both with us, our extended family and with friends from our play group. She's confident and her relationships are always changing. Her main relationships with us have been developing over the last year with Dylan being her best friend. They have a fantastic relationship which has grown and changed in many ways. Scarlet finds Dylan hilarious! She loves to laugh when is being funny and they can both suddenly find each other hilarious and laugh at nothing but each other. I can see that Scarlet looks up to Dylan and she tries to copy all the things he does, everything from walking to copying the way he moves his toys around when playing. She loves to watch him play cars.


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