Sunday, 31 January 2021

DIY winter house scene felt set with free PDF template

 Last year I wanted to start sharing a fun DIY felt set every month, it didn't quite work out since I only managed to share a cupcake, space and pumpkin faces for the whole year. I had another planned to share in December that had some Christmas elements but I just didn't get the time to actually make the set before Christmas arrived. I still loved the idea I originally had and wanted to share it this month instead since it actually snowed and winter is still around. 

The felt sets are really quite easy to make and don't require a lot of work to execute, I have also shared how to create your own felt board with felt, a glue gun and some cardboard if you don't have one.

The tools you will need for the felt set are:

  • Felt in various colours
  • Scissors
  • a printer
  • PDF template
  • Glue gun and glue (or a good strong glue)

The first steps will be to download and print off your PDF template which contains almost all the shapes you will need for this project. 

Once you have PDF printed I recommend you cut out all the pieces from the paper and keep to one side as you do so. This set contains several smaller pieces than the other sets I have shared. Once you have the pieces cut you need to decide on the actual colours you will use for each piece. Be aware that there is no carrot shape on the template but if you want a snowman nose you will also need an orange felt. 

Now that you have your template pieces and your felt you can set about cutting the pieces from the felt. To get the best shapes I do not recommend using any sewing needles but instead just hold the piece in place while you cut around it. Remember to always cut your pieces near the edge of your felt and as close to the last cut pieces as you can, This will help you to get the most use from your felt. 
I cut out two sets of the snowmen pieces along with two noses, I decided to cut the button shapes in half for eyes instead, a little black shape for a door handle and also a long wavy line piece I could use for snow on the ground.

Having all the pieces cut out you can move onto the gluing stage. Take any small pieces like snowman faces or buttons, handles, tree trunks etc and glue them together. If you are making this for smaller children or toddlers I recommend you glue down things like the snowman body, arms, eyes, nose and anything that might become frustrating if they can't put it down right. Leave bigger items like the windows, doors, hat and scarf untouched so they can still build their pictures. You can leave all pieces separate for older children, Dylan really enjoyed being able to change it however he wanted.

Once your pieces are all ready your pretty much finished, add them to your felt board and you now have a whole set ready for them to play with! 


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Wednesday, 27 January 2021

A year of Eco-friendly Swaps challenge - The beginning

 In a world with an ocean full of plastic we must do better! We've spent years using and abusing our planet and nobody is free from the issue, we are all at fault from our consumption through to living in the fast paced world we do. In recent years we have really seen the world start to stand up and take action to be kinder and more aware of the things that are causing issues in nature from global warming to drowning our oceans in plastic. A lot of that comes from the surge of Eco Warriors, like Greta Thunberg who are inspiring the world to be better and do better for our planet because it's the only one we have!

Growing up in the age of global warming and the discovery that our consumption is choking the earth has had a deep impact on me. I was towards the end of my teenage years in 2009 when it had officially been 100 years since mass plastic production began. I grew up in the era of plastic realisation, as the world saw the beginning of the true impact. I know that we all have a responsibility to make changes that impact our lives in positive ways and to do so all the time. I have spent years slowly changing little things in our daily lives to be more eco friendly and to ditch the plastic. Through this journey I have been really surprised by some of the every day items that are full of plastic, it's honestly shocking! It's these products that I try to change most because a small thing we use thousands of times can be replaced by one product used over and over to ditch more than you might think.

With each passing year our efforts to ditch the plastic plaguing us has been more successful and now I'm challenging myself to ditch even more. I want to make one change for every month of 2021, there are many reasons I want to strive for just one change,  the biggest being that I also want to challenge you to join me in my year of swaps. If everyone makes small changes we can really have a huge impact on the plastic being used and disposed of.

Another reason is that making the change to a more eco-friendly product can at first be more expensive since it can require a new product that will be reused over and over or it needs an additional item for storing the swap product in, which again will be reused many times. 

I have already shared some ideas on 7 really easy swaps to make to be more Eco-Friendly which includes products that we have switched to over our journey and they are ones which are both easy to implement and easy to keep up, so if your new to making swaps they could give you an idea on where to start.

We have now made our big January eco-friendly switch which is one that I have been wanting to do for a while, ditching our plastic cleaning products! I've realised since being home more that we use an enormous amount of cleaning bottles, I am okay with the cleaning product usage itself since there are five of us they are actually needed for upkeep. However add the 2 bottles a month of multipurpose spray, bathroom cleaner along with the various other products we use from plastic bottles and over a six month period we are recycling about 15- 18 plastic bottles, spray tops and inner tubes, it's shocking isn't it? That is just counting the cleaning products for our  kitchen, bathroom, floor, oven and window cleaners!

To help me ditch the plastic I decided I am switching to the Ocean Saver Ecodrops which I actually first tried in the SaveMoneyCutCarbon sustainable swaps box that was gifted for including in our Eco- Friendly gift ideas at Christmas. I then purchased a large pack with several cleaning product types we use regularly. 

The Ocean Saver Ecodrops can be used along with an old spray bottle that you own to save on plastic but I wanted to completely cut the plastic as much as I could so I purchased glass spray bottles from Poundland (£2) and the pods fit perfectly inside the top. Each ecodrop comes with it's own stick on labels for your bottles so I added those, put the ecodrop inside and added the water before leaving to burst. Once the ecodrop is dissolved you simply shake and use. It takes a few minutes and your ready to go, very convenient and easy to get ready for use. 

What I really like with the Ecodrops is that not only am I able to ditch the plastic but all the Ocean Saver Ecodrops are plant based, non toxic and aren't tested on animals so they are even vegan friendly! They make for a great swap compared to the many products usually found in my cleaning cupboard, most of which bare a toxic label of some kind or another.

I purchased a 5 pack of Ocean Saver Ecodrops for £6.99 on Amazon

I will be sharing an update on how we are getting on with the Ocean Saver products in my quarterly update post. It will also include all the swaps I have made during the start of the year and how each has worked out for us in that time. I have a list of swaps I want to try to make this year however some have a bigger first outlay to start so I will be doing the swaps as I feel we will be able to budget them into our daily lives throughout the year. I suggest that anyone who is wanting to take part in the challenge do the same as finances can change regularly throughout the year, especially at the minute. Do be mindful and realistic about what swaps might need to wait and ones which can be made without too much additional costs on the products you purchase now.

I am so excited to see how many swaps we can make and what impact it will have on our daily lives.

What Eco-Friendly swaps have you made and loved most?

If you haven't made any yet what swaps would you most like to make?

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Monday, 25 January 2021

First Snow Day { Our Ordinary Moments }

Last week I made the decision to start sharing Our Ordinary Moments each Monday from the week just past. I had many reasons why I wanted to start sharing these little moments but honestly I mostly want to see the small things in our lives magnified. Life is hard right now, for everyone and while none of us are feeling that much in control over life itself I wanted to share our better memories of this hard time one little moment at a time. 

I used to share our memories as a weekly post back when I started writing Us Two Plus You, I shared them as Our Weekly Adventures and while looking back the writing is terrible, (no, seriously!)  it's the little moments that those posts have kept alive for me. I don't really share those moments anymore, because I believed that nobody wanted to see the small moments when life is chaotic or mundane. However my children are growing up so much faster than I want them to, being a parent has always been full on and sometimes the days feel long but by god are the years short. Even the longest year in living memory for most of us 2020 blinked past. 

So I will be sharing our little moments again, I want to look back and see the memories I've let slip out of my grasp and smile or laugh or cry remembering them all. This year I'm breaking through my own insecurities and beliefs about who I should be and how I should do things to fit in and this is just one way I'm changing how I write and what I share. 

This week is a bit of a big Ordinary Moment for at least one little boy of mine, his first play in the snow! Avery is turning 2 this year but it didn't snow well enough last year to lay other than a tiny layer at the park. So yesterday was his very first time playing in the snow and he just loved getting out in it and running around. He wasn't such a fan of the fact the snow stayed on his gloves after he had finished hugging the snow balls! 

While it wasn't either Scarlet or Dylan's first time playing in the snow it was still a big day. They had their first child only snow ball fight! 

It feels like a real right of passage to have your first no adult involvement snow fight. They each had lots of fun throwing snow around but I think Scarlet enjoyed the playing more and stayed out to blow bubbles, splash in the sluch and walk around a little after the snowball fight ended and they'd warmed up their hands.

It was certainly a lovely few moments to end a stressful week and just have fun before another home schooling week starts. 

Did it snow near you this weekend? 

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

Juggling fun with home schooling {Our Ordinary Moments}

We're starting another new week of homeschooling and I am starting to struggle with finding fun things to do that break up our day after home schooling! Last week we tried playing various games and getting out different toys each day. However after spending the whole morning and early afternoon trying to teach or get two children with different stages and different help offered to them to work at the same time can be frustrating. We're all a bit fed up when the teaching ends and that can carry over into their playing time. 

The one big hit for us was getting out a big small world scene that they could both play with together or alone. I had managed to do dinner while they played. It will be one we use this week but that still leaves 4 days of 'afterschool' activities we need to fill in. I'm thinking we'll maybe bake something and get outside as much as we can. I'm still working on ideas to do and play though. 

One big positive I have found with being at home so much is that our toy selection is being used daily and toys that usually get looked over are being discovered again. A lot of them are being used for learning through play with Scarlet which does mean they are less interesting by the time Dylan is finished for the day. It's one big juggling act isn't it?

How is the balance working in your house?

I used to join in with The Ordinary Moments over on What The Red Head, however the link up has finished and I loved Sharing little bits of our lives so I'm going to keep posting and share them as Our Ordinary Moments instead. 

Friday, 15 January 2021

My hopes for 2021..

This year I saw a big change on the 1st of January, usually social media is full of posts talking about how this year will be the year we all make those changes and goals however having just lived through 2020 we all know just how much life can change in an instant. So this year not as many of us had huge goals to share, it makes sense to be more accepting that life doesn't have to be planned out considering it can change at any moment. 

I stopped making resolutions many years ago, I don't force myself to diet or change or be acceptable to society, or at least I am trying to be like that every day. So in recent years I have shared some hopes that I would like to get through in the year without any pressure to make myself achieve them. I decided that this year I was still going to share those since I will still be hoping that I can achieve these things in 2021. You'll see as we go through my hopes for the year that I didn't achieve many of my 2020 hopes just like the rest of the world so a few will be trickling into this years too. 

Get better at S.E.O.

I now know how important S.E.O. is and honestly I just suck at it completely so this year I want to research it more, find out what I should be doing and try to do it better for future posts and also to go back and make all my previous posts more S.E.O. compliant without changing much at all. Those are both huge tasks so I know this is something I will probably be working on for the whole year if not further into next year too. 

Paint the bathroom.

Yes, last year I had the same hope but you see the world shut down, schools closed and we had three children at home trying to teach, keep up with housework and not drown in our own worry. So it's been pushed back to this year when hopefully I can actually get to it! It's already been 5 years since we moved in and started on the bathroom so I'd really like to finish it before we have to move out.

Make new sustainable swaps.

Being more eco friendly is a never changing goal for me, we are all responsible for what we put back into the earth and right now, we're drowning it in plastic. So this year I will be striving to make more simple swaps that we use regularly to be more eco-friendly. I've already shared some of our favourite simple swaps that make a big impact but this year there will be more and I have a post coming up on what those swaps will include and all my specific goals on being more sustainable in 2021. 

Take family days out further than we have in the last year.

One big side effect of 2020 was that we all learned to stay much closer to home, we ventured out a bit during summer but that seems like more of distant memory now. We are used to getting up one morning and heading out for the whole day to walk someone, enjoy our whole day and walk back home. Sometime this year I want to do that again, Scarlet asked last month if we could climb a mountain so you know what? I want to climb up a mountain with all three children because we need to find our freedom again this year. For now I'll keep my fingers crossed that lockdowns will end and this year we will find our normal again. 

Be creative and get back to making art!

Since becoming a mother I have slowly let my love of art, crafts and projects shrivel up, not anymore! I want to find more time to do the things I really enjoy this year. What better way to do that than to start making art projects again? 

I will be documenting and sharing more of the projects along with some how to tutorials throughout the year. I am thinking I might try to share one project a month for the whole year. There's some sneak peeks in the photo above which I've already been trying out and creating so far this year. 

Plan and create content more efficiently.

I have a really bad habit of not getting ahead of the content I create for the blog, I have the odd very productive spurt and will write a whole week in one day but then I stop and a week later I haven't got anything ready! A prime example is this post, I am sat finishing up the last few points at 4pm the day it should be posted! I took the photos and sorted out the editing already but still the post wasn't ready to go. Right now it's down to home schooling  and trying to juggle everything again but hopefully this will be something I can start to get on board with this year. 

Get a better skincare routine

Another thing I tend to just not find time for is looking after my skin. I will often forget I have make up on altogether and wake up with mascara smudged eyes staring back in the mirror. Which is obviously very bad for my skin, I know that simply taking the time each day to look after my skin would mean less spots and healthier looking skin so I'm starting that tonight. 

Read more

Last but certainly not least on my hopes for the year is to get back into reading, I adore reading and I have done since I was very small. However after having Dylan I hadn't got much time for reading and it became a nice way to have me time, Scarlet and then Avery being added to our family meant I had even less time for reading and I haven't read more than one book during the year and half since Avery was born. I'm not ok with that, I miss reading and so in 2021 I have set myself a goal of reading 30 books and I've already read 3! Hopefully I will hit the goal over the year. I can already feel myself falling in love with reading again so I will be sharing what I am reading and what I have thought of the books on Instagram stories and maybe also in a few posts throughout the year on the blog in a more round up style.

Have you set yourself any goals for this year?

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Confession : I don't think I've ever fit in.

I have a confession, I don't think there's ever been a time when I totally fit in, ANYWHERE. 

As I type this I'm laid in bed wondering what I want to achieve in writing this blog for 2021 and honestly I have so, so many things I want to share but I worry because they aren't all cohesive. They don't all match up to a nice little niche and I got to thinking about how for my entire life I've been hiding one or another parts of me from likes and dislikes to things I enjoy or even things I'm good at simply because they don't fit in with a crowd or because I fear what it would do. 

That fear even reaches into writing, you see I've written things for as long as I can remember. As a child I wrote short stories, as a pre-teen I wrote terrible, terrible poetry and as a teen I wrote poetry about a harrowing time of bullying, of not fitting in and of heartbreak as only an emotional, hormone filled teenager could. 
I dreamed of having my poetry turned into a book and actually they should all still exist in their little orange notebooks made for schools, entirely covered in emo and gothic doodles I scribbled down in classes I should have been listening in. I don't think I'll ever get them back now but I still hope I will and I'll occasionally feel the want to write a harrowing poem again but wonder if theres really any point? 

I dabble in the arts (that's what they call them isn't it? Being creative is an art of itself? Ah who knows!) From writing through to sewing, painting, crotchet and another endless list of great loves. It's funny now to say that after hating all the arts in school. I wasn't that creative and with a teacher who always told us we did art 'wrong' it was easy to forget just how fun it was to do. I find my interest piqued at every kind of art there is, but I'm never all that good. It doesn't seem to stop me though it really probably should, my latest artistic whim to try is paper cutting. Oh and I'd love to get back to scrapbooking as well as trying resin art. It's just so hard to choose! 

My erratic taste and interests seem to carry on throughout my life with a particular emphasis on the teenage years when I had an emo stint that still lives inside me. It involved wearing black, purple, red and 7 million chains. All dangling from shoes, skirts, dresses, jewellery and more. When I secretly danced to trance and rave behind closed doors. Not exactly what you expected from that was it? You see I never could decide if I loved Katy Perry when she kissed that girl and liked it or if I preferred The Black Parade. So I kept it secret from anyone who could judge or make me feel insecure. 
After a lifetime of bullying, the fear is always there. I'm trying to overcome it, to squash down that voice that tells me in not normal. Although I wasn't ever all that normal, to be fair.  

Life has changed in recent years, I started on a journey to find some real confidence and start to love myself for who I am now and not what I'd want to be. So why am I still hiding all the secrets because they don't just go inside the box? Surely this is normal to someone other than myself? So maybe it's time for me to change what I see as the box, maybe 2021 is the year I just try everything I want and share it all along the way. It might not work out and hey, I might drown in a sea of projects I never quite finish up (another secret hobby of mine! ) but I want to try and be more open, to share more about myself. So maybe just maybe 2021 will be my year to find my own confidence and finally share the real me. 

Am I crazy? 
I guess we will see! 
Saturday, 2 January 2021

All about my year 2020

 The last three years I have shared my All about my year 2017 All about my year 2018 and All about my year 2019. I quite enjoy writing these posts and it's a really nice way to reflect back on the year even when 2020 has become a year we'd all like to forget for the most part. However we had some good times and we spent more time together than  we probably thought we would back in January. So I am still taking a look back on the last year with the same 10 questions from previous years. 

I do hope that everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Years despite half the UK being in Lockdown along with other places around the world. It sure won't be one we'll forget for a while.

1. What did you do for your birthday this year? 

I actually had a nice Birthday, I don't usually do much to celebrate anyway so having it at home without our family around is actually my normal. I started the celebration with a Birthday themed Elf who pulled a confetti cannon that launched all over the living room. Which basically means I stood in my living room in the middle of the night throwing tissue paper squares everywhere! I'm not going to lie it was fabulous! I got to relax, eat cake, enter competitions and enjoy time with the children. It was nice, everyone was devastated when there was no candles on my cake because I draw the line at lighting my own candles! They all sang me Happy Birthday at bedtime instead. 

2. What's the biggest thing to happen to you this year? 

Honestly I think everyone would expect me to say the pandemic itself, which in part is true but the biggest thing that happened to me in 2020 was travelling alone, on a plane in the late evening with 3 children under 10 during a global pandemic. Oh yes, I did that and I haven't shared much about our little 'holiday' that was really to attend my Mum's wedding back in August. You see it didn't actually go that well. Getting there was pretty ok despite terrible turbulence and a horrible jerky landing. The problem was it scared Scarlet and our journey home was smooth but plagued with the clinging and screaming of a 3 year old who was utterly terrified to be in the air again. I think sometime this year I will find the nerve to relive the experience in my mind and share more about that flight along with the many more happier memories from our week visiting my mum.

3. What was the biggest thing to happen for your child/children this year? 

Last year there was one big common event that bonded all three children when they first met each other after Avery was born. This year they each had their own big thing! 

For Dylan it was being the only one to celebrate a Birthday with an outing, before the world shut down and life changed! Thinking back now March seems like a whole lifetime ago but we had gone to the cinema to watch Sonic The Hedgehog at his request. It happened on the 7th of March which is just a few days after his Birthday and was just 9 days before the first UK lockdown. We found a beautiful spring themed playground outside the Cinema and they played there for ages before we had headed home. It was a fantastic day and one of Dylan's favourite's this year. 

Scarlet's biggest day was very different since this September was her first day at Nursery! It was very different for her than it had been for Dylan but she hasn't let things stop her, she has made many new friends and adores nursery. We have so many stories she tells us about when she gets out. I'm so grateful that life inside nursery hasn't changed much and that she still gets to play and interact with her friends in a normal way. She is so small and it is so important that she gets the social aspect of school. She's so excited to go back this year when they re-open.

Avery also had a big day, his first birthday! This May saw Avery turn 1 and we celebrated at home with cake, presents, games and fun. He adored being the centre of attention and being able to do as he pleased all day long. 

4. Could you pick a favourite week of the year? 

Yes, I think our best week was visiting my mum, we got to see our family, hug them and play together. The trip included a birthday party for my sister, a hen do for my mum in her back garden, playing at the park, playing Pokémon, morning walks, a trip to the beach where we ate Subway in a sun shower and paddled in the sea. Of course we spent a whole day celebrating my Mum's wedding with our family, she was beautiful, we ate delicious food and dressed up. It was a fantastic holiday.

5. Do you have a favourite photograph of yourself from 2020? 

This one. Back in the summer I had decided to start a new Instagram with the thought I would also write a blog about my journey of body confidence and for about 3 months I kept up and posted regularly, I remembered to take photographs of myself and this photo was taken while I was trying to do just that. It was in my back yard and both boys had come out wanting to join in with the photos. Of course you can't deny the chance to be in the photos with your children so we took several, some nice posed ones like this and others where we made funny faces, tickled each other and had fun. Many of the 'fun' photos ended up a big blur but this one I love.

6. What was your best day out? 

Our best day out was probably the day we headed out and explored around a local park with our picnic packed and we climbed around trees, ran in long grass, smelt the flowers and just enjoyed being outside further from home after having months inside or close by. It felt so freeing for us all to be able to run, play and enjoy time outside without too much worry of staying away from other people as it is a big park with nice large paths. Everyone of us enjoyed getting out properly again. Hopefully 2021 will have lots of days outside being able to run free. 

7. What is the best film you have seen this year? 

Soul! It was Disney's Christmas Day launch but it was incredible. I loved it and the message it gives is fantastic. If you've not yet seen it I highly recommend you do, with or without the children! 

8. Is there anything you wish didn't happen this year? 

I think I speak for us all when I say the global pandemic. I'm sure we would all say the same. It may have changed life for us all but we've lost so many loved ones, jobs, businesses and many people have fought their own mental battles. If we could take away any part of the year I would change that.

9. What would you like to achieve or improve for 2021? 

I want to finish my goals from 2020. With the year we've had some of plans quickly went out the window. I had lots of hopes for 2020 like being productive, keeping up with blogging and email, finishing decorating our house. While many achieved those things in 2020 being at home, I had 3 children at home, one who needed home schooling and two who needed attention and playing because we couldn't have a normal routine. This year I do have some new goals too which I'm putting together in this years hopes for 2021 post. 

10. How will you be celebrating/did you celebrate New Years Eve?

We celebrated at home (like nearly everyone else), with a little party, we watched Harry Potter and rang in the New Year with one child asleep on the sofa and watching BBC ONE ring in the new year wit fire works. It was odd not to see a bustling crowd fill the streets of London and I was so disappointed that there was no Old Lang Sayne sung to mark the new year so I searched Youtube and sang my own! It simply wouldn't be New Year without a terrible rendition sung by myself since Simon still doesn't know the words!

What are your favourite memories from 2020?

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