Animal Advent Calendar

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You might not think a shark is particularly Christmassy or a rhino, erm . . . . how about a crab? Well, my eldest boy loves ALL the animals so, mix them up with some Christmas stars and it’s an Animal Advent Calendar.

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I do like the chocolate ones and ‘Yes! I would like a chocolate Advent Calendar thank you very much’  but until Rupes cottons on to the chocolate element, there  won’t be any in these pockets.  He is desperate to look in all the pockets as it is, so if chocolate were involved it might just tip him over the edge. Lots of people do the advent book thing, which is nice and the books don’t have to be new. Other people give something each day rather than getting anything at all, which I would like to do with my boys when they are older and understand more. We are also pegging out a family photo a day, on a little string, in the lead up to Christmas, like this, my favourite picture of my grandparents:

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I’ve always enjoyed watching the passage of time with an Advent calendar, so I wanted something physical and visual which would appeal to a toddler.  I also like the idea of getting something out year, after year and making simple family traditions.

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I started making the calendar when I was pregnant with the twins but never really got it together in time for last year.  I had every intention of hand sewing little, felt decorations to go in the pockets, probably after seeing one on Pinterest.  All those twin hormones clearly made me completely over ambitious. It may still happen one day in the distant future but for now, there are plastic animals, purchased for the bargain price of five for a pound, and Christmas stars adorning the tree.

I’ve found life with a toddler to be full of extreme emotions, but everything about Christmas so far, with an almost three year old is well and truly bringing the magic back.

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Drowning in cardboard

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(Cardboard sculpture by Australian artist Annalise Rees)

If like me, you are drowning in cardboard on a weekly basis (I blame the babies in my house) then here is some cool stuff to do with it all.  You could do something altogether over half term if you have kids to entertain or just on your own this weekend if you don’t. So much of what we already have in the house is reusable and these ideas need mostly cardboard, paint and maybe some other bits you might have lying around. First though, some inspiration:

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French sculptor, Eva Jospin’s deep, dark forests made from cardboard are amazing and beautiful , see more here.

However, perhaps the ideas below are more achievable for the next few days.

I love these underwater creatures with peg people:

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Look at these light up houses made from milk cartons!

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This Fox marionette would be fun to make with older children:image

Or this:

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Toddlers would really love this ball maze:

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This cardboard camper is so cool!

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A Cardboard kaleidoscope!

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You could easily extend play too as suggested in the original post.

If you are feeling really industrious and have just moved house (!) you could make a cardboard box maze once the kids have gone to bed!

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I love the one above but I can’t find the original source, such a good idea! Alternatively you could make one in the garden:

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Here is the original post showing children decorating this elaborate garden maze.

We did this once and it was amazing, but I’m not suggesting you give it a go, as it’s probably disaster waiting to happen. When some friends did it a long time ago I think the radiator came off the wall, but alcohol rather than rice cakes was probably involved.

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Bank Holiday Inspiration

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What I will probably be doing this weekend is feeding babies, changing nappies etc, lots of walking about with my boys, maybe a bit of beach time and brunch time if I’m lucky.

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I will also be thoroughly enjoying the fact that we have Daddy around for an extra day.

But here are some crafty things I might be doing if I didn’t have three children under three as bank holidays are always good for getting your craft on. I am happy to spend the time I am stuck sitting feeding these little bundles finding cool stuff to do, even if I can’t do it myself just yet. I’m thinking we might manage one of the food related items on the list, Matt is a good baker!  And maybe you would like to do some of it, let me know how it goes if you do!

  1. These fudgy beetroot chocolate muffins look great and are kind of healthy, from the minimalist baker.
  2. This tote bag would be great for kids or an adult magnetic travel scrabble, from ducklings in a row.image
  3. One of these sweet little turtles from the purl bee would be a good weekend project.
  4. These flourless chocolate brownies from running with spoons are amazing! They also don’t contain any black beans, sweet potato or avocado. I like the idea of healthy stuff in brownies, but the reality not so much! After trying them and being disappointed several times, black bean brownies can just do one. These, however, I have tried and tested and are really yum.
  5. How about you crochet some cute slippers from meet me at mike’s, it might be April but I definitely witnessed hail today, so the slippers are here to stay for a while yet! image
  6. Get the kids involved and make these cats from Molly moo crafts so easy anyone can have a go.
  7. These DIY marbled mugs from Mollie makes are also super fast and would be a good way to use up your old nail varnishes.
  8. Or you could have a go at your very own dinosaur terrarium from turtle crafty girl.image

Whatever you decide to do, I hope you get a bit of sunshine and some fun times with good people. x

Dunga-shorts or Shortalls, even John Johns apparently

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I’m not really sure what the correct term for this item of clothing is, but I found all kinds of names whilst trawling the internet for a pattern/tutorial. Anyway, I have been dying to make some, what I like to call, ‘dunga-shorts’ ,ever since the sun has been out in force and I finally found the time at the weekend thanks to super dad.

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Made by Rae is where I found this free pattern and tutorial.  Rae has some really great patterns and how-tos, although this was from a guest blogger, it doesn’t link through anymore though, so I’ve taken you straight to the original on ikatbag’s site.  The instructions are really clear (I only messed up one part!) I did the simpler version without the waistband and just added the side pockets instead of all five. I didn’t want them to stand out, so I used the same fabric.  It would be fun to make lots of variations.

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I also added elastic around the bottom because they now look like those old-fashioned ones, which I just love, and make me want to squish Roo’s little chubby toddler legs even more than usual.

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I did use a contrast fabric for the lining as I thought the colours looked good together and Roo likes birds. The lining is some old (slightly faded if I’m honest) fabric from IKEA and the main fabric is an old shirt of Matt’s.  I used pretty much the whole shirt, whose collar and cuffs really had seen better days.  If I was super-organised, I would now be posting one of those before and after photos, but this week, sorry guys, it was one step too far.  Ah well, there’s always next time! 🙂

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The little fox came from Sass and Belle and was given to me by my lovely friend Laurel when Roo was born.  I have only just got around to making the perfect item of clothing for it to adorn now, 18 months later, but I think the fox was waiting for just the right thing to come along.

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In fact I think I love these so much, I’m feeling the need to make Roo at least two more sets!  I’ll let you know how that goes.

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I also made double amounts of dinner tonight so that my friend who has just had a little girl doesn’t have to cook tomorrow.  All I could think about with a newborn was home-cooked food as I was always starving (that lasted about 3 months!) and I just wanted to give the babe the good stuff.  I’m not able to do things like I used to now we have Roo but batch cooking was a small, but attainable kindness today and  it just feels really good to offer something like that.  So my friend and I both win (unless my cooking is really bad – haha!). I made this Four corners lentil soup, by Sarah Britton which is so yum, easy and quick and the easiest ever soda bread which is a real treat, thanks Laura for introducing me to The River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook.

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Roll up and run away play mat

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Here’s my version of the ‘I Spy Toddler travel game’ from Stitched by Crystal. I really love this idea for three reasons:  it’s a great way to keep a little person occupied, it’s not made from plastic and you can throw it in your bag and run off to the beach/park/restaurant/gig with your baba because it rolls up really small.

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I used a selection of fabric from my stash which I thought would appeal to the little bear cub, some old, some new.

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It’s a really great project for using up those small pieces of fabric that you just can’t bear to throw away.

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I didn’t have that much fabric with pictures on so I thought it would be nice to add numbers and some images in felt.

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Roo is still a little young for this, but, he loves looking at it and touching the images.  Here are the changes I made:

I cut 20 small rectangles, I added numbers and images in felt, I used one piece of material for the back and I chose a nice big button fastening which is very secure and too big for little mouths!

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