Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Bring out the inner child in your man...

It's that age-old dilemma...what to get Dad for Christmas?

I think I might have solved the problem with these two great books found on Amazon....

Both are packed full of D.I.Y. projects for Dad and the kids to get stuck into.

Handy Dad contains practical projects while Geek Dad will appeal to the more 'techy' amongst us.

My dad is no Geek...so my choice is easy...how about yours?

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

'Enchanted Forest' room theme ideas

There's not many kids that don't love letting off steam outdoors...
Add a few 'outdoorsy' features to your child's room for a timeless decorating theme.
Most classic fairy tales have an enchanted forest scene...think Little Red Riding Hood or Snow White...or films, Bambi perhaps?...even Harry Potter's had his share of woodland adventures.
Indulge yourself...after all, this is inspirational homework...!
Make a real statement with a feature wall full of leafy trees...using digital 'wallpapers'..!
Add pieces of rustic furniture, keep the style simple with a hand-made feel in natural woods.
Use textured, natural fabrics like tweeds or linens in woodland colours...mossy and forest greens, leafy rusts and yellows, etc...
Create an Autumnal forest floor with a leafy-design rug.
Add a bit of fun with woodland animal accessories...lamps, cushions, soft toys, etc...

Here's a Dreams and Wishes take on the woodland room theme....

Monday, 8 November 2010

Get some lights in your life...

With natural light in short supply over the next few months it seems like a good time to invest in some new lighting around the house...
Take a look at these quirky lights...great for a kid's room...

Samson light at Liberty
Petit Pan paper lanterns
Neon message
A few tips to consider...
Take time to plan your lighting to avoid later disapointment.
Include a variety of light sources around a room to create a cozy feel.
Be safe, consult with a qualified electrician when installing your scheme.
Include one or two 'quirky' light fittings in a kid's room for a fun element.
For more help...download our 'Lighting Needs' document.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Congratulations to our winner.

Well done to Lydia in Wiltshire, who's name was first out of the witch's hat to win a copy of 'A Zombie Ate My Cupcake'...a gruesome collection of recipes ideal for a Halloween party.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Planning a Halloween Party?...

Here are a few top tips for a successful 'fright-night'...

1. Create a spooky scene...inside or out...with low lighting and gruesome props.
2. Make the food as revolting as possible...no I don't mean your cooking...find inspiration here.
3. Make up a monster music montage.

4. Be ready with freaky activities and games.

5. Send your guests home with a few party-bag horrors.

For more ideas, download our Halloween Party Ideas

Image from wvpics.com.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Halloween giveaway...

Hi there 'fright night' fans.
Looking for some macabre recipes that will have your little monsters screaming in delight...?
Take a look at 'A Zombie Ate My Cupcake' by Lily Vanilli...we're loving the marzipan beetles and meringue bones!

What do you need to do to win a copy?
Just sign up for the monthly Dreams and Wishes e-newsletter HERE ...before 27th October '10, and the first name out of the witch's hat on that date will win the book!!

Ghoolish good luck to you...

Friday, 15 October 2010

A great day for charity.

He's finally done it...my 'other half' completed his charity parachute jump last Saturday...

Here he is floating in to land...

And that means the two weeks of cake-baking is done too...lots of money raised though, so it's all been worth the upheaval!

Some of my cooking creations...

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Reviving my Domestic Goddess

My sixteen stone 'significant other half' is due to throw himself out of a plane very soon...!
It's all for charity I hasten to add and, whilst I commend his bravery, it's not something I could do myself.
So in support of his actions I am baking cakes...!!!
Now I know that doesn't sound very adventurous but, believe me, the kitchen holds many fears for me!

So for two weeks, starting yesterday...here's my first attempt...I'll be baking various delights to sell to friends and colleagues to help raise money for Brake, the road safety charity.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Bring on the colour...

I hadn't realised how long it's been since I last blogged...!
I'm ashamed of my neglect...
Here to brighten your day is a selection of my favourite kid's rooms. Full of colour and a little bit eclectic, they show 'mix-and-match' can be so good.


My thanks to numerous blogs and websites for profiling these beautiful rooms...including Atticmag, Make room for living, Room 7 and Skona hem.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Kid's room clutter-busting tips.

With the kid's heading back to school next week...now might be the right time to consider venturing into their room for a bit of a clear out!

Here are five top tips to help you...

Make a date...Set aside enough time to clear out all the unwanted, outgrown or broken items.

Involve the kid's...explain your actions to avoid argument.

Tackle one area of chaos at a time...i.e. clothes, toys, etc.

Plan appropriate storage as you go...make it easy for the kids to use.

Make it fun...and reward yourself for a job well done!

Thanks to Zany Holidays for the image.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Top tips for decorating a garden summerhouse

More so these days, parents are understandably reluctant to let their children play outside too far from home...it's no comfort to finally get the kids out from under your feet, only to worry about where they are and what they're up to.

How, then, do you make sure they're getting plenty of fresh air and exercise with the piece of mind that they are nearby?

And what can you do to ensure 'playtime' doesn't become a problem-solving issue for you, in between cries of 'I'm bored'?

The answer may lie with the common garden shed...well, summerhouse to be more accurate...!

With so many styles, sizes, shapes and prices, there's sure to be one to suit your needs and, with a little imaginative decorating, you could have a 'play room' to last years...
Alternatively, you could turn it into your own little retreat.
If you're going to paint the exterior, keep it simple and complimentary to your existing garden style. Pale blues and greens blend well in most outdoor spaces. Otherwise, a coat of protective woodstain should suffice...very Hansel and Gretel.

The interior is best finished in a pale colour to maximise the natural light available. A simple whitewash over the walls and ceiling is an ideal backdrop to any scheme you might wish to create. Wallpaper is an option, if the walls are reasonably flat, but stick to small patterns and try using sample size pieces in a patchwork design...much easier than trying to stick up large rolls.
Hang some framed postcards for a bit of colour or paint wooden panels with blackboard paint and let the kids create their own art.

The floors in most garden structures leave a little to be desired, especially for little feet and knees, so lay a piece of carpet remnant or cover with brightly coloured cotton rugs.
A couple of squashy floor cushions will also 'soften' the space.

A simple piece of gingham cotton hung from a curtain wire looks endearing, and makes the place feel more 'homely'...and you won't need a professional to make up these curtains! Roll-up Swedish blinds are easy to make and fit and, again, only need a small amount of fabric.
Design the window treatments to suit the scheme of your summerhouse.

It's a good idea not to overfill such a small space, and child-sized furniture can be a real bonus here. A table and chairs of some sort is a must for imaginative play, crafts and general comfort, while storage is also worth thinking about. Plastic containers and tubs, wicker baskets and fabric bags are all very useful and versatile.

Whilst the idea of a little 'home' of their own is appealing to most children, there are many styles or themes you can consider when decorating your summerhouse, depending on the interests and hobbies of your kids. Some of my favourites are a shop, castle, cafe or vintage beach hut.

One word of warning...be prepared to be roped into play when going out to check on the kids...!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Why I like The Little Experience.

With weeks to go before the end of the Summer holidays and ideas to keep the kids amused running low, maybe The Little Experience is the answer to your woes.

If you're not aware of them I thoroughly recommend a visit to their website, where you'll find a huge range of craft kits, grouped conveniently in age range, skills base or craft skills...
...There's also loads of free downloads on all sorts of subjects like party themes and arranging a nature trail.

Everything has an 'eco' twist...click on a project and get up-cycling ideas for the packaging too!

Send in a photo of your kids and their Little Experience creations and they can be on the website...or even be on the boxes of the products themselves...how cool is that?

I'm sorry...is 'cool' still the word to use?
I'm not the only one to rave over this company...their products have been nominated for
shed-loads of awards and you can see the 'winners' on the website too.

Oh! Did I mention the website...it's fresh and user-friendly with oodles of information.
The kits are clearly displayed, with ample advice on skills suitability.
Just great...in all aspects...if you get a few minutes peace from the kids, visit the site....

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Star-gazing made me smile.

It's not been a great day. First task was to remain calm while BT attempted to sort out my intermittent internet access, second task was to contact the shop responsible for sending out my partner's birthday present...already 10 days late...!
The list goes on but I won't bore you with more. Suffice to say I needed a little 'pick-me-up'. Then I stumbled upon this little Amigurumi on the DaWanda website, and under the image of this rather miserable looking star was written a few lines from 'Catch a falling star'. Perfect! Just what I needed to get me back on track and put a smile on my face. Now that list of tasks doesn't seem so bad after all.
Oh...and in case you were wondering, Amigurumi comes from the Japanese words meaning 'yarn' and 'stuffed toy'...

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

21st Century story-telling

A fine group of Dads have got together to create an online service where grown-ups, or the kids, can record personalised stories from a selection of books, complete with sound effects and background music.
Perfect if work commitments mean you sometimes miss your kid's bedtime...'cos you can download the recordings onto disc or MP3.
What a great way to encorage the little ones to get reading too...?
The instructions are easy to follow and you can record your chosen book over and over till you get it just right...Jacanory for the modern age!
See for yourself at the Magical Story Machine.

Friday, 30 April 2010

Jenny Zarins - photographer

I first saw Jenny's photos in a Jane Cumberpatch interiors book. I love the fresh, light feeling and soft colours, and was inspired to take a look at her website...guess what?...more beautifully atmospheric images that take me back to the Summers of my youth...I remember skinning my knees jumping into Lake Lucerne, Switzerland, and still have the scar to remind me of those carefree days.
What's your favourite memory of childhood holidays?

Friday, 26 March 2010

I saw a mouse! Where?

There, there on the stair...or the wall, or on a shelf or anywhere you like really. Hand made by two sisters, following techniques perfected by their grandmother, these wooden mice would make a great wall decoration hung in a child's room or up a set of stairs! Very 'fairytale' and vintage-looking, each mouse is between 25 and 40cm high and prices start at £25. Find these, and other animals at Victoria Burnett Designs....apparently, there's even one at Buckingham Palace!

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Mini modern seating for kids rooms.

Looking for a 'design classic' to furnish your kid's room with?

Molly Meg is well worth a visit...with a range of children's chairs from the 1950's to the present day...many from iconic designers of their time.

I've got an ever-growing list of furniture classics that I'd like to see in 'child size'....

What would be your choice?

Friday, 5 February 2010

Hollie's hen houses

These higgldy-piggledy wall cabinets are the creation of Hollie Wright, a graduate of Hereford's College of Arts, and are made from reclaimed wood and fittings.

As if her recycling efforts are not enough Hollie re-homes a little wire chicken in each of her designs...apparently it goes back to her days growing up on an Oxfordshire farm. Hollie will be showing her cabinets at the Country Living magazine fair in March.
I'm thinking they'd make a lovely display for precious baby mementoes, what do you think?