Projects Around The Open Home #4

Well it’s been quite some time since I updated you on the progress and projects around our home. Following on from my last post we actually decided to delay decorating the girls room and instead have focused our efforts this year on decorating the dining room and finishing off the “almost done” rooms, like the lounge and our bedroom.

Here are some snapshots of our work in progress…

Projects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Lots of teenagers and lots of mess was involved when smashing up the old, cracked tile floor.
The Open Home 246
Skirting boards off and hardboard down ready to lay the new floor.
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Hard at work on our dining room floor – thank goodness for big brothers who know what they’re doing!
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
The new laminate flooring going down.
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Fresh walls, new floor and just need to find some curtains and artwork and this room is complete!
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
The dining room with the addition of some new shelves, courtesy of the little brother.
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Hard at work on the next set of shelves – thank goodness for little brothers who know what they’re doing!
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
A few hours later and the shelves are up and ready to be stained. Just need to source a few more pieces of furniture and this room will also be complete!
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Fresh paint, colour coordinated bookshelves and industrial style glass lighting for the hallway.
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Soft blues and greys will be the theme for this dreamy girls room, but for now the furniture is at least in situ and we’ve hung some lovely roman blinds.
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Our freshly painted room and my next Ikea hack waiting to happen.
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Finally have furniture in our bedroom and trying to decide what colour to paint the bureau? Grey or Forest Green…?
jects Around The Open Home #4 | The Open Home
Loving our bench and bargain curtains, just need to decide on artwork and this room will also be complete!

 

What projects have you been working on lately?

{Projects Around The Open Home} #3

With Christmas around the corner I think we’re pretty much done with home DIY and decorating for the year. This autumn we’ve mainly been focusing on the finishing touches to the lounge and bathroom as well as planning for decorating the bedrooms, which resulted in us playing musical bedrooms… again! (Blossom has now slept in all 3 bedrooms in this house!)

Here are some of our work in progress shots…

Daddy's Apprentice.
Daddy’s Apprentice.
A fresh coat of paint in the Harry Potter cupboard along with a simple patchwork hideaway curtain.
A fresh coat of paint in the Harry Potter cupboard along with a simple patchwork hideaway curtain – so good to be sewing again!
Lots of progress in the bathroom. Freshly painted
Lots of progress in the bathroom. Freshly painted “Brilliant White” walls, Annie Sloan painted mirror and Annie Sloan tile project still in progress!
Our hallway and stairway feel so much wider now the walls are white.
Our hallway and stairway feel so much wider now the walls are white.
The living room is coming together too. White walls, roman blinds, a pendant lamp and some furniture freebies too.
The living room is coming together too. White walls, new roman blinds, an awesome pendant lamp and some pretty good furniture freebies too.
Finally got some art on the walls in the lounge. Here is the perfectly hung botanical wall gallery, all thanks to my talented Husby.
Finally got some art on the walls in the lounge. Here is the perfectly hung botanical wall gallery, all thanks to my talented Husby.
Silencing the squeaky floorboards.
Silencing the squeaky floorboards.
Putting the bed back together after changing bedrooms... again!
Putting the bed back together after changing bedrooms… again!
Work in progress... I don't get an office but I do get a command centre!
Work in progress… I don’t get an office but I do get a command centre!

So we’re now looking forward to getting stuck into some new projects in the new year. The biggest jobs will include decorating the kitchen & dining room – which will involve pulling up the tile floor (!), decorating the girls room (something I’m really looking forward to!) and doing a spot of landscape gardening at the front – looks like I may finally get my veggie patch!

What projects have you been working on lately?

{Projects Around The Open Home} #2

Since my last projects post summer has turned into autumn and we’ve continued to keep ourselves busy finishing off as many projects in the garden as possible. The final outdoor jobs for this year (which we will be tackling next week!) will be adding the brick edging to the front flower bed, digging up the small lawned area at the front, painting the side gate and reorganising the two sheds. We are then ready to just maintain the gardens through the winter ready to do some more planting in the spring and create our veggie patch – very excited about this, can’t wait to become an urban farmer!

Trimming back the (neighbours) ivy and our failed attempt at explaining health and safety to a toddler.
Trimming back the (neighbours) ivy and our failed attempt at explaining health and safety to a toddler.
Goodbye rusty red bricks, hello pretty cream ones!
Goodbye rusty old red bricks…
... hello beautiful cream bricks!
… hello beautiful cream bricks!
Spruced up the trellis and house trim to match our pretty potting shed.
Spruced up the trellis and house trim to match our pretty potting shed.
Freshly painted steps to coordinate with the house trim.
Freshly painted steps to coordinate with the house trim.
Finally convinced The Husby to hack up that huge and ugly, withered plant! We now have a climbing hydrangea on the trellis and need to decide what to plant in front...
Finally convinced The Husby to hack up that huge and ugly, withered plant! We now have a climbing hydrangea on the trellis and need to decide what to plant in front of it. 
Loving my little olive tree. Still need a few more plants to compete this bed though.
Loving our little olive tree. Still need a few more plants to compete this bed but it is coming together nicely.
Death defying work as The Husby clears up above his Man Cave.
Death defying work as The Husby clears up the overgrown weeds above the Man Cave.
The man cave, freshly painted and gutter cleaned and our attempt at beautifying the water barrel area - unfortunately ran out of paint before finishing the compost bin!
The man cave, freshly painted and gutter cleared. Also our attempt at beautifying the water barrel area – unfortunately ran out of paint before being able to paint the compost bin!

What projects have you been working on around your home?

Making a Statement

The Open Home 389


It’s finally up! We’ve been tweaking this family purpose statement for about two years now, waiting on it and then tweaking it some more until we finally had no more tweaks to make! Whatever you want to call it, a vision statement, mission statement or purpose statement, these are the words that ring true for our hearts. Short simple phrases that help guide and encourage us as we continue on this journey of life. A huge thank you to Sarah-Jane at Bird & Bloom for creating this for us. We love it!

Do you have some sort of guiding statement for your life?

{Projects Around The Open Home} #1

Today marks four months since we moved into our new home and so far we’ve been busying ourselves trying to make it feel like our own. These last few months we’ve mainly focused our attention on the outside of the property, figuring we can be cooped up indoors painting and decorating over the long and wet winter months. Here’s what we’ve been up to lately…

The Open Home 358
Pressure cleaning pretty much everything – from the steps and front wall to the patio and even the shed.
The Open Home 356
Utilising all the spare bricks on the property to create a flower bed in the back garden.
The Open Home 357
The finished bed awaiting it’s new plants and the lawn after we removed about 50+ bulbs from it!
The Open Home 354
The Husby playing with his new toy as he tidies up the forest above the man cave.
The Open Home 369
Proof that I too get my hands dirty!
Our attempt at land scape gardening.
Our attempt at land scape gardening.
The Open Home 387
Our newly painted shed thanks to the help of a lovely volunteer.
The Open Home 386
Freshening up the paint work at the front of the house – so grateful to these sweet young ladies!

What projects have you been working on around your home?

12 Board Books for Christmas

I honestly believe that little ones, particularly babies really don’t need very much for Christmas. If you want to make an investment with your gift giving in the early years then books really are the perfect place to begin as babies and toddlers sure do love them!

The books you buy now for your little one will bring enjoyment for many years to come, which is why it is also important that these books contain quality stories and illustrations that are enjoyable for you to read as an adult numerous times a day.

Here are some books that we happily read to our daughter again and again and again.

 

1. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.07.19

 

 

 

 

 

This is my personal favourite from my daughter’s board book collection. This book is a celebration of babies from all over the world and highlights that although babies are different in many ways, they all have one thing in common, their ten little fingers and ten little toes. The rhythmic poem by Mem Fox is delightful to read and the illustrations by Helen Oxenbury are beautiful as always. Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes definitely deserves Ten out of Ten!

 

2. Night, Night

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.08.09

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written and illustrated by Petr Horacek, Night Night is a simple and beloved bedtime story in our home. The shaped pages are really enticing to little ones and take you through various forest animals as they snuggle up ready for bed. The wheel mechanism at the end of the book makes the stars twinkle and always leads on to a humble rendition of ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’ in our home. A really sweet and interactive book for babies and young toddlers.

 

3. Dogs

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.10.01

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is my daughter’s absolute favourite book and a must have for all dog lovers! Emily Gravett’s delightful watercolour drawings catch my eye every time and this book celebrating dogs of all shapes, sizes and temperaments is truly irresistible! Our little one woofs along with glee and loves to pick out her favourite dogs at the end.

 

4. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.14.47

 

 

 

 

An utter classic, which after 45 years in print really needs no introduction. I love Eric Carle’s imaginative illustrations and the clever cut outs in this book are particularly appealing to little ones. At 18 months old, my daughter is now the perfect age for this book as she can now sit still long enough for me to actually finish reading the story!

 

5. Baby Bear, Baby Bear What Do You See?

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.08.52

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another of our favourites by Eric Carle, who has produced an impressive selection of childrens books, all of which are worth a read. This one is a wonderful celebration of nature in North America and follows Baby Bear as he meets many different animals until he finally finds the one he is looking for, his mama bear. A sweet little book with simple repetition and vibrant pictures.

 

6. The Elusive Moose

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 19.49.59

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Elusive Moose was the first Barefoot Book that we discovered and we must have had it on loan from the library for several months before buying our own copy. It’s a sweet and poetic read and Clare Beaton’s hand stitched illustrations are so incredibly detailed.

 

7. Peepo!

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.07.41

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peepo! has been a favourite amongst babies and adults for many generations now, it really is a modern classic of the baby book world. Subtly set during the second world war the charming illustrations are action-packed and generate plenty of discussion all by themselves. The sing-song rhyming verse and peep holes are incredibly interactive and excitedly build littles ones up to the much anticipated ‘Peepo!’

 

8. Guess How Much I Love You

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.09.22

 

 

 

 

 

‘I love you right up to the moon – and back’ has become a much loved quote and rather unsurprisingly the book that it is quoted from has become a cherished children’s classic. This sweet story follows Little and Big Nutbrown Hare as they playfully try to measure their love for one another in tangible ways. Paired with a cuddly Nutbrown Hare toy, the book makes for a really special gift.

 

9. On the Night You Were Born

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 20.31.18

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sentiments in this book will bring a tear to many a parent’s eye as it expresses the joy and celebration that each new child brings to the world. This truly beautiful book reinforces for littles ones just how special, unique and loved they are and will be enjoyed well into the preschool years and beyond, especially at times of change when their self esteem may need a little boost.

 

10. Global Babies

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.22.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

This simple little book produced by The Global Fund for Children presents babies from diverse settings around the world and is great for promoting and celebrating diversity from a young age. The images highlight differences in culture and race whilst the simple narration demonstrates just how loved and special all babies are. Be warned though, you may need to replace this book regularly as if your little one is anything like mine the babies in the book will be subjected to a LOT of kisses!

 

11. Hello, World!

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.24.22

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m not usually one to buy Disney merchandise, however when it comes to the It’s a Small World books I have been rather pleased with my purchase. This particular book is a book of few words simply stating ‘hello’ in various languages but the bright cartoon images, which are very appealing to little ones, offer much to talk about. Just be aware that the images do lean towards country stereotypes and as your child grows it would be important for you to point out that the images portray traditional or historic dress.

 

12. Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter 

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.11.50

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technically this is part of a set of four seasonal picture books, but you can buy each one individually if you are after a specific season – the Winter one alone would make a lovely Christmas gift. We have all four books illustrated by Gerda Muller and pull them out at the set time each year to help us celebrate the new season. These picture books are so full of detail that the absence of words is not even missed, you will soon find yourself making up your own little stories.

What are your favourite board books for little ones?

12 Baby Gifts for Christmas

When it comes to Christmas gifts for babies I honestly believe you don’t need to spend very much! You likely stocked up on all the necessary baby equipment before the birth and have already been showered with plenty of gifts in the months that followed.

Although babies don’t really need very much it is fun to buy for their first Christmas and believe me, it is possible to keep things simple. Here are a few cheap but cheerful ideas for those of you buying for babies, all drawn from experience with my little one who for last Christmas was only 7 months old.

 

1. Jellycat Toys

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.27.25

 

 

 

 

 

 

As mentioned in my 12 Toddler Gifts for Christmas post, I’m a big fan of Jellycat soft toys as they make really special keepsakes and comforters. The Super Softies and Pocket Pals collections are perfectly sized for small hands and prices start from £7.50.  “Pippin” the donkey has been a big hit with my daughter since she was a newborn.

 

2. Soft Ball

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.29.14

 

 

 

 

 

Even now as a toddler my daughter still enjoys playing with this soft ball! It jingles delicately and as a young baby she just loved holding, squeezing and waving it around. As she got older she then started to push and crawl after it and now as a toddler she enjoys kicking and throwing it. Thankfully this is the sort of indoor ball that doesn’t cause damage!

 

3. Soft Blocks

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 21.10.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soft blocks like these are great for babies that are becoming more alert. Like the soft ball they are able to be held an squeezed by the younger baby and as they grow they will delight in knocking over towers. Soft blocks are easily found within local stores, these ones here are from the Blossom Farm collection by Early Learning Centre.

 

4. Rattle Snake

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.31.38

 

 

 

 

 

 

I adore the fairly traded knitted toys by Pebble, handmade by women in Bangladesh. This rattle snake is my favourite of theirs and makes for a beautiful gift. It comes in a selection of attractive colours, all available on Amazon for around £10.00. My daughter loved flinging her snake around to hear it jingle, it brought her many smiles and was a great incentive during tummy time.

 

5. Stacking Cups

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 21.24.04

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit of BPA and PVC free plastic for you from Green Sprouts on Amazon. Even before baby is able to stack them, these cups are fun to hold and chew and will be enjoyed during bath time play for many years to come.

 

6. Activity Ball

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 21.31.44

 

 

 

 

 

 

Really love this bright activity ball from Bigjigs. It’s suitable from 3 months and rather mesmerising to the small baby who is beginning to explore with their hands. Available on Amazon for under £8.00.

 

7. Clutching Toy

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 21.17.10

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haba have a wide range of beautiful wooden clutching toys that double up perfectly as teethers for gummy babies. This one is available on Amazon and prices for their clutching toys start from around £5.00. You can also find Haba toys online at Babipur, a site that offers ethical shopping for kids.

 

8. Wiggly Worm

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.33.09

 

 

 

 

 

My daughter received this wiggly worm by Bigjigs in her boot on St Nicholas Day last year and it was a big hit! I found it to be a really handy toy to stash in my bag and pull out when she needed a bit of entertaining. I have seen these in a few stores locally on the island, but of course you can also get them on Amazon for around £5.00.

 

9. Rainbow Stacker

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.42.29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the older baby who is sitting and beginning to explore more, a colourful stacking toy like this one from Bigjigs will prove popular. My daughter received one for Christmas when she was 7 months old and has played with it pretty much every day for almost a year now!

 

10. Hammer Bench

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.44.16

 

 

 

 

 

 

A hammer bench or pounding toy as they are sometimes called is great for the industrious type. They are made by so many trustworthy brands, the cheapest ones I can find are made by ELC and Melissa & Doug, available for only £8.00. My daughter started playing with her Bigjigs one (as pictured) when she was 9 months old and I was amazed at how quickly her hand-eye coordination developed through using it.

 

11. First Puzzle

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 20.46.54

 

 

 

 

 

A simple lift out puzzle is a great gift for the older baby over 9 months old. Although it will be a few months before they can put the shapes in place they will still enjoy pulling out, holding and looking at the pieces. I particularly like the bright ones by ELC, at only £7.00 they’re a real bargain.

 

12. Board Books

Screen Shot 2014-10-31 at 17.14.47

 

 

 

 

 

Board books should really be at the top of this list as babies really do love books! I won’t list any of our favourites here as that can wait for a post all of it’s own coming later this week! Honestly, if you only buy board books for your baby this Christmas, you’ll be making a wonderful investment.

 What gifts are you buying for your baby this year?