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…

Projects Around The Open Home #3 | The Open Home
A fresh coat of paint in the Harry Potter cupboard along with a simple patchwork hideaway curtain.
Projects Around The Open Home #3 | The Open Home
Lots of progress in the bathroom. Freshly painted “Brilliant White” walls, Annie Sloan painted mirror and Annie Sloan tile project still in progress!
Projects Around The Open Home #3 | The Open Home
The living room is coming together too. White walls, roman blinds, a pendant lamp and some furniture freebies too.
Projects Around The Open Home #3 | The Open Home
Finally got some art on the walls in the lounge.
Projects Around The Open Home #3 | The Open Home
Silencing the squeaky floorboards.
Projects Around The Open Home #3 | The Open Home
Putting the bed back together after changing bedrooms… again!

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.

Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
Trimming back the (neighbours) ivy and our failed attempt at explaining health and safety to a toddler.
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
Goodbye rusty red bricks…
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
… hello beautiful cream bricks!
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
Spruced up the trellis and house trim to match our pretty potting shed.
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
Freshly painted steps to coordinate with the house trim.
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
Finally convinced The Husby to hack up that huge and ugly, withered plant! We now just need to decide what to plant instead.
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
Loving my little olive tree.
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
Death defying work as The Husby clears up above his Man Cave.
Projects Around The Open Home #2 | The Open Home
The man cave, freshly painted and gutter cleaned.

What projects have you been working on lately?

{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…

Projects Around the Open Home #1 | The Open Home
Pressure cleaning pretty much everything.
Projects Around the Open Home #1 | The Open Home
New flower beds.
Projects Around the Open Home #1 | The Open Home
The new beds.
Projects Around the Open Home #1 | The Open Home
Cutting back the weeds and playing with a new toy.
Projects Around the Open Home #1 | The Open Home
Proof that I too get my hands dirty.
Projects Around the Open Home #1 | The Open Home
Our attempt at land scape gardening.
Projects Around the Open Home #1 | The Open Home
Our newly painted shed thanks to the help of a lovely volunteer.

What projects have you been working on lately?

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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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!

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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

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‘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

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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

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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!

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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?

12 Toddler Stocking Fillers

This is my first year doing a stocking for my little one and it’s been great fun coming up with a list of potential items to fill her stocking with. We’ve decided to go for the more practical approach with her stocking as it is fulfilling the ‘need’ part of our gift giving philosophy. However, I have also added in some fun toys and treats to the list for those of you who are less boring than me!


1. Wooden Vehicles

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I’m a big fan of the eco-friendly wooden toys produced by Hape Toys. Their vehicles are a huge hit with my daughter and currently her go-to-toy of choice. These vehicles are lovely and sturdy for toddlers to play with and the perfect size to fit in a stocking. Readily available on Amazon and from many local stores – I’ve spotted them in Jojo Maman Bebe.


2. Wooden Instruments

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Maracas, castanets, a harmonica or tambourine – the list is endless! We’re slowly growing our daughter’s instrument collection and would again recommend Hape Toys or Bigjigs for their eco-friendly efforts and beautiful pieces.


3. Schleich Animals

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The only plastic toy suggestion that you will find on this list! I generally always try to find a wooden or natural alternative when it comes to toys but wooden animals are particularly pricey and sadly not within my budget. However, like most toddlers our little one loves animals and these life-like ones by Schleich are really lovely. There are plenty of animals to choose from on Amazon and even some dinosaurs which could be used in the sandpit!


4. Play dough and Tools

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The tools pictured here can can be found on Amazon and Melissa & Doug also do a play dough set with wooden tools for those who want to avoid plastic.  Bonus points to those who make homemade play dough! I like this 4 Minute Recipe from The Imagination Tree, easily adapted to create a festive colour and flavour – we’re making some green peppermint play dough for my daughter’s stocking.


5. Fridge Magnets

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Is it just my toddler that needs a distraction when I’m busy working in the kitchen? No? Well these lovely little fridge magnets from Janod may buy you some time! Amazon have some lovely farm yard and ocean ones available, and I’ve also spotted them in Waitrose. Perfect for dropping loosely into a stocking to fill all those nooks and crannies!


6. Beeswax Crayons

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These beeswax block crayons by Stockmar really are fab and perfect for toddlers who are just starting out with colouring. They also come in a handy storage tin and are available from Amazon and Bella Luna Toys who do wonderful Waldorf inspired toys.


7. Stickers

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The toddler years are the perfect time to introduce a sticker chart to encourage independence and good habits. Some fancy stickers in the stocking may just make using that chart all the more exciting.


8. Bubbles

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What toddler doesn’t like bubbles? Cheap and simple stocking filler. Enough said.


9. Slipper Socks

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We’re a big fan of slipper socks in our home, they keep toddler toes warm but are slim and easy to walk around the home in. There are many festive varieties available which make lovely stocking fillers, but we particularly like the ones available in JoJo Maman Bebe. (You can easily find this style of slipper sock on Amazon and in Boots too though).


10. Underwear

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Socks, vests and maybe even a pack of pants for the potty trained toddler. Children need to learn to appreciate the cost of the necessities too, but that doesn’t mean these items can’t be bright and fun with their favourite colours or characters on!


11. Personal Care Items

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Encourage independence with their personal care by stuffing their stockings with their very own soaps and flannels, a fun new toothbrush and for girls those much needed hair clips! Oh and don’t forget some kiddie plasters that will put a smile back on their face when needed.


12. Edible Treats

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The Christmas stocking is a great way to add in some festive treats that you don’t usually let your little ones have. Chocolate treats, maybe even a special juice drink to enjoy with Christmas dinner and don’t forget that traditional satsuma!

What stocking fillers are you buying your little ones this year?