Stacks of Sensational Stationery at Minted

Are you looking for stacks of sensational stationery? Well, I feel I’ve found a huge pile of it over at Minted.

minted_header_logo

I’ve been exploring over at Minted.Com. With their statement of “Our purpose in life is to uncover exceptional design from all over the world and bring this to savvy consumers who won’t accept anything else” you do get a feel for what it’s all about. Minted have designers submit their pieces and the most popular ones are then available to us to buy, which gives a really great product range and support to designers worldwide.

My initial thoughts were how very pretty and enticing the website looks, and though it’s easy enough to navigate around, there is just so much to explore and peek at, I did get a bit absorbed and lost! There are 3 main sections, ‘Stationery & Events’, ‘Art Marketplace’ and ‘Fabrics & Home Decor’. I was actually pretty good, and browsed around the latter two first, knowing that it’d be the ‘Stationery & Events’ section that would take up most of my time! I spotted right away that there is UK delivery, and I really like the fact that you can order free samples and a free catalogue. If you spot a design that you like, you can customise it, order free samples to check it out, then submit it to the team of designers to do their thing. You’ll then get a proof back within a couple of days, ready for you to approve, and once done, it’ll be printed within 2-3 days, and shipped within the week, sometimes sooner. All makes sense and all seems pretty slick!

The ‘Fabrics & Home Decor’ section is crammed full of beautiful fabrics and then lovely touches for your children’s room, such as personalised name signs. The ‘Art Marketplace’ has limited edition pieces, along with photo gifts and art prints. And then I moved onto ‘Stationery & Events’…..

Minted are probably best known for their range of personalised Christmas cards, where there are literally hundreds to choose from, hundreds I tell you! These are just a few of may favourite designs, but truth be told, I could have chosen so many more.

minted christmas cards

Then step beyond the Christmas cards and you’re into a whole world of beautiful stationery. Think notebooks, thank you cards, stickers, personalised writing paper, wedding stationery, business cards, planners, invitations, calendars, table decor – I do think they’ve just about got paper covered there! So it only seems right that I now share with you a whole load of pictures of products that I am loving! (if you click on the product titles they’ll take you through to the shop for you to see more details).

There are stickers! Retro Floral Garden

retro floral garden

Princess Crown

princess crown

Sock Monkey

sock monkey

I absolutely adore this I Love You To The Moon And Back print, which is available in different font colours and with lots of frame options

I love you to the moon and back

And then there is lots of paper for my scribbles and snail mail. Such as Thoughts of a Major planner (also available as a notebook or address book)

thoughts of a major

Original Snail Mail Personalised Stationery

original snail mail

Ahoy Fox Notebook (also available as a planner or address book)

ahoy fox

BellaBunny Personalised Stationerybellabunny

With each of these that I’ve picked out, there are various options to customise them, perhaps by adding your name, it’s purposes, and different colour combinations. The possibilities to choose and design your own stationery are brilliant, though it can make it tricky to finally settle on just one…or maybe two!

For example, I love this Penguin Fun stationery (this is actually in the children’s section, but I’d argue many of the designs in there are good for adults, too, as there are plenty I’m liking, so don’t miss nosing through there)penguin fun

With this design, you can change the shape of the paper, change the letter and it’s colour, leave the back blank or add a photo or different colour, select from 3 different colour envelopes and opt to have your return address printed on the reverse of them if you so wish. Fab! The only problem that I have with this site is that it takes a while to finally settle on anything as you’ve so many creative decisions you can make!

Have you checked them out yet? What products are grabbing your attention?

Disclosure: Written in Collaboration with Minted.Com

The Blog Lowdown – Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking

Today on The Blog Lowdown, I’m pleased to be bringing you the lovely Judith, from Hide-N-(Sensory)-Seeking.

Please Introduce yourself:
My name is Judith. I grew up in Alaska, USA, though we now reside in as far an opposite climate as one can imagine, in hot and humid Louisiana, USA. I play at the piano, but I’m much better at violin, which I play in an all-volunteer orchestra. My son makes my coffee every morning, and my hubby brings it to me in bed many mornings. Sad proof that all attempts have been thoroughly exhausted to turn me into a morning person.

My husband wanted to be my highschool sweetheart, but I wouldn’t date him (nor anyone else, mind you) until halfway through my Senior year, and he proposed two weeks before I graduated. He was 20, I was 18, and we were married three and a half months later. In our 14 years together we have been blessed with three fantastic kiddos, one boy, 12, and two girls, 8 and 3, owned two cats, four parakeets, five dogs, six chickens, and countless fish and houseplants (both of which we have made steady progress at keeping alive!), though, much to my husbands relief, not all at the same time! (Oh, and we homeschool. We’re kinda crazy like that!)

When did you start blogging?
December, 2012

Tell us a little about your blog
It started out as a way for me to organize the loads of new information on, and explain to family and friends about, the challenges we were facing with our kids’ sensory processing issues. After a few months, we got our first autism diagnosis – our then ten year old was diagnosed with Asperger’s and the psychologist agreed that sensory processing was a major aspect. A few months later, autism diagnosis number two, for our almost two year old daughter (she’s now 3), who also had intense sensory processing difficulties, but even more scary had regressed severely in her speech to the point that she only had one functional word left, and we were communicating with her almost entirely through sign language.

My blog allowed me to share research and how our family was affected, but it also provided me a place to show that my kids are also just kids. Gradually I included more and more posts on homeschooling, family life, recipes and more, and it became a place where all families can find something to relate to, to laugh about, sometimes even to cry about. I view it as a hearth rather than a soap box. And I hope all my readers gather round and feel a sort of commradery in the parenting trenches!

Who designed your blog?
I did, with the tools provided by Blogger. I have been strongly influenced by what I have read, especially by those who have sensory issues, to keep it very simple, uncluttered, and easy on the eyes. Sensory friendly, in other words. Also, more and more people do their reading on mobile devices, so I actually chose my layout based on how it looks in the mobile format first. I have stopped reading blogs I otherwise liked because it was too hard to read on my phone, or they had no mobile format. That might sound harsh, but that is what I do most of my research and internet reading on, so I want the experience to be hassle free and not come away with a headache.

Which of your posts have been the most popular? Are there certain types that get more interest?
A post I wrote on speech delays has been my most read from internet searches. That surprised me. And the recent post I wrote to say thank you and farewell to our amazing occupational therapist had an overwhelming response.

I have found the posts that seem to touch people’s hearts move them to comment more. And the project posts get many views as well, which tells me there are always many families looking for ways to keep bored kids busy on a budget!

How do you promote your blog posts, and which methods do you find to be most successful?
For a long time I didn’t really, mostly because all my energy was tapped out elsewhere. But periodically someone would tell me how much they appeciated something I had written, or that my blog had helped them, and I was encouraged by family and friends to write more. So now I network through blog hops regularly, comment on and follow other’s whose writing I enjoy, and I recently joined Twitter, so now I promote my blog there as well.

I find that I get higher flow from smaller blog hops. Which makes sense, most readers are juggling their time, and so only have minutes to select a few posts of interest, the less posts to choose from the more time they might take to peruse and visit multiple blogs. Also many of the writers link up regularly. We bloggers are sort of loyal that way, and as a way of thanks we tend to try to support one another with visits and comments.

Which linkys do you most enjoy joining in with/reading?
I love wrap-up linkys, like your Word of the Week. Looking back on things and reflecting, and then checking out how others survived always gives me a boost! And I love Share With Me by Jenny at Let’s Talk Mommy. I also really like Manic Mondays on Mommy A to Z. I have found some great blogs and amazing women through these linkys!

I also love the lighter side of parenting, so I’m always trolling for the feel good laughs that make us all nod with understanding, as well as adding my own fumbles to share on linkys.

When are your busiest days on the blog, and why? (if you know why!)
I have found traffic to be fairly steady throughout the week, if I post regularly. Higher on the days I sign up with linkys. It dips often on Friday evening through Suday. I suppose it’s because people are shifting the focus to family time on these days. But things pick back up starting on Mondays.

For me though, Friday – Monday are my busiest days personally. This is when I do the bulk of my writing, usually late at night after everyone is sleeping. With homeschool on the weekdays, I don’t get much writing time, so I make notes and blurbs to myself all week, then I try to write out as many full posts as I can over the weekend. Then I will schedule my posts for release throughout the week. This doesn’t always work out like I’d like though, and I find myself scrambling to get posts out in a timely manner sometimes.

Can you name 3 things that blogging has brought you?
1.) It gave me a voice, a way to really gain confidence as a woman, a mother, and a writer.

2.) It brought me a sort of sanctuary which has helped keep me going. It allows me to indulge my brain, to research, to challenge the norm, to engage my adult needs and reconnect with myself. I have met parts of myself through the blog for the first time, more than once; I have found out how I really feel about certain things when I have been allowed the freedom to write them down.

3.) It has brought me joy! I love my kid’s antics and craziness, even as they test me and stretch me in every way possible. And I get to share their humor, charm, brilliance, and sass with so many others, and maybe make them smile, too.

5 great tips for bloggersMy Top Tips for Bloggers:
* Write about what you want to read about. Dig up answers to questions you haven’t found on any other site. Or details often left out. When I was first researching Sensory Processing Disorder, there were very few blogs dedicated to information from a parents perspective. But I had questions that I wanted answered by a parent, not a doctor. So I try to provide that for other parents.

*Anything can become a blog post or shared on a social network, but that absolutely does not mean that everything should be. If it might humiliate, embarrass, or hurt someone (including your spouse or children)…hit delete instead of publish. In the long run, the vast majority of cyber-friends are exactly that, linked to us through a device only. Never sacrifice flesh and blood relationships to score higher traffic flow, get more likes, or to say something you are not willing to say in person. Cyber friends are not going to embrace your children when they cry, or care for them in an emergency. Treasure the people who show up in real life, even when you’ve given them every reason not to.

*Don’t just state the facts. Share how the facts made you feel. Good or bad, and what did you do about it. If you don’t know more words for emotions than happy, sad, angry, and stressed…look them up! Readers want to connect to you, the author, even if the content is not especially of high interest, but people will often keep reading if they feel connected to the writer through emotions.

*Don’t let the technology intimidate you! I am not tech savvy, but I keep on blogging and learn as I go. I didn’t even know that our tablet came with an e-reader app for over nine months, and I certainly didn’t know how to use it! If you run into something you don’t understand, check the help settings. Still don’t know? Google it. I have yet to have a technology question related to blogging or my devices that someone else hasn’t encountered and either written about (usually in a blog post!) or made a YouTube tutorial for.

*Teach your readers how to use and navigate your blog, and make it EASY to do so. One thing I didn’t realize is that some of my followers who used the email option were not commenting because they didn’t know they could click on the title to link back to the live post and comment. Others couldn’t comment because they didn’t have their device set to enable cookies. What might be second nature to you may need multi-step instructions for others. I recently set up a page for this on my blog. I explain how to get to the Web Version from the mobile format, how to subscribe and what that means, how to search for posts or content, what the labels mean, and my commenting policy. Those who don’t need it won’t spend much time on it, but those who do are very appreciative.

My Social Media Links:
You can find me over on Twitter.

Thanks very much, Judith. Lovely to find out more about you and your family, and I do love how you describe your blog as a hearth. I really like those tips, too, very honest and all so true.

If you’ve any questions for Judith, feel free to comment on this post, and she’ll pop by and check in. And this sees the final Blog Lowdown in the series. Hope you’ve enjoyed reading? In the next few weeks I will be going back over these fabulous posts and picking out the top tips and recurring themes to share with you, so do look out for those.

Other posts you might like:

How to Write a Brilliant ‘About Me’ Page

My 20 Top Tips for Bloggers

A Blogger’s Guide to Pinterest

Follow on Bloglovin

Visit The Reading Residence’s profile on Pinterest.

Double Flip Review #ToadTest

We’ve been carrying out a couple of #ToadTests here, in our role as toy testers for The Toadstool. Both are from the new Double Flip range, who have ‘all things reversible’ as their tagline.

Double Flip Fun & Games Mat

double flip fun and games

Kids will have hours of fun playing and drawing on this mat with washable felt tip pens. Then pop the mat in the washing machine on a cold wash, hang out to dry and play again!

The activities on the mat include: creative drawing, dot-to-dot, noughts and crosses, colour by numbers, letter writing practice, snakes and ladders and other dice games for older children.

Your children won’t even realise they are learning while they play. Suitable for boys and girls between 3 and 10 years.

double flip fun and games 1

double flip fun and games 7

double flip fun and games 2

double flip fun and games 4

double flip collage

There is so much to do with this mat, as it’s crammed with activities, on both sides, and is washable, so once the kids have finished, we can wash it off and do it all again! As you can see, both of the children were straight into playing with it as soon as I opened it, though at 2, Little Man is too young to be able to take full advantage of all that it offers, though that did not stop him scribbling, and he loves the little counters for game play. For Boo it’s been brilliant. As she’s recently started school, the letters practice is a hit (you see her doing that on the table there!), and dot to dots and word-searches always go down well with her. There is hours worth of fun to be had here, and it’s all kept in a handy little bag, too. This is one we’ve taken out with us, as it’s easy and lightweight to take, and the kids are then happy with it when visiting at houses with few toys! A really lovely, quirky idea, and well-executed, too.

Double Flip Paint or Bake Pack

double flip paint or bake

Inspire kids to get creative!

This reversible apron has a baking side with a pocket, and a wipeable art and craft side. A wooden rolling pin, spoon and two star cookie cutters are part of the set and will get your kids into the kitchen. Flip the apron round and get messy with the included water colours and paint brush!

The perfect present for boys or girls, from age 3 and up.

double flip paint or bake 1

double flip paint or bake  2

double flip paint or bake  3

double flip paint or bake 5

So this one can be used to either bake or paint with. As Little Man had yet to bake without big sister being about and taking over, I took this opportunity to make some cookies with him while she was at school. The apron is reversible, so we went with the clean, crisp white side, which can just be popped in the wash afterwards. It’d be fair to say that Little Man enjoyed baking, and I’m so glad we received this one to test as it prompted me to do it with him. And at the end, you have to lick the spoon, right?!

So the baking element done, it was then Boo’s turn to test out the painting part…

double flip paint or bake 6

double flip paint or bake 7

double flip paint or bake 8

Boo’s wearing the same apron as Little Man was there, just on the other side. She liked it immediately, gasping that ‘it’s pretty’! She likes creating with powder paints, as do I as they’re so much easier to clear up than poster paints. It makes it a fast to set up activity and the range of colours and quality was good. The paintbrush retained all of it’s bristles, and the colours looked pretty.

The two products are fun and offer something a little different. Both encourage kids to use their minds and creativity, too, which is always good. They are of a great quality, but for me, the Fun and Games mat really has the edge, as it is different to anything we’ve seen before, and can be carried about, laid out and played with very easily, with plenty to do on it.

What do you think of them?

Disclosure: I received these products FOC, though all words and opinions remain my own. 

We're going on an adventure

If You’re Ever Made Redundant…

if you're ever made redundant

Hopefully you won’t be, of course. But the Husband was made redundant back at the end of February. He had just hours notice that he’d be receiving his last weekly pay cheque that day and that’s that. He’d been there for 18 years, since leaving college, so even though we’d known the company was struggling, we had no idea that they were to become insolvent that day.

As his boss was declaring himself bankrupt, it actually didn’t occur to us that we may receive redundancy money. It felt unfair not to, after 18 years of hard work, but then if he didn’t have it, he didn’t have it, and of course we’d never have been wanting to sue him – 18 years of just the two of them means 18 years of friendship, too. But then I was chatting to my sister-in-law about it and she mentioned statutory redundancy pay from the government. Ah, we’d not even thought of that. But my husband was one of the fortunate ones who’d found a new job, so we wouldn’t get it, would we? Well, my brother-in-law did, and he’d started in a new job, too. So, I made a couple of calls and it turned out that, yes, we may well be entitled to something, so an RP1 form was duly sent to us. We were advised that as soon as the case was with the courts, there would be a receiver appointed and that they would be in touch with us in due course to help us make our claim. How long can that take? Ah, depends on the case, the court, could be weeks, could be months. Vague, then!

And so we waited. And we waited. And then waited a bit longer. Just over 5 months went by, and the waiting seemed a bit much. I called the court for advice on how the case and was told that they couldn’t disclose anything to me, but for the Husband to email them an enquiry about it. So I drafted it up, and he sent it over. We heard nothing. So he called them and it turns out that the case was closed ages ago and we could just send the form in whenever we liked, no need for a case number or anything. Right, so when were you going to contact us then? Erm, never….

We filled the form in that evening, and noticed that you do need to claim within the first 6 months. We were a week away from 6 months. No-one would have contacted us, not one person advised us we were entitled to make a claim at any stage.

After posting off the form, we heard nothing for 3 weeks, and then a letter advising us that as they’d not received the information they requested a fortnight earlier (a letter we did not receive) they’d have to decline the case. Aaah! So we called, we emailed and they acknowledged the forms we sent on. Another 3 weeks of waiting and a chase up call and finally, finally, the settlement has arrived.

‘Frustrating’ doesn’t quite cover it!

What have your experiences been, if you’ve been in this boat, too?

A Visit to the Sea Life Centre

Last weekend we had a lovely, water-filled, day. We’d been invited along to the Sea Life Centre in Birmingham, to take a look around and enjoy their new Octonauts mission, which runs from 11th October until 30th November.

Kwazii and Peso in tunnelThe Sea Life centre tells us that:

Fans will have the chance to join Kwazii and Peso in their discovery of some real live sea creatures and enjoy a host of Octonautical activities; including an all new quiz trail, fresh activity books, stickers, photo opportunities and much more.

You can read more about the Octonauts visit here, along with the meet and greet details.

As you can imagine, the children were excited about going. They enjoy nosing around aquariums (my brother runs an aquatic shop, and they get excited enough about just seeing his shop!), they were looking forward to seeing the new Penguin Ice Adventure (as was I!) and there was the added attraction of the Octonauts being there.

On arrival, we first went through to the Penguin Ice Adventure

Picture by Sam Bagnall

We all liked seeing the penguins swimming up and down, up and down, and they move so quickly and gracefully in the water, really lovely to watch. (oh, and I couldn’t get a single photo of them that wasn’t really blurry, so hooray for this image I received!). The Gentoo spent the time that we were there all under water, though they also have an icy home above water, where you’d be able to see a few waddling about.

And then we were off to look at the many, many sea creatures that the Sea Life Centre houses…

Sealife Centre Birmingham Little Man watches

sea life centre

Sealife Centre Birmingham penguin watching

Penguins aside (I so love penguins!), I really enjoyed the jellyfish area, where there were lots of tanks and tubes with these amazing looking creatures..

jellyfish

The Husband’s favourite part was the walk-through ocean tunnel, where we were surrounded by water and sharks and turtles, amongst others, swam over and around us. It is great to feel you can get so close to them. There were also friendly Sea Life Centre staff on hand in most areas to answer any questions or fill us in on what we were seeing.

The Octonauts mission that’s currently running includes a quiz trail around the centre. As Boo was meeting up with some of her blogger family friends, this kind of passed her by, as she raced round excitedly looking at the exhibits and laughing with the other kids. She was way too excited to stop and read anything! I think the trail really suits slightly older children, though Boo may well have had a better look if it wasn’t for the fact that she was ridiculously excited!

octonauts mission

Both Peso and Kwazii were about for meet and greets, which I think is a fabulous idea for younger ones. Little Man certainly thought so as he launched himself at Kwazii!

Sealife Centre Birmingham Kwazii

After we’d explored, the kids discovered the soft play centre and as they can never pass a chance like that up, we lost them to chaos for quite some time! After they’d run around like crazy in there for a while, we departed, and given that we come right out onto the canals, we decided to have a stroll round them.

I love this part of Birmingham, and though the Husband and I used to roam around here, we’d yet to take the children. They enjoyed looking at the passing barges, Little Man was pleased to spot some geese, and Boo loved the tunnels.

canalside

canals

canal side

We had fun and learning at the Sea Life Centre, fresh air and strolling down by the canals, and two happy and tired out children. We returned home to assemble Little Man’s brand new ‘big boy’ bed and then all played a new game together. A Saturday full of adventures and family time, just perfect.

Disclosure: We received entrance to the Sea Life Centre FOC, though all words and opinions remain my own. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Word of the Week – 17/10/14

Thank you so much for continuing to share and to link up – I love to find out about everyone’s weeks in this way, love it!

If you’re new here, Word of the Week is a nice and simple weekly linky, with everyone welcome to pop by and share. You reflect back on the past week and sum it up in one word. Then share your word with us in a blog post, with as little or as much explanation as you like. I comment on and tweet out every post, and it’s a friendly place, so come join in! All that I ask is that if you link up, you link back to me, and visit as many of the other blogs as you can and comment on their words, please.

My word of the week this week is:

damp

Not the most inspiring of words! It has been wet most days here, and I seem to have managed to get caught in pretty much every shower. School runs have been fine up until recently, because of course they were dry, but now we battle through lashing rain, with a 2 year old who refuses to have a rain cover on his pushchair (and is more than capable of kicking it off!) and so ends up damp. The plus side to this, as I really have to try and find one, is that we’ve been enjoying some delicious hot chocolates when we get home!

I look out into my garden, that I was lovingly tending until a few weeks ago, and all I see is damp and soggy, with leaves that I really need to rake up, but I don’t want to go out there because it’s damp!

We’ve been tired, with Boo having a bout of croup and Little Man testing out his ‘big boy’ bed boundaries, so a few disturbed nights, waking to dark and wet mornings, leaves my mood feeling altogether ‘damp’. The news that there’s a sick bug going around Boo’s classmates does nothing to lift me either, as I absolutely loathe sick bugs hitting this house – they’re never good, are they?!

It’s then, I suspect because of the weather and the tiredness, been a week with niggles and irritations. Nothing huge, nothing significant, just little thing after little thing. I’m sure if it was hot and sunny, I wouldn’t be dwelling on them! But yes, enough to put a dampener on my normal positive mood.

But do not worry (were you even worrying?!), as you know me and I will lift myself out of this damp place, in spite of what the weather may throw at me. For I have Tots100 blog camp to look forward to tomorrow, my nephew’s theatre performance next week and it’ll be half term before we know it, too, which I’m really looking forward to. Come on sunny disposition, come back!

What about you? What one word sums up your week best? Please grab the badge, link up and share.

The Reading Residence



Linky opens at 6.30am Friday, to midnight on Sunday.

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The ‘Big Boy’ Bed, With Noa & Nani

Little Man is now 25 months old, and so my thoughts have recently turned to moving him from his cot to a bed. A big milestone for him, so I wanted to get him something special. I had a little look over at Noa and Nani, and it was actually their amazing cabin beds that initially caught my eye. They are just fabulous looking (do go take a peek!), and I was so, so tempted to get one, but realistically, a bed much nearer to the floor made sense for a first bed, as I have no doubt that my little climber would come a cropper if he was up high! So, a bit disappointed that he couldn’t have one, I mooched about further and I spotted this beautiful Hove Day Bed…..

noa-and-nani-hove-day-bed-in-white-p24-29_image

So sweet, nice and low, and with the huge added bonus of a trundle bed underneath. Little Man has the smallest bedroom in our house, and whilst it’s still a good size, thinking to the future, a trundle bed will be perfect for him having mates over to stay. Oh, and of course Boo is already asking to sleep in there with him! So decision happily made, we just had to wait, and show pictures of the bed to Little Man, to get him excited, rather than anxious about the change.

On the bed’s arrival, I did double-check with the delivery men that I had enough boxes, as it was just 3 relatively small packages, along with the mattresses which came all rolled up. I’d expected it to take over the hallway, but it was fine, and could be kept out of the way until we had a chance to assemble it.

Each package was light enough to be carried up the stairs without a problem, and every item was present and correct. It took the Husband just over an hour to put it together, and it was pretty simple to do, with a reassuringly thin instruction booklet!

noa and nani bed being assembled

It was put together with the ‘help’ of two little people as well, as they couldn’t be tempted away from such a fascinating activity. Though it did mean that literally the second that it was ready, they were both in the bed! I took it as a sign that he liked it! Little Man had helped me to choose new duvet sets ready for it, and the first one we have on is lots of brightly coloured transport on white. So here’s the bed, all ready, what do you think?

Noa and Nani Hove Day Bed

I love it! The white looks clean and bright, and it’s actually lower than I thought it would be, which reassures me in case Little Man falls out, and it really opens the room up after having a cot with high sides in there. Putting it together was easy, and it looks so stylish. Every time I walk upstairs now I smile when I look into his room! And, more importantly than all of this, he does go to sleep in it!!

Alongside sorting the bed, I knew that it was time for the nursery decor to go and be updated with some fresh little touches. It’s mad me a bit sad and nostalgic, as it’s the same Mamas and Papas Gingerbread range that Boo had. It’s been here for five years, so it does feel strange to be taking it all down, but times do change and move on.

I went for bright and bold colours, that I’m hoping will grow with him. We ensured the curtains are blackout, as well as the blinds behind them – we’re no strangers to this parenting malarkey! My mum, is a very handy seamstress, and so we have matching name bunting, curtain tie backs, and a lampshade thanks to her. There’s plenty of wardrobe and storage space, thanks to Ikea, and I adore the picture of Little Man’s first painting...

Little Man's decor

Oh, and while Boo is delighted and very happy for Little Man, she has expressed some interest in having new things for herself, of course! Now, she is a big TMNT fan, and Noa and Nani have a fab range that I suspect she’d love…..

teenage-mutant-ninja-turtles-cabin-bed-with-slide-and-tent-in-tmnt-design-noa and nani
Something for everyone!

Do you like the bed we went for? If you do, I have good news for you. I have one Noa and Nani Hove Day Bed available to give-away to one of my very, very lucky readers! Entry into the competition is through commenting and using the rafflecopter below, and it’s open to UK entrants only. Competition closes 10th November 2014, good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What product do you love from the Noa and Nani range?

Disclosure: I received a bed FOC for the purposes of writing this post, though all words and opinions remain my own.

#BringBackPaper October Activities

I’m thinking it’s about time to get a few fresh #BringBackPaper activities started up. If you’re new to Bring Back Paper, you can read a little background about it here.

I thought we’ll get cracking with a few things which should see us through to the end of November. I’m pretty confident that in December, there’ll be plenty of paper flying about, as cards are sent and gifts are prettily wrapped! Thinking about it, I suppose December is the ultimate papery month, and certainly in my case, I also tend to receive a fair few papery gifts – Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without books and lovely new stationery!

So, back to the present, and here are my proposed activities:

November Instagram Challenge – #30DaysOfPaper. We did one of these back in August, and I absolutely loved it! So many of you joined in, too, and have asked for me to run it again, and so I am very pleased to oblige! Follow me on Instagram now, and keep your eye out for the reveal of the prompts. It’ll start 1st November, and run throughout the month. And yes, I’m excited already! Oh, and if you’re not on Instagram, go get on there so you can play, too!

Book Swap – yes, it’s back! To get involved, email me at jocelyn@thereadingresidence.com with your postal address and I’ll pair you up with another keen swapper. You’ll have until the end of November to post your book, and please do only join in if you’re sure you can make that deadline, as we don’t want any disappointed people harassing their postman! It’s to be a pre-loved book, no need to go out and buy a new one, and can be any fiction title at all that you’d like to pass on to someone. So it’s something of a lucky dip as to what you’ll receive, which I have loved doing as it has had me reading and enjoying books that I may not have picked up myself.

Twitter Party – put the date in your paper diary! 8pm on Wednesday 29th October. You’ll find me on Twitter here, and we’re going to be chatting and sharing all things papery. You can expect trips down memory lane, book loving and pretty papery shots, as well as plenty of people going off on tangents and random chit chat, I’m sure! Be there!

Be lovely to have lots of people joining in, so do spread the word.

Do you think that’s enough to get some paper flying about and being enjoyed for the next few weeks? Have you any other suggestions? Always happy to hear them, and do feel free to drop me a line at jocelyn@thereadingresidence.com if you’d like to guest post here or feature your papery business.

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We’ve Been Reading…

The children have been absolutely spoiled recently, having received several new books, so this is what we’ve been reading…..

Bloomsbury Books

Boo has moved onto largely having chapter books for her bedtime story now, so most of these have gone into Little Man’s room. That said, she has of course read them all a few times and I notice that she immediately took the latest Amelie and Nanette book and popped that one in her room! She has their Sparkly Shoes and Picnic Parties book, which she enjoys, so it was no surprise!

OK, where to start and which one to share with you first?! They are all lovely, though favourites are already emerging. We’ll kick off with my personal favourite, which is…

penguin and pumpkinPenguin and Pumpkin

When Penguin and Bootsy plan a trip in search of autumn, Penguin’s little brother, Pumpkin, wants to join in. But Pumpkin is heartbroken to find out he’s too little to go, so Penguin and Bootsy bring a special surprise home to share a little touch of Autumn with Pumpkin.

An energetic and endearing story celebrating Autumn and family in many forms!

Now, I love penguins, so this was always going to go down well, but that aside, it’s the quirky tale and illustrations from Salina Yoon that draws me in. We have Penguin in Love, which we also really like, so we were straight into reading this one to see what Penguin and Bootsy were up to this time. And as with the other Penguin stories, it’s cute, it’s charming and it’s just the perfect autumnal picture book for me.

alfie in the gardenAlfie in the Garden

Alfie Rabbit is helping his mummy in the garden. His world turns from real to imagined, as a gatefold spread is opened. Now he’s in the jungle! He’s a lion on the prowl, an elephant spraying water from his trunk, and a little bird flying home to his nest . . . to have a nap with Mummy! A delightful book for toddlers, celebrating their irrepressible imagination, with exquisite illustrations featuring all sorts of garden – and jungle! – creatures.

This book is sweet, and Alfie Rabbit does remind me of my toddler. The world is so different through their eyes, and Alfie takes us on a journey through his. Written by a favourite of ours, Debi Gliori, as she always manages to make her characters so very loveable.

my little starMy Little Star

When the day is done and sleep draws near,
When the moon’s aglow and stars appear.
I’ll whisper something crystal clear –
Words meant just for you to hear.

As nighttime falls and the moon starts to shine, parents and children across the world snuggle up together. So cuddle close, because it’s time for a bedtime story.

With a gentle message and beautifully tender illustrations, My Little Star is the perfect way to end the day with your own little star.

This one’s a cuddly, heart-warming one, one of those where you go ‘aah’ and hold your little one that bit closer. I like this one as the final bedtime book of an evening, to pop Little Man into bed with, a gentle tale to round off his day.

dragon jellyDragon Jelly

TA-DAH! It’s DRAGON JELLY time,
A sizzling scrumptious treat.
It’s red. It’s wobbly. Best of all,
It’s SCARY HOT to eat . . . !

Max is having a MONSTER party. They play all sorts of yucky games then cool down in a fruitbat drool paddling pool! Then it’s tea-time, with termite tarts, ear-wig rolls and eyeball birthday cake. But the REAL treat is the red-hot dragon jelly!

This one’s Little Man’s favourite – I mean, bright pages, monsters and jelly – what’s not to love?! We like a lot of books by these authors, such as Aliens Love Underpants and Barry the Fish with Fingers. It’s bold, it’s funny and it has both children giggling.

yikes, santa clawsYikes, Santa-Claws

It was Christmas Eve and the dino-tots were tucked up
in bed dreaming of Christmas magic . . .

But where were the jolly jingle bells?
The hearty “Ho! Ho! Ho!”?
And who was this green scaly creature
stomping through the snow?

YIKES, It’s Santa-CLAWS and he’s causing chaos.
Can ANYONE stop him and save the day?
Find out in this crazy Christmas caper.

I do like getting new Christmas books to add to our little stock, as they do really make for fun reads in the run up to the event, and help to ramp that excitement up another notch! This is a rhyming tale and it’s a silly one. Sure to be a hit with little ones, as Santa-Claws burps and poos – I don’t know about your kids, but this is guaranteed hilarity to mine! It is funny, and you’ll be pleased to know that he does mend his ways and all comes good in the end!

amelie and nanette snowflakes and fairy wishesAmelie and Nanette: Snowflakes and Fairy Wishes

Amelie and Nanette are very excited! Christmas is coming, and they are busy making their fairy costumes for the party at school. There are cakes to bake and paper chains to make too. But on the day of the party, poor Nanette starts to shiver and sneeze – and has to stay at home!

They are both very sad, but when Nanette gets better, a special fairy comes to visit, and Pilou the dog delivers a sack full of cards from her school friends!

An enchanting festive story featuring two very special girls, who discover that the best gift of all is to have a friend to share Christmas with.

‘Enchanting’ is just how I’d describe this one. A tale of friendship, with beautiful illustrations and an almost vintage feel to it. This is a little on the long side for a picture book, which is perfect for Boo, as she has a good attention span for stories, and she really likes the main characters and listening to the story unfold. It’s a book I suspect I’m going to be reading a lot in the run up to Christmas, and I don’t mind one bit!

They’re all available to buy now, with the exception on Amelie and Nanette, which comes out 23rd October. Which one most appeals to you?

Disclosure: We received the books FOC, though all words and opinions remain my own.

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