Archive for August, 2012
It was during a trip to Ikea that I realised our little guy was starting to get the idea of pretend play. We were in the kids section, he walked right up to the mini kitchen they had set up, and started “washing” something in the play sink.
Then, on the next Ikea trip (yes, I go quite often), he started “cooking”. Genius that I am, I was sensing a pattern.
Obviously he needed a play kitchen at home (because he needs one of everything that he plays with anywhere ever). I thought about buying the Ikea one, but there were so many DIY versions on Pinterest that I convinced myself I could at least attempt to make one for him myself. I thought I could use an already existing cabinet, side table, or other small box-shaped piece of furniture as the base, and work from there.
Something like this:
(Here is my Pinterest board of play kitchens for more examples). I looked around for a while for an old cabinet or small chest of drawers (either free on the side of the road, or in second hand stores) but I couldn’t find anything useful. And then a friend recommend I look on Gumtree, which is like the Australian version of Craigslist or Ebay (yes, I know there are Australian versions of Craigslist and Ebay). Anyway, I found this little beauty for a good price, and it was quite local for me to go and collect it myself.
As you can see, it was a lovely shade of pink. And it’s not that I have a problem with my son playing with pink toys, it’s that I personally am not a “pink” person. So I sanded it, primed it and painted it white. We had some leftover white gloss paint from something else, so I was able to save some money by using that. In hindsight, I should have given it at least 2 coats of primer, it would have looked better. But it’s good enough.
The hardest part was that it was the middle of a very cold, very wet winter’s week, so to make sure it would dry, I had to keep it in the living room. And I could only paint it at night once the Widg had gone to bed, so that it was touch dry by the morning when he wanted to drive his toy cars all over it. And I had set myself the goal of having it finished and sitting outside on the deck for the Widg’s birthday party. All of this meant that it was a race against time to get it all painted and dry and beautified in time.
I put new handles on the doors (these in white), new “hotplates” on the stovetop (these in black), new knobs or buttons to work the oven and microwave (these in black), and a new sink (a silver mixing bowl).
The lovely lady who sold us the kitchen also gave us a whole bunch of little tiny saucepans and play food.
Lots of our friends and family knew I was putting this together, so the Widg was blessed to receive lots of kitchen “accessories” for his birthday.
I also found a few bits and pieces at markets.
I think I still want to tweak it a bit, maybe do something different with the splash back, put some hooks on the side for a tea towel and his apron.
Because it’s so big, and the Box is so small, his play kitchen sits outside on the deck. When we get some warmer weather, I plan to put his little table and chairs out there too, and he can have a whole kitchen/cafe thing going on.
Here’s that wide shot again, just because I’m so pleased with how it turned out.5 comments
I had lots of fun sewing these baby change kits for my awesome brother and his lovely lovely wife (Hi Boo & Nat!).
Two years ago, I got the original idea from here, and I had made some for myself to use with the Widg. I use them every day, and they are very handy.
The idea is that one kit is enough to get you through an outing with your bub – a change mat, couple of nappies, wipes and some little rubbish bags in case there isn’t a nappy disposal bin nearby. There’s even enough room to put in a little onesie or something in case you need an emergency outfit change. The carry bag itself is just a simple drawstring bag.
The kit is small enough to throw in your normal (large size) handbag, hang it on the pram handle, or keep one in the car for emergencies. Depending on where you are going and how long you’ll be out, you don’t always need to take a huge bag of baby stuff with you. Keep a couple of them stocked and near the front door, and you’re ready to leave the house fairly quickly. It’s little things like this that can make your day just that little bit easier with a newborn (or a busy toddler).
This time, I made the change mats myself too (previously I just bought one to put in the bag). I simply used some nice quilting cotton and some soft flannelette, sewed them together wrong-sides-facing, then turned them right-side-out and stitched around the edge.
As I make more and more of these kits, I’m getting faster and more efficient, and I find it’s easier to make a few at once, and keep some handy as gifts for people (there’s always someone having a baby somewhere). I even made another one for myself this time.
I make mine a little bigger, since the cloth nappies are bulkier. That white zip-up bag you see in the pic below is a wet bag – where we put the used cloth nappy to keep it sealed up until we get it home and into the wash.
These change kits are such a quick and easy sewing project, and always give me a great feeling of accomplishment when I’m done.
We celebrated the Widg’s 2nd birthday recently, and we had an absolute ball.
We had a proper party this year, in that we actually invited friends (both the grown up kind and the little kind). The theme was “clouds”. Husband designed the invitations, and I made a lot of the decorations myself (thanks Pinterest) – tissue paper pom poms and felt circle garlands, using inspiration and tutorials from here, here, and here .
We couldn’t have asked for better weather on the day, considering it is the middle of winter. It was sunny and mild – great for allowing the kids to run around outside in the garden, rather than have them tearing up the house.
Our little man was completely spoiled with gifts (check out the loot!) and had a great time playing with his friends and family.
I think his favourite part was the cake. It was Mickey Mouse.
We also were very lucky to have the famous PassionCookie make us some custom cloud-shaped gingerbread cookies. Awesome. There were only 2 leftover, so I will have to order larger quantities next year (half the fun is stuffing my face with all the leftovers for the rest of the week).
For the party favour bags, I wanted to give the guests (the little ones) something to take home that was a) not full of sugar, and b) something they could use and enjoy for more than 2 minutes. I made some little envelope pouches and filled them with a little booklet and some crayons. Sort of a travel drawing kit. The grown ups got to take home some more of the awesome cloud cookies. At least someone got to be full of sugar.
In the days leading up to the party, we had several conversations with our little man about what a birthday party was, why we were having it, who would be there, etc. He enjoyed talking about what food he would get to eat (Sausage rolls! Chocolate! Cake!) and who would be coming over to play with him. My favourite version of the conversation went something like this:
Me: “Who is coming to your birthday party?”
Widg: “Gran and grandpa?”
Me: “Yes! Who else?”
Widg: “Mummy and daddy?”
Me: “Yes! Who else?”
Widg: “Angus?” (yes Jen, he wanted repeated reassurance that Angus would be coming).
Me: “Yes! Who else?”
(This went on for some time while we listed all the various family members and friends). Then…
Widg: “What about Jesus?”
Me: (after stifling giggles) “Of course Jesus will be there buddy. He loves you, and he’s everywhere.”
Genius child.3 comments
My lovely and creative friend is expecting her first little person very soon, and I have been bursting with ideas for things to make for the little one. This friend of mine has very specific tastes, and is remarkably talented herself at creating, sewing, crafting and styling, so I was feeling both excited and a little nervous about making something that she might actually like to display in her home. I decided in the end that if she loved it, then great. But if she hated it, she is a gracious enough friend to enjoy the fact that I made it for her, and then discreetly hide it away somewhere (if you’re reading this Rhi, then I am completely ok with you hiding it somewhere and pretending you just haven’t found the right spot to hang it yet).
Well, I got so excited about all the great ideas I had, that I decided to make more than one.
The first one is a mobile to hang in the baby’s room. My inspiration was a combination of the “Ephemera mobile” from Pip Lincolne‘s book Meet Me at Mike’s and this fabric-wrapped lampshade from Under the Sycamore. I tried to use colours, materials and objects that I knew my friend would like, but I also made it so that it won’t be too hard to change things if she wants to adjust it a bit. I also added some cute wooden pegs so that she can hang her own things from it, like maybe some photo’s or cards or something. It also has some sentimental value: the paper I used to make the little flowers was from a very old knitting pattern book that belonged to my husband’s aunt.
It was really hard to photograph, so sorry for the lack of shots on that one.
The second thing I made is my version of a dream catcher. I know she loves these things and I saw some great examples on Pinterest (like this and this). I bought a lovely crochet doily from an op shop, had the large ring left over from the lamp shade I used in the mobile, and the wooden “feathers” were from an old necklace I also found at an op shop.
The third thing I made is an Ojo De Dios. I found this tutorial (which also has a great explanation on the meaning of an Ojo De Dios), and although mine looks nothing like hers, I loved the idea behind creating it as a gift for a newborn, and it’s Mexican Indian heritage.
I had so much fun making these gifts. Frequently, I would be all set up with my supplies sprawled across the dining table, and the Widg would come up and ask what I was doing. “I’m crafting buddy.” “I want to do some crafting too mama!” So I would set him up with crayons, paper, playdoh, stickers. My heart melts every time he now asks if we can do some “crafting” together. It makes a nice change from train tracks and racing cars.3 comments
When we last posted about our cloth nappy journey (here), things were going swimmingly. Unfortunately, things took a bad turn (don’t worry, this story has a happy ending).
The first batch of cloth nappies we purchased for the Widg were Peapods, which are a pocket nappy that comes in 3 sizes (small, medium and large) depending on the size and age of your baby. We bought a bunch of the smalls, and they were awesome. He was starting to grow out of those, and so we bought a bunch of the mediums. They worked great for about a month, and then they started leaking inexplicably. I had followed all of the instructions and directions from the manufacturer about fitting, washing and caring for them, and I even called the manufacturer to see if there was something they could recommend.
Now, I should explain that it isn’t uncommon for cloth nappies to have a “build up” of washing detergent over time, which can cause the absorbent part of the nappy to repel liquid, rather than absorb it into the nappy. But this is normally quite easily fixed by different washing and rinsing techniques, specific to each brand/type of cloth nappy. Initially this is what I thought the problem was, although I had never had that problem with the smaller size nappies that we had been using for months. But nothing I tried worked to “strip” away the build up. I eventually worked out that the absorbent material was still absorbing, but it was the outer, waterproof shell that was the problem. It wasn’t actually waterproof anymore – the liquid was leaking straight out. The only conclusion I could come to was that the batch I had was faulty in some way.
Unfortunately, the manufacturer would only replace my faulty nappies with proof of purchase – which I no longer had. Although the people that I spoke to at Peapods were very polite and friendly, they made it clear that there really wasn’t anything more they were willing to do to help me. We considered just buying a new batch of the medium size Peapods. But we decided that, if they weren’t willing to guarantee their own product, then we weren’t willing to invest more of our money in it. It was still really important to us to use cloth nappies on our little man’s butt, so instead of “we’ll just use disposables from now on” we decided to get back on the horse and find another brand of cloth to use.
This was actually the brand I had originally wanted to use when I was pregnant with the Widg and researching cloth options, but I couldn’t find anyone that would ship to Australia at the time. As the name suggests, they are a one-size-fits-all, which means they would have fit the Widg from the very beginning (negating the need for small size, then medium size), and will easily fit him until he is potty trained (fingers crossed that isn’t too far away!). The all-in-one part of the name means that there aren’t any separate parts to the nappy – the liner, insert and cover are all one piece (check out their website for a more thorough explanation of how they work).
How do they compare with the Peapods, in their day to day use? They do take a little bit longer to dry than the Peapods, since there is more bulk to them (being all one piece, rather than being able to separate the parts for quicker drying time), but I have enough of them (16) that I can wash every second day and hang them out to dry, and they are ready in time to use again. Occasionally there was a particularly wet and cold winter’s day where I had to throw them in the dryer, but that really only happens when I’ve been too lazy to wash often enough. Apart from that, they work just as well as the Peapods did (but without the leaking problem).
Also, I should add that the bumGenius website recommends a regular washing routine of washing the nappies twice each time you wash them – once in cold water and once in hot. I only wash once in cold water, and about once a month I give them a hot wash. So far this is working fine for me.
Overall, I am bummed that the Peapods didn’t work out for us, although I am sure many many people use them without any problems at all. But I am very happy with the bumGenius’s. I wish I had been able to purchase them from the very beginning. The worst part of this situation was the money we had already spent on the Peapods. At least the small size ones still work just fine, so we will be able to put them to use with any future children we might have, especially since newborns go through a lot more nappies than older babies and toddlers – with the 20 small Peapods and the 16 bumGenius, we’ll be set!
And again, we’re not being paid by anyone to say any of these things – these are just our own opinions and experiences, and we try to blog truthfully about both negative and positive experiences.
The Widg and I went op-shopping recently (or “thrifting” as they call it on the American blogs I read). We scored some great finds, which is rare for me. I am always amazed at the things that others seem to find (mostly in the US) when they shop in second-hand stores. Why don’t we have great stuff like that here in Australia? Maybe I just don’t live in the right area for it.
Anyway, I found this great wooden house-shaped display box. I plan to paint it and use it for displaying/storing the Widg’s Lego men or little toy cars in the future.
I also found this awesome lamp shade (it did have a fabric cover, but I ripped it off). I plan to do something crafty with the wire frame, not sure what yet.
I also grabbed lots of ribbon, trims, lace and ric rac – always useful for decorating crafty things or wrapping presents. Also some random’y sized crochet squares. I’m sure I’ll find something to do with them
But by far the most fun part of our day happened while I was rummaging in the fabric scraps, the Widg was poking around in a box full of buttons, bangles and other trinkets. He pulled out a long satin ribbon, wrapped it around his neck, and declared: “I’m wearing a scarf. I’m playing dress ups.” How awesome is that?! I am constantly amazed at his capacity to comprehend and express complex ideas. And it’s so much fun that he’s started to really grasp the whole “playing pretend” thing. Now, of course, I have to scour Pinterest for ideas for a dress up box for him. I’ve already found sewing patterns for pirate eye patches, Indian feather headdresses and superhero capes. I’m very excited!No comments
So, it’s been a while. Sorry for the delay, but you know, life and stuff. We’re still here!
We recently took a lovely road trip holiday along the south coast of NSW. Life had been a bit hectic lately, and it was time for a refreshing break away together as a family. We hadn’t really explored the south coast before, so we chose a few main towns as a base, and explored at a leisurely pace from there each day.
Some people might think we are crazy for attempting a road trip with a 2 year old, but we were well planned, well prepared, and it worked out brilliantly. The Widg is a trooper!
Our first stop was Canberra for 2 nights to visit with our dear friend John. We also took in the National Zoo, which was surprisingly good. The lions were awesome – they put on a great show with lots of parading around and roaring and stuff. It was great to see the Widg identifying most of the animals (which he had previously only seen in books or on TV). He seemed to like the lions and penguins best, although he was equally enthralled with the mundane aspects of the zoo, like the pebbles in the foot path.
From Canberra, we took the scenic route down through Cooma and Bega (stopping briefly in each town for a toilet break, a coffee and to let the Widg stretch his little legs).
Our next base of operations was Narooma. We’d never been there before and were pleasantly surprised. We were expecting a quite non-descript, blah sort of place. But it was very pretty, with some great beach houses, heaps of parks for the Widg to play in, all dotted along the shore line.
While based in Narooma, we visited Central Tilba and Tilba Tilba. They are quaint little towns, known for their cheese (it’s dairy country out there), and coffee and gift shops. Central Tilba was our favourite, with some amazing little shops, especially Tango Toys, where we bought the Widg a few bits and pieces.
We also took a long drive around the hills and coastline of Central Tilba, which is just stunning. Rolling hills, green pastures, ocean as far as the eye can see.
From there we headed out to the Bodalla Dairy Shed for breakfast, before making our way up to Kiama.
Unfortunately the rain prevented us from doing too much in Kiama, but we did manage to grab a couple of coffees and head to a great park right on the beach. The Widg had a great time kicking the soccer ball with daddy, climbing all over the play equipment, and watching the waves.
Seriously, how sweet is our little man?