Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Review: No Such Thing by Ella Bailey

Ella Bailey's No Such Thing is quite simply a work of art.  It's the kind of book that I have to reread just to make sure I have taken in every single detail of the artwork, noticing something new each time I read.  Whilst this book is best enjoyed during the month of October, simply due to the whole story revolving around Halloween, I am sure it will be a book we will return to whenever we fancy a dose of enchantment.

Every page can be marvelled at!
The autumnal palette of colours used throughout the book is breathtaking and really captures the joy of the season.  The pages are jam-packed full of detail and Ella's style of illustration really captivates the imagination with the use of colour, emotion and shape. 

I'm sure this book would work as a picture book alone (no words needed), however the text adds another dimension to the book as we are treated to the story told in rhyme.   I'm guessing that teachers would appreciate this book too as it works alongside the National Curriculum with the range of descriptive words it employs.

We loved the range of expressions Ella used.

Story-wise, the plot goes against what you would expect for a children's book as we usually try to instil in children that there are no such thing as ghosts, however the main character Georgia is adamant that the destruction that is going on around the house is due to everyone else (her brother, the neighbour etc.) but ghosts.  She reiterates this by making posters for herself that say there are no such thing as ghosts.  Whilst she looks elsewhere for people to blame, the readers job is to discover the hidden ghosts lurking behind handbags and curtains.  My son really enjoyed this part of the book, and liked the fact that all the ghosts were made to look so friendly.

Lots of reader engagement!

Lovely range of colours used throughout the book.

This charmingly illustrated picture book will be one that we return to again and again...

For more info please visit http://flyingeyebooks.com/shop/no-such-thing-2/?

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book to review, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Review: Fairytale - Gingerbread Man Satchel from Totallyfunky.co.uk

I was recently over the moon to have won a £25 voucher to spend with Totally-Funky.co.uk in connection with We're Going On An Adventure blog.  I love this blog because it always offers great ideas for days out, interesting posts on motherhood, reviews and competitions.  So when I found I had won the voucher I had great fun trawling the Totally Funky website deciding on the best way to spend my £25. I'd never heard of Totally-Funky.co.uk before this competition and now I had been on their website I was spoilt for choice.  Umming and ahhing over Pacman lights and Batman ducks, I finally settled on a really unusual satchel/handbag.  The bag actually retailed at £39.99 which meant I had to spend an extra £15 as I had gone over my voucher limit, but when the bag arrived I was so pleased with it that I decided the best way to express my delight would be to write a blog post.  

The bag comes from the 'Once Upon A Time' range from Disaster Designs and is one of a few bags which are based on fairy tales; others being Snow White, Hansel and Gretel and Red Riding Hood.  The quirky illustrations were what made me fall head over heels for this bag, and the fact that it allows us grown-ups to retain a little bit of magic from childhood with this modern twist.

Although the bag  looks like it does up through the use of the clasps, it is actually much easier to get in to the bag by a metallic clasp hidden on the underside of the flap of the bag.   There's so much attention to detail too; with the bows, embroidery,  and two Gingerbread Man zip attachments.

The lining features many different fairy tales.  My little boy loved spotting the various characters.  How many can you spot?

It's easy to remain organised with this bag too as there are outer pockets on either side of the bag, and a zipped compartment and two pouches inside the bag.  The bag opens up impressively wide to be able to store all your bits and bobs.

Who couldn't love these gorgeous illustrations?  We even have the sly fox there...

Even the inside of the bag has gorgeous illustrations...

With so much attention to detail, I'll certainly be living "happily ever after" with this bag.  And I will definitely be purchasing more in the range.  

Thank you so much to Going On An Adventure blog and TotallyFunky.co.uk 

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Holiday Heaven: Breathtaking beauty at Rural Retreats ‘Captain’s House’ - Marazion, Cornwall

This month I am taking part in the Ocean Finance's 'Holiday Heaven or Hell' blogger competition. I think it's highly apt that our 'Holiday Heaven' almost seemed like we had our own private ocean....
 Captain’s House managed to encompass everything you could possibly want from a holiday home and so much more.   Our time there was unforgettable and here’s why.....

The holiday critic; also known as me!
We encountered every magical moment possible at Captain’s House in the coastal town of Marazion, Cornwall.  Walking in to the house we were instantly dumbfounded as it was even better than what it appeared in the brochure (which was a hard feat as it looked fantastic in that). Nothing disappointed!

We were met with massive sumptuous rooms with each individual room offering views to die for of St Michael’s Mount.  The aspect of beauty in every single room was simply breathtaking from domed lampshades to a beautiful giant dressing room.  Subtle colours used throughout emphasised the massive amount of airy space and recliners and sofas added to the ambient atmosphere.  Accompany this with the many outstanding home comforts such as a dedicated children’s room with a 65 inch TV, home cinema system and comfy beanbags, a spa bath, a sun terrace where you could eat your food looking straight across to the island and we quite simply thought we were in heaven. 
The dining area

We were greeted with this lovely hamper full of goodies and a Cornish newspaper

Further to the beauty of the house, we were catered for with a wonderful hamper containing such luxuries as strawberries, scones, wine, clotted cream and much more.  Every aspect of our lives was covered by them; there was nothing we wanted for.  The first thing I did when I woke up the next morning was to blink my eyes to ensure the vast white room around me (which was like something out of a movie)and island was still there, because I wanted to ensure that I  wasn't dreaming.  Never before had I encountered this feeling when on holiday.

The kitchen

 The house was big, warm, luxurious and simply perfect.  You could feast your eyes on nature and hear the tranquil sounds of the waves lapping up against the pebbles.  So powerful was the environment that it felt healing somehow.  And with the sun that shone in from every window and the sea air I am positive that it was!  I left the Captains house feeling totally revived, even if we did feel quite sad at the prospect of leaving.  When we came home we really, really missed it.  It was the nearest thing to being in paradise for us.  If the weather was bad then that just added to the mystique of the island.  And if the sun shone then it enhanced the beauty of the beautiful blue sea.

A litle misty in this pic. but was amazing once the fog cleared!

Out of the window!

There was even a tennis area in the garden!

My youngest son and I

What was fantastic about the situation of the house was the fact that you didn’t need to travel for miles to go to local attractions.  We were separated from the beach only by a garden wall and it was like having a beach for a garden.  We spent one sunny blissful day on the beach building sandcastles with our two boys.  I read somewhere that the beach overlooking St Michael's Mount is one of the best in the UK for building sandcastles and that was really true as the sandcastles came out of the bucket with the details of windows and doors which I have never seen happen before.  We also made a boat trip over to St Michael’s Mount and after going up to the castle we enjoyed a Cornish pasty looking over the sea, which was an experience we will never ever forget.  It was also very interesting to encounter the community spirit of the villagers. 

Lots of interesting tunnels to explore over on St Michael's Mount.  Very Enid Blytonish!

The little cafe where you can enjoy a delicious ice-cream or Cornish pasty.

Pretending to be a pirate!

The boat ride added to the fun.

St Michael's Mount at night.

The naughty seagull

We were told that a regular visitor to the island was a seal.  Alas, we didn’t see the seal but we did get our own taste of nature when my husband felt something hit him hard on the back. My husband turned around ready to scold my son thinking that he must have thrown something at him before he realised the bird had pooed on him.  We were weak with laughter as he complained how much it hurt!  I guess the seagulls wanted to get their own back on us for abiding by the sign that told us not to feed them!

It’s hard to say what was my favourite bit about the Captain’s house but I will say the Master bedroom in the Captain’s House was out of this world.  With the massive windows we were able to observe the daily routines of the island, the soothing presence of the sea and an island which would from time to time disappear in to the mist.   It’s hard to imagine that you could gain much more from a holiday home but team the views with the lavish rooms and you truly have perfection.  Captain’s House has given us so many precious memories of family time at a truly unique place! If you want to feel like a queen of a castle with a magical island in your garden then Captains House is most certainly the place for you.  This was most definitely my Holiday Heaven!  

For more details on the Ocean Finance competition please visit https://www.oceanfinance.co.uk/blog/holiday-heaven-or-hell-blogger-competition-0-4484-0.htm

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Sugar Nellie 'Transport' Card #craftbarnchallenge

This week's Craft Barn challenge was to make a card on the theme of transport.  The stamp I have used is called 'Going for a Spin' by Sugar Nellie.  Still practising with my colouring.

If you want to know more about the challenge head to http://thecraftbarnblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Surf's Up by Penny Black holiday card #craftbarnchallenge

This is my entry for the Craft Barn's challenge of the week, the theme being 'holiday.'  I know my work is still looking pretty amateurish at the moment, but I am still practicing.  I just used coloured pencils and gel pens to colour this image in.  The stamp is 'Surf's Up' by Penny Black and I used gloss accents to make things look a bit shiny.

For info on this week's Craft Barn challenge please visit http://thecraftbarnblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Bag featuring From the Hollow 'Serena' stamp #Craftbarnchallenge

I've been meaning to try my hand at rubber stamping for a while, but this week's Craft Barn challenge to make a bag prompted me to stop worrying about how good my colouring is and just give it a go.  For this I used the From the Hollow 'Serena' stamp, some Trimcraft paper and a lilac blank bag.  

I coloured my images with a mixture of normal pencils and Spectrum Noir markers in some of their red shades.  I enjoyed myself so much! Whilst I know my shading of the stamp is far from perfect, it has set me on a journey of studying tutorials and getting a bigger colour range of markers to make my final results look more professional.  Hope you like the bag!

For this weeks Craft Barn challenge visit http://thecraftbarnblog.blogspot.co.uk/

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Balloon Memories and a Tutorial. #Weloveballoons

I'm bursting with ideas that have popped in to my head about balloons.  When I think of balloons, I think of childhood.  In fact the most traumatic of childhood memories involves a balloon, a beautiful opalescent purple helium balloon in the shape of a heart.  I loved it!  And so it seemed did my little sister... I'm guessing our ages were something around 8 and 4 years old.  I was pretty good at sharing as a child, but I drew the line at giving my sister my precious balloon as even I was aware of the hazards.  I had managed to walk back to the car with the balloon tied around my wrist, I carefully kept it out of my fathers eye line whilst he drove us home with the precious cargo, but when we got home something disastrous happened.  My sister wanted to hold it, not just hold it, but hold it outside!!  

I was not at all happy about this, but she promised my mother that she would hold it tightly outside and that my mother could hold her hand for supervision.  However, the inevitable happened and she let my beautiful purple balloon slip far, far away in to the sky.  I came out of the house just at the moment my purple balloon became a purple dot in the sky.  The reason for this was that my sister wanted to see how far it would float.  And although as children, it seemed there was no limit to how high a balloon can fly, technically the answer would have been roughly 10 km.  SO there's a fact for you dear sister, you really didn't need to sacrifice my wonderful balloon.  However, I suppose you did need to get me back after that wonderful haircut I gave you with that delightfully wonky fringe.

Now, I have my own children and balloons still provide a constant source of fun.  From balloon battles to drawing silly faces there is much fun to be had.  However,my favourite way of cheering up the children when they are ill is to make them some balloon flowers.
 These are super easy to make, but are pretty impressive to look at and are great for parties or just for cheering the kids up.  If you can blow a balloon you can make these...


For the above flower I used:
5 standard sized red balloons
2 standard sized yellow balloons
1 caterpillar balloon
Sharpie pen
Balloon pump

I suggest using a balloon pump as it is the easiest way to describe to you how much air you need to pump in to each balloon.

Step 1: Get two red balloons and give them 6 pumps of air.  Hold one whilst you are pumping the other as you will need to tie these two together.

Step 2: Repeat the above step with two more balloons.

Step 3: Fill the final red balloon with 6 pumps of air and twist and tie so that you pull together all 5 balloons.  

Step 4: Pump 2 yellow balloons with 3 pumps of air and tie together, then slide in to place and twist until they become the centre part of the flower.

Step 5: If you want to add a stalk, I used a caterpillar balloon, but you can also use any long balloon and tie around the balloons.

Step 6: Use a Sharpie pen to add detail.

This post was part of the Perfect Party UK 'We love balloons - blogger competition.'  They have some glorious balloons on their website, so if you want to take a look or just want to find out more about the competition head to Perfect Party UK.