expanding imaginations

I love any idea that helps kids use their imagination and own initiative.  Here is a fab example of one such activity!  Simply cut out a small section of an image from a magazine or photo, paste it on the page and let the kids finish it off however they choose.

image courtesy of artmommie.blogspot.com


free printable reward charts

How divine are these free printable reward charts to help your little ones track of their stars?  Just had to share them with you.

You’ll find more whimsical printables for various occasions, including some beautiful Christmas gift tags, on this quirky and oh-so-fabulous site Arian Armstrong.

Hope you find them helpful! x

look what I just made!

These ‘make your own’ satchel bags arrived in our little store a couple of weeks ago and, although they are designed for kids around the age of 8 to complete, I have been busting to get my hands on one ever since.

The kit includes everything needed to make one fabulous chunky felt satchel. All the pieces are pre-cut so all you need is your hands, some time and enthusiasm.

All up I spent about an hour stitching the whole thing together.  I found the whole project very relaxing and somewhat therapeutic! So THAT is what all my sewing friends are going on about!  I even let my 7 year old help me with some of the stitching, but mostly I just hid in the corner, stitching, stitching …

The 7 year old is terribly happy to take ownership of the bag. Here’s a bit of a dodgy shot of him in his jammies modelling his new crafty satchel that is already now home to all his favourite colouring in books and textas.

Not only is this a fab gift for primary school age kids but I also think it’s a lovely idea for a mama (or papa) to make one for, or with, their younger kids.

We are giving this one the DOUBLE THUMBS UP!


meet a mama – sherene from dinosnores

If you’ve ever struggled to calm your kids at bedtime then you are going to love this mama and her creations as much as I do.  You can read more about Sherene’s Dinosnore Sleepy Time CD range in our little shop and can learn all about Sherene right here …

Tell us a bit about you, fabulous you! 
I live in Manly and love it.  It is a wonderful place to raise children with a healthy, active lifestyle.  Just this week while walking home we saw a water dragon laying her eggs!  We also have seen dolphins, fairy penguins, whales, and a seal.

I am mum to my busy preschool boy Ben and 8 year old tomboy Emma, as well as the woman behind Dinosnores sleepy stores – guided relaxation for kids.

Creating Dinosnores has been an amazing adventure.  I scripted each sleepy story drawing on my experience as a pediatric speech pathologist, my children’s interests and play.  My husband took six months off work to produce our CD artwork and our website.  All our CDs are mastered professionally through Studios 301 using the vocal talent of many of our friends.  And today, we have 9 Sleep titles sold in Australia, NZ and USA and we are about to sign up a UK sales agent.  With 4 awards including CD of the Year 2011 and 2012, and so much positive feedback from parents, I am proud to have created Dinosnores sleepy stories.

Who inspires you?
My close friend Sam.  Mother of 4 – toddler, preschooler Year 2 and Year 5, and homeschooling the primary kids – she is an inspiration in mindful parenting.  She thoughtfully takes time to intellectually, emotionally and physically nurture each of her children AND herself.  She has always read something interesting about parenting, teaching science and society and every conversation I have with her is interesting and energizing (even with the distraction of our combined six children playing).

What can’t you live without?
Family, friends and coffee.

Do you have a favorite blog/s?
I have just found This Is Not What I Signed Up For.  It is Australian, authentic, honest and inspiring blog about parenting – specifically children with autism.  A sensitive, real and powerful read on the parenting journey.

How do you like to spend your spare time?
Reading.  I really miss having hours for recreational reading.  With kids and a business I don’t read as much as I’d like to but I still love to make time to read!

Best time saving or sanity saving idea/tip for mamas?
Get out of your house for a walk, some yoga, a ride or run before you get breakfast for the kids – then you can enjoy being with your kids because you have allowed yourself some ‘you’ time.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I would love to introduce some new guided relaxation CDs for teens, see Dinosnores sleepy stories sold worldwide, and employ my hubby.  Then we could both work from home and be active mindful parents.  Like so many primary bread-winners he misses out on our children’s life Monday to Friday and he would love to be more involved.

What is your favorite quote?
Good mums have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids.  I have no idea who said that, but I used to give myself a hard time about housekeeping.  It reminds me that quality time with my kids is so much more important!

Where can we find you?
Or walking the kids to school in Manly!

craft express – egg carton caterpillar

We have egg cartons coming out the wazooo at the moment.  So I was a tad excited to find this easy, peasy project.

image courtesy of balancinghome.com

Just paint your egg carton, glue on googly eyes (which by now you’ll probably have in the craft box but, if not, just cut out white circles and add a black dot in the middle) then add curled pipe cleaners for antennae.  Done!

paying it forward – operation christmas child

We like to pay it forward whenever we can.  One of the ways we do this at Christmas time is by donating shoe boxes filled with goodies to Operation Christmas Child.

Our kids each have a shoe box and they choose what they would like to give a child in need overseas. They select whether the box goes to a girl or boy, and what age group they’d prefer to give to.  The organisation gives guidelines of what gifts are most suitable but generally something to love, something for school, something to help them create, something to wear and something to play with are winners.

Here’s a shot of some of our little boxes off to a new home.  For an additional few dollars you can track your box to see what country it lands in.

Apart from bringing smiles to lots of little faces overseas, this is a great reminder for our own little people of all that they have and how terribly lucky they really are.

October is collection month so there are only a few days left if you’d like to get involved!  You can check out your nearest drop off point here. x



craft express – halloween stamping!

Although we don’t celebrate Halloween in our home I’m going to get my boys to do this activity whilst I explain the tradition a little more to them.

The beauty of potato stamps is that you can make whatever shape, pattern or image you like!  Simply cut out a raised section, or dig out a section, in the shape you want.  It’s really only limited by your little one’s imagination.

These jack-o-lanterns are a great starting point!  Easy peasy.

introduction to origami (the easy way)

Despite my love for all things creative, some days I am not so inspired. Yesterday was one of those days.  I didn’t feel too well but my little ones were still running at 100% and needed to be entertained!

Amongst other things, my eldest wanted me to make ‘chatterboxes’ with him.

It’s times like this I LOVE pre-prepared kits, like this ‘Introduction to Origami’ kit by our fave French brand Djeco.

The pack includes loads of gorgeous papers (enough to make 24 chatterboxes) and easy instructions (thankfully, because my foggy brain couldn’t even remember where to start).

After all the folding, the last step is to add stickers (more than 150 included in the pack) featuring various funny challenges like ‘touch your nose with your foot’ (um, I couldn’t do it!), ‘imitate the invisible man’ (very tricky), ‘talk to a door’ (we chatted for ages, much to the boys’ delight!) and lots more.

Once the chatterbox is completed, ask your friend (or Mum*) to give you a number.  For example if they say number 4, you open the chatterbox 4 times.  Then ask them to choose one of the triangles in the centre of the chatterbox to see which challenge is under it.  Your friend must then carry out the challenge.

The age recommendation is 5-10 years and my 7 year old just needed a kick start with the visual instructions then managed quite easily.   Definitely a winner as a ready-to-go option that will keep them occupied for hours.  Our little store has loads of great Djeco kits starting at just $9.95.

* You may need to do some stretches to help your toes reach your nose, and come up with some good conversation starters for all the doors at your place.




meet a mama – simone from hip little one

Gorgeous mama of 3, soon to be 4, Simone started Hip Little One in 2009 as a gateway for businesses to share their fabulous stores or products and for parents to find out all about these great companies. Readers and businesses from all over the world can now get together in one spot: Hip Little One is where businesses and parents meet!

Tell us a bit about you, fabulous you!
I am Simone, I am 29 years old and live in Adelaide with my little (big?) family. Six years ago I left my home country, The Netherlands, to marry my Australian hubby. I have no regrets about the move although I do get very homesick at times. Luckily I have a wonderful hubby who knows how to cheer me up – usually some traditional Dutch food will do the trick.

I am proud mama to twins Tommie and Olivia (4 years old) and Juliet (2 years old) and next year another little munchkin will be joining our family. As you can imagine we have a very busy household but, above all, it is lots of fun! We live in a lovely house that needs plenty of work done to it.  We just need to find the time for all that work but one can always dream.

Who inspires you?
My husband and children.  I love seeing them happy and my heart melts when the kids say ‘You’re my friend mummy’. I often try to be a supermum and want to do extraordinary things, but I have learnt that you can make them happy with the smallest things. They inspire me every day to make the most of it and enjoy the little things in life.

What can’t you live without?
I hate to say it but definitely my computer.   Not to check up on Facebook or blog but because it helps me to stay in touch with my family back home. Every Saturday we talk to my parents on Skype and every call, email and message is very welcome. It means so much to me that they can still ‘see’ the children grow up and get to know their personalities even though we are so far away.

Do you have a favourite blog/s?
The blog I spent most time on is (obviously) my own blog Hip Little One so that is my blog baby. But my favourite blog to read is by far Retro Mummy. Corrie is an amazing mum of five including twins that are the same age as my twins, so I love reading what her family is up to and looking at her pictures. Don’t read her blog if you are on a diet because Corrie is a real talent in the kitchen, she is always sharing delicious recipes that make you want to run into the kitchen and try them yourself.

How do you like to spend your spare time?
If I have any spare time!  I really wish I had more of it as I love sitting down with a good book. In my ideal world it would also involve hours of soaking in the bath but sadly we don’t have one so instead I go for the couch with warm blanket in front of the fireplace. I also loving going out for the day with my family to visit the beach, watch the kids play and eat yummy food.

Best time saving or sanity saving idea/tip for mamas?
As a mum of (soon to be) 4 kids under 4.5 years old, I am all for time saving and could do with some sanity saving tips myself.  I find I can save precious time on cooking by using the slow cooker, this allows me to keep the afternoon free to play with the kids. They are usually most challenging at the end of the day so I try to get out of the house and wear them out, that will make them sleep extra well and is healthy too. I am also very grateful for our gigantic shower as I can easily shower all three kids in there with plenty of room to spare.  One of us does the washing and the other the drying.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
This is a very tricky one, I really don’t know! Life has a habit of taking funny twists and turns so it is hard to predict. I would LOVE to make the move to the country but I don’t think we are brave enough. I could see ourselves living in an old country house that needs doing up, and our beautiful kids enjoying the outdoors with animals and a massive garden to play in. Either way, all that matters is that my family is happy and healthy.

Where can we find you?
You can always find me on my blog www.hiplittleone.com or follow me on Facebook or Twitter

gorgeous butterfly suncatcher

Growing up, I always LOVED a sun catcher. I loved making them and watching the light then hit them on my bedroom window. So I was terribly excited to come across this butterfly design on stunning UK blog minieco.co.uk

Step 1 Cut a butterfly shape out of a black sheet of paper. If you are not that confident with drawing you can download a template here. (You should be able to print this on black paper and still see the lines.)

Step 2 Using a light coloured pencil-crayon draw shapes onto the wings of the butterfly (if you use the printable template you can skip this bit). Then using a pair of scissors, or a craft, knife cut out the shapes. Most kids will probably need a hand with this step.

Step 3 Get your squares of tissue paper and tear them into strips. You can choose any colours you want but bright colours work best!

Step 4 Get your glue-stick and apply some glue to the wing of the butterfly and then stick the strips across the wing. Don’t worry if the tissue paper overlaps, you can actually create some really interesting effects by layering it in this way. Make sure you lift the butterfly up every now and again, just to make sure it isn’t stuck to your work-surface!

Step 5 Turn your butterfly over and trim the paper strips so that they are level with the outside edge.

Ta-da… Stick your butterfly to a window…

Top Tip: To get kids more involved with the cutting stage let them make the holes in the wings using craft punches, or even a hole-punch.

Thanks mini eco.  You rock.