How To Sew Your Own ‘Love Quote’ Cushion

I have redecorated my sons bedroom and I have been so inspired and focused putting together lots of loving touches.  One of them was this hand stitched cushion with the words I say to him everyday and everynight…

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the I  LOVE  YOU  TO  THE  MOON  AND  BACK  and  ROUND and ROUND and ROUND cushion was very easy to create…if you have the time and patience.

First step is to decide your quote…I practiced the set up using Photoshop to make sure the words and colors all worked together.  Once I had finalised the design, I printed it out and traced the pattern onto tracing paper.

There are many ways to transfer the design onto your fabric, but I have just discovered the transfer pen! This super useful tool means you trace your pattern on the reverse of the tracing paper design then iron onto the fabric! Presto your design is now on fabric!

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Then just stitch away!  I completed the job using backstitch only and had a ball, taking my time and stitching with love for my son…so what is your favourite quote you would like to try this for?

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H A P P Y   S T I T C H I N G   x x

 

 

The Perfect Little Girls Dollhouse

When I first found out that I was the lucky recipient of a baby girl, I knew…one day…she would NEED the perfect dollhouse.  A place where her imagination can step out the lives of her creative characters.  So the research has begun!

The beautiful and classic Queen Mary’s Dollhouse is not exactly what I am after…but I am in love with so many different styles!  I love the stylish Swedish Lundby Dollhouse, where stories from another era can be created… the more traditional Victorian style Le Toy Van dollhouse…and I am also partial to the sustainable Plan Toys Eco Doll House…after all what better way to start teaching my children about an environmentally friendly home…

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I am also a huge fan of something sleek and modern like the handcrafted beauty created by Made by Joel or even this Arne Jacobson replica I found on Web Urbanist (amazing dollhouses to check out here) …but which way do I go?

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AND…then…as the universe would have it…the answer came my way.  I have recently found the marvellous blog The Domestic Darling…and she led me to the path of enlightenment …she renovated a tired, well loved dolls house into a new world for her babies and doesn’t it look amazing!

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So keep watching…by this Christmas I intend to renovate my own dollhouse, unleash my creativity and I cannot wait to start!  I can feel the beginning of an addiction coming on…

O’ Oh…I just spotted these shipping container dollhouses…

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*Note: Since writing this I have found this awesome blog all about Mini Houses!  This is the perfect place to start your own research xx

Party Time…Flamingo Style

I love to throw a party…but to throw a good one is ALOT of WORK!  With Christmas and a very busy December for Macaroon Kids, lets just say I was not overly inspired to put together a January birthday bash for my little girls FIRST birthday!  This all changed when Missy Minzy posted a pic of her new flamingo wall decals on Facebook!  Inspiration washed over me!

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I have only thrown a couple of parties and my wedding, but I am getting better at gathering tips and wanted to share them with you, so with a little planning and thought, anyone can throw a special party, where your guests have no choice but to say ‘WOW’.

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FIRST STEP: THEME!

It is very difficult to put together a party if you have no common theme.  A theme helps you make quick decisions, know what products to look for and also helps to dismiss all the wonderful ideas that you will come across, but won’t actually help your party be great!  Examples of themes include:

> a color theme, I went for a mint and pink color theme;
>a motif theme, in my case a flamingo, but you may like a train party or a bug party;
>an entertainment based theme, for example a hired circus performer may inspire a circus party;
>food based theme, we went for a middle eastern theme with the food, but candy bar parties are ever so popular at the moment; or
>number based, where everything revolves are  a certain number, for example an 18th birthday or 20th anniversary.

Themes can consist of one or a combination of factors, in my case everything was based around flamingo,  color scheme and food!  Choosing a theme can be tricky and sometimes you need to research a couple of ideas to see what will work for you and your space.  Pinterest is great resource for ideas, as are magazines.  The interests of the party person is also a great place to start… but also keep your eyes open…you never know what you may find on Facebook etc.  You will discover so many great concepts that you would love to adopt, that if you do not have a theme,  you will find it difficult to choose which ideas to pursue. A theme keeps the ‘look’ of the party ‘tight’ and ensures everything goes together!

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SECOND STEP: CHOOSE YOUR SPACE

Once you have your theme, you need to know where you will hold your party.  At a venue?  In your own home?  A friends home?  Will the party be inside? or outside?  Start building a vision in your mind of how you want your party to look, write it down and continue to the next step.

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THIRD STEP: MENU

You may think it is a little early to think of the food/drink you are serving…but believe me, if you sort this out early, everything becomes easier!  You need to consider what kind of food you are comfortable serving?  This will help decide whether to have an  outside or inside party and the time of day for the party?  I did not want to be dealing with food too much on the party day, so I opted for a ‘Exotic High Tea’ menu served in the afternoon.  I would much rather decorate than cook, but your forte maybe cooking, so you may love cooking up a storm!  We are very lucky to work with Passionate Life Kitchen with our monthly newsletter updates and I had previously completed one of their cooking classes…so a Middle Eastern theme was a no brainer!  For a first birthday party you can get away with more adult tastes than, say, a 5 year old party…so enjoy it!  Passionate Life Kitchen were fantastic in giving me ideas of what I could serve.  A priority for me was to be able to pre-prep as much as possible and to enlist my mum and sister to help with the food prep!  Obviously google is a great place to start with menu ideas but do not be afraid to approach appropriate people for ideas also…you never know what they may suggest!  I would never have considered fresh date scones with rose petal jelly and cinnamon cream!

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FOURTH STEP: HELP REQUIRED

So now it is time to start bringing things together.  So far everything has been able to be done from the comfort of the couch but now it is time to enlist help.  Consider what your strengths are, what you enjoy doing and outsource everything else 🙂  I am ok with graphic design, but my party was such a success due to enlising a graphic designer Missy Minzy!  The work Irene did was just so amazing and took away so much stress!  From the invites, to the menu cards, to the party props to banners, Missy Minzy put together such an amazing package, that spending your money here will give your party a ‘professional stylist’ look!  I was quite happy to outsource the food also, but being a January party it was hard to find people available to help…so I chose to keep the menu simple, then I could enlist family to help.   I was also ever so lucky that Kate’s Cookies agreed to help me by making some amazing Flamingo cookies!  A few professional touches not only takes away so much stress, but also offers ideas you may not have thought of yourself.

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FIFTH STEP: DETAILS

Now that the location, menu and theme have been chosen you can now start fulfilling your vision.

Let start with the food table…what are you wanting it to look like?  What crockery do you have?  What do you need?  What should you hire? I made a list of what I needed and when I found appropriate things on sale I grabbed them!  I wanted all my crockery to be clean, simple and mint green.  I wanted the food to be the highlight…needless to say, all my parties from now on will be on mint green crockery!  I choose to buy what I need, rather than hire, if I know I can reuse it in my household.  I did the same for my wedding and did not regret it!  If you buy thoughtful pieces, you can reuse them again and again and again.  All parties need a focal point and the focal point also needs to have its own internal focal point.  In this case the food table is the focal point and the central focal point are the flowers (can also be the cake) …whatever your central focal point, have it raised and colorful enough to be noticed and not blend into the background.  Other considerations you need to factor in are the table cloth? a banner? the food layout? cake stands? the heights? a backdrop?

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I knew I needed a back drop to display the birthday banner and I admit I wasn’t sure which way to go…in the end my husband created a ply board back drop for me, which I can now paint on and use as a mood board!  You may want to have something professionally printed, use a sheet back drop, wall paper, a canopy or maybe even a flower curtain…something to draw everyones attention to where the action is…in my case the food table!

Next consider the rest of the space and what you need.  I was going for a summery afternoon feel, so it was tissue paper pom poms for me!  They are so easy to make, but also cheap to buy. I purchased 20 of them, strung them all up and had them hanging overhead to give a garden cafe feel! A space can feel empty if you don’t consider the surrounds of your main focal point and pom poms are an easy, cheap solution!  Another easy solution are 90cm round balloons! I LOVE these!  I also used these at my wedding as they fill an empty space very easily! These balloons are not expensive but before you go overboard with them, there are other factors.  You will need a specialist balloon shop to fill them for you, and they are costly.  Ours were $30 each to fill, hence why I only purchased 2!  If you are considering a large number of them, you will need to get them delivered as they just wont fit into your car!  Also consider the heat.  It ended up being a very warm day for our outdoor party so our balloons popped!  Thank goodness it was after everyone arrived, but it is an expensive spectacle!  Regardless, I loved having these balloons.  We bought the clear balloons and filled them with confetti and metallic gold pieces…they looked amazing!  We also filled the space with standard sized balloons in a beautiful color palette from Polly’s Party Shop, Blaza has a beautiful selection to suit any theme with gorgeous accessories to match!

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So once you have finalised selecting what you require to fill your space appropriately, its time to think of the small details…plates, cutlery, drinking cups, napkins, props, additional details.  Ensure your theme is firmly in your mind before you choose any of these items.

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I love the drinking mason jars around at the moment and as they are not very expensive, I decided to buy these, with cute colored straws!  I also wanted some drink dispensers and decided it was best to hire these from Ryder Loves Miller.

Thank you gifts…if your throwing a childrens party dont forget to consider your thank you gift!  In our case i did not want lolly bags or a lolly buffet and instead opted for a hoola hoop with handmade cookie attached and the kids loved them!

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SIXTH STEP: MEMORIES

Now you have gone to so much trouble to produce a beautiful, happy party, you need to consider the memories!  It is painful to go to so much work and not have a photograph of it…believe me!  With this party, we hired a good quality camera, but of course I ran out of time to take photos of everything!  An even better step is to hire a photographer or have a friend in charge of photos and explain what kind of photos you are wanting!  Trust me, when the party is over, you will love creating a special photo book of the great pics of all your hard work! In my case, I did not even get a complete photo of the food table…all that work and not one photo…yes I am kicking myself now.

One more item I haven’t mentioned…your outfit!  Do not forget to dress yourself and the person in whose honor the party is being thrown…in my case I was lucky enough to create something special for my little girl…

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PARTY DAY:

So it is the day of the party, things will not go smoothly, things will go wrong but keep moving forward.  If possible, have everything ready at least 30 mins prior to the party commencing to get some great photos and ensure everything is ‘just right’.  Try and be as organised as you can be, enlist as much help as you can and do the best you can while having fun!  Its a party after all.

So there are my tips, after throwing this party I think it best to plan inside parties! Much easier to set up prior and no weather factors to deal with.  All in all the party was a huge success and lots of fun to put together…now when can I do it all over again!

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Christmas is a time…

So this is Christmas.  What have you done?  Another year over and a new one just begun…

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Can you believe we are decorating trees, listening to Christmas Carols and visiting Santa all over again?  

We have been using Santa as our ‘get out of jail’ free card for the LAST 6 MONTHS…my son says he wants something and we say ‘ask Santa’ and he says ‘ok’.  Its been pretty sweet but the pressure is starting to build.

A few months ago I blogged on my favourite Christmas Finds to give our children this year.  That blog was constructed when I was finalising our children’s gifts but now I am trying to move away from concentrating on gifts and onto teaching my 3 year old son that Christmas is not just about the presents.

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I come from a religious background, so yes the birth of Jesus is part of the story of Christmas, but I also come from an all- encompassing mindset where I believe we each should be allowed to hold our values and still be appreciated.  There are so many different beliefs in our society that believing that ONE belief is the true and correct one (too often just because that was what we were born into) is naive.  To me Christmas is about being together and unity.

Many may wonder what the philosophy is behind Macaroon Kids.  Christmas is my philosophy…I create gifts for children to be given with love, gifts that last longer than one day and longer than one year…I create the new heirloom gifts that can be passed on to future generations, all while minimising my impact on the environment of the here and now.

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Whether you believe in Jesus, God or Santa, to me Christmas is about love, forgiveness and family…it is about being together and valuing community and valuing each other.  

To me…that does involve giving presents, showing my love and appreciation to others through gift giving… and of course a delicious Christmas lunch.

So a huge Seasons Greetings to you all, whatever your culture, whatever your beliefs, whatever your background…may you enjoy this time..keep safe and keep happy xx

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Middle Eastern Carpet Ride

Passionate Life Kitchen – the name says it all. They are passionate about good food. And life.  Right up my ally!

I was super excited to go to one of their recent cooking classes – which promised to take us on a magic carpet ride through the delicious food of the middle east from Persia through Jordan and Turkey.  Wow – what a ride!  Christine has been to each of these countries and we were so lucky to not only hear her stories, but to be able to taste the gorgeous recipes.

They keep the class sizes small, so everyone gets to have a go.  Christine (our teacher) has travelled extensively and her love of the middle east came through in her stories and the food. The recipes (and spice combinations) are very authentic and  different to what I’d tried before.

[I took a quick break here while drafting this post – I felt the overwhelming urge to eat my lunch.  An hour early.]

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In the 2 1/2 hour class we made a 3 course feast – including:   Persian baba ghanoush (which is smoky eggplant dip) with za’atar flatbread

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Next was the main course – Kasbah Dijaj (Jordanian aromatic chicken stew with rice)

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Next was the dessert of mini baclava cups (Turkish layered pastry and nut delight) served with Labneh.

[Based on the amount of photos I took of the baclava cups, Im sure you can guess my favourite!].

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Then it was on to the Bedouin “whisky” (tea fragrant with sage, cardamon, cinnamon and fresh mint) – YUM!  When Christine was first introduced to this drink upon her travels, she was perplexed…why did a non-alcoholic culture want to serve her ‘whisky’?  She soon discovered that this special delight, while non-alcoholic, was definitely one to add to her recipe list!

After we each took turns to prepare the food, it was time to sit down as a group and enjoy the delicious feast we’d prepared.  (and yes, those 2 coffee cups (in pic below) on the table were BOTH mine!)

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I had such a great time doing this course (and eating the delicious food!). The relaxed atmosphere meant that we could ask questions when we needed to, and had so much fun along the way.  Christine also threw in a few extra foodie delights, but you will have to visit one of her classes to find out about those…they are our secret.  There aren’t any fancy cooking skills needed, but Christine’s knowledge that she loved sharing along the way, along with the easy to follow recipes, would be hard to beat.  My sister even replicated many of the recipes the following week for her birthday party feast!  How lucky was I!  Also, any of these dishes would be great to add to your weekly family menu.

If you want to follow what Passionate Life Kitchen get up to, ‘Like’ them on Facebook and see their daily food temptations.  The best part is they also have *Host your own cooking party or interactive dinner party* Passionate Life Kitchen are also happy to organise cooking parties and interactive dinner parties in your home or venue of your choice, with dishes tailored to your requirements. Plus, you don’t have to do the washing up! What a great idea for a birthday party, an impressive dinner party or just a great reason for friends to get together.  Contact them to discuss your requirements at info@passionatelifekitchen.com.au

If you are signed up to the Macaroon Kids’ monthly ‘Inner Circle’ Email you will know that we feature a family friendly recipe created just for us by Passionate Life Kitchen. Just to give you a sneak peek of one of their family temptations, check out this link…http://www.passionatelifekitchen.com/?p=4406.  Whose kids would not like this!

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Terrarium Style…

A little while ago I was very lucky…I actually WON something!! Go Me!!  I won a wonderful DIY Terrarium Kit from The Little Green Project!

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I was over the moon!  I knew I had to put it together without too much delay as there was live moss inside! 

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So I enlisted the help of my 3 year old to put this baby together!  As the stones were already in the base, he added the layer of Charcoal (this is required to help keep the mould away)…

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Next we needed to rehydrate the dried moss…he loved pushing it all down into the water…the waiting for 5 minutes while it was soaking was the hard part.

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Finally he was able to get his hands dirty and place this moss as a barrier layer between the charcoal and the soil.

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Then, he carefully poured in the soil…

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and he got to poke it around making little hills.

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It was now time to tear up the live moss and place it into his terrarium.

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The final layer…

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Now he could place the big rocks, the mini mushrooms and then all the little rocks into their new homes.  

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My son went a bit crazy with the little stones, I think there were more on the floor than in the jar!  

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…and voila!  The finished product!  How great does it look?

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Needless to say my son was very pleased with himself.  A great project we could do together and which he is proud to show anyone who visits.

Tomorrow (Oct 9), I will put a pic on the Macaroon Kids Facebook Page of how the Terrarium looks…a month on…go check it out xx

 

 

Village Movie Tickets Giveaway!

Our new Online Store is NOW OPEN!!  To celebrate, not only are we giving you 15% off everything, but we are also giving away 2 x Village ADULT MOVIE tickets!!

Yes, that’s right, time for the adults to get some well deserved time off, and with some great new releases, it’s a perfect time to go to the movies on us!

To enter, you must like us on Facebook (if you haven’t already).  Then all you need to do is head over to our Online Store, decide which new product is your favourite and comment below with the name of product and why it’s your favourite.  It’s that easy!

Winner will be drawn at 9am Friday 27th September and can be used at any Village Cinema for a movie of your choice.

Good luck!

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Toy Time

I know its a little while off, but really, as always, Christmas is coming!  

Now that I have children, I try to be organised for Christmas, have Christmas lay-bys, follow things on ebay etc because, lets face it, if I left it til the last minute, under the tree may be empty!  So I have been busy researching exactly what toys are out there and I am sharing my favourites!

Obviously each parent is guided by their own child’s interests and my son has shown a fondness for cooking!  I think Santa may just bring him a toy kitchen this year, but which one?  If my husband was at all handy, I would have him constructing this unisex style…

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…but since that will happen when Santa visits mummies and daddies and brings them what they ask for, I am looking at this one:

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A good unisex design that is not too big and will cater to both my children for quite some time.

I love buying my kids wooden toys.  Yes, there are not as many bells and whistles but you can guarantee that wooden toys will not have broken bits of plastic within 2 weeks! Janod really do some amazing pieces for our littlies and they are fast becoming a favourite brand of mine.  My favourites are:

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Voilatoy also do some amazing wooden toys…who wouldn’t love this ark?

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Now while I obviously love certain styles of toys, I also want toys that help my children learn…but I am not a school teacher…so I have enlisted the help of Clare, a mother of 2 small children who is a Primary School Teacher to guide us and this is what she says…

“Since having children, I am highly conscious of the type of toys my little ones play with.  I want the toys to encourage learning and creative play, have longevity and ultimately allow the kids to have fun.  For my 3 year old, her favourite toys include a 3 story wooden dolls house and family (from Voila) encourages her creative and imaginative play.  Arranging and rearranging furniture, role playing every day activities. I get to see her re-enact and invent social situations.  I have also found a book with stickers is also beneficial, especially when we are out and about.  

Puzzles are a great activity that promotes spatial awareness, logic and reasoning.  I found a wooden 3 layer puzzle (Djeco) it depicts a tree with woodland animals on it and its also about matching the animals to their own habitat.

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Another toy is a wooden bear that has wooden clothes that you sew together.  Great for fine motor skills and my 3 year old’s budding fashion sense.

My 1 year old loves to play with cars.  We have magnetic cars that join together and my 1 year old pushes and pulls them along.  The talking zoo animals by Fisher Price is fantastic too as it encourages my little one to move the animals around the zoo and make noises.  This toy promotes playful interaction between the kids as my 3 year old role plays and makes up stories and my 1 year old passes animals and puts them down the slide.

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Of course books are brilliant and just some of our favourites include:

Indestructibles -wordless nursery rhymes such as Hickory Dickory Dock based in London and Mary had a Little Lamb based in Bolivia.  These books are great as they feel like paper with a plastic coating so they can be scrunched up and sucked on and still look good.

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BabyLit board books (by Jennifer Adams) including Pride and Prejudice, Alice in Wonderland, Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet.  They tell the story either as a number counting book or a color book.  

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Cozy Classic books by Jack Want and Holman Wang uses wool felt pictures and one word a page to tell the story.  Moby Dick is our favourite.”

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Wow! What a lot of great recommendations Clare has given us!  I love hearing about products that are new to me and I certainly need to get those Indestructibles!

If you have been following Macaroon Kids on Facebook you would know that I am starting to slowly build an online store with fantastic children’s products.  While not currently live, I just had to share the items that I am stocking.

Who has heard of Uncle Goose blocks?  These amazing blocks are handcrafted in the US from sustainable wood and have that heirloom quality that is so lacking in todays toys.  As they state… “We’re really in love with learning, design, and creativity. And we love blocks. So this is what we do, and how we approach our craft. It’s simple, creative, old-fashioned, and maybe a little quirky; but that’s the essence of Uncle Goose Toys.”

Well Macaroon Kids is now stocking these iconic Must-Haves and we currently have the classic ABC blocks as well as the Nursery Rhyme block sets.  These great blocks also come in different languages, so if you are interested let me know (website will have these added shortly).  I also have a box of the French set…they are so fantastic to let my children learn their French numbers, French names for animals etc, they really are a wonder!

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I am also currently awaiting my order of Seedling Products. This business, started in 2006 by a mum of 2, produces fantastic DIY creative kits for children.  I love hearing of small businesses that respect the human touch, with all their kits being hand assembled!  I am so looking forward to receiving the colour-in Earth which won Best Toy Award and the DIY superhero cape!  These kits are such fantastic presents, especially for children that already have so many toys!  These are the Seedling products I will be stocking and will be added to our website shortly…

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And there we have it.  I hope this has given you some guidance and inspiration.  I would love to list so many more products, for so many different age groups, but no one has all day to sit and read.  Follow us on Facebook to be kept upto date when our online store is open xx

My children…what they have taught me…

When you are initially pregnant with your first child, what you do not realise is, how much your children will teach you about yourself.   There is no more accurate mirror of your personality and your good and bad traits than your own child.  My son is such a parrot of what I say and how I say it, it has definitely made me take a good look at myself.

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Don’t take life too seriously…I was definitely a victim to this, always wanting to do things correctly, never get in trouble, wanting to be liked…but now, who cares!  I am trying to raise a child that is confident with who they are and not overly concerned with pleasing others to attain self worth.  I watched my son, in his first swimming lesson without us in the water with him.  He is not concerned or stressed with doing everything his teacher says, he is not concerned about getting his kicking right, he is just having fun, and with time he does get it right.  If he wants to start making big splashes just because he can, he will and I love that carefree attitude.  I want him to learn while having fun.  While I have to watch that I do not over compensate for my own failings, my main goal is to raise a child with the right balance.  He is 3…he can splash as much as he likes 🙂 Your own children make you remember how small you are in the scale of things and its much better to do things with a smile on your face and a laugh in your belly 🙂 
 
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I’m not always right…yes I have always suspected this, but my son reminds me of it everyday.  He pushes the boundaries I set and I see that everything is still ok.  He pushes me past my comfort zone.  He suggests many things I want to automatically say no to, but I try to stop myself and say ‘why not’.  I am all about encouraging my children to take calculated risks.  I would much rather them take the risks while I’m watching than wait til I’m not watching.  So I say ‘yes’, watch him like a hawk and hold his hand. 
 
Don’t sit on the sidelines…my children have given me so much more confidence in myself.  They give me the reason to pursue what I do.  I would never have believed anyone would be interested in what I have to say or what I create.  I want my children to see me as more than just a mum, to see me as a person that works hard for her goals, even if she starts pursuing them in her 30s.  I have dreams for my children and part of making those dreams a reality is my ability to be a vocal mum, ‘you only get out of life what you ask for’  hey? My children give me the confidence to ask.
 
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Negotiation skills…Raising your child takes unbelievable patience, much more than you ever thought you had.  Your analytical skills, negotiation skills and foresight skills are over utilised every single day.  There is no reason why your “independence asserting” child needs to listen to you or do anything you say.  It’s our “skill” that encourages our child to do what we say because we phrase things for them to WANT to do it.  My brain is exhausted trying to work out how to convince my child that doing things my way really is for the best (for the moment).  I can’t wait until he can understand all I want to do is keep him safe and happy! If these are not valued life skills, I do not know what is.
  
Its ok to make mistakes...if this was not true I would be in deep trouble!  Every time I am not happy with how I deal with my children, I just try harder the next time.  There is always tomorrow for a fresh start.  “New Day” resolutions are made every night.  This is true in other facets in my life also, I get very few things right, but I keep trying…
 
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I never expected any of these life insights when my son entered my arms for the first time.  To be honest I now actually “like” myself.  Who I am and what I stand for so much more now that I am seeing it reflected in my children.  When they awake each morning with a smile, it’s not just because I am lucky, but also because of my efforts to instill in them a positive attitude to life and the confidence to give things a go.  By all means this is just the surface of what I have learned and what I still have to learn, but right now I am just a mum trying to articulate her own truth.
 
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