Monday, 31 July 2017

DIY Waldorf Inspired Perpetual Calendar

None of these links are affiliated links. They're just where I happened to buy our materials




This month, we have been working on making our own Waldorf inspired Perpetual Calendar. Baobao has been really interested in time recently - asking about days and seasons - and a Waldorf inspired calendar, with it's emphasis on the changing seasons and the wheel of the year, seems like the perfect way to nurture that interest.


You will need:


I tried as much as possible to use materials we already had. We already had the Grimms Celebration Ring, paints, marker, stamps and building blocks, and so only had to buy some angel peg dolls.


I started by painting the peg dolls to match the Waldorf colours of the month. Originally it was based on the Grimms 12 Friends colours, but I changed them slightly to match the Grapat Rhythm of Life Perpetual Calendar after that arrived. 

January - dark violet
February - blue
March - turquoise
April -  dark green
May - light green
June - pistachio
July - yellow
August - ocher
September - orange
October - red
November - bordeux
December - brown

I also painted the cuboid blocks to match the Waldorf day colours:

Monday - violet
Tuesday - red
Wednesday - yellow
Thursday - orange
Friday - green
Saturday - blue
Sunday - white


Once they had dried, I stamped the month names on to the peg dolls and wrote the days of the week on to the cuboids. I also wrote the following numbers on each cube.

Cube 1 - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Cube 2 - 7, 8, 9, 0, 1, 2

Then once the ink from the marker had settled, I sealed them with a beeswax/olive oil mix that I use to seal all of my peg dolls.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Plastic Free July: Week 4

We have had such a good week, probably because we haven't really done anything or bought anything. On the whole though, it feels like we can do this. Once our initial pledges are a bit more established, we will be able to move towards becoming more and more plastic free.



Here is how our week looked

  • Avoid lightweight plastic bags, by always carrying reusable shopping bags in the front of the changing bag - Carrying cloth bags in our changing bag and when doing the weekly shop is starting to become a habit now. When I do forget a bag, I either put the shopping in the bottom of the pram or somehow fit it into the changing bag.
  • Avoid skincare products containing microbeads, by looking out for polyethylene, polypropylene, polymethylmethacrylate, PET, PTFE and PMMA. - Instead of buying new liquid hand soap, we have bought natural bar soap from All Natural Soap Co. They smell amazing and I'm so excited to try it out.
  • Avoid buying new cleaning product bottles, either by refilling at a local shop that offers refills or by making our own cleaners where possible. - We bought some Ecover dishwasher tablets, in an effort to use greener cleaning products. Unfortunately each tablet was individually wrapped in plastic and didn't break up and clean the dishes in our dishwasher. We have had to go back to Aldi tablets, while I research making our own.
  • Avoid using takeaway plastic straws, by opting not to use a straw or bringing a reusable straw with us. - Finally no straws this week. Plus our straw cleaning brush arrived. Happy days all round.
  • Avoid using takeaway coffee cups, by bringing a reusable cup or sitting down and drinking from a real cup in the cafe - I haven't even wanted to buy takeaway coffee this week. Just stopping myself for 4 weeks builds that habit.
  • Avoid using takeaway utensils and containers, by ordering less takeaway food, bringing our own containers or dining in - I'm not sure how much we should be congratulating ourselves for not having a takeaway this week, but we have cooked all our own dinners this week, which feels like an achievement after the last month. It's likely that this will continue as we began baby led weaning with Xiaobao today.
  • Avoid using one-use plastic bottles, by no longer buying soft drinks and carrying a reusable water bottle - Another habit that is completely embedded now is carrying water bottles with us every where we go.
  • Avoid using plastic food wrap, by storing leftovers in containers and making my own beeswax wraps - We have stored all of our leftovers in containers this week. I still need to make our own beeswax wraps. 
  • Avoid buying plastic toys, by opting for sustainable wooden toys - Our savings club from Yes Bebe arrived today. Yes Bebe are brilliant, using recycled boxes and paper to wrap their products. Unfortunately some of the products were prewrapped in plastic, but that is a brand/packaging issue, rather than a Yes Bebe issue.
  • Avoid using plastic cotton buds, by buying cotton buds with cardboard tubes - I haven't had to buy any cotton buds this week
Look at all the blue! I'm genuinely excited. We're still working on cleaning products, but as with the rest of this process, it's ongoing. Let's be honest for a moment, if I can do it, any of you reading it can. You really can. I'm not special in any sense. So head on over to my Zero-Waste Pinterest board for more plastic free and zero-waste ideas to get started on your journey.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Five Playdough Invitations To Play

Moon and Star Cookie Playdough Invitation to Play

Cutting Practice Invitation to Play
Natural Loose Parts Invitation to Play

Cupcake Invitation to Play

Chopstick Practice Invitation to Play

Monday, 24 July 2017

5 Perpetual Calendars We Love

All links are to shops I have used or lovely things I have found on Etsy.
I gain nothing from these links

I love Waldorf inspired perpetual calendars. They're such a lovely imaginative and kinesthetic way for children to grasp the difficult concept that is time. Here are some of my favourites

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Plastic Free July: Week 3

Week 3 has generally been great, because I haven't gone out. You can't buy things in packaging if you are home all day. Wins include my reusable snack pouches arriving from Noah's Ark Baby, ordering bamboo plates for Xiaobao for weaning (all of the packaging of the plates was plastic free and I will reuse the envelope) and joining the Go Real Parent's Club.



Here is how our week looked

  • Avoid lightweight plastic bags, by always carrying reusable shopping bags in the front of the changing bag - I have managed to not have any this week. We even went without using one for our loose vegetables and fruit from the supermarket today.
  • Avoid skincare products containing microbeads, by looking out for polyethylene, polypropylene, polymethylmethacrylate, PET, PTFE and PMMA. - I haven't had to buy any skincare products this week
  • Avoid buying new cleaning product bottles, either by refilling at a local shop that offers refills or by making our own cleaners where possible. - No plastic bottles this week! Not for drinks or for cleaning products.
  • Avoid using takeaway plastic straws, by opting not to use a straw or bringing a reusable straw with us. - We haven't had any cold drinks out. I've ordered brushes to clean the inside of our reisable straws, so I can start bringing them with us when out and about.
  • Avoid using takeaway coffee cups, by bringing a reusable cup or sitting down and drinking from a real cup in the cafe - I actually became quite upset this week. The one day I went out, I ordered a coffee at the cafe in our local park. He didn't even ask if we wanted to drink in (we did) and just made it in a disposable cup. I had my takeaway cup with me, so if I had known I would have used it. 
  • Avoid using takeaway utensils and containers, by ordering less takeaway food, bringing our own containers or dining in - I really feel like were making excuses on this weekly, but now the baby is going through a phase of separation anxiety. It involves heart wrenching crying whenever I leave her alone. My husband was out two evenings this week, so I ended up having two takeaways. It will definitely have to become my main focus.
  • Avoid using one-use plastic bottles, by no longer buying soft drinks and carrying a reusable water bottle - Whenever we go out, we now bring our own reusable water bottles
  • Avoid using plastic food wrap, by storing leftovers in containers and making my own beeswax wraps - We have stored all of our leftovers in containers this week. I still need to make our own beeswax wraps. 
  • Avoid buying plastic toys, by opting for sustainable wooden toys - I bought Xiaobao a wooden animal puzzle from the charity shop this week. For the short time that toddlers and pre-schoolers use simple puzzles, buying them second hand is definitely the way to go.
  • Avoid using plastic cotton buds, by buying cotton buds with cardboard tubes - I haven't had to buy any cotton buds this week
My new snackbags

All in all, I feel we are moving in the right direction. The big issue we need to deal with next week is takeaways. The biggest change is that Plastic Free July is really making us rethink how we sop. While we're currently still using supermarkets, we're trying to choose them based on the amount of produce we can buy without packaging and we are choosing products by the type of packaging they are in. It feels like we are making a real change to our lives.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Grapat Rhythm Of Life Perpetual Calendar

We were sent this calendar by One Hundred Toys to review.
All views expressed are my own.



Baobao has been really interested in days of the week recently, so when we were given the opportunity to review Grapat's Rhythm of Life Perpetual Calendar I jumped at the chance.
It arrived packaged beautifully
Grapat is a family-run business from Spain, that focuses on the open-ended toys that their daughter loves. All of their toys are made from local, sustainable wood. Their products include beautiful peg dolls, called Nins, objects that can interact with the Nins, such as rings, coins and cups, as well as fine motor skills toys and of course beautiful calendars.

The beads come in this lovely reusable bag, to be stored in thin wooden bowls. The bowls are colour coordinated to the months of the year.
The Grapat Rhythm of Life Perpetual Calendar is designed so that children gain an understanding of the passing of time, by adding one bead a day every day for a year. They can see how the seasons progress and the circular nature of the year.
A selection of some of the beads
It includes 376 beads in 13 different colours - 366 to represent the different months and 10 extra beads for special days. Each of the colours represent a different month:

January - dark violet
February - blue
March - turquoise
April -  dark green
May - light green
June - pistachio
July - yellow
August - ochre
September - orange
October - red
November - bordeux
December - brown

Used in this combination, the colours of the beads represent the colours of the seasons. Blue to represent winter, green the spring, orange the summer and red and brown the autumn.

Our calendar on the wall, up until the 16th July (for size)
We changed the months that each colour represents for our use, so as to match more closely with our DIY Waldorf Inspired Perpetual Calendar. This was fairly easy to do, by taking out excess beads and painting some of the plain beads for special days.

Special beads for special days, these two are for Baobao and Xiaobaos birthdays
I seriously underestimated just how long this calendar would be. I'm not entirely sure how. Each bead is about 1cm, so a years worth of beads would easily stretch across my entire living room. It proved to be quite cumbersome. We decided to hang it on the wall for ease of use. 
Ribbons are provided for tying on to represent a change in season
Tying the ribbons on for the change of season acts as a brilliant way to show children how the wheel of the year actually works. With some seasonal books, it has really helped Baobao gain an understanding of the seasons we have experience so far this year.

Counting along the beads to find our what today's date is, gives Baobao the opportunity to count above 15 on a daily basis, helping her number recitation and counting with one-to-one correspondence skills. 

The Grapat Rhythm of Life perpetual calendar with our own DIY perpetual calendar.
All in all, I have really enjoyed using the Grapat Rhythm of Life Perpetual Calendar with Baobao over the last week. I can see it becoming a part of our regular daily rhythm, counting along the beads to find out today's date and changing our DIY Perpetual Calendar to match. This will hopefully give Baobao and later Xiaobao a greater understanding of time and the rhythm of the year.

If you like the look of the Grapat Rhythm of Life Perpetual Calendar, it's on sale on One Hundred Toys for £79.40.

Monday, 17 July 2017

6 Children's Plates That We Love

All links are to shops I have used or lovely things I have found on Etsy.
I gain nothing from these links

Xiaobao is 6 months next month, which means weaning! We plan on following Baby Led Weaning with her, just as we did with Xiaobao. Here are some of the plates I've been looking at this month

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Plastic Free July: Week 2

Week 2, and we're getting there. We still need to work on remembering to bring things with us, such as reusable straws and cutlery, as well as having less takeaway. This week has been a terrible week for toddler and baby sleep (it's like they're working together to exhaust us), so we've had more takeaways than we would normally and we had a day out at a local festival, where we had to leave cutlery outside.



Here is how our week looked

  • Avoid lightweight plastic bags, by always carrying reusable shopping bags in the front of the changing bag - I have managed to not have any this week. We even went without using one for our loose vegetables and fruit from the supermarket today.
  • Avoid skincare products containing microbeads, by looking out for polyethylene, polypropylene, polymethylmethacrylate, PET, PTFE and PMMA. - I haven't had to buy any skincare products this week
  • Avoid buying new cleaning product bottles, either by refilling at a local shop that offers refills or by making our own cleaners where possible. - We bought some ironing water in a bottle. I need to rethink ironing water and research more, by looking into whether it is even necessary for modern irons.
  • Avoid using takeaway plastic straws, by opting not to use a straw or bringing a reusable straw with us. - We ended up having bubble tea at the local festival we went to. I need to look into reusable bubble tea straws, as well as looking for reusable straw brushes for the straws we already own. The ones we bought didn't come with a brush.
  • Avoid using takeaway coffee cups, by bringing a reusable cup or sitting down and drinking from a real cup in the cafe - I stopped myself from buying coffee in a single use cup multiple times this week. Pretty sure just going without is saving me money.
  • Avoid using takeaway utensils and containers, by ordering less takeaway food, bringing our own containers or dining in - The toddler is waking up twice a night and the baby is feeding through the night so we are exhausted. We need to work on having no takeaways next week. We are at least reusing any plastic containers.
  • Avoid using one-use plastic bottles, by no longer buying soft drinks and carrying a reusable water bottle - We took water bottles with us to our local festival, which had water refill stations run by Frank Water
  • Avoid using plastic food wrap, by storing leftovers in containers and making my own beeswax wraps - We have stored all of our leftovers in containers this week. I still need to make our own beeswax wraps. 
  • Avoid buying plastic toys, by opting for sustainable wooden toys - We bought a plastic toy as part of Amazon Prime Day. We wanted a coding toy for Baobao for her birthday in February, but the wooden coding toys are out of our price range. This one was perfect and will be her only gift outside of art supplies/subscriptions.
  • Avoid using plastic cotton buds, by buying cotton buds with cardboard tubes - I haven't had to buy any cotton buds this week
It's a bit more of a mixed bag this week. Moving towards being plastic free feels like a long journey. The number one thing we need to work on currently is takeaways and straws. We did look into a local vegetable box, who deliver with very little plastic, and have made the decision to move towards having that instead once the children are sleeping a little better.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Plastic Free July: Week 1

So here we are, one week in. In some ways I feel like we've done well. In other ways it feels like we could have done better. I suppose that by not giving up all plastic at once, I'm always thinking about the amount of plastic that I am still using, rather than the plastic that I have already given up.



I want this post to be positive though, so here is my list of plastic I have pledged to give up this month, with how we have done this week.

  • Avoid lightweight plastic bags, by always carrying reusable shopping bags in the front of the changing bag - I have managed to not have any this week. We even went without using one for our loose vegetables and fruit from the supermarket today.
  • Avoid skincare products containing microbeads, by looking out for polyethylene, polypropylene, polymethylmethacrylate, PET, PTFE and PMMA. - I haven't had to buy any skincare products this week
  • Avoid buying new cleaning product bottles, either by refilling at a local shop that offers refills or by making our own cleaners where possible. - I haven't had to buy any cleaning products this week
  • Avoid using takeaway plastic straws, by opting not to use a straw or bringing a reusable straw with us. - Unfortunately, a local cafe gave us a straw in our drink. I didn't even realise that they would. Next time we will bring a reusable straw and use those before disposable straws are offered
  • Avoid using takeaway coffee cups, by bringing a reusable cup or sitting down and drinking from a real cup in the cafe - I stopped myself from buying coffee in a single use cup multiple times this week. Pretty sure just going without is saving me money.
  • Avoid using takeaway utensils and containers, by ordering less takeaway food, bringing our own containers or dining in - We ended up having one takeaway this week. Next time we're feeling like that we'll make something quick and easy, or take our own containers to the shop
  • Avoid using one-use plastic bottles, by no longer buying soft drinks and carrying a reusable water bottle - I have taken my bottle everywhere with me this week and not bought any single use plastic drinks bottles
  • Avoid using plastic food wrap, by storing leftovers in containers and making my own beeswax wraps - We have stored all of our leftovers in containers this week. I still need to make our own beeswax wraps.
  • Avoid buying plastic toys, by opting for sustainable wooden toys - I have bought toys this week. They are wooden or felt, from Yes Bebe and Myriad both ethical shops 
  • Avoid using plastic cotton buds, by buying cotton buds with cardboard tubes - I haven't had to buy any cotton buds this week
While there is some red there, the blue (and purple) outweighs it by far. I know these are the easier changes to make, but they are the beginning of what may be a long journey. Now to convince the husband to make more changes. 

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Waldorf Inspired Rainbow Russian Dolls


I'm part of a Waldorf inspired handcraft swap group on Facebook. I'm only just getting into crafting, but enjoy taking part. This month the theme was colours, so I decided to make rainbow Russian dolls (Matryoshka)


I drew out the outlines and then painted the blank Russian dolls using watered down acrylic paint and a black Posca paint pen. Drawing the details on to the smallest doll was quite tricky and next time I will try to get an even smaller size pen nib. Then once the paint had dried, I sealed it using a beeswax and olive oil mix. 

Here are some pictures of Baobao playing with them. They are currently her favourite toys.



 




Monday, 3 July 2017

Xiaobao's Favourite Toys: 4 months

This is not a sponsored post. All links are to lovely small businesses that we have used ourselves.

Looking back on pictures of Baobao, the way we are parenting Xiaobao is very different to the way we parented Baobao in the first year. Xiaobao's floor-time has been characterised by minimal intervention, whereas I have videos of myself attempting to teach Baobao to roll and having her sitting in contraptions to help her sit.

Over the last month, Xiaobao has learnt to sit, when placed in a sitting position. She can roll confidently and makes her way around a room by going backwards, side-to-side and launching herself forward when on her tummy. It's not quite crawling but it's close. She happily passes things from hand to hand, has started to bite things and has started to deliberately shake toys.





Handmade Taggie Blanket (made by my sister) | Montessori Grasping Beads 
Treasure Basket of Different Textured Fabric





Saturday, 1 July 2017

Plastic Free July: Our Pledge

Following on from Switch for Six, we have been looking at other ways to reduce our non-recyclable waste. My own plastic footprint hit home especially hard when I took the Greenpeace Plastics Calculator. Using nearly 1600 pieces of plastic per year, mostly in packaging and cotton buds, seemed shocking to me.

While searching for ways to become plastic free, I came across Plastic Free July, an Australian challenge to refuse single use plastics for July. There are three main tiers:

  • avoid single-use plastic packaging
  • target takeaway items (top 4: bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups)
  • go completely plastic free
While we're not ready to go completely plastic-free yet, there are some changes we will make from today:
  • Avoid lightweight plastic bags, by always carrying reusable shopping bags in the front of the changing bag
  • Avoid skincare products containing microbeads, by looking out for polyethylene, polypropylene, polymethylmethacrylate, PET, PTFE and PMMA.
  • Avoid buying new cleaning product bottles, either by refilling at a local shop that offers refills or by making our own cleaners where possible.
  • Avoid using takeaway plastic straws, by opting not to use a straw or bringing a reusable straw with us.
  • Avoid using takeaway coffee cups, by bringing a reusable cup or sitting down and drinking from a real cup in the cafe
  • Avoid using takeaway utensils and containers, by ordering less takeaway food, bringing our own containers or dining in
  • Avoid using one-use plastic bottles, by no longer buying soft drinks and carrying a reusable water bottle
  • Avoid using plastic food wrap, by storing leftovers in containers and making my own beeswax wraps
  • Avoid buying plastic toys, by opting for sustainable wooden toys
  • Avoid using plastic cotton buds, by buying cotton buds with cardboard tubes
These might seem like some of the smaller changes, I suppose, but they're the easiest to make without a complete lifestyle change. Going plastic free, or as close as possible, is a change I want to make, but it is a change that has to be gradual for us.

Are you planning on going plastic free? What changes will you make first?