The order kids get teeth in

February 20, 2015

the order teeth arrive

Bamboo Steamer Boxes

A simple coat of paint to stackable bamboo steam-baskets makes for a nice sewing box. Originally published on Martha Stewart’s website.

8 things to teach your child

September 28, 2014

Text ‘borrowed’ from article by Smita Malholtra in Huffington Post. I think they’d apply to boys as well as girls.


These are eight lessons I want to teach my daughter. I have learned these through many mistakes, periods of introspection and learning in my life.

My hope for her is to live authentically, passionately and gracefully.

1. If someone hurts you, don’t take it personally

Chances are, they have been hurt themselves. In fact, never take anything personally. Don’t let compliments get to your head and don’t let criticism get you down. It is a known fact that most people can only give others what they have received themselves.

All your actions and words should come from a place of love. But not everyone will be loving back. And that is OK.

As Miguel Ruiz explained in his book The Four Agreements, when you do not take anything personally, you are in a place of liberation. You can interact with the world through the lens of an open heart, not having to worry about what others will say.

2. Keep a portion of what you earn for saving and another for giving back

Learn to see money as a tool with which you can achieve your greatest dreams. But it is also a tool that can be used to do tremendous good in the world. If you are blessed with a lot of money, do not waste this opportunity. Use it to change a social condition, to uplift a community and to inspire others.

Someone once gave me some great advice about money:

With every dollar that you earn, keep one third to spend, one third to save, and one third to give back to the world.

3. Live every day as if it was a Friday

Speaking of money, do not trade money for meaning in your life. Hopefully you will find a career that gives you meaning and all the money that you need. Finding meaning is the only way to live every day as if it was a Friday.

You cannot live your life just waiting for the weekend. Find something that excites you. As Dr. Wayne Dyer once said, “Do not die with your music still inside of you.”

Your job in this life is to find your music and go about the business of sharing it with the world.
If you have not found your music yet, keep searching. Do one thing everyday that makes you happy. Make it a Friday, every single day.

4. You do not need anyone’s approval

The need for approval is like an addiction. If you base all your actions on the approval of others, ultimately you will sacrifice your own happiness. Don’t put the key to your happiness in someone else’s pocket. Learn how to say “no” to people and obligations that do not add value to your life.

Your time on this earth is precious. You must invest your time like you invest money. Invest in people and activities that uplift you. As the saying goes, “What you do today is important, because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.”

5. In every tough situation, try kindness first

People may make ugly comments. The airline may lose your bags. Another driver may cut you off. These situations will happen everyday. How are you going to respond?

Although your first response like many others will be to get angry, why not try a different approach? Anger in these situations rarely solves problems. People are more likely to respond to kindness. And you can be kind and be firm.

Get your point across without sacrificing your integrity. It is the only response that you will not regret later. No matter how upset you are, always treat others with respect. You will be surprised at how much can be accomplished with kindness.

6. Do not complain unless you can suggest a solution

Do not be a constant complainer. No one likes that person. If you do not like your current situation, work towards changing it. But don’t sit and complain about it. Complaining will get you nowhere. In fact, it will only make others not want to be around you. Be someone that looks for the positive in every situation. And if you do find a problem, be someone that can suggest a solution.

You will never get to where you want to be by complaining about where you are now. Each step in your life is preparing you for the one that comes after it.

7. Learn to be present

While technology can be life-changing in many great ways, there is an aspect to technology that interferes with our relationships. Do not be so addicted to a screen that you miss enjoying real life happening in front of you. Learn to disconnect everyday.

Learn to slow down. Give people your full and un-divided attention. Do not seek mindless stimulation on a screen and learn to make real human connections.

8. Don’t let the world make you bitter

The world can be a difficult place. You may experience suffering, heartbreak or the loss of a loved one. All of these things can take a toll on your soul. But do not lose hope.

Think about the Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy, which states that opposite forces are often interconnected. In suffering, you can find great strength, in heartbreak you can find resilience and in loss you can find a renewed appreciation for life.

Life comes with Yin and Yang. The two opposites are interdependent and interconnected. And you do not need to be afraid. In every difficult situation, you are being tested. If you become bitter and angry, you have lost.

Stop to notice each flower, each weed that is breaking through the cement to find the sun and each butterfly that has found it’s wings. Learn to see the beauty around you.

Iaian Thomas wrote:

Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard.
Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let bitterness steal your sweetness.
Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree,
you still know it to be a beautiful place.

Keep your sweetness. Be soft. And know that the world is a beautiful place. Always.

You can follow Smita on Facebook here

This post is ‘borrowed’ from AHA Parenting website.

We all crave those close moments with our children that make our hearts melt. Connection is as essential to us parents as it is to our children. When our relationship is strong, it’s also sweet — so we receive as much as we give. That’s what makes parenting worth all the blood, sweat and tears.

That connection is also the only reason children willingly follow our rules. Kids who feel strongly connected to their parents WANT to cooperate. They trust us to know what’s best for them, to be on their side. I hear regularly from parents that everything changes once they focus on connecting, not just correcting.

But we’re only human.  There are days when all we can do is meet our children’s most basic needs:  Feed them, bathe them, keep an encouraging tone, hug them, and get them to sleep at a reasonable hour so we can do it all over again tomorrow. Given that parenting is the toughest job on earth — and we often do it in our spare time, after we work at another job all day — the only way to keep a strong bond with our children is to build in daily habits of connection. What kinds of habits?

1. Aim for 12 hugs (or physical connections) every day. Hug your child first thing in the morning, when you say goodbye, when you’re re-united, at bedtime, and often in between.  If your tween or teen rebuffs your advances when she first walks in the door, realize that with older kids you have to ease into the connection.  Get her settled with a cool drink, and chat as you give a foot rub. (Seem like going above and beyond?  It’s a foolproof way to hear what happened in her life today. You’ll find yourself glad, many times, if you have that high on your priority list.)

2. Connect before transitions. Kids have a hard time transitioning from one thing to another.  If you look her in the eye, use her name, and play a bit to get her giggling, you’ll fill her cup and make sure she has the inner resources to manage herself through a transition.  Mornings go much easier when you start with a five minute snuggle upon awakening to help your child transition from sleep into the executive functions of dressing and teeth brushing.

3. Play.  Laughter and rough-housing keep you connected with your child by stimulating endorphins and oxytocin in both of you.  Making playfulness a daily habit also gives your child a chance to work through the anxieties and upsets that otherwise make him feel disconnected — and more likely to act out. And play helps kids want to cooperate.  Which is likely to work better,  “Little Gorilla, it’s time for breakfast, come eat your  bugs and bananas!” and “Don’t you think your steam shovel wants to get in the car now so he can see the construction site on the way to the store?” or “Eat your breakfast now!” and “Get in the car!”

4. Turn off technology when you interact with your child.  Really. Your child will remember for the rest of his life that he was important enough to his parents that they turned off phones and music to listen to him.  This is particularly important in the car, because the lack of eye contact in a car takes the pressure off, so kids (and adults) are more likely to open up and share.

5. Special time. Every day, 15 minutes with each child, separately.  Alternate doing what your child wants and doing what you want.  On her days, just pour your love into her and let her direct.  On your days resist the urge to structure the time with activities.  Instead, play  therapeutic “games” to help your child with whatever issues are “up” for her. (For game ideas, click here.) 

6. Welcome emotion. Sure, it’s inconvenient.  But your child needs to express his emotions or they’ll drive his behavior.  So accept the meltdowns, don’t let the anger trigger you, and welcome the tears and fears that always hide behind the anger. Remember that you’re the one he trusts enough to cry with, and breathe your way through it.  Afterwards, he’ll feel more relaxed, cooperative, and closer to you. (Yes, this is really, really hard. Regulating our own emotions is the hardest part of parenting. But that doesn’t mean we’re excused from trying.)

7. Listen, and Empathize. Connection starts with listening.  Bite your tongue if you need to, except to say “Wow!….I see….Really?…How was that for you?”  The habit of seeing things from your child’s perspective will ensure that you treat her with respect and look for win/win solutions.  It will help you see the reasons for behavior that would otherwise drive you crazy. And it will help you regulate your own emotions so when your buttons get pushed and you find yourself in “fight or flight,” your child doesn’t look so much like the enemy.

8. Slow down and savor the moment. Share the moment with your child: let him smell the strawberrries before you put them in the smoothie.  Put your hands in the running water together and share the cool rush of the water. Smell his hair. Listen to his laughter. Look him in the eyes. Connect in the magnificence of the present moment. Which is really the only way we can connect.

9. Bedtime snuggle and chat. Set your child’s bedtime a wee bit earlier with the assumption that you’ll spend some time visiting and snuggling in the dark. Those companionable, safe moments of connection invite whatever your child is currently grappling with to the surface, whether it’s something that happened at school, the way you snapped at her this morning, or her worries about tomorrow’s field trip. Do you have to resolve her problem right then? No. Just listen. Acknowledge feelings. Reassure your child that you hear her concern, and that together you’ll solve it, tomorrow. The next day, be sure to follow up. You’ll be amazed how your relationship with your child deepens. And don’t give this habit up as your child gets older. Late at night is often the only time teens will open up.

10. Show up.  Most of us go through life half-present. But your child has only about 900 weeks of childhood with you before he leaves your home.  He’ll be gone before you know it.  Try this as a practice:  When you’re engaged with your child, just be right here, right now.  You won’t be able to do it all the time.  But if you do it every day for a bit, you’ll find yourself doing it more and more. Because you’ll find it creates those moments with your child that make your heart melt.

The text was ‘borrowed’ from AHA parenting. You can subscribe to their newsletter here. Subscribe.

Great Social Initiatives

September 28, 2014

Credibles is an American based company empowering customers to invest in their own community by enabling local food businesses to sell store credit — called ‘credibles’. They do this by allowing customers to set up a prepaid tab which they can then use instore, giving the business a small financial boost in the mean time.

Roadie is shaking up the shipping industry with its peer-to-peer shipping network in America, which matches customers’ cargo to drivers with empty car seats heading in the right direction.

CityShelf is  a co-operative platform comprised of eight indie bookstores, which enables customers to browse the full catalogues of eight independent New York bookstores online before heading there to make a purchase.

Anou is an Etsy-style online marketplace which enables Moroccan artisans to sell their wares directly to western consumers. The marketplace is language free, so artisans can upload and sell their handmade crafts without having to overcome the language barrier which prevents them from using existing sites such as eBay or Etsy.

The Glia app takes into account a consumer’s full range of social, political and economic values and recommends businesses that support those beliefs and those which work against them.

Community projects make use of empty office space

Auction site connects entrepreneurs with business leaders and money raised goes to charities and non-profits – Connect for a cause

Meal sharing amongst neighbours – FutureGov is based on a simple idea; Buy one condom and donate one to women in the developing world.

the Information Blanket for new mums in developing world. Works on the buy one donate one model.

Thunderclap help people with a social message to break through the noise by coordinating messages from all supporters at the same time.

aVOID helps consumers stay away from products associated with the exploitation of children. allows people with great ideas to attract funding from friends, family and supporters.

In Madrid, dog poo left in public places is mailed back to owners. The Council of Brunete’s Cacas Express scheme saw those neglecting to pick up their dog’s poo have it sent back to them in the post.

Missing Kids Stamps is a grassroots movement that wants to encourage people to use stamps bearing the faces of missing children whenever they send a physical letter. is a clever iniative that matches food nearing it’s sell by date with charities. A message about the stock up for grabs is sent to the charities that sign up and they just have to text back to request it.

The Street Storeis a pop-up shop for homeless people that started in South Africa. Locals can just hang-up clothes on the purpose made sign / hangers that are dotted around the pop-up store.

Streetbank – This is a website that allows neighbours to give or lend stuff away to one another.

Beautiful Pumpkin Archway

August 29, 2014

Pumpkin Archway


Love this. Will be doing a smaller version in my own garden next year hopefully.

Clever Plant Finder Tool

August 3, 2014

This is such a helpful tool.



The top ten plants for green roofs offer great alternative to the grass roofs we’re more used to.


We went to Legoland with my 4.5 year old son and my 6.5 daughter this July and here are my tips on how to enjoy it to the max!

Legoland aint cheap. The walk-in price is £46.80 for adults (over 16) and £41.40 for children over 3 plus £4 for standard parking, i.e £180.40 for two adults and two children including parking. We used Tesco vouchers to get one free day in Legoland and Kellogs vouchers to get free entry for adults on a second day, so we paid approx £90 for two days at Legoland including parking.

You can get Qbots that allow you to virtually queue for rides. I’m not exactly sure how they work but essentially you choose your ride, it tells you can next get on, you go off an do other things until that time and then go to the Qbot entrance at the ride and get on. They cost £35 per person per day!

We stayed in a Travelodge in Windsor on one night and a Travelodge in Slough the second night. It was good to visit both places but Windsor is by far the more picturesque of the two. If you stay in Windsor the Carlucci cafe just around the corner from the Travelodge, do a coffee and pastry for £2 before 11:00am.

You can’t use vouchers if you book online so if you don’t have any i suggest you book in advance and save up to 30%. You can also save by buying a two day ticket instead of two one-day tickets.

I think Legoland is best suited to 5 – 8 year olds, but it all depends on the child. Most rides require children to be over .9m to go on with an adult and 1.3m to go on it without an adult. So if one of your children is under .9m they won’t be able to go on most rides. If they’re under 1.3 you’ll have to go on the rides with them, which might be a issue for a parent with two kids.

The park doesn’t open till 10:30 but you can pay after 10am and wait at the top of the hill for them to lift the barrier. We noticed that it got really busy after 11 and quietened down after 3pm, probably because the school tours headed home.

We went in July before the English schoolkids were off on holidays but even then it was busy. Most rides had a wait time of about 20 minutes but some were 45 minutes. The second day we visited we took the hill car down to the bottom of the park and went on the rides there first so there were no queues for the first few rides because most of the crowd worked from the top down instead.

There are a few attractions that don’t have a wait time which i’d recommend you do to mix it up.  Otherwise the day might feel like just one big wait.

The rides that we liked the best were as follows;

  • Land of the Viking’s River Splash (wet ride) – make sure your kids are able to hold-on for this. It can be very bumpy!
  • Pirate Shores’ Pirate Falls: Treasure Quest (wet ride) – often has a long waiting time
  • Adventure Land’s Squid Surfer (wet ride, but not too much)
  • Atlantis Submarine Voyage (underwater submarine trip through real marine aquarium) – This was our kids favourite ride of all, and ours!
  • The Dragon (rollercoaster)
  • Jolly Rocker (Swinging boat) – our kids thought this was too scary so we didn’t go on it.
  • Spinning Spider – our kids were too scared to go on this too but it looked good
  • Boating School (electric motor boats on a canal)
  • Traffic School (kid’s electric cars) – good fun but very short ride

Attractions that you don’t need to queue for include

  • Loki’s Labyrinth (a maze)
  • Mini Land (Lego’s original minature models)
  • Duplo Water Park – wonderful attractive weather permitting. The water is cold so you need it to be quite warm. There are changing rooms but not many toilets in the area so visit loo near Dupl Brickville instead.
  • Duplo Brickville- playground suitable for smaller kids
  • Castaway Camp – playground suitable for larger kids

Timetabled Attractions that are worth a visit.

  • Imagination Centre
  • Duplo Theatre Puppet Show – great incentive to get kids out of water park
  • Pirate’s Shores Pirates of Skeleton Bay Stunt Show – our kids absolutely adored this. It’s a popular attraction so get there early to get a good spot. Some areas get splashed quite a bit and are marked as such so pick carefully.

Food in the park is quite expensive but kids eat for free after 3pm. The best value in food appeared to be in the Pizza & Pasta place in Pirate Shores where adults pay £11.95 for all you can eat and kids pay £7.95 before 3pm. You can also get ‘proper’ coffee for £3.50 in the same area in the Harbourside Coffee co. Alternatively there is a picnic spot down in Adventure Land.

Lego is surprising expensive in Legoland, more expensive than in toystores! The least expensive Lego item were bags of little helicopter kits and similar costing £2.99  in a shop at the top of the park (The Beginning).

Strangely enoughly there are no ‘Emmets’ or ‘Wildstyle’ characters wandering around the park, which our kids were a bit dissappointed about. There was only one guy dressed as a Lego brick!

Eco Labels explained

July 6, 2014

Eco labels


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