From Reviews

Look What I Made: a Handmade Christmas With Nipper and Tyke

Some of you may know Alice at Nipper and Tyke: funny blogger, owner of a sleep helmet wearing genius, and talented artist and maker of tapestry (tapestress is almost certainly not the word). Alice also offers tapestry classes and makes do it yourself tapestry kits, so that we can all pretend to be talented tapestresses (definitely not the word).

For Christmas, Alice has made kits to make your own gorgeous tapestry Christmas tree decorations, and she has kindly given me a kit to try. The decorations come in a variety of designs and colour schemes, and each kit makes three decorations, in different sizes and shapes. They are all so pretty, but I chose the red and white design as I love the heart and snowflake motifs.

The kit comes in a little bag and contains everything you need. You get the tapestry needle, six plastic canvases (two for each decoration), all the threads, the hanging wire, instructions, and the pattern for your chosen design.

The designs are stitched in a half cross stitch. You sew each design twice, to make the two sides of the decoration, and then stitch the sides together and attach the wire for hanging. The instructions are very clear, and the patterns are really easy to follow (as in, I was able to follow them). There are simple methods for neatly securing loose ends at the start and finish. This may seem an odd thing to mention, but I know it will appeal to any other people like me who may be out there. That would be people who enjoy sewing, are actually reasonably good at embroidery, but inexplicably have never mastered using any kind of sensible, tidy method for dealing with the loose threads at the start and end. You would not need to have any pre-existing abilities or knowledge when it comes to sewing, embroidery or tapestry in order to follow these instructions. I would say your level of experience would really only affect the speed with which you can complete the decorations.

It’s really very relaxing to do the sewing, and it is satisfying seeing the pattern coming together. As you progress, and can see the designs appearing, it becomes pretty intuitive to see where the next stitch goes without needing to closely count out the pattern (though, of course, you can still do so, if living on the edge is not your thing). The best part is that, as Alice has done all the hard work of designing the patterns, providing instructions, and collecting up the necessary materials, it really doesn’t take all that long to make a lovely handmade decoration. You then get to look awfully clever and creative, whilst secretly knowing that it wasn’t actually that hard (because really Alice is the awfully clever and creative one).

I have taken pictures showing the materials, the stages and a completed decoration. Mostly because I have always wanted to be a little bit Blue Peter, and push my just started piece out of the way to plonk down my ‘one I made earlier’. In fact, if I have one criticism here, it would have to be the disappointing lack of double sided tape and washing up liquid bottles involved in the making of these decorations. Of course, for all those who have less romanticised recollections, and remember the reality of Blue Peter creations, this could only be seen as a positive for Alice’s creations.

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You can purchase these kits on Nipper and Tyke’s Etsy store. I would definitely recommend them to add a bit of homemade charm to your decorations, or as lovely handmade Christmas gifts for friends and family, not to mention an enjoyable craft activity.

I give The Toddler and The Baby a Christmas decoration every year, and this year will be giving them each one of the Nipper and Tyke decorations I have made myself, so that will be extra special. I may neglect to mention that the credit is really all Alice’s (sorry, Alice): ‘Look what Mummy made you! Isn’t Mummy clever?’

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(You can see more examples of Alice’s work on Nipper and Tyke’s Facebook page, as well as in her Etsy store.)

 
 

Disclosure: I was sent these items by Nipper and Tyke to review. All opinions are my own.

Christmas Is a Wrap With Zazzle

The Toddler was 20 months old last Christmas. She has surprisingly good recollection of the whole event. Mostly based around chocolate, however, so perhaps not so surprising. She remembers the decorations. She points at the shelves that had Christmas ornaments, lights and bowls of chocolates for the Silly Parents: ‘Lights were up there…with the choccys!’ She recalls her advent calendar. She has no idea what the point of it was, but she remembers there were chocolates in it (some days). She looks a little bit vague at mention of Christmas trees, but dutifully nods: ‘Yes, Christmas…I had choccys, didn’t I?’

Like all self respecting toddlers, The Toddler and The Baby enjoy the wrapping paper at least as much as they enjoy presents. The Baby enjoys shredding paper, chewing it, and the knowledge that she is bonding with the cat through their shared love of playing in the wrapping. The Toddler enjoys opening things, whether they are hers or not, and also ‘reading’ the tags and cards. All items ‘read’ by The Toddler, whether a gift tag or a takeaway menu that came through the door, tend say: ‘Dear The Toddler, Once upon a time…’ This is usually followed by random things that The Toddler has been thinking about or doing. Or the food she can see, in the case of the menus: ‘Once upon a time pizza.’

For my part, I love Christmas and decorations, and I am one of those people who likes to wrap everything in coordinated paper, with ribbons and matching tags.

The upshot of this is that we are all very happy to be reviewing Zazzle‘s wonderful range of Christmas wrapping products. Zazzle have a massive range of paper, tags, stickers, address notes, ribbons and anything else you can think of for beautiful Christmas gift wrapping. There is a style to suit everyone: traditional, pretty, cute, funny, quirky, tacos (really). As with everything at Zazzle, there are also numerous ways to personalise the products. Many wrapping papers can have your photographs added, which is a particularly lovely idea for new babies and children. Others can have personalised messages printed on them. You can select the size of the roll, and there are different types of paper to choose from, including Tyvek, a super strong, rip resistant paper (perfect for people who like to re-use wrapping paper for crafts, or those who don’t like their toddlers/cats to shred wrapping paper all over the floor). The tags and stickers can also be personalised with printed messages, as can the ribbon.

I have traditionally chosen my wrapping paper to coordinate with the colours of the tree decorations. However, we are foregoing the big tree with presents underneath during the toddler years, in favour of a small tree on the table out of reach. Mostly because it seems likely that festive spirit would be somewhat dampened by a month of ‘LET GO OF THAT’, ‘STOP EATING THAT’, ‘STOP CLIMBING THAT’, ‘STOP PULLING ON THAT’, ‘STOP TEARING THAT’, and ‘THAT IS NOT A BALL DO NOT THROW IT’ at 30 second intervals. Therefore, I have opted for cute and quirky papers that compliment each other, with tags that match, and ribbon printed with a festive message.

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As my perfectionist/anal wrapping behaviour does tend to take rather a lot of time, I am really pleased to have been able to have the tags printed with messages. I have got tags with messages pre-printed for The Toddler and The Baby, to go on their main presents. I also chose some stickers. I have had some printed with a Christmas message from all of us, which will be a quick and simple way of labelling gifts for people outside our immediate family. I also chose a sheet of stickers for each of the girls for their stocking/little presents. They both love stickers and I picked really cute designs. I had these labelled as from Father Christmas and, again, this will save a lot of time. We have stocking presents from Father Christmas, but main presents from Mummy and Daddy (and Father Christmas) in our house. Stickers will be an efficient way of labelling the numerous little gifts, with the added bonus of not getting knocked off in the stockings. All of the products are great quality and really lovely.

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Overall, our verdicts are as follows. I am very excited about how pretty all the presents will look, and the easier labelling options. The Baby thinks it all looks very tasty. The cat thinks she may agree a truce with The Baby in order to form a paper ripping alliance. The Toddler is very pleased to be receiving – in her favourite sticker format – a traditional Christmas greeting from Father Christmas: ‘Dear The Toddler, Once upon a time pizza…’

I would recommend taking a look at the range of wrapping products at Zazzle, for a beautiful under tree (or very high shelf, if you own a toddler) look. Now, the Sillies are off to decorate the house. In chocolate, as far as The Toddler is concerned.

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Disclosure: I was sent these items by Zazzle to review. All opinions are my own.

Double, Double Toil and Trouble: A Halloween Review for Zazzle

I love Halloween. This may be a little odd as I am the world’s biggest scaredy cat. Nonetheless, I am a fan of the gothic, the weird and the kooky. I love vampires, witches, magic, Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Being Human, gothic horror stories. I always did. As a child I loved The Worst Witch books, Vlad the Drac and Gobbolino the Witch’s Cat. And I love the dressing up.

Now I have little people to dress up. And I have. Last Halloween, The Toddler was dressed as a little witch. She enjoyed this. She particularly enjoyed the attention she received from random strangers, running around town in her little black and purple dress, sweeping the floor with a purple broomstick. The Toddler did not quite understand the purpose of the broomstick. She has since watched Bedknobs and Broomsticks and now knows exactly what a witch’s broomstick is for: ‘Get my fishing, Mummy!’ Okay, not exactly what it is for, maybe. The Baby was only two months old last Halloween so, obviously, she wasn’t dressed up. Ahem. (*Looks at floor*) Okay, she was The Toddler Witch’s black cat. It wasn’t that cruel – it was just a sleepsuit with a cat’s body on it, and cat head and ears on the hood. She didn’t even notice. I didn’t make her ride on the end of the broomstick, or anything. No, really this time, I didn’t. I didn’t. She was oblivious in the pram. This year it appears that The Toddler would like to be Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. I am a little less enthused about these prospects. I am trying a subtle approach: ‘Isn’t Maleficent pretty?’

I like to watch films for Halloween too, of course. Not actual scary ones, let’s not get silly. The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Shaun of the Dead. I have been wondering how old The Toddler will need to be before we can watch Ghostbusters. I could play her the song. I’m sure she’d love to join in:
‘If there’s something strange in the neighbourhood, who you gonna call?’
‘Grandma! Me call Grandma on the Skype now?’

So, given my love of Halloween, and all things supernatural, when online store Zazzle asked if I would like to review items from their Halloween range I was excited.

I’m new to Zazzle, and I can honestly say I loved it. Firstly, there is a vast range of products. I was obviously looking specifically at the Halloween products, which is in itself a huge choice, but I did take a quick look at the wider ranges too, and confirmed I could have shopped for days.

What I was really excited by, however, was the discovery that you can personalise literally anything. Not only that, you can choose exactly what it says, where it goes, the font, the size. You can even add images. It’s really fun to get involved in the design of your items. A further feature that I loved was the range of choice on clothing items. If you pick a child’s top, for example, you can then choose to change the style and colour as well.

I chose a Halloween incy wincy spider top (seen here) for The Toddler, a Halloween witch top (seen here) for The Baby and a Halloween black cat courier bag (seen here) for myself. I picked long sleeved tops for the girls, ready for Autumn. I then personalised the items to have our blog names on the back. I am really pleased to have some items that commemorate my blog (especially as I will soon have to change the names I use for the girls, now that both are technically toddlers, and will always be fondly attached to the names I started out with). All the items arrived promptly and with no fuss, and I really love them.

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The girls’ tops are so cute. The Toddler is very excited about her top. And The Baby’s top. And my bag. Particularly my bag, in fact. She knows incy wincy spider, and is taken with witches and spells at present, so she likes the designs on the tops. The Baby apparently thought she had ordered a ‘duck’. But this is really The Baby’s response to everything at present, and she does look very cute in her witchy top.

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The bag is brilliant. The Toddler has noted that the cat is ‘like our cat’, which she seems to approve of (that is she approves of the similarity, not our cat, who is frankly a grump). She does not appear to have noted that the bag is not, in fact, hers. I picked the bag because I never have anything that I can put just the basics I need into, rather than my massive handbags. Now that both girls are heavy and walking, I am often walking one and pushing a pushchair, walking one and carrying one, or walking two, and an additional big bag for my keys, phone and purse is not ideal. This bag is perfect. Even better, for short local trips, it is also the perfect size for a couple of nappies, some wipes and snacks to be added to money and phone, and no other bag is needed. I love the little cat design. I am not a pink, flowery person. Halloween or not, all things gothic, creepy or kooky are easily my favourite design choices. Not to mention that it is now my ‘Silly Mummy’ bag.

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I would really recommend having a look at Zazzle if you want any personalised item; and for events, holidays and gifts. They have a bit (well, a lot, actually) of everything: clothing, accessories, mugs, household items, office items, keyrings, notebooks, to name just a few. The site is also good for offering a wide price range to suit different budgets. Plus, I noticed that there’s a Harry Potter range – I’m thinking I may get The Toddler a top to confirm ‘I’m not a Hufflepuff‘.

As for the Halloween range, you can choose from the huge selection of Halloween tops, mugs, party accessories, and much more. As stated, I am a fan of the kooky and I chose designs that suit that. The choice is immense, however, and would have something to suit any taste. There are kooky designs, cute designs, word designs, funny designs, witches, pumpkins, cats, spiders, bats, skeletons, zombies, vampires, monsters – you name it. The choice of fonts is also extensive. I picked ones that suited the Halloween theme and the designs.

I am also going to mention the fantastic range of trick or treat bags (seen here) that you can have personalised for your child. I loved these, and I think they would be great if you are going trick or treating or to Halloween parties with your children. I only didn’t get one of these because I am well aware that The Toddler must not discover that asking people to give her chocolate to fill a bag is a thing. Much as it would be funny to hear her yell what I am fairly sure would be her version of trick or treat: ‘Choccy or you are the naughty wolf!’

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Disclosure: I was sent these items by Zazzle to review. All opinions are my own.