Friday, November 27, 2015

Spokesmama Gift Guide: 5 DIY Gifts for Under $20

I'm sure there are a few people on your shopping list who like to make stuff, right? Most kids seem to need a creative outlet, whether it's building blanket forts, painting pictures, or creating their own jewellery. & I know so many adults who have taken up various crafting pursuits in the past few years. So I thought I'd put together a list of some creative gift ideas for you, all under $20.

Weavy Loops kit

There are several different types of kits with everything you need to make bracelets, or keychains, or headbands, or necklaces knotted & woven & braided out of colourful silky cord. The kits are designed for kids age six plus, & are great for developing fine motor control. We got to try one out recently & it was fun!

There are tons of different things you can do with the kits & many many video tutorials online--check out the official Weavy Loops YouTube channel to start with.

Weavy Loops kits start at $15, or $5 for cord refill kits.

Tula Pink Coloring Book

I'm sure you've heard of the recent colouring trend for adults, right? There are tons of different books out there, but the Tula Pink one has particularly gorgeous designs in it. Anyone with a quilting background will recognize the name Tula Pink, as she's an incredible textile designer. Wrap up a copy with a package of pencil crayons or markers, & this makes a wonderful gift.

I reviewed another book by the same publishers, the Stress Less Coloring Book here, if you'd like to read more about how much fun it is to colour.

The Tula Pink Coloring Book retails for about $13 & is available at tons of stores as well as online.

Holiday Crafts: 50 Projects for Year-Round Family Fun

Christmas time it seems the crafting hits a peak, but what can you do the rest of the year? As the title promises, Holiday Crafts is about ALL the holidays through the year, not just Christmas, so this book will still be relevant after December 25. This is a great starting point for making crafts with kids if yours are young or you are more of a beginner yourself.

Check out my review for more details on Holiday Crafts: 50 Projects for Year-Round Family Fun.

The paperback book is $20, but if you get the ebook edition of Holiday Crafts, you can also pick up a whole set of craft supplies (popsicle sticks, foam, eyes, paper, etc) from a dollar store near you to make everything in the book.

Brilliant Bee Crayons

For the youngest DIYer on your list, you could pick up a beautiful smelling set of non-toxic beeswax crayons & (I saw these on for $15 at Welk's General Store in my neighbourhood). They're also triangular which encourages the development of a proper pencil grip, but also doesn't roll off the table.

Add to the crayons a sketchbook like the simple paperback ones that fold nice & flat from Collage Collage, et voila, you have a great gift for a little artist. The sketchbooks start at $4.

Colibri Snack Bag

Reusable snack bags are a great way to do litterless lunches but for a Christmas gift? Well, Colibri makes a line of colour your own snack bags that would be awesome stocking stuffers. I spotted the fun space themed prints at Welk's recently. They were $8 for the larger size (perfect for a big sandwich in a lunch box). Pick up a set of & fabric markers to the little aliens & astronauts & you have a great gift for a boy or girl on your list.

Disclaimer: I received a Weavy Loops kit, the Tula Pink colouring book, & Holiday Crafts for free to facilitate these reviews. I was not compensated in any other way, & the opinions above are my own, as always! 

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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Screen Diet

Using the smart board at school
I read an article lately which suggested that too much screen time can cause kids to have behaviour issues that look a lot like ADHD. I'm a bit skeptical, but it got me thinking. I have noticed that the days Linnaeus watches more videos, his behaviour is worse. Especially when we're trying to peel him away from the screen.

He wasn't watching a ton of shows--we don't have a TV, it was just a few 12-minute episodes of Chirp, Pingu, or whatever on the laptop. But it was usually every day. & some days, when I was more tired, it was several hours.

So I thought we'd try a month with no screen time for him at home. He does get a little at school--how much depends on if you could smart board use--but we've cut him off, cold turkey, from Youtube & the occasional app on my phone.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our Top 15 Family Activities for the Holiday Season

It's a month away from Christmas! Time to make a list to remind me of the fun holiday activities--other than seeing family & friends--that I don't want to forget to do.

Here's what I'd like to get around to this holiday season:

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Eastside Culture Crawl with Little Kids

We Culture Crawled! (L exempted himself from the family selfie)
This year, we finally made it to the Eastside Culture Crawl, after a few years' children-induced hiatus. If you haven't heard of it before, the Crawl is a four day celebration of East Vancouver art & artists. Hundreds of artists tidy up their studios & throw open their doors to the public every November. It's free & it's a great way to see some of the amazing art that's happening right here in our community, as well as a great chance to bring some home. & you don't need to be rich to buy art--prices start at $2!

We dragged our five-year-old & two-year-old, kicking & screaming at times, through the labyrinthine studios at 1000 Parker, a few in the Mergatroyd Building right after parking our bikes at the Bicycle Valet, & two in the Hamilton Bank Building.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Family Portraits with Images by Bethany

I'm so pleased with the results of our family portrait mini session with Bethany Schiedel. We got the images back last week & it took me a few days to decide which ones we wanted to print. Here are our favourite images:

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Goodbye, Old Friend

Goodbye, old friend.
The last few times I've put on this bra, I keep noticing the holes along the elastic getting bigger. I've been meaning to repair it, but while doing a closet purge & really looking at it, I realize this bra's a little beyond that point now. It's time to say goodbye.

Why so nostalgic about an undergarment? Well...

Back in the summer of  2010, close to ready to pop
This Bravado nursing bra has been with me through the awkward nights of sleep during two pregnancies, two newborns worth of midnight feedings, low milk supply both times, countless breastfeeding clinic visits, nearly a year total of daily pumping, thrush infections, finally making enough to exclusively breastfeed, nursing in public the first time, tiny sharp toothed bites, toddler gymnurstics, mom & baby fitness classes, many tears of frustration, & more happy moments.

I'm sad the bra won't make it until I finish breastfeeding; Bronte is nowhere near ready to wean. Between her & Linnaeus, I've now breastfed over 55 months. Add to that the time I wore it to bed during my last trimesters & I've worn this comfy little bra (along with several others) for five & a half years.

So goodbye, my old friend. Or... maybe this is the sort of thing I should keep to show my grandchildren? Ha!

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Friday, November 20, 2015

O Christmas Tree Bike Ride

Photo: GoToVan on Flickr
Kick off the holiday season with a bike ride to the 2015 Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting!

The Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting is happening on Friday December 4th at Jack Poole Plaza. I don't know how I didn't know about this, as it's been going on for nine years. They'll be illuminating four magnificent trees--one is 50 feet tall!--with holiday lights. This is a family-friendly event featuring live entertainment, music, plus free cookies & hot chocolate, local food trucks & fun activities for kids. You'll have a chance to visit Santa there, & you can also stop by the Canada Post station to write a letter to him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wordless Wednesday

The wind blew the clouds away for our bike ride home from school

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