Tuesday, December 10, 2013

2013 Mousehouse Christmas Giveaway

Well I have finished putting together a little gathering of treats to say thank you once again for reading 'mousehouse'. This year has probably been my quietest blog year since I started writing mousehouse back at the end of 2009. It was a full on year selling our house and moving house mid year, as well as Jack being a fully fledged busy, loud toddler now who with my other two kiddies makes for a very busy life! Hopefully next year I will have more time to craft/sew/create and share... hhmmm it seems to be the older the kids get the busier life gets so hopefully it's not just wishful thinking! I have really enjoyed using my mousehouse facebook page to share ideas in a quick and easy way but I still want to use my blog to share ideas as well, it just takes a bit longer to write a blog post nowadays!
I have two big plans for next year on 'mousehouse'- one feature will be 'My pinterest home'. I use pinterest mainly for home ideas and I absolutely love all the clever tips and ideas that people on pinterest pin and share.  So next year I am wanting to start actually doing some of the ideas I've pinned, and then sharing them on here and my facebook page- so they will mostly be ideas in regards to organising, clever storage ideas, fun ideas for kids rooms and spaces, and where to find cool and affordable things for your house.   I also want to share lots of ideas for things you can make for your home to make it more functional and organised but also look great.
My other passion on mousehouse other than homes and interiors is young children and learning ideas so I want to have another feature next year 'Play and Learn' and share lots more ideas to help your pre-schoolers learn their ABC's and other activities along those lines such as fine motor skills, counting and a love of books, stories and reading. My middle child starts school end of March so the things that I will be doing with her I will be sharing on here or my facebook page, as well as other fun things I make or come across for young children. I have done a bit of relief teaching in the last few years mostly in New Entrant classes so I have seen first hand how the children that come to school with some alphabet knowledge and writing skills just fly once they start school. I'm not advocating getting out flash cards or stressing that your child knows all of the alphabet before their first day at school however there are so many easy and fun ways to help your child gain some knowledge before school and also instill the beginning of a love of learning.
I also have another project for 2014....something I have been working on for a couple of years now...it's a book for all of you with children or grandchildren, those of you who work with children, or those of you hoping to have children one day. It's going to be a big book full of ideas for play, learning and other fun things and I am nearly at the stage where I can start approaching publishers.  I have been working with a very clever graphic designer friend to make up some proof chapters and montages, so wish me luck!  If you like the ideas that I share on mousehouse then you are going to LOVE this book. And the really special thing about this book is that it will be a book that your own children will pore over and love as much as you hopefully will! There is nothing better than seeing kids engrossed in a book and that is one of my biggest goals with this project.  I am really nervous sharing this but I think it is about time I do so that in 2014 I actually do the hardest job which is approaching publishers...so if you know anyone in the book publishing industry in NZ I would love to hear from you.  It's really hard putting myself out there like this to be honest in regards to my book idea but I have really got to get this project off the ground next year or I never will!  There is also going to be the opportunity to be part of my book project as although I have already taken thousands of photo's already I am wanting lots more so if you are handy with a camera and have some great photo's of your children and would love to be involved than please keep an eye out for me asking for photo's in the new year :)

So anyway after all of that here are the details of my giveaway...

Each year when I start making/gathering things for my Christmas giveaway I like to choose things that reflect what I share on my blog and my Facebook page. So this year I think I've covered it pretty well ....here's what you could win....
* Vintage Christmas illustration paper napkins- I love anything with a vintage look and I love sharing ideas for parties and gatherings at home. I bought these from Perch Home.
*Kikki-K to do note pad- I am a crazy list maker and I always have a to-do list a mile long so this notepad sums up this aspect of me.  I used to love sharing my 'organised home' posts as well on my blog and hope to re start something similar to that on mousehouse next year via 'my pinterest home' feature.
*Christmas tree cookie cutter- I have a pretty big collection of cookie cutters and I love using them for cutting out sandwiches, baking, and for crafts like playdough or using them as stencils.

*Ikea honeycomb Christmas decoration- I've never been to an Ikea store but would love to-  a friend in Hong Kong did a shop for me at her local Ikea and these decorations were on my list-  aren't they gorgeous!

*a lined mousehouse drawstring bag- I love sewing and wish I had time to do more- these little drawstring bags are one of my favourite things to make. Handy to store special christmas decorations or anything else you need to keep safe!
*elastics game from Jump Elastics- I love making and buying stuff for kids, especially things that get them outside playing classic childhood games. Michelle from Jump Elastics kindly offered to donate one of her gorgeous 'jumpelastics' to my giveaway so if you win not only do you get some treats but your kids will hopefully be occupied happily outside while you enjoy them!  The jump elastics also comes with a cute little book with lots of ideas of games to play if you've forgotten some of the 'chants' from your school yard days :) These would make a great present for Christmas too if you don't win the giveaway, and Michelle's packaging is beautiful as well. Check out the Jump Elastics Facebook page here http://www.facebook.com/jumpelastics
The giveaway is open to all so international entries welcome, entries will close Saturday 14th December at midday NZ time.  You can enter by leaving a comment under this blog post or over on my facebook page under the post about this giveaway.

For your comment I would love to know what you enjoy reading about or seeing on my blog or facebook page.  I hope that doesn't come across as me trying to get a lot of compliments but I am truly interested in what you like to see/read... and maybe some of your comments would help me when it comes to approaching publishers...

Here's how to get yourself some extra entries- just do any of the following and let me know in a separate comment for each either here or on Facebook...

*if you are on Facebook like and share the post about this giveaway on your own facebook page
*share this giveaway on your blog if you have one
*like mousehouse on Facebook
*follow my boards on pinterest

Good luck and thank you again for reading 'mousehouse' for another year, Merry Christmas and a Happy 2014 :)

Megan x

PS: I have re read through this post a few times now since I wrote it on Sunday and have decided to leave it as it is even though it does seem pretty full on with my grand plans for next year!! but please know that although I have plans for 2014 I am no super mum or amazing multi tasker- I just have an absolute passion for making things and sharing ideas with other like-minded people so this blog is not a reflection on my whole life, just a part of it I really enjoy :) All of you mums out there are doing an incredible job and I hope my blog inspires you rather than makes you feel you are doing 'less' than others...that is something I really don't want and is not what my blog is about, I may make a lot of cute stuff but my hubby would probably rather I cooked dinner a few more nights instead!! So to all you mums out there have a great Christmas and I hope you get some time to put your feet up and pat yourself on the back for doing an amazing job day in day out!!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ideas for advent, stocking or Santa Sack gifts

I have finally got myself sorted for my advent pocket bunting just a few days late.
I made this bunting last year...

so I thought I would share some ideas for things to put in either your advent calendar if you have one that fits small treats, or you could use these ideas for stocking or santa sack presents. Most of the things I got from the supermarket (yes the irony of the toothbrush surrounded by sugary treats!) so it wasn't too much extra work finding the bits and bobs. So here are my ideas plus a few extra ones that I haven't got for the photo...

*mini treat cereal boxes
*hair bobbles/hair ties
*matchbox cars
*water bottle treat (my kids are always asking me to buy these water buddies so they'll be v excited to see these!)
*mini playdough and cookie cutters
*popcorn (you could add a note saying 'it's Christmas movie night tonight)
*bandaids (my kids have an obsession with bandaids)
*candy canes, chocolate santa's, gold coins, mini chocolate bars
*a handmade or store bought decoration for each child
*lego mini figurines
*stickers and cut out stars to decorate (you could put these in a pocket on the day you are decorating your Christmas tree)
*hair clips
*christmas bead bracelet or necklace
*Christmas cards to write to family and friends
*new toothbrushes

*other ideas are...

  • new Christmas books 
  • new summer PJ's
  • new underwear
  • instant kiwi $1 scratchie

 So hope that helps if you are getting ready to do your christmas shopping or making :)
Megan x

Monday, November 18, 2013

DIY play laptops and phones

The girls made these play laptops and phones in the weekend so I thought I would share them as they are absolutely loving playing with them! My 4 year old goes to an awesome daycare where the children choose what topics they would like to learn about- lately they've been learning about rockets, scooters, and now computers. The children do a brainstorm and then vote on which topic they want to do next which I think is really cool. So on Saturday Stella wanted to make a computer...luckily we had a cardboard box so I just grabbed my sticker stash, washi tape and masking tape (it pays to be a hoarder if you like arts and crafts with kids) and made very quick and rough 'laptops'. 
They did pretty much all of the decorating- Amelie took ages copying the button at the top of my laptop keyboard (always good when something takes a while!) and then adding other stickers and drawings. Amelie is really into Belle and Boo so she wanted to make hers look like the Belle and Boo website! 
Luckily I had these cool raised alphabet stickers I bought about 3 years ago so they were perfect as they actually feel like keys on a keyboard.  

I taped on a bit of cardboard underneath to make a CD Rom drive and they made a CD each too. 
We added velcro dots to them later so the lid stays shut. They have been carting them everywhere and playing them on them- I really love that my 6 year old is still really into imaginative play like this :) 

Then they decided to make phones as well - even though we don't have iphones they wanted to make theirs look like one so I just cut out a piece of cardboard and they stuck scrapbooking paper on the back to make the iphone case. Then we used stickers to make it look like the different apps on a phone. I made this one for Jack. 
So there you go if you looking for an easy and surprisingly entertaining art/ craft activity! 
Megan x

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bath time reminiscing, new 'Baby by Earthwise' products...and a giveaway

When we had our first baby Amelie 6 and a half years ago I read Gina Ford's 'Contented Baby' book- a little bit of it when I was pregnant, and a lot after I had Amelie. She recommended a bedtime routine of feeding baby around 5, then doing the bath, then feeding baby again around 7. So we did as the book said and it seemed to work with us even though Amelie screamed blue murder from the second she was taken out of the bath until she was fully dressed but we kept it going because it was a way to keep her up for a bit longer before 'bedtime' and hey maybe the screaming wore her out so much she went to sleep easily...who knows but she was a good night sleeper from reasonably early on! So we stuck with that routine for her, and then for Stella and then Jack as well.  Probably because to be honest we were scared to change anything as whatever we were doing seemed to be working but also it is nice to have them all clean and smelling good at least once in the day! It's taken a lot of effort over the years, we have hardly ever missed them having a bath, I remember getting to a bach for a holiday when Amelie was about 6 months old and the hot water hadn't heated up in time for bath time so we filled up a plastic container using the kettle just so she could have her bath...I laugh now that we bothered -we must have really been paranoid that if she didn't have her bath she would somehow not sleep well all night! Anyway now that all 3 are older we still do the bath every night, it is the only time Jack is clean in the day and the 3 of them do have a good time in there most nights. There are certainly a lot of times when we really can't be bothered but I guess the routine is so ingrained in them now they just automatically get ready for the bath after dinner so they would probably spin out if we said no bath tonight (well Jack would anyway!) It's a hectic/loud/crazy time in our house and we are looking forward to them just being able to jump in the shower but I bet we'll still miss their little faces all squeezed in the bath together too :)

So when Hayley from Earthwise contacted me about reviewing some of the new plant based Earthwise Baby products I jumped at the chance- I already use their lavender laundry powder which I love. And I like that they are NZ based, environmentally friendly and have been around a while now- Earthwise was actually started 45 years ago! So here are the goodies I was sent to try out- the
Baby bath wash, Baby shampoo, Baby bubble bath, hair detangler, sleep spray, baby soap, plus some samples of their other soaps, bathroom and general use wipes, and their laundry and whitening powder.

From the Baby by Earthwise press release "Earthwise has developed their new range to be gentle on the skin, the result leaves skin and hair feeling divine with the love and nourishment Mother Nature intended.  The products are also gentle on the environment, all ingredients in Earthwise products are ethically and sustainably sourced, carefully selected to provide gentle natural cleaning properties while maintaining our earth. Baby by Earthwise is free from parabens, artificial colouring, toxic petrochemicals and laurel sulphates, it’s not tested on animals and made in New Zealand."

The kids loved the bubble bath- I don't actually use bubble bath very often so this was a treat for them, well until there were tears about who had the most bubbles and arguing over who got to sit in a certain place in the bath to get the most bubbles...but as bubble bath goes it has a nice subtle scent, plenty of bubbles and is a good price for the amount in the container- $7.49 at Countdown for 275mls
The bath wash and shampoo were great too, again a nice subtle scent, cute containers and a reasonable price for the amount you get.
The hair detangler has a been a big hit- I mentioned on Facebook that I went hunting for this a while ago and could only find one with a very strong strawberry scent so this one is much nicer!
The sleep spray was popular with the kids as they liked spraying their pillowcases themselves although they did go a bit crazy with it and ended up with rather damp pillowcases! It would be nice to freshen up a baby's bassinet or cot sheets or even the actual bedroom.
So all in all I will definitely be buying these products in the future, on price alone they are the same if not cheaper than what I normally buy, and much cuter too!

So if you would like to win your own pack of Earthwise baby products just leave a comment here or over on my Facebook page either telling me what you do for bathtime in your family or just leave a comment saying you'd like to win the prize- but be quick... you've got until midday tomorrow- Friday 27th Sep to leave your comment. This giveaway is for NZ readers only sorry. I will be giving the winners details to Hayley at Earthwise and she will be sending out your prize :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Picture Books for 5 year olds

A mousehouse reader Stephanie asked me last night for some ideas for good picture books for her 5 year old daughter who has started reading by herself but would still like to listen and read along to some picture books as well. My 6 year old likes to read her own books now (waaaaay too much Rainbow Magic) plus other short chapter books and her readers from school, but as she shares a room with Stella (4) she still loves listening to picture books as well. So here are some of Amelie and Stella's favourite picture books- most of the these are also the tried and true ones I grab if I am doing a days relieving in a classroom- all of them are popular with boys and girls around the 5/6 age group but there are a couple that particuarly appeal to girls from this list. 

Colour the Stars by Dawn McMillan- this is a lovely story about a little boy who is blind and his friend who teaches him what stars look like

Guji Guji by Chih-Yuan Chen- this is really a cute story that kids love with lovely illustrations

I Had a Favourite Dress by Boni Ashburn- this is one for the girls all about a girl who has a favourite dress and as she outgrows it her mum sews it into different items- Amelie loves this

A Lion in the Meadow by Margaret Mahy- a classic story written in the 70's and still just as popular today- I love this story

The Tiger Who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr- another classic story by a wonderful author

The Paper Dolls by Julia Donaldson- this is Amelie and Stella's (and mine) favourite picture book at the moment- such a cute story, lovely illustrations and a good book to read aloud

Princess, Fairy by Penny Dale- Stella's favourite- I'm pretty sure it is a take on the fairy tale The Frog Prince but with the very appealing characters to young girls princesses and fairies!

The Princess and her Panther by Wendy Orr- another book Stella lovese especially about 2 sisters who dress up and have an adventure using their imagination

Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion- another classic story I think written in the 50's or 60's- a lovely story of a dog who really doesn't like having a bath, lovely retro illustrations

The Smallest Turtle by Lynley Dodd- always a good one to read aloud, lovely simple story with beautiful language- hard to find online though :(

What good luck What bad luck by Remy Charlip-  I found this at an Op Shop- when I read it to a class of 6 year olds they absolutely loved it and wanted me to read it again straight away! Can also be found printed as 'Unfortunately'. 

The Nickel Nackle Tree by Lynley Dodd-a neat counting book, again with great language and illustrations- appeals to all ages

Mouse Mansion By Karina Schaapman- this isn't a picture book as such, more a chapter book presented in a picture book format- Amelie loves this book especially the detailed photos

Well I know there are so many other wonderful picture books out there but these are the ones I could think of straight away- would love to hear of any of your or your child's favourite picture books too.

The other stories I would recommend reading is any fairy tales you can get your hands on- op shops seem to always have one or two when I take a look.
Albert Einstein Quote - Fairy Tales - Cross Stitch PDF Pattern Download. $4.00, via Etsy.

These are some of my favourite ones...

Dick Whittington
The Elves and the Shoemaker
The Emperors New Clothes
The Frog Prince
The Gingerbread Man
The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs
Jack and the Beanstalk
The Little Match Girl
The Little Mermaid
Little Red Riding Hood
The Ugly Duckling
The Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Princess and the Pea
The Dancing Princesses
Snow White
Stone Soup
The Boy who cried Wolf

I'll write another blog post with some of my favourite chapter books as well, basically anything by Michael Morpurgo plus a few of my other favourites :)

Happy reading!
Megan x

Monday, September 23, 2013

A housewarming party-nibbles and drinks ideas

We had a a fun night on Sat for our housewarming party so I thought I'd share some of the finger food/appetizers and drinks we did for the party in case you are thinking of having a party or wanting to bring some nibbles to someone elses!



* 2 x crostini- I bought a bag of crostini already made but if I was doing them again I would try and make them myself in advance, the ones we bought were too small and way too crunchy we both thought, although they all did get eaten!

Our crostini toppings...

- Olive tapenade with chopped up cherry tomatoes and shaving of parmesan
- Sundried capsicum tapenade with little square of feta and basil leaf

Cheese ball and crackers, crostini

* Cheese ball and crackers-I made my first ever cheese ball after seeing Vanessa's on her blog ages ago- it was yum and nice and easy too thanks Vanessa!- here is her recipe http://thebubbalinokitchen.com/2013/06/cheese-ball

*nibbles platter- Lisa's kumara and pumpkin dip, chips, pita bread crisps, bagel bites, green stuffed olives, capsicum slices

*Blini's- cream cheese, salmon and dill blini's- you can buy blini's frozen at Nosh or the supermarket if you don't want to make them yourself- we bought them and they were great


* 'Scrummy Scroodles'
These are tasty little savoury muffin type treats that a friends mother in law gave me the recipe for. I made them on Friday and they just got heated up in the oven during the party. Here is the recipe

1/2 cup chopped bacon    
2 cups grated cheese
1 pkt onion and bacon soup
1 cup flour
1tsp baking powder
500g sour cream

Mix all ingredients. Bake for approx 20 mins in mini muffin pans at 180deg.  Freezes well.

It made me at least 36 mini muffins but I don't think I put quite enough filling in each muffin hole so next time I would put more mixture in so would probably get about 24-30 from this recipe.

*Samosa's and spring rolls

I didn't get a photo of these but we served these Shore Mariner vegetable samosa's and spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce- these are always a popular thing to serve at a gathering! They're at the supermarket and Nosh, there are other brands that do them as well but this brand was recommended to me.

Shore Mariner Samosas Cocktail Vegetable
Shore Mariner Spring Rolls Cocktail Vegetable Minis

Sundried tomato and feta dip with chilli and lime wedges- we were going to do these later in the evening as well but didn't in the end...
Sundried Tomato & Feta Dip with Chilli & Lime Wedges
We also had a few friends bring some delicious nibbles- my sister did pork belly cut up into bite sized chunks which was a BIG hit, and another friends hubby Andy made mini caesar salads on those little serving dishes which were really tasty- cute idea too to make an appetiser from a meal! Wish I'd taken a photo but they sort of looked like the mini caesar salads below but he served each one on one of these little serving dishes -I couldn't find them online in NZ but these are the exact ones Andy used http://plasticcontainercity.com/black-plastic-mini-tear-drop-dish-10-per-pack.htm
mini caesar salad boats...great party starters...teeny salad bites!
Black Plastic Mini Tear Drop Dish - 10 Per Pack

* Bubbles, wine and beer-I set up our dining table with glasses with a few bins underneath for empties.

* Apple, ginger and cranberry mocktail for the drivers/pregnant ladies- I used this recipe without the vodka http://www.whatkatieate.com/recipes/apple-ginger-and-cranberry-vodka-cocktail. To keep the cocktail cold without it going watery I made ice cubes out of the apple juice and the cranberry juice. I added a few sprigs of mint as well.

* Vodka Jellies- these are always a fun thing to bring out later in the evening- I made some and my friend made some too- here's my 'recipe' for them

1 packet jelly
One and a half cups boiling water
Half a cup vodka

Mix the jelly and the boiling water, when cooled add the half cup of vodka then place in the fridge to set. If you want to make them stronger use 1 cup boiling water and 1 cup vodka.

Makes approx 22 30ml jellies (you can buy the plastic shot glasses from the supermarket)

So there you go, some ideas for your next gathering :) Have a great week!

Monday, September 2, 2013

a reversible playmat

A couple of weeks ago I came across this fab idea to make a farm playmat on a great new crafty blog
'Peekaboo! Make and Do'.  Jan who writes the blog is also a teacher and she has lots of really great ideas on her blog and facebook page http://www.facebook.com/PeekabooMakeLearnSewAndDo?ref=br_tf

Here is Jan's cute one...
I really love having toys that encourage imaginative and independent play and this is one of those- all you need to add is a few toy animals, a tractor or two and whatever else you can find with a bit of a farm theme (we had a Fisher Price Little People Farm Set which came in handy). I got the animals from a shop here in Tauranga, AJ's Emporium, you can probably find them at Dollar Value type stores as well, or search Trademe.

I made this mat pretty quickly- if I don't need to measure and pin things I generally don't- kids don't mind if squares don't exactly line up and the mat is a little wonky on one side!  
As I was sewing my squares together I was thinking what to use to sew on to the back of the playmat and then I had a brainwave to use a car mat I bought from Payless Plastics a while ago. (The car mat is a laminated fabric that you just buy off the roll in store).  So one side farm, one side cars= 2 happy children :)
Most of the fabrics for the farm playmat I already had (this project is a great one to use up some of your scrap fabric stash) but I did get a couple of fat quarters from Bernina as well-they had a corn field one which was great plus a grass one and a stony pebble one which was good for the 'pig sty'. 
Thanks again Jan for the great idea, it was fun to do a bit of sewing again.  And I'll be sharing another post with some more of my favourite toys for little ones soon :)

Thanks for reading,
Megan x

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Sesame Street Alphabet Songs on Youtube

Sticking with some of the ABC stuff I've been sharing on my Facebook page  I thought I'd share these alphabet songs and clips I've found on youtube- most of them are probably 20+ years old and still captivate my kids - I'm sure yours will love them too. There's a phonics song at the end- not as cute/retro as these Sesame St ones but good for learning letter sounds. Hope your kids enjoy them :) Megan

Sesame Street: The Alphabet with Elmo and India Arie

Sesame Street:The Alphabet Song with Lena Horne

Sesame Street: Ray Charles Sings the Alphabet

Sesame Street: Patti Labelle Sings the Alphabet

Sesame Street: Big Bird ABC-DEF-GHI Song

Sesame Street: Grover and Alphabet Soup

Classic Sesame Street animation: Boy fishing for the alphabet

Phonics Song

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rainbow pencil holders

Here are the details of the rainbow pencil holders for my classroom...the idea came from this article in the NZ Herald Sunday magazine by Greig Morgan back in January I think. I loved the rainbow idea as my classroom is going to have a bit of a rainbow theme (hopefully without being OTT as the rainbow theme can look fun or look too much if you know what I mean!) 
My hubby got a piece of the wood below from Bunnings- it's about 50mm wide and was about 150mm long- I can just read from the article that it's called dress gauge pine. He cut out the rainbow shapes after using a plate to draw the circle shape on the wood.

Then he used the electric sander to soften the edges.
Next he painted them with a coat of undercoat and drilled the holes for the pencils. He forgot to not drill the holes too deep though so I'm going to have to put something in the holes or once the kids sharpen their pencils a few times their pencils will be lost down the holes! (in the article it says to wrap a piece of tape around your drill bit so you know when to stop drilling down). Then I painted them the rainbow stripes. Next time I would definitely use paint test pots to do this as I used kids acrylic paint so each rainbow stripe needed A LOT of coats- took forever!!

When they were dry I painted on a layer of modpodge to seal them - varnish would work the same.

This would be a fun school holiday project too if you have older kids...dad (or mum!) cuts the shape out and the kids can paint them- a cute desk accessory for their bedroom :)
Megan x
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