Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mousehouse Advent Cards

Hi all, I hope you're all having a good week and not feeling too frazzled in the lead up to Christmas! Just writing a quick blog post to share these advent cards I made this week to go with the pocket bunting I made a few years ago. I've been meaning to make the cards since I first saw them on Pinterest a few years ago so I'm very happy to have finally finished them! I used ideas from lots of blog posts I've read and lots of ideas on Pinterest too

I've come up with a list of my favourite family Christmas traditions such as having a Christmas movie night or getting new Christmas books, ideas for fun Christmas experiences such as going to see the Christmas lights or getting a photo with Santa, and ideas for small Christmas treats as well. The cards are $30 + $6 courier (NZ), printed on nice heavy 240GSM card and matte laminated, all on a handy ring to keep them together. They are 65mm x 65mm so should fit in most pocket/bag/envelope style advent calendars. There are 40 cards so you can choose which cards suit your family, including about 8 cards that say 'here is a little treat for you today' for those busy days! I've also included a list of treat ideas to go with the 'Christmas experience' cards.

If you would like to order a set of cards you can email me or message me via my Mousehouse Facebook page

I have already sold the sets I made in time for December 1st delivery but I will be doing another limited number of sets if you are happy to receive them in a week or two. Or you could always order a set for next year! 


And if you are wanting more advent inspiration I've pinned lots of lovely handmade Advent calendars to my 'Christmas' Board if you want to take a look…

Thanks for reading,

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Some favourite toys for independent and open-ended play

The toys that my children love playing with are also the toys that I love because of their timeless appeal and also because they encourage creative and/or independent, open ended play- for example if they are playing 'babies' this game can go on for a very decent amount of time depending on the age of your children! So I thought I'd share my favourite and my children's favourite toys with you- nearly all of these have been brought from a second hand kids shop nearby or from Trade me-I rarely buy toys brand new, and I love buying things to add to a collection e.g: duplo, toy cars or Fisher Price Little People. These are also the toys that both Jack and Stella love playing with so they appeal to both boys and girls. I've written them in order of what they play with the most...

1. Cars
Definitely the most popular toy in our house, both Stella and Jack love playing with our collection of cars, buses, motorbikes and the like- most of them were bought in a bulk lot of trademe for about $15 all up, with a few extra cars and things coming from christmas and birthday presents. I bought the car mat from Payless Plastics- it comes on a roll so you can choose how much you want. They don't use the car mat all that much though, just the lounge floor and couches are enough most of the time! A friend had this cool car ramp at her place so I did buy this new- it was $10 from K Mart in the toy section with the Matchbox car range.
2. Babies
I bought my first toy baby when I was pregnant with Stella so Amelie would have a baby to play with which was great advice. This is a really popular game to play when they have friends over but they also love playing with them when they're on their own at home too. We have about 4 now I think, 3 from the second hand shop and one was a birthday gift (handy when there are a few kids over -they can all have a baby each.) I got the little cot from Trade Me, the buggy and the high chair were birthday gifts from family, and the bath and baby accessories were also from the second hand shop. 
3. Puzzles
Puzzles are really popular with all 3 of my children, they all loved the wooden ones with the little pegs in them when they were around 2 years and now they are loving the alphabet cardboard ones and some easyish jig saw puzzles as well. I love them playing with puzzles- lots of learning, fine motor skills, problem solving etc and they get a great sense of achievement when they complete one.  Dollar value type shops have heaps of really budget friendly puzzles and again Zero to Five has heaps as well. Also lots on Trade Me.
4. Duplo
Duplo is a fantastic thing to start collecting if you have little ones- I bought a bulk bag for $40 from Zero to Five which was a great starting point to our collection, and then every Christmas my dad has bought them a set which is a great tradition. It's a great open ended imaginative toy and my 7 year old still enjoys playing with it. Lego is great too but we've found it better for older children say 5+ years at least (but that's just our kids, some I know starting playing with lego younger)

5. Fisher Price Little People and Fisher Price Toys
I have a bit of an obsession with vintage Fisher Price toys and have started a little collection of them, nearly all from Trade Me. The kids also got a few Fisher Price Little People Sets for birthdays or Christmas so we have a good little collection of that- the bus is by far the most popular toy, Jack would play with that nearly every day putting his little 'persons' in and out of the bus.  Again on trade me there are quite a few bulk lots of Fisher Price Little People if you were wanting to start a collection.

6. Doctors/Vets
All you need for this is lots of soft toys and a doctors play kit. And plenty of wrap around bandages!

7. Farm animals
I made this reversible playmate last year and the kids love getting out the animals and playing farms with it. If you can find a collection of animals on trademe try and find one that has fences too so they can create their own farm paddocks.
8. Playdough
I've included playdough as the kids love it but it's not exactly independent play compared with the other toys, and the mess afterwards.... well lets just say I'm pretty happy I have very old carpet at the moment! I pick up quite a few playdough 'tools' from op shops- look out for anything in the kitchen wares like plastic knives, pastry cutters, old muffin trays etc. 

There are loads more great imaginative toys out there, tea sets for tea parties, dinosaurs, trains, dress-ups are another one of my favourites…would love to hear of your favourite toys :)


Monday, September 15, 2014

DIY Scotch® Tape Gift Boxes and tags

You might remember back at the start of the year I took part in a fun campaign for the new Scotch® Expressions Tapes.  I shared ideas for a fun washi tape craft party, a washi tape dollhouse and these crafty posts as well…

 Well I am taking part part in another campaign for Scotch® as they have a new promotion and competition happening, as well as lots of gorgeous new tapes. If you take a look on my instagram page you can see photo's of the new tapes at my local Warehouse Stationery. I took my daughters with me and they were going crazy for all the new tapes, especially the neon ones and the rainbow ones :)

I was asked to write a tutorial under the theme Gift Boxes/Bags/Gift cards so immediately what popped into my mind was how to make these gift boxes. I was taught how to make these by a teacher at the school I used to teach at (thanks Roger!) and I made them with my classes every year at Christmas time- they are super easy to make and you can have so much fun decorating them. 

You can make these gift boxes any size you want. For this tutorial I used 2 pieces of card sized A4 each. As long as your two pieces of card are the same size (one for the base and one for the lid) you can do whatever size you want. I recommend using 160 GSM card stock for these boxes.

DIY Washi Tape Gift Boxes (and matching gift tags)

You will need
2 x A4 pieces of card
Long ruler ie: longer than a normal 30cm one
Rolls of Scotch® washi tape

1. Take one of your pieces of card. This can be the base of the box. Draw two lines from corner to corner as in pic above ( this is to find the middle of your piece of card)
2. Fold each side of your piece of card into the middle (where the two lines meet). 

3. I have drawn lines to show where you will cut to make the tabs- where each vertical fold meets the horizontal fold on the side of the card.
4. Cut these lines to make the tabs

5. Starting on one end of your piece of card, bring the two smaller tabs on each side of the middle tab together into the middle to make the side of the box. Bring the larger tab up and fold the top of it it over the smaller tabs.
6. Staple to keep the tabs together. Repeat on the other side of the box

Repeat steps 1 - 6 on the other piece of card to make the lid. (The lid will fit snugly on the base as they are the same size, you'll just need to squeeze the base a bit to get it to fit inside the lid.)

Now have fun decorating your base and lid with the new Scotch® washi tapes!  Wrap the tapes around the box, make stripes with different tapes, cut out triangles with the tape and make a pattern, there are endless possibilities!

I made these smaller boxes to show some different ideas for decorating with the tapes.

And to make these cute gift tags, I used some gift tags I bought recently from Tea Pea. I just wrapped two lines of washi tape around the bottom of the tag and cut an inverted triangle into the tag. I'm loving the colour mint at the moment so was very happy to get this new mint washi tape from Scotch to use for the tutorial :)

So have a go at making and decorating your own gift boxes (it would be a fun thing to do with your kids at Christmas time) and check out the Scotch® Facebook app via Just by voting for a favourite crafty project you will be in to win a fujifilm instax mini 8 camera or a Scotch Expressions tape pack!

And if you upload your own creation (there are some great tutorials on the Facebook app, you could have a go at my gift boxes, or get more inspiration from my 'I love washi tape' pinterest page) you will be in to win a $200 Prezzy Gift Card - there's one to win every week of the campaign!

PS: check out my Facebook page this week as I will be giving three packs of tapes away as well thanks to Scotch®

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Organised Home Challenge Day Two- Handbag and wallet

My challenge for Day two is to organise your handbag or baby bag, and your wallet- here's my Facebook post with some ideas for decluttering/cleaning and re-organising your bags :)

Today's challenge is an easy one after yesterday's big fridge one-organise your handbag/baby bag and wallet. Empty everything out of your bag and get rid of whatever you don't need, go through your wallet and declutter any receipts/loyalty cards you don't use. Give your bag and wallet a clean with a baby wipe or cleaning wipe (I like the dettol ones). Add anything to your bag that you always get caught out not having e.g: pen, wipes, tissues. If you have a baby bag restock it- you might want to add a sun hat or some sunscreen soon with the warmer weather approaching (beautiful warm day here in Tauranga today!)
Hope you are enjoying my organising posts, our plasterers have turned up today so we are getting one step closer to the end of our reno, better pick some paint colours today!

Link: These bag organisers are great if you like switching between bags iQ Bags

Link: These 'mighty purses' have a built in battery charger so you can charge your phone Hedgerow

Link: There are a few Orla Kiely bags on sale at one of my favourite storeSmall Acorns at the moment…

Happy organising! Megan

Monday, September 1, 2014

Organised Home 30 day challenge- Day one- Fridge

I'm sharing 30 days of ideas/tips/projects to help organise your home on my Facebook page for the month of September- here is my Day one Challenge- organising your fridge :)

1. Take everything out of your fridge, clean the shelves, inside the doors, and the fruit and veg bins. 
2. Check expiry dates and get rid of anything taking up room in your fridge that doesn't get used e.g.: sauces/dressings
3. Find/buy some plastic containers to store food in so it's better organised in the fridge, easy to see, and easy to unpack into.
4. Make up a container with kids snack foods that's easily accessible to them
5. After reading this blog post I now take all the grapes off the stalks before putting them in a container, I also cut up celery for snacks/lunchboxes and break apart the yoghurts so again it is easy for kids to get  themselves (and make most of their lunch boxes now!)
Last- give the outside of the fridge a clean- wipe the handles, dust the top, and give the front a good wipe down.

Happy organising! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Family Time Capsule

When we started our reno and the builders were taking the old plaster board off the walls I was hoping we'd find an old newspaper inside one of the walls- I remember as a child the thrill of finding some faded old newspaper hidden away for a different generation to find. We didn't find any but as our builders have nearly finished the gibbing of our new walls I thought it would be fun to make a little time capsule to put inside the last wall to get gibbed which will hopefully be today! I'm going to use a snap lock bag and we'll just staple gun it or tack it to a piece of the framing.  Inside we've put…

* Family photo
*Local newspaper
*Recent magazine
*Stella did drawings of our family and Amelie made up a little collage about us and doing the reno
*A questionnaire- I quickly typed these questions up yesterday and Amelie filled it out last night….
*some stamps and coins

Update- Penny from Little Houswife had some cool suggestion on my Facebook page- she suggested a supermarket receipt, petrol receipt, a CD with current popular music and a TV Guide magazine :)

Family Time Capsule              


Address ..........................................

How old is this house?

When did we buy this house?

How long have we lived here?

Who did we buy this house from?

Why did we buy this house?

What have we done to the house since buying it?

About our family

Who is in our family and how old are we?
What school/daycare do we go to, who is our Principal and who are our teachers?

What do we like doing as a family?

What are some of the fun things we have done in this house so far?

Who are some of our friends in the neighbourhood?

What are some of our favourite movies and TV shows?

Life in the Year ................

Who is the NZ Prime Minister?

How much is a loaf of bread and a litre of milk?

What are some things that have happened this year worldwide?

When I was teaching I used to do a time capsule in the first week of school with my class- we would get a large plastic bottle, put in a class photo, a newspaper and each child would write a little note about themselves, what they like doing and what their favourite things are. They were always so excited at the end of the year to open up the time capsule. Although one year we buried it in a garden at school and couldn't find it at the end of the year!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

DIY Skateboard Swing

Hi everyone, here is a quick blog post showing how to make one of these cool skateboard swings- great for older kids and a really quick and easy backyard project!

You will need
* a skateboard deck
*2 pieces of dowel approx 20cm long each for the 'handles'
*a rope - ours was approx 10 metres long- cut this in half for each side of the swing
 (it all depends on the height of your branch so you may need less or more rope than ours)

Pic one
1. Drill a hole at each end of the pieces of dowel the same width if not a bit bigger than your piece of rope
2. Drill 2 holes at one end of the skateboard deck- you can see in the photo above where the holes are (where the rope has been threaded through and knotted.) Do the same at the other end of the deck. (The other holes on the deck are from the wheels)

Pic two

Pic three
3. Use a lighter to burn the ends of each piece of rope to stop the rope fraying and for threading through the holes. Thread one of your 5 metres approx pieces of rope through the holes underneath the deck so it looks like the pic above with equal length of rope coming out of each hole. Tie a knot as in Pic one to keep the deck stable. 

4. Do the same on the other end of your deck
Pic four
5. Thread each end of your pieces of rope through the holes you drilled into your dowel. We put our dowel about a metre up from the deck. You could make it lower or higher depending on the height of your children.  (Ours are 3, 5 and 7- the handles are probably a little too high for our 3 year old). 
Tie a knot above and below each piece of dowel where you have threaded your rope through to keep the handles stable.
6.  Loop each piece of rope over a branch and tie securely. Our deck is about 30 cm approx above the ground.
7. Done- swing time!

Thanks for reading, feels good to be getting back into some blogging again :)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

mousehouse 'ABC suitcase' giveaway

I absolutely love anything to do with the alphabet- typographical artworks, abc books, alphabet posters, abc games and puzzles…I don't know if it's the teacher in me or just the simplicity of the alphabet but I have built up a bit of a collection of games, books and puzzles plus I love making my own ABC activities as well.  And I think children having some knowledge of letters and sounds before they start school is really beneficial- not in a flash card/rote learning type way, just building on their natural curiosity and interest in letters and the ABC's by reading, playing games and puzzles, and talking about letters and sounds in daily life. So I thought with Stella starting school this week I would finally sort out and share my ABC giveaway that I have been planning for ages now.  And Jasmine from Bubbalooz kindly donated one of her lovely mini suitcases for the giveaway which was perfect to keep all of the items in. I used a piece of scrapbooking card to decorate the underside of the lid of the suitcase and have filled it with a few things for one of you to win….

In the suitcase I've put...

*'My First Book of Letters' board book by Alain Gree - I love the vintage style illustrations in this book

* ABC ice cube or chocolate molds

* Aluminium Alphabet water bottle

*A sheet of my favourite ABC little house stickers

*A roll of ABC wash tape

* A lollipop pen to practice all those abc's!

So if you would like to win this all you need to do is leave a comment below telling me how old your children are (you don't need to write their names if you would prefer not to) and what they are interested in eg: reading, writing, numbers and counting, lego, pirates, dinosaurs, fairies, art, sport, space, animals…. If you don't have children you could tell me what you are interested in, don't worry about your age though ;)
Giveaway will be open until next Tuesday the 1st April.
International entries welcome.

For extra entries you can like my Facebook page - just leave a separate comment telling me you have (or already do.)
You can also follow me on Pinterest for another entry

There are other ways for gaining entries on my Facebook page as well...

Thank you for reading 'mousehouse' and good luck :)

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