Friday, 25 July 2014

Our New Door to Narnia!

Recently I have been on a bit of a DIY binge, I like being creative and making things so am always on the look-out for a new project. As soon as I have finished something I always want to have something else on the horizon that I can mull around in my brain and work out how to fit it all together etc, I should have been an engineer or a Lego tester! What I really like about being creative is that you can put your own spin on something, and make it unique to you. I love having my house full of things I have made that nobody else has.

What really excites me is when I have an idea for something that can benefit Albert as well, and fire up his imagination. A few weeks ago something popped in my brain and an idea just appeared out of nowhere, I actually can’t even remember how I came up with it! I was just on the sofa chatting with my wife and I just sort of thought of it. Immediately my brain was racing and I started thinking of all the possibilities of where I could take it. Now a month down the line it’s all done so I thought I would share it with you. Are you ready?

I have built my very own entrance to Narnia, Harry Potter inspired, floating door over the stairs!

Originally we had a little shelf over our stairs that just had a clock on. But that space was so big and empty, I wanted to put something there. I can’t for the life of me figure up how I came up with a door, but I did. I scouted around for old doors, and eventually my mum and step-dad had one on an old shed they were throwing out. Here it is:

It was pretty old and manky, but that’s what I wanted. I wanted the door to have character. I sanded it down and cleaned it, repaired all the broken bits and reinforced it where it was weak.

Next I decided that I wanted the door to look a bit old fashioned, so I brought a lion’s head door knocker, some black hinges, letterbox and handle in a sort of gothic style. I thought it would be pretty cool to have the letterbox actually work so I jigsawed a rectangle in the door so it would fit in. Next I jigsawed out a diamond shape for the door window. I didn’t have any glass for it, so I used a sheet of grey Perspex which I fit on the back with glue. Here is the plan of the door, before and after cutting.

Next I wanted to paint it a bright colour. My wife Lucy’s favourite colour is mustard, so we chose a Farrow and Ball gloss called Babouche, and I had painted a few coats of it. As this was a door on a wall, and not actually being used, I didn’t bother with a primer as nobody would be getting that close or ever touching it so I wasn’t too bothered about the finish being perfect.

Here is the door drying in my shed after painting.


Once the coats had dried, I had screwed on all the fixtures and fitted on the Perspex. The numbers we chose, 21 ¾ because 21 is our house number, and the ¾ is an homage to the 9 ¾ train platform to Hogwarts at King's Cross St Pancras.

The door was now done, and I needed to fix it up on the wall. The shelf isn’t particularly heavy duty so I didn’t want to balance a door on it and have it be unsafe, as no doubt it would fall off in the middle of the night and crush someone. So I screwed some plugs into the wall and fixed some wood boards on. Then I glued the door onto the boards and screwed through the door into them. (all that was easier said than done by myself). The door is going nowhere now! I hung off it to be sure and it took my weight. Finally I put in a board of wood I painted black underneath as a step.

And that’s my very own floating door to Narnia! 

I like the look on people’s faces when they realise there is a door above the stairs they can’t get to, and it really fills up that space above the stairs. I hope it inspires Albert and gets his imagination going. I’ll say to him if he is good then he can get to Narnia through it when he is older! If he wants I can get the step ladder out and even post a letter to Santa through the letterbox (although the letter would just be in the gap between the door and the wall - shhhhh). So what do you think?

Oh I almost forgot, I had one more thing I added to the door to make it extra cool. When it gets dark, you can make it do this...

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Good morning my fine feathered friends #Heinzpastaquotes

Hi all,

As I have been on a bit of a reading theme lately with my #Dadsread post and my review/giveaway post, I thought I would continue on with words and add in another of my favourite themes - food. As Children's book week is coming up, I am preparing to bombard Albert with ultimate-learning-force and hopefully he'll say his first proper words soon!

Anyway, I heard about a little competition Heinz and Tots100 are running at the moment and thought I could have some fun with it. I have included some info below, so keep reading to see what I got up to.

Children's Book Week 2014

This year, Children's Book Week takes place between 30 June - 4 July in the UK. Schools, libraries and other venues all over the UK will be hosting their own events and activities during the week, aimed at encouraging children to enjoy reading for pleasure, explore libraries and bookshops, and even start writing themselves.

TOTS100 & Heinz Competition

Heinz and Tots100 have teamed up to launch a fantastic blogger competition inspiring parents to educate their children at home!

Heinz is always looking to generate smiles at meal times by encouraging children to express their creativity. Children love to spell out their names and make interesting shapes using Heinz Alphabetti and Numberetti.

In line with Children’s Book Week, Heinz has taken this creative idea one step further, inviting you and your children to recreate a quote from your favourite children’s book using Heinz Alphabetti.

Not only does this competition allow you to enjoy tasty Heinz Pasta, it provides the perfect excuse to spend time with your children, making meal times fun.

That’s not all, we have an amazing prize up for grabs – you could win a year’s supply of Heinz Pasta and £250 worth of book vouchers!

(from the TOTS100 Website)

My Entry

If you have read some of my posts in the past you will know that I am particularly proud of Albert's nursery, it's one of my most popular posts so people must like reading about it and seeing what we did when we decorated it! HERE is the post if you want to check it out.

One of my favourite children's books is Cockatoos by Quentin Blake, and as the nursery is decorated in that style, that's what I went for. Check it out below!

"Good morning my fine feathered friends"
from Cockatoos by Quentin Blake

This photo is my entry into the TOTS100 and Heinz #HeinzPastaQuotes competition.

I remember eating Alphabetti Spaghetti when I was younger (all the way into my twenties, I still like it now actually) and one of the funnest parts of doing this was eating all the cold spaghetti afterwards. After all, it couldn't be wasted.

Educational and delicious. What a combo.

Hope you liked it, now whats for your dinner? Alphabetti on toast…

If you'd like to have a go at entering this blogger competition then all the details can be found here. 

Disclaimer: This blog post is an entry into the Tots100/Heinz competition to support Children’s Book Week.

Thursday, 3 July 2014 Book Review

Hi all, 

It's my first post for a while, I've been a busy chap! As anyone who has ever even seen a child knows, they can be pretty exhausting. Even looking at one can tire you out. Father's day has come and gone, and I didn't even get to post about it! We had a great day, I slept past 9 o clock!

Anyway, after my last post about reading to Albert, I was contacted by a great company called, who do personalised books for children. The books are called The Little Boy Who Lost His Name and The Little Girl Who Lost Her Name. They asked if Albert and I would like to try one out so we jumped at the chance, any excuse to read Dad!... He would have said could he form coherent sentences. I wanted to choose Liam but my wife said I should choose Albert, as the book would be more his age range what with it being for children.

The idea behind the books is that one day a child wakes up and has lost their name (It happens, we've all been there). They go on all sorts of adventures and meet all sorts of crazy creatures and characters, and each of these gives the child a letter of their name. By the end of the book they have all the letters they need and have found out what their name is again! As the book is personalised each one is different, the the story changes depending on what the child's name is. There is a boy and girl version as well to make it more tailored to the child, although the story theme seems similar for both, they aren't too overly girly or boy-ey, just a good adventure story that all children would like.

Another thing I liked about the book, is that it's a great size and weight (A4 landscape). It's printed on good quality card as well (which is environmentally friendly, save the trees and that) All in all it feels like a really good solid book, it would stand up well to multiple readings without tearing or scrunching (or eating in Bert's case). The art work is pretty unique as well and is illustrated brilliantly. Some of the characters are great, such as a polar bear with sunglasses and a giant flying eagle. I especially liked a Viking who mentions that he isn't into pillaging, he is much more into baking (I can relate). I chuckled at his wisdom that it's what you do in life that matters… like making great ciabattas. How true Viking, how true.

I thought the story for Albert's book was great, 
I was surprised how much I could relate.
There is a subtle rhyming that goes all the way through, 
Which I'm sure kids would like too. 
Who doesn't like their books to rhyme?
Overall, the wording is mighty fine.

I read the story to Albert and he sat still and enjoyed looking at the pictures, I helped him turn the pages and he seemed to concentrate and really like it. The rhyming helped and I did different voices for all the mad characters (The Viking was basically Gerard Butler from How To Train Your Dragon). Overall it is an excellent book, I would recommend it for a personal reading experience for any young child, I think they would get a kick out of the main character having the same name, and the illustration and story is really unique. Each book is priced at £18.99 with free shipping.

The company was started by 3 dads and an uncle, who wanted to do a personalised book better than any before. Well done chaps, good work! That's how to get things done!

Also I should mention how excellent the website is. Go have a gander. Some websites seem like they are thrown together as an afterthought, but this one is really well designed. You can enter your name (or a child's) and get a preview of what the final book would look like. The mobile site (which I viewed on my iPhone) is also pretty ace. Check it out at Their Facebook site is here

Finally I have a COMPETITION to run! You can win 1 personalised book with your choice of name. Hey if you want your own name that's cool, don't feel you have to choose one for a young person you know. I won't judge. You can enter via Rafflecopter below.

If you don't win then no worries, using the below code you can get 15% off an order from the website, which is don't forget. The code is AWESOMEDADS15

Good luck and enjoy! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was sent 2 Personalised books for the purpose of this review. All opinions/words/musings/excitement are my own.

The Nursery Room

Hi all,

As per my last post about Baby Stuff (you can read HERE), I wanted to write a specific post about our Nursery. After the initial excitement of finding out we were pregnant, once we had told everyone we sat down and started to think about what we needed to get in place for Albump’s arrival. We still had a few months to go and we both knew we had enough time to work on our spare room and make it into an AWESOME nursery. Now we have finished it I wanted to give you all a tour! We are both really proud of this room, and let me tell you, if we didn’t have a baby on the way then I would be more than happy to make this my bedroom instead of his. Sometimes I just like hanging out in there it’s so cool.

So imagine a blank white box. This is basically what we were starting with. So we all know whose room this is, we have a home-made door sign that Lucy made. Everyone needs a name plate on their door!

We decided to jazz up one of the walls with some colourful wallpaper. Lucy found this excellent Quentin Blake Cockatoos wallpaper which we loved (Quentin Blake does the Roald Dahl drawings, along with his own books), so we decided to do one of the walls in this! I had some previous excellent wallpapering tutorage from Albert's Granddad Paul, so I managed to get this done myself with a ladder and a few other wallpapering tools, and after I washed all the paste off myself I was pretty proud, I think it looks flipping cool!

Here is me blending in, being a cockatoo whilst wallpapering:

The finished wall:

We had a great idea as well after we finished wallpapering, as we had some left over. If you don’t know the story of Cockatoos by Quentin Blake, to cut a short story shorter, basically they escape and hide in this old dude’s house. So we decided to cut them out of the wallpaper and paste them around the room, as if they had escaped ‘off’ the wall.

Here are a few cockatoos dotted about the room:

Next we have a cot, this was a lot easier to put together then it was to paper the walls. We have this stretchy white stuff that goes round the bars, I think to stop the baby sticking their hands through them. I like it though, as it looks a little bit like a wrestling ring now. CAGE MATCH! Who wouldn’t want to sleep in a wrestling ring? Also on the cot is a nice mobile that goes round and makes a mobile noise. It has a cow and sheep on it and stuff, I did look for a nice bird one to match the cockatoos but couldn’t see one anywhere! As we all know, most cows don’t fly and most birds do, so a soft squishy toy bird mobile would be a good seller I reckon. Dragon’s Den anyone?

Picture of the Wrestling Ring cot and Flying Animal Mobile:

We decided to decorate the other walls and found these brilliant thin shelves from Ikea, they only stick out about 4 inches or so, so you can have a few in the room without giving up too much space, or smacking the corner of your head on them. They are like presentation shelves, so we wanted some nice books to go on them. Cue a box set of all Quentin Blake books to match the wallpaper. Once Albump is bigger he can choose his own favourite books to go up there (probably something involving dragons).

Thin shelf with QB books and Cockatoos on the ends:

Another shelf with Cockatoo pictures on:

Lucy, being the amazing wife she is, managed to get some QB fabric and make some cushions with it as well! So we are really going with the bird theme. I hope Albump doesn’t grow up with Ornithophobia (fear of birds).

Bird cushions:

We also have a rocking chair that Lucy can sit in and rock the baby to sleep. I haven’t rocked so hard yet that I fall off but I’ve been close. You have to know how far you can go back! Lucy doesn’t know this yet but she will find out now, and I’ll probably be banned from ‘riding’ the chair like a bucking bronco from now on, especially when holding Albert.

Bucking Bronco Rocking Chair:

Finally we have a little bookcase, already filled with books waiting for Albert to read! We are hoping he will be a bookophile just like his dad! Some friends of ours, Danni and Charlie, have brought us some DIY ball lights that we put together and have put around this as a sort of cool nightlight.

Nightlight bookcase: 

Finally, we have some hanging mobiles! No son of mine will have a room without some sort of Dragon in it, so we have this baby-fied dragon mobile. We decided to hang it over the changing mat area so he has something to look at when we change him. Who wouldn’t want to look at flying dragons while someone cleans you? I am thinking of getting one to put over my bed (is this ok Lucy?)

We also have another bird hanging from the ceiling. It’s a parrot this time, and he flies! (sort of). You pull the cord and the wings go up and down (realistic bird action). SQUAWK!

Dragon mobile and flying parrot.

And that’s about it for the nursery! We are really proud of it, and we hope Albert enjoys growing up in it. Hey even if he doesn’t, he can have my room and I’ll move in here, I love it!