Friday, 21 November 2014

The Irish Country Women's Association Book of Crafts: Review and Giveaway

I could pretty much review this book using just one word: 

but, in case you'd appreciate a few more details, here are a few more words to go with that one.

The ICA's Craft Book, published by Mercier Press, is beautifully bound with a hardback cover and stuffed full of  projects suitable for crafters of  all abilities. The photography is sublime and, if you're anything like me, you'd nearly be tempted to buy it for that alone. But there are so many more reasons to buy this book.

There are 40 different projects featured including; crochet, embroidery, knitting, sewing, jewellery-making, leather work, felting, weaving, paper crafts and many more. There is definitely something for everyone. Many of the ideas are simple enough for beginners to attempt and others are more advanced and would be a labour of love to complete. I love books like this because I'm a bit of a 'jack of all trades' crafter and like to try new things from project to project. The ideas were all submitted by ICA members around the country and, not only are they beautifully photographed, but there are clear step-by-step instructions for each piece, illustrated where appropriate, too.

My particular favourites are the redwork embroidery, the tissue paper pom-pom, the felted necklace, the covered file box and the circular disc banner. Though there are a heap of other projects I'd love to do too. I know this is a book I will dip into time and time again. I can also see my mother and grandmother, keen crafters both, enjoying this book very much. *makes mental note to put that on the Christmas list*

The Irish Country Women's Association Book of Crafts would make a fantastic gift for the crafter in your life this Christmas. It's available from all good bookshops at a price of €22.99 or direct from Mercier Press for €17.99 (plus P&P, I assume).

I am thrilled to have gotten my hands on a review copy but, in case you were feeling jealous, the generous folk at Mercier Press have also said I can have an extra copy to giveaway to one of my lovely readers!

Please feel free to enter below, I do hope you win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was given a copy of The Irish Countrywomen's Association Book of Crafts for the purposes of review and another copy to give away. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to give them.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Get-Better Box

Last week was a rough one. Sábha had an accident. She jumped off the sofa and smashed her face on the corner of a footstool, damaging several teeth in the process, but one in particular. It was horrendous. Two dentist visits later and thankfully, the tooth is still hanging in there. It's also not as terrifyingly out of place as it was at first. The bruising and swelling has mostly gone down too and she's starting to look like her sunny little self again.

A couple of nights later, both girls came down with hideous coughs. A visit to the doctor on Friday confirmed that they had chest infections - poor old Sábha faring the worst because of her asthma. He ordered a weekend of rest and relaxation. Indoors.

Normally the thoughts of being cooped up for days on end with two small, highly energetic people, would have had me freaking out, but it didn't bother me at all. They both needed lots of TLC and, as the weather was miserable anyway, there wasn't much else to do but give it to them. It might sound odd to be thankful for awful weather, but the rain and wind has made me feel kind of good about being stuck inside. Even though it was a tricky job keeping the girls entertained and myself sane, we got through it.

They are much better now and went back to Naíonra this morning. I really, really enjoyed the 3 hours of peace that brought, even if it was mostly spent catching up on chores.

The most sensible thing I did, over the weekend, was to get a pile of new library books while I was picking up their prescriptions. It definitely helped to have some new stories to distract us. I was thrilled that they had the whole My Naughty Little Sister collection, by Dorothy Edwards in stock and I picked up two volumes. I enjoyed the My Naughty Little Sister stories as a child and they are a massive hit now with my girls. As is any story with the word 'naughty' featured in it.

The first story we read was 'The cross spotty child' which was about a time when the naughty little sister was ill and had to stay in bed. It was a very timely choice and the girls were enthralled. During her illness, her kindly neighbour, Mrs Cocoa, brings her something to occupy her.

A Get Better Box

There is a lovely description of what the Get Better Box is:
"When I was a little girl, Mrs Cocoa said, 'my granny didn't like to see poor not-well children looking miserable so she made a get-better box that she used to lend to all her grandchildren when they were ill.' Mrs. Cocoa said, 'My granny kept this box on the dresser, and when she found anything that she thought might amuse a not-well child she would put it in her box."

and another description of what it looks like :
"It was a beautiful box, because Mrs. Cocoa's old grandmother had stuck beautiful pieces of wall paper on the lid and on the sides of the box, and  Mrs Cocoa said that the wallpaper on the front had been in her granny's front bedroom and that on the back had been in her parlour. The paper on the lid had come from her Aunty Kitty's sitting room; the paper on one side had been in Mrs. Cocoa's mother's kitchen, while the paper on the other side which was really lovely, with roses and green dickey-birds, had come form Mrs. Cocoa's own bedroom wallpaper when she was a little girl!"
and yet another about what's inside:
"Tiny boxes with tiny pictures painted on the lids, and in every box a nice interesting thing. A string of tiny beads, or a little-little dollies, or some shells. In one box was a little paper fan, and in another there was a little laughing clown's face cut out of paper that Mrs Cocoa's granny had stuck there as a surprise... There were picture postcards in that not-well box, and pretty stones... There was a small hard fir cone, and pieces of coloured glass that you could hold up before your eyes and look through. There was a silver pencil with a hole in the handle that you could look through too and see a magic picture. There was a small book with pictures in it - oh, I can't remember what else!"
I thought it all, apart from the laughing clown *shudder*, sounded like a wonderful idea and it reminded me that, when Lile and Sábha were small I had a couple of 'Treasure Jars' that I used in similar circumstances.They were just a couple of empty gherkin jars that I filled with random 'interesting' bits and pieces. A finger puppet, a bracelet a wind-up toy, shells and stones, etc that I would produce when I thought they needed distracting. I don't know when I stopped using them or why or even where they went (probably the recycling bin) but this little story has inspired me to start collecting treasures for a Get-Better Box for them.

Supposed to be sick.
I think it would be a good place for some of those party bag things kids lose interest in when the sugar crash hits or the small toys they love, love love for a week and then forget. Things that get pocketed on nature walks could find a home there too. I really like the idea of all the little boxes mentioned in the book. It would be like opening up loads of little presents. It would certainly brighten up a miserable sick-day at least.

What about you? What kinds of things do your kids like to do when they're not well? 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Win a Personalised Christmas Storybook

I'm trying hard to reign in the excitement of Christmas until December hits, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't started my plotting and planning and even my shopping already. I imagine most people are the same. Especially parents. So with that in mind I'm going to have a few giveaways on the blog between now and Christmas. I have a couple of lovely things lined up which will hopefully help towards ticking a few people off your list or even as a special treat for yourself.

First up is a chance to win a personalised book from Digital Scribe for a little one in your life. When they contacted me and asked me if I'd like to review the book I had a horrible dilemma - which of my twin daughters do I choose to have featured in the book?! I agonised for - oh, about five seconds and then decided to have it made for my brand new niece instead. Mamas do not play favourites.

Now, my niece is too tiny to even appreciate it this year, but I think it will be a really special reminder of her very first Christmas for her parents. I like to think that, by having it read to her every year, this story might even become a treasured part of her own family traditions one day.

The story centers around the named child and an elf called Finbar as they try to find Santa, who got lost while chasing a runaway Reindeer. The two set off on the sleigh around Ireland trying to find the main man. They visit Newgrange, the Giant's Causeway, Blarney Castle and Dublin City on their journey and Finbar briefly describes the history of each landmark too.

It's a sweet story that any child would love and, the facility for naming friends or siblings to be featured in the book  really brings it to life. I had Lile and Sábha named in our copy and Santa lets my niece 'put presents under the tree' for them. I hope she enjoys this touch when she's older.

Just to note also, there is a very brief mention of 'baby Jesus' at the beginning of the story and, while that suits my niece's family just fine, it might not suit every child.

The book itself is an A4 sized paperback with a glossy, wipeable cover. The artwork is bright and colourful and includes a photo of the named child on the front cover. I would have loved to have seen a hardback or something a little more substantial and better bound for the €15.99 + P&P it costs, but I do think the story itself is really nice and I love the focus on the Irish landmarks. It's certainly something a bit different to the other personalised children's books I have seen on the market. Every book ordered comes with a free personalised letter, from Santa himself, which is another nice touch by Digital Scribe.

The ordering process was really easy and the turnaround was super quick which is great to know when there's a festive deadline looming! They also assured me that they do not keep children's details on file and have a privacy statement regarding that on their site, which gave me great peace of mind when ordering for someone else's child.

To order a book for a little one in your life, check out the website HERE or follow them on FACEBOOK for up to date news on this Irish start up.

OR, if you'd like to win a copy for FREE please enter the giveaway here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of this book for free for the purposes of review. All opinions are my own and I was not paid to give them.


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