Friday, 29 April 2016

Belle & Boo at Rheghed


Have you been to any of the Westmorland group service stations? No? Well you must, I would go as far as saying they are revolutionising service stations as we know them, making them go to destinations just like in 1980 when my friend Alex has his birthday party at one, he he!
We have been selling our Belle and Boo goodies at Rheghed Centre in Penrith, Cumbria since last summer and a tentative plan was made back then to host a Belle and Boo event. Logistically it wasn't the easiest thing to organise because of distance and we are a little control freaky at Belle & Boo head quarters but Rebecca and the rest of her team were amazingly helpful, enthusiastic and creative and we were able between us to transform a dark unused corner of the centre into a Belle & Boo garden, with picnic tables, Belle swinging in a tree with her friends and the branches decorated with our art prints.
Then came the best bit getting to take our families to the Lake District for 4 days with the legitimate  excuse that is was a work trip (although these events never feel like work)



The Belle & Boo children

We stayed on the stunning Lingholm Estate which is going through an incredibly exciting transformation including a walled garden which is said to be one of the inspirations for Mr Mcgregor garden in Peter Rabbit. Beatrix Potter often holidayed at Lingholm so it was wonderful wandering around the grounds imagining her their with her sketch book and paints.
It is such a beautiful part of the world, 


a Beatrix Potter illustration from Squirrel Nutkin

we rowed, discovered secret islands, climbed mountains, paddled in streams, it was the perfect mini Easter break. 



The events themselves were great fun, people had travelled from Edinburgh and Durham, there were girls and boys from 3 weeks old to 8 years old and I think we all had a lot of fun. Story telling, crafts, face painting, nose twitching and apple munching.



A huge THANK YOU to Rheghed for making us feel so welcome and a special hello to all that came.

Love Mandy x

Friday, 22 April 2016

Earth Day: Help Kids to Protect Our Planet





From an early age children learn about the damages we are doing to our planet - sometimes hearing quite 'scary' things.  So, like many of us, little people want to know how they can help.  In addition to recycling, there are many fun, positive and small ways we can encourage our children to help protect our world; reassuring them that it isn't the end of the world and showing even the very young that they can 'make a difference'.


Start by picking up a few of the fantastic books out there full of ideas and information to get the brain cells ticking. ''Not Your Typical Book About The Environment' is an upbeat book better suited to older children but incredibly useful for parents of all ages illustrating that it is not all doom and gloom.  



For younger children  THE PROMISE is an exquisitely illustrated story about our power to transform not only the world around us but ourselves, simply by planting trees. In The Forest is a visually arresting pop-up book exploring the worlds disappearing rainforests (a topic currently on the KS1 national curriculum)


Get creative and give a bee a home.
Relating environmental issues to our own back garden makes 'big' topics easier to understand, and in the UK our bees and butterflies are disappearing fast but our world needs them,  after all they pollinate our plants and crops. In recent years the number of Honeybee's has fallen by 30% in the UK alone and 97% of wildflower plots have been lost in the last 70 years! What's going to happen when they have gone!? For one thing we won't have pretty flowers but also the cost to our economy will be enormous. We will have to pay humans to pollinate our crops (something already happening in china).

So how about getting little people to make Bee's a lovely home.



Red Ted Art has a super simple Bee home made from twigs, a large plastic bottle and some string.
Or for those who want to offer their bugs a little luxury here's how to build a Bug Mansion from untreated wood (an old bit of furniture, planks of wood, a wooden crate) , a few old bricks (ask the local builders what they can spare) plus twigs/ grass/leaves.


As Belle & Boo is a Bristol based company we had to mention  Bee Bristol.  They are looking for volunteers who can help them on their mission to plant and maintain areas of wildflowers in Bristol to attract the bees. A fun way to meet new people and get involved.


Explain the plight of bees with the help of a book that your child can star in -  'The Homeless Bumble Bee' is a personalised book from Friends of The Earth.   The Beeman tells the story of a grandpa and his granddaughter with essential facts about the vital part bees play in our world.




Plants flowers for the bees on you balcony or in your garden. Help children to plant a packet or two of cornflower seeds and create a blooming beautiful garden to attract bees ready for the Great British Bee Count 2016 (19th May - 20th June).  Or make a donation and receive a Bee Saver Kit from Friends of The Earth including information as well as seeds
.


If sowing seeds with young children you might want to read And Then It's Spring , a beautifully illustrated and poetic tale of a boy who decides to create a garden. It follows his journey from planting seeds after a chilly winter to patiently waiting for them to appear in springtime.

Adventures In Nature
The wonderful Wildlife Watch is the children and teenage branch of The Wildlife Trust and is the go-to for ways to encourage children to engage in their environment.  Find excellent, downloadable activity sheets including how to make a butterfly table which
is a perfect activity for all the family to do together.  Or how about making  a homemade seed bomb.



Sign up to become members of WildLife Watch and children will have access to local activities across the country many aimed at young children (up to 12 years).  The groups give kids opportunities to discover local wildlife and get involved with practical activities from environmental artwork to genuine conservation research such as barn owl surveys.

Get Into Gardening:


The Curious Garden is an utterly gorgeous picture book to enthral and inspire children to get into gardening - a boy finds a struggling garden and decides to take care of it.


Little Green Fingers is a fantastic blog with the aim to get kids into horticulture.  Lots of outdoor, gardening craft ideas and tips including how to make a bird feeder  and an extremely useful guide for teachers who are running pre-school and nursery gardening clubs (also helpful for parents).




Local urban gardening schemes are springing up in cities across the UK.  Urban Roots in Glasgow has an explorers club for 5 - 12 year olds where kids can make films about the environment to growing food. The wonderful Hulme Community Garden Centre in Manchester has toddler and parent groups as well sessions for people with learning difficulties, a schools program and lots of opportunities for adults.


Or as a family become involved with some of the community growing schemes such as Leatherhead Community Gardening or the pioneering Incredible-Edible which originated in Todmorden. The idea behind Incredible-Edible is that through growing, cooking and then selling food people work together to build their local communities.  Groups can be found across the UK and even in New Zealand.  CAn't find one to join? Get your family and friends together and start your own.


We hope you found one or two of these ideas helpful.
Let's work together to help  save our planet, one seed, one bee and one wildflower at a time!

Love
Belle & Boo






Thursday, 7 April 2016

11 Creative, Fun & Inspiring Things to do In April


Belle & Boo's monthly round-up of creative and cultural events for all ages.







April offers many exciting events and activities to inspire, educate and entertain all ages (and many are free). Visit a farm to cuddle a lamb, watch hire-wire walking over a lake, see a parade of colourful canal boats, go on a wild nature hunt or watch a spectacular dancing Jungle Book.  These are just we have found for you to do this April across the UK, read on for more info.  Don't miss out!

Rainbow Factory, A unique new story book museum - Leeds





Although not an event we had to mention the new Rainbow Factory in Leeds because it sounds like the sort of place we would want to visit with our children.  A  unique interactive storybook play centre The Rainbow Factory brings traditional stories and modern literature to life in lots of exciting and engaging ways. Enjoy the 'Goldilocks' crafts and meet lots of favourite fairy tale characters. There are also special themed events and activities to ensure children get excited about stories, reading and writing. 



The Rainbow Factory
Leeds
Visit the website for further information


The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl - London



The Wondercrump World of Roald Dahl at the Southbank Centre is an interactive exhibition for children to learn about the writer, his life as well as how he came up with his ideas for stories like The BFG to Fantastic Mr Fox  A guide takes groups through the exhibition where kids can see and touch a collection of Roald Dahl's personal processions and hear tales of people, things and places that inspired him (and there are lots of jokes at the expense of parents and adults that children will love). A fantastic way to spark older children imaginations and encourage them to pick up a pen and write their own stories. 

Recommended for ages 7 - 12
The Wondercrump World Of Roald Dahl
Southbank Centre
London


Lambing In Beautiful Wales 



A visit to Lake Vyrnwy in Wales is a truly memorable experience, especially when your children can meet the new born lambs.  Visit the 'maternity' wing of the farm and see lambs being born for a very special experience children will remember for years to come.  The farm on Lake Vyrnwy is a special place, managed by the RSPB who ensure the farm is run in ways to benefit the birds, wildlife and environment.  There is also a cafe nearby and the lake itself is incredibly striking.

Lambing at Lake Vyrnwy 
During April
All ages

Cuddle A Lamb in Surrey




There are many lambing events across the UK during April but the events at Gaston Farm also help to raise money for three charities including an orphanage in Nepal and an African soup kitchen.  As well as having the chance to cuddle a lamb there are tractor rides and a cafe to enjoy.  Last year they raised over £35,000 from their events.

Lambing At Gaston Farm
Closes on 17th April
£6 entry
West Sussex


Andy Warhol in Oxford




Visit the wonderful Ashmolean museum in Oxford to see a unique Andy Warhol exhibition with over  100 pieces of his work on display from a private collection.  Tickets cost £11 for adults (with a gift aid donation) but children under 12 go free so it is a great way to introduce children to one of the worlds most iconic and influential modern artists in history.

Andy Warhol
Ashmolean 
Oxford
Open unti 15th May.


Retelling of The Jungle Book - Windsor, Exeter in April and other cities through the summer



Looking for a new way to engage kids in theatre then Metta Theatre might have the answer with their contemporary version of The Jungle Book.  The classic tale has been reimagined using energetic street dance and amazing circus tricks to enthral all ages. Catch them on stage in Windsor and Exeter in April and check the website for dates across the rest of the UK and Scotland during the next few months. 

Metta Theatre's Jungle Book
All ages from 0 upwards

World Heritage Day Celebrations in Bath 



Every year Bath holds a World Heritage Day Festival to celebrate the six reason why Bath has been inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site (one of the only two cities in Europe where the entire urban area has World Heritage status). Each year the theme changes and 2016 celebrates Bath's history as a fashionable 18th century spa resort.   Try out some Georgian dancing, play dress up in replica costumes and have a make-over Georgian style plus lots of talks, tours and music.

World Heritage Day Bath
17th April 
Priory Park Landscape Garden
All Ages

Charlotte Bronte Exhibition Curated by Tracy Chevalier



Charlotte Bronte was born 200 years ago.  To celebrate the Bronte Parsonage Museum asked one of our great female contemporary authors, Tracy Chevalier ,to curate a special exhibition which explores Charlotte's constrictive life and her huge ambition.  Learn how Charlotte and her sisters lived in the contained environment of Haworth and how they expressed themselves through writing and painting. Lots to see and think about.

Charlotte Great and Small Exhibition
On until January 2017
West Yorkshire

Cardiff Children's Literature Festival - Wales

We love books and reading with our children so if you are in Wales this month then don't miss out on this fantastic celebration of english and welsh children's literature taking place in Cardiff. There are 50 events to choose from for families and schools so whether you want to entertain a toddler or looking for something more grown-up  the festival has lots to choose from.  Buy tickets for workshops and readings with award winning authors and illustrators including Horatio Clare, Kes Grey and Jacqueline Wilson or join in with the many free activities also on offer.  There is also as marvellous Roald Dahl party and celebration of Harry Potter.  For adults there are academic discussions and a workshop on how to write children's books.

Cardiff Children's Literature Festival
16th - 24th April
All ages


Muddy Puddles Nature Scavenger Hunt - Bristol, Manchester & London



Get kids outdoors for a wild Nature Scavenger Hunt run by the team behind the brilliant outdoor clothing brand Muddy Puddles.  Children will get to work with their family as a team whilst enjoying a morning exploring and learning about nature.  The Nature Scavenger Hunt's are being held  in Bristol and Manchester and on Hampstead Heath in London.  Tickets are free but must be booked. A fun and rewarding way to spend some precious family time together.

Muddy Puddles 'Nature Scavenger Hunts'
Bristol, Manchester and London
April 24th


Relive the story of George & The Dragon - UK



The Parton Saint of England and soldiers is celebrated with pageants and medieval celebrations at  beautiful English Heritage sites across the UK. Meet knights and dragons at castles including Kenilworth Castle, Dover Castle and Bestow Castle in Cheshire. A fun, magical day for kids to learn about history and traditions.

23rd - 24th April
St Georges Day Celebrations
English Heritage Castles Across the UK


Draw and Create With Anorak


Join Anorak Magazine for a day of creativity and art at The Drawing Imaginarium (part of the D and AD Festival in Shoreditch). Anorak has created a really intriguing menu of creative activities to get excited about including  a School of Paper Planes, An Imaginarium Aquarium , a Fuzzy Felt workshop,  Arnold The Idea Generator and Anoraks Paper Band.  Expect bright, bold and beautiful ideas to spark imaginations and what is more IT'S ALL FREE!

April 23rd - 24th
London


A Day At The Lake - Staffordshire




Step back in time for a weekend of spectacular outdoor entertainment. In the late 1800's Rudyard Lake was a destination for thousands of day-trippers looking for entertainment.  The Day At The Lake event will reimagine the lake as it was during it's golden age over 100 years ago with exciting theatrics including hire wire walking, storytelling and lots of live music.  People can also enjoy the rowing boats, an old fashioned fairground with a helter skelter and swing boats plus a vintage market andplenty of food and drinks stalls  The event is being produced by Wild Rumpus who created the award winning Just So Festival - it sounds magical.

Day at The Lake
30th April, 1st & 2nd May
Rudyard Lake, Staffordshire



Canal Boats At Waterway Festivals - Various UK locations



The vibrant waterways festivals in  London's Little Venice, Norbury in Staffordshire and Skipton In North Yorkshire celebrate the history of canals and waterways as well as the communities that still use and love them.  The largest of the three is in Little Venice where the sight of colourful narrow boats on a Spring day is a delight. But each festival has everything needed to make a lovely day out for the family - music, food, competitions, boat trips, floating stalls selling gorgeous things and activities for kids.

Visit the Canal and River Trust website for a list of events.
April 30th, 1st and 2nd May
All ages

Friday, 1 April 2016

Happy April 1st!

To celebrate the 1st of April we are having a flash sale to celebrate!

20% off at www.belleandboo.com with code NOJOKE.  Ends midnight tonight.



Enjoy!
xx

Thursday, 31 March 2016

How to Make A 'Just for You' Card

Last week we were excited to launch our third collection of pretty paper craft products created in collaboration with crafting experts Trimcraft

The Spring collection includes beautiful printed papers and decoupage sets, delightful stamps and lots of lovely embellishments all inspired by our ballet and playful spring prints. Whether making party decorations, greetings cards or invitations is your passion there are lots of ways to use the paper craft range - just let your imagination go and enjoy!
Being creative and crafting is a rewarding way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of modern life, something we think is very important. So to get you started Trimcraft have created a card making tutorial 'just for you'. 
We suggest you have a quick read of the instructions below, then print up, switch off your computer before settling down to few calming hours cutting, sticking and making your Belle & Boo card.
We would love to see photos of your paper craft creations - share them via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. or email photos to hello@belleandboo.com.



You Will Need:


1. With your fold at the top of your card, cut off 3cm from the bottom of your 6x6 Kraft card blank.

2. Cut a 12cm x 15cm sheet of Belle and Boo patchwork paper and adhere this to the front of your card blank using double sided tape.

3. Cut a 12.5cm x 7cm rectangle of white card and place this in the centre of your card, using 3D foam pads.

4. Cut a 12cm x 6.5cm rectangle of coordinating Belle and Boo purple flower paper and glue this to the centre of your white rectangle card, ensuring it is in the centre to allow room for a border.

5. Find the decoupage scene of Belle picking flowers in the Belle and Boo Decoupage pad. Assemble the decoupage scene using layers 1 & 4. Use 3D foam pads as this will add dimension to your image.

6. Adhere this to the centre of your card. Take the ‘Just for You’ sentiment from the decoupage pad and add this to the bottom of your image using 3D foam pads.

7. It’s time to embellish! Take a purple glitter dot from the Belle and Boo range and attach one to each corner of your flower patterned paper.



8. With a black pen, make small faux stitching dashes along the edges of your card and the white rectangle. 

9. To finish, add a pink button from the Belle and Boo collection to each corner of the outside of your card.


TIP: Save the other layers from your decoupage sheet for other projects. 





Monday, 21 March 2016

Easter Crafts & Recipes Round-Up

Spring is here! The daffodils have opened their petals in all their glorious shades of gold and  blossom is starting to bud. Feeling inspired we have been busy crafting, baking and making homemade delights ready for Easter . To help you get started we've compiled some Easter recipes and craft projects picked out from some of our favourite blogs and websites.




(Image Credit: Helen Burrows)

A few years ago we featured a brilliant egg decoration by Helen Burrows, at the time Helen cleverly made her own Boo 'tattoo' to transfer onto the egg.  But now it's much easier to make something similar using our own temporary tattoos . Here's how:






What you’ll need:

An egg (We used a duck egg)
Temporary Tattoos 
A damp cloth








1. Either hard boil or ‘empty’ your egg (emptying the egg will make the egg last longer if you want to use your egg as decoration time and time again.)

2. Cut around the temporary tattoo. 
3. Peel off the protective covering on the tattoo and place it picture side down onto the surface of the egg. 
4. With the damp cloth, gently rub the back of the tattoo. The tattoo can get a bit slimy and slippery when wet, so be careful it doesn’t slip on the surface of the egg before it is fully transferred. 
5. Peel off the paper backing and let the egg dry.



Our Boo Easter egg decoration will make lovely table decor, or carefully insert a hook and ribbon at the top of the egg to hang on an branch. 




Continuing with the egg theme...these exquisite foil eggs (above) are totally stunning and will make any Easter table look beautiful.  Use to decorate a little Easter basket, lay on a bed of moss and dot mini eggs around them.   This sophisticated Easter craft idea can be found on the Martha Stewart along with a useful video. 







It's always a joy to see someones beautiful homemade creations using our Belle & Boo craft supplies so  we had to share this simple Easter card idea which takes 30 - 45 minutes to make with you. Created by Cherish The Memory, you can find instructions on the Trimcraft website.





This has to be one of the most stunning Easter bonnets we have ever seen and we love it even more because it is designed to be worn by a boy or a girl.  We can even imagine the little Indians featured in some of our illustrations wearing this.  Created by the wonderful Mama behind the beautiful blog  Little Big House Tales  


Egg shell brownies  anyone? ! 




Our team are huge fans of Spanish food blog La Reta de la Felicidad and just had to tell you about two brilliant Easter ideas from this fabulous blog.  Firstly the egg brownies - what a fun idea! Secondly pretty eggs decorated with paper napkins (see below)- they look so effective but are really simple to do.  All you need are eggs, some paper napkins of your choice, a brush and some egg white.






Thinly Spread is fabulous food and craft blog by a British Mama.  As well as craft ideas such as these simple finger print chicks (above), it's also the place to go for tasty vegan recipes with yummy ideas that even carnivores will enjoy. 



It's Easter Monday and your children are stuffed full of chocolate Easter eggs and sweets.  Your mission is to get some proper nutritious food into them..... so how about these editble tomato tulips by Annabel Karmel.






It's no surprise that we love bunnies and this Easter bunting idea from the excellent Clean and Scentsible blog is just too cute. This blog is by Clare, a mum to two boys and part-time paediatric physiotherapist who lives in British Colombia and we are massive fans.  Her blog is jam packed with homemade decor ideas as well as practical home tips.  





These bright and bold confetti eggs are great fun. Ask friends and family to crack the eggs and see the pretty confetti drift out over the Easter table.  And you will be pleased to hear they aren't as tricky as they might look.  Head to the brilliant blog Pumpkin and A Princess for the full instructions.



Finally this delicious, simple chocolate bark recipe on BBC Good Food can be used as a treat to fill our pretty Easter tins.  When the tins are filled, hide them in the garden and use our fun EaSter Egg hunt kit to ensure lots of fun, printable from here



Hoppy crafting and cooking!

P.s Visit our Pinterest page for more crafting and cooking fun.


Belle & Boo