Friday, 30 September 2016

Handmade kids leather shoes - What's new with Belle & The Bear

When Felix was a baby I got heavily into handmade leather moccasins.  I loved finding new small brands mostly run by WAHMs who were putting their hearts and souls into these gorgeous little shoes. There's something about baby shoes, isn't there.  I especially loved buying ones that I wouldn't mind saving.

As Felix got older, he continued to wear leather moccasins, often as his main shoes. Even out and about.  Whilst they don't have a hard sole they are very heard wearing shoes and research has shown it's good for developing feet to be as free from constraints as possible.  It's better for their development.  Obviously I wouldn't let him walk around in them if there was any danger on the pavement from glass or similar, but for most situations, they were perfect for him! I found them invaluable at playgroup. They were perfect for running around the hall but were soft enough I didn't have to worry about him crushing a baby's arm as he absentmindedly played with the toy cars.

Felix is three now and most people who make these beautiful shoes don't go up to his size.  This is quite a source of upset for me.  I loved those shoes.  And I think even though they wouldn't be right for him to wear outside of the house nowadays, they would make the perfect slippers.  I have all of his old pairs and I treasure them.

I am aware though that all these lovely shoe makers are still out there and there are still heaps of you who would love to buy their wears.  As such, I thought today I would feature one of my favorite online stores, Belle & The Bear,  Belle & The Bear are US based but their moccasins still come in at around the same price as UK ones, postage included.  I do try to buy from the UK where I can but I'm not apposed to not doing so.  It's still, in this case, supporting a small parent run business!

Belle & The Bear have a few new styles so I thought I'd feature them today.  First up is the retro & reminiscent of our own childhood days T Bar Strap shoes:

Handmade Leather Moccasins Shoes Kids Shoes

Handmade Leather Moccasins Shoes Kids Shoes

I love them in the gunmetal, makes them a little more modern.  I know Felix would love these if they came in his size because he's got a pair of what he calls "school shoes" which are T-Bar and he chooses them more than any others at the moment! These are available in other colours too including a gorgeous yellow.  These shoes are $44.

Second up are these beautiful boots:

Handmade Leather Moccasins Shoes Kids Shoes

I don't think even I could quite get away with these on Felix.  And to be honest, I don't think he's much of a bow fan.  But I do think they are beautiful.  They look soft, easy to pull on but look like they'd have good staying power on little feet,  Always a plus!  These come in at $55.

It's fair to say that these shoes aren't cheap.  But having bought from Belle & The Bear in the past I can confirm they are fantastic quality,  The leather is great quality.  The attention to detail and quality of the work is without fault.  They last.  They would last more than one child too.  I love them.

Linking up today with lovely Hannah for Funky Kid Friday.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Duns it right (again)

If you've read my blog for a while, you'll know that I love Scandi kids clothes.  In fact, my love of Scandi brands is one of the reasons I started the blog!  Back then it was Katvig, Molo, Plastisock and a few others.  I still love those, but I have to say that season upon season, Duns are my go to favorite for an appropriate print.

Duns are always eye catching.  And unisex.  Something I love.  I have two boys but I love that they can share their clothes regardless and they can be passed on to boys and girls alike.  Like all the other brands, Duns bring out a S/S range and A/W range.  For me, the best A/W print out there goes to them.  What says September/Autumn to you?  Autumnal colours, that's for sure.. leaves?  But how about the conker?  Everyone loves conkers! Amusing to find, fun to collect, a favorite toy throughout the generations.  I was ecstatic to see the conker print Duns created.  It's so bold and gorgeous.  

Duns Radish Conker Autumn Winter 2016 Scandi Kids Clothes

Duns Radish Conker Autumn Winter 2016 Scandi Kids Clothes

Duns Radish Conker Autumn Winter 2016 Scandi Kids Clothes

I bought Felix a long sleeved top from Funky Little People and myself the age 12 top (which fits perfectly, maybe even a smidge too big).  You know I love a bit of twinning.  They look brilliant.  Felix has worn his every few days.  As always it's washing brilliantly.  Anna from Funky Little People also stocks this print in a single bedding set and I can't tell you how much I want it.  I am truly in love.

Duns Radish Conker Autumn Winter 2016 Scandi Kids Clothes

Well DUNS! ;-)

Linking up with my lovely buddy Hannah for Funky Kid Friday

Friday, 16 September 2016

Papu - clothes for Mama and Child!

The twinning thing... sometimes it's a bit cheesy.. but I have to admit I do like being a bit matchy with my boys at times.  Why?  Well, let's face it, they are unlikely to want to wear anything like what their Mama wears for very long, are they!  I think it also has a lot to do with the fact that I quite like kids clothes myself. As an adult, I've always worn children's clothing,  Hopefully not in a "to look like a child" kind of way.  No.  What I mean is I'm a shorty. and often I've found that clothing made for a 12/13 year old girl often fits me just fine.  And it can save money too.  A lot of what is made for women is also made for teen girls and if I can buy a pair of leggings that fit me better and cost less, why not?  I think if you shop carefully there's no need for you to look like you're 13!

Still, what I like even better is when a clothing brand caters for adults as well as the kids.  This seems to be happening more and more these days, especially with Scandinavian clothing brands, which I love anyway.  Brands like Duns/More Than A Fling, Moromin & Danefae sell clothing for women.  Some different to their kids stuff but a lot of it just adult sized versions of the same stuff.  

A brand I find do an amazing job of it though, are Papu.  Papu are relatively new to the UK market. In fact, they are relatively new in general.   A Finnish brand, they describe themselves thus:

"Papu is about graphic unisex prints, certified organic cotton, flexible sizes and brave design.

The foundation for Papu is collaboration, transparency, sustainability and good spirit. Papu product design is based on high-quality, ecological materials and durability. The combination sizes grow with the children and the products have adjustable features. Papu clothing is produced in Europe and have OEKO-Tex Standard 100 certificate."

I must admit that it is important to me to buy sustainable OEKO-Tex standard clothes where I can.  Or if I can't I try to buy second hand.  I don't like to think of others suffering for the cloth on my back.  
How to look like a twit despite a cool dress
What of the clothes themselves then?  Well, the prints are bold.  There's a wonderful selection to choose from from their SS16 collection.  They are the kind of clothes that will look wonderful for a long time, both quality and style wise.  Myself and the boys have a selection of their clothes and I can reassure you that they wash excellently.  They haven't bobbled up or faded.  The boys and I all have matching leggings.  The boys have several tops and I have 3 dresses and two hats.  The hats are just adorable.  The dresses wash wonderfully.  I would say the sizing is generous.  I have small or extra small and they aren't clingy.  I can honestly say they are some of the most comfortable dresses I own and when I wear them friends always comment on them.  The patterns aren't totally outlandish but they do get you noticed.  In a good way! One of the dresses I have is plain black but has really statement sleeves.  I love details like that on clothing.  Not in your face but still a little 

Personally, I find the leggings we all have very flattering! Ethan loves the hooded top he has.  It's snug and whilst mostly black, it has patterned material on the inside of the hood and a cute button detail.

Ethan sporting his cool Papu hoody

Ethan wearing a Papu vest

The AW16 collection is avaible now and there are a few UK stockists to choose from including Yellow Lolly and Scandi Mini

Gorgeousness for women from Papu

**linking up with my old blogging buddy Hannah at Make Do & Push for Funky Kid Friday which will probably surprise her!**

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Seasons change, times change, we change...

Hello blog.  You're still here!  Is anyone else?  According to stats people are still visiting this site every day.  How funny.  I last blogged in March.  Very early March.  And even before then my posts were sporadic.  So.  Why is that?  Where have I been?  What's been going on?  Does anyone care?

The truth is.. life.  Life has been going on.  2016 has been one of the most, if not THE most difficult years of my life thus far.  I won't and can't go into great detail on here I'm afraid.  It just isn't appropriate.  It's one of the reasons I've not been able to blog.  Not that I've felt much like it.  But the things that have been going on in my life have just taken over.  It wouldn't be right to write about them, at least not here.

I am hoping now that these issues will be taking a back seat and that life as I knew it will be returning to some sense of normality.  However, that's not really possible either.. because it's September, isn't it.  That well known month of change.  So many parts of my life have changed in the last week that I feel I no longer know who I am, where I fit in my world, what I do, when I do it etc.  Ethan has moved schools.  We moved house last September (almost a year ago!) and we realised that one of the other local schools was closer to our new house.  This school is a bit more outdoorsy which we feel  will suit Felix better when he starts school. Which is only a year away!  So.  Ethan has moved schools and is now in the juniors section (I can't believe I have a junior school child!).  Felix meanwhile has started at preschool.  Another change.  Even at his gymnastics class things have changed, he's now in the preschool class which means I have to leave him there.  All on his own!  My little baby.  Except he's not a little baby anymore, is he?  He's 3.  A preschooler.  Becoming independent.  And I'm watching from the sidelines, reeling from all the changes.  New schools, new uniforms, new teachers, new timings, new routines, new friends, new ways of doing things.

I now have more time to myself.. and as yet, I'm not quite sure what I'm doing with it.  I was thinking back yesterday, to when Ethan had just started at preschool.  When he started I would go to an exercise class after dropping him off and then go home, do some housework and blog.  That was about all I ever did bar meeting a friend for coffee sometimes, or popping into Bristol to do some shopping.  But shortly after he started at preschool I became pregnant with Felix and that meant that for almost the entire duration of his time at preschool, I was pregnant.  That was my real focus.  I found pregnancy with Felix pretty hard going and so was very glad of time alone to either blog or, let's face it, eat chocolate and sleep.  This time around I am not pregnant and I'm certainly not planning to be.  So I have to figure out what I'm doing.

I am a full time stay at home Mum.  It's pretty much all I know.  I last worked in May 2009.  Over 7 years unemployed.  Staying at home.  Looking after the house and children.  That has been my focus.  Being a Mum to my boys isn't a job that is going to end but it is a job that will change and it's currently going through a  huge change.  My boys need me a little less.  They are with me a lot less.  I now need to figure out who I am again and what on earth I do.  What defines me?  What do I like doing?  Am I going to work?  What work would I like to do?  What can I do realistically?  You see.. that's the thing.  I can't just go jumping into any old job.  For one thing, I have the chance right now to take stock.  My last job was unrewarding.  Badly paid.  Inflexible.  Boring.  Anything I do now has to work around the boys.  Yes, I have 15 hours a week when Felix is in preschool but that's from 8:30 - 1:30.  Ethan needs picking up at 3:20.  I still need to be available for them and I don't have the kind of childcare available to me to cover longer hours.  I would need something that's term time.   We all know how hard those gems are to come by.  No.  Right now is not the time to be taking any job that presents itself.  It's a time to think, evaluate.  At the moment we are used to managing on the money we currently have coming in.  It's the easiest time for me to take time to figure out what to do whilst we are used to managing on this income.  It's the best time to start my own business.  Choose a new direction.  Study.

Right now I feel almost frozen by choices.  I think I need a plan.  A simple plan to get me through the next few weeks, something that will allow me time to think but also feel like I'm not wasting time.  Like most Mums I often fall into the trap of feeling guilty for having free time.  As a Mum, or a parent, I should always be on the go, right?  Always with purpose.

So.  This plan then.  Something simple.  An exercise class one day.  Blogging (seeing if I can and want to get back into it!! And if anyone will read!).  Admin.  Going for a run.  Playing the piano.  Catching up with people.  Exploring business ideas.  Walking.  Yoga.

I'll take it from there.  Then hopefully, this time next year, when I am facing the fact I'll have two school children, I'll know exactly what I'm doing with myself when they are off making the world theirs.  I need to be an inspiration to them.  More than Mummy.