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Month: September 2014

Ella reviews the Royal Melbourne Show!

Ella reviews the Royal Melbourne Show!

unnamed-3Yesterday we set off to experience the Royal Melbourne Show. An annual family tradition in Melbourne, that draws crowds from all over. It has been a favourite of mine since being a kid. I remember going along, the eldest of four kids each year. We were allowed one ride, one lolly showbag and one toy showbag. We used to go later in the afternoon and stay until the fireworks at night. I have so many fond memories of growing up at ‘the show’. My earliest is the year that my Dad took my sister, brother and I, just after my Mum gave birth to my youngest sister Jane. He took us straight to the ID stand and had ‘lost and found’ identification cards made, that we had to wear all day, just in case he lost us. A pretty good effort on his part I think, firstly to take three kids on his own, and secondly, not to lose us. Whether your memories are of the showbags, the animals, the rides or the country fanfare, if you grew up in Melbourne then the chances are, you have fond memories of this old favourite.

I was very lucky to have been given the opportunity to review the Royal Melbourne Show this year, and share my experiences with my readers. So a few friends and I set off with our kids this week to find the best attractions for families with little ones. I left my little man with my Mum and took Ella out with her Aunty Jane for a girls day out! There is much that has changed, and much has also stayed the same. Overall, the grounds are much cleaner, more modern, spread out and generally more accessible than I remember as a kid. It is orderly, there are plenty of people to help, maps to help direct you and it is very family friendly. Below, I share my favourite aspects of the show from a parent’s point of view then then more importantly the things that Ella found fun and fabulous.

Tips for the parents:

  1. Parking – By far the best place to park is at Ascot Vale Primary School. For $22, you get an all day park, close to the gate and best of all, the money goes to support the kids at that school!

  2. Park your pram – around the show are opportunities for you to park your pram with attendees. This means that you can have fun with your little one (s) and know that your pram is being cared for. That said, never leave valuables in your pram. I used this service in the nursery and in the entertainment dome.

  3. Toddler ride area – I loved the fact that near the nursery, there is an area dedicated to toddlers. Rides and grass to sit and relax. The perfect area just for little ones.

  4. Water fountains – take your kids’ water bottles along, and refill at the many water fountains around the show.

  5. Ride tickets – The tickets in the toddler area were $5 each of 5 for $20. A lovely lady gave us some of her un -used tickets and I say, pass on the love. If you don’t use up your tickets, pass them to another family.

Tips from the toddler:

  1. The Disney Show at the Entertainment Dome. By far one of the best aspects of the show. Dance with Mickey, Minnie and Friends. Check out the times via this link.

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  1. Animal Nursery – an oldie but a goodie. This year, they de-cluttered the nursery and sectioned it off. There is a ‘park your pram’ area, an open nursery where animals run around, and other exhibits where kids can get up and personal with the animals. Feed is available for $2 a cup!

  2. Toddler Rides – as said above, there is a great area near the nursery where rides are dedicated for the little ones. Many of them allow you to go on with your child, if it makes them feel more comfortable.

  3. Showbag hall – this year we found it fairly easy to access. My advice is know what you want, get in and get out. The lolly bags are much more reasonably priced than the toy ones. We chose the good old Peppa Pig bag, and it was worth it, even though the $25 tag (for most toy bags) is a little steep. Check out the bags spread out on the wall before you buy them to make sure that you are happy with the contents. For value, you simply can’t go passed the $2 Bertie Beetle.

  4. Dolls on a stick – throughout the show there are vendors selling everything from balloons, to face painting and bubble makers. Ella got a gorgeous old fashioned dolly on a stick, and for $9 it was a pretty reasonable buy.

Here are some pics of our day out….

Ella clearly overwhelmed by the need to choose ONE toy showbag…

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tasting fairy floss for the first time…

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The Ferris Wheel…

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Fun with Aunty Jane in the Nursery…

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Miss Piggy…

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Three Blind Mice…

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A rare day out with Mummy and Daughter…

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Toddler Ride Fun…

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So there you have it, our picks of the show from the parent and the toddler! If you go along, make sure that you pack some snacks to take with you. That tip will never get old!

For more ideas, check out the ‘things to do and see’ page on their website here. Thanks to the Show for having us, and to my gorgeous friends for their great ideas!

Have fun!kate

Ella Loves Local: Kate from PaperKrane

Ella Loves Local: Kate from PaperKrane

Screenshot 2014-09-23 13.41.34There is nothing better than a pair of baby kicks. Little toes, little shoes. So incredible cute. It is with great excitement therefore that this week, I profile a local gem in PaperKrane. Kate is the mother of Wren (what a beautiful name), and a stylish and savvy Mum who designs and hand makes the most beautiful baby shoes I have ever seen. Available in a range of amazing fabrics and styles, her shoes have developed quite a following  of late.  With the catchphrase ‘where style meets your offspring’, how could her product really go wrong? She has put so much detail into everything, from the shoes themselves, to the exquisite packaging and intricate tiny paperkranes that come with each pair. It is again wonderful to share with you the story behind this beautiful line that is very reasonably priced. But before hand, let’s check out some of her amazing kicks…

 

Wild Thing Baby Boots..

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Sterling Silver Boots…

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Leo…

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Bronze Babes…

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Pop Rock Princess…

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Amazingly cool huh?!!!! Let’s meet Kate from PaperKrane…

1. What inspired you to start PaperKrane?

I think I’ve always wanted to have my own creative business that would utilise my background in art and degree in design/advertising. I was never very good at having a ‘real’ job so I really loved my previous experience of teaching English in Seoul, South Korea. A great job, but with a lot more opportunity to travel and experience life in general outside of working hours. That was before moving to Melbourne in 2011, and when my teaching contract came up, we moved to Australia, and the time was finally right to start PaperKrane! I guess inspiration has come from everywhere, mainly from my passion for design and shoes! Plus that desire to create the perfect job for myself. Now it comes from Wren, and she’s always helping me improve my designs and ideas just by wearing my creations.

2. How do you juggle your business and family life?

When I started out it was easy, it was just my husband, dog and myself to worry about. Long days of sewing and weekends filled with craft markets and packing orders that came in through the website was the norm. About 18 months after I started PaperKrane Wren came along, the markets stopped and the website eventually sold out of stock! When Wren was about 5 months old I had my first major restock, and it’s been pedal to the metal since then! We have no family here, they’re all in New Zealand, or other Australian states. So Wren is home with us every day (my husband works from his home office) and the long days of sewing have now turned into long nights of sewing as I spend Wren’s awake time with her. There really is no way to juggle the two, just bending and stretching until they both fit into the hours that I can stay awake! I have a few plans in place and things in the works to reduce the hours I put in each day and to share the workload between more people.

3. What has been your proudest moment so far?

My proudest moment (apart from having Wren) was probably seeing my first full page print ad in the last LittleONE Baby magazine. It really made me feel proud of myself and the effort I put into my business.

4. What has been your biggest challenge?

At the moment the biggest challenge is keeping up with demand, and also getting all the orders out within a 3 week time frame. Easier said than done with an active toddler in the house! Things have been getting a little bonkers on the website on restock night. The volume of orders is increasing and so is the number of people missing out each time. My next step is to add people to the team to help increase what we can physically make each month, and also to help me start to create stock that’s ready to ship (similar to how stock was before Wren arrived).

5. What is your advice to others wanting to start their own business?

Go for it! I think if you have a great new idea for a business, why not! I love to see people with original ideas doing well in the handmade community. Put time into building your brand, so people can identify with you and your product. Make the most of the wonderful love for everything handmade and local that there is right now through the use of social media, if you can also get out and meet people and make great contacts through markets. Avoid plagiarism of ideas, and if you have something you feel nobody has seen before, protect it and patent it before you show it to anyone!

6. Three words that describe PaperKrane…

CREATIVE, ORIGINAL, DARING.

7. What’s your current favourite product in your line up?

I love the new PK Heavy Metal range. It includes the Sterling Silver boots which I just can’t get enough of! (But that’s a hard question cause I use a lot of great prints by designer Andrea Lauren. I always love the boots that feature her prints!)

7. Pay it forward to another local business. PaperKrane loves….

Little Noggi. Sheree who is the lovely mum behind Little Noggi, and is someone I really admire as a designer/maker. She has created something that is unlike anything else out there in the way of baby hats. We love our reversible summer one and also our bamboo lined winter one with ears! They’re impeccably made, and use fantastic prints and fabric created by local designers.

Here is my little man in his very own Trip Tops 2.0. Love, love them!

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So if you want your little one to have the most amazingly scrumptious booties, lovingly hand made by this Super Mum, then visit PaperKrane here. Just be warned…you will struggle to stop at one pair! *Please note that Kate painstakingly makes each pair, and she restocks her store when she has made more stock. Her shoes are in high demand and at this stage, many are sold out. Follow @paperkranec8 on Instagram to keep updated with restock details.

Thanks Kate, for your time, and for sharing your amazing business with us.

kate

These are the days of our Double Pram lives…

These are the days of our Double Pram lives…

Last week I went to Chadstone, aka Chaddy, Melbourne’s biggest and best shopping centre. A shopping centre for everyone whether you be male or female, old or young, with child or without. A trip to Chaddy in the ‘old days’ was a relaxing affair. Often a few hours of slowly browsing the aisles of what ever shop took my fancy. Maybe some lunch? Heck, I even got to try on clothes quickly. My visits to Chadstone these days are very different to the ones in my past. For starters, they begin with a trip to the parent room, and by gees, what a great room it is. When I arrived last week, I greeted a woman who had clearly just given birth recently and was feeding her newborn baby with a look of both love, and absolute exhaustion on her face. Her Mum sat nearby and we started to chat about our babies, how old they were and how incredibly different life is with children, compared to ‘before’. This poor new Mum was clearly in the midst of the newborn ‘fog’ and I wanted to wrap my arms around her and just help her feel better. The best I could do, was reassure her that things do get easier. Whilst it is by far, the hardest and most exhausting thing we could ever do, being a parent is by far, the most joyous and rewarding. I told her to hang in there, trust her instinct, and accept help from her Mum. She seemed thankful for the words of wisdom, and whilst I’m no expert, I sincerely hope it helped her feel better.

Ella loving life in 'her' double pram
Ella loving life in ‘her’ double pram

Upon leaving the spacious parent room at Chaddy, her Mum commented on how ‘double prams’ have evolved, and how she loved the look and feel of mine (did I mention that she lovingly rocked Hudson whilst I helped change Ella’s pull ups?). I agreed that my pram is indeed, one of my most coveted possessions, and that I could simply not do without it. That said, given the fact that my double pram is ‘side by side’ it does make for a challenging shopping experience. It is wide, but thankfully quite easy to manoeuvre. If you have a double pram, and whether it is side by side, or front to back, there are challenges. It make me think about the things that I now do differently in a day in the life of a double pram….

  1. You can’t just go into any old shop. It takes a sympathetic brand to cater for double prams. Wide aisles means less floor space for stock. You actually end up knowing which shops you can go into, and which you can’t. It’s amazing how you learn to adapt.

  2. You can’t go into a standard change room. Single pram? Maybe. Double Pram? Forget it! That said, there ARE some clever shops that have worked this out, and have installed ‘family change rooms’. Best thing ever.

  3. Lifts are your new best friend. Forget escalators, unless you want some serious injuries! Mind you, this problem isn’t isolated to double prams…it’s all prams!

  4. Undercover parking is gold. I’ve been known to sit and stalk like the best of them….

  5. Food court eating. Not unless you are truly, truly desperate and want to eat standing up!

  6. You say ‘sorry’ a lot. It seems that you are always trying to get by, get through and get out! You always bump someone, or something!

It’s funny when you walk past a Mum who is also pushing a double pram. An empathetic smile, and a knowing nod of shared experience. There are indeed many challenges when it comes to managing a  double pram, but I have to say that I couldn’t live without it. It has been a life saver, and has ensured that I can get about with a new born and a very speedy toddler. The best part by far, is the fact that Ella leans over to see her brother, and when ever he is upset she lovingly reaches to grasp his hand. She has even been known to hold his hand for entire trips.

Worth every cent. Do you love your double pram?

kate

Friday Find: The Supreme Kitchen Team Series

Friday Find: The Supreme Kitchen Team Series

Today’s Friday Find appeals to the Primary School Teacher inside of me. It WILL also definitely appeal to any parent who loves and values reading, and developing a sense of wonder and awe in their children. Today’s find also celebrates a Dad, who, having read to his daughter’s each day, wanted to take the leap of faith to writing his own storybook for his children. Together with Amy Chung and Illustrator Paula Bossio, Frank Scifo has realised his dream and together they have created ‘The Supreme Kitchen Team’ series.

What makes these books even more beautiful, is the fact that they have infused cooking and baking into the process. I can’t think of a better way to get children engaged and motivated to read, than to follow a story that encourages them to create something of their own at the end, and best of all, they get to eat it! With their vision ‘ To inspire young children to discover home style cooking’,  the first installment in the series is called ‘King Rupert’s Raspberry Vanilla Cupcakes’. King Rupert is hosting a banquet and has requested his favourite raspberry vanilla cupcakes, only the castle’s oven isn’t working.  Will Ruby and the Supreme Kitchen Team be able to appease King Rupert on this grandest occasion?

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According to the team, their books are:

* Fun, engaging short adventure stories

 * Warm, friendly and enchanting characters

* Magical recipe books, magical aprons, and a secret pact!

* Loads of fun & fantasy

* A hint of magic & a pinch of creativity

And there is of course our key point of difference. We’ll always finish with a home-style recipe to encourage interaction between parents & children at home. This is my absolute favourite part of the book. A genius way to get your kids involved in reading and baking together in the kitchen.

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Needless to say, Ella and I will be heading to the supermarket to get all of these ingredients. They look delightful!

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Future titles in the pipeline include:

* Captain Jack Stir and the Ravenous Pirates *  Raja The Baby Elephant’s Spaghetti Bolognese

I just love this idea, and love the fact that a Dad took a punt and did something that he thought would help his children. In turn, I’m sure that there are many other families who love and will love the series. You can purchase your own hard copy, or e-book via their website here for $9.50 AUS.

We look forward to the next installment!

kate

Ella Loves Local: Angelique from Howi

Ella Loves Local: Angelique from Howi

Final-1_03It’s with pleasure and pride that this week’s ‘Ella Loves Local’ profile focuses on a new, up and coming kids’ clothing brand, Howi. Created by Angelique, a local Melbourne Mum, whom I have also known in my ‘other life’ as a Primary Teacher. I simply love it when new Mums find a gap in the market, and take the plunge to fill it themselves. Angelique’s enthusiasm is palpable in the way she has tackled this new venture, and I really think she has hit the mark when it comes to her ideas.  For those of you who, like me, love to trawl through Instagram and discover fabulous ideas for dressing their little ones, you will be rewarded by following her and the unique ideas and innovative designs.

Here are a few snaps from her new range…

Introducing the ‘flip’ pants. Two sides, two patterns. Simply genius…these Sky High flips are my fave…

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and these ‘Rock Out’ flips are pretty cool too…

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These crew jumpers are ‘way cool’…

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and you’ve gotta love a snapback..

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So here is Angelique’s story. A stylish Mum, wish a new, stylish brand!

1. What inspired you to start Howi?

Having two children myself, a boy aged 1 and a girl aged 3, I found it hard to find stylish clothes for my children that fitted 3 criteria that matter to me. That they be unisex, affordable and most importantly ethically made. And so Howi was born! I have so many talented friends that have their own business so i thought with my love of fashion and my determined nature, why not start my own business too! It was a long process to get it off the ground and there were many times I was going to give up but being a strong role model for my children and showing them you can achieve anything if you put your mind to it inspired me to keep going.

2. How do you juggle your business and family life? 

I have a ‘no technology’ rule when I’m around my children. This makes it hard but it’s so important to me that they know they come first and don’t loose their mum to a phone or ipad! When they have their naps or have gone to bed at night it’s my time to focus on Howi.
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3. What has been your proudest moment so far?

I would have to say my first sale. When I got the email to say I had just made a sale I opened a bottle of champagne with my husband! Just to have that confirmation that others were appreciating what we were doing was so uplifting. I was lucky enough to also receive some fantastic feedback from the same customer the moment she received her new clothes (and yes, another glass of champagne was had at that moment too!)

4. What has been your biggest challenge?

Balancing my family life with my business life. With two small children it is very hard to get much done when they’re awake so I found myself designing, labelling, tagging, packing etc till all hours of the morning, usually until my youngest woke for a feed! It was then that I had to use my primary teacher skills and plan my days better so I had allocated time for everything!

5. What is your advice to others wanting to start their own business?

Don’t compare yourself to anyone else and trust in what you’re doing. I found so many times I would look at someone else’s range and start doubting myself but I think it’s important to remember that if you love what you are producing then someone else will too!

6. Three words that describe Howi…

Original, fun, edgy

7. What’s your current favourite product in your line up?

I would have to say our ‘sky high’ flips. They’re reversible pants with a cloud print on one side and plain navy on the other. I absolutely love the print and the fabric is so soft. They are a perfect fit and they are a great trans seasonal piece. I love that both my son and daughter can wear them too!

8. Pay it forward. Howi loves…

Inkah Art Gallery. Jacqui is a local Melbourne artist and her artwork is absolutely beautiful. Really worth checking her out!

I just love her idea so much….here is my Ella rocking the Sky High Flips! I can’t take them off her!


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So get on board, support local and check her out her range via the website, Facebook and Instagram!

kate

Ella Loves Local: Katie & Eliza from Talo Interiors

Ella Loves Local: Katie & Eliza from Talo Interiors

talologoAs a Mum and blogger, I love nothing more than scrolling through Instagram and finding gorgeous feeds full of gorgeous homewards and stylish bedrooms. I’ve come across some pretty amazing local businesses this way, and Talo Interiors was one that caught my eye. The brain child of Katie and Eliza, two close friends and Mums who shared a similar passion for stylish, practical and unique homewares. I was lucky enough to spend a morning with these two beautiful ladies a couple of weeks ago, and over a cup of tea (whilst breast feeding and trying to settle my own baby), was able to get an insight into their story, and what it has taken to start and build their own business. Savy, stylish and strong women, who want to bring joy and happiness into the rooms of kids everywhere.

Before I share their story, here is a few of my favourite things from their store (each item is linked to their store)…

The gorgeous Varpunen storage sacks…

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Chocolate Creative wall hooks…

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These beautiful felt smartie cushions…

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You can’t go past the Miffy lamps..

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Heaven knows how much I love the Bat prints from Little Pop Studio…

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and what store would be complete without Super Hero prints like these ones from Mint Parcel..

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Clearly these girls know what they are doing! Here is what they had to say…

1. What inspired you to start Talo Interiors?

When we were looking for décor to furnish our kids bedrooms, we just couldn’t find anything we liked in the 1 store! We have very similar taste, we get along like a house on fire and we saw an opportunity. We wanted our kids rooms and decor to reflect our own taste and style. The word Talo means ‘home’ in Finnish, which is reflective of our Scandinavian taste.

 2. How do you juggle your business and family life?

We have our ‘Talo’ days and our ‘home’ days.  We are really efficient on our working days so that we can get as much done as we can. Inevitably, we do a little work on our days at home, but we are lucky that we can do this while spending time with the kids.- And there have been occasions where a park play-date has been an impromptu board-meeting.

Katie & Eliza from Talo Interiors
Katie & Eliza from Talo Interiors

 3. What has been your proudest moment so far?

We were looking for simple and timeless doona designs for our website and we couldn’t find anything we liked! It has been over a year in the making, but we are very proud to be launching our own line of bed linen in Spring! The designs were created by Pip Compton, a talented Melbourne based graphic designer. She also created our brand look and feel. We love her hand drawn Scandinavian style.

It has been a really amazing and challenging experience (some would say character building)!  And when the final samples arrived last month, we couldn’t be happier with the results. A really proud moment. Our little babies due date is nearing!

 4. What has been your biggest challenge?

Oh, well that’s easy, producing the bed linen!  It’s been a huge learning curve for us both.

 5. What is your advice to others wanting to start their own business?

Do something that you really love.  Having a business partner that really compliments your differing skill sets is paramount. And keeping an eye on that cash flow is key – making sure you have enough money to keep you in business until you flourish!! And lastly, perseverance and patience!

6. Three words that describe Talo…

Simple, designer, decor

7. What’s your current favourite product in your line up?

Oooh tough one – 2 of our favourite brands (and biggest sellers!) are the Varpunen storage sacks and anything in the Mushkane Felt Wool range.

7. Pay it forward to another local business. Talo loves….

Mark Tuckey – we recently went to the launch of his new season range – we LOVE every single piece in that store.  Both Mark and Luella are super talented in their own right!

Be sure to support local, visit Talo Interiors, and snap up some of the love for yourself, of your child’s room. What every takes your fancy!

Thanks to Eliza & Katie for having me, and for letting me learn a little more about your beautiful business!

kate

An early Friday Find: Fathers’ Day Ideas for the kids

An early Friday Find: Fathers’ Day Ideas for the kids

This weekend is Fathers’ Day. As a Primary teacher, we always create something cute for the Dads from their kids, and whilst I’m not at school at the moment, I’ve been raiding Pinterest for ideas that I can make with my own kids. So I figured that there must be some of you out there, who would appreciate some simple, inexpensive and super cute ideas that you can make with your kids, that are sure to make their Father’s Fathers’ Day this weekend, and so I’m sharing an early Friday Find today!

 Each image is linked to the original idea via Pinterest..

Hands down, best Dad ever…

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My Dad Rocks!!!

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Daddy’s Golf course…now this one is awesome! 8093854e7f8f61d915470293f1aca517

Following in my Dad’s footsteps…

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I’m hooked on Daddy…

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My little footprint..

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And possibly my favourite. A little time consuming, but how worth it would it be if you had multiple generations! A beautiful gift for Dads and Grandads!139e45f8450e20657919d3e361326f4f

For more ideas for Fathers’ Day gifts to make with your kids, visit my Pinterest Board here.

Happy Fathers’ Day!

kate