Independent Lincoln makes buying small easy

Lincoln has developed in recent years to become a shopping destination with a wide range of retailers including many that welcome younger visitors through their doors.

Start in the St Mark’s Shopping Centre and you’ll find big brand names such as Mothercare, Mamas and Papas, Toys R Us, The Entertainer and Debenhams.  Move into the centre of the city and you’ll find an area starting to show the benefits of its ongoing rejuvenation.

But it’s when you take steps towards and up Steep Hill to the top end of Lincoln that you’ll be rewarded with a selection of independent shop frontages that are unique to the city.

As today is Small Business Saturday – “a grassroots, non-commercial campaign, which highlights small business success and encourages consumers to ‘shop local’ and support small business in their communities” – The Mini Malpi asked a couple of those stores what they’d pick from their ranges as Christmas presents for little ones this year…

 

Bo Peep Boutique (Bailgate, Lincoln) 

A family run business, Bo Peep Boutique stocks children’s clothing, lifestyle products and traditional toys that describes its ranges as “one of a kind, quirky, different, funky and fun”. Here are just some of Emma’s favourites.LottieDoll

“We love Lottie Dolls (recommended age 3+) because they are aspirational and based on a child’s proportions rather than a grownup. £18.99.

Janod“Janod Storyboxes are one of our favourite new products. These boxes are designed for imaginative play including knights, firefighters and fairytales. £9.99

Tigger“The Orange Tree Winnie The Pooh range is suitable from 12 months plus. The new range of wooden toys just launched includes pull-alongs, trains and pushups.  Lovely and traditional, starting from £4.99.

JellyCatAquaBunny“Jellycat, designed in the UK, are the softest soft toy range on the market.  We stock a wide range including books, comforters and toys from £8 upwards.”

 

With Love From Lincolnshire (Burton Road, Lincoln)

With Love From Lincolnshire is definitely the perfect place to visit on Small Business Saturday as where “every item has been lovingly handmade by local craftspeople” “you will find over 70 small local business under one roof”.  Like most small independent stores, Pirjo Holtta doesn’t stock anything she doesn’t love herself but here she picks out some highlights for us.

Cardigans“The most beautiful cardigans are crocheted by Justine.  These cardigans come in all the colours of the rainbow and in sizes: 0-3m £6, 3-6m £6, 6-12m £7, 1-2yrs £8, 3-4yrs £10, 5-6yrs £12, 7-8 £14.  By buying one of these cardigans you don’t only support one small local business but three!  The Stylecraft Special DK yarn is from Number Four (also Burton Road, Lincoln), Justine (Just Handmade) has crocheted the cardigans and you can buy them from With Love From Lincolnshire.

“Nothing keeps a little one warm like a lovingly handmade blanket or a quilt and we stock a range, including some with matching bunting, by crafters Val, Nicole (Little Sew It All) and Justine.  And we’ve also got lots of hats and mittens for little ones full of character!

Octocape“Jacqui’s octocapes are her best selling items!  With no fiddly buttons you just put it over your child’s head and it will keep their neck and chest warm without bulkiness. Great to wear in a car seat too! £5.50.

“Reversible dresses for little ones must be one of the best inventions ever!  Accidents happen and no-one needs to know if you’re wearing one of these – just quickly turn it round!  These are easy to put on and take off with snappers on the back or on the shoulders.  This is also a great time to buy a pinafore dress. Add layers underneath and cardi on top, start reducing layers towards spring and wear on its own in the summer!  £9 each or 2 for £15 by Rachel Pugh and from £7 in sizes 0-4 by Pauline.

GrowMePants“These Grow-With-Me-Pants have been designed and made by Karen Booth Designs with folded hems and waistband for your little one and are made with a pre-washed cotton and lycra jersey fabric for minimal shrinkage and added bounce back comfort.  No digging in elastic!  They are £7.99 a pair in sizes from newborn to toddler.”

 

Lindum Books (Bailgate, Lincoln)

Looking for a book?  Independent book store Lindum Books gave us their recommendations here: Seasonal stories make perfect presents.

 

If you are challenging yourself to the sheer walk up the hill (or taking the bus and walking down) then you might also want to pop in to Annual (Grantham Street, Lincoln), that has a passion for unique design and an exploration into making the world for children stimulating and fun, and Object and Line (Bailgate, Lincoln) that searches out small to medium companies worldwide that have high design values.

Are you buying small this year?  Recommend a local business from near you in the comments below and make someone’s day!

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On (not) keeping it simple

#Blogtober17 – Day One: All About Me

One of the best pieces of advice that I was given in Faith’s early days when requesting words of wisdom from those who’d had more experience of coping with three young children was to “keep it simple”.

The mum’s words seemed entirely sensible, aspirational and even potentially achievable.

In that moment though, I seemed to forget that this is one of the things we seem to find impossible to do.

Some of the things our days fill up with are often unavoidable – medical appointments for example.  And September has brought the start of school and, with it, thanks to the lack of spaces in any school within vague walking distance of us, the school run involving an hour’s round trip twice a day.

But we’re also a family that like to get out and about and experience life outside our front door – leaving the chaotic mess and things in need of repair behind us for at least a few hours even if just to be even more annoyed by them on return.

And I appear to be a girl who just can’t say no.  We are blessed to have many family and friends from across our different walks of life and, between all our works, children’s appointments and other commitments, it can be hard to come up with times we can actually see each other which means we usually try and accept any opportunity going, filling up our days attempting to defeat the forces of traffic, recalcitrant mini ones and time itself to fit as much as possible in one day.

If my son seems to want “to do everything now, all at the same time” then perhaps we only have our own example setting to blame.

Which led to today’s attempt to not only take some photos for a future blog post with the help of some friends and to visit some relatives but also to attend not one, not two but three parties.

Ambitious, brave or (most probably) just plain stupid, you may have guessed that we didn’t quite make it.

Despite rain causing problems at photo time, the (somewhat late) realisation of how far away the first party was (despite the lovely host having warned us) causing a truncated early visit to family that resulted in returning later in the day, an incidence of baby sick, the fact I seemed to think teleportation is factual rather than fictional leading to missing one party altogether adding a good dollop of guilt to my stress levels, the frustrations of rural roads and the ups and downs of over-tired and over-excited sugar-fuelled mini ones, we actually had a really enjoyable day – but perhaps it’s definitely time to learn to slow down a little bit.

As the (equally lovely) third party host said about their own logistical concerns – “you can’t time travel”.

And, if we bemoan the speed of time we witness in our children growing up too fast, perhaps we shouldn’t help it by keeping our foot on the accelerator too.

But have I really learnt my lesson?  Given that this is my first post in the blogging challenge #Blogtober17 (run by www.hexmumblog.com) which aims to follow prompts to post once a day throughout October, probably not.  But, even if I don’t quite make it, hopefully I’ll have some fun along the way.

So now you know (if you didn’t before) that one of the things I find difficult in life is to “keep it simple” as much as I would like to.  That’s not exactly “all about me”, today’s #Blogtober17 post prompt, but it probably does inform a lot of other aspects of my life.

If you do have any tips on how to keep it simple, please leave them in the comments below!

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F is for Faith (…and fuchsia)

IMG_9579Every mother knows that her own children are gorgeous but it’s always nice to hear it confirmed by other people too.

And it was lovely to hear that a photo I shared of Faith on @TheMiniMalpi Twitter account caught the attention of the artist behind Bertie Bear Button Art and Crafts.

Designing and hand making personalised artwork with buttons, Sarah from Kirton Lindsey in North Lincolnshire, offered to send Faith her own individually designed initial art frame and, as you can see, she was very pleased with the finished piece.

The idea appealed to me for several reasons – I love words and letters, button is a term of endearment I often use for all three of my minis and it’s always lovely to have something personalised and individual appropriate to your unique child.

And the frame lived up to those expectations too.  The natural wooden frame can be freestanding or hung on a wall and came very securely padded in a mailing box surviving two deliveries in our case as a neighbour was kind enough to receive it for us when we missed the postman.

The mix of buttons sizes, shapes and shades is lovely and I like the 3D dimension to the nature of the craft.  I think most parents would love the heart button but, as Faith is currently waiting for a heart operation, it has extra significance to us and I like its prominent placing.  There is a bow button, flowers and the butterfly would definitely currently be a winner with Faith’s older sister.

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The frames currently come in either pink or blue.  I’m quite a fan of using other colours too and Sarah says this is something she’d consider in the future although it’s understandable why those two colours are the mainstays in her button stash.  Plus when I was trying to think of a colour that begins with f as well I just came up with fuchsia anyway!

I’m sure it will make a lovely feature to her bedroom wall for years to come.

As well as initials, Sarah’s designs also include a family tree, ballerina, heart, the words home and love and an apple perfect for a teacher thank you present.  Find out more at Bertie Bear Button Art.

If you’d like a unique letter button frame made for your mini one or would like to buy any of her artworks as a gift then Sarah is offering The Mini Malpi readers 25% off their order.   Use the code THEMINIMALPI25 in her Etsy store at to claim your discount.  And we’d love to see your photos of your little one with their own art piece too so don’t forget to tweet us @TheMiniMalpi.

Fourth birthday celebrations are picture perfect

Like Luke, many of his friends having been turning 4 in recent months so he’s been a bit of a social butterfly taking in all their birthday celebrations.

Soft play centres, open farms and family homes have all provided the back drops for stampeding hoards of sugar-fuelled preschoolers to mark their friend’s special occasion.

But it was another slightly different fourth birthday that recently helped to showcase a Lincoln venue’s celebratory credentials.

Lincoln Mums, an online magazine dedicated to providing support, guidance and information for parents in the local area along with a few helpful membership discounts and offers, chose to mark its fourth birthday at The Collection in Lincoln.

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Also marking the second anniversary of Emma Crellin taking on the Lincoln Mums mantle, Emma joined forces with The Collection’s party team to put on a few extra activities for the museum’s younger weekend visitors, displays of party food and had lots of local information on hand for their older chaperones to pick up.  There was even a party bag (or “party present” as Luke likes to call them) to take home with you!

We also took advantage of the opportunity to pick up a new leaflet detailing The Collection’s children’s birthday party offerings because Luke and Willow are starring on the front of it!

The mini ones are fans of the children’s room at the front of the museum, as well as of having a good hands on run around the main displays, and don’t need too much encouragement to dress up which makes for a happy mummy.

So when we read on Lincoln Mums Facebook page that the museum was looking for willing participants for a promotional photoshoot we volunteered the mini ones.  Daddy and Mummy Malpi were asked to participate too but we ended up being saved from the camera lens by being a bit busy on the day welcoming Faith into the world.

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The photos were taken by Stuart Wilde Photography and, while realise we might be a bit biased, we think Luke and Willow make very cute knights.

The Lincoln Mums Expo 2017 will take place on Saturday, March 4th.

Happy birthday and anniversary Lincoln Mums and Emma!

(Guess who else is celebrating their fourth birthday – it’s Sarah and Duck!)

On the second weekend of Christmas…

Christmas was put on hold at the start of last weekend in favour of all things second birthday related.

I can’t believe Willow is already 2!

She’s fairly sure she’s already 14 and certainly approves of presents and cake so is sure to be looking forward to many more birthdays to come but such occasions always make me want to grab hold of the earth and slow it down a little, keep my mini ones mini a bit longer.

Time has gone even faster with Willow than with Luke, I fear if we blink we’ll open our eyes to our third baby’s 18th birthday.

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We didn’t have to think too hard about what to treat her to and her new kitchen seems to have gone down very well so far – just as well considering the furniture moving it took to fit it in.  Fortunately the size of it has meant that brother and sister have been able to share it relatively amicably so far too.  Hopefully, as soon as their legs allow, they’ll be replicating what they’re currently practising for real in the kitchen behind that wall.  Luke’s insistence on doing some baking in the last couple of days has given me hope (as well as fairy cakes)!

santalukeSunday included more presents for Willow from friends and family but also featured Christmas in large again as we took part in the Lincoln Santa Fun Run.

Daddy has done it in the past on his own but last year we did it as a family for the first time.  Despite it being just a little bit of a stretch too far in the end (Finishing last didn’t stop it being a fun run) it was clear that this type of event is very much Luke’s thing.

This year the excitement started early as we tried their Santa outfits on to make sure they still fitted ahead of the race, and told them that grandmum, grandma and pops would be joining us this time too, and we had to keep reiterating that it wasn’t going to take place that day (or the next…).

santa2aFortunately his enthusiasm hadn’t waned when the day came and it made a mummy’s heart swell to see him in his element skipping, spinning and ho ho ho-ing leading our way to the starting line.

And what a difference a year makes to a mini one.  Managing to determinedly walk most of the way in 2015 scraping through at the end as they were packing up, 2016 saw him run three quarters of the way with daddy, arriving well within the melee reaching for their water bottles and impressive medals.

2016 and Daddy saw him run it anyway – this mummy carrying a two year old on her back and sporting a 32-week pregnant tummy on her front was quite happy to take a more ambling approach, taking in the atmosphere and all the fun variants people made to their, their children’s and their dogs’ costumes.

Willow, a very savvy lass, took an even more relaxed approach to the event, deciding once again to sleep through most of it, preserving her energy for further present opening and cake eating in the afternoon.

As well as last year’s and this year’s Santa Run, she’s also slept through last year’s Race for Life and was in the womb for the year before’s – she’s definitely worked out the best way to complete these events.

As a family we’ve also taken part in a Sports Relief Mile and it would be lovely to find more family-friendly events like these where we can indulge Luke’s need for speed with an added bit of spectacle.

We ran out of weekend quickly too which means we still haven’t started most of our Christmas shopping or fetched the decorations down from the attic let alone put them up – but there’s still two weekends left aren’t there…?