Colour together – our favourite colouring books and materials

Last year, I wrote about how Little E and I have been completing printable colouring pages together and how much fun we have been having.

Well, for Christmas, we received a ton of beautiful colouring books! It takes Little E and I a few days to complete one page in a colouring book (if we are colouring carefully) so it’s going to take us AGES to finish all the colouring books that we have received!

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A golden hour of colouring on the floor

There are a ton of awesome colouring books available on the market right now, but here are some of our favourite ‘colour together’ books:

1. Enchanted Forest: An Inky Quest & Coloring Book

Johanna Basford has three colouring books in print, but this one is my favourite for colouring with Little E. Unlike most other forest or garden-themed books, this one is not limited to floral or repeated patterns, but has beautiful forest animals, insects, and castles in it as well. Little E likes to tell stories as we colour about the creatures in each page, so it keeps things interesting!

(You can find links to Johanna Basford’s free colouring printables here)

2. Vive Le Color! Japan 

This is a great little square book – just about 7×7 inches – which makes it very easy to carry around! The illustrations are all based on Japanese motifs and are very intricate, but the smaller book size means that each page doesn’t take too long to colour so you and your little one won’t get tired out so quickly! This would also make a great take-along book for long journeys (or long wedding dinners).

I like the detachable pages which makes it super easy to remove each one for framing. Each page is made from thick card stock paper and is only printed on one size means that you can use whatever you want to colour them in without worrying about the ink bleeding through, and you can even turn each one into a greeting card or postcard once they are completed!


3. Tropical World: A Coloring Book Adventure 

I love this book for the tropical animals featured in it which are easily identifiable. This is a good book for winding down after a day out to the zoo or bird park (or a rainy day in). There are also a few pages in the book which give you some space to fill in your own patterns and details, which is great for encouraging your kids to be creative with you in finishing the page in a way that is completely unique!

(You can find links to Millie Marotta’s free colouring pages here)

4. Creative Haven Steampunk Fashions Coloring Book 
You may remember that I linked to a few of Marty Noble’s free colouring pages in my previous post, and she has made loads of really lovely colouring books. I have to admit that I picked this book solely because Little E is a budding fashionista and LOVES her pretty dresses, which is why I picked the Steampunk fashion genre for their edgy and over-the-top style which is flattering without being overly racy or girly!

5. Words to Live By: Creative hand-lettering, coloring, and inspirations
Here’s another colouring book by a lady whose free colouring pages I linked to in my previous post. Dawn Nicole is a hand lettering specialist so each page features an interesting slogan. This is super for budding readers learning their letters and is wonderful for spring boarding a meaningful discussion during a golden colouring hour!
6. Doctor Who Coloring Book

It’s a Doctor Who Colouring Book. *woohoo*

By the way, if you are wondering which pens and colouring pencils we are using at the moment, here they are:


1. Staedtler Color Pen Set, Set of 36 Assorted Colors (Triplus Fineliner Pens)
These are beautiful marker pens – they don’t bleed through a page, they don’t smear, and best of all, they have a nice triangular shape to encourage a good writing grip in little ones. The fine, smooth tip means that Little E can fill in even the tiniest details in a colouring book!

2. Staedtler Colored Pencils, 36 Colors (144ND36)

I like these particular colouring pencils because they not only have a good pencil lead with a brilliant colour which is wonderful for little ones, but they also feature an anti-break coating that ACTUALLY WORKS. I cannot tell you the number of times we have ruined a cheap colour pencil by letting it roll off the table. These colour pencils have never once broken, no matter how many times we’ve dropped them. They are worth every cent!

Author Showcase: Satoshi Kitamura

We at Owls Well are completely unapologetic about receiving hand-me-downs, especially when those hand-me-downs include awesome books by awesome authors!

Satoshi Kitamura is a Japanese author-illustrator and his bright and bold, incredibly detailed watercolour pictures are sure to captivate even the youngest reader in the household.

I particularly love his quirky stories featuring funny animal characters presented in a comic-book style. It also has interactive components that oftentimes cannot be reproduced on other forms of media!

For example, the book, What’s Wrong With My Hair?, features cutouts that make for tons of fun when reading it with the little ones. This is one of Thumper’s current favourites and we take turns sticking our faces through the holes in the book! He laughs like mad and sometimes tries to talk to the picture on the facing page.

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Can your Kindle do this?

It is this very book that inspired J to make his own cardboard cutout Photo Booth years ago.  I think it’s a great way to get kids crafting on their own using recycled materials.

I also really enjoy reading this kooky story about a boy who wakes up one morning and has switched bodies with his pet cat. Elijah Wood does a brilliant job of reading this hilarious book on Storyline Online (where you can find hundreds of other videos of celebrities reading great storybooks)

If you’re looking for a really fun book for a little one that you know, check out the links below!

Get Me and My Cat? by Satoshi Kitamura here

Get What’s Wrong With My Hair? by Satoshi Kitamura here

Find books by Satoshi Kitamura on Amazon

Find books by Satoshi Kitamura on The Groovy Giraffe 

(Amazon and The Groovy Giraffe are our favourite online bookstores for buying children’s board books! Thank you for supporting the sponsors that make Owls Well possible.)

A week at Owls Well

When A Becky Lee and I started up Owls Well, our idea was to have a project that the two of us can work on together, despite being in different countries and leading different lifestyles. It is a way for us to grow together as sisters, and a way for us to have a shared experience.

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Although we do try to stick to a ‘three posts a week’ schedule, our responsibilities to our own families will take precedence over writing updates. For myself, I have some flexibility of time as a RAWK-mum with which to use for writing, which is why you quite often see me posting more than A Becky Lee.

Having a flexible schedule as a RAWK-mum doesn’t mean that I have a lot of ‘free’ time to do whatever I wish, as my children’s schedules are fixed. My own schedule flows around their fixed schedules.

During these precious pockets of time that I have, I don’t spend all of it working on my blog. I divide my time between running the household, volunteering at J and Little E’s school (often with Thumper in tow), and making sure that I stay in touch with my friends.

I have been very fortunate that maintaining a blog and having a reputation as a ‘mummy blogger’ has allowed me access to experiences that would otherwise not be open to us as a single-income family.

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However, I have to be selective in what I choose to accept, which does often mean that I will turn down many good blogging opportunities that require me to compromise on my duties as a mum. For example, I may turn down a weekday lunchtime or teatime event if it means I won’t be able to pick up J from school or send Little E to her ballet class.

As for finding the time to write, when the children are awake and with me, I have to make the effort to be fully present for them. This means the usual things that any other parent would do – help with homework, supervise them in their daily activities, make sure that they are healthy and well nourished in mind and body.

I can occasionally do a little bit of photo-editing when I am helping J with homework, or when Little E and Thumper are playing on their own, but I find that I write better when I can spend an hour or so just typing away at the keyboard. I’m not the kind of blogger who can post from a phone. My sausage fingers cannot manage the touchscreen keypad.

For me, this means that the two best times for me to write during the week are:

  1. During Thumper’s morning nap when J and Little E are at school
  2. In the evenings after the kids have gone to bed.

The former is heavily dependant on whether or not Thumper decides to have a morning nap at all. Sometimes if he doesn’t nap, I can occasionally still do a try quick blog-related activity like taking product photos, but really, Thumper needs my attention face-to-face, not through a camera lens.

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As for blogging after the kids have gone to bed, I have very limited brain power and energy by the end of the day. If I choose to use up all my remaining brainpower and energy in the night on my blog either writing or editing photos or videos, it means that I don’t use it on the Barn Owl.

So if I am writing, our evening will go something like this:

Barn Owl: So, something important happened to me today.

Debs G: *typing* uh-huh

Barn Owl: It was super-important.

Debs G: *clicking on things* uh-huh

Barn Owl: Blah blah blah blah blah

Debs G: *drag and drop* uh-huh

Barn Owl: And then, blah blah blah blah

Debs G: *proofreading* uh-huh

Barn Owl: So, what do you think?

Debs G: *clicks publish* YES!

Barn Owl: Yes, what?

Debs G: Huh, what?

Barn Owl: You said “Yes.”

Debs G: Oh, sorry, I wasn’t listening. *yawns* What were you saying?

Barn Owl: I was just saying that something super-important happened to me today.

Debs G: *no response because fallen asleep*

As you may imagine, this is frustrating for the Barn Owl as well as for myself, when I fail to remember super-important things that he’s apparently told me about at length. Marriage maintenance is also high on my list of Daily Things To Do!

One other thing that I do during the week, is get A Becky Lee to proofread and critique each post as it becomes ready, and then I make changes. I do the same for her as well. This way, the both of us act as each other’s editor, and it forces us to make an effort to talk on the phone or through Skype, or send messages to each other on Facebook or via WhatsApp.

In general, if I am putting out a post, I spend one to two blocks of time choosing and editing photos, two blocks of time writing the text and one block of time proofreading and perfecting it. That is essentially a week’s worth of ‘free’ time!

12512437_10153456388318589_1791272993974019435_nThis post is part of a blog train hosted by Singapore Parent Bloggers! Click on the photo above to check out how other blogger moms and dads use their time throughout the week.

Shub from Rainbow Diaries

It’s Shub!

Tomorrow, the blog train continues with Shub from Rainbow Diaries. Shub is a mom to 2 wonderful kids, wife to a very supportive hubby, an IT professional and a multitasker. This multi-tasking ability makes her write RainbowDiaries, which is Parenting, Lifestyle and Food blog site created to explore the whole new and enchanting world of social media. Click here to read her post!

And with one thing and another…

…one month passed.

Okay, I am aware that I have been completely neglectful of Owls Well this past month but excuses!

Regular programming will resume soon. Promise!

In the meantime, I have just discovered the magic of Instagram – my Instagram handle is @4owlswell – where you can find some badly taken, low-res photos of what I have been up to lately.

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A Conversation about Bread

Debs G: A Becky Lee!  I need your blueberry cobbler recipe for the challenge!

A Becky Lee: I don’t know if I have it at the moment because I use Mrs Beeton’s Cookbook and it’s stashed away in a box somewhere… but from memory, it’s flour, milk, sugar, blueberries… and I’m not sure if we need eggs, but it does need a binding agent… let me check… Yes, yes it needs eggs.

Debs G: What else would I use other than eggs?!

A Becky Lee: Well, Iunno, blood?

Debs G:  WHAT?!

A Becky Lee: It’s a good binding agent!  It’s got albuluminimumuninm in it like eggs do!

Debs G:  You mean Albumin?

A Becky Lee: Yeah!  Apparently egg albumin and blood albumin is pretty much the same, and you can use blood for when people have egg allergies.  My friend Tatya, you know, the one who is super into Medieval cooking is all excited about this because some archaeologists unearthed an ancient bread that was made out of blood in some battlefield somewhere.  It was super high in protein and stuff.

Debs G: You mean, the soldier bled into the bread and it got preserved?

A Becky Lee: No, it was made with blood.

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BLOOD!

Debs G:  You mean, the soldier died and the bread was on the battlefield and soaked up all the blood like some kind of wheaty vampire.  Anyway, where is Tatya getting this blood from?

A Becky Lee: … a butcher…?

Debs G:  Oh, yeah.  She was probably using cow blood.  I guess you could that from a butcher.

A Becky Lee:  What else kind of blood did you think she was using?

Debs G:  Iunno.  Human?

A Becky Lee:  WHY WOULD SHE USE HUMAN BLOOD?!  That’s disgusting!  We don’t want to get Kuru!

Debs G:  You can’t get Kuru from eating blood!  You can only get it from eating raw human brains!

A Becky Lee:  Well, you can also get it from cornea transplants…

A Becky Lee: … from people who eat raw brains…

Debs G: Exactly.

Our family has some strange conversations sometimes.  Incidentally, for those of you interested in making the Viking Blood Bread, Tatya recommends the recipe from An Early Meal – A Viking Age Cookbook & Culinary Odyssey by Daniel Serra and Hanna Tunberg.


 

Tatya’s Addendum:  I couldn’t find a butcher to get me clean blood, so I got the blood from a friend when they had a sheep slaughtered.  The kitchen looked like vikings had marauded through it with one hapless Christian monk.  (Only one monk because there wasn’t that much blood)

Deep Conversations with a 5 year old girl (or, Little E packs for a trip)

Little E taking a breather and recovering from earlier traumasDebs G: Okay Little E, I want you to go and choose two pairs of shorts and two pairs of trousers and bring them to me.

Little E: Can I choose a skirt too?

Debs G: Yes, you can bring one skirt.

Little E: (rummages in cupboard) Okay, here they are, Mummy!

Debs G: Okay, um…now, how many shorts are here?!

Little E: Five. And one flower skirt. And one pair of jeans. And also these leggings.

Debs G: Okay, we only needed two pairs of shorts, but never mind, I guess if you have leggings and jeans you don’t really need another pair of trousers. (packs them all in the bag) What…what are you doing?

Little E: (rummaging in cupboard) I am getting some tee shirts.

Debs G: Good thinking! You need three tops.

Little E: Okay, here they are, Mummy!

Debs G: Um…right, how many tops are here? There’s eight. You only need three tops. Choose three.

Little E: Okay. I choose these three tee shirts.

Debs G: Good good good…

Little E: And also this Hello Kitty one with the long sleeves.

Debs G: Er…okay. I guess the Hello Kitty one is cute.

Little E: And also this one with the flower that is like the flower skirt.

Debs G: That’s uh…that’s five tops. Okay never mind. I guess you can layer some of these if it gets cold. Now, can you choose one dress to bring.

Little E: Okay, here Mummy!

Debs G: Whoa, that’s fast! But wait now, look here, that is not ONE dress, that is five dresses. Can you just choose one?

Little E: Okay, Mummy! I choose this butterfly one! Look, it is nice and cool and pretty.

Debs G: Very nice! Let’s put that in the suitcase here.

Little E: If it’s cold, I can wear this other blue one, and I can wear the Hello Kitty top underneath it and I will be warm and cosy.

Debs G: Fine, FINE, FINE!

Little E: Also, I can wear this cardigan, this jumper, and these woolly tights. In case it gets cold.

Debs G: Fine, FINE, FINE!!

Little E: And also I can wear this other skirt! And my fancy blouse!

Debs G gives up completely on packing light

 

 

Meeting Old and New Friends at NewCon

People who roleplay tend to be a shy bunch, so they’re not always super-easy to find.  I met most of my best friends at roleplaying conventions.  They’re a great and (usually) safe place to meet up with other people who are interested in the same things that I am.  Since I’ve only recently moved into the Newcastle area, I wanted to get in with other gamers in Newcastle and hoped that I could attend a convention or similar gathering to meet some.

Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long as roleplayers in Newcastle had been clamouring for a roleplaying convention of their own.  NewCon, the Newcastle Roleplaying Convention, just started this year and the Boobook and I had a wonderful time attending.

For those of you who haven’t heard about roleplaying, it is, in its most basic form, a shared storytelling experience.  People pretend to be various characters within the story and go on imagined adventures together.  There are many different types of rules and story settings for this sort of game, though the most famous of these would be Wizards of the Coast’s  ever-popular Dungeons and Dragons fantasy setting.

The convention was held at the local leagues club and entry fees weren’t very steep – just a gold coin donation to your choice of charity (Beyond Blue or White Ribbon) and away you go!

While I was at the convention, I ran two games of Engine Heart, a free setting about robots.  In it, my 5 players took on the bodies of 5 little household robots, as they worked together to escape the house that they were trapped in.

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The map means nothing!

We had a lot of laughs and it was interesting to see how different people came up with different solutions to the robots’ main problem of figuring out how to turn a doorknob when none of them had hands.

I played a few games too – Droo and I had a go at trying out Fiasco, a crime caper simulation game that randomises characters and settings for truly unexpected plot twists ala Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Burn After Reading.  We couldn’t stop laughing throughout the game as our crime trio made one blunder after another as their attempt to kidnap a Russian mobster resulted in one of them being tied to a giant teddy bear and paraded around the streets of London atop a Mini Cooper.

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Figuring out what possible stupidity happens next in Fiasco

We also tried some new board games courtesy of Serial Games.  We played several rounds of a competitive board game called Tsuro: The Game of the Path, which proved to be quite entertaining.  The Boobook intends to purchase said game sometime in the future so that we can play it with friends.

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The object is to stay on the board and not collide with anyone else.  This is much easier said than done.

Plus, I got to meet up with a group of Vikings (more on that next week) and even signed up for the local chapter of the International Game Developers Association!

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Vikings from Óðin Hundi

All in all, I had a wonderful time at NewCon 2016.  I’m glad that most of the proceeds of the convention went to charity.  They even had a charity auction of various games.

Thanks to Good Games for running a great convention!  We’ll definitely be back next year!