How to Use Personalised Children’s Books to Make Childhood More Fun

Posted in Hippo Blue
on May 18, 2016
Hippo Blue Low Res (86 of 186) (2)

When you have children in your life, be they your own children or someone else’s, what are your wishes for them? Generally, we wish our wee ones good health and happiness. One way to make them happy is to ensure that they’re having lots of fun. Of course, there’s more to happiness than just having fun, but it’s a pretty good start.

If you need an idea for making your favourite youngsters’ childhood extra fun, you should look into giving them personalised children’s books. Besides making them feel special for having a book that’s about them, you also open up opportunities for plenty of fun. In what ways can your kids use personalised children’s books to have fun? Here are some tips:

  • Read it as a tradition – Having traditions is good for the soul, especially for the young soul. It allows them to have something steadfast in their lives. You could make the reading of their personalised book part of their bedtime or morning routine. You could also suggest that the book be read only when they feel bad. Or you could require that it be read only with a certain type of food or drink like a peanut butter cookie or a hot chocolate. You could even make it a special occasion book, only to be read during birthdays and holidays. It can be your call or their call.
  • Share it with new friends. As awesome as the book is for “Show & Tell,” perhaps your children could share it only when they’re having a new friend over for the first time. It will make a great ice breaker and be fun to read together.
  • Use it for inspiration for adventure. Things may seem more interesting in fiction than in real life, but there’s no doubt that books have inspired many readers to set out and make their own lives extraordinary. How much more effective as an inspiration will a story be that has made your young readers as the main characters?
  • Use it to explore creativity and imagination. If your children are not quite ready to set out on adventures, a personalised book can spark their imagination and perhaps push them to come up with more tales of adventures themselves. They can write, draw, or even just narrate them to a captive audience: you.

A personalised book can certainly ignite a love for reading and traditional books. Some people may not regard reading as a fun activity, but they can’t be more wrong. Through books, children are introduced to fascinating people, places, things, ideas, etc. Without a doubt, reading enriches lives and a childhood is certainly the more fun for it.

What Mum Taught Me: Interview with Sam, Co-Founder of Hippo Blue

Posted in Hippo Blue
on May 7, 2016

1 Tell us a little about your mum.

My parents moved from the UK before they had us, and they ended up never leaving. She didn’t have a lot of skills when she came here, so she started out cleaning houses and working at the markets. In between cleaning houses and raising my sister and me, she managed to get skilled up. Now she’s an Executive Personal Assistant at a major corporation. As a kid, I didn’t know any better, but now I admire her for that. She wanted to provide for her family, and she was able to work her way up.


2 Do you have any special memories of your mum when you were growing up?

We are an outdoorsy sporty family, so we used to go away to the Grampians, Sorrento, and Metung on the weekends. My mum planned the weekend trips for us, even when she was working so hard.


3 What did your mum say when you told her you’re starting a business?

She asked me a lot of questions to make sure I was making the right decisions. She doesn’t want to see her son fail.

Now she always asks me, “What’s your bestseller?”She likes to know how it’s all going. She’s the biggest marketer for Hippo Blue, the only problem is, she markets to people in the UK, and we don’t ship there! Yet :)


4 Are there things your mother taught you that serve you well now as an entrepreneur?

Put other people first. My mum is one of those people who will run herself to the ground to make her friends and family happy. She’s taught me that if I treat others the way I want to be treated, it will always come back to me at the end. When I work with our customers, I ask myself, what would I do, and I always try my best to make her happy.


5 Any special plans for this Mother’s Day?

My mum, my sister and I are going on a Mother’s Walk in the morning in support of breast cancer. With pancakes at the end of the walk (my treat!). We will be going over to my parents’ house for dinner to celebrate.


6 Anything you want to tell your mum?

Thanks…. (thinks for a while). Thanks for making me who I am today. And you can stop buying us things now. Really…

How to Get What You Want This Mother’s Day

Posted in Mumma's World
on April 26, 2016

I pity the partners in these weeks leading up to Mother’s Day.

I know how much trouble my husband goes through to make this day run smoothly. I don’t make it easy for him. Of course, I will always, always appreciate the effort. But I can’t help myself…. While my spoken words are, ”Awwwww, it’s perfect, thank you soooo much!” my inner words are, “Too expensive! Too cheap! Too big! Too little! Too girly! Too plain!” Add to that the challenge of frying pancakes with little ones bouncing off the walls and pulling at each other while trying to shush them so that their mother can sleep in once a year. And having to choose a restaurant that is nice enough to wow the mother but not so nice that we can still dine leisurely with little ones dropping half their meal on the floor.

I say, let’s make it easy for everyone. Do we really need to test their understanding of our unspoken desires? Aren’t we with them today because they passed that test already?

So here it is. How to Get What You Want AND Make Him Feel Like a Rock Star

1.It was his idea. This is a golden rule. Do not forget this. It was HIS brilliant idea.

2.Do your research. Find out which store carries what you want. Again, the idea is to make it as easy as possible for everyone.

3.Start by dropping subtle hints. An example would go something like this. “Jake stretched my favourite sweater, I can’t wear it any more…. You know, the navy blue one from Brand XYZ. I think they still carry it at their online store.” This is where your research comes in handy.

4.If that doesn’t work, drop bolder hints. If you share a computer, leave the browser open with the exact item you want displayed to be “discovered.” If you don’t, leave open a catalogue with the item you want circled a few times, “carelessly” tossed on the kitchen bench next to the coffee machine.

5.If he asks you for ideas, give him some choices. This goes back to point number 1. You don’t want him to feel like a schmuck who just followed his partner’s order. If you give him choices, he can do minimum digging around and still “find” that perfect gift for you.

I hope this works out for you. If this doesn’t works, I’m sorry, you might have to wrap your own gift and hand it to him to give to you next Mother’s Day.

Any other ideas on what to get what you want?


5 Meaningful (and Simple) Anzac Day Activities To Try with Kids

Posted in Kid's World
on April 22, 2016
poppy fingerprint

I want my kids to know that we enjoy the lives we have, not just because mummy and daddy work hard (although this point MUST be drilled in before their teen years), and NOT because they are entitled to it, but because there are heroes we never meet.

My philosophy with these things is to choose activities that are both meaningful and enjoyable. That’s when my kids learn. Here are a few things I’ve done with my kids or that I want to try out this year to commemorate Anzac Day. Some require a bit of planning, and others, just a few moments of silence.

  1. Visit the War Memorial

The War Memorials I have visited are beautiful and peaceful. We visited the Melbourne Shrine of Remembrance when my girl was three. I think the serenity of the grounds affected my little girl as much as it affected me. She walked quietly holding my hand, without complaining. We stood in front of the Sanctuary and bowed our heads. She wanted to know what it was, and I explained to her that it was to remember the brave people who fought for us.

I did this before the actual Anzac Day. As great as it would be to attend the Dawn Service, I have not managed with my little ones. Also, I am wary of the traffic and the parking situation on the actual day. If you have little ones, consider visiting the War Memorial before or after the actual date.

  1. Send a Postcard or an Email to the Troops

I sent a letter to a soldier when I was a little kid, and I actually received a letter back. I will never forget how cool that was. Even if my kid is not as lucky, this is something I would like to try with her this year. They now allow you to email (minutes well spent) or send postcards, so my daughter will definitely be able to connect with the troops. I guess my one-year-old could send his abstract piece as well!

Click here for information on how to send a postcard or letter.

3. Bake Anzac Biscuits

What child does not love squishing their hands in dough, smelling the aroma of fresh baked cookies, and then gobbling up the tasty morsels? For me, the point here is to tell the story of the Anzac Biscuits. The story goes, the wives of the soldiers sent Anzac Biscuits to their husbands abroad because the ingredients held up well. Because my girl is old enough, I asked her questions like, “How do you think the soldier felt when he received the biscuits from his wife?” “Do you think he shared the biscuits with his friends?”

Here is a really easy 4 step Anzac Biscuit recipe you can try out.

Anzac biscuits

4. Fingerprint Poppies

My kids are really into fingerprinting these days, so I know they will enjoy this one. Again, I will talk to them about the significance of poppies. The story goes, during the First World War, red poppies popped up in the battlefields where the soldiers fell and soaked the ground with their blood. The poppies symbolise the sacrifice of shed blood. Umm, that might be a tad heavy for my kids. My daughter couldn’t get past the first ten minutes of The Good Dinosaur, this might make her shriek every time she sees a poppy…. I will keep it to “It shows the love soldiers’ love for us.”

Here is a great Fingerprint to try out – pretty and easy.

5. Honour with a Moment of Silence

Now I know this might be the hardest one on the list, especially if you’re raising a Little Miss or Mr Chatterbox. I pick a time when the whole family is together, and the kids are feeling calm and quiet (I know, it’s a rare moment). Then I tell everyone to close eyes, hold hands, and in our hearts (without speaking), say thank you to the men and women who fought for us. It’s only one or two minutes, and everyone feels thankful afterwards.




Why I Now Order My Kids’ Name Labels

Posted in Kid's World, Simple Life
on April 21, 2016
Hippo Blue Low Res (25 of 186) (1) (1) (1) (1) (1)

I was a Dymo mum. I’m usually pretty picky when it comes to decorating my kids’ things, but my husband had purchased one of those nifty labellers, and it seemed a waste not to use it. I would look wistfully at my kids’ friends’ pretty personalised labels adorning their lunch boxes and water bottles. But then, I reminded myself of that labeller sitting at home. And, I could just see my husband rolling his eyes when he saw the pretty colourful stickers instead of the boring black and white strips.

Then they kept falling off… Both the plastic ones and the iron-on’s. I soon had to make a trip to OfficeWorks to pick up a tape refill. In the sea of tapes (think toothpaste aisle), I picked out the ones that I needed. And gawk! Some of the tapes cost more than the labeller itself! That made me question why the Dymo labels use up so much tape. There’s a couple of centimetres on either side of the name that I have to cut off.

I soldiered on. I put my whole weight on the iron and pressed and pressed the labels. Still peeled off after a few months… I rubbed and rubbed the stickers on to the lunch boxes. Only to have them fall off when I took the boxes out of the dishwasher…

Then I received some hand-me-downs from my friend. Some of them had personalised name labels on them. I tried to peel them off, and guess what? They wouldn’t fall off! Then and there I decided, I was going to stop my battle with my Dymo labeller. It just wasn’t going to cut it for lunch boxes and uniforms. Stuff it, I was done.

With my daughter, I happily browsed the website of a personalised name label company I had heard good things about. There were so many cute designs to choose from. My daughter loved trying out all the different colour and font options.

And they have been good to me. They stay on, like they said they would, and they look darn cute. My husband rolled his eyes, as expected. So I printed out a boring black and white label with his name on it and stuck it on the labeller. Yours to keep! :)