14 August 2022

WONDERBLY - are the personalised stories & books for children really so wonderful and - most importantly - worth it?

Hi Everyone,

If you have come across Wonderbly books before, you probably wondered if they indeed are as wonderful as the name suggests, right? What makes them special? Are they worth the expense? 

Before I start my review, I would like to come clean - I have recently become a Wonderbly Ambassador, and I am writing this review with that role in mind, however - as you'll read in the next few moments, I have been a big fan of their stories for years now (hence why I became the Ambassador in the first place - I have been stalking their brand for a good while & using/buying their products, too!), and so I can assure you that my review is absolutely honest, and the opinions (both good & bad!) are my own. 


How it all started... 

I came across the Wonderbly website a few years ago, and I fell in love with the idea. A one of a kind personalised book with original artwork, printed just for the recipient - what's not to love?!

Back then, only a handful of stories were available, but even they were enough to get me interested. "The little girl/boy who lost her/his name" seemed so fun!

I ordered one as a christening gift for a friend's baby, just to try it out, and... I got hooked! I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the books, too. After the first order, I must have made at least 5 or 6 more, before I had kids of my own and could finally have my own children become the protagonists of the stories...


What I like:

1. Personalisation is of course the number 1 factor for opting for these books - it's extremely exciting for kids to see their own name and a little character that looks very much like themselves feature in the stories. When my kids were very little - I was probably more excited than them about this fact, let's be honest, but as they grew bigger, their excitement kept growing, too! My daughters are 4 & 7 now, and they are both equally enthusiastic and curious about the stories & artwork. "How did they know what I look like, Mama? How did they know that I am older/younger?". Every time the stories are read in our household (and it's VERY often, trust me!), the wondering begins... One thing to note here is that not all stories have the same level of personalisation, so if you're after a lot of information specific to the recipient, as well as the possibility to really customise the physical characteristics of the protagonist - you might want to play around with the various available stories, to find what you're after!

2. Preview: when making my first order, I was quite surprised that I got to preview the whole story before committing to my purchase - I would have expected to be able to read a few lines from random pages, but being able to see everything page by page was new to me. I really enjoy this feature, as it helps me determine whether or not the story I am after will be a good fit for its recipient(s).

3. Options for siblings: the newest addition to our own Wonderbly book collection is "That's my cake" - it's one of the options where siblings are featured together in the same story. It's been a real hit with my girls - they are literally squealing with excitement whenever we reach for this book, and they know their respective characters' lines by heart - I don't even need to read half of the story anymore, LOL! It has definitely made our evening story time much calmer, as there is no fighting over whether it is "a story for babies" or "too boring cause I am too little for it". Plus, you get more value for your money, too (since it can be gifted to more than one child), which is always a bonus in my eyes.

4. Artwork & quality: this is a bit of a tricky one, as art is obviously very subjective. I must admit, I personally find some of the characters in the stories and some of the colour choices a bit scary/gloomy, but to be perfectly honest - my kids have never seen these that way! So maybe it's just an age thing? Not sure, but either way - most of the illustrations that I have seen so far are truly wonderful, original and fun, and - like I previously mentioned - the quality of the books is really great, too! 

5. Free note/dedication: as if getting a story personalised with your own details was not enough, Wonderbly also let the purchaser add a free note/dedication at the start of the book. They even help with some really lovely and thoughtful suggestions on what the message could be (which varies, depending on the story you're ordering)! In my opinion, it makes the books even more special. 

6. Soft/hard cover: it's lovely to have the option to decide whether the book should have a soft or hard cover. We have tried both, and either option appears to be really durable, but of course the hard cover makes the books present themselves on the bookshelf even better!

7. Language variety: I absolutely love the fact that the stories can be ordered in various languages - I have friends all over the world (and I am sure that I'm not the only one!), and it is great to be able to surprise them & their little ones with a present in their native language. I have tried a few of the available options so far, and have been told by the recipients that the translations were really well done, so I can only hope that it's the case for all of them!

8. Age variety: you can find a story suitable for pretty much everyone amongst the Wonderbly collection at this stage (teenagers might be a bit tricky, but then again - teenagers are tricky to please anyway, LOL) - and they don't even cater only for children anymore; there are options for adults, too (including Grandparents)! I am yet to try these out, so I cannot comment much on them, but the ones currently available look really fun, and Wonderbly's offer keeps expanding every so often! 


Are there any cons...?

1. Price: let's address the elephant in the room - these books are definitely not cheap! And even though we really enjoy them, we probably won't own the whole collection (especially as they keep coming out with sooooo many fun new options!). However, I find these to be a great gift/keepsake for special occasions, and this is precisely the reason why I have been and will be purchasing these. I have honestly gifted more of these than I have purchased for our own family - maybe I should start saving on gifts for others? ;o)

2. Artwork: because of the subjectivity of the interpretation of artwork, I am putting this category in both the pros and cons. As stated above, I personally found some of the colour & character choices potentially a little bit scary (for kids, not for me!), but it's important for me to write it again - my kids don't see these the same way I do. That being said, other kids might react to them differently. 

3. Rhymes & rhythm: at times, I find some of the lines a little bit clunky - the rhymes are not ideal, and the rhythm just isn't quite there. However, these are in a minority, thankfully, and to be honest - they are not the only stories that sometimes struggle with such issues (or maybe I'm just too harsh & picky?!).

4. Missing Polish translations: this might sound really random and at the same time overly specific, but as a native Polish person - I am very much missing the possibility of being able to order the Wonderbly stories in Polish, both for my own kids as well as for my friends'. I am aware that many other languages are obviously overlooked also, but - since this is MY review - I am sticking to MY pros & cons! :o) Not all of the stories appear to be currently available in the 12 languages Wonerbly are offering either - fingers crossed that this will change over time! 


In conclusion:

Pricing is a very important factor for me, so I will definitely keep buying these and gifting them to the special people in my life, but they will be purchased for special occasions & as a treat for my own kids. I hope that they will keep bringing as much joy & excitement to all the recipients as they have been so far! 


Do I/we have a favourite?

Our current favourite is "That's my cake", and there are a good few reasons for it: firstly, it's the newest addition to our collection, and we all know that new usually equals the most exciting in children's world. Secondly, it's fascinating to my girls that they are both featured in the story (it's the first Wonderbly story for siblings that we have), and that there are so many details in the book that they can relate to and are about them (loving the age difference facts!). Personally, my favourite part is that the book teaches them to work together and to share, and we have started referencing to the story in our every day life when having trouble with the above (and it is helping!), which is a big bonus. Finally, we have the hard cover version of the book, and it's simply sooooo pretty! :o) 




If you are new to Wonderbly, however, and want to get a book for just one special little person in your life - the "Lost My Name" series is a bestseller for a reason & is available in loads of languages, too - everyone loves to see their name spelled in a book! 


The fun part:

If you are still reading - I hope that you enjoyed my review, and that it helped you decide whether or not the Wonderbly books are for you (they're worth a try, trust me!). If you have any questions - please let me know in the comments, or via the "contact me" form. 

If you would like a bit of help with the cost - I have a 15% discount code that can be used towards your entire purchase on the Wonderbly website. Please note that the code is only valid for a certain amount of time & uses, so if you have tried it and it's not working - again, please contact me either via the comments or the "contact me" form, and I will do my best to get you a new one! Current code: W2QPWJ2 (as previously stated, I am currently affiliated with the brand, so your purchase using my code will result in me getting a small commission from the sale, but this is absolutely at no additional cost to you!). 

Finally, if you are interested in becoming a Wonderbly Ambassador yourself - let me know, and I can help you get started! 


I hope you and your kids get to enjoy these fun & magical stories together,

Stay safe,

Mirella


21 July 2022

Get Cracking on Christmas 2022 - Christmas in July

Hi Everyone,

I think I write this every month, but somehow time seems to be totally flying - can you believe that it's July already?! 

This July is a special & quite complex one for our little family - it's my birthday month (there was no time for big celebrations, but maybe next year!), but also the month when we finally get to move houses, have many friends and family from abroad visiting, and when my youngest daughter will need a few procedures done in the hospital. Lots of positive excitement, stress, a bit of anxiety... but I am staying positive, and fingers crossed that I'll have nothing but good news for you in August! Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, please. 

In terms of crafting, 2022 has been pretty poor for me so far, due to other things happening in our lives, but I am excited to create a little crafty nook for myself in our new house, and hopefully at least some aspects will become less hectic now... Lots of (probably years of) renovations ahead of us, so let's see how it all pans out! 

If you are unfamiliar with the Get Cracking on Christmas initiative, please check out Jenn Shurkus's blog here

This month, we are celebrating "Christmas in July", and so some of us might have sweet surprises/giveaways for you! Want to know what mine is? Keep reading! 

I have a relatively simple card to share with you today, but I have to say - I am really loving the result, and might make a few more in various colour combos & even backgrounds made with various mediums! 

As you know, I have only recently started playing with alcohol inks (yes, I am totally late to that party!), and - whilst I was practising - I ended up making quite a lot of various backgrounds. One of these got used for today's creation. 

I am generally a fun/cute critter and a punny sentiment kind of gal, but today it's all about the traditional sentiment, bling and... not so 100% traditional colours! In fact, when my daughter saw the finished card, she was first mesmerised by all the bling, but then she asked "Why is there no red colour, mama?"... Well here you go, I am a rule breaker! LOL

This fun sentiment stamp is by Trinity Stamps, and since I love its price point and potential - I I wanted to share it with you early enough in the year, before it sells out closer to Christmas! 





I hope you enjoyed this bling galore! Do you think non-traditional Christmas colours are okay, or are you personally more about the reds, the greens and the gold? I, actually, am a bit of both!

====

And now, for the GIVEAWAY part (for those of you who participated last year - I am keeping it the same, as everyone seems to really enjoy this idea!)...

I am giving away 1 stamp set (with coordinating dies, if applicable) or 1 die set, up to the value of €15, from my Instagram Destash Page (@destashbymirella) - so the real value of the item you choose might be much higher than that, really, since my destash prices are of course already reduced in comparison to the original prices of the products. There are both new and used stamps/dies there, so it's up to you what you want to choose!

Rules?

- be my follower on Instagram (@handmadebymirella), following my destash page (@destashbymirella) or this blog is optional but always welcome :o)

- leave me a comment here, letting me know what caught your eye on the destash page (that doesn't mean that this is what you have to choose as your prize if you are the winner - we can agree on that later)

- I will choose the winner on the 6th of August, and announce them here in this blog post. The winner will then have 2 weeks to contact me, via the "Contact me" tab on the blog

- Please note that I cannot guarantee that all of the items currently listed on my destash page will still be available there on and after August 6th, since I might make sales from it in the meantime. But I do hope that you will find something for yourself there either way :o)

- open internationally, if for some reason I am unable to post the prize out, due to Covid 19 restrictions or others, we'll come up with a solution, I'm sure!

Winner [post edited on August 6th]:

Thank you so much for commenting & participating in my giveaway! The random number generator chose comment number 5 as the winner, so Janis - congratulations, and please contact me with your name & address details, as well as the prize you would like me to send your way! :o)

Stay safe and crafty Peeps, and good luck with the giveaway

Mirella


SUPPLY LIST (please see affiliate disclaimer & essential supplies info here):

FROM TRINITY STAMPS:

Jingle all the way stamp set


FROM SCRAPBOOK.COM:


Ranger Ink - Tim Holtz - Adirondack Alcohol Ink - Meadow Ranger Ink - Tim Holtz - Adirondack Alcohol Ink - Stream Ranger Ink - Tim Holtz - Alcohol Inks - Cobalt Ranger Ink - Tim Holtz - Adirondack Alcohol Ink Cardstock Pack - 4.25 x 5.5 Ranger Ink - Tim Holtz - Alcohol Ink - Air Blower Ranger Ink - Tim Holtz - Alcohol Blending Solution Ranger Ink - Tim Holtz - Alcohol Blending Solution - 2 Oz Waffle Flower Crafts - Craft Dies - A2 Layers  


FROM SIMON SAYS STAMP:

Trinity Stamps: Jingle all the way stamp set (sorry, no photo for some reason!)

Waffle Flower A2 Layers dies (sorry, no pic for some reason!)

Studio Katia: Gold sparkle crystals (as above!)

Tim Holtz Alcohol Ink MEADOW Ranger TIM22084 Tim Holtz Alcohol Ink STREAM Ranger TIM22206 Tim Holtz Alcohol Ink COBALT Ranger tal70139 Tim Holtz ALCOHOL INK CARDSTOCK Ranger TAC30027 Tim Holtz ALCOHOL INK AIR BLOWER Ranger tac69096 Tim Holtz Ranger ALCOHOL BLENDING SOLUTION Ink TIM19800 Neenah Classic Crest 110 LB SMOOTH SOLAR WHITE Paper Pack 25 Sheets Tsukineko Versamark EMBOSS INK PAD Watermark VM-001 Brutus Monroe ALABASTER Ultra Fine Embossing Powder BRU2470 WOW DUAL SPEED HEAT TOOL WZHT-USA Tonic HONEY GOLD Mirror Card Satin Cardstock 9487E Simon Says Stamp Card Stock 100# FOG Gray FG27 Studio Katia EMBELLISHMENT WAND sk014 Ranger .5 Oz. MINI MULTI MEDIUM MATTE Glue INK41511 Quilled Creations PRECISION TIP Empty Applicator Bottle 317 Lawn Fawn STAMP SHAMMY Cleaner LF1045 MISTI PRECISION STAMPER Stamping Tool Kit MISTI MOUSE PAD INSERT 000144 Tim Holtz Tonic MAXI GUILLOTINE COMFORT PAPER TRIMMER 1980e Sizzix BIG SHOT MACHINE Gray And White 660425


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