Saturday, 5 December 2009


Its been a while I know but life just seems to get in the way of everything at the moment - it has been a busy few months!

Our tree is up and decorated and looks stunning. We used our outdoor pea lights (50m of them!) rather than fairy lights and I think they look really pretty. The decorations are higgledy-piggledy and have no particular colour scheme - but thats the way I like it. I love the process of taking the decorations down from the attic, slowly unwrapping them, reminiscing about when and where we bought them and then hanging them up. I also love the smell of Christmas trees - brings back so many memories for me (I have a particularly vivid one of my dad getting a pine needle in his eye!).It was especially enjoyable this year as the boys are getting to the age where they understand Christmas and remember decorations/traditions from previous years.

The boys and I made some saltdough tree decorations today that have baked beautifully - just need to be varnished and threaded with ribbon (will share some pictures tomorrow).

Just need to wrap some presents now to sit underneath. I love Christmas!!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Christmas Idea No. 3

I love retro and vintage toys and have been after one of these for ages.
I have finally found and bought one for my son's stocking and I know he will love it. I've already had a play with it, it's strangely addictive!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009


We all went to see Up on Friday for G's birthday and loved it. The thing I love about Pixar films is that they appeal to all ages - there are always small details/jokes included that go over the kids head but are designed for the grown-ups they know will be watching.

The film is extremely sad in parts - heart-tuggingly so, but there is an overall feeling of hope and optimism. As always with Pixar there are some great characters.
My youngest was scared during the storm scene - I think it was the noise more than anything and was a little wriggly in the middle, but other than that it kept us all entertained for a couple of hours.
Would definitely recommend - go and see it now!

Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Happy Birthday my sweet sweet boy.

At five years old, you:
  • Love computers
  • Love books and being read too - favourites at the moment being anything by Roald Dahl, Mo Willems and Quentin Blake
  • Are fascinated by mazes and optical illusions
  • Eat very well and love anything wrapped in pastry (not especially healthy but you love veg too!)
  • Love numbers and counting (you count to 300 every morning on the way to school!)
  • Enjoy listening and moving to music and have the best dance moves I've ever seen by a 5 year old!
  • Love school and are making amazing progress with your reading and writing (and you are so proud of yourself!)
  • Love monsters and anything scary but still get scared by funny little things (like the school teacher in Beegu - although she is pretty scary!)
  • Your favourite animal is a bat
  • Love to explore and pretend to be Indiana Jones
  • Still love to hide (same 3 hiding places everytime)
  • Fight tooth and nail with your little brother but are fiercely loyal and protective of him when others are involved
  • Still love to cuddle, kiss and sit on my lap (and you still insist you are going to live at home with us forever and come and work with me at school when you are grown up, when you're off duty as a super-hero of course!)
  • You are my favourite 5 year old in the whole world and we love you very very much - don't ever change beautiful boy.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Vintage Ladybird books

I found three rather old, rather scruffy ladybird books in a charity shop this week, and I am very excited about them so thought I would share them with you one by one.

I have had a lifelong love affair with Ladybird books because as a child my Mum used to buy me one a week, so as you can imagine we had lots of them! I'm not sure what happened to them all - probably disintegrated form overuse, but have recently been on the search for vintage copies like the ones we used to have. Ladybird books are still going strong today of course, but most no longer have the original illustrations (which hold the most vivid memories for me)nor the original wording.

This is my favourite of the three - 'Talkabout Home'. When I first picked it up (the spine is completly worn away, so I had no idea what it was as I pulled it out of the shelf) I recognised it immediately and it almost made me cry, the memory was so sweet and strong. As I turned the pages I was faced with familiar image after image and it was a wonderful moment for me. I am desparate to show it to someone else who might also remember it so vividly (Matthew? Mum?) - my husband never had this particular one and therfore no memory of it.
Here are a few of favourite pages:

I won't say they don't make them like this anymore because they do - there are so many fantastic children's books about, it's just that this one has special memories for me. It honestly feels like I was reading it yesterday.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Christmas Idea No. 2

I have had an urge for a while now to start collecting and storing the boys artwork in a more effective way. It is currently all over the house and I would like somewhere to put all the best bits. To keep it safe so we can look back over it in the years to come and eventually one day for them to have to show their family.
I have got my eye on these A3 folders for Christmas - knights for son 1 and vehicles for son 2.
By Djeco (again! - I told you their art and craft range is fantastic) and in a range of styles, these A3 folders should do the trick and look good enough to be out on display.

Thursday, 8 October 2009


Dylan our house rabbit is 12 weeks old on Tuesday.

He is such a little darling - very friendly and (generally) well behaved. He is not quite litter trained yet - we are working on that - but is a perfect pet in every other respect.

I would definitely recommend a house rabbit as a pet.

Just look at his cute little face.

Autumn scarf

I crocheted this scarf for one of my bestest friend's birthday, which was yesterday (sorry its late Caroline). I used a self-striping Wendy yarn called Fusion (now discontinued) in Cajun and I am pleased with how it came out. I think it has a real autumny feel to it and I hope it will keep Caroline cosy and warm for many autumns to come.

Happy Birthday sweetie.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Christmas Idea No. 1

I always start thinking about Christmas presents ridiculously early and already have a little list of ideas for my two little boys (and my big boy!), so I thought I would share some with you over the following weeks.

My eldest son (he's 5 next week) really believes he will be a superhero when he is older. He actually thinks it is a career choice and we have had many conversations about what special powers he will have and how he is going to learn them. I really don't want to shatter his illusions just yet - I have started to hint at the fact that firemen, paramedics, coastguards etc could actually be classed as superheros doing what they do everyday - so am happily playing along with it. With that in mind one of these superhero capes would be perfect for him, I just need to decide which colour scheme to go with - they are all so lovely!

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Autumn Collage

Whilst my eldest son was at a birthday party this afternoon, Harper and I went for a nature walk to collect some autumn goodies, with the aim being to create an autumn collage. I loved the idea of the No-glue seasonal collage from the fantastic Kids Craft Weekly blog.

Basically, you arrange some seasonal foliage onto the sticky side of some sticky-backed plastic (not sure of the technical name, its the stuff you get to cover books) then place a piece of paper or card down onto the collage and fold the plastic around it.

Its so quick and easy to do and Harper really enjoyed it.

If your kids enjoy doing craft then you should definitely have a browse through the Kids Craft Weekly blog - there are so many great ideas on there. And, what I love about it is the fact that the projects are so easy and inaffordable to do, lots of them could be done using materials you already have around the house.


I bought these for my son when he turned three in August (because I loved the look of them) and I am pleased to say - he loves them too.

I fix them to his paper with a small bit of sellotape at the top and bottom - which can easily be peeled off when finished, this prevents them from slipping around which can be very frustrating for him!

When drawn in, he then spends time colouring them and embellishing them with felt shapes, feathers, sequins etc.

He has spent hours with these since he got them (my bigger boy likes them too) - his particular favourite is the dinousaur, of course.

They are made by Djeco, a French company, who make lots of fab toys, I love everything in their art and craft range. There are lots of other sets available from dragons to princesses (check out the range at, one of my favourite independent online toyshops), I think Father Christmas might have a few more tucked away in his sleigh for our house this Christmas!

Saturday, 26 September 2009


A day late again, whoops!

Friday, 25 September 2009


I know it's a day late - sorry. Been soooo busy this week.

But here is our first conker of the season (a horse-chestnut - and its chestnut coloured, double whammy!) and my beautiful chestnut-brown-eyed boy.

He refused to put down the pen - he loves my whiteboard markers for drawing big pictures on coloured paper and using his stencils (more about them later.)
Will be back later with the final instalment of colour week - Plum.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


Day 3 of Colour week and here is my offering for Goldenrod.

We planted pumpkin and sunflower seeds in May and this is the only survivor - one lone pumpkin plant. And it's not looking particularly healthy at that!

We don't seem to have much luck when growing from seed - I wonder what we're doing wrong?

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Burnt Sienna

Too tired to talk - not long back from work (school open evening).
I will be more chatty tomorrow I promise.
Hooray for day 2 of colour week!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Brick Red

Meg over at Elsie Marley is hosting a colour week inspired by Crayola colours and the imminent arrival of Autumn.

Today is Brick Red - so here's my contribution.

Father Christmas bought this American style trailer and the wooden blocks for Harper's 2nd Christmas a few years ago.
It is one of my favourite toys of theirs - the kind you don't mind lying around because it looks so great.

Tune in tomorrow for Burnt Sienna.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Dylan's first day

Well, we finally have Dylan here at home with us. We collected him from the breeder today (nightmare journey with two whinging kids and a car about to overheat at any moment - but worth it) and he is so adorable.

I've never had a pet rabbit before. Not only is he beautiful (and softer than anything I've ever felt before) but he's also really friendly and loves his nose strokes and nose kisses!

We let him settle into his cage for a while and have just left the door open this evening. Lo and behold he ventured out and has been exploring all evening.

We love him and he is part of the family already.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Apple flapjacks

I made these today and they are really delicious.

As my new schoolboy has insisted on packed lunches, I have vowed to make a batch of biscuits/bars/cakey things every Sunday to put into lunchboxes.
I've been looking for recipes with a healthy slant and, yes I know, flapjacks are full of butter and sugar (that's way they taste sooooo good!), but they do contain oats and these ones have apple in too. In my book, anything homemade, (no matter how many naughty ingredients are in there) is better than ready made biscuits and snacks piled high with preservatives, additives and goodness knows what else.

Anyway, as I mentioned before, these are amazing.

We were given a big bag of cooking apples and I wanted to use them in some way. I found the perfect recipe here, (I used cinnamon) and believe me - have I mentioned how scrummy they are?

The layer of grated apple (squeeze excess juice out before you use it) goes all gooey once cooked and when mixed with the cinnamon and oats, well what can I say - what a great combination.

To me (I know we're not quite there yet) this is the quintessential taste of Autumn.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Goodbye Summer

As a teacher, September always signals a fresh start for me. Back to school tomorrow (its a PD day) , restocked with plenty of new red pens and ready to get my teeth stuck in.

My son (who starts on Tuesday) has his new uniform labelled and hanging up, and his shiny new shoes all ready to go.

I have to say, after seven long weeks of holiday, I am looking forward to it. I have the utmost respect for full-time stay-at-home Mums, it really is hard work. As much as I have loved spending time with my boys this Summer, it makes me realise how happy I am with the balance I have. Three days of work a week is perfect for me. It sounds ridiculous (and I am sure I will be retracting this after a few weeks!) but I miss the feeling of coming home exhausted and satisfied after a hard day's work.

So, it's goodbye to the Summer and hello to routine and the Autumn term.

Summer 2009

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

When I need cheering up....

I watch this.

Everybody looks so happy. It always gets me jigging.
It must be the Irish blood in me!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Roald Dahl

My eldest son has just about reached the age where he can start to enjoy longer story books. By 'longer' I mean books that have chapters and a few well-placed black and white illustrations - you know the kind. Books that take a few weeks (or even months) to read aloud chapter by chapter, and require him (and me!) to remember what happened in the previous chapters.

We have just finished The BFG by Roald Dahl - which I loved as a child. It was quite a slog at times. The Big Friendly Giant has quite a unique use of language which (although hilarious to an adult) can be quite tricky and tongue-twistering (there's a unique use of language if ever I saw one!) when you are reading aloud to a small boy. My son had to stop me several times to complain because he couldn't understand what the BFG was saying - so I did simplify the dialogue at times. (The BFG's language was apparently inspired by the way Roald Dahl's wife mixed up her words after suffering from a brain tumour). But we enjoyed it, it is a great story, and what a sense of accomplishment we felt when we finished that wonderful final chapter this afternoon.

We have now moved onto The Twits, which I am glad to say is much easier to understand for an almost 5 year old boy. It is also a joy to read out loud, and very funny to boot.

The Twits is quite a short book, so we have already decided that our next adventure will be with Fantastic Mr Fox. Partly inspired by the film due out shortly, (check out the trailer here) and also because I never read it as a child.

It is safe to say that Roald Dahl is widely regarded as one of the greatest children's authors ever - and his books continue to inspire and delight children everywhere. Not just a writer for children though, I was given a copy of this book a few Christmas's ago and it has to be one of my favourite books. It is great to just dip into as well as the fact that every story has a little surprise hidden inside.

Monday, 31 August 2009

I love this .....

I love this. Karen O is the lead singer with The Yeah Yeah Yeah's.

And the film looks amazing - I can't wait!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009


I am a sucker for wooden toys. I just love the feel (and smell - we have a toychest of mainly wooden toys in our dining room and when you lift the lid you get a waft of the most amazing woody smell) of them and love the fact that they will last and last. I envisage my kids being able to hand them down to their children at some point in the future. They can be more expensive than the average plastic toy but definitely worth the investment in my book.

My boys each received one of these from Granny and Grandad last Christmas and they have to be the best quality toy I have ever seen. Extremely well made and also educational. They break apart into three pieces and can only be put back together by slotting the correct shaped pegs into the correct shaped holes. The passengers, wheels and windscreens can also be removed and all the parts can be mixed and matched with other models

The website (click link above) is great - really informative plus you can register your car (they all have unique registration numbers), print off colouring pages and read about the learning benefits.

They are available from several online independent toyshops in the UK - just do a search.
I know a certain small boy who has got his eye on this one.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Geometric designs

Being a maths teacher I am always drawn towards geometric patterns.
I've used this idea with some classes at school for different purposes, but I thought I would try it out with the boys and see what they could come up with.

I gave them an A5 piece of white paper with a border already drawn in. They then had to draw several straight lines (with a ruler) joining any two sides together. My 3 year old needed quite a lot of help with drawing his lines, but the almost 5 year old just needed me to hold the ruler steady for him.

Once the lines were drawn in with black felt pen, they then had to colour in the shapes created in anyway they wanted to. I encouraged them to use different colours and different types of colouring equipment (pencil crayons, wax crayons, oil pastels etc) but they generally made their own decisions, and this is what they did.

The one at the bottom is by my 3 year old - he always has a very clear idea about what he wants to do and there is no swaying him (not necessarily a bad thing - but he can be so stubborn). He loves to cut, stick, tear, smudge, layer colours on top of each other, scratch at surfaces and basically experiment in whatever way occurs to him at the time. I love this about him and hope he always has this side to his personality.

By the way, we have a set of these pencils and they are absolutely fab - gorgeous vibrant colours and shaped to make it easier for small hands. Expensive but worth it.

A proper cup of tea

My Mum bought me this lovely teaset for my birthday last year (thanks Mum!). Its by Whittards and I love it.

However, I realised today how rarely I actually use it.

When you've got two energetic boys vying for your attention it seems such an effort to heat the pot, spoon out the tea leaves, leave to brew, move the cup, saucer and teapot to the table, pour milk into a the milk jug etc.

But when I actually make the effort to do it (when 3 year old is napping and F is happily engrossed in film/book/game) it is so worth it, and I actually enjoy the process of making it properly. And best of all, it tastes (and smells) heavenly!

I had a conversation with my husband recently (prompted by an article in the Guardian a couple of weeks ago) about how happy you can feel when you sit back and really savour and enjoy an experience. By experience I mean everyday, routine rituals like preparing and eating your favourite sandwich, folding up freshly washed clothes, getting into a clean warm bed after a tiring day - you get the idea.

For me making and drinking a proper cup of tea is definitely a ritual that I am going to do more often, I've always believed that its the simple things in life that make you happy.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Meet Dylan

So we have decided to get a rabbit.

Our boys have been desperate for a pet for a while now, so we have decided to get one for our eldest for his upcoming birthday (he will be 5). We would love a dog, but its just not practical at the moment, can't have a cat because G is allergic to them, I'm not a fan of hamsters/gerbils etc, fish can't be cuddled and I definitely don't want anything coldblooded!

I have done a lot of research and although there is some work involved with a rabbit (although not as much as a dog), I think its a great idea.

We have found a lovely baby rabbit from a very helpful breeder (thanks Janette-if you ever read this). He is a mini-rex which means he has a velvety coat rather than a fluffy one and is cute as a button. Here's a pic:

He is only 4 weeks old and has to stay with his mother until at least 8 weeks, so we have a month or so to get ready for him. He is going to be an indoor bunny. They can be litter trained like cats and if handled well from early on will be friendly and sociable. Watch this space for more updates on Dylan Rex.

Friday, 21 August 2009

Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems

These books are great. Mo Willems is a genius in our house! They are funny, just the right length and great for learning readers. My 4 year old can 'read' them all the way through. I say read - it's more like memorise, but thats how they learn isn't it? The illustrations are also hilarious. There is a whole series of them available and new volumes are being released all the time - they don't seem to have caught on in the UK as yet (although you can buy them here), but they are huge in the US.

Mo Willems also writes the Pigeon books - another favourite character in our house. I wasn't impressed when we first borrowed this one from the library but when you've read it a few times it really grows on you, plus the fact that my kids find it side-splittingly funny.

If you like the look of these, check out Mo Willem's website - lots of games, colouring pages and info.

After a summer shower .....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Spot It by Delphine Chedru

My 3 year old got this book for his birthday recently and we adore it.

Each page consists of a stunning pattern and there is a small animal (think foxes, owls and sea urchins) to find somewhere within it. The patterns really are amazing - I could gaze at them all day!

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Summer holidays

Being a teacher we have these amazing summer holidays - 7 weeks this year (we really do deserve them, honestly!). Being so busy during the year, it is just so nice to be able to wind down and actually enjoy some free time. I always make a huge list of all the things I want/need to do during that time and usually get very few of them of done but I'm never disappointed.

This year has been particularly special because my eldest son starts school in September, so we took him out of preschool when I broke up and we've been spending some 'quality time' together. We've had the luxury of having two days a week to ourselves, with G at work and my 3 year old at nursery and its been lovely.

Just some of the things we've done in that time so far:
Swimming (we've almost cracked it!)
Visiting a museum
Making party decorations
Walking in the rain
Going to the library (without the added stress of a rambunctious 3 year old zooming round the bookshelves)
Visiting friends/family and having them visit us
Paddling in outdoor pool at the local park
Adopting a baby snail (and then frantically searching for him when he disappeared 2 hours later)

He seems to be growing in front of my very eyes and I know I will remember and savour these moments in a few years when he no longer wants to cuddle and give me sloppy kisses.

I know he will love and embrace school, will relish the learning, the making of new friends and all the new experiences, but there is still a small part of me that feels sad at the end of this era.

Mostly, I am excited - I loved school and I hope he will be the same, and I am looking forward to how he will grow and develop away from me. Plus, we also have 2 and a half more weeks to fit in some more adventures!

By the way we did find the snail eventually - under the bookcase 2 weeks later!

And I can't take any credit for these gorgeous photographs - my husband took them.

The Haunted House by Kazuno Kohara

We all love books in our house.

I readily admit that I am obsessed with them , particularly children's books - and we have a huge collection. I will be sharing some of our favourite ones regularly.

We got this one out of the library last week - both my boys love ghosts and scary stories.
We loved the simplicity of the story, and the illustrations are amazing. Only three colours used throughout but so effectively.

The author has a new book Jack Frost out in September - we will definitely be checking it out.

First ever post .....

Well, here it is. My very own blog.

I've been following several wonderful blogs for the last year or so (http://// and are just two of my favs) and I've been itching to start my own for a while.

My aim is for it to be a mixture of photographs, links, things that I love and general musings, but we'll see how it unfolds.

I'm excited.