#myheartylife | 7

Reflecting weekly on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myhearty life linky.
I’m grateful for ….
Not having to juggle Mothering with a day job.  I resigned from my post last year when my maternity leave with L ended for a number of reasons.  Practically speaking the contract was under review and I foresaw a car journey to a new office across town instead of being able to walk to work, more pressure shared among fewer people and the nature of the support work requiring more emotional energy than I could muster. Emotionally speaking I was finding Mothering second time round an easier, more comfortable and confident experience but a shock in terms of the change it forced in my relationship with E (coupled with him now spending 6 hours of every day at school).   Dividing my time between two children was one thing.  Giving my attention to other people’s priorities and deadlines on broken sleep and rumbling anxiety levels was quite another.  We decided putting the boys first and my mental health was worth the financial sacrifices of me not working.  Thankfully we were already used to living on a low income having been part-time before having children so it didn’t seem all that much more of a shift.  It’s been everything we hoped it would be.  There are downsides most notably not seeing as much of George who’s increased his work load but this new balance is working for us at the moment.  G is better equipped to handle work related stress than I am and is able to single focus because he knows the boys are in good hands.  We’ve always been very equal about who does what at home when we were both working but at this moment in time splitting the worker bee and home bird responsibilities is also working for us!

I succeeded at …
Valuing my efforts even if what I achieve is not exactly what I set out to achieve!  It’s been a slow process to change my perspective about how I use my time and being willing to start something even if I’m not sure I’ll complete it hasn’t been easy.  Let me give you an example,  I decided to follow Krista’s free 30 days of calm programme in January with day 30 falling on my birthday.   For 2 weeks I diligently journalled every day and completed the tasks suggested.  In week 3 I stalled over some of the clean eating challenges that just felt too hard to juggle with small children but accepted the 7 day de-clutter challenge.  By the time my birthday came around I’d missed the last 4 days and had failed the de-clutter challenge to let go of 7 items a day.  However where I might have berated myself for having rubbish will power I congratulated myself on at least trying.  I congratulated myself for letting go of 38 items which I went on to sell on Ebay, pass to a friend and donate to the Charity shop.  I congratulated myself for establishing morning and evening rituals that I am still sticking to despite not actually hitting the finishing line overall.   I am enjoying the journey towards a more calm and focused life without worrying about when I reach the destination.  And it’s all spurred me on to put my effort into my next creative challenge to make a photo book of our wedding pictures because I have been able to buy a scanner with my Ebay earnings (thank you Krista!)

I found beauty in …
George’s music.   The sweetest sounds are truly those where love and friendship exists between the musicians – friends with a genuine love for what they are doing. George has created a music project called Spaces and is writing original songs in 8 historically significant buildings in Gloucester. I was able to pop along to the 4th session last week thanks to my mum and dad coming over for a few hours to mind the boys. It was lovely to see how excited everyone was and feel the genuine warmth and interest of everyone involved. The life blood of G’s project is bringing people together to share ideas and make bigger and better and more beautiful sounds than he could make on his own. What a privilege to be able to share some of the experience (if you’re really eagle eyed you’ll might spot me in the video!)

If you’re publishing a blog post that fits in with one or all of Mary’s #myheartylife prompts why not join the linky? Simply add your blog link at the bottom of Mary’s latest post here. While you’re there please comment on the posts of fellow bloggers to let them know you appreciate what they’ve posted and if sharing your cheerful moments on social media simply add the tag #myheartylife. Enjoy living and sharing your hearty life.
#myheartylife linky logo copy

February 20, 2018 at 11:46 am 2 comments

easy peasy lemon cake

This is the easiest cake in the world to make and while I’ve blogged about it as a bundt ring cake here and a birthday cake here a few people have asked for details so I’m happy to re-share. I promise you’ll never need another cake recipe again. The 4 egg quantity shown below will make an 8 inch sponge sandwich or you could half the quantity if you want to just enjoy cake for one day and not 3! I used an 8 inch square sandwich tin with a 2 egg batter, cut the cake in half and stuck it together with butter frosting. It made about 6 chunky slices.

You will need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 250g each of unsalted butter, sugar and self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp good quality lemon curd

Cream the butter, sugar and eggs and gradually mix in the flour. Add the spoonfuls of lemon curd. Spoon into 2 cake tins (or one if halving the recipe). Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree C for approx 25-40 mins depending on how deep your cake tin is. I mostly guess the time but you’ll know it’s ready when a fork poked into the cake comes out clean. Turn your cake out onto a wire rack and while it cools mix up some butter spread and icing sugar for the filling. Mixing in some lemon juice or a teaspoon of lemon curd will make it lovely and zesty. Drizzle a little lemon icing on top and enjoy with your favourite cup of tea.

February 17, 2018 at 7:00 am 1 comment

#myheartylife | 6

29-1-17 - L looking at the rain 4B

Reflecting weekly on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myheartylife linky.

I’m grateful for …
Birthdays and having my boys to celebrate them with. As children my mum always made special birthday cakes for us and hosted parties but once I left home and plans to celebrate fell to me I became very shy about inviting people round. I put it down to my generalised social anxiety about parties and not wanting a fuss or to be centre of attention but I wonder now if my awkwardness simply denied loved ones of the opportunity to let me know how much I mean to them. Birthdays became harder and harder through my 30s; each one marking another year in which we hadn’t become parents. It was painful to experience ageing alongside infertility when each birthday was potentially nudging us further away from what we wanted. Finally becoming parents 14 years after getting married changed everything and brought with it a whole new appreciation of why celebrating birth-days is so important. Now as a Mum of two I welcome the fuss, just as I love to make a fuss of my boys on their birthdays, because it’s an opportunity to show how deeply loved and appreciated a person is. And my favourite thing about birthdays? Always my little handmade cards – what better gift can there be than this?Birthday card for Mummy from E

While the boys are small I have no expectation of special birthday days out with G, instead we make birthday celebrations fun for the whole family. Last week we made an after school trip to a soft play centre in Stroud and I worked off my double helping of birthday cake crawling through tunnels and playing in the ball pit. That’s every 43 year olds idea of a dream birthday right?5-2-18 - Go Bananas_Mummy and L

I succeeded at …
Feeling good after completing a 24 hour fast. Previous attempts at fasting, long before I had children, always ended up with a headache mid afternoon and breaking the fast in the most appalling way with something meagre and healthy followed by crisps or biscuits! (I know stupid hey but a starving body will crave the calories and I my will was weak). I now understand that was inevitable as my body was not only lacking it’s nutrients for that day but also depleted of minerals – I’d fasted from wake up to wake up which is actually more like 36 hours having last eaten the night before! This time around I watched several videos on Youtube by Thomas Delauer who explains in simple ways the science behind intermittent fasting and shares tips for how to look after yourself through a fast. As I’ve already stopped snacking in the evening and make dinner time with the boys my last food of the day I chose 5pm to 5pm to be my 24 hour window for fasting. During the day I drank green tea, black Earl grey tea, apple cider vinegar and water which all helped to stave off hunger pangs and I felt surprisingly energised and resistant to picking as I prepared breakfast for the boys and then lunch for L. It was good to then share dinnertime with the boys knowing that for one day at least I’d given my digestive system a bit of a rest, hydrated well and received some detoxing benefits too.16-10-10 - rosemary tea 4B

I found beauty in …
Old stone and E’s fascination with their story – his wide eyed curiosity about the ruins of St Oswolds Priory as I tried to explain the history of the 1300 year old stones in a way he could comprehend. He did well for a 6 year old – ‘‘so I don’t know anyone from then do I Mum because they’re all dead now?”. I walk past the ruins every Tuesday morning on my way to the pool but haven’t really explored them since E was little. It was fun re-creating the moments captured on film 4 years ago with a new toddler in tow. The boys are the same age in the last photo.26-9-13 - St Oswalds Priory Gloucester_E aged 21 months with Mummy

January 2018 - St Oswalds ruins_21 month old brothers copy for blog

If you’re publishing a blog post that fits in with one or all of Mary’s #myheartylife prompts why not join the linky? Simply add your blog link at the bottom of Mary’s latest post here. While you’re there please comment on the posts of fellow bloggers to let them know you appreciate what they’ve posted and if sharing your cheerful moments on social media please use the tag #myheartylife. Enjoy living and sharing your hearty life.#myheartylife linky logo copy

February 13, 2018 at 11:31 am 2 comments

a Dr Seuss birthday party

Our big boy turned 6 in January! I can hardly believe it really as it still only seems like a blink away that he finally made his wonderful entry into the world. We wanted to give E a party to celebrate this milestone birthday (each year feels epic but this one was accompanied by losing a his first baby tooth and gaining 3 molars!). He chose Dr Seuss as a theme following on from the standard set by his 3rd birthday and we returned to the same venue, our local community cafe Roots to celebrate our fab boy with family and friends. What a wonderful time we all had thanks to Steph and Tom from Limitless Kids coming to do some party games and E’s buddies embracing the request to dress up. Even making the party food was fun as G and I made our best efforts at Seussian names for the nibbles.

February 8, 2018 at 10:38 pm Leave a comment

#myheartylife | 5

I started this year feeling resolved to make self-care more of a priority. Not a goal or something to achieve and then let slide because it takes too much effort to sustain it but something to be more conscious of and realise in the many small moments in each and every day. For self-care to be something I give more thought to than the habitual routines formed in childhood like brushing my teeth, starting each day with breakfast and looking left and right before stepping into the road.

Becoming a Mother has highlighted just how little I do in the way of self-care. I’ve slowly realised that when you’re putting so much of your energy into caring for others it’s all the more important to attend to your own wellbeing. I value the power of modelling positive behaviour so much but this is the one area of my life that is somewhat lacking (I fall asleep in my clothes at least once a week, shower infrequently, stay up too late, let my mood determine what I eat – and those are just the things I’m willing to admit to!). The quote above from L R Knost, one of my favourite parenting authors, sums it up beautifully. When she shared it in a recent Instagram post it spoke to my heart and made me a little watery eyed to realise my self-care does matter if I’m to put my children first without running myself ragged or feeling resentful.

“You matter. Your dreams matter. Your health matters. Your happiness matters. It’s okay to put your children first, mama. We all do it. Just don’t forget to include yourself in some of that tenderness and care you give so freely to others.”💞 – L R Knost

2018 is to be the year of doing more to consciously to fill up my own cup. I’m determined to change my mindset about what time I have available for myself and how I use it. I’m quieting the voice that stops me from starting things if I can’t finish them within the time frame I’d like. I’m ignoring the voice that says ”I need someone to take the children before I can …”. I have one morning a week when I’m child free and have finally started using it as ”me’‘ time in the truest sense of the word. I ignore the washing up, the baskets of clean clothes to put away and the to-do list and focus simply on eating a healthy breakfast after my weekly swim, spending some time journalling and being creative (which is mostly sorting through photos or thinking about what I could do to improve my camera skills as I regularly feel frustrated that the pictures I see in my mind do not end up on my screen). It finally occurred to me that nobody gets better at something without practice and that I need to devote some time to mastering my hobby. This could be as simple as taking my DSLR with me when I go to the park with the boys or experimenting with light and manual settings in the evening. It could also be seeking some advice from other photographers which I plan to do when I treat myself to some 1:1 training with Shane Young Photography for my birthday next week. I’ve noticed I’m quick to find excuses for why I don’t have the time to do these things but as my wise and patient husband keeps reminding me ”you have to make time for the things you enjoy, it’s ok to think of yourself first sometimes”.

I’ve started to see the benefit of making time within my day for little moments of quiet reflection, a pause for a few deep breaths, a little stretch here and there while I make a cup of tea. Krista at a Life in Progress recommends making a list of 5 morning and evening rituals as part of her free 30 days to calm programme and I’ve found when I let my evening routine slide because I’m too tired or too distracted by the things that seem so important but really aren’t it’s a sure sign that I’m not looking after myself. For example, the evening ritual that begins ”get into my pyjamas at story time” reduces the likelihood of falling asleep in my clothes later on when L wakes before I’m ready for bed. When I make the time to ‘‘write down 3 things I’m grateful for” it puts me in the right frame of mind for accepting the completion of my day and not turning on the computer for one last job. I’m more likely to ”be in bed by 10pm” when I practice these little rituals and when I do that I certainly remain less effected by a tired, grumpy mood in the morning (I should probably point out that L wakes every 2 hours through the night so decent chunks of sleep are not something I’m blessed with!). Feelings of overwhelm, frustration and general busyness are usually a symptom of not finding small moments of pause in my day to regain perspective rather than the cause of my poor self-care routines.

I’ve been pondering these things for a while but it started forming into a blog post after my regular read of Mymamamusings blog. I love how we find inspiration from others and just as Cherie’s posts got me thinking, one of her latest posts was inspired by Mary’s post at The Hearty Life. Mary and Cherie are both taking part in a weekly challenge to notice what they are grateful for, to celebrate something they’ve achieved success with and to recognise the beauty in something. I love the idea of this alongside the fact that committing to share experiences provides a small measure of accountability (my daily journalling commitment stalled at 3 weeks despite my best efforts and recognition of the many benefits it provides!). I thought it would be lovely to jump in with the #myheartylife challenge to give me some focus for a regular practice of writing and reflecting and being a bit braver about sharing my thoughts and experiences. I’ve been umming and ahhhing about whether to continue with my blog as it mostly feels like I whisper into a wind tunnel and I often wonder whether it’s a poor use of my time. But I’ve concluded I love the process of writing and working out my thoughts and if my stories provide connection, comfort or inspiration for just one person then it’s all worth it (thank you to those of you who have let me know you look forward to my new posts appearing in your inbox, it makes my day to hear that). It’s also hard to let go of the effort thats gone into writing 669 posts and I like the idea of my boys looking back through stories of their childhood one day.

Mary’s #myheartylife linky shines the light on the riches in your life – here are mine for this week (and the inspiration for my 670th blog post!)

I’m grateful for …
Tuesday mornings and my husband who makes sure they happen for me. I have a morning off from the school run and swim instead. I think so clearly in the pool breathing so deeply as I swim rhythmically up and down. I eat afterwards and for one day at least find it so easy to make the right food choices to nourish my body and support it in being healthy and strong. I may nap, read, sort photos, message friends,fix lunch for G and I to share while L sleeps. I do the things I don’t feel able to when there are children needing me to Mother them. He never expresses any sense of reluctance or annoyance even if his mind is busy with work deadlines. G embraces the opportunity for 1:1 time with Luca making it easy to enjoy my time guilt free. I’m so grateful for the space he gives me to reconnect with my best self. He says it’s easy to give me this time because he knows how important it is for our family life. I’m grateful I chose to give my heart to such a kind and supportive man.

I succeeded at …
Making a cake for E’s 6th birthday when I’d actually made peace with the fact that I was going to buy a birthday cake (for the first time in his life). Let me explain why this felt like such an achievement. It wasn’t so much a baking triumph as a victory for quiet, calm thought over busy, overwhelmed thinking. I’d decided to buy E a cake on the way back from taking L to a gum session in the morning. I reasoned I’d be trying to fit too much in if I anticipated baking and tidying up in L’s 60-90 minute nap time. I didn’t want to feel annoyed with L if today was the day of the short nap so I calmly accepted a bought cake decorated with sweets was not the end of the world. As it happened I was able to make a cake because G accidentally took the car keys to work. After a momentary panic I decided to walk to the school G was working at to collect the keys and stick with my plan. Thankfully the fresh air and sunshine cleared my thinking and I realised that E’s birthday cake was more important than L’s play that morning and it should be the latter that shifted. As we walked home again with the car keys in my pocket L started pointing vigorously at the gardens on the other side of the road. We spent a happy hour bimbling around, jumping off rocks and running down slopes and when we got home L fell into a blissful sleep for 1.5 hours. The cake was made with great love and enthusiasm and decorated with a mountain of sweets. E loved it just as much as I knew he would and I felt pleased that heart sense had won out.

I found beauty in …
Relationships, those blossoming between my two boys and their youngest cousin Kian, who visited for E’s birthday last week. Kian’s mum is G’s sister and they live in London with her husband, not far from G’s parents. Luca and Kian have probably only seen each other a handful of times (they’re only 1 and 2 years old afterall) but this recent visit really showed how relaxed they are in each others company. I think their close relationship is a reflection of how easy it is for children to trust one another and play when there is an ease between the grown ups who love them both. A real lump in the throat moment watching these two looking out the window, K chatting away about the stars on the window and L nodding back. They could almost be brothers.

If you’d like to join in with the #myheartylife linky with a weekly post that fits in with one or all of Mary’s prompts simply add your link to the bottom of Mary’s post here. While you’re there please comment on the posts of fellow bloggers to let them know you appreciate what they’ve posted and if sharing your cheerful moments on social media please use the tag #myheartylife

February 2, 2018 at 3:00 pm 4 comments


Ageing is an extraordinary process - David Bowie quote copySometimes a blog post writes itself because someone else hits the nail on the head so hard you can’t ignore it or say it any better!  This David Bowie quote and the additional thoughts shared by Glennon Doyle on Instagram today is one such post.
It also adds meaning to a post titled ”Unbecoming” that’s been in my draft folder for many months that begins

”Maybe the journey isn’t so much about becoming anything.
Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so you can be who you were meant to be in the first place”
(author unknown)

Some days I marvel at how far I’ve come, dealing with anxiety, work related stress, infertility, baby loss and the unexpected bone wearying exhaustion of  being a parent.  Some days I wonder why I’m still triggered by things from my childhood, teens and life pre-children.  I take comfort at least that I am discovering, painfully and slowly, that there’s always something to be learnt from our mistakes.   Growth only comes from walking the difficult path to challenge the person formed in the shadows of the opinions of other and encourage the person you really are to wriggle free and into the light.  Perhaps thats what the phrase ”Life begins at 40” really means?

5-2-17 - my boys* copy for blog

My boys are asleep upstairs and I shall soon crawl into bed between them and end my day counting my blessings. I’m always too tired to read and if I try to by day L just bats the book out of my hand but the one book I’m getting glimpses of at the moment is Brene Brown’s ”Braving the Wilderness – The quest for true belonging and the courage to stand alone”  I’d forgotten what the book was actually called and when I re-read the quote about unbecoming was reminded instantly of it. It seems to me that the journey to unbecoming is on the same road as true belonging.  A journey that enables you to be so comfortable in your own skin that it doesn’t matter to you what anyone else thinks.  So much so you don’t need to belong anywhere or be anyone other than your beautiful, unique self.
Brene Brown Authenticity quote

January 12, 2018 at 10:46 pm 1 comment

2017 in pictures

I’d completely forgotten about this new year tradition until I saw Julie’s 2017 highlights post at Little Cotton Rabbits. I’ve been inspired by her lovely tradition of looking back over the year since 2011 and am grateful for the nudge to do so again for 2017. I feel so old saying it but… each year seems to fly past quicker than last. It’s so nice to flick back through my photos and reflect on the many lovely occasions we’ve had with our boys, most just pausing for a minute in ordinary every day moments. I still find it amazing that we get a second run at this parenting malarkey with Luca after the struggles we went through to have Euan. Hoo-bloomin-ray I say for another year watching these two grow into such beautiful, sweet natured human beings.
2017 in pictures collage
L to R Jan to Dec: E’s 5th birthday, my 42nd birthday, E winning ‘best costume’ for his BFG outfit on World Book Day, L’s first birthday, E climbing a tree with cousin Zac at a family wedding, annual holiday to the Isle of Wight, back on the allotment with E and Dave, visiting cousins Kim and Tom in Germany, weekend in Somerset with cousin Kian, attending the wedding of a dear friend, my photograph being chosen by photographer Rankin to feature in ”This is Britain” photobook, Euan building his first snowman.

As I find the passing of time measured by E’s hair so interesting indulge me for a moment if you will as I re-share the collages for 2016 and 2015 too!
Collage - 2015 in pictures 4B
Previous years in pictures: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011

January 4, 2018 at 9:29 am 1 comment

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About Nip it in the bud

Welcome to my once-about-gardening-and-cooking blog that is now mostly about our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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The boys are asleep and I'm eagerly awaiting the return of @musicalgeorgemoorey to hear all about the latest #spacesgloucester recording.  His kit is all in the hallway but he is not.  Gone for food I expect, the cats are waiting to pounce on him as soon as he walks through the door (and yet I have fed them, they just love him that much)
#gloucesterlife I'm thinking it's about time I made these brie baked apples with hazelnut crust again.  For a no-added-sugar version you could poach them in fruit juice or herbal tea instead of syrup (recipe on my blog)  #nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #bakedapples🍎 L's been pondering what he wants to be when he's older!  #photogridwowcam #gloucesterlife #nipitinthebudblog Billy scratching to be let out and annoy @musicalgeorgemoorey as he records a piano track downstairs for the next #spacesgloucester track.  Billy always wants to get in on the music making but it's especially appropriate this time as the song is based on a poem by 9th century irish monk about his cat Pangur Bahn!  #gloucesterlife #whitelonghairedcat Picnic lunch with our @oxouk measuring cups again.  It seems to make the whole thing about getting toddlers to eat a bit less overwhelming and takes away that adult thing of needing to clear your plate.  We just all have forks and dig in to what takes our fancy.  Yes I have no idea how much L has actually eaten when we do this but I'm learning to trust his little body.  I like the mantra "we choose what he eats, he chooses how much" so as long as I keep offering nourishing food it will all be ok :0). #nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #fussytoddler #oxogoodgrips #picnicfood When the chocolate brownies that popped up in your feed are on your mind all morning but you're feeling inspired by your sugar free friend @darojolu you find yourself eating these for elevenses!  Banana and date squidgy oaties, an old recipe from the blog with a new sprinkling of unsweetened cocoa and @pulsinandbeond pea protein.  1 banana made 6 cookies and if we eat them all in one sitting there's absolutely no guilt! #nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #sugarfreekids #sugarfreecooking #pulsinpeaprotein #newblog post - reflecting weekly  on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myheartylife linky.  More about staying at home with children, decluttering successes and beautiful music on the blog - link in profile.  If you're liking the good cheer of #myheartylife  check out @the_hearty_life who started it all and @mummytodex and @mymamamusings 
#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #mumbloggeruk #feelingthankful #stayathomemum Loves the park but loves dogs more so kept trying to get out the gate! #parklife #gloucesterlife I've just taken a cup of tea out to a friend who's fixing our car.  Turns out E has turned our downstairs window into a gallery for his craft creations.  What a lovely way to brighten up the day of passers by :0). #gloucesterlife #kingsholm #creativekids #theviewfrommywindowtoday

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