an OXO stocking fillers gift guide

I’m feeling quite relieved that I’m on top of my Christmas preparations this year. I wanted to spread the cost by starting early and make sure I had time and energy for the 12 days of December when the kindness elves come to stay. So most presents have been purchased and stashed including the bits and pieces for the boys stockings from Santa. I’ve yet to make Luca a Christmas stocking (I’m not that organised!) and thankfully I wrote a blog post about how I made Euan’s Christmas stocking a few years ago so it should be simple enough to fashion a second one. With the extra time on my hands I’ve been able to have a rummage around the OXO elves Christmas sack to bring you a new stocking fillers gift guide for 2017. Some of the OXO items recommended in previous years are still available and some of those items continue to be our favourite kitchen gadgets (see links at the end of this post for a little reminder of further OXO gadgets). The gifts we’ve trialled for you this year are all under £15 and our absolute favourite is less than a tenner. Gift 1 – 9” tongs with heat reisistent silicone heads, £13.00
I’ve been meaning to add a pair of tongs to my utensils pot since attending a ”low carb, high veg” cookery class at the Foodworks Cookery School while pregnant with Luca. We made a vegetarian lasagne with cooked cabbage leaves instead of pasta sheets and the tongs saved scolded finger tips. I recreated the recipe to try out our new tongs and found them easy to use and they lock for convenient storage. Luca enjoyed playing with them too of course so what’s not to love about a kitchen utensil that doubles up as a toy! Gift 2 – Steel angled jigger, £8
This is my number 1 kitchen favourite this year. It’s been designed to measure small pourable amounts accurately and you can see the measurement markings, in ml and tbsp, while looking straight down into it. On the OXO website it’s advertised as a cocktail measure but we’ve found all sorts of other uses for it like making salad dressings or simply to help monitor the nutrient value of the fluids we use. I use an app called MyFitnessPal, a free diet and exercise tracker, to become more aware of the nutrient value of the food I eat. I’ve been reducing carbs and increasing fats and combined with walking more I’ve seen a gradual shedding of the last of my baby weight (google ‘Grain Brain’ or ‘Keto diet’ if interested in the science behind that). It’s great using the steel jigger to measure small amounts of fluids instead of guessing or counting in teaspoons. For example, I’d been estimating a 30ml measure of milk in my tea when in fact I take double that, a difference of 100+ calories across my 3-4 cups a day (that’s equivalent to a couple of biscuits added on or a 30 minute walk to take it off). It’s a really handy tool to have in the cutlery drawer and it even doubles up as the perfect toddler size clutchable snack pot. Gift 3 – Beak ice cream scoop, £13
My boys love ice cream, especially G who’s been instructed to eat it in secret so the little ones don’t develop his insatiable sweet tooth! Thankfully E and L love the novelty of anything yummy frozen and served nicely and happily tuck into whizzed up frozen fruit. Zero added sugar, zero fuss. The only effort comes in the having to remember to put the bananas in the freezer the night before. Our home made fruit ice cream provides the perfect challenge for this tough aluminium beak shaped scoop as being dairy free it’s harder and more icy. The curved side edges and pointed end made it easy and it has a non stick coating for easy release. By the time the kettle had boiled to dip the scoop into E had already served up his own helping, evidence enough that this scoop can handle anything. He liked the novelty of the lever that helps to flick the contents out but to be honest it wasn’t necessary as it slipped off into the bowl easily enough without using it. Gift 4 – 3 in 1 avocado slider, £8.75
”The avocado slider splits, pits, slices and scoops for safe and mess free preparation”
. I’ve seen these before and wondered what all the fuss was about! I do get quite messy cutting and peeling my avocados but I figured a gadget wasn’t worth the bother. Turns out I was wrong and it brilliantly removes the stone without any damage or loss of avocado. OXO tried 700 different shaped avocados to perfect their design afterall. All of the avocados I’ve used it on have been a bit too brown and mushy for a nice picture so here’s a video clip of the avocado slicer in action. It really is as simple as it looks.

Gift 5 – Bakers dusting wand, £10. We reviewed the tea ball a few years ago and I find it’s always disappearing from the drawer only to be found in the boys room with jewels or lego treasures in it. OXO have come up with another use for it – as a dusting wand to neatly sprinkle flour, powdered sugar and spices onto drinks and food. The quick open and close twist of the half solid half perforated globe design, prevents clumps, dumps and powdery messes. It’s been sized to fit most flour containers for storage, a tactic I would have had to resort to if we only had one! Our favourite use of it is for sprinkling cinnamon on hot drinks and cocoa powder or cinnamon sugar on our pancakes. I’ve been using gluten free flour lately for baking and these pancakes made with chick pea flour and mashed bananas were topped off beautifully with a little dusting of cocoa. So there you have it, a few ideas to get you started on your Christmas shopping if you’ve not made it to the shops yet. Previous years OXO stocking filler suggestions are shown below and reviewed here and here.
All items are available from the OXO website. Enjoy x
Disclosure: I selected the OXO items in this guide to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own.

December 8, 2017 at 12:56 pm Leave a comment

wordless wednesday

December 6, 2017 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

the passage of time

Euan annual photos 2014-2017…measured in joyful giggles, shy smiles and disappearing curls.

This boy fills my heart with joy every day.  He has the sweetest nature, pulls the funniest faces and is kind and helpful.

E’s started going to Beavers so we’ve been talking to him about the promise he will make to be kind and helpful when he’s invested.   I looked at the parent guide to Beavers and asked him if he wanted to make the promise to ‘‘love God” or to ”love the world”.   He said his best friend at school doesn’t believe in God and told E that he shouldn’t either. E said “I told him it’s my choice not his”.  We chatted about belief being a matter of the heart and that Daddy and I were fine with whatever choice he made as it was his promise to keep and not ours. He said “I just think nobody is right, not even me. My picture in my head of God might be different to someone else’s and that’s ok. I am ok with saying “love God” for my promise”. 

E in Beavers uniform Dec 2017.jpg
I find it both amusing and extraordinary to think of the conversations 5 year olds have at playtime. Already E and his friend are thinking deeply and curiously and aren’t afraid to ask questions. I think it’s wonderful even if it does catch me off guard sometimes. Thankfully I’m comfortable these days with not feeling I need to have all the answers and often E is quite accepting of a simple answer where I’d have previously fretted about the complexity of owning my response to a searching question. Such brilliant teachers these children of ours and there’s both conversation and wisdom to be found in a simple ”I don’t really know, what do you think?” response.

December 5, 2017 at 11:07 am 1 comment

The Kindness Elves excitement is brewing

Kindness Elves day 1 - help decorate the treeWith December fast approaching excitement is brewing for our 3rd annual visit from the Kindness Elves. They arrive on the 13th December and stay until Christmas Eve and each morning they suggest a small act of kindness to help bring some Christmas cheer to those around us.  Last year we were so busy having fun with the kindness elves we didn’t get round to sharing our adventures in a blog post.  So here are a few highlights for you which included taking some toys and books to the Children’s Hospital and making cards and biscuits for people:
Kindness Elves - decorate christmas treeKindness elves - toys to give away
One suggestion from the Kindness Elves was to ”thank the lunch ladies at school for doing a great job”.  After school our conversation went something like this
E – ”I did say Thank you for making dinner for us every day to one lady”.
Me – ”What did she say?”
E – ”She didn’t say anything, she didn’t hear me”.
Me – ”Oh well, it was lovely that you said thank you and perhaps another kid will have heard you and it will inspire them to say thanks”

(”Make a Christmas card for the postman”, ”read a story to someone”, ”Make some biscuits to give to a friend)


Another suggestion was simply ”Give someone a lovely compliment today”.  E thought for a minute then said ‘‘Daddy your shoes are so cool.  Mummy you do lots of nice things.   I will have a think about who has nice hair…”.

Our favourite activity was ”leave some coins by a fountain with a note that says ”make a wish”. We went to Gloucester Cathedral and left some coppers in an eggbox and sat on a bench nearby to see what happened.  E was thrilled to see children run up to the box, read the message and throw a coin into the water. This is definitely an activity we’ll repeat this year (while trying to stop L from diving into the water!)
Kindness Elves day - make a wish copy
The Kindness Elves were created by parent blogger Anna at The Imagination Tree.  Many families have now adopted this lovely tradition and share their kindness activities inspiration on-line (search #thekindnesselves on Instagram for a flurry of ideas).  We bought our kindness elves from The Imagination Tree shop, complete with a little house box and it’s been the best investment.  I can’t wait for their visit this year and remain hopeful that a 1.5 year old trying to get in on the action will enhance the experience for E.
(hmmm, note to self – plan a few solo activities for E minus baby brother).
12-Days-of-Christmas-Kindness-with-the-Kindness-Elves-680x548-1 copy

November 28, 2017 at 11:25 am Leave a comment

wordless wednesday

November 22, 2017 at 2:21 pm 1 comment

And so to bed (This is Britain photo book)


Stoked. Thrilled. Overjoyed. Amazed. Delighted. Chuffed.
Just a few words to describe how I feel seeing my boys immortalised in print.

My photo of Euan and Luca reading stories with their Lumie Bed Bug was chosen by photographer Rankin from over 11,000 entries for inclusion in the ”This is Britain” photo book. What’s more all proceeds from the sale of the book are going to BBC Children in Need. Stoked. Thrilled. Overjoyed. Amazed. Delighted. Chuffed.



I submitted two other photos in the ”waking up” and ”at play” categories – they’re not included in the book but I love them just the same.

November 20, 2017 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

five ways with … a ton of rhubarb

So it may well be the wrong time of year to post this since your rhubarb harvest will be far from your thoughts and probably on the woody side now. But hey, let’s pretend I’m being really organised for next Spring when your rhubarb crown will be re-birthing after winter and at it’s finest! If you find yourself wondering what to do with the ton of rhubarb I hope you’ll end up with here are a few suggestions from the archives (sigh, from the good old days of having an abundant harvest from the allotment!)

rhubarb and green tomato chutney
Green tomato and rhubarb chutney - jar and rice cake 4B

rhubarb wine
nipitinthebud - 9-9-11_rhubarb and raspberry wine 4B

rhubarb relish
14-8-10 - rhubarb relish 4B

Choclette’s Rustic Rhubarb Galette

 
Choclette’s rhubarb, rose and white chocolate ice cream

 
This post has spent 5 years in drafts waiting to be finished!  The first three suggestions are my own nipitinthebud makes but growing small boys stalled any efforts to complete the post with some delicious rhubarb bakes.  So having been inspired by my husbands musical collaborations this month I decided to ask my friend Choclette at Tin and Thyme if I could feature some of her terrific rhubarb recipes.  I knew she’d come up trumps and if these ideas have whet your appetite be sure to check out her archives – she has enough suggestions for a ”10 ways with a ton of rhubarb” post!  Enjoy x

November 20, 2017 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

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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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Someone was excited to find friends have come to stay. "Help Mummy and Daddy decorate the Christmas tree" is the #kindnesselves first suggestion.
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#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife E found his playgroup Angel Gabriel costume and photo from 2 years ago and found it amusing how much his arms had grown! 
#angelgabriel #christmasnativity 
#gloucesterlife It snowed all day and we were indoors with poorly boys (they had a 15 minute  play in the yard at least). This is what the allotment is probably looking like (#onefromthearchives January 2013). #nipitinthebudblog #snowyallotment #allotmentgardening #newblogpost - an @oxouk stocking fillers gift guide .  The steel jigger is our absolute favourite this year :0)
#nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife #oxogoodgrips #cookingwithkidsisfun #avocadoslicer #steeljiggers #stainlesssteeltongs #icecreamscoop #bakersdustingwand  #oxouk E's birthday is about 3 weeks after Christmas so I always start thinking about his celebrations around this time.  We've decided to book the community hall at our local cafe like we did a few years ago.  His 3rd birthday cake and jungle themed food will be a hard act to follow and he's chosen Dr Seuss for his theme so goodness knows what sort of cake we'll pull out the bag for this one! #birthdaycake #birthdaypartyfood #nipitinthebudblog #willywonkacake Rather intrigued by these!!!! @Regranned from @marksandspencer -  Introducing the avocado you never knew you needed. Our new cocktail avocados don’t have a stone and are completely edible (yes including the skin) In stores now in limited supply. 🥑🥑🥑 - #regrann
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