Posts filed under ‘being creative’

playing The Imagination Tree’s toddler colour match ball game

toddler picking up balls with OXO Good Grips tongsSome ideas are so simple you wonder how it’s possible you hadn’t thought of them yourself.  You feel deflated and question your creativity, your sense of fun, your worth as a Mother…  and then you just laugh and say who cares about all that let’s go grab some plastic balls and a pair of tongs and have some fun.  So that’s exactly what Luca and I did when we came across this Toddler colour match game post from Anna at The Imagination Tree.

As Luca is only 23 months sorting the balls by colours was beyond him (he’s only just mastering two word sentences) but I was surprised at how dextrous he was using the adult size tongs to transfer the balls from the bag to the muffin tray.  I think it helped that the tongs are so grippy and light despite their size.  I don’t suppose OXO Good Grips had children’s play in mind when they designed their tongs but it’s a great bonus feature for an occasionally used kitchen utensil!

This was a great game for practicing hand eye co-ordination, fine motor skills and perseverance each time he dropped the ball.  It occupied him for about half an hour and it was lovely to just sit back and watch him.  He showed no frustration with the task and was virtually silent with concentration excepting the pointing out of ”ball, ball”.   When he’s a bit older it’ll help with learning colours and counting so I’m sure we’ll return to it.  When 6 year old Euan came home from school he was intrigued by the sight of the balls scattered all over the floor, the pair of tongs and the empty muffin tin.  He immediately picked up the tongs and started playing his own version of sorting and dropping the balls.  I love how toddler and pre-school activities never get old when you’re a child who’s simply wired for play.

The Imagination Tree website is my favourite resource for creative play ideas, especially in the school holidays as often the items you need are things you have lying around the house.  The Frozen Dinosaur Eggs Sensory Play are one of our favourite activities (although we only have a couple of small dinosaurs so sometimes improvise with other toys or lego figures!).  If you go and explore Anna’s site I’d love to hear which activities you enjoy.

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April 3, 2018 at 12:09 pm Leave a comment

#myheartylife | 12 – gratitude| success| beauty

Reflecting weekly on the beauty in every day moments, reasons to be thankful and celebrating small successes with the #myhearty life linky.
toddler with green pants on his head laughing at selfie - niptinthebud.co.uk
I’m grateful for ….
Toddlers wearing pants on their heads obviously!

This month I have been feeling particularly grateful for family.  My parents have been visiting every Tuesday afternoon since 6 year old Euan was one and I had returned to work 2 days a week.  We had a gap in childcare between George needing to leave for work and me returning home. I always appreciated Mum and Dad’s love of spending time with Euan and it’s been heartwarming to see their relationship deepen from having 1:1 time.  I was especially grateful for the pause Tuesday afternoons brought when I was pregnant with Luca and then when he was a newborn.  I’m still grateful for the weekly meal Mum brings with her and the pause it gives me to put the laundry out or dash around picking things up without being following by Luca or being ask lots of questions by Euan.  The boys love hanging out with their grandparents and with each visit I’m reminded of how lucky we are to have them nearby.  Last weekend it was my Dad’s birthday and I took Euan to the Kingfisher Treasure Seekers Hub in Gloucester to make him a present. It’s a fab craft shop where you can take part in a Make and Take workshop and create anything you like from the huge range of craft materials available.  Euan chose a wooden bird picture frame and made it beautifully unique with tons of PVA glue and shiny things.

I succeeded at …
Slowing down when all my instincts scream ”faster faster, more more”.  It’s not a regular occurrence so I’m taking the win when I can and hope it’ll serve as a reminder in future.  I’ve been feeling a bit frustrated of late that I can only be creative in the short time that Luca naps each day.  If my mind wanders in the daytime and I pick up a notebook to jot something down Luca pulls it from my hand and flings it on the floor!  If ever a child communicated by throwing things it’s Luca.  Sometimes if he’s sat on my lap facing me and I look away to say something to G he puts his hands on my cheeks and says ”this way” as he turns my face back towards him.   Determined not angry, forthright in his actions where he lacks language.   For a boy of few words it’s pretty powerful – his only other 2 word sentences are ”Mumma milk” and ”Dadda burp!”.   After a particularly vexing day last week I resolved to just be present when we returned from the school run; to do less, observe more and enjoy most .  And the irony of it was that by sitting alongside him and participating in his play only as an observer and cheerleader I was able to appreciate that there are moments during our time together when I can find pause and quiet thought without it unsettling Luca.  It reminded me of the value of Special Time where you top your child up before trying to get things done rather than zipping off to do it first impatiently calling over your shoulder ”I’ll be back in a minute, just hang on”.  I quietly reached for my camera and took some photos of Luca absorbed in car play.  I pondered what blog post they might tell the story of.   We played together, he played alone.  I photographed him and thought out this blog post.  Zero frustration,  two hearts brimful and two peaceful minds (well mine was, I suspect Luca’s was something like this ”car, car, brrrrmmm, bang, car”)

I found beauty in …
Nature and the industrious work of a pair of magpies who had spent a couple of weeks preparing their nest in a tree opposite the back of our house. From our bedroom window we had a perfect view straight into the tree and enjoyed their comings and goings and the fact that their presence kept the seagulls quiet.  On Sunday as the boys enjoyed the beautiful sunshine while playing in the yard they suddenly heard the buzz of a chain saw.  Luca ran in to me in the kitchen and Euan fearfully called out ”what is someone chopping down?’‘.  I went upstairs to look through the back window and saw two men cutting branches from the tree with the Magpie’s nest balanced within its branches.  I hoped it was just a bit of sprint time pruning.  It wasn’t.  Half an hour later they had chopped all of the branches off and spent the next couple of hours burning the wood.  The next day at breakfast time Euan spotted one of magpies up on the rooftops and looked sad as he remarked ”the magpie is up there Mum looking for his home but it’s gone hasn’t it”.  We all felt really sad for the magpies and hope they find another tree to build a new nest in before they are ready to lay their eggs in April.  It’s hard having to explain to a kind hearted child that the beauty we appreciate is not always appreciated by others and can be destroyed so suddenly.  I was reminded of gentle parent L R Knosts perceptive quote  “It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”  We hadn’t taken any pictures of the Magpies so here’s a photo of the boys drawing in the back yard on that lovely sunny afternoon before the chain saw shattered their peace!  I see such beauty in watching a child absorbed by their own creativity.

Thank you for reading.
My previous #myheartylife reflections can be found here.  I’d love to hear what you’re finding beauty in, feeling grateful for and celebrating success with in the comments.
Best Foot Forward logo
I’m linking this post to the supportive and positive blogging community that is #BestBootForward hosted by Kate on Thin Ice and Indigo Wilderness. It’s a weekly linkup for sharing positive celebrations of life, successes through challenge or simply spreading a little cheer.

 

March 31, 2018 at 1:00 pm 5 comments

making a BFG costume for world book Day

“Do you think I will win a prize for best costume again this year Mummy?”
Euan pondered as we read the note in his school bag reminding us World Book Day is March 1st this year. Gulp, no pressure then! Thankfully E really does love taking part and his wish to win again is because his prize was a walk to Waterstones during school time to choose a new book. I don’t think I blogged about last year’s Roald Dahl themed day did I? While I ponder how to make furry cuffs for a character to fit with the school’s Traditional Tales theme this year here are a few pictures from last year when the BFG set off for school with his bucket of dreams and dream blower.

Euan’s BFG ears were made from paper plates (inspired by Pinterest). E painted the paper plates himself and I made a small pair for Luca who E named the TFG (Tiny Friendly Giant).

We made balloon dreams covered in glue glitter drizzle and a dream catcher fashioned from a spatula, a large empty water bottle and gold paper. On the dream bucket we wrote this quote from the BFG story – ”Nice dreams. Lovely golden dreams. Dreams that is giving the dreamers a happy time”.

We were lucky to have a Robin Hood costume handed down to us by a friend but you could use a cape from any super hero costume. Don’t worry if you don’t have a cape as the BFG wears a white shirt and brown waistcoat when he’s at home which could be a bit easier to be creative with. I think those lovely big plate ears are eye catching enough though to not really worry about what he’s wearing.

This year’s creation now shared here

February 26, 2018 at 2:07 pm 1 comment

wordless wednesday

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

baking with chickpea flour

I’ve dabbled lightly with using gluten free flour in baking before but steered toward savoury recipes or pancakes to avoid being duped by the palatability of gluten free puddings laden with sugar.   I do have a gluten free lemon drizzle cake recipe on my blog but that is a case in point – it’s so totally delicious and moreish because it contains a ton of butter and sugar!  To be honest I’m not too keen on gluten-free flours, the results have always tended to be brick like and unattractive.  But today I happened across the gold medalist of gluten free flours judging by the totally spongy cake produced.  I found this recipe for chickpea flour banana cake on Camilla’s Power Hungry website and the result exceeded all expectations – I never imagined I’d be using the words “light and fluffy” to describe a gluten free cake! As Camilla describes in the comments section of her blog this recipe is intentionally sweetened for a more cake like texture.  I always look at the comments from other readers for insights into successful adjustments to a recipe, particularly sugar quanitities, the changing of which can have more than just an impact on the flavour.   I thought two bananas would have enough sweetness for a not-quite-savoury gluten-free carb alternative so I only used 2 teaspoons of honey melted with the coconut oil and 2 teaspoons of cashew nut butter (just using up almost empty jars). The result was a terrific texture and not very bananary at all as I only had newly bought firm bananas in stock (I’m guessing it would have tasted sweeter the more ripe the bananas are). Luca and I enjoyed it buttered and topped with jam and I’d happily dunk it in soup too.  I shall definitely be using this as my go to base recipe and re-work it with other favourite additions like lemon curd, spicy ginger and grated carrot and walnuts.    The other variation I made to the recipe was the addition of Pulsin pea protein powder. Camilla had suggested reducing the amount of yoghurt if using honey instead of cane sugar but as I’d already whizzed mine up I decided adding another dry ingredient would work just as well. I’m not generally very experimental with protein powders other than blending them into smoothies but as the Pulsin pea protein is flavourless I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out. You would never know it was there and with no added sugar or sweeteners and 80% protein there’s really no limit to what you could sprinkle the pea protein powder into. It was lovely to do some baking with L. It doesn’t have to be complex cooking with children, a bowl and a wooden spoon suffice more often than not. L even had a go with my Oxo good grips hand held mixer which E tried for the first time around the same age. 4 years later stainless steel bowl and mixer still look like new and continue to survive being used in the bath for whizzing up bubbles and as a hat and accessory, as well as for so many different cooking tasks!

Making Camilla’s chickpea flour banana cake (with variations)

  • 1.5 cups chickpea flour
  • 1.5 teaspoon baking powder
  • 0.75 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 0.5 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons honey (Camilla uses 0.5 cups sugar)
  • 2 teaspoons nut butter (your own choice preference)
  • 0.5 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 large mashed bananas
  • 0.25 cup melted coconut oil
  • 20g Pulsin Pea Protein powder
  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C.  Lightly grease a 9 inch square baking tray.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon).
  3. Whisk the eggs, sugar, yogurt, banana and oil in another bowl until well blended.
  4. Add the wet mixture to the flour mixture stirring just until moist.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan
  6. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes.
  7. Cool cake in the pan for 10 minutes then cool completely on a wire rack.

October 13, 2017 at 12:02 pm 7 comments

painting Easter eggs

Painting eggs collage 4B
5-3-15  eggs for painting_6
5-3-15  eggs for painting_7
5-3-15  eggs for painting_4
Happy Easter!

April 5, 2015 at 9:00 am Leave a comment

making a Christmas stocking

E stocking 4B
Hanging on E’s dooor handle on Christmas Eve will be my first Mum-made Christmas stocking, made using bits and bobs from my long neglected sewing box.  I pulled everything out a few weeks ago and spent some time drawing, cutting and pinning while E explored all my buttons and beads and made little presents of them wrapped in paper scraps.  How relaxing it was especially as only the night before I’d given up on the idea of having time to make one.  While E rooted through my stash of felt pieces I made a template by drawing round a cereal bowl for the heel and fashioning a toe and leg from there! I opted for an A4ish size stocking as that was the size of the felt pieces I had but also because I’d read a gentle reminder about keeping presents light on budget and waste and high in intrigue and excitement for E.
Stocking star 4B
I blinged it up with a little beady sparkle and we’re both pleased with the results.
I thought I’d share the templates for my Christmas stocking (see links below), partly for my own sake if I ever make any more but so you can make one too if feeling short of time or inspiration. All you need is 3 pieces of felt for the stocking, 1 piece for the trim and 1 piece for the name and stars. Total cost if you’re starting from scratch sourcing all materials is about £6 for felt, beads and thread (much less if you opt to save yourself some star sewing and go for felt with glitter stars printed on it, have buddies you can beg some beads from and fabric scraps for the trim and decorations).

As for filling E’s stocking, who knows what Santa will bring {wink}.   There are some great hand-made stocking stuffer ideas on Pinterest if the elves are looking for ideas.
Collage - stocking stuffers 4B
In preparation for the big day E’s been reading Santa is Coming to Gloucester and asking how Father Christmas will get into our house with no open chimney to climb down.  A magic key is the answer and this one will be put out on the doorstep along with the carrots and mince pie (which Father Christmas is expecting having responded to the letter E left for him on the wishing tree at Gloucester Folk Museum).
Santa's key
_20141218_104303
Footnote: total time to make approx 7 hours (or 3 episodes of Casualty/Holby and one watch of Cars with E!).

December 18, 2014 at 2:40 pm 2 comments

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About Nip it in the bud


Welcome to my blog about growing and cooking allotment veg since 2009 and growing sweet boys since 2012. Take a walk with us through our life in Gloucester with a boy, a baby and 3 cats.

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Grief is rough at the best of times but seeing your child struggle through the pain of loss is a real knife to the heart. A friend has lent us some books to read with E and "The Sad Book" by @michaelrosenyes is going to be the key to papering over some of the cracks in our hearts I think and easing his anxiety about dying.
Beautiful wood block print from our dear friend @elluminations of our boys on a beach in the Isle of Wight at the start of the school holidays. We returned to find my Mum's health deteriorating and she died 3 weeks later. Our world has been turned upside down but when I look at this picture I can feel the peace, hear the lap of the waves and smile at the tenderness of the moment - two #bestfriendbrothers absorbed in their own present moment. Thank you El, this means so much to me (for commission's of your own photos or El's artwork as wood blocks visit her Etsy shop)
E's had a hard time the last few weeks following an incident that triggered a really big stress response for his 6 year old bereaved mind. Today we've made a worry box to help him with his anxiety symptoms and have found the advice on the @youngmindsuk website invaluable. We all need to talk about mental health more especially as it's too easy for grown ups to dismiss a child's misbehaviour without looking for the feelings underlying it. #breakingthestigma #worldmentalhealthday2018
We've had a hard few weeks and this really sums up how asking for help is the light in the dark but not always easy to do. It's #worldmentalhealthday2018 and never has it been more important to make sure our kids know asking for help is a sign of strength and courage not weakness or failure
How to get your kids to eat your home made casserole? Cover it with their favourite #cullyandsullyuk chicken soup. Winner!
I learnt a new word today and if there was an emoji for it then it would be this! PIZZLED, when your pissed off and puzzled all at the same time. Thank you #rubywaxfrazzled for the language education and Euan for the always hilarious faces (he was 4 years old and eating lunch out with his new 2 month old baby brother so his face could be saying all sorts of things!) #gloucesterlife #nipitinthebudblog
I don't suppose many people recall the exact date they found out they were pregnant or have a photo to mark their total delight. 15/8/15 we found out our second miracle Luca was on his way. We'd become second time parents in our 40s and 22 years after we started dating. Our boys were so worth the painful years of waiting. (And our picture to mark the occasion is thanks to Mum and Dad babysitting Euan so we could go to a friend's wedding evening do.)
After school chills @gloucestercathedral @gloscathedral
Best friend brothers. Our #siblingsproject post for this month (link in bio) #nipitinthebudblog #gloucesterlife
It's so hard to grieve the loss of your Mum when just looking in the mirror each morning reminds you of what you're missing. Dad always said "thankfully you get your looks from your Mum" with a cheeky twinkle in his eye.
Regrann from @the_tightrope_walker - Emotional Impact 🎗. “CCLG parent survey reveals the emotional impact of childhood cancer.” I read an article by @cclg_uk ; it highlights many of the daily feelings that most parents & carers experience after a child is diagnosed with cancer. We have been unbelievably blessed to have had fantastic support around us since Dylan was diagnosed. The parents at school devised a meal rota & every Friday for months someone would drop over a week’s worth of home cooked food for us to put in the freezer. The amount of pressure that took away from us was immense; we would often be in hospital on rotation with Dylan overnight so it really helped...it particularly helped Ruari as Nick & I were often not home until late 💔. Whilst we are surrounded by wonderful friends & people who bend over backwards to help there is still an indescribable darkness that hangs over you once you receive the news that your child has cancer. Emotions are often unpredictable as are the minutes, hours & days. Some days you feel able to talk, other days you just don’t want to get out of bed such is the weight that you carry around constantly. This article touches on so many subtleties & there is little I don’t identify with. The sense of loneliness & isolation, the stress & crippling anxiety, the grief at the loss of a “normal” life, the lack of awareness, the things people say that cut through you...it goes on. The article also highlights the improvement needed in focusing on the parents & carers who are going through horrendous emotional & psychological battles whilst watching their child being treated for cancer. There is such a long list of unseen side effects besides the side effects of the treatments that these children have to endure in order to hopefully be cured. Childhood cancer affects absolutely everything; life really is never the same again & whilst we all wait for our “new normal” we’re still working out how to come to terms with losing the old normal & dealing with perpetual shock. If you have a moment, please read it (link in bio). You never know who might benefit from this kind of awareness. #ccam #livingwithcancer #emotionalimpact #childhoo

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