Posts filed under ‘home life’

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

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

a first birthday (in pictures)

Having passed the 6 month anniversary of Luca’s first birthday last month (woops!) before sorting through the photos from his special day, here’s how we celebrated him.  Euan was off school with chicken pox and it was so lovely to have him home with us – it really wouldn’t have been the same without E there to “help” unwrap and play with L’s presents!  And it was lovely to have a birthday cake making helper.

November 17, 2017 at 9:53 pm 1 comment

melting wax crayons

With a craft loving 5 year old and a curious 1 year old it’s inevitable that things like sharp pencils and chewable crayons will find their way into the baby’s hand. Euan wouldn’t have known such things existed when he was this small yet Luca is growing up surrounded by interesting craft materials and big kid toys that make his baby things seem, frankly, rather dull. I had the bright idea to melt down E’s collection of crayons so that L would stop trying to put them in his mouth. The result was just different shape wax crayons he put in his mouth but hey, they’re no longer thin and stick like and E and I had a lot of fun making them.





To make wax crayon shapes

  • soak the crayons in water for easy removal of the paper wrapper
  • break up the crayons and place in a muffin tin or silicon shape mould
  • Bake in the oven at 150 degrees for 30 minutes
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Enjoy hours of fun decorating a large cardboard box with your new wax crayon shapes (L just loved putting them in and out of our zippy wallet).
  • .
    please note:  this will ruin your silicone tray we discovered so please don’t use one you love making chocolate shapes or cakes in!  Some other blog posts recommend heating at 200 degrees for 10 minutes but I didn’t fancy taking something that hot and liquidy out of my oven with kids in the kitchen.  I think a slower cooler melt time enables the different colours to remain slightly separate.

    November 7, 2017 at 11:38 am Leave a comment

    playing with the OXO mash maker food mill

    When E was a baby the first foods he tried were strawberries, avocado and chickpeas. We hand fed them to him or mashed them lightly with a fork and gradually expanded his palatte with food from our plate (although he didn’t have meat or bread until he was well over one). We didn’t consider pureeing having read about the benefits of baby led weaning where baby learns to chomp and then swallow rather than getting used to spoon fed purees and then having to learn to chew more solid food. We started using Nom-Nom Kids pouches as he reached pre-school age as smoothies were a convenient way of getting fruit and veg into him (and keeping his packed lunch chilled) but that was the extent of my food blending.

    Baby L has had a slightly different introduction to food, determined by the busy-ness of life as a second child, rather than any planning on my part. He started sucking frozen banana at 5 months of age to ease teething pain and quickly took to grabbing things straight from our plates. He’s quite the fruit monster and will happily try anything as long he gets to hold it himself. Apart from making smoothies to drink we’ve not really mashed his food too much for him.

    It might seem odd therefore to accept the challenge of reviewing a product specifically aimed at pureeing food for babies. I thought it would be fun to see if the OXO mash maker baby food millwas a gadget with a longer shelf life than the first 6 months of baby’s food journey. Baby L is 18 months old and I immediately had thoughts of easy fruit sauce dressed yoghurt puddings, fruit pureed pancake fillings, and making all sorts of dips to encourage L to snack more on veg. We started simply, mashing single fruits and big brother E was thrilled to be able to help. The blade in the mill is neither sharp nor easily accessible for little fingers so we even let Luca have a go. To compare mashing results we took two avocado’s and hand mashed the first (top photos) with a fork for the same amount of time it took to mill mash the second avocado (bottom photos – that’s a drizzle of Worcestershire sauce in the second picture not a past-its-best avocado!).

    The thing I love about the mash maker is its compact size. I’ve learned the hard way over the years that bulk making recipes is false economy when you grow tired of the same thing after 2 days or the flavour changes from being chilled in the fridge for too long. The Oxo mash maker is a small one cup amount and it takes little effort to use it as a feeding bowl that you just happen to turn the handle on to transform your own meal into mash. You can spoon feed baby straight from the food mill too so there’s no extra washing up created and it’s really portable for taking out to restaurants if eating out. We’ve always opted to give the kids food from our plate rather than buying a something-with-chips kids dinner. We played restaurants with last night’s dinner and a small portion of everything on E’s plate and this is how it turned out:

    Amazingly having mashed this mini meal for the purposes of the review L just picked up a spoon and started eating it! (he’d already eaten some of his veg and had climbed down from the table). I was really surprised as he generally refuses when I attempt to give him food on a spoon – perhaps that’s more to do with wanting to do everything for himself rather than what I’m actually offering. And in a week where he’s hardly eaten anything chewy due to sore gums he happily finished off this mashed version of dinner. I wonder if he’ll feel the same way tomorrow when he trials the pureed peas we turned into dip with a sprinkling of mint and drizzle of cream (E found these tricky to work into a mash as we just defrost our peas to preserve the nutrients rather than boiling them). We used the OXO baby food freezer tray to save some portions safe in the knowledge that the silicone lid would prevent any freezer burn or altering of the flavour.

    This is such a versatile item to have in the kitchen and not just for baby food. Whizzing up a few raspberries made a lovely, naturally sweet coulis for some Greek yoghurt which E then instantly turned into home made sugar-free raspberry yoghurt.

    E’s verdict? “I loved my yoghurt and look I’ve licked the cup completely clean”. And he had because the OXO measuring cup I’d served it in was not only a perfect baby portion amount but a 125ml measuring cup shallow enough for a small tongue to reach the bottom of. He’s requested it for all future pudding eating!

    As the OXO mash maker food mill was developed as a product for babies starting their adventures with food I thought I’d also ask a friend with a 6 month old baby what she thought of it. “I smooth pureed all of my daughters food when she was a baby and it seemed to create an aversion in her to try anything more lumpy and she seemed to gag a lot when she did eat chewy food well into toddlerhood. So with my son I read up on baby led weaning and liked the idea of that approach. The mash maker is a good middle ground for us as we can use it for first flavours and chewier foods and gradually adjust the smoothness to a slightly lumpier version by just not milling it so much”.

    The possibilities are endless with this lovely little gadget.  We’ve also now made a chunky hummus with chickpeas and yoghurt and baby L’s current favourite is a beetroot dip.  It’s great to know I can just pop it in my bag when we go out and be pleasantly surprised by what he’s interested in trying out with the simple turn of a handle. It would make a terrific gift for first time parents, afterall babies grow out of baby clothes gifts so quickly and this would continue to be useful long after the weaning stage is finished.

    Disclosure:  these products were sent to me by OXO UK to review.  I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are my own. 

    November 3, 2017 at 1:00 pm Leave a comment

    just keep trying

    ”Every mountain top is within reach if you just keep trying” – Barry Finlay

    October 17, 2017 at 11:53 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! 
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#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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