{The Gallery} Week 25

Tara at Sticky Fingers theme this week is: One Day in August

Over to Tara
“Just like the Blip journals, I want you all to take a photo on the same day – OOOOO! I’m trusting you to be honest here (as I often say to my children!) So, on Sunday, August 29 (Bank Holiday Sunday if you’re here in the UK) I want you to take a photo. Of anything, doesn’t matter, you just have to take it on that day.”

So here’s mine, taken on Sunday in Bury St Edmunds while we were shopping, just before a storm started, got soaked!

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Where do you Blog?

I thought this was quite cool, Centastional Girl is having a ‘where you blog’ party. Quite a lot of my favourite bloggers are in the US and they have the most fabulous blogging spaces, pretty desks, offices, all beautifully done out.  Umm me not so much.   I blog from the sofa, normally with a giant dog lying next to/on me  This is a picture taken from my Mac Book of me and my blogging pal.

This is the view from my blogging sofa:

I’m hoping that next year I’ll have somewhere more fabulous to show off.  I’m thinking blogging shed like my friend Karen over at the Rubbish Diet, it just gorgeous and I’m coveting it 🙂  Where do you blog?

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Gap Kids now Online in the UK!

Many thanks to Nat at Bambino Goodies for sharing that Gap has now launched an online store in the UK (I too am ignoring that Banana Republic is now online also).

I’m not that worried about me, until Gap change their ‘Long and Lean’ jeans to the ‘Very Plump and Short’ range, my ass is not getting into their clothes.  However I love, love, love their clothes for Miss L. When she was a baby I bought a lot of clothes from there as the baby stuff is just adorable and lasted for ages. She was still wearing their 3-6 months stuff when she was about a year.  And if you have a problem keeping socks on your child, Gap baby socks are the only ones that ever stayed on her feet 🙂

Fast forward a few years and it’s now very hard to find age appropriate clothes for a tall 7 year old,  it drives me batty.   She never needs that much as she’s in school uniform most of the time, just a couple of dresses, tops and trousers normally do the trick for the winter.  Here’s the new shiny online store.


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Inspired Room’s Fall Nesting Party

Inspired Room is one of my favourite blogs, Melissa who runs it is such a kind and generous blogger.  A long time ago when I was a blogging newbie I emailed her to ask some daft questions and she generously replied with great advice and we became blog friends. Her example is something I’ve tried to follow over the years, whenever I’ve been asked questions by new bloggers.

So I was very excited last week when I read that Melissa is launching her 3rd Annual Fall Nesting Party in September – hurray!!  I’m so over our cold, wet summer and I want to think about snuggling up, reading other blogger’s creative ideas and making things rather than fighting with my garden brambles!

Here are a few of my posts from the last couple of years that the Fall Nesting Parties have inspired:

Creating a Gallery Wall

Candle Making in Tea Cups

Apple Harvest

Cooking Apples to Store

Garden Furniture Makeover

And here is a sneak peak of the project I’ve just started for this year’s party, I can’t wait to show you the finished post.

The party starts on Sept 8th and read more about it here to take part.

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New Uniform

*Disclaimer – Tesco sent me a big box of Uniform*

A couple of weeks ago, I and loads of other Mummy Bloggers were approached by Tesco’s to see if we’d like some free school uniform AND we could nominate another Mummy Blogger to receive a kit for her children too!   So look at what’s just arrived:

There’s a skirt, trousers, polo shirts, normal shirts, cardigan and some stationery – all of which will come in handy, thank you Tesco’s.  And there was even a voucher in there for me, which will come in handy in about 6 weeks when I need to get a new jumper or coat. Also the giant box it came in is now a camp/boat/house in the middle of the lounge 🙂

So I’m nominating my good twitter buddy and Mum of 3 Paula who blogs at http://battlingon.wordpress.com/ She’s a lovely person and a great blogger, enjoy the uniform  xx

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Weekend Adventures

We’ve had a good if a bit odd weekend. We had alarms going off down the road in the middle of the night due to the rain, which kept us up for ages!.

However the highlight for me was getting Miss L to eat something other than blessed jacket potato and cheese for a main meal.  With Karen Pine’s advice ringing in my ears, to introduce new things in a fun way we decided to take Miss L to Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurant in Cambridge.  Miss L loves Jamie Oliver and records his cookery shows, so I thought it might be fun for her to go to one of his resturants.  It sounds far fancier than it is, the prices are very much like Pizza Express/Prezzo, which I was surprised at, but aimed at the right market.

The restaurant is child friendly, and they are made very welcome. There was colouring, unlimited cordial, which I may have drunk a lot of as it was lush and how cool is this?  The kids menu was on a view finder!

There were pictures of the food and a number on each one so the children could easily choose.  Miss L chose a pasta dish and salad, Paul and I looked at each other and where we normally would have said ‘Are you sure?’, ‘Will you eat it?’ we said nothing and choose ours. We were both nervous as she’s ordered so much food over the years that she’s barely touched, but we ignored it as Karen suggested.

Here’s the inside of the restaurant and my yummy bruschetta, which frankly was a meal in itself:

The starters came quickly, the bruchetta above and Paul had a selection of Italian breads with olive oil and balsalmic vinegar dip. You know what, Miss L asked to try both and then promptly ate most of Paul’s bread and about half of one of my bruschetta’s!  She really enjoyed all the new tastes and asked lots of questions about where the food came from and what was in it. Then when the main courses came, she was really excited and a whole bowl of pasta – which hasn’t happened in about a year without an argument.   Taking Karen’s advice we didn’t praise, just let her get on with it and she also had a nibble on the salad too.

You can image how delighted we were!  She was so enthusiastic and wanted to cook some Italian food at home for Sunday lunch the next day. She thought about it and the next day had an idea for a recipe. Luckily I always have a ton of Italian staples in the cupboard so we could make it without much hassle.

So she made a pasta sauce from tin of tomato’s, tomato paste, 1 red onion, 2 slices of bacon, 2 cloves of garlic, basil,  olive oil served with pasta.  A green salad with mozzerella and added some shop bought Italian bread with an olive oil/balsalmic dip. All her idea with a bit of chopping onion and turning on the hob help from me, other than that she did it all.

I’m so proud of her, she had such great ideas and carried them out so well.  I’ve realised that she’s not a baby anymore and shoving food infront of her with no input from her has been causing all the problems we’ve been having with food refusal and control issues.  So from now on I’m going to make sure she has an input and can help me more with preparation, which she’s really looking forward to.  So thanks to Karen Pine and Jamie Oliver to getting us here and making us all think differently about food in our house.

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Small Kitchen Design

We have a tiny, old kitchen and it’s only now that I’ve accepted that it’s not getting any bigger that I’ve started getting excited about how to get the most from it.   The kitchen has been the embarrassment of our home rather than the heart.  Reactions to our kitchen over the last 5 years has ranged from ‘OMG, How on earth do you cope?’, ‘Is it supposed to look like that?’, ‘Wow the puppy really DID eat it, didn’t she’….


Houses like ours were build as ‘starter’ homes for young married couples in the 1930’s and the glorious large Victorian kitchens were deemed unnecessary waste of space.  Ironically now these 1930’s semi detached and detached houses are now much sought after for the space the other rooms – the bedrooms are massive, the garden is wonderful and spacious and you can get a good 4 cars on the driveway.  But the kitchen is the one room that really lets them down and is the most extended room.

Our kitchen measures 8×8 and we have a usable work surface of about 2ft and floorspace of 4ft x5ft. There is no room for a washing machine, tumble drier or a dishwasher.  Frankly it drives me nuts, god knows how women in the latter 20th Century lived here with 3-4 kids?

We started the remodelling idea a year ago and I had a local kitchen company come plan a new kitchen.  I thought that they would be able to come up with some space saving ideas and appliances.  However the plan was exactly the same as what I have currently and the quote for 8 cupboards with no appliances, tiling or flooring….£9,000!?!?

I then called an architect in, who suggested knocking the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. And then building a utility room on the side of the house and then knocking into that.  The price…£20,000 plus.   We both loved the idea, but it’s a lot of money to spend on a house when house prices are all over the place, and this isn’t a forever house. So that plan was out the window.

So I decided that I would come up with a list of things I really wanted from the kitchen:

I needed:

A Dishwasher



Coffee Machine

Sink (with new taps)

Prep Space


To get that I ditched the upper cabinets on the right hand side and replace them with Ikea shelves and removed the cupboards beneath to create space for the dishwasher. Removing those four cabinets made the room look so much more spacious – it was amazing.

I’ve painted the laminate cupboards with ‘cupboard’ paint from Dulux so they are now white (read how here).  But if you have regular cupboard sizes (our aren’t) you could also just buy in new doors.

The biggest thing was to only keep what I needed, for some reason I had loads of wine glasses that I never ever used so I donated them to charity, which freed up a load of space. Also don’t be afraid to move the functions of the room around. I’ve moved where I make tea and coffee over to where the dishwasher is and I now have the space where it was for food prep.  Wish I’d done it years ago!



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Nutella Day out at Legoland

*Disclaimer – I got a day out a Legoland and some nice bread*

We were invited to a ‘fun and informative breakfast briefing ‘with Nutella at Legoland. Now I’ve never really eaten Nutella, it wasn’t something my Mum ever bought when I was a kid. So I’ve never really had it in the cupboard at home, so I didn’t really know what it was like.

Last week the PR company sent us a hamper with some frankly gorgeous bread from ‘Hobbs House Bakery’ and a jar of Nutella, and as it’s turns out Paul and Miss L both love it! I’m still a bit ‘meh’ about it but I’m not a giant lover of nut based products, but they’ve had it on bread, toast, in porridge and out of the jar! So to be considered a hit in our house.

So yesterday we all traveled down to Legoland to take part in the breakfast briefing, not really knowing what to expect. Once we got there we were welcomed by the PR team who had obviously worked hard on the project and there was a lovely room and garden for the children to be looked after in by the childcare team. Paul went with Miss L and from the sound of it had more fun than she did – something about winning a rolling down the hill race? 🙂

There were a great collection of bloggers there and it was lovely to meet them all finally: Notsosinglemum, Morethanjustamother, Placeofmyown, Cookingcakesandcbildren, Beingamummy, Glowstars.net, Me the man and the baby, Amothersramblings, Familyaffairsandothermatters, BubbleBoo and MaryPoppins

Upstairs we were greeted by the Nutella marketing team, Sian the nutritionalist and Karen Pine (@karenpine) who’s a Psychology Professor and Child Developmental Expert. First we had a really interesting talk from Karen about the psychology of food and how it relates to children, she covered everything from food refusal to picky eating. As Karen said kids sometimes use food to manipulate, independence & autonomy (mine certainly does!). But as it’s a phase it’s best ignored and eventually it will go away.

The most interesting fact for me as I have a very picky eater, is that Mums present a new food 3 times to a child. However children need to be presented 10-15 times with a new food before they’ll try it. Which would explain a lot in our house!

Here are Karen’s ideas
E example – set example have good habits
A attention – don’t focus too much on their eating or habits
T try, try again 10 or more times

We then had a talk from Sian the nutritionist and a Q&A session with her. Sian had some very interesting information about how breakfasts are so important for children. A balanced breakfast and hydration aid concentration so try and make sure they have some sort of milk or juice as well breakfast food. It was also interesting to find out that children generally have a stomach the size of a clenched fist (one of theirs) so need little and often – rather than large main meals.

The round table was interesting, some of the Mum’s loved Nutella and had no problem giving it on toast/bread for breakfast and some saw it as a ‘treat’ food rather than something that should be given for breakfast – which I can understand. I’m of the ‘as long as she eats something before she goes to school’ camp, she’s been having a teaspoon of it in a bowl of porridge and I’m happy for her to have that in the morning.

We then moved onto the cooking fun with Alan Coxon who introduced new ways of using Nutella. Alan was so much fun and a great font of knowledge about all types of food. He demonstrated some different uses and then invited us to have a go in teams. I was lucky enough to be teamed up with Amy from Cookingcakesandcbildren and Kelly from Placeofmyown. They came up with some great ideas and I did the fruit chopping – about my limit with cooking!.Amy did some fantastic Nutella piping which I think set ours off beautifully. But the teams all came up with some great ideas, I loved the ‘Great Wall of Nutella from Me the man and the baby‘s team – looks yummy!

Here’s a short video of Alan demonstrating one of his recipes (taken on my Kodak vi8)

So all in all we had a fun time, my family are all Nutella converts, and as long as it’s in moderation I’ll treat it much like I do honey or jam as spread. Thanks Nutella for such a great time and the brilliant advice from Karen and Sian it’ll make a difference in our house.

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Burwash Manor Barns

The summer holidays are going on FOREVER this year, so I’m looking for places to go now rather than going to just the tried and tested. So today we headed out to Burwash Manor Barns in Barton South Cambridgeshire.  I’ve been meaning to go for maybe 5 years, but as it’s bit of a trek from mine I’d never gotten round to it.  But today we were bored and the weather is more like October so it was time to get out.

Burwash is a collection of boutique shops in some old farm barns, and they have a great choice of produce.  There is a fantastic foodie shop called ‘The Larder’

There is also a garden furniture shop full of the most gorgeous iron work furniture, kids clothes shop and toy shop, a decorating shop that stocks all sorts of heritage paint and papers and my favourite ‘Nest’ full of vintage home goodies. They have their own website here

We had some lunch at the tea rooms, which while the food was great, there were wasps *everywhere* which meant we were constantly swiping them and couldn’t really relax which was a shame, especially as the food and service were excellent.

Here are the goodies I bought in the Larder the porridge is milled locally and the dressing we had on a salad in the tea room and as it was so amazing I bought a bottle. The cookies of course speak for themselves,  I’m off to heat up some up now!.

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Thrifty Christmas is Coming…

Yes I know it’s August, and no I’m not my mother just yet 🙂

But I’ve been thinking and talking to people on Twitter, and last year I think I did Thrifty Christmas a little too late in October. Some people didn’t have enough time to make all the wonderful goodies (handmade/foodie/crafty ideas) you all suggested. So this year I’ll be launching it on September 17th and I’ll have a dedicated page, with new fancy linkys with images, and badges all ready to go!

I can’t wait to see what you all come up with!

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Blogadesh – some of my blogger friends – Josie from Sleep is for the Weak, Sian from Mummy Tips and Eva from NixdMinx are going to fly out to Bangladesh for a week to see the work of Save the Children and report back via their blogs raise awareness. Mummy Blogging at it’s very best!  Read more about it on the Save the Children site here

I, for one am really looking forward to reading about their experiences and hearing about such important work done first hand.  If you want to know how to support them, here’s some information on Josie’s site.

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Paul’s now on holiday with us for a week, so on Friday we thought we’d pop up to Holt in Norfolk to do some shopping – they have the best boutiques! But we got there about midday and there wasn’t a parking place to be had for love nor money – mental note go about 9am!  So as it was pouring with rain we thought we’d drive a bit further North and see what was there.  We got to Sheringham and decided that a chip shop lunch was in order!  I’d not been to Sheringham before but it was a really lovely small town, and has retained lots of fisherman village charm.

We discovered that there is a steam train station in Sheringham, and that it runs to Holt.  So next time we’re going to park up in Sheringham and go to Holt in style, I can’t wait to go back.

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