No longer a girl

My thirty second birthday felt a bit like New Year’s Eve. Lots of memories of the last year, memories of my life in fact, and looking towards to what will come in the next year. Still feeling like a girl, but knowing that I’m not. I’m a wife and a mother and I’m not a girl anymore…not really.

In the evening of my birthday, I started playing the piano. I’m not the pianist in our house…Francis is. In fact he is not allowed to play any of my music because he plays it so much better than me. While I went as far as Grade 7 on the piano at school, my technical ability is lower. I learnt the pieces for the exam. I only play a few pieces now; a waste that I don’t feel particularly proud of. My favourite pieces are from Les Miserables, and when I played them for Ruth that evening, the memories of my youth came flooding. Seeing Les Miserables and falling in love with it; dreaming of singing it on stage one day; the dreams of what I might do when I was older; being at secondary school…so young, but also being the oldest and wisest I had ever been. I have played those pieces for years. They transport me to so many times in my life; the way that music can. I wondered what my younger self would have thought of me now. I’m doing and have so many of things things I  dreamed about. While I never sang in Les Mis on stage, I have a husband who I love…truly and completely (even though he is slightly in the dog house for his lack of birthday planning, but then again he is topping up the gin and tonics to make up for it and he is mine and just thinks differently to me); two beautiful little girls who I love fiercely, completely, exhaustingly, frustratingly and unconditionally; we have the thatched cottage my seven year old self dreamed of, although it isn’t painted pink (but my thirty two year old self is kinda relieved re-painting the whole house will never be on the to do list) and I am a stay at home mummy…what I always hoped I would be able to do when I had children.

In so many ways I am more myself now than I ever was at school. I put that down to finding my soulmate and being loved in a way that makes me feel safe and comfortable. But I do see parts of me that have been lost a little on way. I did used to play the piano, but more than that, I used to sing. I loved to sing and I was good at it. However, I was a dreadful sight reader, and when I was thrown into the sea of good singers at University, I backed off, and let that part of me become unpractised and fade away.

So in the spirit of it being a new year, I am going to prioritise one thing…being myself. The girl I was and the woman I am. Because let’s face it…they have rather a lot in common. I hope it means that I open up a few more pieces of music this year, but if I don’t, I have to remember that things do change. While I might not have the time to dedicate to hobbies like I did while I was at school, I am watching my girls enjoy their childhoods and relishing this precious stage of my life.

Super quick Valentine’s Day cards

I’m a Valentine’s Day fan, in as much as it is a nice excuse to set aside a little extra time to feel grateful for the people you love; to make a nice meal to share with your family or to tuck the children up in bed and make something special for you and your partner. That being said, Valentine’s Day is coming up fast and I have no plans whatsoever in place…I had better take my own advice and think of a nice meal to cook!

What I have done already, is to make some really quick Valentine’s Day cards with Ruth. They are going to double up as thank you cards for her birthday presents and we have made enough to send to immediate family and her Godparents; a little extra love and something to make them smile. They were inspired by the cards Lauren, from @huntersandheels, made with her little boy a few weeks ago and shared on her Instagram stories. I thought it was such a lovely idea and while the girls and I were in the process of having a little sort of our study, we found lots of lovely coloured paper and card. I love making cards with Ruth. While we do some crafting for the sake of crafting, I really like having reasons behind what we do (it means we have a place in mind to put what me make from the start!).

We used A4 cream card, cut to A5 and folded for the cards and a piece of dark pink and light pink paper. I folded both sheets of pink papers a number of times, before drawing some half hearts in the folds and cutting them out. I thought it had been a bit of a waste of paper, so I also cut some hollow heart halves too. It was so quick doing it this way, and with little Chloe in tow, the quicker the better so that Ruth can get on and I can keep Chloe occupied. Ruth did pretty much everything, although needed a little help sticking on the hollow hearts so that they didn’t get too bent out of shape. A few dots of glitter glue (as I have one sparkle loving girl) and we were very proud of our work.


Have you got any go-to craft ideas that work well for a toddler with a little one in the mix? We are big fans of card making and play dough, but Ruth is also a fan of just practicing her cutting (which is brilliant for fine motor skills) and she always checks what she’s allowed to cut; advantageous when she brings you a Christmas cheque to check!

A simple birthday party for a four year old

I’ve found the start of preschool birthday parties to be a little overwhelming. The kindness and love from parents is always so clear in the time they have spent organising the party and in the huge costs involved. The hire of the village hall and, in my case, the extra cost to hire the kitchen so you can prepare the food or offer the parents a drink. The party food, party bags, sweets, gifts, books. The entertainment, whether it be in the form of an entertainer or a bouncy castle. Ruth has adored every party she has been to, most of which have included a bouncy castle. I’m lucky in that she has always stuck fairly close to me and has never had an accident. Even the child climbing on to the very top of the castle, as a parent switched it on to inflate it, escaped unharmed.

It was about eight months ago that Ruth started planning her party, and the one thing she was sure of, was that it was going to included a bouncy castle. She talked about her party often. At least once a day. I thought I would grit my teeth and go with the flow, but as I research and costed it out, I felt very uneasy about being responsible for twenty children bouncing around and the money it would involve.

So I decided to pull the ‘I’m the mother card’. Of course I didn’t tell Ruth that (I hope, naively, never to actually say those words!) but I decided that I needed to be happy with the party that I was throwing for her. I have hugely fond memories of my parties as a child. All were at home and all were organised and catered for by my Mum. She was the invitation maker, cake baker, party decorator and entertainer. And I never wanted for anything else.

All my plans were given more fuel when, before Christmas, Ruth was invited to a totally magical party… a Bear Hunt. We stomped round our village and the nearby fields finding little things the bear had left (mini tubs of play dough, a little bag of chocolate biscuits, a snowman template to decorate later) singing at the tops of our voices the words from the book and searching for the bear. We found the bear (the lovely daddy of the birthday girl) and he gave each child some ear muffs. We did some crafting and had a homecooked tea. I was buzzing from the magic of it all. I knew that an ‘old’ days’ party could be just as good as a bouncy castle one.

Ruth’s Party


Ruth adores the mud kitchen at preschool, so we braved the weather and planned to have the party outside and in our greenhouse. The weather was drizzly…all day, but that was absolutely fine and didn’t stop us from doing anything we had planned. We are really lucky in that we have a beautiful, big greenhouse with electricity. It was big enough to hold seven children and nine adults and we spent a couple of weekends preparing it by cleaning windows (honestly, as if four year olds would have noticed that!) and decorating it. We got some flower window stickers from eBay (which are actually to prevent birds flying into the windows) and I found some hanging butterflies in Home Bargains. Ruth has some fake flowers in her room which I brought down and put in some glass bottles.

I bought each child a little terracotta pot (69p each) from our local garden centre and wrote their names on it with glitter glue. They decorated their pots with stickers when they arrived. I thought stickers would work best as the children might smuge other crafty things when they potted up their pots, but I would advise having some glue sticks handy because not all stickers are very sticky!

Each little person then filled their pot with soil and planted a couple of daffodil bulbs and a purple viola. I found some little Easter felt flower stakes to pop in the pot to make it look extra cheerful. We then made a little cardboard and pipe cleaner spider/bug to walk over our flowers. I’d found the idea on pinterest when searching for ‘crafts using pipecleaners’ as we have quite the stash!

We had a big urn of hot chocolate and the children had some fun with the toppings they wanted. We had squirty cream, white chocolate chips, mini chocolate jazzies and marshmallows. Just be careful of the temperature of the hot chocolate! We also had a kettle and some tea and coffee supplies for parents.

We then went on a treasure hunt in the garden to find a little chocolate treat and a dinosaur aeroplane. After an aeroplane throwing contest we came inside to make homemade pizzas for tea.

Each child got a piece of non stick baking paper with the rolled out dough on and they could top it with whatever they liked. While we cooked them in our aga, the plan was to do face painting and animal mask making. I bought some snazaroo face paints for Ruth for Christmas and got some stencils for the party to make it quicker. I totally forgot to use them. In hindsight, they would have been much better to do as the kids arrived. They still had fun making the animal masks though.

The kids loved the pizza and had birthday cake and icecream after. I bought some plain white party bags big enough to hold their pots, the dinosaur aeroplane and a small chocolate treat. Ruth got quite upset at the end of the party… it seemed to come as a shock to her that people started to leave after tea. I wish I had prepared her with a whisper in her ear. She cried, but once people went and I could sit her down and listen more carefully to what she was saying, she said that she was so sad her party was over and that it was such a wonderful party. And that…well that made my day totally. It made made all the worry over whether it would be good enough and whether the children or parents would enjoy it melt away. There was my little girl…thanking me for her party. And my heart almost burst with pride.



Family handprints

Last year, on Father’s Day, we each painted a bird house. It was a beautiful summer day (you probably remember virtually the whole English Summer falling on the Father’s Day weekend in 2017!). We started painting in the garden and then carried on inside when the weather got too hot. It was a lovely thing to do and the birdboxes are now hanging inside our summerhouse. A little snapshot of our family.

Today, brings us a rainy January weekend, on the run up to Ruth’s 4th birthday. We have a set of four photo frames hanging above our kitchen table for Ruth and Chloe’s artwork, which I change with the seasons. Over the last few weekends, we’ve done a few bits to add some springtime colour and cheer as the weather has felt a little bit grotty. Today, virtually seven months after our birdboxes, we set about filling our last frame with our family handprints, biggest to smallest.

Ruth particularly enjoyed chosing everyone’s colours and painting Mummy and Daddy’s hands. We left the paint to dry in between handprints (ten minutes near our aga was perfect). It was a nice quick thing to make and Ruth was engaged throughout. **Ever found that it takes longer to get the paint supplies out than it takes for a child to enjoy painting a picture?! Well I have on occasion!**


So in amongst playing with kinetic sand (which is just so weird!) and dolls and puppets and musical instruments, we were all together in our playroom, with the fire on, whiling away an afternoon and making something I know once spring turns to summer, I will be tucking away safely for a very long time.


I used some WHSmith card for acrylic paints. It is thick with a beautiful linen feel to it. We always use Scola paints at home. I bought a set of big bottles of it when Ruth was tiny and I think they will probably last us for most of our crafting days!  Initially I had planned to overlay all our handprints largest to smallest, but after a test run, I really couldn’t see the prints clearly enough. We found the less overlapping the better.

Let me know if you try this or if you have any summer crafting ideas for our frames!

This is me…

I actually felt I needed to pluck up the courage to even tell my husband I was thinking about writing a blog. And that is very unusual in our relationship,..I usually empty my heart out to him on a daily basis. But there is something about putting ‘pen to paper’ in a public place that seemed quite a strange thing to want to do. So I mulled it over. Kept mulling it over. Nearly came clean and uttered the words so many times. But stopped myself to mull it over some more.

The reason I kept mulling it was because I just couldn’t answer the question ‘Why will your blog be any different to all the other blogs out there?’. Of course, when I finally did tell my husband, he didn’t ask that. He didn’t question it for a moment. He knew why. It would be a hobby. When I voiced the question I was dreading, he said, “There isn’t anyone else like you in the world”. And when you glimpse yourself through the eyes of someone who loves you, you feel the courage and the pride to do anything.

So here I am. The day after I told my husband that I might want to start a blog. Sitting at my kitchen table while Chloe (14 months) eats her lunch and chatters away and Ruth (turning 4 in the next few days) plays with play-doh and little figures from the movie Frozen while singing her heart out.

I am Jessica. A mummy to two beautiful girls. A wife to Francis. A teacher who didn’t return to work after having Ruth. A daughter. A sister. A homemaker. An Instagrammer. We live in a 500 year old cottage in a little village in the Oxdfordshire countryside and I plan to document some of our adventures and my thoughts on motherhood and raising two daughters.