Mindfully Buying: The Pledge

A few days ago I was sitting filling up another online clothes shopping basket I had no intention of checking out. Today I did two loads of washing and as I went to put it away in my over flowing cupboard I thought it was probably time for a sort out. Two fulls rubbish bags later and I feel so, so guilty about the waste. Of course everything is going to a charity shop, but why on earth did I ever think I needed all that stuff? It is bizarre to me. So many things I remember liking the idea of in the shop regardless of whether they suited me. So many mass produced, poorly produced, sweatshop produced things…it breaks my heart.

18B44C74-1BF8-472A-9DCA-09BB4EBF16A2

So, in order to break the cycle of want rather than need, I thought I  ought to do a no spend challenge. I did no spend January at the start of the year and I really enjoyed it. It stopped me browsing and that in turn stopped me feeling the need to purchase. I felt a lot less stressed. When I started the month, I made a list of all the things I thought about buying. It was amazing how many things I felt I ‘needed’ in those first days. More often than not, if I didn’t write them down straight away, I couldn’t even remember what it was that I had wanted. As the month went on the thoughts of buying disappeared.

I have tried to be more mindful of my spending since, and I really have stopped buying clothes and tat in supermarkets (which where we live is pretty much my only shopping experience!). I have rediscovered Fat Face, whose clothes suit me and they seem to be the most ethical high street store I can come by. I would certainly be gutted if I learnt otherwise. But I really do need to do more, because I just don’t need any more.

The Pledge

My pledge is that I will not buy myself any clothes or shoes for twelve months. If, by some washing machine disaster, all my undies disintegrate, then I will obviously replace, but…twelve months…no clothes, no shoes, no bags or accessories, no jewellery, no makeup. I can’t actually see myself needing anything. After all, it would be really nice to give some of the things I’ve owned for over a decade a chance to wear out. Instead of mooching around the online shops, perhaps I’ll find some more productive things to do with my time. I don’t need any more clothes and I’m certainly not going on a spree before I start my twelve months. They’ve started the day I started this blog post…the 13th August 2018. I did buy two things in the sales a couple of months ago that are tucked away for Francis to give me at Christmas, which he will. Maybe I will appreciate them more.

I will let you know how I get on. Twelve months….I have no doubt there are plenty of people in this world who do it without a conscious thought…and some who do it because they have to. I didn’t grow up in a wasteful house. Mum and Dad were both very careful with money and instilled those values in me. But I do think times are different. Advertising is everywhere…particularly, for me, through Instagram. I’ve also gone from working to being pregnant to becoming a stay at home Mummy to being pregnant again and now having had all the children we plan to have. So there has been, rightly or wrongly, cause to have a few wardrobe refreshes over the last five years. Time to stop.

35EEEE28-973D-4C1F-AA85-E3DA924211BB

 

Making the most of Summer

My darling husband gets one afternoon off a week. Usually, we have filled that precious time with diy, cleaning, admin, gardening and all sorts of other things five times over. It is precious time, but we seem rather time poor in general at the moment…the to-do lists grow more quickly than items get ticked off and in the blink of an eye summer will be over and Ruth will be at school for more Wednesday afternoons than she isn’t. So, for this Wednesday afternoon, we decided to make sure we had a beautiful picnic lunch together…and I think it was pretty much perfect.

Organix found my blog and offered to send me some of their new healthy snacks in return for a review in a blog post. Our beautiful summer and a special picnic seemed just the right time to break out the treats for the girls. Chloe liked the cheesy pea snaps, while Ruth liked the cheese and onion lentil hoops. Both really adored the fruit and seed bites…so much so that Francis was holding them slightly out of reach and there was much entertainment while the girls tried to grab hold of them.

Sometimes I need a little push to make something really special. Special rolls wrapped in brown paper and a different washi tape for each person.

Pieces of melon which we just love in summer…my Mum always used to cut them into smiles for me and my brother.

5B43E696-6985-4CE4-B35E-EAF6913C4947

A smoothie and our Organix snacks finished it off perfectly. We sat under our old apple tree and made lunch last for as long as we could.

CD0B115C-A476-4879-9861-78A0118A551C

D8177A3D-3EE8-4459-B399-A7349A9A7007

9651E6AF-A60E-4B66-BA09-CF9420C5A3F7

I hope you find time for some extra little summertime moments here and there. Eating meals with children can be a whirlwind of food and extra requests…but, just occasionally, everything seems to slow down…and this picnic was one of those times and will be one of those memories that are held in the highest regard.

The range of snacks that Organix create can be found on their website www.organix.com

The products listed in this review can be found here:

Cheesy pea snaps

Cheese and onion lentil hoops

Cocoa fruit and seed bites

Made with Love: Wrapping Paper and Gift Bags

Crafting with my girls is something I love to do. Pegging up, framing, sticking up their masterpieces in the house brings a smile to their faces and mine. But, there is only so much room and so much time before the artwork becomes invisible as we pass it. Making wrapping paper and gift bags means the girls can get crafty or do some painting and it has a use, other than display. We do it with someone in mind, so there is no doubt that it is made for that person with a whole lot of love. Here are three simple ideas for making wrapping paper or gift bags with children (or of course on your own 😉).

1. Paint Stamping Wrapping Paper

We used large A2 sheets of plain, white paper (given to be by my Mum as leftovers from her calligraphy days) and foam stamps I picked up from Sainsburys a few years ago. I’ve gotten wise to the paint colours that go well together without creating a mass of brown. A selection of blue, red, purple, pink and silver is a very safe bet.

The girls did a sheet of wrapping paper each. Chloe (1) with guidance, but Ruth (4) had free rein.

If you don’t have any stamps suitable for paint, then we’ve also made wrapping paper with handprints…and it worked beautifully.

2. Butterfly Gift Bags

We had some plain white paper bags left over from Ruth’s birthday party in February and we made the ladies at her preschool a selection of homemade gifts as thank yous for their kindness and support over the last two years. So it seemed fitting that we decorated gift bags for them. Ruth had been asking to paint butterflies so I saw a good opportunity…

I folded the paper bags in half (but left the handle unfolded) and Ruth splodged paint mainly on one side of the bag. After folding and smoothing the paint (outwards from the middle tends to give the best butterfly shape and means the actual painting can be as random as wanted) I am always so impressed by how beautiful the patterns are.

D5B1D882-4CD1-49C7-8EA0-A43453189228

What’s more, with the left over paint, I was delighted by how Ruth set about mixing and swirling and talking about how the colours mixed and what colours the paints made when the were mixed. It really felt like a lovely activity and Ruth chose which of her preschool ladies would get which bag.

3. Pressed Flower Wrapping Paper

For her birthday, Ruth was given a set to press flowers. It is just a cardboard set (I still have the wood and cardboard one I was given as a child) but it works really well. It was lovely to go around the garden, picking little flowers. We picked some violas, clematis, buttercups and aquilegia…really just anything we could find in faily late spring.

11C99702-D129-464B-82AE-B7839D616FCEThe flowers took a couple of weeks to properly press and dry. Once they had, we wrapped up the gift in plain white paper and used a glue stick to stick the flowers in position. The gift was an easy shape, which I think would work best with the fragile flowers, and I think wrapping the present before sticking on the flowers was the right thing to do. We only stuck flowers on the front side of the present, but I think it looks lovely. And Ruth, having just seen the photo, says, “I think we should make that, that’s my present”.

Leave me a comment, or tag me on Instagram if you get a chance to try any homemade wrapping paper or gift bags. I would love to hear how you get on.

Mindfully Gifting

Last Christmas I had a wobble in the checkout at Aldi. Just a quiet wobble to myself…not a throw myself on the floor tantrum. I was looking at Christmas pictures with in built led lights designed to replace the normal pictures on walls during the festive season. And the sheer volume of stuff just struck me. Stuff everywhere. That feeling has stayed with me over the last few months. It has made me think twice about what I’m buying. It has made me think twice about where I’m buying from. It has made me think twice about how I am gifting.

My girls have more toys than they can play with, and far more than they need. A couple of weeks ago I was tidying up the house and getting extremely stressed about the amount of stuff we have accumulated, when the postman knocked on the door. I muttered under my breath, “if that is one more thing to put in this house I am going to scream”. He handed me a parcel, and it had my name on it. That feeling of frustration disappeared as I wondered who had sent me something and my heart quickened a little as I wondered what it might be. Carefully wrapped in pink and white tissue paper was a selection of things from an independent shop on Instagram, La Juniper.

501EB761-755F-474A-9A35-96A57402185F.jpegThe items were sent to me to try and nothing was asked of me in return, but it was so thoughtful and made me feel so lovely, that I really wanted to share them with you. Receiving this parcel has reminded me so clearly of why we give gifts; to show someone how we feel. To make someone feel lovely or appreciated or cared about. Don’t get me wrong…not every gift is created equally…some gifts can make you feel the opposite. I am a firm believer in only giving something that you would love to receive yourself, or at least something you know that other person will love…otherwise what on earth is the point? It wastes money, time and resources.

So…down to the parcel.

The Green Balm by Moa. Anything that is called magic I’m sceptical of. I don’t have the greatest skin, much to my annoyance and disappointment, but this little pot can be used for all sorts of things. I decided to use it as a facial moisturiser. A bit risky as the Bobbi Brown cleansing oil that is meant to help everyone definitely makes my skin worse, but as I hadn’t realised this balm was largely made of natural oils, I went into it blindly. I’ve been usuing it for a week, after my usual cleanse and tone with Liz Earle…and, while it hasn’t magicked every spot away, I really rather like it. It doesn’t have much of a scent, but I love how it feels when it goes on to my skin, and my skin definitely feels softer. I think it has eased some of the reddness on my face and it is meant to be very good at healing scars, so I am very eager to keep using it. We’ve also used it on insect bites and it certainly soothes them. I think the little pot will last me quite some time, but I can see it being something I will purchase in the future.

22296EFA-1C94-4131-8FEE-84F328EB5DFE

The Fortifying Green Bath Potion by Moa comes in a green glass vile, which certainly looks potion like. It smells amazing. Certainly of peppermint, which is clean and uplifting. Francis and I had certainly gotten ourselves feeling run down over the last couple of months. Our last holiday felt like such a long time ago, so I saved this for the start of our holiday in Devon. It didn’t disappoint, it really does smell lovely.

Next there were three tea samples from Avantea. These looked beautiful. My favourite had to be the Cream of Earl Grey. It is so pretty with dark leaves and blue cornflower petals…and it smells utterly gorgeous. I usually only drink camomile tea, but this was absolutely beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

0DC83F7E-563A-4F36-BD54-EC56D56A3C80Lastly two wooden beech spoons for my two girls. This little extra really made me feel so special. Given to me because Eliza knows from my Instagram that I bake with my girls. How a person I hardly know could give such a thoughtful gift is really quite something. They are just like the spoons I remember baking with when I was a child. They are made from sustainbly sourced wood from European forests crafted by families in Slovenia. We will have a lot of fun using them together, and they will remind me of Instagram days.

My parcel from La Juniper was incredibly kind and made me feel wonderful. I have enjoyed using the products such a lot. It is so lovely to buy from an independent shop…it makes everything much more personal. La Juniper prides itself in sourcing ethical and sustainable items both from the UK and abroad. I very cheekily asked for a discount code that I could share with you, and the lovely Eliza has given me not one, but two codes, both are valid until the end of June.

home5 for free shipping and £5 off a spend of £35

home20 for 20% off

Both codes are not valid on dropship items (these are items sent directly from suppliers). Have a little mooch around the website and I’d love to know if you try anything.

 

You are enough

I live very comfortably under a rock in the middle of the countryside. I’m extremely protected from so many things. I don’t have Facebook anymore and I avoid the news – I find that all the sophisticated targetting and suggesting of stories left me particularly vulerable when I became a mummy, and as I’m a rather emotional softie a lot of the time, I’m better off without. We rarely watch any live TV so we rarely see adverts. I have very limited local shopping and therefore I’m sheltered from the bombardment of adverts in shops, apart from my general Waitrose and Aldi missions (but if I avoid the aisles, I don’t come home with all sorts of…stuff). What I have realised is that, while I have removed so many of those things in my life, I have also opened myself up to a whole world of it through Instagram. I love the inspiration that comes with the using the app, and I have found some beautiful, independent companies that I love to buy presents from. I have no problem with people using it to advertise or indeed make a living. I am simply mindful of the effect it can have on me. Generally those feelings come in the form of what I have or who I am isn’t enough; I’d be happier if I had that dress, went on that holiday, my children had that toy, I had that item of homeware.

I’ve been reading a book; A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button. It is an insight into the advertising industry written by someone who used to be in the industry. It suggests that we buy items designed to last and avoid fad styles, looking for our true style. It is an interesting read and has made me look at some things differently. It has made me think twice when I tell myself I ‘need’ something. It has made me look at what I have and realise that, while it might not be the lastest colour or brand, it is useable in the same way.

So, while a few companies fill my feed with what I need for perfect summer entertaining and what I must have to have the perfect, dreamy summer picnic, here is a fancy afternoon tea we had last weekend. Nothing new, nothing purchased. Homemade loveliness and a reminder to dig out what you have and enjoy it. The flowers were picked from my garden and arranged in recycled glass yogurt pots by Ruth. The placemats were bought last year from Argos because they were similar, but much cheaper than the H&M ones I’d seen on Instagram. They are a bit of a pain to clean, so they’ve been relegated. My blue and white napkins were a sale purchase from Cargo years and years ago and have largely been ornamental if not tucked away in a cupboard so they don’t get used and therefore dirty. Ruth added the flowers to them. The table runner was a cheapy from Sainsburys, bought a couple of years ago to cover up some of our pine kitchen table when I thought it was so un-Insta, but tucked away because it’s a bit faffy to have on the table with two little girls. The blue and white crockery was free from a for-sale site and I only got it because it is the same as my Mother-in-law’s; I thought my girls would love to have something like Grandma’s if they grown up to be as sentimental as me. I had started to believe that blue and white was ‘so over’, and pretty much un-useable so everything here was hidden away. I’m embarrassed that I thought that because of what I’d seen, because this has always been me. Old school, traditional, homemade, homegrown, handpicked. And that is more than enough.

Made with Love: Summer Linens

I love making things by hand, whether they are gifts for someone I love or something for my home. My Mum has a sewing machine and I remember her making all sorts of things when I was little (a mermaid tail for my very favourite Barbie might be my all time favourite), but her patchwork quilts and cushions are heirlooms. She taught me to sew so my love of making started with her. But, more than ever, as a stay at home mummy, I feel a great sense of pride when I can add value to things. I don’t earn a wage, so I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I can make something out of nothing, or something beautiful and useful out of something basic. Generally all it takes is some time and I feel such a lot of pleasure when I look at or give something I’ve made. Here begins a little series on handmade gifts and things for the home. They will be inexpensive, but beautiful and made with love.

Twenty minutes plus £3.49 equals six pretty, summery napkins or placemats which bring a smile everytime I see them…and my two girls were with me while I made them. That’s how quick and easy they are. Granted, I do have a sewing machine and our extra long winter meant I had enough time to do a deep clean of the study and find the perfect spot to set up my machine permanently; but these are so easy to make. Carving out a little bit of time to dust off your machine will make you feel so good!

EAA38B37-6F58-43E5-A01F-ED8AC285270C

I feel a bit of a fraud giving a how-to for these as they are a total cheat…a set of three pretty cotton teatowels from Aldi (£3.49) literally just sliced in half and the cut edge folded and hemmed. The girls watched two and a half episodes of Sarah and Duck while I whizzed them up. But for someone new to sewing I have added some more details below.

Materials

  • cotton tea towels (generally they measure 50 by 70cm)
  • scissors or fabric cutter, mat and ruler
  • sewing machine and thread (I used white thread as the tea towels had been hemmed in white, polycotton thread is the best as it is much stronger than cotton)

Instructions

  • measure the longer side of your tea towels and cut them in half (my longer side was 70 so I ended up with two pieces of fabric 50 by 35 cm). Don’t fret too much about this…my tea towels certainly weren’t perfectly ‘square’ to begin with!
  • the cut side will need to be hemmed to match the other three sides. I folded my cut edge over a centimetre and ran it through the machine. You can iron or pin your fold if you wish, but I didn’t think it was needed, particularly as it isn’t a very long length of material to put through the machine
  • iron…or not!

And there you have it. Super fast and so pretty. The perfect size for napkins or placemats, although being so thin, they wouldn’t protect a table from something hot. Let me know if you give them a try and how you get on. I am definitely going to turn my ornamental Emma Bridgewater Christmas tea towels into some festive napkins!

 

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.

6CF1B662-B252-45C4-8F3D-2EC2FC3E2BE6

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

81BE74D8-9D84-4B61-85C2-AB8C1228B2F6

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.

B1DD4060-9DBC-475D-BEAE-CBE2E5A5F0EC

 

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!**

198E0DDE-DAF6-4E13-99D6-F5015647478F

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.

1F968D9C-1F85-4809-B8E8-5D9834D1AB87

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!