Friday, 30 May 2014

The Best Photo Of The Week

So both our children wanted to be in front of the camera this week! This is me trying to capture images for the Easy Peasy Pillows and two tinkers kept sneaking in!

Also.....if you think our house is tidy all the time......this is what was behind the camera!

Snoozing baby and toys!!

Post by Emily


Easy Peasy Cushions

I used some time the other day to make some pillows. This is the easiest process that does not involve zips or buttons and once you get the hang of them, they take about 15 mins to make. So these are great for quick presents or updating the home.
To keep the cost down I only put my patterned fabric on the front as cotton canvas, or plain linen is much cheaper than the fancy stuff so I do half and half pillows. You can you the same material all the way round and it will work as well.

Square and rectangle pillow slips.

Whatever size of pillow you have, this works!

I use my pattern piece for the top and I use a plain cotton for the back.

1. Measure the length and width of pillow (from the seam) and cut your top piece of fabric to that size. Add an extra 1/2 inch for sewing room.

2. The bottom piece you need to do the same width but the length you need to add a good 5-6 inches
to enable you to make the opening .

3. Cut the bottom piece in half ( fold width ways) so you  now have 3 parts to your pillow.

4. Hem the back 2 cotton pieces by turning over a short edge and doing a running stitch down. Do this on one short edge of both the back pieces. These bits will create the opening.

5. Lay a piece of the back onto the pattered fabric. Make sure the pattered front piece us facing up and then lay the back piece down so that you have the rough hem edge looking at you. Also, keep the edges together this shouldn't go over any edges.

6. Then lay the second back piece down. This should overlap across the middle section.

7. Pin and sew around all the edges.

8. Cut the corners but do not cut across you stitching, (this helps push out the corner points.)

9. Slip you had through the opening back pieces and turn inside out (which be comes the right way round!)

10. Fill with you cushion!

Round bolster pillows

You need just pattered fabric for this!

1. Measure the length of the pillow from the middle of one end to the middle of the other end. Then do the width by going around the pillow.

2. Add on an extra 4 inched to the length and 2 to the width for sewing room.

3. Sew straight down the long length. Make sure you don't sew too far in otherwise it will be to tight.

4. Then tuck an end in on itself. You are hemming the end but you need to leave enough of a gap to thread string through to pull it tight. Once it is tucked in enough, about 2 inches should be inside,  sew the hem leaving a small gap between the start and end of the stitching.

5. Do this to both ends, check you length though and adjust accordingly!

6. I used a pen with a twist top which I tucked my elastic into to help guide my tie trough. Once threaded. Pull tight and tie.

7. Only do this to one end so you can push the cushion in and then do it to the other end!

Sewing edging on.

I have never done this until I made these pillows!!!
This is how I did it, it might not be the proper way but it worked!!

1. Place whatever it is you want running along the edge on top of the front piece of your cushion. I used some lace ribbon as you can see. Then placed one half of the back piece on top, (like you would do with the original slip, you are just sandwiching the lace in the middle.)

2. Sew down that one edge making sure you catch the lace ribbon between the two pieces.

3. Repeat on the other edge.

4. Now lay the two back halves  that have not being sewn down over each other, like in the pillow slip, and just sew to two long edges that are left.

5. Pull through the opening and as you turn it, the lace should appear running down the side.

Hope that makes sense. If you think about it logically, it is an easy process. You always want the proper side of the pillow that will be on show facing inside! Sandwich then you trimming between the 2 and sew.

Post by Emily


Thursday, 29 May 2014

Making a giant chalk board

You will need:

MDF sheet, architrave, wood glue, chalk board paint and coloured paint for the frame.

First measure the space you want to fill and cut your MDF sheet to size.

Then paint the MDF sheet in 2 coats of your chalkboard paint.

Once the paint has dried, measure the architrave to the length and width of the board. You will need 4 lengths to be able to create your frame effect.

If you can, mitre the corners so the sit together smothly.

Then paint the lengths in the colour you want. I did white to match our walls.

Once they have dried, stick using wood glue on top of the sheet creating the framed edge. You might need to weight them down with some books to make sure they stick.

This should now be looking like a perfect chalk board.

We screwed ours up onto the wall as I wanted it lifted off the floor.  I then filled over the holes with filler and also put some filler around all the edges so it looked smooth on the wall.

Make sure you have a box of chalk at the ready!


Tuesday, 27 May 2014


When we moved into our house this is how the garden looked! (the tree at the back is in our garden)

It took a lot of work to get the hedge cut down. At the bottom of the garden was a huge mound of rubbish and soil and the grass was pretty much weeds so we hired a friend with a digger to scrape the grass into a pile in the front and move lots of the soil from the mound over the top of the garden to level it up ready for grass seeding.

I really enjoyed the process of growing grass as in only a few weeks, with decent weather (wet or sunny), you get signs that you're going to have grass soon after having mud for so long!

While the grass was growing, I was quite keen to grow some vegetables down the side of the path too. Pretty much just economically rather than for the joy of it, however our neighbours do still refer to us as Tom and Barbara from 'The Good Life'.

The grass started to look really good & we got some really good courgettes, radishes, pumpkins & salads that year. I pretty much only grow things you don't need to water as I feel it's a bit of a waste of time. (I think Jan our neighbour probably watered them when I wasn't looking though)
We continued to grow veg for the next 2 years, but now we're a bit preoccupied with other stuff but it is fun if you want something to do & is always nice eating something you've grown yourself.


DIY beginnings

I have the attitude that you can pretty much make anything if you can be bothered to take the time to have a go and remember these 5 tips:

1) People's rubbish can be your treasure, so don't rush to buy things yet.
2) Don't be afraid to have a go. What's the worst that can happen?
3) Pallets are a great source of free wood and they're everywhere if you aren't afraid to ask.
4) Friends are great ''free'' labour, if you pay in beer and food.
5) There's a youtube video for everything!

I was always keen on making things from wood that were useful, like spice racks for mum or shelving. but my 1st real building project was the pizza oven at my mum's house. It was 1st April and

I thought it'd be a laugh to have a pizza party with all my friends for my birthday at the end of the month.

30 days to build a pizza oven!

I had no experience of laying bricks or arches & didn't even have a trowel or a wheelbarrow. So mum and I went down to get a trowel, barrow, bags of sand and cement. I used all dad's spare bricks from around the garden to get started. It was slow going and rubbish brick laying but i persevered until I was out of old bricks. I ordered some more bricks, got some free bricks from a family friend and spoke to our family builder about other tips and things and after a month of April showers and fitting it around work; it was complete the evening before the party.

That pizza oven provided so much fun for years with family and friends and all for a bit of hard(ish) work and just giving it a go and not worrying if it's not perfect!

Since moving into my own house, the 1st thing I wanted to build was a pizza oven as I had confidence from my 1st attempt. I took 6 months on this one and really improved my brick laying and design so much. With every layer of bricks you see something forming and this can be very rewarding and builds your confidence in other areas. I'll do a different post for the stages of building 'the poven' but here's a picture of what it looks like for now to hopefully give you some inspiration for starting your own project.


Bank Holiday Gardening

We had a good gardening day this bank holiday. The weather wasn't bright sunshine but it wasn't cold either.
Rob has spent a bit of time making me raised beds to grow flowers in. We always had a plot at the side of the garden running down the path but it was always a bit messy as it wasn't contained. So Rob built a brick wall around it and we filled it with more dirt. I have not been very green fingered though and have let it grow over with weeds so I decided it was time to take action.
The thing with weeds is that they can be so rooted it takes a lot of work to get them out. You can go and buy sprays and special weed killers but I didn't fancy a shop run on a Bank holiday so I just put my gloves on and got dirty!

I started at one end and worked my way down. Half way down we have a rhubarb patch that has been there since before we moved in and it produces so much fruit so I cut a batch of that. Its always nice getting your own food produce.

2 years ago I also planted a batch of lavender to make a bush which has taken well and is growing so I just had to de-weed around that.
At the back, running along our neighbours fence we used old house roof tiles to line the plot so the dirt doest trickle through. These are great as they slot into each other leaving no gaps. They are also good as any kind of stone absorbs the suns heat and helps keep the soil warmer for plants to grow. We had already placed half in so Rob finished it off for me.

Once I had finished weeding I raked the soil well and spread it evenly over the plot. I also sprinkled some compost over and raked that in just to help make it a bit more fertile.

Now all thats left is for Rob to put some quarry tiles on top of the brick work to make a smart ledge and for me to fill it with plants!


Sunday, 25 May 2014

Last Weeks Catwalk

 Etta has has been enjoying some easy clothes this week as she is unwell. I think an impending illness will hit in the next few days as something is brewing, poor thing. 
She has enjoyed some 'hand-me-downs' from a friend of mine this week. The little dungarees we were given  were matched to a next top that came in a set of 3. She had a new pink dress and a couple of summery romper suits from Sainsbury's as they had a big 25% off all their clothes this week. They were both made from such soft jersey fabric so very comfy indeed. We also got some new PJ's from Tesco as her sleep suits were keeping her too warm in bed. As you can see we were enjoying the hankies again this week! 
I think my favourite item though are the navy blue with spot trousers! These are from Next and just look so cute with everything!

Well this week has been fun for me. On Monday I went for a bridesmaid dress fitting at an old stately home so I wore a Vintage dress that I picked up at an antiques shop. I picked up a cool floaty dress from Tesco which I paired with my ASOS biker boots and a River Island Fedora hat. I love my River Island spotty peplum Tee and my white strappy wedges were a bargain at £19.50 from Tesco.
I must say, I think my new Obsession is going to be maxi cardi's. I picked two up from TKMaxx this week and they are just gorgeous. One is a Vero Moda one which is stripy and this lovely plain grey one was an unknown brand. They just look so nice with jeans and a cami, really easy to wear too!

There was only one item this week that Raph was obsessed with, his new wellies! They arrived on Tuesday and that has been it, every day, wellies are on! It's really cute. I think he loves them because of the colour. He has had two pairs before, and they were both red because I loved the little red Hunter's! But maybe now I am swayed to the yellows too! Anyway, you might think 'Hunters, on a 2 year old!' I know but as we wanted to have more children after Raph I just figured they can be passed down. They last amazingly, they don't scuff or bleach colour, you just need to give them a good clean before you put them away! Raphs first size 5 pair are ready for Etta!
Clothes wise this week raph has worn Sainsbury's bright red jeans, and I also got him a fun Hawaiian print tee from there too. He has worn all Next Shorts and the chambray and stripe shirt are theirs too. His grey shirt was a really cute stars and anchors linen one I got from Primark.
He also used his cowboy print Cath Kidston back pack which he takes most places full of cars! 

Rob got the opportunity to rock out his new Joules quilted coat this weekend, very practical but classically  stylish. He also had a ASOS lambs wool jumper in a charcoal grey with a River Island burgundy  leather belt and the classic Topman chinos.

Post by Emily


Saturday, 24 May 2014

How I Like to Dress

How to dress like a mum, but keep it fun!

It has been an image in my head. From where; I do not know but I have never wanted to look 'Mumsy'. What is this term? Where has it come from?
I always have liked getting dressed on a morning. Never loathed it. Loved it. But as I have grown into my role as a mum my fashion sense has changed.
Unfortunately you can't wear heels every day when you are running around after a 2 year old, it's just not practical!
I don't buy fashion magazines any more. I love them but it makes me so critical of myself. I find I just look into what's new in store and get the vibe from that.
I love shopping. I try to make my wardrobe last though buy buying better quality stuff and less of it, I have learnt as I have got older, I'd rather spend the money and have less but have it for a lot longer! Don't get me wrong though, Primark is still great for staple pieces!
I think there are lots of things that a young mum can wear and still feel like the vivacious girl they are meant to be!
 Obviously too much flesh is something that needs to be addressed. I am all for skirts and adore the midi skirt. An Under the knee skirt is your best friend. It is a classic style and doesn't give too much away! Minis are fun, but for me the 2 pairs of ultra black tights I would put on with them are a necessity!! Not a fan of bareing my legs too much! I live by the 'chest OR legs' theory. Only ONE should be emphasised at one time! And really for me, its the calfs anyway as my skirt of choice is definitely a midi!
The top half of my body doesn't often give too much away. I Don't mind showing my back but I am not a massive fan of flaunting the chest. Girls need to think with a straight head. If you think it's too much, it probably is.
As a mum, my day-wear I try to keep fresh and easy. I use key fashion pieces to try and keep up to date. I find a good jacket can be matched with old jeans and a tee and turned into something modern and trendy. Who doesn't like a good jacket!?
I also try not to buy the most statement thing in the shop! There are always the new and most out there pieces but I take a step back and get something close to the style, but something that you won't notice is 'old' when you wear it next year! That is important! To keep your wardrobe fresh, its good to just buy a few bits to take you into the next season. At the moment for me, it's light jackets and sandals. I have loads of trousers, skirts, dresses... well everything really but to update, you just need a few key bits. Jewellery is also great for updating, that new bright statement necklace will shine off that plain white tee!
So for me, I make sure I steer away from frumpy and plain and go for silhouette making items that keeps me feeling good.
Here are a few new buys from this month to help me along.

Post by Emily


Ahhh, You must be Catholic!

In a world where religious scandal heads the papers and youth morality is low its hard for people to understand why we religiously go to mass every Sunday morning.
We are both cradle catholics. My upbringing had very clear guidelines. We always went to church and prayed as a family. We all did the usual protesting but my parents kept us there and we have all grown up with a really stable faith.
Rob much the same. He did his own thing in his teenage years but got back into it as we started dating.
I thought I would share with you a few items from my parents home. Now for a lot of years my Mums collections of statues and pictures were quite embarrassing. For a teen to an early 20 year old having friends over always came with the sideline, "excuse all the stuff, my Mum is REALLY religious!" As I have grown older I now admire my parents for their confidence in being these "REALLY religious" people. My Mum has collected some amazing pieces. Some are newly carved and printed, some are old antiques and statues saved from closing down churches. A treasure trove to the lovers of Jesus really.
One main thing that we have had at my family home for many years is our own private chapel. My parents have some outhouses which they turned in to a very stable like chapel. We have had many masses, many religious talks and many rounds of the Rosary in there. They hold large family days for Catholic families, people seem to come from all over, many have become their friends. The lovely thing is many of the children are of similar ages and younger to my siblings and I. It has been a great support  network were everyone can talk and ask advice about child rearing, relationships and general dilemmas or celebrations they choose to share. It is a time for just learning to be a family. And that is what my parents have been able to create in their home. A place where they can be a family, and a place where extended family members can also be. They now have 2 sons and a daughter in law and 3 grandchildren. Not to mention my Grandparents living next door and the fact that they have 8 children themselves. Yes I am one of 8! 4 boys and 4 girls, I'm the second eldest and eldest daughter. Did I mention that my Mum is also Irish?  Ahhhh so you must be Catholic!

Post by Emily


The Importance Of Play For Children

Your daily life should be full of opportunities for a child to learn. Anything that you do will somehow affect their development in some way. We have always given Raph opportunities to learn, in play and in quiet time. We read 3 books every night as part of our settling down process and he is getting to they stage where he says the ends of sentences from his favourite books. It shows how much he listens and takes in.
Raph has always loved toys, especially cars, diggers and anything to do with transport. Play kitchens have definitely been a favourite to. He very much likes building ramps with us or preparing our dinners. He has got better and more independent in his play as he has got older.
We have encouraged Raph to be able to play on his own. I think it is important for a child to be able to occupy themselves. As a single child, it meant that we could start tea or prepare lunch. Being able to leave him to get on opens up points in the day for house chores to be done. And now as another bambino has come along, it has meant that he has just played by himself when I have been feeding or rocking a baby to sleep. 
Raphael loves to play and Etta is at a stage where everything is new and amazing so she enjoys anything that goes on around her. 

It is important to get your children playing. It opens up so many outlets for learning different skills. I found this Top 10 list on the Literacy Trust ( which explains so clearly why it is important.

1. Play lays the foundation for literacy. Through play children learn to make and practise new sounds. They try out new vocabulary, on their own or with friends, and exercise their imagination through storytelling.

2. Play is learning. Play nurtures development and fulfils a baby’s inborn need to learn. Play takes many forms, from shaking a rattle to peek-a-boo to hide-and-seek. Play can be done by a child alone, with another child, in a group or with an adult.

3. Play encourages adults to communicate with the children in their lives. Adults support play by giving children the opportunity to engage in play, by knowing when not to intervene, and by knowing when to intervene.

4. Play gives children the chance to be spontaneous. You may think your child should be rolling the truck on the ground but that doesn’t mean that truck is not equally useful as a stacking toy.

5. Play gives children choice. Having enough toys or activities to choose from will allow children to express themselves.

6. Play gives children space. To practise physical movement, balance and to test their own limits.

7. Play gives adults the chance to learn how to play again. One of the most challenging parts of play is incorporating yourself in it.

8. Play allows adults to learn their child’s body language. Knowing when you should incorporate yourself in your child’s play is key.

9. Play teaches adults patience and understanding.  If you do choose to join in your child’s play make sure that you do not try to take it over and force incorporation of your ultimate learning objectives into their play. Structured adult-led activities have their time and place but remember to allow for time for children to control and decide their own play.

10. Play is fun. Learning to play well, both by themselves and with others, sets children up to be contented and sociable.

I think that play has so much to do with the general rounding of a child's personalities. Learning to share, saying please and thank you and understanding how to be with others allows them to build and develop those key skills in becoming the polite little human being that we all love.

Post by Emily

The All Star

For years now my family have been wearing Converse trainers. They were a complete staple in my Dad's youth as he was a basketball player and that's what he wore. For many years I didn't really appreciate them. I remember my brothers having pairs of camouflage Chuck Taylor high tops in their early teens and then we all ended up with multiple pairs as life went on. My Dad once had to go to Japan for work and he literally came back with a suitcase full of patterns and styles that weren't even in this country yet. I suppose as they were very much a part of our Dad's younger days we have always had some infatuation with them.
As a wedding gift for my Father, Rob and I bought him a pair to mark how he has always looked after us, and gone without to support his family.
One Christmas we bought our entire family a pair each, which was amazing.
Now Rob pretty much lives in a range of colours, I have 4 pairs, Raph has had many already and Etta has a pink pair hanging on the end of her cot ready for use as soon as she fits them. So we like them as you can see.
I thought for this post though that I would delve into a bit of the history and I have to say, it's a nice read.
 So in 1908 Marquis Mills Converse opened a rubber sole shoe shop in Massachusetts. A few years later they created the classic Converse Basketball shoe that we know and love today. Then in 1921 a basketball player named Charles H. "Chuck" Taylor walked into Converse complaining of sore feet. Converse gave him a job as a salesman and sent him off around America with their products. In 1932 he became an ambassador for Converse and they decided to add Chuck Taylor's signature to the all star patch on the classic high tops as a sign of all the hard work he had done.
In 1940s war time they stopped production of shoes and made military outerwear. As did lots of companies at the time. People weren't buying shoes as there wasn't the money and to keep in business Converse had to change. 
Going In to the 50s and 60s, Converse promoted their distinct image of the American high school and college athlete. This is the more iconic image of converse, Grease the movie had them as a staple for the characters! 
It was then and into the 70s that converse became an iconic brand and was seen as the essential sports shoe.
Post 1970 however Converse came up against new brands like Puma, Adidas, Nike and Reebok. They stopped being the NBA's official shoe and became quite quiet in the industry.
During this time an employee, Jim Labadini created the chevron and star logo that still remains on a lot of their shoes.
Unfortunately the poor choices made and the lack of a major advert in the NBA, Converse claimed bankruptcy in 2001. In 2003 Nike paid $309 million to acquire the company and with that took the company to a new level of popularity.
Converse is now one of the most fashionable footwear brands. They are probably found in most homes in this country and America and are so popular I bet you couldn't walk down your local high street without seeing someone in a pair.
However, even though most fashionable things loose their charm and popularity, it seems Converse are definitely here to stay and we, and many others, will not be putting them in a cupboard for the grandkids to dress up in just yet.

Post by Emily

(Information found on Wiki)

The Best Photo Of The Week

This was taken when Raphael and Geoff decided to have a water fight with the water sprayer bottles. I think our next door neighbour Geoff enjoyed it more that Raph!


Friday, 23 May 2014

The importance of play for adults

After writing about the importance of play for children I only thought it fair to do one about grown ups. 
As we get older, there is no reason why play shouldn't be part of our every day lives. Whether its is doing Sudokus by yourself or enjoying a good card game. Having some sort of fun activity can be a great healer in relationships, a great stress reliever or a great opportunity to spend quality time with people.
Somewhere along the road of becoming grown ups, some of us loose the ability to play and we become work obsessed. Money becomes a strong pull and the seriousness on mortgages and bills takes its toll. 
Adult play time is a point where you need to forget about this. For the sake of ones own sanity and for the saving of relationships it is vital to give yourself points time to stop and have a bit of fun. 
Hobbies are great for this. Bike riding, crafting, shopping, board games or reading are all opportunities for play. I was reading that even talking to your dog is a time when you can relax and enjoy someone else's company. It's a time when you can forget your commitments and work stresses and socially benefit yourself and others. has some really simple explinations of what play can do.
Play can:

Relieve stress. Play is fun and can trigger the release of endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals. Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain.

Improve brain function. Playing chess, completing puzzles, or pursuing other fun activities that challenge the brain can help prevent memory problems and improve brain function. The social interaction of playing with family and friends can also help ward off stress and depression.
Stimulate the mind and boost creativity. Young children often learn best when they are playing—and that principle applies to adults, as well. You’ll learn a new task better when it’s fun and you’re in a relaxed and playful mood. Play can also stimulate your imagination, helping you adapt and problem solve.
Improve relationships and your connection to others. Sharing laughter and fun can foster empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy with others. Play doesn’t have to be a specific activity; it can also be a state of mind. Developing a playful nature can help you loosen up in stressful situations, break the ice with strangers, make new friends, and form new business relationships.
Keep you feeling young and energetic. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Playing can boost your energy and vitality and even improve your resistance to disease, helping you feel your best.

Interestingly I found play in a relationship with your romantic partner is something that can heal many a misdomeaner.  We can all admit to tifs with our husbands, wives and partners. A lot of us can admit to full blazing rows with them too. Many of us might not admit to real marriage rocking situations but they do happen. I find that when Rob has really angered me he ends up just saying or doing something silly and it completely wipes it away. Whether it's a playful hug or a silly face we usually sort out differences. Sorry is obviously a good one too!! 
All I know is that, the moments that you can laugh and do things with someone else the more healthy a relationship becomes. Moments of fun bring you closer together and help solidify that bond. 
So get out that monopoly board and a bottle of wine, dust off the trainers and go out for a bike ride. Whatever you do, do it with a playful heart and I am sure smiles will flow!

Post by Emily


Bed time!

I must say, getting the kids to bed is one of my favourite things to do. It sounds harsh, but I love having adult space on an evening to just relax. 
The journey to that can be quite tiresome though. A day of playing or working, tidying and sorting leaves me wanting to be in bed by 9 most nights! The end of our day can be very peaceful though. I thought I would share with you the joys of bedtime. Don't worry, not mine; the children's, as so many sweet things always seem to happen at bed time! 
We find the best way to calm down is reading. After baths or playing, we get the kids changed and all pile into Raph's room and all sit on his bed. We then read 3 books. We may
read Rob's multicultural accented 'The Gruffalo' or perhaps classic rhyming books like 'Hairy Maclary', but we always read three.
Once they are read we settle Raph under the blankets and then say some prayers as a family. This is a really beautiful part of the day! Don't get me wrong, some nights Rob and I just want to rush through this part as we are fed up but it is really important for us to show the children how lucky we are and to have a point in the day when we are thankful. You don't need to say prayers to have this in your life. It's just really good to have that point to be happy that you have lived another day and that we are in our own home and have such an easy life compared to some. It's just part of our wind down. Raphael is so good at trying to say his prayers, it really breaks your heart hearing him trying to say the Our Father. So cute! 
Then kisses and cuddles and after that we pop Etta into her bed, kiss her goodnight and close the door. Then Rob and I go downstairs and that is us, free for the evening! Well most anyway! There isn't usually much activity from the kids after that!

Post by Emily

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Water fun!

So this is the only water toy you need for this summer! I popped to our local - has loads of random things really cheap - corner shop today, and bought 4 plant water sprayers. I wanted to get them for us to use to have water fights in the garden. Don't laugh, these are great! They squirt water for about 4-5 meters and take ages to run out! I hate the filling up process of water guns and when kids cry because they spray to hard or they can't pull the trigger. Raphael couldn't of found these easier. He ran around for ages with our neighbour squirting each other over the garden fence. He found them so easy!
So get to any garden shop of mini mart and grab some. Mine cost £1 per bottle and I got 4. If you want to be super savvy though, you could always rinse out you Detox or Mr Muscle really well and then use one of them. 
Can't wait for Rob to get home, think Raph and I will wait in the garden!

Post by Emily


Wednesday, 21 May 2014

What to do when the kids are asleep

What parent doesn't love that break in the day when the kids are napping? If  I am struggling with getting clothes in the wash or a pile of pots has appeared on the side, I love to have the opportunity to get these done with no interruptions. In a way it can be quite calming to just take myself off and sort these bits out. Another thing I love to do is just browse the internet looking at news, shopping or Pintrest.
Rob is a fan of doing anything handy, grass cutting, making something, measuring something or just staring and thinking of the next/ current project.
I guess its just a time for you to have adult mind space instead of the "Mum/Dad" shouts. That time is when you can just get that fresh cup of tea because you haven't been able to finish one all day.  Or you can put your feet up and eat that chocolate bar that you don't want to share.
It might be just an hour or half an hour, or if your are me 20 minutes sometimes, but as the song goes, Silence is golden!

Post by Emily


Monday, 19 May 2014

Reviving an old bench

I dug out this bench from my parents shed. They had it in there with lots of stuff piled on top. I decided I would salvage it and turn it into a bench for the kids to use at our giant chalk board.
If you ever find old bits of furniture in parents garages or in charity shops, here is a how to on how you can up- cycle them.

Luckily for me this was unpainted but if you had one that was painted or stained I would sand it down a little first.

Once sanded and clean I start with a white primer. This helps create a base for your coloured paint to stick to. I did one coat on this but if its dark wood I would do two.

Then when thoroughly dry add your first coat of colour. I always start with the underneath as you can turn the item over. Make sure you get into all the corners and joins, and don't leave any drips! Once evenly covered let it dry.

Add a second coat making sure you get all the corners again and that the whole piece is covered.

I don't do more that two coats. The primer should of taken care of the dark wood so after that you just leave it to dry.

For this bench I wanted to make a cushion, just so it looked pretty! I used a nice fresh coloured fabric and some wadding.

This is slightly more complicated and I would suggest using a sewing machine for ease.

Measure the space you want to fill, for me it was just the top of the bench. Measure the length and width but add an extra inch to allow for sewing space.

Cut out your fabric, a front and back piece, then cut out your thick wadding to the same measurements.

Once cut lay your wadding out first then place a piece of fabric pattern side up on top making sure you match the edges up.

Then lay your other piece of fabric pattern side down. This is to make sure that when you turn the piece inside out once sewn it is actually the wadding with the material either side.

Sew down the two long sides and one short leaving the last short side open. Sew about half an inch in so there is no chance of holes. (This is why we cut the fabric slightly bigger.)

Then put your hand between the two fabric pieces and turn inside out, which should in fact make it, the right way round!

Using your fingers push out the corners and flatten the wadding between the two bits of fabric.

Once straightened and flat go to the open end. Fold the fabric in on itself, pin,then sew up the end.

There you go then, once the bench is dry, place the cushion on and put in its new home.

Post by Emily


Pintrest biscuits

WARNING! If you leave these at arms reach of a child, they will grab before you get a chance to photo!

So whenever I look at foody things on pinterest there are reams and reams of beautifuly decorated biscuits. They always look incredible, in artwork and taste, and so inspiringly beautiful it makes me just want to get in the kitchen and bake. However many times I have tried to recreate these little wonders of art I just ended up banging a box of smarties on the biscuits instead. (Don't underestimate smarties on biscuits though - they are amazing!)
More recently though I have found a really simple recipe that takes no time at all, and the more I practice the better I am getting!
If you fancy looking at this fab web site called Fish Finger For Tea, there is a great basic butter biscuit recipe that I use all the time.

Here are the basics from it:

  • 200g butter, (I sometimes uses a supermarket cooking butter instead because its cheaper)
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 400g plain flour
  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the beaten egg and a spoonful of flour and mix well. The flour will stop any splitting. Mix in the rest of the flour. The dough will be quite stiff. If you feel it’s a little too dry then add a splash of milk.
  3. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
  4. Once chilled, preheat the oven to 190c and line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper. You may need to bake the biscuits in more than one batch.
  5. Roll out the dough on a floured surface to about the thickness of a pound coin. Stamp out your biscuit shapes and place on the baking tray. Gather and re-roll any leftover dough until you have run out.
  6. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown. (In my electric oven 16 mins seems to be perfect. You might test and keep checking.
  7. Transfer on to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Decorating with Regal icing (the roll out stuff):

This is one of the more simple parts, if you are going for a solid colour, like covering a heart pink, then you can buy coloured regal icing in the supermarkets. Roll it out to a slightly thinner thickness to your baked biscuit and use the same cookie cutter you used for the biscuit on the icing as well. Then I use a pastry brush and some water, paste the back and stick it on. If you want to go fancy and decorate the top there are lots of tools that you can purchase to help you. I have some icing tubes which work well for drawing or writing on top. You can buy reusable ones from most cookware shops or you can buy the filled icing pens at supermarkets.

 I would always have an idea of what you want to make, look through some pictures for a bit of inspiration but remember, even if they don't look exactly how you want, they should sure taste good and if you can sit with a cup of tea and enjoy them, that's all that matters. 

Eating at the table

I love eating! But in particular the evening meal is great as it's a time when you physically have to stop what you are doing. It's pretty easy when you're on your own or even in a couple to skip dinner or postpone it. Kids like routine and the postponement seems to just mess with everything including sleeping. So it's quite important to eat at a similar time if you can else they just start getting grumpy. For us, we used to sit in front of the tv with Raph feeding him dinner and we still do if he's really tired and just needs something to perk him up. Raph's always enjoyed snacking through the day, but he never liked stopping to eat.

We've started having dinner at the table every evening and it does make a big difference. He usually eats all his dinner and then asks for more or for something else to eat at the table. It's easier for us for feeding Etta and him at the table too and means we can talk about the day's events and what tomorrow will bring. It's nothing new eating as a family, but as our family's got bigger, We've realised how important it is to eat together when you can.

Post by Rob

Last weeks catwalk!

This lady makes us so happy! She actually pretty much always has these same expressions on her face! 
Last week Etta's wardrobe was easy wearing.The beginning of the week was a bit more drizzly but the sun has been so warm she has worn lots of easy cottons. Now, last week I did the seasonal shop as both the children had only winter clothes, tights, trousers and long sleeved tops. My chosen shop of choice  for revitalising their wardrobe was Next. I find Next is definatly  the more expensive choice for every day wear, especially as we can not get through a day with out getting something on their clothes. But I find they wash easily and don't loose there shape so most things can be handed down or out to friends as they still look in great condition even after many wears. 
Giulietta wore all new season Next except on the day she wore a hat which is F&F at Tesco and so is the pale green smock t-shirt she is wearing in the same picture. 
We had a hankie head band week too. The yellow hankie is a Joules on I picked up last year and struggled to pull off. She however looks quite adorable. The blue one is actually a Cath Kidston soldier print hankie, we also have one in the cowboy print too, great for headbands or dibble bibs depending on what look you want.

Now this little cutie also enjoyed a range of outfits this week. 
Raphael has a bit of a mix this week Next, H&M, Primark and Sainsburys. Left to right from the top 
he is wearing a Next shirt and tee and Primark skinny jeans. His fireman's outfit that he wore all of Tuesday was from Sainsburys. They have a big range of kids dressing up and I got a batch of outfits when they had 25% off. His stripy top is from H&M and we have these in a range of colours as they are really easy pull ons. All of the other items are new season Next.

Robs wardrobe didn't change much this week! He has a uniform for work and on Saturday he was in gardening gear as he was working on brick laying and on Sunday it was cricket whites!

I had a couple of new wears this week. Jelly shoes have hit it big this summer with them coming in a range of colours. I opted for a nude coloured pair so I can wear them with anything. I also treated myself to the new blue striped tee from Next and the fluro orange/coral jacket is their new season stuff too. I got myself a really nice smart jacket from Matalan last week. Its an oversized boyfriend fit and it had 30% off when I got it. Its really light for the summer months and a lovely bold print.
My gold sandals are my top purchase though. I even went back and got a second pair. They are real leather and were £12 from Primark! A few years ago they did a similar pair but without the ankle strap and I had two pairs of them. They go with everything and the leather goes so soft when you wear them and for £12 - I really don't think you can go wrong!

Post by Emily

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