Thursday, 28 November 2013

Dried Orange Slices (aka, tentative Christmas decorations) - Nature in the Home: Week 6

We've got 6 toddlers, plus their keepers(!), to entertain on Sunday. It's our annual NCT group Christmas get together. A chance for the littlies to play with balloons and steal mince pies from their parents' plates while the grown-ups catch up on news, bemoan their lack of sleep and drink vats of mulled wine.

We're not planning on getting a tree or putting up other decorations for a few weeks yet, but I feel the need to make the house look vaguely festive before the weekend. I dug out a big bag of pine cones we'd collected last year, and decided to make some more dried slices of orange to string up along the mantelpiece. (I have two mantels to decorate this Christmas - rather worryingly, this is very exciting to me!)

I cut the oranges into roughly 1cm wide slices and put them onto a greaseproof paper lined baking tray. (I wanted to put them on the wire cooling rack in the oven, but our oven is tiny and it wouldn't fit!) The greaseproof paper made sure that the oranges weren't going to stick to the tray and also meant that the washing up was reduced, woop! From searching online, times and oven temperatures varied wildly for drying the orange slices. So I decided to just stick the oven on Gas Mark 1, and leave the oranges to do their thing. I checked in on them every half hour or so, turning them as they started to dry out. In all, I think the oranges were in the oven for about 6 hours - and even then, they probably could have stayed in longer, were it not for needing to whack the heat up and get our jacket potatoes baking!

A needle, a length of string and a few strips of washi tape to stick it to the mantel later, and we're ready. It's beginning to look a little like Christmas...

*Apologies for the mega grainy photos - these evenings are so dark now!

Saturday, 23 November 2013


"A portrait of my baby, once a week, every week, in 2013."

This girl learnt that scrunching up her eyes is hilarious this week. See below for more eye-scrunching fun.

She also learnt that poking her tongue out makes her laugh. Uh oh.

Joining in with Che and Fidel.

Friday, 22 November 2013

This Week: November #4

1. The beech hedge had a haircut last weekend. See what I made with the remnants here.
2. A toddler-painted card to welcome my cousin's new baby.
3. A week of coloured skies.
4. Avoiding venturing out in the rain - we stayed in and made ginger biscuits instead.
5. Love those eyes.
6. Dark evenings mean a good excuse for candles.
7. Pyjamas, bobble hats and wellies are de rigeur for morning wear it seems. (The hat was mine when I was a similar age, and is very popular because it features many, many cats!)
8 & 9. Lovely light this morning.

Beech Stars - Nature in the Home: Week 5

Our unruly beech hedge had a haircut this week. It is now a shadow of its former self, having grown very wild, tall and straggly over the past year or two. Since the short back and sides, there's been a heap of orange and brown crunchy leaves and twigs residing in our garden, waiting to be trailered away.

This week I also spied some lovely looking twiggy stars in town. A tad pricey, I thought, for some glued-together sticks....and then, ding! My brain woke up. I have a heap of sticks in the garden! And a glue gun!

So, with a napping toddler (so a 30 minute or so deadline, seeing as nap time seems to have gone a bit skew whiff at the moment), I set to work. I made a 6 point star which is okaaaay but I wasn't happy with it really, so while R was on toddler-bathtime duty yesterday evening, I whipped up a 5 pointer which I'm much happier with.

You will need:
5 or 6 straight-ish sticks (mine were all 0.5cm - 1cm wide)
Glue gun
Garden twine

Lay your sticks out in the desired star shape - to make the 6 point star, I found it easiest to make 2 triangles and then join these together. Due to quirks and bends in the sticks, you may need to have a play and try them in different positions to get them lying flat enough to glue. Put a blob of glue at each point the twigs touch.

Once the glue has dried (so you can pick up the star without it all sliding floor-wards...), wrap the twine around each join (thus hiding all the glue!) and tie off at the back.

I want to try making more stars now - I think bright string could look really good - perhaps even neon? Mini stars strung up could be lovely too - I want to hang a line of them down our doors.

Joining in with Nature in the Home.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

We like to read - I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

We seem to have graduated in the library - we still check out all the toddler friendly board books, but we're now bringing home more picture books which I'm oh so happy about. It's so lovely to be able to introduce my little one to childhood favourites, and discover other new books together. We've got a little carried away at the moment though - both our library cards are maxed out, mostly on picture books...! Some of these picture books are ones I've chosen (like the lovely Jon Klassen book here), and others are books my little one has found (including a 'first words in French' book that she was adamant we had to bring home! Ha!)

Back in my past life as a teacher, I organised a hat competition for World Book Day - the children created a hat depicting a story, or a hat that starred in a story (there were a lot of Where's Wally bobble hats!) and the winner won a hat-related book. That book was I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen. I was very jealous as I wanted to keep it - it's so clever!

Bear has lost his hat. He wanders through the forest asking the animals if they have seen his hat, and does, eventually get his hat back. The illustrations are wonderful - simple yet detailed. The text is the same - it appears simple, but is brilliantly hilarious and sarcastic. I love the expressions of the animals - bored rabbit is my favourite I think.

And don't worry, Bear does eventually get his hat back...I won't spoil the ending by revealing how though!

Joining in with We Like to Read.


Sunday, 17 November 2013

18 months

Dear my favourite girl,

At 18 months...

Favourite words: mum (sometimes mummy), dada (sometimes daddy), down, teddy (dede, or deddy), gone, shoes, keys, cheese, zip, drink, swing, vroom vroom, brum, zzzz (bee buzz), raa raa (the noisy lion...), roarrrrrr, , miaow, ahhh (when stroking teddy/kitten/dog), baba (baby), du duh (digger), round and round (washing machine!), baa (sheep), maooo (cow), bubub (bubbles), bang!, ball, bowl.

Loving: playing with the duplo, anything with wheels that you can push around, lions, cats, dogs, cuddling teddy and putting him to bed with a blanket, playing with the dollies and pushchairs at playgroup, reading books, making a blurble urble urble noise, playing with the clips on the pushchair, camembert, trying to put on your tshirts/trousers/socks,  watching raa raa the noisy lion, getting out of the bath and being wrapped up in a big towel, doing the actions to zoom zoom zoom we're going to the moon, joining in with the two little teddies song, wearing your wellies, climbing, standing on the sofa/mummy and daddy's bed, going to the library, sitting in the big blue bucket, glueing and painting, grapes, playing with mummy's box of bangles, opening and closing the curtains, giving kisses. 

Not liking: having to sit in the pushchair when all you want to do is run around, not being able to cuddle all the teddies in the charity shops, having your face wiped/nose wiped, being carried when you want to run around, getting your hands mucky.

This Week: November #3

1. She loves playing with the pushchair straps. And today she discovered she could climb into it on her own. Uh oh!
2. Proud sister moment! My RAF band trumpet-playing brother played in the Festival of Remembrance at the Royal Albert Hall and the Cenotaph service - amazing!
3. 'Helping'. She loves to take the washing off the airer...even if it's only just been hung up! She collected it all on her trolley, then wandered off. Also showing off her new 'miaaaaooooow' leggings - a charity shop bargain!
4. Teething much?!
5. Painting a card for my cousin's new baby.
6. Full of cold the past few days. This is her dopey 'I'm watching Raa Raa' face.
7. A new picture for her wall - Jessie Wilcox-Smith's Child Reading on Couch, 1905. I love the colours, and the theme.
8. 18 months old today!

Saturday, 16 November 2013


"A portrait of my baby, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Armed with a paintbrush, she had her first forays into glueing this week. I think she liked it!

Joining in with Che and Fidel.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Leaf Jar Lamps - Nature in the Home: Week 4

Walking back through the park on the way back from playgroup yesterday, we stopped to collect some leaves. Once we got home, and I'd done the pushchair-to-cot sleepy-toddler-transfer, I ran round collecting up bits and bobs we'd use later to do some making. We didn't need much - only a couple of glass jars, the bottle of PVA glue, a few paintbrushes and the leaves from the park that I'd rinsed and dried.

I don't do much in the way of craft with my little one at the moment (crayons and felt tips aside) and want this to chaange - she's getting more interested now so I think I need to search Pinterest for toddler art activities - any ideas welcome!

We covered the jars in a layer of glue (this was the bit she loved best!) and then put the leaves on top. I wish I'd snipped the stems off as they insisted on poking upwards all the time - nothing a bit of extra glue can't solve though! A few coats of glue on top of the leaves to keep them on and the jars were finished. They took quite a while to dry (that may have something to do with the copious amounts of glue that was painted on them...) but were definitely worth the wait!

Joining in with Nature in the Home.

Saturday, 9 November 2013


"A portrait of my baby, once a week, every week, in 2013."

Oooooooooh! A face of excitement, glee and anticipation.

Joining in with Che and Fidel.

This Week: November #2

1. Finally remembered to snip a few heads of the hydrangeas to dry. The first lot went a bit crispy as they were too close to the radiator, but I'm hoping the second lot will be more successful.
2. Goldilocks.
3. An enjoyable few moments in the garden while the little one slept. See the results here.
4. A day of heavy rain meant we were climbing the walls and running out of ideas for games. A baking tray full of rice, with an ice cube tray, a spoon and a cup proved very popular though (here, she was saying 'dowwwwwwn' as the rice poured out... We hoovered after she was finished playing!) The rice-utensil combo also meant I could have a quick flick through the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook which I'd found in the library (why did I not get this ages ago, it's full of good stuff!).
5. The rain finally eased enough to venture outside so we donned waterproofs and went to watch the cars. This is the autumn version of this portrait I think!
6. Good sky.
7. The blueberry plant has the best leaves.
8. Beetroots from our local NT kitchen garden were turned into chutney today. I just wish they could've stayed looking like this!