My Week

This week has felt much less stressful than the last. James hasn’t been away, and we haven’t had too many appointments to keep. The weather’s been better too, and that always sets the tone for the week, doesn’t it? It’s not been particularly hot, but it has been sunny and that’s good enough for me!

Scented playdough

On Monday, I got creative with play dough. Tom adores the stuff – especially when it’s homemade. I thought it would be fun to play with some exciting colours and flavours this time. I used orange, lemon, peppermint and almond flavourings. Tom was thrilled when he came home from nursery and spent the whole afternoon squishing and squashing it. Keep your eyes peeled for a more detailed post coming soon!

Vintage Ladybird Art

On Tuesday, I framed these vintage Ladybird book illustrations. It really was so quick and easy – I did it while James was reading the boys their bedtime stories! And all for under £10.

Home Etc

Wednesday brought a lovely surprise. For the last month I’ve been joining in with the lovely Home Etc interiors and gardening blog hop, hosted by Jess and Caro. I was absolutely thrilled when I heard I’d been chosen as the winner of the first month! I’ve really enjoyed joining in every week so far, and it’s definitely encouraging me to be more creative. I love peeking into other people’s homes, and it’s so fun inviting people into mine. Do go and check it out – the link-up is open every Wednesday.

Old Fire House, Ely

On Thursday, James had a rare day off. We had the morning to ourselves. The sun was shining and we had a potter into town together – a very rare occurrence! We had coffee in the beautiful garden of the Old Fire Engine House – which is always such a dreamy setting. In fact, we had our low-key wedding reception there eight years ago. It was really quiet and we practically had the garden to ourselves. On such occasions you can indulge in a little fantasy of it all belonging just to you.

I also picked up this little swan in a new charity shop.

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I’m a bit sad that yet another charity shop has opened in our city (they are so parasitical and impossible to shift once they’re in place – we now have seven) but this one did at least have some half decent bric-a-brac. Proper vintage things, as opposed to the usual collection of empty Waitrose potted stilton jars and ten-year-old bars of soap. It even had a whole shelf of swans (plus more spotted in the stockroom). Still, I’d rather this particular empty shop had been filled with something new and exciting. Maybe one day, it’ll be me opening my own shop – a long-held ambition.

This week I have also been wearing my new denim jacket – a spur of the moment purchase in New Look – which is perfect for this rather cool June. It’s the perfect paring with all my ditsy florals and full skirts. Bit of a bargain too at £19.99.

New Look denin jacket

On Thursday afternoon we suddenly remembered it was a school dress-up and dance day for charity on Friday. The theme? Legends. Your favourite sporting star, fictional character or the ubiquitous 100% polyester superhero. Cue last minute panicking and scrabbling around. We’re not big on superheroes in this house and the Claud the Dog costumes from Book Day weren’t quite right. Gabriel has just discovered the Harry Potter books so was keen to dress up as his new hero.

Harry Potter costume

James still had his old gown from Cambridge in the loft. We dug it out and it was perfect. In my non-Oxbridge ignorance I never knew that undergraduate gowns were special pint-sized affairs – perfect for a six-year-old! It smelt hideously musty and probably still had ancient gravy stains down it – but it had a quick go in the washing machine and survived intact. A neighbour lent us some glasses and I speed-knitted him a rather dodgy Hogwarts tie. He had a great day and now wants to change his name to Harry.

Today – Friday- James had another day off and we caught up with some mundane, but satisfying jobs. Here’s Tom having a little break whilst helping to trim our hedge…

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And now it’s the weekend. Here’s to sunshine, waffles and strawberry picking….

Lizzie x

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Vintage art for under £10

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Have you ever come across these vintage Ladybird books about the seasons?

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We have a set and the boys love to look at them. I absolutely adore the illustrations and it seemed a shame that they were shut away on the bookshelf. I always thought they’d look beautiful framed. I’ve been tracking down some duplicate copies on eBay (they’re pretty cheap) and this week I finally got round to framing the first book!

I decided to start with Autumn, which is one of my favourites. I bought this simple, inexpensive, frame from Wilko’s for £8. The five mounts were a little smaller than the illustrations, but it seemed worth a try.

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Now, I have to say here that as I book-lover I found it really, really hard to break the book the up. Even though I knew I had another copy, it felt so wrong!

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I separated the illustrations carefully and secured them behind the mount with a little masking tape. Each picture needed careful placing to ensure the best crop – but they all worked surprisingly well.

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I absolutely love the finished result and can’t wait to hang it on the wall.

Home Etc

What we really eat #4

It’s been a while. Life has been busy and a bit stressful lately and remembering to take photos of our meals has proven rather tricky. But, finally, What we we really eat is back – and it’s all bit orange!

Monday: Fish fingers, roasted new potatoes and baked beans

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My eldest son had a friend round for tea, so we stuck to an easy favourite. We’d run out of oven chips, hence the new potatoes! James and I ate our share with a quiche and salad slightly later on.

Tuesday: Chickpea and sweet potato curry

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This is a really simple curry we all enjoy having. It’s onion, garlic, carrot, chickpeas and sweet potatoes – plus a can of tomatoes and some medium curry powder. Nothing fancy, but we all like it (apart from Tom, who just likes the yoghurt and naan bread).

Wednesday: Fish Pie

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Not made by me, I’m afraid. James was away and I had a school meeting, so Mr Tesco obliged. I think the boys actually like this one more than mine…

Thursday: Poached egg on toast

Gabriel was poorly with a temperature and an earache. As James was away still, we kept it simple. No photo sadly, but it wasn’t much to look at anyway!

Friday: Pasta bake

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Gabriel was off school poorly and for various reasons, we had a tiring and stressful day. So we reached for a jar of our favourite Homepride pasta sauce. I can’t believe you can still buy this – it’s great, you don’t even have to boil the pasta!

So there you are. Hopefully I’ll have some more meals to share with you soon!

The Twinkle Diaries

Joules Raincoats

You may have heard me mention my raincoat obsession before. No? Well, I definitely have one and tend to end up buying a new one every year or so. I always spend ages looking around, but usually end up coming back to Joules – I’m now on my third coat from them. They look great and – crucially – the waterproofing actually works. Ever since having children, waterproof coats have been a must-have – brollies are not really practical with buggies, and are a bit of pain on the school-run. So, I’m always on the look out for fabulous hooded raincoats.

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I bought my first one ten years ago. It was the first thing I’d ever bought from Joules and it’s still going strong – although, these days it tends to be my gardening coat! It was a dog-walking coat really, but I wore it everywhere. You can still buy a very similar coat here.

Last winter I invested in a full-length fleece lined waterproof parka from them. It was super cosy all winter, and will definitely be coming out again later in the year! Again, the waterproofing is fantastic and it kept me dry through some awful storms.

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This season Joules have brought out their best collection of rainwear yet. The Right as Rain collection has got something for everyone, and I couldn’t resist investing in this coat for the summer…

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This one has already done sterling service and I can confirm it’s definitely completely waterproof! It also has a great selection of pockets – two really deep ones, and two hand warmers. Basically, you can’t do a British summer without a raincoat.

Image: Joules

Image: Joules

Are you as addicted to raincoats as I am? What are your favourites?

A mini masterpiece

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On my last visit to Ikea I bought a really lovely, square frame. Buying frames in Ikea always seems like such a good idea – until you get them home and realise that literally nothing is the right shape to fit in them. I love Ikea, but why does everything have to be so awkward and non-standard?

After failing to either find anything to go in it, or bother to cut a piece of mount board to a more suitable shape, it’s been gathering dust on our landing for the last six months. Finally, though, an idea popped into my head – why not get the boys to make something to go inside it?

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So, last weekend I bought a piece of watercolour paper and let the boys loose with some paints. We all love the north Pembrokeshire coast, and the boys took this as their inspiration (with a little bit of guidance from us!).

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They used sponges and big brushes to paint the rocks, sea and sky that we love so much. There were a few tense moments of disagreement between them (mainly about rock sizes) but they worked together really well.

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So there you have it – a lovely little masterpiece for less than the cost of the frame.

And that’s my word of the week – masterpiece.

The Reading Residence

My Week

As I write this, the weather is hot and sunny. June-like. Proper hot. But a few days ago it was freezing and I was wearing three jumpers, huddled over the electric heater. Yet, just a few days before that, I’d caught the sun and proclaimed it was summer! What’s going on? Give me some consistency weather, please. We’re all getting confused.

Anyway, it’s been a long week – reasonably calm but with a few stressful undercurrents. But we’ve bobbed along ok.

Last Friday we made the most of a brief window of good weather and went out for dinner with the boys. Our local Prezzo (the only place left with any tables free) could only seat us outside on the balcony – which turned out to be the most stunning spot, overlooking the cathedral. It was a balmy evening, and who could fail to enjoy a bowl of ice cream in such grand surroundings?

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Over the weekend, I managed to get the shots I needed of my bedroom and put together this post. This is my favourite interiors post to date, but I still have rather a lot to learn. How on earth do real stylists get bed linen to look smooth? And there’s a few little things that I meant to tidy away, but forgot. It’s quite amusing to spot them – a bit like looking for the Usborne Books duck!

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On Sunday we took the boys to our local Open Farm Sunday event. We saw lots of people we knew, and it was a very successful event. Staring at large tractors is a little dull, I confess, but it was nice for the boys. You can read more about it here.

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This week has also been about drinking lots of coffee, alternated with hot water and lemon…

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There’s been lots of scribbling in notebooks and productivity on the blog. Blogging is already becoming an all-consuming passion for me and I feel like I’m beginning to pass a few personal milestones – which makes me feel absurdly pleased and proud. My one worry is that it’s quite a solitary pursuit, and I feel it’s perhaps making me a little unsociable in the real-world. This will be easier to remedy in September when I have more time!

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My youngest son and I have also been enjoying some happy creative time together. We’ve had one of those lovely weeks  – where our afternoons have passed gently and harmoniously. We’ve not got many of these left as school is looming on the horizon.

This week I have also been enjoying this Sainsbury’s candle. At £4 they are a complete steal and have a very nice, expensive-seeming scent and look. I’ve also tried the Fig, which was lovely. I need to stock up! Whenever I find a cheap source of nice smelling scented candles I tend to panic-buy large quantities of them.

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My crochet hook has also come out of hibernation this week – at last! I’ve bought lots of grey wool and I’m making a start on a large pick and mix style blanket, with lots of clashing colours – tied together with the grey. This should keep me going for a while and use up some of my wool mountain!

  
Even if the weather has been a bit unpredictable, it is definitely summer-time in the world of TV listings. There is literally nothing I want to watch. So I’ve been re-watching an old DVD of the Camomile Lawn, which I haven’t seen for a while. Which, in turn, has got me thinking that it’s time to dust down the Mary Wesley collection on the bookshelves and re-read a few of them.

  

Our garden is still a complete tip, but I’ll leave you with some Love in a Mist – looking stunning amidst the chaos.

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Travel journals for children

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A few weeks ago my mum was having a clear-out and unearthed one of my old childhood notebooks. I vividly remember this notebook – it started out as a little travel journal of a holiday to Yorkshire when I was about six. I’m the one standing on the rock, pictured with my Mum and older sister, Sarah.

Immediately, I was transported back twenty-five years – sitting in our caravan on a wet holiday in April: cutting, sticking and writing little snippets about our adventures…

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Clearly, the best bit about visiting Skipton Castle was the shop! Some things really don’t change, and the lure of the gift shop is just the same for my six-year-old son, Gabriel. I also must have had chicken pox around this time…

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I’m not sure who Lady Ann Clifford was, but I do remember sitting at the table in the caravan cutting that picture out – presumably from the castle leaflet? She’s just the sort of person I would have wanted to be in our imaginary castle games. I always had to be the princess.

Around the time my mum found the notebook, I happened to read this inspiring post by Rachel of The Ordinary Lovely. The travel journal she has created for her son was beautiful and it reminded me that it was about time my boys started one too! I found these notebooks in Wilko’s – which have a nice elastic to keep all the loose bits and bobs secure. Also, the camping theme will fit in perfectly with our plans for this summer.

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Yesterday, the boys made a start on them. Here’s a peek into Gabriel’s…

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And here’s Tom’s first entry…

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I can’t wait to see what other adventures will make their way onto the pages this summer. It can be a little hard sometimes to get boys to sit down and write something, but I’m going to make sure we keep up with these little journals. Looking back at my old notebook really reawakened all those memories that were just sitting at the back of my mind. I want my boys to be able to do the same thing in twenty years time.