Friday, 29 March 2013

Happy Easter

Since B became a toddler, I find that every festival or special day provides lots of inspiration for activities, crafts, baking, reading and watching, and I'm sure many parents out there feel the same. So this Easter, we've been getting into the spirit with various activities. As well as reading the Easter Story and popping along to a little children's service at church today, here's what we've been up to in the Biddle household.

Whilst at the park yesterday, we found some fantastic twigs. So inspired by a couple of Instagram feeds I follow, we brought a couple home to create an Easter tree. Last month, I'd found these polystyrene eggs in the pound shop so with a little glueing help from B, we made fabric covered eggs.
If you fancy making some of these, it's really simple. Paint a base layer of PVA glue, pop on your fabric scraps, then paint over the top of the material with more glue. I pushed dress makers pins into the top with the thread and then hung them on the twigs to dry/display (and couldn't resist the odd bit of washi tape on there too!).
More Easter crafting got underway to make a card for B's grandparents who we'll be visiting over the weekend in Cambridge. I cut out a chick shape and then let B get on with painting on the glue and sticking on torn scraps of tissue paper. A few bits of felt as finishing touches and we're sorted. 
One of my favourite childhood memories are the Easter Egg Hunts my Mum would set up for me and my sister. As we'll be away over the weekend, I carried on the tradition and set B his first ever treasure hunt to find his Easter basket. I found these little plastic eggs in the pound shop and filled them with photos of objects or places he knows around the house. Then all he had to do was identify the picture and head to that location for his next clue.
The clues finally led him to the cupboard under the stairs where the Easter bunnies were guarding these little Brio figures (which I'd picked up for next to nothing at TKMaxx).
Finally, if you're wanting to make some edible Easter nests, I can't recommend this recipe from the awesome Nigel Slater highly enough. It's so yummy that we've been creating test batches for weeks. Melt 50g of butter, 4tbsp of golden syrup and 100g chocolate together. Stir in 75g of rice crispies or cornflakes. Spoon into paper cases and pop in the fridge. We like to add about 50g of raisins too to give them a little more chewiness (and a hint of healthiness!) and of course you could pop little chicks or mini eggs on top for an Easter flourish. Yumyumyumyumyum. 
Have a lovely weekend. Happy Easter one and all. x

Friday, 15 March 2013

Toddler Duvet

Our baby is not such a baby anymore, and we're starting to think about moving him out of his cot and into something more grown up. A proper single bed would swamp his little box room and we're not ready to move him into a bigger room yet. So we're planning to get a toddler bed, probably from good old Ikea, when he turns two this summer. But we didn't want to freak him with the change from sleeping bag with cot to bed with duvet and pillow. So we decided to do it in stages, and introduce a little duvet and pillow into his cot.
We got the actual duvet and pillow online from Mothercare (you have to search for 'cotbed duvet/pillow' to get the smaller sized ones). Then I looked at lots of different websites to find a duvet cover set that I liked. I didn't care much for the ones in the big retailers, and the ones I liked best were either Ikea or rather expensive ones from Etsy. And after searching for a while, wanting to find something that suited the colours in B's room and wasn't too 'boy' themed, I had a light bulb moment. I know, I'll raid my fabric stash and make my own.
Sifting through my two big boxes of fabric, I remembered I had a couple of metres of this gorgeous bicycle print by Sarah Jane for Michael Miller. It wasn't quite wide enough for the dimensions of the duvet so I pieced together two strips of stripes to break the pattern up a bit.
Please forgive the outdoor photos (and I should have ironed the cover before I photographed it!) but it doesn't look quite so good squished up in B's cot at the moment. There will probably be more photos of it in situ to follow once we get his toddler bed. And I urge you to have a go at making a duvet set - honestly, it's such a simple thing to sew. If I get round to it, I may even post instructions in due course!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Wanderings Out West

My dear friend the Vintage Bride had a little boy, M, just a couple of months before B was born, and we'd dearly love it if their little family lived a little closer to us. But as they live in Henley-on-Thames, and of course we live further west in Bath, we try to meet up regularly somewhere half way. This has led to much detailed study of maps of the West of England, typing various distances into google and trying to find places that are a) not too far from each of our homes, b) toddler friendly even in cold or wet weather, and c) provide two Mummies with a little bit of culture, heritage or retail therapy.

Through her day job as a journalist, the Vintage Bride discovered a new gallery which has opened in a small Oxfordshire village. So we wrapped two little toddlers up in thick layers to protect against the biting cold and drove our way into the sleepy village of Clanfield.
High House is a miniature yet perfectly formed commercial gallery - like stepping from the leafy Cotswolds into a trendy East End gallery. A quirky and splendid array of unusual photographic portraits were displayed throughout two rooms of a magnificent house which also boasted a beautiful garden which the boys loved running around in. Normally closed on a Tuesday, the owner of the gallery opened up especially for us and gave us a delightful guided tour of all the work on display. It was a lovely way to spend an hour and definitely ticked the culture box for us two Mums.
I think my favourite piece was this embroidered 60s photograph entitled The Astronaut by Julie Cockburn. It makes me want to take to some of our old family photographs with a needle and thread!
We followed our gallery tour with a long lazy lunch in a fab pub called The Plough where the staff welcomed hungry toddlers with open arms and we had a great catch up in front of a roaring fire.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Yesterday was World Book Day which provided the perfect opportunity to try out a craft I'd pinned yonks ago using egg boxes. We love the book Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood - a thoughtful gift from a close friend of mine who knows that B loves owls. It was also perfectly timed with his sudden interest in learning the names of colours.
The original project was in Small Magazine and involves cutting up the lid and base of egg boxes, painting/drawing/decorating them, and then sticking the eyes to the body. This craft is so easy, the results are really satisfying, and B likes the owls so much that he wanted one of them to sit next to him at lunch today!

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Old Chair, New Chair

This week I spent a night completely alone in our house for the first time. I suddenly realised that since we moved here at the start of 2012, I have spent plenty of nights here with just me and little B, and I've spent plenty of nights away by myself, but I've never been completely alone here overnight. So with my boys in Cambridge at my in-laws, I giddily found myself at 3pm on Sunday afternoon with an entire half day stretched out before me. So after getting loads of work done, I decided to spend my evening not curled up in front of Call the Midwife, but finally recovering one of the bargain Parker Knoll armchairs we picked up in October from the Shepton Mallet Flea Market.

For the tiny sum of £25. we bought this wooden framed and oh-so-comfy armchair, but as you can see, the fabric was in a pretty disgusting state.
Having already bought a new, thicker seat pad, some lovely cream woven fabric and some tacks I was all set to get to work. I sewed up a new seat cushion cover and then with hammer and pliers in hand, ripped away all the old fabric, unearthing a wealth of dust and stuffing inside. Then taking my trusty staple gun, I attached the new fabric, finishing off the back piece with the tacks and a little bit of freehand sewing. And all whilst listening to archived Desert Island Discs on BBC iPlayer.
Five hours later, including a break for dinner, I was finished. Here's how my blissful evening of me time and handiwork turned out.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Homemade Bandana Bibs

Two new babies to two sets of friends meant a need for little gifts, so I found some time one evening to run up some of my trusty bandana bibs as presents. I'd almost forgotten about that time of non-stop drool and then suddenly we have flashes of reminders. B's back teeth seem to be coming through and so we keep finding him with a hand wedged into his little mouth, and fingers all sticky and wet. If you fancy making some of these yourself, they are dead easy, quick, and I posted a little tutorial a while back.