ROW THE BOAT: songs to move to

I could write a whole post on how important music is in this house, but I'll save that for another time. Because today I want to talk about the songs you sing to your kiddos. I need some inspiration.

Right now Josephine's favourite tune is Row, Row, Row the Boat. I must sing it thirty times a day. And over the weekend Phiney began to sing it back to me. It's amazing to hear and so cute to see her rocking with her doll Jenny or one of her teddies.

It's all about songs with actions for Josephine. The Wheels on the Bus, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, Incy Wincy Spider are all sung round here, but we're getting a little bored of these old favourites. So, I'd love to hear the tunes being rocked in your house. And I'm sure Phiney would appreciate it too. I'm not sure she's too keen on listening to me make up new verses anymore...

ps. apologies for my singing!
pps. now I've worked out how to use Vimeo, go check out this adorable video of Josephine saying 'hello' if you haven't already. I know a lot of you had trouble viewing it when I uploaded it using Blogger :)


SPONSORED POST: spa in the city

When Fritha contacted me about arranging a little local blogger meet-up, I was all for it. When she mentioned that she'd managed to get us four free entries to the Thermae Bath Spa including a yummy lunch, it sounded even more tempting. 

Fritha had also got in touch with my fellow Bath blogger Lia and her fellow Bristol blogger Abi, who were both lovely - it was really fun to soak in the mineral filled waters and chat about family, babies, life and blogging (It's so funny to meet people for the first time and yet know so much about their lives!)

Often, when you've lived in the same place for so long, you can forget how wonderful some of the attractions are; that people flock from around the world to come and visit what's on your doorstep. I often felt that way when we lived on The Circus a few years ago. Sometimes you need to stop and take a proper look around, remind yourself of the beauty in where you're living. So it was great to get a little tour and hear the history of the spa in Bath before our session started, and to experience the lovely warm spa waters in a modern/historical setting. 

The indoor pool offered the perfect setting for a good chat with new friends, and the water seems to have done wonders for my cold weather induced dry hands, while the rooftop pool was amazing and offered awesome views across the city. But I think my favourite part was the steam rooms, each of which had been infused with aromatherapy oils; very hot and sweaty, but super refreshing and it was lovely to feel so warm after the arctic temperatures we've been experiencing lately. 

And when all the steam and spa waters were enough, we were treated to a delicious three course meal, of which the marshmallow and white chocolate semi-freddo was most definitely my favourite. Mmmmmmm.....

Ben and I went to the Spa many years ago but this trip reminded me what a great date destination it would be; just a couple of hours alone to sit back and relax, and discuss future plans and adventures.



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

Little girl in blue, always filling our days with happiness and colour. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.



Stealing Mama's cup, so desperate to be a big girl. 

But there's no rush, little one. That time will come soon enough; too soon. 

Stay our baby for a while longer please. 



Every Thursday, Josephine and I visit my Grandparents  for lunch, along with my cousin and her little girl Kacie and my auntie and her new baby Matilda. It's lovely to see the next generation of the family playing games, growing together and becoming buddies. 

Today we braved the arctic wind and headed out for a walk. No joke, I almost drowned in mud.  Thank goodness for wellies. 

We finished our adventure with a go on the swings before heading back for food and a story. Bring on the springtime and sunshine and and many more walks through the fields. 



Food is big in this house. We love our food, all three of us. What we're going to eat is a hot topic everyday, especially at weekends, and if there's ever any spare money at the end of the month you can guarantee it'll be spent on an extra delicious ingredient (normally it's steak). Special occasions are largely centered around food, holidays and day trips are planned on where's good to eat and trying the local cuisine, visits to the deli are always pretty awesome and we get very excited when it's finally dinner time. 

And when it comes to choosing what food we'll be eating for dinner, Josephine and I are very lucky to have The Boy and all his wonderful culinary knowledge and skill. As well as being taught and influenced by his Mum in the kitchen from a young age, Ben studied food at A-Level and for his degree and worked in the industry when he graduated - until he decided that actually his love was for cooking at home, for his family and not to the strict rules and regulations of the dessert world. (Oh yeah, he worked developing dessert recipes. I ate a lot, a lot, of chocolate torte. Good times.) 

Because of his superior talent in the kitchen, from the day we moved in together at uni Ben has been the cook. And while that meant awesome food for years, it has left my culinary skills virtually non-existent. So I'll admit that, while Ben was giddy with excitement about all the wonderful things he was going to make his baby girl when she started eating solids, I was pretty nervous. Because, as the one staying at home with Phiney, it was going to be down to me to make a lot of the food she ate. I was going to have to learn the basics, and fast.

Our love of food means that we have always been pretty particular about how we were going to feed our children when they arrived. We loved the idea of baby-led weaning and avoiding purees and pulps in favour of finger foods and baby-friendly versions of the food we eat. Josephine took to this like a fish to water. She loved strong flavours and unusual textures from the word go, and is always a pleasure to feed. Breakfast is normally porridge with a range of fresh fruit mixed in; lunch comprises of finger foods (including toast and sandwiches with various toppings and innards plus piles of cheese, fruit, yogurt and raw veggies) and most of her evening meals are portions saved from what we ate the night before. Sometimes however, that just doesn't work out. Maybe we're having something unsuitable (like pizza), it could have been just too spicy or salty or maybe we were just too greedy to save any (ha!) Sometimes I have to make her dinner. 
Thankfully it turns out that all those years of watching Ben cook, and the hours watching cooking shows with him, taught me something and subconsciously I have actually picked up a tip or two. Now I'm proud to say that I've come up with two really yummy dishes (for Phiney and us) using what little knowledge I've gathered along the way. They're quick (taking only the time it takes to cook the pasta), easy and most importantly they use ingredients that we always have in the cupboards so there's no excuse for ready meals or boring alternatives, and there's no need to spend any money.

Tomato and Basil Spaghetti
This is one of Josephine's absolute favourites. She gobbles it down every time. 
^ Get a pan of water boiling and add as much spaghetti or linguine as you need.
^ Chop up a few cherry tomatoes (as big or small as you wish) and a big bunch of basil while you're waiting for the pasta to cook. 
^ Drain the pasta and put back in the pan over a very low heat. 
^ Add a good pouring of olive oil to the pasta, as well as the chopped tomatoes and basil. 
^ Stir and allow to simmer for a couple of minutes to soften the tomatoes, then serve.

To make it extra special, or if you have them lying around, why not add a little chilli or garlic (gently fry in some olive oil before adding to the pasta to ensure they're not raw) or a few pieces of cooked chicken. And remember, as we don't put salt in baby's food, herbs and spices are even more important to add seasoning and an extra depth of flavour. Basil is just the firm favourite in our family.

Cheese, Ham and Pea Twists
Ben loves this one too and has enjoyed more than one bowl for lunch or a light supper - I'm not so much of a fan (it's too cheesy for this cheese-hater!) 
^ Get your water boiling and add as many pasta twists as you need. You can use any pasta of course, but I find that the cheesy sauce does stick nicely in all the crevices of the twists :)
^ While your pasta's cooking, grate a mound of cheese (we use Mature Cheddar, with quantities based on how many people and how cheesy you like it) and chop up some good ham. 
^ When the pasta is almost finished, throw some frozen peas in a steamer for a minute or so. 
^ Drain the pasta and return to the pan over a very low heat, before pouring in the cheese, ham and peas and adding a little milk. I add a tiny bit at a time to ensure the sauce isn't too runny. Grind in a little pepper, mix it all together and serve. 

Again, there are so many other ingredients you can add to the basic cheese pasta. Broccoli, sweetcorn and leeks are yummy alternatives (or additions) to peas. 

Strawberry Jelly with Blueberries
Finally, this quick and easy pudding is yummy, sugar-free and packed with fruit. We often end up buying reduced punnets of fruit and freezing it for use in a variety of puddings including crumble, jelly or just sprinkled over ice cream (grapes are the best for this - so delicious). It's a great way to save money on what can be expensive ingredients, then using them when they're needed. 

^ Divide quartered frozen blueberries (strawberries, blackberries or grapes - whatever you fancy) across your jelly pots. We use silicone cupcake cases as they're ideally Phiney-sized and a sachet of jelly divides across the 12 of them perfectly. 
^ Make up your sugar-free jelly mix and pour over the fruit.
^ Place in the fridge. The hot mix defrosts the fruit by the time it's set.

TIP: To ensure your fruit doesn't clump together in one frozen ball of mess, space the fruit out on a baking tray and put in the freezer for a few hours. Once frozen, you can put them in a sandwich bag or container and back in the freezer; the fruit will stay in individual pieces allowing you to use it as and when you need to. 

If you're a super-duper cook, these little recipes and tips probably aren't too impressive - but to me they mark a definite milestone in my cooking education. When Ben eats them, he thinks they're delicious and he praises me for my good mix of flavours, which really means the world to me. I love being able to make good, yummy food for my family and it's given me the confidence to keep trying new things and continue learning. 

I'd love to know what your quick and easy go-to recipes are, and to maybe give them a go :) 



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

This girl plays so beautifully on her own. Her imagination is truly a wonder. Tea parties in her tent are her favourite. 

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.


LIFE LATELY: courtesy of instagram

As the last week has been spent nursing colds, the camera hasn't seen much daylight. Thank goodness for iPhones and Instagram, because with a beautiful one year old running around the place and a beautiful husband making me incredibly delicious sandwiches, it would have been a shame to have missed some of these moments. 

Happy weekend everyone xx

That pout/stealing bites of Papa's lunch while he's distracted by the rugby/the best steak sandwich ever made and eaten/mastering feeding herself with the spoon/listening to the birds sing outside our bedroom window/silliness is necessary when you're poorly/Valentine's Day takeout/blowing kisses/our beautiful girl/those dimples.


BITS + PIECES: valentine edition

1. Notes to my love.
2. A big bouquet for me and a little poesy for Josephine, from the man in our lives.
3. Josephine's card to her Papa.
4. Dressed for the occasion in heart print leggings and her little red hair bow. 
5. My present to Ben. This book (he's spent the whole evening devouring the pages) and a postcard I found so many months ago, that I can't help but smile at :)

I spent the day playing games with Phiney, celebrating the fact we feel a little better, and now Ben and I have just gobbled up an amazing burger and fries and munched a box of Maltesers. A lovely Valentine's Day indeed. I hope yours was too. 

And to my boy. I love you baby, now and forever xx



Today, we're sick. Ben was ill most of last week and now it's the turn of the girls. 

Thankfully, I have this face to look at to cheer me up. That face up there is the most beautiful face in the world. How could I stay gloomy looking at that face?

She insists on wearing this hat indoors, outdoors, all day, everyday. And I love her for that. 



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

Never still for long anymore. Always on the go, exploring, searching for adventure; growing.

Taking part in Jodi's 52 Project.


ALONG THE CANAL: friday fun

On a sunny and cold Friday afternoon, you can't go wrong with:

^ lovely friends
^ cute babies
^ a picturesque canal walk
^ tasty snacks, including pineapple chunks and apple and cinnamon biscotti
^ a bunch of hungry ducks and a big bag of bread
^ wellies

Happy weekend folks :) 


INSTAGRAM THEMES, PART TWO: highchair antics

I am so lucky to spend my days with this little bird. She's the coolest girl, and I love her.