Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Brave Bones Club - Outdoor Adventurers

You may have already seen the adverts on telly at the moment about the Brave Bones Club encouraging kids to get outside to have adventures? It doesn't really matter what you do, adventures can be found in your garden as well as by the sea, in the countryside, or even a trip to the shops if you take the time to look around you.

We are in the middle of half-term here in the UK, and so far it's been great! We are enjoying some very sunny weather at the moment so it's been easy to spend time outdoors. Bank Holiday Monday was spent in our garden - I've been tidying up the flower beds and getting experimental with colour, while Wiss has been making the most of his new 'mud kitchen'.

We had a very short half term bucket list - go to the park, eat candy floss, spot a kingfisher, visit Papa at work, get outside on our bikes. We have yet to find any candy floss unfortunately but today we went on a Kingfisher Hunt!
We live in South East London, on a busy road, near a retail park and a wonderful green park too. Behind the retail park there is a Green Chain walk which runs alongside a little river. We have often visited part of the river but never walked right the way along, so when we were told there are Kingfishers living there we wanted to explore. I love these birds but have never seen one in real life, and Wiss adores all animals. So, armed with some essential supplies (all adventurers need Battenberg!) we set off.

I just could not believe how beautiful this area is, especially given it's in a busy part of the city and right on our doorstep.

Wiss was in his element, taking notes in his notebook, and he even made a little video of himself talking about the surroundings! He didn't say he was bored once, was happy making up his games and would have stayed out longer if he could. In summary we saw: mallard ducks and ducklings, moorhens, coots, grey wagtails, blackbirds, magpies, crows, pigeons and a heron. We got rampaged by 6 wet dogs who had been swimming in the river and the picnic blanket took the brunt of it! We saw schools of tiny fish, and 3 whoppers. Wiss spent about half an hour perched on a rock in the river catching catkins floating past and got very muddy knees. He had many 'au natural' tree wees (very exciting for a 5 year old) but kingfishers....? Zero :) But I don't think that was the point anymore!

The Brave Bones Club has been created by Cheestrings and Yollies in partnership with the explorer Steve Backshall, to encourage people to have safe but brave adventures. To find out more, visit the website or watch this short video:
If you know an adventurer aged 6-10 years old then why not enter one (or both) of these competitions to win an amazing 4 day adventure with Steve Backshall? They close on 29 May so there is still time!
Brave Bones Competition or Win a 4 Day Adventure

I'd love to hear about any adventures you and your little ones go on, especially if they are city-based. Leave me a comment below or find me on Twitter @thisiswiss. Enjoy the rest of half term, and then there's only 6 weeks left until the summer holidays for more fun...!

This is a sponsored post, and we have been sent an adventure kit to help us with future explorations.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Baby Led Weaning and Recipe Ideas

Forgive me for this quick post - it's not strictly about making stuff, although it is about making food and preparing meals for all the family to enjoy. It's also the most amount of making I get to do at the moment so I may as well enjoy it!

Ferne is nearly 9 months old now so we've been weaning for almost 3 months. I'm a big fan of Baby Led Weaning and it worked well for us with Wiss, so that's what I planned to do again this time. However, Ferne has led us and made it clear that sometimes all she wants is to be spoon fed! So I'm taking my cues from her and we've been mixing it up with a bit of both at each meal time.

Even though we've been there and done it before, at the beginning I was a bit stuck with what to offer her that would be nutritious and exciting for her but also appealing to the rest of the family. I stumbled upon this beautiful website My Lovely Little Lunchbox and suddenly my cooking mojo was back again! Have a look at Kayla's recipes and I'm sure you will find something to tempt both you and your little ones. The ricotta dumplings are particularly good.

I'm a lot more relaxed about it all second time around but I am still keen to provide as varied a diet as possible. Our typical western diet is very heavy on wheat and cheese so I am trying to limit these and am making sure we eat a range of grains - rye bread, barley, polenta, quinoa etc. As with all good diets, variety is the key (although Ferne could probably eat avocados all day long!)

I've been struggling though because a lot of the finger food ideas for BLW involve muffins, or things on toast but it seems little Miss is not keen on bread-type food (for the moment at least). She likes saucy food that can be sucked and slurped. To be fair, she has only got 2 bottom teeth so chewing is a bit tricky. So I've had to rethink some of my stand-by recipes, but this week seemed to be particularly successful for us all so I thought I'd share our meal plan:

This week we have enjoyed for lunch:

Spinach Scrambled Eggs and Wholemeal Toast
Braised Lettuce and Peas with Cous Cous
Spinach and Goats Cheese Pancakes
Courgette Polpette with creme fraiche dip

and for dinner:

Jacket Potato with Cheese and Mushrooms
Spaghetti Bolognaise
Barley & Vegetable Soup
Fish Cakes with Parsley Sauce and Brocolli
Tomato Mac 'n' Cheese

Breakfast is usually some kind of baby cereal, porridge or Bircher Museli with chopped fruit to keep her busy while I sort everyone else's out. Puddings are often fruit again - Ferne is practising her pincer movements so loves halved blueberries and quartered strawberries and grapes - and yoghurt. We are coveting the Collective Dairy's amazing flavours and their Straight Up yoghurt is brilliant for little ones as it's only ingredients are milk and pectin.

I hope this has given you some inspiration for your meals, but I'm always grateful for more ideas. Please share any winning recipes from your family's repertoire with me...

Thanks for reading and I'll be back again with some real actual crafting soon! Bye for now :)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Ta Da! A Knitting Special

Regular readers will know that I keep complaining about not having enough time to sew/craft/blog recently (new baby, too busy, blah, blah!) But, although it is true*, I have been able to squeeze a tiny bit of knitting in here and there. Knitting is such a wonderful hobby as you don't need lots of equipment and you can do it sitting on the sofa in front of the telly. Brill!

I'd be the first to admit that I'm not the best, nor a particularly fast knitter but I do enjoy it and love watching the lines grow into a finished garment.

Way back last year when I was pregnant I treated myself (& the new baby) to a kit from Wool and the Gang, a ├╝ber stylish knitting company based right here in London. Check out their beautiful website and gorgeous knits. You can buy them ready made (hand knitted by one of their team) or purchase a kit to do it yourself. The kits aren't cheap, I'll admit, but the quality is amazing. You get plenty of yarn to work with so no worries about making mistakes and there are lots of cute extras too such as a sticker, a kilt pin, personalised packaging...

I chose to make an Aloha Hoodie in golden yellow, although it was a hard decision as there are over 20 colours to choose from. I also bought the needles to go with the pattern; they are bamboo and a joy to work with. Everything I needed came in the kit, including a wool needle for sewing up the garment when it was finished.

Skip forward in time a few (maybe 6!) months and I had finished knitting all the pieces. It wasn't a hard pattern to follow though and I love the cool little details like the rectangle on one side of the hoodie. Unfortunately, I have realised that I really need to learn how to finish a knitted garment properly. My sewing up often leaves the seams very bumpy, and the arm holes a bit restricted which is a real shame given the amount of time spent knitting. I actually unpicked the seams and tried again and it's still not perfect but good enough to be worn.

The Shiny Happy cotton yarn is quite heavy so the hoodie does have a tendency to stretch and drape, and it slips off the shoulders. The design is for a slouchy cardigan but I'm thinking of attaching a popper or button fastening to make it a bit more baby-friendly.

So Ferne got a new mama-made cardigan, but what about Wiss? Well, I was honoured to be asked by Shireen from the fabulous handmade knitting company Picaloulou to trial one of her new knitting kits for children's scarves. (These kits aren't even on sale yet!) There are lots of animals to choose from but I went for the fantastic Fox Scarf. The pattern was easy to follow even though there were quite a few techniques I hadn't done before, so I had to google these (slip stitches, make one etc). I love the design of these scarves, they are slim enough to be worn easily with coats and the fact that they don't need to be tied makes them perfect for little kids. I think Wiss looks so cool with his new scarf, don't you? These animal scarves are available ready-made from the Picaloulou shop (as well as loads of other gorgeous, British-made hand knits.)

Yes, I know that we are heading into the summer months soon but we do live in the UK. The temperature is unpredictable at the best of times, and actually cotton knits can be great for sunny days. I am so slow at knitting though that maybe I should start knitting for this winter now!

*and I hereby promise to stop going on about it and making excuses!

Disclaimer: This post is not a sponsored review but as I have enjoyed making both I wanted to share them with you. I bought the Wool and the Gang kit myself, and I was provided with the Picaloulou kit for testing purposes but not required to write a post.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Me & Mine - A Family Portrait Project 2015 - April

Oh my god, it's May already! How are the months passing so quickly now?

Here is our portrait for April - even though it has been glorious weather most of this month there are no sunny shots of us this month as we seem to have spent most of it split into two teams. Wiss and Papa have been spending lots of time together and Ferne and I have been stuck together like glue. It seem that this often happens when you have two, and one is still so little?

What have we been up to this month? Apart from (still) eating all the Easter chocolate around the house, I started running again, I've been making lots of new friends with very inspiring local mums and have been arranging childcare for when I return to work in August (gulp!) We went along to the London Marathon to cheer on my best friend, and the other 38,000 runners. It is always such an amazing day and I am moved by all the hard work and effort everyone has put in to be there. I wanted to take our selfie there but it was just too hectic!

Wiss has been hanging out with his old nursery friends, he started cookery club after school and has been writing lists and list of things all over the house!

Little Ferne has turned 8 months and is starting to show her personality. She is very inquisitive and grabs literally everything that she can get her hands on, and even pulls the table closer to her if things are out of her reach! We have a feisty one on our hands I think.

This is part of a great big linky so don't forget to check out the other bloggers' photos this month. Click on the logo to be taken there, and see you soon!
dear beautiful