Foliage Crowns, Paddling & Cardboard Flowers

Yesterday, we made the most of the weather and spent a lot of time in the garden. I suggested making foliage crowns for the girls and they collected a few leaves and flowers for me before their interest waned ๐Ÿ™‚ I just used some gardening wire and wrapped to it fit their heads. They I used my jewellery wire to attach leaves, etc. I hope to make a second attempt at it when they’re in a more focused frame of mind ๐Ÿ™‚ I might use a less visible colour of wire next time though ๐Ÿ™‚ The girls still insisted on wearing their single-leafed headbands ๐Ÿ™‚

I got to read a complete short story in the sun (which is an achievement when the girls are awake.) I filled the old baby pool we have with bubbly warm water for the girls to soak their feet in. It seems to provide as much entertainment as the full-sized pool we used to have and takes much less time to fill ๐Ÿ™‚

I noticed that my tomato plant was getting too big for the windowsill, so I repotted it outside. I’m hoping it continues to thrive there and that one day it might even produce a tomato ๐Ÿ™‚ Some daisies I planted a couple of years ago have come out again, along with a few yellow poppies. It’s nice seeing bits of colour in our garden, however limited ๐Ÿ™‚

I came across a cake recipe in a magazine that I wanted to try. It had cardamom in it, which I’m obsessed with. I love Indian dishes, chai tea and anything with that flavour in it ๐Ÿ™‚ I had some overripe bananas to use up, so I made a cardamom banana cake. I didn’t realise that to release the flavour of the cardamom, you take the seeds out of the pods and crush them (I’ve been using them whole or blending the whole pod.) You learn something new every day ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a slow kind of cake to make and the girls were otherwise occupied for a change, so I enjoyed sifting ingredients and taking my time over it. It produced an aromatic, indulgent kind of banana bread and I had to bake it in a roasting tin because there was too much batter to fit in a cake tin ๐Ÿ™‚ It produced large wedges of cake that are too easy to eat ๐Ÿ™‚

This morning, I took the girls for a walk on the Greenway. We went early and the pathway was quite quiet. The girls collected dandelion clocks along the way and named each one. I looked around and tried to identify different plants and weeds along the way. I read in a magazine that there are certain weeds you can use to make pesto, but I have to figure out how to identify them first ๐Ÿ™‚ I also wanted to try to make nettle soup or tea, but have to find some first ๐Ÿ™‚ I don’t often go for walks with gardening gloves on so it might be tricky to do that one.

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On the way home, we spotted a tree that had been decorated with rainbows and kids’ craftwork. (Sorry if this is your tree but I had to take a picture of it because it really brightened our day.) The girls asked if we could make something similar, so I’m going to work on adding things to some of the hedges outside.

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I think I’m just starting to recognise the creative potential of toilet roll tubes ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s funny how when you don’t have access to craft shops, you save everything in your house to use in future projects. We made some simple toilet roll tube flowers. I just got the girls to paint the tubes green, I cut some leaves out of an empty box and then they painted them and added glitter. When they were dry, they attached the leaves and I cut two slits in the tops of the tubes to slide their flower heads into. They were easy to make and kept them entertained for a while ๐Ÿ™‚

Afterwards, the girls worked on some more rainbow-themed items. They spread glue onto cardboard and used some confetti to make collage rainbows. Then we made some colourful feather hangings to put outside. We didn’t have any wool or ribbon, so we used gift ribbon I found in the cupboard ๐Ÿ™‚

I made a quick yeastless pizza for lunch and then we spent some time in the garden. The girls made a pretend campfire in the middle of their tuff tray. Once it turned into a runny pile of mud, we converted it into a lego table and the girls made some cars and flowers. We had a very American style dinner and the girls discovered a new love for ribs with barbecue sauce. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring and I no longer have the energy for planning anything ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m just hopeful it’ll bring some sun with it.

Small Thoughts to Make You Smile

I felt the need to write a positive post today. I like to reflect upon the good things that have happened in each individual day in spite of what is going on around us and it feels particularly needed at the moment.

One of my daughters was off school today for exceptional closure and the other was in preschool, so I got to spend some quality time with my older daughter. We are rarely alone together and it was strangely calm without my little whirlwind there ๐Ÿ™‚ We were glad to welcome her back at pick-up though.

I wore my most vivid outfit to counteract the darkness surrounding us ๐Ÿ™‚ We took advantage of the beautiful weather and walked to my daughterโ€™s school. It was eerily quiet with the primary schools closed, but the sky was an amazing shade of blue and it was nice to bypass all the usual traffic. I took some pictures of how peaceful and blue-skied the morning was.

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Iโ€™ve decided to make greater effort to support local businesses. I tend to go through phases of doing so and then I return to a shop where I can buy everything in one place. So, we went to a local butchers and fruit shop. It was a good opportunity to use the cute fabric vegetable bags I got from a market a while ago ๐Ÿ™‚ The fruit looks so much fresher and my daughter enjoyed selecting fruit and veg and putting them in our bags ๐Ÿ™‚ I also got taking to a lady in a queue, which wouldnโ€™t ordinarily happen when youโ€™re rushing around a major supermarket. Iโ€™ve decided to just go with the flow and embrace a simpler way of life for now. Not everything about our fast-paced living is a positive thing and I think some time for meditation could do us a lot of good, mentally.

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My daughter and I had a coffee date in Tim Hortons. (She requested it and I decided sheโ€™d more than earned it after the miles of the walking.) ย She loves gingerbread men and I was amazed that she finished it and her entire cup of hot chocolate before Iโ€™d even finished my coffee ๐Ÿ™‚ Of course, we had to sit on the highest stools there.

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This evening, Iโ€™ve been writing and thinking of recipes and ideas I can share in the coming weeks. I brought out my old cure for sadness tonight – wine and Percy Pigs ๐Ÿ™‚ Iโ€™ve been limiting the amount of time I spend reading the news and taking the ย time to listen to dreamy music, light candles and fill my world at home with things to feed my soul.

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A Busy Weekend of Budget Activities

This weekend, I decided to try a spending freeze. I managed to find a few things to do with the kids that werenโ€™t costly.ย After I picked them up from school, we went to the Gruffalo trail at Colin Glen Forest Park. It was a grey afternoon that felt like it was bordering on twilight at three pm, so apart from a few lone dog walkers we were the only ones there. The girls enjoyed searching for all the characters from the Gruffalo and that was the first time weโ€™d been there together.

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When we go for a walk in the cold, I tend to bring coffee and snacks with us, so we had a biscuits picnic on a bench we found. It was a strange outing. My kids loved uncovering all the hidden creatures and playing Pooh sticks at the riverside with twigs we had no hope of spotting further downstream. It had a spooky kind of feel to the place that reminded me of the opening scene of Rebecca with the drive to Manderley. But gladly, the rain stayed off until the moment we got into the car. There was a memorial for someone that had died there and that prompted a discussion about death with my kids. I donโ€™t shy away from such conversations with them but it all turned a bit moody and morbid ๐Ÿ™‚ But everyone cheered up when we found the Gruffalo at the end of the trail and some painted rocks that someone had hidden there. The girls took them so they could hide them elsewhere for someone else to find ๐Ÿ™‚ When we were leaving, my daughter discovered a nut and decided to make a shelter for it to keep it safe for a squirrel we had spotted ๐Ÿ™‚

I took the girls to a screening of Paddington 2 at a local cinema. It was free as it is part of the kidsโ€™ club. I brought some snacks and got to enjoy warm coffee, seated ๐Ÿ™‚ Afterwards, I had hoped to take the girls to the park, but the weather was against that idea, so we went to a board game cafe instead.

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They have a good range of adultsโ€™ and childrenโ€˜s games. The kidsโ€™ food is reasonably priced and the girls had sandwiches while I had tea and got to eat a traybake without having it snatched from my hand ๐Ÿ™‚ We tried to work out a few games with complex rules and my kids arenโ€™t fans of patiently waiting while I read the instructions, so we settled on one with penguins you balance on a rocking pirate ship and a fish-eating shark game ๐Ÿ™‚ It was a good way to spend a dreary afternoon and my kids were begging me to go back.

Today, we set out to Rowallane. I think getting to scan National Trust cards at the machine is one of my kidsโ€™ favourite things to do in life. They had some crafts indoors, so my daughter set to work colouring a robin, before cutting it out and making wings. My other daughter followed the paw print trail on the floor and roamed after doing a couple of squiggles on a page. I have one crafter and one wanderer and sometimes itโ€™s hard to contain them in the one space ๐Ÿ™‚

We walked through the Walled Garden and my kids looked for an appropriate place to hide the rocks they had found on Friday. The weather was cool and sunny, with a low, blinding sun hanging like a bare lightbulb ๐Ÿ™‚ But I was glad of the brightness and fresh air after a number of hours indoors with my kids dismantling the furniture. We walked to the stile they love to climb over and the spring ground. They enjoy running down the hill and climbing on the rocks. I grew up near Rowallane and showed them the trees I used to make dens under. They found some especially muddy puddles to jump in and were using giant leaves to clean their wellies off afterwards. I love seeing their creativity coming out and how much they enjoy the simple things we do. We had some snacks and I got to sneak into the secondhand bookshop before we left. I never come out empty-handed, so I have some more books to add to my ever-increasing to-read pile.


We didnโ€™t spend much money this weekend but got to have rich experiences. Iโ€™ve realised that my kids need to be allowed to run freely in open spaces or their excess energy is directed towards our living environment instead. But the fresh air and space does my head as much good as it does their limbs. One of the biggest struggles I have with parenting is being mentally present all the time. I can be emotionally present, but mentally, in a daydream, thinking of all the other creative things I want to cram into my day. Stopping to look at nature with them definitely helps to root me in the present.

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