Wednesday, 24 June 2015

My Thursday Breaktime #9

Isn't it funny how a morning can go pretty slowly (especially when whinging and tantrums are on the cards) but a quiet breaktime, AKA nap and nursery time in my house, can pass in the blink of an eye.

Last Thursday I was beginning a four day stretch of solo parenting as Sam jollied off for some golfing fun with his brother and best mates. I was keen to eek out every last drop of my Thursday breaktime, if just to give me a little head start for what I was expecting to be a long weekend ahead.
After my usual potter in the garden snipping flowers, sit down and cuppa, I wanted to get cracking on my Elderflower cordial. I was well under way until I realised I'd only bought half the amount of sugar needed. At least it was prepped and I managed to finish it off later that evening. You can read the recipe that I posted for it by clicking here.
Before I knew it was time to wake Anwen from her nap and run to nursery ready to start 'happy hour'. Thankfully I have some very kind and lovely friends who provided teatime entertainment and fed us delicious food at the same time. Here's a little snap of Wilf and one of his best mates Isla taking a break from it all, I have to say it was a quiet moment that didn't last too long!
As usual, your photos in the #mythursdaybreaktime gallery were just lovely. I was drawn to these lovely overhead cuppa shots instantly! Can't beat a good cuppa right? And ice tea!!!...I tried some last Friday and it was like a revelation!
@suevaunallison  @peggypeg_
@floribundaroseflorists  @agraylife
It was the words of this lovely capture by @aplayfulday that caught my eye this week.
The words are so true and always good to remember! This was the first week that Kate has taken part in #mythursdaybreaktime and I'm so glad she did. Kate is a very inspiring lady and has an awesome website She also hosts a great hashtag on Instagram called #wipsandblooms - works in progress and blooms, you can certainly find plenty of those around my house!

Talking of blooms, I have some very exciting news to share with you next week. It involves a brilliant collaboration between little maldod, #mythursdaybreaktime and the GORGEOUS
Bloom & Wild, can't wait to tell you more.

So looking forward to seeing all your images tomorrow and, as always, a big thank you to all of you sharing your precious breaktime moments.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Little Introductions

Six weeks ago today I started a fun new hashtag on Instagram. Yes I know there's new hashtag projects popping up all over the shop, but quite frankly I love them. They inspire me and open up wonderful galleries and images to enjoy.

I wanted to find a way of getting to know the people behind the little squares, a way of saying hello and sharing more of the personal side behind the pictures. As a small business I am often unsure about how much personal life to share through my photos but realised recently just how important it can be. In fact, one of the things I love about 'following' brands and independent businesses, is getting to know the people behind them.
So, I started #littleintroductions. On a whim. I invited others to join in but I never expected to discover such lovely businesses and individuals or get such kind comments about how much everyone enjoyed joining in each week.

I decided to give weekly prompts to give people an idea of what to share and I thought I'd tell you all about it here so if you fancy joining in retrospectively (which of course would be very lovely) then you can.

So here are the prompts.
Week 1: 'Pleased To Meet You.' Just a simple 'hello, this is me, pleased to you.'
Here's a few photos that were share during week one.
@isabelledebionne  @inkyhuckster
Week 2 'What's in a name.' A prompt to share the story behind The business/blog/Instagram name
There were some great stories behind business names shared. Here's a few of the people who joined in, go check out their lovely shops! 
@mylittleduke  @allenandbear
@gooseberryfool  @ingridpetriedesign
Week 3: 'Home Sweet Home.' A chance to share where on the map you are.
I'm a home bird and home is very important to me. So I loved this week of stories. It seems, home really is where your heart is. Everyone was scattered all over the country and globe! Here are a few of the posts shared.
@helcatemporium  @mayandjuniper

Week 4: 'Playtime.' A prompt to share what you love to do when you're not making, creating, mothering or busy with life. I posted this photo because I love the garden, allotment and all things floral.
There were some great posts shared with such nice hobbies and pastimes (tap dancing and piano playing to name just a few). It's good to take time out of the 'ordinary' and have fun isn't it!
@hopeandrainbows  @shirleyrainbow_tb
@rebekahsattic  @tweedfiend_

Week 5 (this last week): 'Handlettered Hello.' A prompt to share your handwriting, scribble or elegant calligraphy.
I find it such a shame that the written word and handwriting is seen less and less now that we're all busy tapping on keyboards and onto our phone screens. So I thought this week would be a nice excuse to share what your handwriting looks like. I just loved these posts.
@mabel_does  @lingyeungb
@ceramicmagpie  @blossomandbear

Today is the final week and I thought it would be good to look ahead, to think about our hopes and dreams. So for Week 6, the prompt is: 'Daydreaming.' A chance to share what you dream about, perhaps for your business, in your personal life or for your family. Dreams are powerful things and I truly believe that they can come true.
My husband and I have a long term dream for our family of one day finding ourselves living in the countryside and hosting others in need of rest through a home or retreat that we've created. I know it's not something for now but I do like to let my mind wander ahead and picture what it will be like and how lovely it will be. I also have short term dreams and plans and have SO much I would love to do with little maldod. Is anyone else kept awake at night with a mind whirring?!

I'd love to know what you dream about. Simply share a post on Instagram and tag in #littleintroductions. While you're there, take a look at the other posts in the gallery, I promise you'll discover so many inspiring, creative businesses and lovely people.

If you've read this post and fancy joining in with any of the prompts then please feel free. I love grabbing a cuppa and catching up with everything that's being shared across all the weeks' prompts.
I'm so glad I took a chance and went with this little whim! 

Thanks so much for reading today.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Allotment2b Tales

Sam has been away this past weekend (since Thursday actually), enjoying a well earned break away with his best mates. He missed Father's Day but I'm sure was quite happy enjoying the sunshine and his fourth round of golf in four days. When he got back last night he told me, as a surprise, that he'd booked today as leave so we could enjoy a family day and belated Father's Day all together.
As we'd not made it down to the allotment together for a while we thought we'd pop down to get a few jobs done and see what we could harvest. Just before we left he read an email from the Allotment Site Secretary (sounds like a grand title doesn't it) saying that there'd be a few shed break-ins. We were very relieved when we got there that, despite our shed window having blown out a few months ago, that everything was still in place, including the kettle! Big Phew. 
The rest of the morning was spent battening up the shed window, weeding, thinning out the Beets, collecting worms and snails (Wilf) and digging for gold, also known as harvesting potatoes. We also managed to pick a couple of Strawberries, a miniature Courgette and some Spinach leaves.

It's a while since I've posted photos of the allotment so thought I'd show you what we got up to earlier. If you want to see how things have moved on there, you can read my previous post from the Spring 'Finding Solace and Muddy Toes on Allotment2b' by clicking here.

I hope you enjoy this photo update.
'Digging for gold.' One of my favourite things to do on the veg patch!
Wellies don't last long with these two.
One welly Wild child.
Off to carry out a plot inspection.
Checking the shed for damage.
Thankfully we had a few beach buckets in the car to put our harvest in.
Spinach and Beet Leaves.
It's tricky finding time to get down here together and when we go with the kids our time is usually limited. So this Thursday evening we've booked a babysitter and are looking forward to spending the evening there together, a couple of beers in tow and a to-do list as tall as our bean poles! 

If you enjoy reading about our allotment adventures you can follow Sam at @allotment2b or take a look at #allotment2btales on Instagram. I'm sure I'll post another update in the busy Summer months ahead too.

Thanks for stopping by. X 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Easy Peasy Elderflower

Thought I'd pop by with this quick recipe in case anyone spots some Elderflower on their Sunday strolls (it seems to be everywhere at the moment) and fancies making cordial.

I saw friends for dinner last night and they asked how it's made. As I explained I realised just how easy it is, so I do hope you'll give it a go, you'll have delicous sweet cordial to enjoy all Summer long. 
What you'll need:

- 30/40 elderflower heads (only took me about 10 minutes to snip these at the park when I found a tree with nice bendy branches so I could reach!)

-4 unwaxed lemons

-4kg sugar (granulated is fine)

-extra large preserving pan or stock pot (I didn't have one big enough so split the liquid in two before adding the elderflower)

- 50gms Citric Acid (I found mine at my local Chemist)

-A piece of muslin to strain the cordial through when it's ready

-Sterile glass or plastic bottles to pour the cordial into (I use glass for the fridge and plastic ones which I can pop in the freezer.)
Here's how:
-Leave the flower heads on a teatowel to let the creepy crawlies hiding in them to crawl away. I shook mine out in the sink and also ran them under cold water (I have a thing about bugs) although I'm sure it's best not to wash the lovely pollen away if you can help it!

-Bring 4 litres of water to the boil 

-Add the sugar and stir until it is dissolved 

-Take water off the heat and add the Elderflower heads 

-Add the zest of the lemons, then quarter and squeeze them and then add them into the pan too

-Stir in the Citric Acid

-As an optional extra you can add a handful of fresh mint. I added mint to one of my pans (once I'd divided the liquid) as it's lovely and refreshing. 

-Pop a teatowel over the pan to cover it and leave the liquid to steep in a cool place for 2 to 3 days.

-When it's ready, remove the Elderflower heads and lemons and strain the liquid through a muslin square into a fresh pan or large jug. 

-Pour your liquid into your labelled bottles

-Enjoy in your drinks ALL summer long! I can highly recommend it with sparkling water, or added to a Gin and Tonic for a little something special! 

I made this on Thursday afternoon so mine is nearly ready, hence the lack of nicely bottled cordial photos to show you! Here's what it looks like right now.
I have to say, that this is a recipe passed to me by my parents, they seem to have a constant supply of cordial in their fridge! I've been using it for the last few years and have very fond memories of going on a walk with Sam and Wilf when he was just a few weeks old, fast asleep in his Baby Bjorn, to collect Elderflower heads. My parents were staying as Sam's Paternity leave was about to finish, they told us that if we picked the flowers they'd make it for us! 
Another Summer a few years ago, my making was less than successful and involved a Kilner Jar falling out of the fridge and smashing sticky, sweet cordial ALL over the kitchen floor.

I hope you give this a go, once you've tried it you'll realise just how easy it is. Hopefully you'll also look back in years to come with happy memories of the adventures you've had making and enjoying this delicious Summer drink. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Cool Blues for #mythursdaybreaktime

I can't believe that tomorrow will be the 9th week of #mythursdaybreaktime I'm blown away that so many people join in each week to share their breaktime moments. It's such a treat to get to join you all and take a peek at those special, quiet moments in your day.

I have such fun planned for #mythursdaybreaktime over the Summer months and can't wait to tell you more. You know that feeling when you have good news and just want to tell everyone but think its best to wait just that little bit longer?! Let's just say that there's a treat in store come July.
My husband and I sat on the sofa and watched telly for the first time in ages on Sunday evening. Now that the evenings are lighter we both seem to busy ourselves, working and pottering in the garden well into the night. However after a busy week, we decided that enough was enough, we were going to slow down, stop and just do nothing. Bliss! Nothing, that is, except catch up on missed episodes of Gardner's World (have I told you about my crush on Monty Don??!)
In one of the episodes, Monty talked about the June Gap, a term I'd not heard before. It's the time in this season where everything seems very green. Something I'd noticed just the other day when driving around, a time just before the garden blooms into a riot of colour. It feels like we're just on the edge of that bloom time now though and the roses in our garden are well on their way. Dahlias, Sweetpeas and Cosmos are all following closely behind and I can't wait!
@wolvesinlondon  @susannaberry
@we.made.this.home  @_mandybe
It was the blue tones though that caught my eye in the #mythursdaybreaktime gallery last week. It was so tricky choosing favourites again but these beautiful captures were all so lovely. I'm especially happy when blue skies are above me.

This bright and delicious plate could not be ignored though and smacks a Summer punch! Such a vibrant and eye catching capture by @hellomrsh and that Peonie is just stunning!
As soon as I saw it I hopped off the sofa and grabbed a bowl of Strawberries. In fact, we (Anwen and I) ate our first allotment strawberry yesterday! There was just one ready to pick but we'll be back there after nursery tomorrow in search of more red treasures. Monty would be proud!
Strawberries are without a doubt my favourite Summer fruit. I'm hoping that this hear might just be the year I get round to making some jam (but I say that every year!)

First though, there's Elderflower cordial to be made. I've counted the blossom ready blooms at the park on every dog walk this week. If I can find some time to snip some, I'll make a batch over the weekend and pop a post up to let you know how I get on.

Anyone can join in with #mythursdaybreaktime, simply tag your moments on Instagram at any point tomorrow. I can't wait to see what you all get up to!

Friday, 12 June 2015

Styling the Seasons ~ June

It's taken me a good couple of weeks to find my inspiration for this month's Styling the Seasons post. As soon as the first rose flowered in our garden though I knew I wanted to make it the focal point of my post.

When I thought about what June means to me I realised it was all about simple pleasures.
Warm sunny days, picnics on the lawn and long light evenings where you stay outside chatting long after the sun dips and you eventually need a scarf wrapped around you.
This photo was taken early last June at an impromptu family picnic at my in laws. It's one of my favourite photos of last year, I just love how it captures the relaxed, fun afternoon we had that day.
I had to include my new favourite scarf which I picked up in the sale at a local National Trust gift shop. I love that it goes with pretty much my entire wardrobe so can put it on whenever I like. My hat is a new purchase too but has been looking sorry for itself, ever since it took an unexpected dip in the pool on a hen do in Spain a few weeks ago. It's not been the same since I had to ring it out! A summer favourite all the same.
And the focal point, this beautifully scented 'Arthur Bell' rose. We have a lot of rose bushes in our garden and I've been rather impatient in waiting for them to bloom. So I was delighted when I saw that this sunny, cheerful rose was open and couldn't resist bringing it into the house. It's hanging in a beautiful stem vase that I bought recently from Lou Archell's stunning blog shop over at the Little Green Shed.

So, there we are. This month's post is as simple as that, a nod to all the things I love about June.
Here's to the rest of this warm, light giving month.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Sunshine in the Gallery

Well Summer has certainly arrived and I'm so enjoying spending as much time as I can outside. Picnic season is well and truly underway and I'm mastering the art of quickly packing lunch into a mini cool bag, while the kids are still at the breakfast table, ready for an adventure somewhere.

Last Thursday our adventure went as far as the back garden, we had a late start to the day but decided we could squeeze in a very 'local' picnic before the nursery run. 
Of course a band of soft toys were also invited! 

Sunshine flooded the #mythursdaybreaktime gallery too last week and it was obvious that so many of you were out enjoying it aswell! The warmth of the sun's rays radiates out of these gorgeous shots. The light in them is amazing and they all so perfectly capture the essence of Summer breaktime moments. 
@sineadylemonadey  @lingyeungb
@waler76  @helenfurl
In contrast to these sunny, outdoor shots though, this kitchen table capture caught my eye instantly last week.
I just love how Kirsty (@kirstysale) seems to be peeking over the top of her book, and that Cornishwear in the background is just lovely. I'd love to know what the book is about! 

Reading, for me, is something I only tend to do on holiday. Whenever I get into a new book I wonder why on earth I don't do it more often, the escapism found in a good book really is such a true break. The truth is, other things get in the way of me picking up a book on a breaktime, but this image has inspired me to dust off a book from my reading list and indulge in some fiction. 

I'd love to see what you enjoy doing when you get a breaktime moment/five minutes/lunch hour or evening. Anyone can join in at any point tomorrow by tagging their photos on Instagram with #mythursdaybreaktime Do tag me @littlemaldod so I can join in with you.

I'be had some very exciting emails this week about some fantastic collaborations I'm arranging for #mythursdaybreaktime! I'm delighted that some amazing businesses will be joining me in celebrating breaktimes by offering some monthly prizes to those joining in with this fun and inspiring challenge. I'm bursting to tell you all about it....but keeping things under wraps for just a few more weeks! 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

A jar of fun

This summer will be the first year that I'll have a nursery aged child who will officially be on school holidays. My thoughts are already turning towards how we're going to spend our days over the holidays and I'm hoping this simple 'jar of fun' will give us lots of ideas.

Last year Wilf was in nursery one day a week throughout the summer, whereas this year he goes to a local Welsh nursery three afternoons and will be finishing for the Summer before going to 'big school nursery' in September. He's a busy little chap (what 3 year old isn't?!) and needs a lot of supervised play and attention, he's certainly not one for playing quietly on his own.
So I thought I'd start to plan ahead and fill a jar with different ideas of things to do together. We're also having a 'staycation' early next month and I thought this would help stop us getting tangled up with house and garden jobs which is so easily done!
I was given this jar for my birthday and knew I wanted to use it for this straight away. I've been inspired by other similar ideas and have been mulling over how to make one for our family for a while. The idea is simple, the jar will be filled with all sorts of fun things to do which we can randomly pick out when we're stuck for something to do or want a surprise adventure.
I'm all for spontaneity but thought I would use different coloured papers to help 'plan' our lucky dip fun. I picked these papers up in Tiger recently and thought they'd be perfect.
I decided to categorise the things we could do into the following:

- Whole days out
- Rainy days- let's be realistic!
- Local adventures- for a morning or afternoons out and when Daddy has the car
- Stay at home-  because sometimes it's just nice to be home
-All of us- for family days
- Mummy and...
-Daddy and...

I wanted to add the last two categories as we both value one on one time with both the children. So when Daddy picks out a card to do something with Wilf, I can have Mummy, Daughter time and vice versa.
My husband and his brother used to have one to one weekends away with their parents when they were younger (camping trips away and fun day trips) and it's something I'd love to carry on with our two.

I've filled in one or two cards for each of the categories with things I've been thinking of and wanting to do for some time.
I've also cut extra cards and pegged the category names so we can add more to the jar as and when we think of things to do.

I've put the jar on the bookshelf in our front room, where we keep all their toys and play, and then pegged up the cards next to it.
I don't imagine that we'll pick cards out everyday and there'll be a few weeks where we're hoping Wilf will go to a sports club, but it's there ready for when we want a lucky dip adventure!

We recently did a 6 week parent course, it certainly wasn't a 'tell-you-how-to-parent' course but more of a set of discussion based sessions to encourage and empower you as a parent. We found it invaluable and I'll be mulling over the 'top tips' for some time. The last session was about creating a sense of fun and belonging in a family. It was a good reminder about the importance of having fun and laughing together and creating traditions which give lifelong memories and strengthen family bonds.

I love family traditions and am so enjoying creating ones which are special and unique to us. I also love sharing ideas and adapting things that I've learnt from other friends and family or passed down from our own parents.
When I shared a picture of this jar on Instagram yesterday, a lovely mum commented on the photo and shared about their own memory jar. She commented that throughout the year they fill a jar with pieces of paper with memories of things they've done throughout the year. They're not allowed to read what they've each written until New Year's Eve when they read out all the memories together. I thought it was such a special idea and may just have to find another jar to fill with memories of the fun times we've had with this jar.

I'd love to know about the family traditions you have and whether you have any top tips for summertime fun.

Wishing you a wonderful and fun Sunday with whoever you are spending it with. X