Sunday, 30 August 2015

August Discoveries

I'm so happy to be sharing this new series of posts with you. I've been thinking for sometime about how I'd like to share the odd little discovery with you. You know the type of thing that you're glad you've stumbled upon, be it a simple recipe, a great tip or life affirming book.
Sometimes they're completely new and other times they're something you've known about for ages but have finally gotten around to trying.
So, once a month I'll be sharing the little things that I've happened upon, enjoyed, found useful or learned from and just think you might too. Here's a few things I've discovered this month.

~ 'The Five O'clock Apron' 

I discovered this gorgeous recipe book by Claire Thomson on our recent trip to Brecon. We spent Friday afternoon at the outstanding Griffin Inn in Felin Fach. The pub was second to none - cosy, welcoming with the most amazing food (highly recommended!) It was the sort of place you feel comfortable in immediately and the fact that there was a Welsh dresser stacked with books to browse and buy over lunch was a huge bonus.

I was instantly drawn to this book by Claire and was sold as soon as I'd read the introduction. Almost every line about feeding children (and grown ups) resonated with me. When I read it to Sam over my Cauliflower soup I knew I had the green light for a purchase, so home it came.
Every recipe is designed to dish up delicious meals, packed with goodness and flavour, that children and adults will equally enjoy. Without the hassle of slaving over a stove at one of the most fractious times of day. My clothes/legs/ arms are regularly tugged at at this late hour in the afternoon and ANYTHING I can do to make things easier and mealtimes 'successful' is a winner for me.
Claire encourages making vegetables the heart of a dish and packing them with flavour. Her suggestion that they should be relished and not something on the plate that children have to 'get through' in order to have pudding rang true. Anyone else constantly find themselves saying "just have this piece of carrot/broccoli/bean and you can have a yogurt?

If you're a fan of Radio 4's Woman's hour then you can catch Claire on the podcast cooking up one of our top family meals, Broccoli Pesto Pasta. You can find the podcast here.

~ Make Up Brushes 

I've suspected for a long time that make up brushes were one of those special beauty secrets. However it's only recently that I've untapped the wonders of the brush! At the end of July, on my little jolly to Liberty (which you can read about here), I stopped at the Bobbi Brown counter and enjoyed half an hour of pure 'me' time. I was given some great tips and one of those was that using brushes was pretty much a make up essential!
So, when I got home I gave all the brushes that have been rolling around my drawer for yonks a good wash, and started to put them to use. I've been using some of my wedding make up until recently ...we've been married nearly 7 years... (yes I can hear some of you make up junkies gasping at the shock), so decided now was the time to restock.
With my new brush skills and little black pots, my morning make up routine has become a pretty little kick start to my day.


Anyone that reads this blog regularly and follows me on Instagram, may have noticed that this month I've been working with Teapigs.  Along with enjoying all the fun that comes with a giveaway, I've also been enjoying a great range of teas that they kindly sent me to try out.
You may have read my Tea with a Twist post where I shared some great recipes for jazzing up your 'tea temple'. But when I've not been adding ice or blending them with ice cream, I've been enjoying refreshing green teas (Mao Feng Green Tea is a gamechanger) and late night chocolate treats (in the form of Chocolate and Mint).

They might seem a little more expensive than the average supermarket box of herbal teas but I'm certainly sold. The flavours are so fresh and unique that I know I'll be stocking up my chocolate stash when this box runs out.
Which brings my nicely to the lovely job of announcing the lucky winner of a bundle of Teapigs goodies. They have kindly provided an amazing prize for this month's #mythursdaybreaktime, the weekly challenge I host on Instagram.

It's been so lovely to take a peek into your breaktime moments this month, many of which have been spent on your holidays.

The post I've chosen as my favourite is this colourful and delicious looking shot by Chloe (@cotton_clara)
The rich pickings from their 'scrumping' escapades are amazing! I wonder how they used them all up, popped into jams, jellies and crumbles maybe or perhaps gobbled up one by one.

I'm loving August's bounty at the moment. I'm hoping to preserve as much as possible so we can enjoy the sweet tastes of Summer in the winter months ahead.

So there we are, simple things that I've discovered and enjoyed this month. My morning routine and tea times will never look the same again! 

I hope you've enjoyed reading and I look forward to discovering some new things to share with you in September. We're off on two family holidays and Wilf starts school nursery so it's going to be a busy month.
There won't be a #mythursdaybreaktime giveaway and I won't be writing weekly posts as I want to give myself a little extra time. I'd love to see all your posts though and will still be picking out a few favourites to share each week on Instagram.

Here's to a new month ahead, changing seasons and new discoveries.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Two Little Sleep Thieves

Is there anything more truly wonderful as a Mum, than hearing the words "go on, you go and have a lie down." OK, maybe there is, but today it was like music to my ears.

Let's just say last night's sleep was minimal. After a last minute stop over with friends and despite having our own room and Wilf sharing with his two friends (which surprisingly worked for at least a few hours), the three of us ended up 'sharing' the spare bed together, finally getting to sleep just before dawn. So when my Mum arrived at ours today for the afternoon and shoo'd me off upstairs I didn't have to think twice. The two sleep thieves didn't need naps of course, as they'd snoozed the entire two hours journey back home, cheeky!

So before I go downstairs and rejoin the madness downstairs (I can playful shouts) I thought I'd share these lovely posts from last week's #mythursdaybreaktime
@bymeeni  @alltomkerstin
@maddiesaunders86 @sarahehemsley
I just love the pops of colour in each, beautifully composed shot. Pretty sure I could nail some dippy eggs right now too!

This handful of berries (excuse the second berry favourite in a row) caught my eye too. It's a beautiful shot by @mummykristylee
The clarity of the image is amazing and I love how they're being offered forward, as if a gift.

I've told you before how we have berries come out of our ears at the moment and picking them with the kids has been a highlight this month. So when Kristy shared this photo of her berry foraging trip with her children last week it immediately struck a cord.

Kristy is an absolute beauty (truly) and I've enjoyed watching some of her vlogs, which you can find them here. Do pop over to her instagram page too, Kristy is a Mum of 5 (!) and has such a talent for capturing the most lovely family moments.

Don't forget today is the final day to join in with August's @teapigs giveaway. Simply tag in me @littlemaldod and @teapigs to your breaktime posts to enter.
Good luck!

Sunday, 23 August 2015

A Forgotten Stool

Yesterday I managed to steal myself away for an indulgent half hour of flower fiddling and photography. Two of my favourite things. Armed with a vase of wildflowers we picked in the afternoon I unexpectedly took the following photos. They represent a snapshot of what August means to me and my Styling the Seasons post for this month. 

Until then I'd been all set to style up a bright sunshine yellow chair that we picked up on our recent visit to Brecon. I'd pictured where I'd photograph it but was still working on what I'd use to style it with. Then I rediscovered this stool. 
This stool lives in our bedroom, it's regularly moved around, from corner to corner, books end up piled on top and yesterday I found Wilf balanced on top of it on our bed. I've always known it was important to my Mum and that it had once belonged to my Great Grandparents but today, while photographing it, it really came alive.
As I started taking the shots the light dipped and a storm rolled in, almost directly above. The warm, sticky day was about to freshen up. A classic midsummer storm, the type that appears from nowhere and then rolls away just as quickly.
Of course, the flowers are as seasonal as they come too. Scattered along a mound of grass on our path back from the allotment, I often admire them but yesterday decided to add a bunch of them to the bags of produce we'd also just picked.
It was as I got closer though that I realised that the flowers, as pretty as they were, were just an accessory. The real beauty was every grain, knot and mark on the stool itself.
The stool belonged to my Great Grandmother and my Mum told me she remembers sitting on it when she went to visit when she was a little girl. It was painted black back then. I'm so glad it has since been stripped as the rough, worn colour of it today is just lovely.
The warm and weathered tones carried me away to sunnier climbs, a french fishing village perhaps or a Caribbean hut selling pineapples. Or perhaps it was the muggy heat and thunder that made me feel I was somewhere far more tropical than Cardiff.

Whatever it was, the textures, tones and colours all represent the warm, laid back ease that August brings.
Sometimes, just taking a bit of time, time to really look at something, even as ordinary as an old stool, can help you appreciate things in a whole new way. To me that's what August is all about, a relaxed, slow month to appreciate simple pleasures. Getting to pick bunches of sweet clover along the way is just a bonus.
I hope you enjoy the last week of this laid back month and that September brings happy days your way.

We have two family holidays abroad, one which includes a wedding as well as the whole issue of starting school nursery to look forward too. Something tells me it's going to be a busy time.
So for now, I'll just soak up every moment of calm that I can.

Thanks for stopping by,
Lowri x

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Tea with a Twist

I'm a tea fan. It took my a while to join the club (I think I was 18 before I enjoyed a good cuppa) but I'm a fully paid up member now. The closest I've come to a twist with my tea is the likes of Earl and Lady grey or classic herbal varieties like Peppermint and Camomile. Until now that is!

When I started working with Teapigs for #mythursdaybreaktime I was asked if I'd like to try out some of their iced tea and teashake recipes, something I didn't need to think twice about. They very kindly sent me some boxes of their delectable Tea Temples with a few recipe cards and ideas for refreshing Summer time drinks. They were so so good (better than I'd imagined actually) so I thought I'd share them with you here.
I recently tried to give up caffeine for a little while (pah, I know!) I was stopped in my tracks when my husband bought a coffee machine and back on the wagon I jumped. Anyway, while attempting this semi-detoxification I discovered Super Fruit tea and was hooked. So naturally I picked this box out as the first flavour to try with the iced tea recipe. 
Here's how to make it: 
~ take 1 tea temple per person (4 for a jug)
~ add freshly boiled water- enough to just cover the temples
~ brew for 3-5 minutes
~ top with cold water and ice
~ enjoy
I jazzed my cup up with some frozen berries but you could add anything that tickles your fancy. A little gin or vodka would certainly spice things up if you were making cocktails.
The next one I'm planning to make is Lemon and Ginger, I'm imagining a grown up take on lemonade!

Once I'd got iced tea under my belt there was no holding me back! So on Tuesday afternoon, Wilf and I tried out the other recipe card. I merely had to whisper the word 'milk shake' and he was up for helping me out.
This time I opted for Chocolate and Mint. Why wouldn't I want to test out two of my favourite flavours COMBINED in a little tea temple?!
In case the above instructions don't cut it, here's how:
~ pop 1 tea temple into a cup
~ add 100ml freshly boiled water
~ brew for 6-8 minutes and remove tea temple
~ add liquid to blender with 3 scoops of good quality vanilla icecream
~ add a little milk if it's too thick
~ blend, drink and enjoy!
The above quantities made enough to fill 2 of these miniature bottles but I could easily have tripled the recipe and downed the lot! It was DELICIOUS! Next time I'm planning to throw in some chocolate flakes and whipped cream for a little something extra.

I hope you give these recipes a go, as you can see they're super easy and fun to make too. For another fun twist on tea, why not try making scented playdough (you can find a previous post on how we made it here).

Fancy winning a bundle of Teapigs goodies (6 different boxes of tea and a couple of the tea cups shown above)? Simply join in with my weekly hashtag #mythursdaybreaktime this month. Post your breaktime moments on Instagram using the hashtag and tag in me @littlemaldod and @teapigs. I'll pick a favourite shot for August and announce the winner back here over the bank holiday. 

Before I go, I thought I'd share a few little outtakes. Attempting to take photos for this blog without having them photobombed by little people can be challenging sometimes, especially when food is involved! These shots make me smile though, poor Wilf waited so patiently for his shake that I'm not surprised he slurped it greedily in a matter of seconds.
And this little lady was oblivious, marching around the place in her own little world as usual. She'd just been meddling with the washing machine and disturbing her brother who was on the toilet (out of shot) when this photo was taken.
I'm looking forward to sitting at this table with her one day, putting the world to rights over a good cup of tea. Be it hot, shaken or on the rocks, I really won't mind.

A big thank you to Teapigs for kindly sending these teas and for providing the above recipes. You can find a full range of their teas on their website

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A Break in Brecon

Last Wednesday we headed West, handed our children safely over to my parents and then headed North. Off to a campsite in Brecon that we last visited before they were born and the last place we slept under the stars.
Priory Mill Farm is a special spot on the edge of the river a couple of miles outside of Brecon. As you drive down the single track, you are greeted by the most picturesque cobbled courtyard, complete with Watermill, chickens, Moss the dog and a very warm welcome from Noel and Susie who own it. It's a lovely low key site, with all the essentials you need when you're camping (hot showers!) but in a non fussy, natural style. I can thoroughly recommend looking it up if you're after a camping spot in the area.
We arrived in the sunshine and wandered across the meadow to choose our generously sized spot, you're not squeezed in next to your canvas neighbours here.
We were pleased to rediscover our 'tent assembling' skills and quickly got things ship shape. Our fondest memories from our first stay were of sitting around a fire pit (leant for your stay) so we were pleased that there was one left for us to use that night.
Once we were set up we had the pleasure of driving over to the beautiful home of The Green Gables, were we spent a delightful few hours drinking tea and eating cake with Gabrielle and her husband. It was so lovely to meet a friendly face in person having swapped business emails and chatted over Instagram.
With rain forecast we didn't plan anything for Thursday so were pleasantly surprised to find a dry morning, perfect for a lazy start and bacon sandwiches. Isn't that what child free days are all about?!
We spent the afternoon in Brecon trying out a few of the local eateries. Getting through a couple of pots of tea at Cariad Cupcakes, with the BIGGEST slices of cake around, followed by countless rounds of Uno and laughs at a local pub.
We're always reminded how much fun we have together when we get away from the (happy) chaos of normal life. Of course we missed the children and loved the text updates we got but it was so nice to not be needed for anything, not to have to keep an eye on the time and just see how the day panned out.

During the day, when I got some signal, I loved taking a peek at your breaktime moments too. Tea quite often makes an appearance in the gallery, I'm not surprised, and last week these lovely shots caught my eye.
@brickdustandglitter  @camillaelms
@We.made.this.home  @harryandfrank
They all epitomise what a perfect breaktime looks like for me. Peace and quiet with a cuppa. Having said that, I'm not quite sure how peaceful the breaktime with Tamour the new puppy was. Isn't she sweet!

This gorgeously fresh shot by @Cotton_clara really made me smile too.
I could dive straight in and nibble at all that fruit. Clara makes and sells the most amazing needlepoint kits, they're like nothing else I've seen. I'd love to have a go at some of the fruit needlepoint brooches she sells. Do pop over to her Folksy shop (here) and take a look.

In her comment Clara tells how they spent the afternoon "scrumping" the fruit from an abandoned student garden next door. I have to admit I had to google the word as I've not come across it. Definition understood, I can safely say I see nothing wrong with pinching perfectly good fruit that's going to waste, especially when it looks that good!

In fact, I rather wish someone had scrumped their way round our fruit cage at the allotment while we were away. I visited today and was sad to see some of it had already gone over. Fear not though, I picked bowl fulls to make up for it and you're sure to find a Jam making post making an appearance here soon.

On the culinary note, I'll be back tomorrow with a few tasty recipes that I've been trying out with some tea sent to me by the lovely folk at Teapigs, Here's a little teaser, YES its made with tea and soooo good.
Don't forget that you can win yourself a bag full of Teapigs goodies by posting your own #mythursdaybreaktime photo on Instagram and tagging in me @littlemaldod and @teapigs. I'll be announcing the winner (my favourite shot for the month) over the bank holiday weekend.
My breaktime this week might not be as relaxed as last week, it probably won't involve any games of Uno (must teach that to Wilf ASAP) but it'll still be lots of fun. I look forward to sharing it with you tomorrow.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Mountain Peaks

Last week's #mythursdaybreaktime gallery was BURSTING with gorgeous images, it really was so tricky to choose a favourite.

There were so many shots taken in far off sunny destinations and this grid sums up the chilled out vibe just perfectly. I love each shot individually but also love how they work together too.
@muffandteacake  @lingyeungb
@lewesmap  @martha_andthe_meadow
There were also some incredible landscape shots taken and this one by Kristy (@mummykristylee) particularly caught my eye. I'm pretty sure I gasped when I saw it and keep coming back to it when I scroll through the gallery.
Everything about it is perfect, the perspective is incredible and there's just so much to gaze at. When I last looked at it I noticed the wild flowers growing in the foreground which I'd missed the first time when I was just in awe of the mountain peaks.

We are spending a few nights near some more local peaks, the Brecon Beacons to be exact. Here's a photo taken the last time we visited this beautiful area, it's good for the soul round here I tell you!
Rain and thunder is forecast tomorrow which should make for an interesting few nights under canvas. Thankfully we've experienced storms whilst camping before and my husband and I are just going to make the most of the precious time to ourselves (thank you Mum and Dad!) Here's to a few evenings round the fire pit, bacon sandwich breakfasts and some lie ins.

Signal depending I look forward to catching up with your breaktimes tomorrow too. Don't forget you can win an amazing Teapigs bundle this month. Simply tag me @littlemaldod and @teapigs along with #mythursdaybreaktime to enter your posts.

Thanks for stopping by.
Lowri x

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Thursdays with Teapigs

Just about to fly out the door for a girly evening of Great British Bake Off viewing (along with obligatory cake) but wanted to quickly update you on some exciting news for August's #mythursdaybreaktime. 

I've been looking forward to sharing the details of August's collaboration for what feels like months. This month the fantastic Teapigs will be joining me in celebrating those special downtime, chill out, moments in our Thursdays.
 I figured that seeing as so many of the photos shared in the gallery involve a good old cuppa, that a tea related prize would be right up your street. I hope you'll agree!

The lovely people at Teapigs are kindly giving away a huge selection of their wonderful tea and two  of the most beautifully made glass cups and saucers you'd ever hope to drink from.
Imagine the delicate glass slipper that Cinderlla wore, well these are the cup versions of that!
My favourite post into the #mythursdaybreaktime gallery during August will win the lot! Anyone can join in on Instagram and to enter your photo into the month's giveaway simply tag in @littlemaldod and @teapigs into the post, along with #mythursdaybreaktime.

If you want to see which photo (and runner up) I picked as July's favourite, click here.

Here's just a few more of last week's posts which caught my eye. It was so nice to see the sunshine last week and to see some of the lovely places you're all off to on your Summer travels. Oh to have been on a sailing boat somewhere hot and sunny today!
@zoepower @theordinarylovely
I'm looking forward to seeing all your posts tomorrow and who knows, perhaps some tea AND cake will make an appearance.

Right, off to join Paul, Mary, Mel and Sue! (Squueeee!!!)

Lowri x 

Saturday, 1 August 2015

July with Bloom & Wild

Well July just flew by didn't it?! Summer days spent strawberry eating, flower picking and tea drinking. All shown so beautifully in your Thursday breaktime moments this month.

I've had SUCH a task choosing a favourite from the #mythursdaybreaktime, there were so many lovely moments and images that caught my eye.

This image by Lisa (@darlingbudsofme) stole my heart though. The first (second and third) time I read the text accompanying text tears prickled my eyes. It's simply beautiful.
I adore everything about the overhead head shot, the illustration of the book, the squished-up-on-the-sofa bodies with little hands holding little feet. But it's the words below that really strike a cord, they're so honest, full of love and beautifully written. I challenge you to read them without a tear in your eye. 
Here's what Lisa wrote:
"This. That I get to do this every day, be with the best two little people in the universe, still floors me. That when I'm tired and they're getting a bit cranky I say 'shall we have story time?' and they cheer as though somebody won something and grab stacks of their favourites and 'I picked this one Mummy because I know you love it' and we sit melded together and they go quiet and I search for my slow rich storytelling voice, which is sometimes easier to find than others, and the pages turn and the stories unfold and time suspends. And maybe they're right to cheer because somebody did win something. Lucky mama that I am, I won them :-)"
Up until the start of the Summer holidays my Thursday afternoons have been 'my' time, with Wilf at nursery and Anwen asleep, they are my chance to sit down quietly for a break. Ahead of six weeks of afternoons with my preschooler I wondered what my breaktimes would end up looking like. Lisa's image thoroughly challenged me and made me realise that, whilst they might not be as 'peaceful' and relaxing, breaktimes with little people about are just as lovely and can even be more special.

Congratulations Lisa, I hope you're cheering! You've won THREE month's worth of flowers from Bloom & Wild delivered straight through your letter box.

But hang on there guys, I'm not quite finished! Because the lovely people at Bloom & Wild realised how tricky my task was to pick just one favourite, they've generously offered a runner up prize. How lovely is that!

So, I'm delighted to share this image of pure Summer deliciousness with you.
This image by Emma (@beautythrumylens) just sums up July for me- sweet homemade refreshing treats, strawberries and Peonies. Ahhh, Peonies! One of my favourite flowers, made even more special by the fact that they make an appearance just once a year in this lovely month.
Emma's Instagram is beautiful and has become a favourite to scroll through. Congratulations Emma, a one off delivery of blooms will be on it's way to you.

I'll be in touch with both of you via Instagram to confirm your contact details and arrange your prizes.

A HUGE thank you to everyone who has joined in this month, there are so many lovely photos in the gallery. I'll share a few more favourites from this Thursday back here next week, along with details of a fantastic prize for August brought to you from the fabulous Teapigs. Did I mention I like tea?!

Have a wonderful weekend all!