Category: Little Loves

A Family Love Affair with Books

I love beautiful books.  I have no vice.  While like most women, I do like shoes and bags, they’re not something I’d covet the way I do with books, especially beautifully illustrated ones, I just can’t resist them, so when we went to the Bath Children’s Literary festival as mentioned in my previous post, when I saw this one particular book on a stand, it just called to me.

I mentioned this a lot in previous posts – how lucky I am to be married to a man who has the same passion as I do, that helps a lot you know.  You won’t hear any “Are you paying that much for a book?!”  Instead ours is usually “What did you get?  Here’s mine”.  

I picked up my book, and went off to pay.  When I turned my back, my husband was queueing behind me with his own choice of book, and T was also clutching her own .  Luckily, she had her own money to spend since she brought her savings with her and since this was after all a Children’s Literary festival all our books “were for kids”.

My husband’s pick was real-life astronaut’s first children’s book – The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield.

the_darkerst_dark

It is a sweet book for children younger than T who is six.  It talks about how it is okay to have fears, especially of the dark and how dreams do come true.

inside_the_darkest_dark T’s choice on the other hand was this one:  Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman.

odd

It’s not surprising that she chose another book illustrated by Chris Riddell her favourite, especially since she already has all of his books.  She knows Neil Gaiman as the man who wrote her other favourite “Coraline” and even has the book signed by him and again, illustrated by yes, Chris Riddell again. She loves the man and I don’t blame her.  I think she also chose this book because it had a little boy on the cover for a change and that it had giants in it.

And this folks is my choice:  Neil Gaiman’s The Sleeper and the Spindle.

img_3583When I saw the sleeve, I was hooked.  The gold ink was calling to me, since it was wrapped, I didn’t even know how beautiful it was inside till we got home. It was my precious and it was mine.  Of course, I told T that I bought it for her, but it’s actually mine, all mine.

I took off the plastic that was wrapped around the sleeve ever so gently, and as I slipped the case off and the book fell out, I actually gave a little gasp and ran my fingers on it like braille. The front was just beautiful and inside?  See for yourself.

inside

I gently opened each page and marvelled at the artwork.  You’ve probably noticed by now that yes, it was illustrated by no other than the Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell.  I am now a fan too.  Even though I haven’t read the story yet (I can’t wait to read what Neil Gaiman’s version of Sleeping Beauty is like), it’s my current favourite book.  My precious.

Do you have a favourite children’s book?

Music and Memories

It’s uncanny how music is so much like a time-machine, the way it instantly drags us back and we are that awkward teenager again, listening to our music real loud, wishing it would devour us and allow us to escape whatever is troubling us, even for just the duration of the song.

I recently did a post for the lovely Catherine of Pushing the Moon. She runs a series called the Bloggers Spotify Playlist that is so interesting to read and hear about bloggers’ choice of music, if you have time do check it out. It wasn’t surprising that those songs were constantly on my mind this week.

It was a difficult list to make actually.  Music used to be such a big part of my life when I was growing up, even as a single woman, so it was really astonishing to me how much it has taken such a back seat since becoming a mother.  Then again, that shouldn’t be surprising since motherhood/parenthood does take over your entire being.  That’s the way it is I guess.

Going back to that list, growing up my parents were hippies and listened to a lot of folk music like Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and of course, my dad loved the Beatles (still does).  As a teenager, because of my older brother’s influence, I listened to punk and new wave.  Then grunge/alternative.  I preferred Pearl Jam over Nirvana, primarily because I had a big crush on Eddie Vedder.  I also have so many memories of listening to The Lemonheads cruising in the car with my brother and our friends, or singing along with 10,000 Maniacs and all the other alternative bands/artists of that era.  Yes, I know, it does show my age, doesn’t it?

Also loved female artists like Edie Brickell whose album Shooting Rubberbands at the Stars became a big theme song in my young life.  And listening to Rickie Lee Jones croon about “Not Wanting to Grow-up”. Then I became obsessed with Indigo Girls and their painful lyrics and songs.  Fast-forward to 2009 or was it (2008?) when I dragged my husband (although we weren’t married yet then) to watch Indigo Girls live in Bristol.

I also used to listen to Rage Against the Machine when I was frantically trying to beat deadlines.  Their songs gave me the adrenaline rush I needed to finish work off.

My music list is endless!  So many songs, so many memories, so while I’ve been walking the streets of my youth, I think it’s about time to jump back in the present and find new songs to listen to, especially for my daughter’s sake, soon I’ll hear a “Oh mum, you’re not listening to the “oldies” again are you?”

Any suggestions?  Latest trends/music/artists?

Do share.

The Reading Residence
Music

A Country Kid’s Post: Blackberry Picking in Our Garden

“I fancy making some blackberry and apple crumble today”  says the husband from the kitchen.  He is still in a roll again.  T and I are in the living room.  The fire is on, I’m flicking through my Ideal Home magazine and T is on the iPad.  She’s only ever allowed to have it on a weekend.  I put my magazine down and quip “Not to worry, we shall pick you some fresh blackberries in our garden”.

We have a wilderness behind our old shed at the bottom of our garden.  For a while, we toyed with the idea of planting a vegetable plot behind it, but I’m thinking now to let it be. There’s something magical and mysterious about this little plot of land behind that shed.  And much to our delight, we’ve discovered blackberries growing in the bushes there.

T and I put our wellies on and this makes Doc excited.  He bounds out as soon as we open the door, grabbing a stick along the way and watches us forage.  After a while, he gets bored and decides that it’s more fun running around like a loony with a stick in his mouth and he lets little T and I be.  It doesn’t take us long and we have enough for the Historian’s recipe and head back inside the house.

Now that’s what I call bliss.

If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.  Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with. –  L. Frank Braum, The Wizard of Oz

What’s yours?

 

Life With Kids: What CD is currently being played in your car?

Sat Nav

Most of us have one particular CD that’s permanently in our car player, especially when you’re a parent of a small child.  Little T was around three (if I remember correctly) when Frozen first hit the cinema.  The next year, they released the CD and all went crazy from there.  Yes, we were mad enough to buy her the soundtrack.  I regret that decision.  Just as remorseful as I felt when we bought the Cbeebies double-disk songs and also played that  on a road trip from Cornwall to Scotland.  I still shudder every time I hear the first few notes of “In the Night Garden”.

Going back to Frozen, needless to say, it was the only one in our playlist the whole of 2014 and when we took a road trip from Cornwall to Picardy (yes we do love road-trips), to the North of France, not to mention a day-trip to Belgium, we did it all to the tune of “Let it Go” and “Do You Want to Build a Blimming Snowman”

And of course, the sing-a-long-continued until we were back in English soil.  My husband and I have this distinct memory of hearing little girls with different nationalities (German, Irish, Finnish the usual visitors you’d expect when staying at Eurocamp), singing their version of Frozen in every single cabin/lodge surrounding ours.  That was also the year we took Little T to Disneyland Paris and yes, she did have a glimpse of Elsa and Anna.  Summer 2014, was definitely a “Frozen” summer. Thank goodness that’s over now.

And it wasn’t just me and my husband who had enough of that blasted CD, apparently, even our car couldn’t take it anymore.  One day, player decided that enough is enough and wouldn’t play it anymore and refused to even spit out the Frozen soundtrack.  That car is gone now.  It’s probably in some junk yard with the over-played CD still in it.

Thankfully that seemed to have been the end of T’s obsession with the songs and didn’t ask us to get another.  Phew.

And then she discovered “The Book of Life” a year or so ago.  For those who aren’t familiar, it’s an animated film that tells the story of a small town in Mexico called San Angel from the “Book of Life” (hence the title) that holds every single story in the world.

It’s an adventure, comedy and love story rolled into one lovely colourful movie.  It also helps that it has a good cast:  Diego Luna, Channing Tatum and Zoey Zaldana, Christina Applegate and Ron Perlman to name a few.  Do watch it if you haven’t seen it yet.

You’ve guessed it.  This is the current CD played on loop in our car and unlike the first two CDs I mentioned. I don’t regret it one single bit.

The songs are catchy and fun.  My favourite though is one of the slow ones called “Apology Song”, where Manolo, the bullfighter decides to serenade the giant toro in the land of the dead.  Do click and have a listen.  It also helps that Diego Luna has a really good voice.

And then of course there’s this romantic song, which was also sang by the same Mexican actor.  Apparently Deigo Luna is not only cute, is a great actor, but  can really sing.

And then there’s the main song “No Matter Where You are” by Us the Duo which is definitely one song you can’t help but sing-along-to, so it’s not surprising that and it’s one of T’s favourites in the soundtrack.

And lastly, this “Live Life” song by Jesse and Joy which she also loves to sing with her friends, especially on the way to their gymnastics class.  Picture this, three little girls singing at the top of their voices and begging you to play it again and again and again.

My husband and I actually love the songs too, so we don’t really mind.  It has been our sound track for the whole summer of 2016 and I have a feeling it will stay there, till at least Christmas.

What about you?

What CD is currently being played in your car?

Do share.

Day Lilies in Our Garden

Since moving in our new home last May, we don’t really know what flowers grow in our garden, so it was a lovely surprise when I noticed these flowers growing a few weeks ago.

daylillies_upclose

I didn’t know what they were, but knew that they were a type of lily.  I posted a photo on Instagram and someone suggested that it might be a Day Lily.  I thanked the person and googled, and sure enough, she was right.  Don’t you just love Instagram for that?

raindrops_on_daylillies

I’ve always loved looking at rain or dew drops on petals.

As mentioned on previous posts, we haven’t really done much gardening apart from mowing the lawn.  It’s lovely though to get surprises like these in our garden.  Since arriving in our new home, I feel like our garden is presenting us with gifts or offerings, so far we’ve been given daffodils, bluebells, lilies and other beautiful wild flowers.  I feel so much blessed – thank you.  By next year, we’ll be able to tell what kind of beauties grow season by season.

Can’t wait to see what other lovely flowers will bloom in our garden.

Do you like flowers?

T’s Orbeez Summer

The weather has been really bad this week.  It’s been raining every day and it actually looks more like autumn than summer.  I know, I keep ranting about the weather, I feel bad for the little ones who have been waiting the past few months for this.  Anyway before the break,, I ordered some Orbeez (their like gel beans which you “grow” over night in water, after about 8 hours they become like squishy jelly like beans your kids can play with) for T to play with over the summer.

She’s been nagging me about them ever since she first saw children play with them on YouTube.

That’s what’s been keeping her busy.  I bought her two packs and they came in little plastic pouches.  Each night she’d choose a colour and we’d leave it soaked in water to “grow” over night.  Just like in the video, she let’s her little “Elsya” and “Anya” dolls swim in them.  She can spend hours just playing with them, sometimes she’ll play and watch a video of kids playing, while she herself is playing with her tub of Orbeez.  She once asked if she could have a bath filled with the little beans, but I said no to that.

To be fair though, as soon as the rain would stop, T would run out and jump on her trampoline.  She doesn’t spend all her time playing with Orbeez, she likes to draw and paint too.  Hopefully the lovely warm sunny days will be back.

Have you heard of Orbeez?

Do your kids play with them too?

Do share.

Dear Bear and Beany

Summer Exhibition for Jewellery and Art Lovers

We woke up to a lovely warm Sunday morning.

Right after breakfast, we dropped by little T’s best friend’s house (one of her many best-friends) to give him his birthday present and to eat some delicious birthday cake with coffee.  Then we did some errands, went off to pick up M, the mum of another of T’s best-friend’s who also happens to be a friend.  She asked if T would want to stay behind to play with W, of course she said yes. So off we went, sans the children to a friend’s summer exhibit at Rock.  Yes, the weekend was all about friends.

It was one of those lovely rare-child-free moments where we got to pretend we were grown-ups attending an art and jewellery exhibition. We mingled, sipped prosecco, ate delicate looking canapés, looked at beautiful paintings and pretended that we could afford art works worth about four figures and that we didn’t have responsibilities and kids who were probably running around like loonies as we sipped our lovely wine and nibbled daintily (or so we tried) at chocolate coated strawberries.

M and I oohed and aahed over the lovely delicate jewellery handmade by our friend, choosing our favourites and at the same time wondering where we would wear such lovely pieces, while T’s dad trailed behind us feigning interest.  We giggled with the idea of showing up and wearing our friend’s intricately designed jewellery at the school gate.

Chloe Michell’s jewellery are unique one-one-of-a-kind pieces.  If you’re looking for something that’s just a little bit extra special, I have a feeling you’ll find it in her collections which are all handmade and delicately made in Cornwall.

Then we moved on to the lovely paintings by her mum artist Danka Napiorkowska, and I wish I could afford them all.  My favourite among the others was a painting of Cape Verde fish which was about £1,200.  I also saw another one I loved but was even more expensive at £2,000.  When I win the lottery, I’m going to buy all her paintings.  (Note to self:  Buy lottery ticket which I never do).

She had beautiful painting of fishes and flowers.  I loved her fish pieces which according to Chloe, she painted during one of her Cape Verde trips which isn’t surprising because they made me think of lovely warm tropical days with the wind billowing and sand in my feet.

I also loved her crockery where she had her lovely designs of fishes on beautiful Wedgwood plates.  And not just plates, but mugs, jugs as well.  Her pieces are beautiful.  Like her paintings, I wanted to take them all home with me.

If you’re in the area at the moment, do drop by for a visit, especially if you are like me who love beautiful unique pieces whether it is jewellery, crockery or a work of art, you won’t be disappointed.

Danka Napiorkowska and Chloe Michell’s Summer Exhibition is still on and is open daily till the 27th of this month from 10am – 6pm at the Rock Institute near Wadebridge here in Cornwall.

At the end of our visit, thanks to the Historian, I didn’t come away empty-handed.  I went home with a lovely print from Danka’s fish collection which is now hanging proudly in our living room.

napiorkoswska_print

I’m also now a proud owner of one of her large Wedgwood plates with her beautiful seafood design.

napiorkowska_plate

The historian also chose a lovely Chloe Michell silver necklace with a love heart for little T.

chloemichell_heartnecklace

Have I piqued your interest yet?

If you’re nowhere near Cornwall, and love art do you can always head over to Danka Napiorkowska’s website and don’t forget to visit Chloe Michelle’s jewellrey too.

 What about you?

Do you like collecting art pieces and jewellery too?

Mini Boden Sale Finds

One of the many joys that motherhood gives me, especially one who has a little girl, is dressing them up.  I must admit I do enjoy buying clothes for little T.  It’s one of those small joys that gives me absolute pleasure. Little girls clothes are just so pretty, aren’t they?  Then again, I do see lots of cute outfits for little boys too.

Are you easily tempted?  I am.  I guess whoever thought of sending email sale alerts to mothers nailed it big-time.  Raise your hands up if you can’t resist sales!  Yep, that’s me.  Hi, my name is Dean and I’m addicted to anything with the red tag on it.

It was one of those nights, when no matter how hard you try, you just couldn’t sleep and no amount of games with Mr. Word would do the trick.  After another round of scrabble I thought of checking my emails first before pulling in the plug and calling it a night.  And that’s when I saw it –  60% off plus another extra 10% off at Boden! That certainly worked and before I knew it I was checking out two items already.

This time I was good and only stuck to the said two items, especially since I’ve just bought new clothes for her not long ago.  I do try to discipline myself every now and then.

I do love the 50s styled summer dress (pictured above).  It was sold out on T’s size (5-6), though to be fair she’s turning 6 next month, so I got her a 6-7 size.  I have a feeling it will be too big for her, but I can probably adjust the strap.  The dress was originally priced at £29.50 but got it for £13.80, now isn’t that a great bargain?

I’m a sucker for white tops, fine, anything white, even though I know it isn’t really practical for kids to wear white.  But who cares?  I’ve always bought T lots of white stuff even when she was younger.

whitetop_littlesteps

Floaty Broderie top was £17.50 got it for £9.75.

Now this is a dreamy white top, isn’t it?  Can be worn with shorts or a skirt and sandals.  Love it!  If you love Boden whether it’s for you or your little ones, head over to their website now, while the sale is still on.

What about you?

Have you grabbed any good bargains lately

Do share.

Dear Bear and Beany

A Little Girl’s Summer Outfit from Cath Kidston

I do love Cath Kidston.  Admittedly, I have more than a couple of bags, shoes, mugs and other items from their shop.  I really must unsubscribe to their newsletter,  I go mental and can’t resist clicking every time they announce they are on sale, so yes, I gave in again.  This time though, I only bought two items and they were all for little T.

cathkidston_sandals

There must be a rule somewhere that says all little girls must have pretty sandals in the summer.  Aren’t they the cutest? Now if only they had it in my size too 😉

cathkidston_skirt

And this flowery skirt is the prettiest thing I’ve ever seen.  If you’re a mother of a little girl, I bet you won’t be able to resist too.

I have this image in my head of little T whirling around in the sun.  She is giggling.  Her straw hat falls off her head and reveals her messy-all-tangled-up long-hair.  She ignores the fact that her hat is now being blown away by the wind and continuous her silly little dance.  Her white top is splattered with ice-cream.  But she is laughing.  Happy that she has a pretty-flowery skirt that twirls when she moves, and lovely silver sandals with little pink and blue flowers on it.  Never mind if her hair is disheveled and her hat has been blown away and her top is scruffy.  All that matters is that she’s happy twirling, and falling, and tripping and laughing like a loon in the summer sun.

What about you?

Do you like Cath Kidston too?

What’s your favourite item?

Do share.

My Top Three Electric Range Cookers

To me, nothing spells country than having a range cooker in the kitchen.  In my ideal world, it would be an Aga like this one.
aga-cream-cutout_245x229

Image source

Yes, it can only happen in my dreams, since these cookers when bought brand new, probably cost about eight grand, maybe even more than that.  And I for one, can’t afford something as expensive as that, unless I win the lottery, but that would mean having to buy a ticket, which I never do.  Maybe, it’s about time I did?

When we move to our new house next week, we will be needing a new cooker.  There is a current freestanding one in the house, but it looks like it hasn’t been cleaned in ages (or maybe it just needs a good clean?)  And since I have neither the money nor the space, (it’s a small galley kitchen), I’ve been looking up on affordable electric cookers online.  I don’t like gas, I’m too paranoid for that.

1. Stoves Mini-Electric Range.

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2.  Rangemaster Classic Electric:__resize--454-gt-x356-gt-2Both one and two look a little bit like my dream range-cooker sans the hefty price tag that goes with buying an Aga.  Would’ve loved a double oven, both sadly both only have a separate grill and one oven.  But that’s fine by me.

3.  And lastly, the Belling Electric Range Cooker in Stainless Steel:

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Image source for both 1, 2 , & 3 here.

But even this is too ambitious, not the price, but the size.  I doubt if this will fit, so I might have to settle with either 1 or two.

What would be your choice?  Are you familiar with any of the three?

Or can you suggest an affordable electric range cooker?

Do share.