Wednesday, 30 December 2015

I'm Going To Make 2016 The Best Year Ever

Well it's that time of year when we take time to reflect on what has gone and look forward to the New Year. Resolutions are everywhere. Lose weight. Do more exercise. Eat healthier.

But I know that by the middle of January they will be a thing of the past, mostly because they are too vague, too unrealistic or I just lose the motivation. 

I don't want to make resolutions that will get broken, I had a great 2015 and just want it to get better. OK sometimes things happen that makes us have our own Annus Horribilis, I can't stop these things happening. How I react to them is up to me. I am responsible for my own happiness. I want to look back and say "2016 was the best year ever!" 

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Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers


This is my first nomination! Thankyou! I was really happy to be nominated by fivelittledoves to join the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers link up. I stumbled upon her blog one day and read one of her letters to her children, then read them all! Laura writes from the heart so that means lots of laughter (The Out-takes) and lots of tears (Letters to Joseph). So get a tissue and a cup of tea and check out her blog.
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Monday, 28 December 2015

Our First Blogging Christmas

Bear was born in October last year so he's had his first Christmas. He wasn't very impressed. He thought Father Christmas and all that present giving was a bore. He slept through most of it, well the days he did. The nights he quite liked to be awake and playing 20 questions. You've played them. Has he had a poo? Is he in pain? Is he too young to be teething? Is he hungry and so on into the night.

Our-First-Blogging-Christmas-picture-of-toddler-in-Elf-suit-that's-too-big
Bear in his Elf suit. Bit too big but so cute.

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Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

It's been a fantastic year. I finally retired after taking early retirement last year and yes, I do miss the work and the people but instead I have my grandson Bear three days a week. It has been fantastic. OK it is exhausting. I have so much respect for all the parents out there doing it 7 days a week 24 hours a day on little or no sleep. Well Done!

I also started blogging in August after many, many months of dithering. I've met some really nice people through blogging. I love it.

Bear started laughing, crawling, walking, talking, running! Can't wait for next year.

Overall we've all had our ups and downs but it's mostly been up.


Bear and I would like to thank you for taking time out to read our ramblings
We wish you good health and joy in the coming year.



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Wednesday, 23 December 2015

The Joys of Being a Grandmother

I sit here with the sun shining and the most precious thing in my life asleep upstairs. My grandson, Bear. I have two children so why are they not the most precious things in my life? Well they were until last year. They are still very precious but they are grown up. They have flown the nest. They are adults in their own worlds. My son is now a father, my daughter an aunty. Our relationships have changed. 

Every grandmother says it's the best thing that ever happened but I didn't believe it. How could anything be better than having your own child?


"For you maybe" I thought "but not for me. Nothing could be better than your own child". How wrong I was!


From the moment he was born, from the second I held him at only a few hours old I knew I was hooked. I was smitten. I was a grandmother.



The-Joys-of-Being-a-Grandmother-bear-and-cardigan

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A Cardiff Garden In December

I started the series of "A Cardiff Garden In...." as a record of my garden through the seasons. Bright and summery. Colourful autumn days. Cold, frosty winter days.

This year it has rained. It rained all spring, summer, autumn and now winter. In fact it has been raining here almost every day for the last 4 weeks. So instead of beautiful pictures of frost I have mud and puddles.

Cardiff is often wetter and warmer than the east of the UK and being in a city it's also about a degree warmer but it is still very mild for us. Today, a rare day with some sunshine, it was 14C in the garden, and felt a lot warmer in the sun, very warm for December. It has been so mild the plants are confused and think it's spring so they are putting out new shoots and flowering. This means when (if?) the cold weather and frosts hit us in January and February they will get frosted and die.

But if we look closer we will see the true beginnings of spring, the daffodils are breaking through and the cyclamen is about to flower.

A-Cardiff-Garden-In-December-picture-of-aubretia-in-flower-poking-through-metal-fence
Parts are very summery still- the Aubretia is still in full bloom

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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Bears 1st Christmas Party

This week was Bears first Tots Club Christmas Party. We weren't too sure how much he would enjoy it but we were determined to go. Bear refused his morning nap which meant we got to the party on time (yeah!) but he was very tired (booo!) so after an hour we decided to leave. That was plenty of time for us!

toddler being held and watching everyone
Watching with Grandad

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Friday, 18 December 2015

Zerodegrees Microbrewery and Restaurant, Cardiff - Review

Grandad and I decided last minute to go into Cardiff City Centre and see the lights, the Christmas Market and grab a bite to eat.


 Zerodegrees-Microbrewery-and-Restaurant-Cardiff-Review-view-of-cardiff-at-night

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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

The Secret Guide - How To Ruin The Perfect Christmas Day

Ever wondered how the perfect Christmas day always seems to get ruined? Doesn't matter how well it's planned something always goes wrong. I don't mean burnt roast potatoes or boiled to death sprouts, they are traditional. I mean those other things. It's all going wonderfully then bam! Well, there's a secret guide and I am going to share it with you.

If you don't want to ruin Christmas Day here is the secret guide. Just avoid doing any of these things and you will have the perfect Christmas Day.
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Sunday, 13 December 2015

How to Sew a Gift Basket for Christmas

My daughter in law recently had a major declutter prior to putting her house on the market. One of the items she was throwing out was a damaged fabric basket. It was so pretty. It made me think that maybe I could make a festive one using Christmas fabric. 

How-to-Sew-a-Gift-Basket-for-Christmas-filled-with-tinsel-and-baubels


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Friday, 11 December 2015

Fantastic Christmas Present for Vintage Lovers - 2016 Pretty Nostalgic Year Book

Fantastic-Christmas-Present-for-Vintage-Lovers-2016-Pretty-Nostalgic-Year-Book

When I retired last year a friend of mine gave me a subscription to Pretty Nostalgic. I hadn't heard of Pretty Nostalgic before and when it arrived it was a monthly magazine full of vintage pictures and titbits. From recipes to how people lived. It was a really lovely magazine beautifully illustrated and full of articles not just about times past but relevant to today. When I finished reading I passed it onto my daughter who thought it was brilliant too. The subscription stopped and as it was a gift I hadn't counted how many I had received but thought that the time had gone quickly. I forgot all about it and then out of the blue a book arrived, it was the 2016 Pretty Nostalgic Year Book. When I contacted Pretty Nostalgic querying the book they told me they had to stop the subscriptions and had repaid all subscribers (my friend) and this was compensation for the issues I had missed. What a lovely gesture.

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Wednesday, 9 December 2015

How to Care For Your Toddler When They Have a Cold

The season of goodwill is upon us. Fairy lights, Christmas trees, tinsel and the common cold. Oh yes! Just before and during Christmas is the time our little ones will catch a cold and all our festive plans will go on hold until they are better.

In fact children get between 8 and 12 colds a year, and most of these between September and March. No wonder they always seem to be coughing and have a runny nose.

Bear has been very poorly recently with a cold and so I have spent ages on the internet looking for advice on what I could give to a 14 month old to help. The advice I found varies slightly with age, below is for toddlers over 6 months of age. I also spoke to a pharmacist and their advice was to carry on as we were doing (as below). He also tried to sell me a homoeopathic cough mixture, which I politely refused.

picture of toddler with foot in tissue box
Bear, when he was really poorly, wearing a tissue box

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Monday, 7 December 2015

This week - From Einstein to Washing Puzzles

We say all the time things such as "don't they grow quickly" "where has the time gone" but the difference in Bear over the last couple of weeks has been enormous, not his physical growth but his development.

He now wants more interactive and imaginative games. He still enjoys things that make a noise when hit or pulled but he wants to feed his doll, put the farmer into his tractor or people into a bus. He likes to carry things especially if they are too big or too heavy. He walks with confidence, gone is the Frankenstein monster, except when he wears his new slippers that have a rattle in them! He shakes his feet one at a time and walks with a stomp so they make a noise.

He just loves my iPad. He likes to get Siri on it and then looks at me and I ask for pictures of different things. A cat, a dog, a monkey, a lorry, Einstein. Einstein? you ask, well that wasn't me that was Grandad. Grandad asked Siri for a picture of Einstein, Bear laughed at it and then did his own impression.


Black and white picture of Einstein poking his tongue out and Bear poking his tongue out
Einstein and Bear

He loves taking things out of things he especially enjoys helping with the shopping.

Picture of toddler with broccolli
Helping with the shopping

He also loves putting things in things. Clothes in the washing machine, rubbish in the bin but this also leads to fun discoveries. A puzzle piece in the washing machine, books in the bin, a plate under the washing in the basket, anything at all in Grandads boots! I just keep finding things in the wrong place. I really must remember to check the washing machine before I put it on and Grandad to check his boots too.

picture of a wet ambulance puzzle piece
A very clean and wet puzzle piece


collage of 3 pictures of a toddler putting something into an adults boot
Bear putting something into Grandads boot

A pair of slippers
These slippers rattle, Bear loves to stomp in them

picture of a laundry basket with a blue plastic plate in it
I found a plastic plate under the washing



picture of a toddler putting books into a waste paper basket
Putting books into the bin

He is talking, I mean really talking. OK we don't understand what he says but he has the tune just right, the words well they still need a bit of work! He also gestures with his hands up and open when we say "all gone".

He repeats everything said to him and at the time it's perfectly understandable, it just doesn't always make sense on it's own.

What new words can he say?

Hickory Dickory Dock
Clock
Bubble
Tea
Potato
More
Poo

We didn't go to Tots club this week because Bear was poorly. He has had the most awful cold and cough, which he probably caught at Tots club in the first place. He was so poorly that on Thursday night they all stayed at our house so Mummy and Daddy could get some sleep and I sat up with Bear. He tried so hard to sleep but every time he settled he coughed and woke himself up. We did all the usual things, snuffle babe on his chest, Olbas Oil on his clothes and on a tissue in the room and raised one end of his mattress so that he wasn't lying flat. Even with all this it was a long night.

picture of a toddler with his foot in a tissue box
Half past midnight and he's tearing up tissues and wearing the box
Worse though was that he stopped eating and drinking. We like to give Bear good food including fresh vegetables and fruit which he usually loves but this week even white chocolate buttons and chocolate cookies were only a small temptation.

picture of a toddler spitting out orange pieces
Spitting out Oranges

picture of a toddler poking a white chocolate button
White chocolate buttons being squashed not eaten


toddler with cookie in one hand whilst opening a door with the other
Cookie in hand but not being eaten


toddler smiling with ketchup on face
Bear  licked the ketchup off his chips but wouldn't eat them

So he's now slowly getting over his cold and we have to try to fatten him up again! There wasn't much of him to start with. I just hope that next week he enjoys his food.

Do you have any tips on helping your little one when they have a bad cold?





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Tuesday, 1 December 2015

18 Questions To Ask Your Grandparents Before It's Too Late

I was so lucky, I loved my grandparents. When I was little they lived a long way away . They lived in London and we lived in Hertfordshire, 30 miles! It was a 2 hour bus ride just to get to Golders Green. Then we had another bus to catch. Very few people had cars or could afford the train so bus it was. That meant we didn't see them as often as I'd have liked but I loved them.

A black and white photo of a man and woman sat in deckchaire. The man has a pipe
My Grandad and Nanna. My dad's mum and dad



There are so many questions I wish I had asked them but I didn't even think of asking them when they were alive. I suppose I thought they'd always be around.

My mothers mother was born in the west of Ireland, She was the 7th child of a 7th child and spoke only Irish until she was about 7 years old. She left Ireland just after the Irish war of Independence in about 1922. She was 19. That's all I know.

A lady laughing, a women holding a baby stretching for white chocolate.
My Nanny, me and Bears daddy. My mum's mum.

My mother told me that Nan left home because her father wouldn't let her cut her long hair short. Oh how I wish I could have asked her about that. I can hear her laughter and her wonderful Irish accent, she loved to laugh. She would have told me all about it, how she left Ireland and travelled to London. How she met my grandad and fell in love. All about her parents and grandparents. Her brothers and sisters. Now there is no one left that I can ask. If only I could turn the clock back just a little but that of course is impossible.

So if you are lucky enough to still have grandparents sit with them talk about their past. You may think "boring" but I assure you when you are older and they have gone you will just wish....

So to get you started here's some questions to ask your grandparents before it's too late




  1. Where and when were you born? Did your parents ever share their memories with you about the day you were born?
  2. What were the names of your grandparents and what are your memories of them?
  3. When and where were your parents and brothers and sisters born?
  4. What schools did you attend? Did you like school? What were they like?
  5. What was the best thing about your childhood?
  6. What is your earliest childhood memory?
  7. How did you meet Nanny/Grandad? 
  8. When and where were you married? What was the best bit?
  9. Tell me about the day mum/dad was born
  10. How did you choose your childrens names?
  11. Where have you lived? Where did you like best?
  12. What jobs have you had? Who did you work for and what did you do?
  13. Do you know any stories about the history of the family?
  14. What was your proudest moment?
  15. What has been your biggest challenge?
  16. What has given you the most pleasure/fun in your life so far?
  17. What are some of your favourite things? Favourite flowers? Favourite books? Favourite songs? Favourite foods? 
  18. If like me your grandparents are not from where you now live. Why did you leave the place you grew up?


Oh and don't forget to write the answers down! 

Are there any questions you would add to my list?


If you would like to see more in this series click on the "Family Tree" part of the badge below and it will take you directly to my index page.

Family-tree-series-link-badge
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Sunday, 29 November 2015

WOW Toys Farm Yard Advent Calendar - Review

I've been looking for farm animals suitable for Bear to play with as he is now very good at doing grunting noises like pigs make and loves hearing the noises of the other animals. They all seem to be for 3+ years so when I first saw the WOW toys advent Farm Yard calendar I knew it was exactly what I was looking for.


picture of front of the advent calendar box


It's suitable for ages 1 - 5 and as I had previously reviewed one of their pocket money toys, the Christmas play time friends, I knew the quality of the toys would be good. You can read my review here.

They are described as being free from all nasties. No PVC, phthalates, toxic paint, cadmium, batteries or small parts and so are safe to be chewed, nibbled, hugged and loved! I knew Bear would definitely give them the taste test.


picture of the no nasties list on the side of the advent calendar box


I did hesitate because of the price, at £25 I thought it was a bit expensive (although it works out at only just over £1 for each toy). I didn't want to buy one and it not be suitable for Bear so I waited and was lucky to grab one at half price on a daily deals at Amazon.

It was decided that because Bear is so little and doesn't understand time he could open them all on one day.

Bear has books with lift up flaps so he understands that if you lift a flap there is something underneath. He couldn't wait to get started.


picture of a toddler looking at the advent calendar


Mummy and daddy came to see him open his first advent calendar. There were a lot of awwws and ooohs!

He loved it. From the first toy, a horse he wouldn't let go of, all through to the last toy, a pig, which brought the obligatory grunting noises!


picture of a toddler opening the first window, number 15!
Bear thought he would start with window number 15. He wasn't disappointed!

picture of a toddler looking at the horse he just found

picture of a toddler taking out toy number 2
Bear loved the horse and wouldn't put it down so getting the second toy was a bit tricky.

picture of a toddler looking at the horse and teddybear he just found


Bear wouldn't change a thing he loved it all and just to see his little face everytime he found another toy was worth every penny of the £12.49 I paid.


What did I think?


I liked that each toy was named although Bear is too young to appreciate it.


Picture of a pig toy and window with the name Pamela


All the animals and people have the same sized base so they all fit into the tractor or the horse. I don't understand why one of the toys is a teddy bear, Bear seemed to like it though! Maybe it was put in there just for us.

The top layer that has the numbered windows isn't stuck down anywhere so it is possible to see the next toy just by lifting it slightly, which Bear did lots. The only other negative was the Christmas tree. It comes in 3 parts the base on day 7, the tree on day 8 and a star to top it on day 9. If Bear was only opening one window a day he would have been bemused and disappointed on day 7. He did love putting them together and taking them apart though.


picture of contents of the advent calendar
Animals, people, a tractor and a teddy bear!


Final verdict. 


I would definitely buy another of these because they are really well made and fun, a great alternative to chocolate. If Bear was older I would also have a couple of standby items for the days when the toys are boring, for example the tree base but saying that all the parts are displayed clearly on the side of the box.


side of box illustrating contents

Bear loved it and now wants the Wonderland and Town advent calendar! Who told him about them?

Do you buy toy advent calendars? Which is your favourite?

Merry Christmas!



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Friday, 27 November 2015

10 Fun Christmas Party Food Ideas

I'm not a cook, I'm definitely not a baker so these are just some fun ideas from around the web. A lot of these fun Christmas party food ideas do not need any cooking skills so Merry Christmas and Happy Eating!

10 Fun Christmas Party Food Ideas

1. Christmas Hats from Sweet Simple Stuff 



10-Fun-Christmas-Party-Food-Ideas-3-marshmallows-covered-in-chocolate-look-like-Christmas -op-hats


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Thursday, 26 November 2015

A Cardiff Garden in November

November in Cardiff brings the threat of frost. It doesn't always arrive but a chill is in the air. The garden is starting to look unloved as we spend more time indoors and the days get shorter.

There are a few flowers refusing to give in to winter and a few that start their flowering now.

The seed heads, berries and hips give most of the colour and interest. A few of the plants are promising us a show later, like the camellias and pine tree.




Picture of purple aubretia through railings
Aubretia flowering through railings


Picture of yellow Jasmine flowers
Winter Jasmine just starting to flower


Picture of pink hydrangea flower
Hydrangea still flowering although the blooms are now small


Picture of purple pansy flower
Pansy just starting to flower


Picture of pink sea thrift flower
Lonely single Sea Thrift flower


Picture of yellow rose bud
Rose still in bud and flowering.


Multiple Seedheads of coneflowers
Coneflower seedheads


picture of faded hydrangea and discarded clay pots
Faded Hydrangea flower and discarded clay pots I need to tidy away


Brown flowerhead of hydrangea that was white in summer and pink in autumn
Hydrangea Pirymidalis. White then pink and now brown, but still beautiful.


Lots and lots of seed heads, like pom poms
Pom Pom like seed heads of Anenome


Brown seed head with glossy black seeds of agapanthus
Agapanthus


bright red hips of wild rose
Red rose hips


white downy feather resting on sage leaves
Sage with downy feather


green leaves with white spots of laurel
Laurel stays looking good with promise of red berries to come


fresh green new leaves of Arum Lily
New leaves of Arum Lily that will get hit when the frosts come


pine needles and little buds of new cones
Our Christmas tree in a pot with new cones budding.


glossy green leaves and big fat green buds
Glossy leaves of camellia will stay throughout winter and in spring the buds will open to reveal pink flowers

tiny green leaves and small red berries
Cotoneaster berries already food for wildlife!



long hedge with brown leaves
The Beech hedge will keep its brown leaves for most of the winter


Tree branches against a blue sky with just a few clouds
The Oak's  have lost almost all of their leaves.

A pair of plastic green clogs, a watering can and a pot saucer.
My summer gardening clogs are full of leaves and mud. I must put them away.



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