Monthly Archives

June 2013

Blogging Elma Exploring Inspiration Photography Reading

BritMums Live 2013


More friends; fewer notes.  The two may be related.

It might also be something to do with a certain little young lady who came with me.  Elma has always loved keeping an eye on what’s going on around her and collecting all the smiles she can entice in her direction; every time she wasn’t earnestly headbutting my chest in search of a little milky snack she was giggling at any other babies within reach, or looking adoringly at our neighbours.  She had wonderful cuddles from Kylie and Rachel as well as both Kirsty and Clara from My Two Mums, and tickles and games of peepo from so many lovely others.  I thank you all, it made Elma’s day, and in turn made it a real joy to have my littlest girl with me.

BritMums Live 2013

Despite the lack of notes, I seem to have come home with a bloggy to-do list as long as my arm.  Disappointingly, by the time I got to the Warner Bros lounge to check out the Harry Potter film props someone else had already snagged the time turner (after all, why else wouldn’t it have been there), so I had to choose between a whole host of sessions I would have loved to have gone to.

But the ones I picked didn’t let me down.

Mammasaurus and Mummy Barrow filled BritMums 3 to standing room only with their session on social media, and with just cause; they had oodles of information shoehorned into their 45 minutes including their top tip to avoid that “not tweeting, but drowning” feeling by scheduling yourself little 10 minute blocks every now and then to keep on top it all.  Lots of their bare facts were probably familiar to many of us, but with their enthusiasm and killer humour you could have listened to them all day.

I came out of the smartphone photography session with one undisputable realisation:

I’m going to have to delete Candy Crush from my phone.

I now have a wonderful list of new photo apps to add to my phone’s memory, and it’s already creaking at the seams. I had to delete four pictures and the ASDA app just to get Hipstamatic to reload. And that’s to say nothing of the new ones that I want to play with; Camera Noir, Coloursplash, Snapseed, Action Shots, Decim8, Slow Shutter, Quick Camera and Filterstorm, with Camera Noir and Filterstorm at the top of the list.

The Pinterest team of Maggie from Red Ted Art, Emma from Science Sparks and Kerry from Pin Addicts had me scribbling frantically with one hand while Elma chirruped and occasionally wailed in the other arm (sorry about that everyone else who was there). One of these days when I find those extra minutes in the day I’m going to have a stab at turning some of the jumble of pretty things that I’ve pinned on my phone when reading words is too much to keep my brain awake during night feeds into boards that I can actually use.

And Judith from Wife in the North earned all the gold stars I could possibly bestow in the “Finding your Voice” session by decidedly declaring that they were going to make sure we got some actual tips, not just anecdotes from people who’ve already done it.  The panel’s comments provoked some interesting thoughts on the gender difference in the value of writing and how we protect our writing time that are going to rattle round my brain for a little while, and the tips themselves were great; focussing on clearing your mind and centring yourself before you write, and making sure that your writing conveys your thoughts without recourse to any form of telepathy.

I’m looking forward to starting Steven King’s “On Writing” which Judith recommended as a book that makes you actually want to go and write, as opposed to chucking in the towel, denying all knowledge of the written word and acquiring an unhealthy interest in amassing a collection of spoons, which I can neither admit nor deny has ever crossed my mind.

But of course there would always be the one that got away, in my case it was Baroness Greenfield on the neuroscience of internet addiction.  I would have loved to be there; I’m just going to have to start a little light internet stalking to find someone who’s written about it.

Britmums Live 2013

All the time I’ve been writing I’ve tried to decide my absolute best moment, the real highlight, the one memory that will stick with me, and I can’t decide.  I’ve got it down to a shortlist, perhaps you’ll be my jury?

It might have been the delightful discovery that Kirstie Allsop is just as chatty and entertaining in real life as she seems on the telly, I chuckled all through her talk, and it made my birthday.

It might be the standing ovations, given with love and support and utterly deserved.

Or it could be watching my tiny girl play peepo with the penguins from Madagascar as we (that’s two large penguins, one orange buggy, one tiny girl and one tall Mama) sank gracefully to the foyer floor in the buggy lift.

But I’ll leave you today with my favourite photo.  A rare portrait of Elma and my alter egos – bunnies!


BritMums Live 2013

If you’ve written about BritMums please leave me a comment and let me know because (a) I’m shallow and getting a comment makes me happy and slightly excitable and (b) I’m loving reading everyone else’s different views, and hearing about the talks I couldn’t make.





Crochet Giveaway Inspiration

And the winner is …


Thank you so much to everyone who played along with my little giveaway; I’ve never done one on the blog before but it was so much fun I think we might just have to repeat it sometime. I’m glad I didn’t have to choose a winner on merit though because I think I’d love to come and play on every single one of your crafty days.

But without further ado I can confirm that the comments have been closed, the entries read and enjoyed, the Duplo verified and counted and … (drumroll please) … I may now hand you over to my very own, bespoke, and slightly bemused, random number generator;

And just in case the video doesn’t want to play ball for anyone,



The winner is number 3, otherwise known as Hannah who said:

My perfect crafty day would involve sewing pretty things with a magic iron to make the seams sit flat and not a single bit of unpicking to be done the whole day.

Yippee! Hannah I’ve sent you an email, if you let me know your mailing address I’ll send it on its way!

Family Kitty

In justification of lettuce


My husband does not like lettuce. There is a very short list of vegetabley things that might acceptably end up on his plate, with an exclusivity that would put the swankiest of London nightclubs to shame, but lettuce isn’t one of them. Nor is celery.

And when he wants to oust the greenery from the fridge in favour of something we all like, like steak, or quiche, or cheesecake, or … well, yes, anyway, it becomes slightly harder to justify the space.

But now, I have it, the one reason that he will completely understand and credit. Because they’re not just for eating now, now they are part of the creative arsenal and accordingly have protective status.

My lovely Kitty seems to be taking after her Daddy (again); she’d scribble and paint all day long if she could, but there are only so many times you can paint “Mama, Daddy, Kitty, Baby Elma” in four wibbly lines down a fresh sheet of paper before you decide to cut out the paper and just paint your hands, your left eyebrow, and any part of Mama that comes within reach.

Vegetable Printing

A little distraction was in order, and that’s where the salad comes in. It’s essentially potato printing taken to a whole new level, perfect for people like me whose would be supremely skilled at drawing if will power and enthusiasm alone would get you there, but in reality are about to be superceded by the efforts of their toddler.  You see, nature has done all the hard work for me. If you cut the stem of a bunch of celery it reveals beautiful rings of overlapping semi-circles,

vegetable printing, celery

Add paint and print and you get roses in bloom.


And a Cos lettuce is all spiky angles, a pompom dahlia perhaps, or one of those little succulent cacti.

cos lettuce

Vegetable printing

Kitty really got into painting up the ‘stamps’, carefully dabbing pink paint in each nook and cranny and all over every single one of her fingers, before thumping it all over the paper.

Initially we mixed up the poster paint in a paper plate and dipped them in, but I found that it didn’t transfer enough paint, and made poor stamps, hence the tried and tested paint brush. If the celery/lettuce had had a cleaner cut it might have been better, but we did have to eat it first, and much as I like celery, I baulk at a whole bunch in one go.

I’d originally planned to add little green stems and maybe some fingerprint leaves but she was so keen on the printing that it quickly turned into a rambling abundance and I shelved that plan until next time.

And as I escaped with only the odd smear of pink, most of which I put there myself I’m considering it a success. Next up, what crafty endeavour will stop Kitty from eating the playdoh – any ideas?

Baby Cooking Elma Family



This week’s moment was a little bit of a spoiler.

Because as Tuesday became Wednesday, a flick of the calendar took our little Elma into the heady realms of “old enough for food”.  It seems a very arbitrary milestone to do it entirely on date, unless of course magic health visitor fairies came to visit in the wee small hours of Wednesday morning and sprinkled her with digestive pixie dust … actually that could explain both the small scrabbling noise that I heard on the roof (attributed at the time to squirrels) and the fact that she uncharacteristically woke up at 3.30am for a little milky top up; maybe I’m on to something.

But we digress.  In the absence of fairy intervention we went back to the tried and tested parental instinct method and decided that as she can sit up with a little help, can pick things up and put them in her mouth, has taken to filching any food left within her reach (bye bye Mama’s green beans), and has spent at least the last two weeks sat at the dinner table giving us a bit of the “where’s mine?!” stink eye, she was ready to begin her new adventure.

And as it happened, H had to work late on Tuesday, and had a training session on Wednesday, and we wanted our first full family meal to be special, and relaxed; not filled with a rushing father and a grumpy toddler, so we had it on Monday; pork T-bones marinated in honey, lemon, olive oil and garlic with new potatoes, carrots and broccoli for the over-ones and carrot and broccoli sticks and a little peach fromage frais for Elma.

first food, baby led weaning

If I thought she was excited about swimming we hadn’t seen anything yet, you could see the cogs whirring; “at last, they’re letting me try some!”.  She was quivering with excitement the whole time, and whilst as family photographer it might have been nice if she’d stayed still just for a moment, as her Mama I couldn’t care less, as sticks of carrot were flailed around, and broccoli forests started to crop up on my floor once again.




As with her big sister, the plan is to let Elma lead the way; we’re still nursing and that’s where her main nutrition will continue to come from as she explores all these new tastes and textures, and doubtless smears most of them over herself, her chair, her sister and the floor before almost accidentally managing to eat some.



And so my little one, what would I wish for you now as we stand on the brink of a new chapter of babyhood?

Darling girl,

Well this is food.  It’s yummy.  I think you’re going to like it. I hope that you always find food to be a joy, take pleasure in cooking and in eating (although you’re allowed to gripe about the washing up, especially if Daddy forgets to put the porridge pan in to soak in the morning).

So far you’ve tried carrots, broccoli, courgette, bananas, sweet potato and fromage frais (as well as the green beans and cucumber purloined from my plate last week).  You loved using your gums to suck the tender green flesh from the courgette rind, but the baked sweet potato sticks were the biggest hit; when you’d chewed and dropped all of yours you started patting the table, scrabbling around for another one.  Don’t tell your sister but I pinched one off her plate to give to you; my reward was your beaming orange smile and a splodgy handprint on my arm.


Some things are wonderful to eat and full of things that make us healthy and strong; eat lots of those; some things are equally wonderful, but perhaps not as healthy; enjoy them, just not so often; and some things don’t taste that great and don’t do much for you; I wouldn’t bother with those, although your father swears that there’s a spot that only Pickled Onion Monster Munch can hit.  Your beloved Grannie used to say “everything in moderation”, and it’s a pretty good mantra, you won’t come too unstuck with that one.

I hope that you learn to love all sorts of different food, and that your curiosity about the world will open you up to a taste of thing that you haven’t tried before, and I’ll certainly be encouraging you along the way.

And finally, just for reference, because it’s going to be a little while before I put any of this in front of you, please remember that the food of your people is clotted cream then jam on the scone, not the other way around.  Don’t let your aunt lead you astray; your uncle is Cornish and he converted her to his strange outlandish ways.

Now then, what would you like for supper?

Love, Mama xxx 

Baby Cooking Elma Family {this moment}

{this moment}


baby led weaning, <a href=health Elma” src=”” width=”640″ height=”428″ />

{this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, nurse special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savour and remember.

To see more, check out the comments to Soulemama.