Ginger Bisquite

A family lifestyle blog

Updating toddler bed – Part 1

January 19, 2015 by Jenni Clutten | Comments Off

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Got a toddler bed that’s grown outdated or just in need of a bit of love?

With a little boy complaining that he didn’t like his bed, I offered to get him a dinosaur bed.  We looked around and considered our options, and then it dawned on me that I could repaint his current bed.  It would cost me very little, I already had some paint I could use, and if it didn’t work I hadn’t lost anything I wasn’t already going to replace it.

So, a few weeks ago when the weather was a tad warmer, we donned our finest painting gear and cracked open the paint.  I had already bought some Annie Sloan paint for some other projects, but I’d neer used it.
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The thing that appealed most to me was the knowledge that there would be no sanding or priming required.  This Thomas bed is a lurid clash of reds, yellows and blues.  When we first bought it on ebay for a thrifty £13, Nye loved it.  I still remember that at the time he was saying his first words and pointing at the trains and saying ‘choo choo’.

I wasn’t 100% convinced that the paint would stick to the shiny surface or that it wouldn’t take 5 coats.  But actually, after just one coat, there were only a few patches that needed a repaint.
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You will need:

  • paint stirrer
  • paintbrush
  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (we used the French Linen Shade)

Directions:

1. Wipe down the bed with a damp cloth and leave to dry
2. Open and stir the paint thoroughly
3. Grab a brush and spread an even coat all over
4. Let the first coat dry and apply a second coat

Part two coming soon!

Now you are 3!

January 18, 2015 by Jenni Clutten | Comments Off

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Dearest Nye,

You are now three years old and have suddenly transitioned into a little boy, with ever slender limbs and feet that need multiple pairs of shoes. You have been on this earth for three whole years and I do not know where they have gone.  The changes, the developments, they just fly by and you are there growing, learning and melding your own way.

You have always been so determined, knowing your own mind and sticking to your guns, even as a baby.  You were never flexible, it was all we ever knew and we accepted you as you were.  Now it has made you who you are, so full of opinions and your own way of seeing the world.

I love the way you smile at people, you light up other people’s faces and make them laugh with the different way you look at life. People who meet you say you have character and are cheeky and you are.  You are pretty good at one liners, and over the course of this year have come up with some great lines.  Including your creative use of the word Nye which became Nyself.  Your chain of thought is so sporadic, I find it quite easy to follow the things you connect, but I know it makes you special. Your crazy memory, where you remember events months down the line with exceptional clarity.  You’re still talking about the time we got a burst tyre and the fact we went blackberry picking while we were waiting for the breakdown assistance or the time you got a tiny bit of ice in your eye.

aag. (1 of 1)-2aag. (1 of 1)-6You often ask to bake things, mixing the ingredients and adding sprinkles to the top.  There is a daily barrage of queries about whether it is time for a biscuit yet.  We try to placate you with slice of fruit and Cheerios and some days it works better than others.  You don’t make life easy, there are negotiations most days, but the darkest days  of tantrums and fierce arguments have gone with a change in your perspective and our patience.

As busy as you can be, you are still cautious, you’d never be the first person to go down the slide without serious encouragement and consideration.  For your 3rd birthday we got you a new scooter, it’s a sign you’re getting older, able to do more things for yourself.  Although, the only things you actually asked for were a chocolate bee and a picnic.
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Happy 3rd Birthday my darling boy, we can’t wait to see how you grow over the course of this year.

2014 in review

January 1, 2015 by Jenni Clutten | 2 Comments

Here are some of my favourite pictures from 2014.  It’s been a year of change for us and we are looking forward to seeing what 2015 has in store.our.2014

Although there have been many happy memories this year, it has also been one of the most challenging years for our family.  Having two children has been difficult and exhausting, but I do feel I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  Every day we catch glimpses of a sibling relationship that we hope will blossom, a gentle stroke, a hand held and a tear wiped.

We have made quite a few lifestyle changes this year, we’re now total meal planning converts and regularly eat vegetarian meals (something I never thought I’d ever convert Neil to).  Towards the end of the year we finally got on top of our living room storage and seeing the difference that has made has inspired me to start the 40 bags in 40 days challenge.  (I’m a bit late to the party but finding it so inspiring).

I set myself a few challenges for 2014, mainly working our plans for the garden.  I have loved taking part in How Does your Garden Grow with Annie over at Mamasaurus, and was inspired by her words on blogging your way as usual.  I’ve taken on so many things over this last year, that I’m trying to take everything back to basics so I can enjoy blogging and enjoy life.  I have seen lots of bloggers choose a word for their year, and this year I think mine will be SIMPLICITY.  I wan’t to remember to be happy with the simple things, and find the joy in what we already have.

Do you have a word for 2015, what are your plans for the year ahead?

January Sales – Thrifty clothes for kids

December 29, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 1 Comment

Ah January Sales, how I love thee.  The prices are so tempting and I’m always convinced I won’t be able to get such bargains later in the year.  It’s probably not true, but it is a good time to get high quality clothing that will last. For the last two years we have made any big clothing purchases for the children in the January Sales and it works well as a good time to do a bit of a clothing audit in the children’s drawers.  Asessing what is now too small, what to get out of storage and what to pack away for later.

Here’ what I have been eyeing up this year, including a few items we’ve bought for the children already.  Get in there quick, lots of the good stuff is going quick.

 

Shop the sale for kids 2014/2015

 

 

December 28, 2014
by Jenni Clutten
2 Comments

Happy December

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I figure it’s a little bit late to wish you a Merry Christmas, but I hope you’ve had a good one.  As you may have noticed there’s been a bit of a leave of absence on the blog over the last few months. Totally unannounced, I know, but the long and the short of it is that I have been adapting to returning to work.

Being a working mother hasn’t been quite as easy as I expected, but is as enjoyable as it is challenging (and I’m only working 3 days a week!)  Reflecting on the last few months, for me, bring a working mother means that I have had to become a logistics expert overnight, working out who will be picking the children up, dropping them off, with who, whats the latest time I can leave, deciding who’s making the christmas party sandwiches and will we get to our swimming lessons on time. And with out swimming kits too, bonus! It’s no wonder that the last few months have sped by like I’ve been asleep the whole time and just woken up from some kind of crazy high-speed race.winter walk (1 of 1)-5
I’m planning to return to blogging over the next few weeks and have some wonderful things to share.  I just need to get writing and photographing and I’ll be away… I’m so disappointed that I haven’t been able to keep up with the lovely living arrows posts, but I think that ship has sailed now! Sometimes it’s just not possible to do it all.

The last few weeks have been full of a few new things, including the start of what I hope will become a Christmas tradition.  Nye’s first ever trip to the cinema on Christmas Eve.  We went to see Paddington and the atmosphere was just wonderful, full of families giggling at the jokes and children chattering away.  I am in no doubt that it would be hell if you didn’t have young children yourself, but to me it was quite magical.  Sitting in the deep seats, in the dark on his booster, Nye sipped on ribena and ate Cheerios and blueberries then demolished a chomp bar he picked out as a special treat.winter walk (1 of 1)-7

I also made a ‘christmas eve’ box full of PJs for all of us, some christmas books, a new film (robots) and some chocolate coins.  Because we saw the film on the 24th, we actually opened the box on the 23rd which is Neil’s birthday.  I think this could become a lovely tradition too.

Another joint Christmas present I was really excited about was the Tuff Spot I bought.  My plan was to set up a winter season for them to play with on Christmas morning (this was somewhat overshadowed by PRESENT UNWRAPPING).  But it was wonderfully successful in the kitchen when we filled it with flour, polenta and lentils.  We wrote letters and made shapes whilst Evie climbed in and rolled around!

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Christmas itself was a bit too full of tantrums, but one of the highlights has to be the brined turkey, (thanks Heston!) Boxing day was better and the 27th we had a sucessful day of sale shopping I’ll share with you later.  Have a great holiday and see you soon!

Remembering Christmas

December 4, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 11 Comments

homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-8As the beginning of December descends upon us, I’m really enjoying getting into the festive spirit. It’s still early, I know, I hope I’m not peaking too soon.

Having returned to work a few months ago, I’ve been getting into the Christmas mindset earlier than usual, with the need to be planning and scheduling projects ahead of time.  (Very unusual behaviour for me!)

This year is also the first year that I’ve felt that Nye really is anticipating Christmas, aware and excited about the idea of presents, father christmas and of course chocolate!   I’m quite enjoying the simplicity of asking what Nye wants from Santa, and him asking for only a ‘chocolate bar’.  Of course, there’s very little he needs, but who can resist all those gorgeous books and heavenly wooden toys.  Having said that, if you’d seen him investigating the christmas tree branches for traces of chocolate this afternoon, you’d probably agree that he’s reached his Christmas quota.homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-2As the 1st of December arrived I sent Neil up to the loft to get down our Christmas boxes, boxes that we’ve had knocking around since we had our first Christmas together in 2009.  On our first Christmas we were both students, we made decorations together using salt dough and painted them with acrylic paint.  It doesn’t sound glamorous but it was a cheap and easy way of filling an entire christmas tree for about a pound.  Of course these days we’ve come full circle, with two children in tow, making their own salt dough decorations!

The perfect christmas has to start with a gorgeous real christmas tree.  I love the effect a real tree has on the senses, that fresh aroma, the feel of the branches in your hand and how organic the structure it.  I love how every tree is unique and the special feeling they give to a room.  Plus, it’s probably the only house plant I have managed not to kill!homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-3 homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-4 homebase.christmas.tree (1 of 1)-5 I then add the lights, ribbon, tinsel or beads and finish by adding our family decorations.  This year I first divided out the unbreakable decorations and gave Nye his own selection to add to the base of the tree.  He particularly loved the felt London decorations and set about eagerly hanging them all on one branch.

As you may be able to tell, I’m not too precious about our Christmas tree, I quite like it being a collection of our memories.  I like the idea of having a new theme every few years and choosing complimentary colours, but I just know that I couldn’t bear to get the boxes out and not put certain things on because they don’t go with this years colour palette.  I guess our tree’s going to always be a bit like the history of our family unfolded for everyone to see, but that’s exactly the way I like it, and  we only get to celebrate that once a year.

How do you decorate your tree?

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Disclosure: Post in collaboration with Homebase, all thoughts, words and opinions my own.

Now you are one

November 28, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 2 Comments

eag.birthday (1 of 1)-2 I truly cannot believe that a year ago today we had just brought you home from hospital to meet your brother for the very first time.  After going into hospital on the friday night, you made your appearance early on Saturday morning and we were all discharged later that day.

Your birth was quite different from my first birth experience, no medical intervention and only gas and air.  Different to what I was anticipating, but exactly what I had wished for after my previous induction.  When you were delivered you were not breathing right away, but thankfully after a bit of rubbing you let out your first yells.  I fed you straight away, I braced myself for a rocky period but it never came.  You lay sleepily in my arms, relaxed and happy from the moment you arrived, then cuddled with your daddy, who looked quite shell shocked after your swift arrival.  eag.birthday (1 of 1)-6eag.birthday (1 of 1)-5
My pregnancy with you was also so different, far less morning sickness, not a single baby hiccup and a toddler to run after and keep me distracted as the days passed.  It involved moving house not once, but twice, so maybe you are destined to have a love (or hatred) of travel!  We certainly don’t intend to move again for a long while!  You are blessed that your entire early childhood will have been in the countryside, surrounded by fields, clean air, playgrounds and farm animals.

You spent the first 3 months of life in a sleepy haze, watching us all and taking everything in.  You were the baby everyone was amazed at, who never cried, only smiled and slept.  The children at pre school would marvel over you, and as you grew you began to move, quickly learning to crawl, then cruise and now, just a week before your birthday, you began to walk.eag.birthday (1 of 1)wreaths. (1 of 1) Having a daughter has been caused more parental anguish for me, worried for any opportunity that might not pass your way just because you are a girl.  I am determined to ensure that you are free to do whatever you wish, and hope that the world wont be quite so unequal when you are old enough to be aware of such things.  I wonder to myself what you will enjoy doing a year from now, will you still enjoy pushing cars and trucks around the floor, bopping along to music and enthusiastically clapping your hands as soon as we start to sing wind the bobbin up?

You started nursery when you were 10 months old and settled really well.  Returning to work has been  You are a big eater, some times polishing off two wheatabix for breakfast and then demanding more at nursery.  You are small and dainty but big on personality, sure to point at anything you want and screech until you get it.  You can already say Hiya and Daddy, drink confidently from a cup and wave when you hear anyone say goodbye.

eag.birthday (1 of 1)-3 eag.birthday (1 of 1)-4 What a year this year has been, so many changes for us all and yet you are always constant in your desire to crawl into the kitchen, splash in the dog bowl and drag out the contents of the cupboard.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY darling girl.  You are so special, enchanting, charming, funny and intelligent. Please don’t grow up too fast!

Living Room Storage Ideas

November 21, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 2 Comments

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We have finally bought some storage for our living room!   I have to share it with you because it’s a great alternative to a custom-made unit or a run of the mill ikea tv unit.  It took some proper ‘working from home’ to push us into it, but after a year of indecision we finally ordered some.  There was much googling, but somehow we stumbled across a fantastic customisable shelving system called Shelfstore which looked like the custom-built cabinets we wanted, but could be ordered right away, installed ourselves and came in at least half the cost.

So, the space where we previously had a falling apart coffee table and a billy bookcase. (I’m sure you don’t want or need to see a before photo, just picture a student pad, with more sticky toddler handprints.)

The main storage requirement for our shelving was books, so it needed to be sturdy and ideally adjustable. with space for the tv, DVD’s, files and toys as well.  Of course we want it to look good and not fall apart after a year.

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The system is really easy to put together.  You start by measuring and attaching the uprights to the wall and then add in the shelves where you want them.  The shelves slot in with metal bars that secure it each piece in place.  So it’s been simple to put together, but also easily adjustable as well as hidden from view to create a sleek look.  I’ve already moved some of the shelves around to make space for other things and it’s just a case of removing the shelf and then moving the metal bars.  More detailed pictures of the construction process below.

Autumn (1 of 1)-2untitled (1 of 1) untitled (1 of 1)-2The exciting bit is adding in all the shelves and finally clearing all the clutter once all the uprights are attached.  I should mention that there are loads of other options too, including having built-in sides and backs to the cupboard.  As ours was an alcove, we figured these wouldn’t be necessary.  You can also alter the width of the overall unit and add cupboard doors.  To order you make up a design using the easy design tool on the website and put it in your basket once you’re happy.
shelfstore.storage. (1 of 1)-4 shelfstore.storage. (1 of 1)-10shelfstore.storage. (1 of 1)-7 Our next area to take a look at has to be some storage cupboard we have on our landing which we could make much better use of.  Do you have any spaces in your home that you desperately need storage for?

Cleaning the house for Christmas

November 18, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | Comments Off

cleaning the house for christmas

As we head towards December, it’s only natural that our thoughts turn to Christmas preparations.  Christmas is when we have the most visitors, when we want our home to look at its festive best, but probably when I have the least time to do anything! (That’s before I start writing the menu and buying and wrapping the presents!)

With this in mind I’ve been on the hunt for an easy and quick way to get on top of the cleaning, from the kitchen to the bathroom and any odd jobs in between.   So, when I got the chance to give the Vax Steam Fresh Combi a whirl I was happy to obligue, as on paper a steam cleaner looks like the answer to all my ‘cleaning the house for christmas’ prayers.

Of course we all have the moutain of tools required to clean the house; the dusters, cleaning fluids, mop buckets, etc but there is just so much stuff, and it takes so long to find it, use it and tidy it away.  There has to be an easier way.  The steam mop has to be a multitasker, tackling the general day to day cleaning requiremnts of a family four, as well as the ability to make light work of a well used kitchen and bathroom.

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IS IT EASY TO SET UP?
To get going, you need to fill up the water, detergent and decide what head you will need. Next, you press a simple on off switch and wait for the green light to appear.  Amazingly it takes just a few minutes to heat up, then you simple press the button and you’re off. There is also a really clever storage for the wire which mean it’s not left hanging around.

WHAT CAN I USE IT FOR?
The Vax Steam Fresh Combi, which can be used as a stand alone floor mop, or as a handheld steam cleaner. Being able to use this in two ways means that as well as cleaning the floors, this has the added bonus that you can use it to clean the oven, windows, mirrors, upholstry, grout and basically any hard to reach areas, with just the click of a button.

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MAKE LIGHT WORK OF CLEANING FLOORS
We have hard flooring throught the downstairs of the house and one of the main jobs I always want to do, but never seem to get round to, is mopping the floors. It takes a few boils of the kettle to get enough water for the mop bucket, and once I’v wringed out the mop the floors are dangerously wet and slippy. (Yet another reason not to bother!)  But with muddy shoes and dirty poorprints there comes a time where it’s inevitable that the mop will need to be out.  I’m pleased to say for cleaning floors the steam mop works wonders, quick and easy and with far less elbow grease than a traditional mop.  I’ve used it on tiles and laminate and it brings both up sparkling clean with minimal elbow grease.  The traingular head gets right into the corners, and the cleaning pad easily wipes up any dirt, leaving the floor slightly damp before quickly drying off.  Ovverall I would say it takes just a few minutes to clean the floor of each room.

DEEP CLEAN THE BATHROOM
I dared not take any before photos but I hope you can see below, that using the steam mop to clean the bathroom has left everything glistening with no smears.  For a deep clean it took me around 30minutes to get a perfect result.  I cleaned out all the limescale from around the taps, cleaned the floor grout, all the wall tiles, cleaned the mirror and freshened up the toilet bowl.  All without getting my hands dirty.  If done regularly, a good once over in the bathroom would take you no more than 10 minutes.

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BLITZING THE KITCHEN & OVEN
Cleaning the oven is a vital job for this time of year, the smell of burnt on food, doesnt really add to the Christmas aroma.  The steam mop allows you to clean off splashes and staines inside the oven, without any toxic fumes.  Cleaning the oven is never going to be a really quick job, but the steam mop does a good job at scraping away stuck on stains and is perfect for cleaning the glass on the door too.  The steam is also perfect for cleaning away those tiny crumbs caught between the worktop and the oven, a job I’ve been trying to do for the last year.

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For lots of other cleaning the house for christmas ideas, you can see my top tips on my popular Super Scrimper Pinterest board.

Follow Ginger Bisquite’s board super scrimpers tips on Pinterest.

Disclosure:  This feature is in collaboration with Vax, all thoughts words and opinions my own.

November 9, 2014
by Jenni Clutten
Comments Off

Autumn Styling – Stylish Sunday

Evening, I’m back with some of my favourite Autumn attire.  I don’t know about you but I’m really starting to feel the cold now.  As we slip further into November, it’s only going to continue, as the leaves float down off the trees surrounding our feet.

I love when the we can get cosy indoors, despite the early evening darkness and the bite in the air.  I relish the chance to unfold the thick jumpers that have been tucked away, patiently waiting for the warm weather to pass.

 

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Yet there’s always room for a few more items, especially a beautiful new coat that is practical and stylish.  Perfect for weekends at home with the family, taking muddy walks, holding little hands as well as staying super smart for work.

 Don’t forget to layer it up with gorgeous chunky knits, thick socks and tights and keep those toes toasty with a warm pair of boots.

How are you staying warm this Autumn?  Found anything good?