Ginger Bisquite

Lifestyle, DIY, Family & Food

April 20, 2014
by Jenni Clutten
0 comments

Living Arrows 15/52

Living Arrows

We’ve had a busy first week of the holiday, crossing off items on the to do list and generally keeping busy as a family of 4.  I’m desperately trying to catch up on myself, I know I’ve been neglecting the blog in favor of family time.  The holidays always go so quickly, with day turning to evening in just the blink of an eye.  You are becoming more and more of a little boy, it’s happening right before our eyes but we don’t notice those incremental changes.  I see the outline of the person you will become, but I still hold on those podgy arms and feet that remain as a reminder of your baby days.  You are strong, determined, infectiously funny, friendly and learning and testing every day.  It can be exasperating to be in your company but in the evenings we do nothing but talk about how amazing you are.
living arrows SONY DSCI just love the way you give in to sleep with all of yourself.  Arms up above your head, so still and beautiful.  I love to creep in to your room as the sun goes down, gently pull the curtains shut and watch you as your breath moves your chest up and down.  When you’re away you’re reaching out, grabbing and chewing, suddenly aware of your own power.

living arrows

April 19, 2014
by Jenni Clutten
0 comments

Saving Money on Heating

saving money on heating
Heating costs are something that I’m sure we have all worried about at some point or another.  A week doesn’t seem to go by when I do not hear in depth discussions on the radio about price fixes and how to switch energy suppliers.  They tell us that if we switch we could be saving money, but I often find myself wondering if there are other things we could be doing.

Like most people, we are on a pretty tight budget here, and I am always interested to hear about anything that could save us a bit of money.  And, even if we weren’t wanting to keep a tight grip on the purse strings, spending money on things you don’t need to, seems pointless.  The added incentive when thinking about saving money on your electricity bills is that by using less energy we are benefiting ourselves, by cutting our bills, and the environment by not wasting energy unnecessarily.honeywell1

This is where Evohome by Honeywell comes in handy, using modern technologies to help control exactly where you do and don’t need to be heating on demand.  This nifty tool therefore helps to save you money and the environment.  Now, we’re all busy people and we don’t have the time to work out contrived heating plans to save a few pennies so one of the best things about using Evohome is that you can control your heating with total ease using a phone or tablet.

The system works by simply setting up ‘zones’ in the house which can be individually controlled.  You can configure your heating zones in many different ways:

  • You may choose to simply group rooms that are near each other around the house
  • You could group them according to the activities that go on in each area
  • You may also choose to create a zoning plan based on the frequency with which each room is used

 You can find out more about how to set up the system and find out which parts of the Evohome kit you need.

How will it save me money?
Research suggests that up to 82 per cent of a typical energy bill is attributed to home heating and hot water - so just by using your heating controls more wisely you are likely to be reducing your energy usage and therefore saving money.  Having control over your heating makes fine tuning your bills as easy as turning a light switch on or off.

Just this week we went away to visit family and realised we did not turn off the heating whilst we were away.  Lets face it, when you are running around packing bags for the kids the last thing you want to worry about is the money you’re wasting, so it would have been fantastic to know that I could have done this using my phone.    So, whether you are working from home or out for the evening with friends, evohome provides an opportunity to save energy.

Like many energy saving devices, there is an initial upfront cost, but the long term savings of the device provide great value for money as well as peace of mind.  You can feel safe in the knowledge that you could be saving up to 40% on heating your home, whilst doing your bit for the environment.

DISCLOSURE: This is sponsored post, all words, thoughts and opinions are my own.

Make your own chocolate egg

April 13, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 1 Comment

make your own chocolate eggHappy Easter everyone!  Have you had a good first week of the holiday?  We’ve been tackling the spring cleaning here, but that hasn’t stopped us making a bit of a mess in the kitchen.

Last week Waitrose got in touch to ask if we would be interested in a bit of creative Easter Inspiration.  I said yes please, and awaited for my box of goodies to arrive.  I can tell you it was a good post day when a package of sweets and chocolates arrived and I was so excited to lay things out for Nye to have a go at creating his own egg.

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Ingredients
250g of good quality dark or milk chocolate – remember to save a little extra for decorating

What you’ll need

  • 2 chocolate egg moulds
  • Flat pastry brush or small paintbrush
  • Heat proof bowl
  • Spoon
  • Pan

Step 1 – Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water in a pan.

Step 2 – Paint a thin layer of chocolate inside the egg moulds, making sure it meets the edges of the mould. Depending on the size of the moulds you may need more chocolate, have plenty on standby!

Step 3 – Chill for 5 minutes or until the chocolate is firm.

Step 4 – Spread another even layer of chocolate over the first layer and let cool for another 5 minutes or until firm.

Step 5 – Gently ease the mould away from the chocolate. Join the chocolate halves together with a little melted chocolate, using a flat pastry brush or small paint brush – That’s it! Well done, you have made your very own Easter egg!

Decorating tips:

  • Melt a little extra chocolate and use this to stick on chocolate buttons and small light sweets that won’t fall off like marshmallows or sugar-coated jellies
  • Using icing piping to draw on simple Easter shapes such as chicks, rabbits and lambs to give your egg a fun farm theme
  • Personalise your egg by writing the recipient’s name in icing piping and use decorative sweets that represent their personality
  • Why not turn you egg into a person or an animal? For example use sweets and chocolates for eyes and fur. For an Easter afternoon activity, make an egg that resembles a family member
  • Dip your finished egg in melted chocolate and roll in hundreds and thousands or popping candy for a textured knobbly effect
  • Why not try white chocolate to make your Easter egg
  • Before sealing the two halves, hide an Easter treat inside? Maybe some small sweets, a surprise Easter toy or just a note to say Happy Easter!
  • For a more indulgent egg why not add to the melted chocolate when you’re still preparing the egg, try butterscotch chunks or honeycomb pieces for a real treat!

Egg Inspiration:
Nye created a kind of Rocky Road chocolate egg with marshmellows and chocolate buttons mixed into the shell of the egg along with some lovely crunchy honeycomb bits.  The Chocolate was very thick so it took longer to dry but it was very delicious and came out of the mold easily.

I created a more simple egg, sprinkling popping candy and butterscotch pieces on the inside of the egg after I painted on the second coat.  A lovely crackling and crunchy surprise for whoever bites into the egg.  To decorate I made a piping bag and piped some easter designs onto a sheet of baking paper and stuck these onto the egg using some fondant icing as edible glue.

SONY DSC making a chocolate egg

As you can see, Nye was very proud of his egg creation.  Fancy having a go, what sort of egg would you make?

Disclosure:
Ingredients and instructions supplied by Waitrose, photos and words my own.

First Time Wallpaper’er

April 11, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 2 Comments

wallpaper,beforeafter.TEXTI have an admission to make – despite lusting over many a design, I have never actually hung wallpaper.   Many times have I admired it, shared it and dreamed of it but never had it graced my walls.   I was a first time wallpaper’er.

That was until I moved into a house with floral wallpaper all over my sons bedroom and no time to remove it.  That’s the thing with wallpaper isn’t it, it’s so personal.  I wonder if anyone has ever moved into a house and kept the previous owners wallpaper long term.  We’re planning to live here for many years to come so when decorating our house I’m going for designs I really love without giving a second thought for resale potential.

I tested the ground of wall patterns when I installed cloud decals in the nursery and I absolutely loved the fun look they gave to the room. So, on with the wallpaper show!

You will need: (I watched the video tutorial on the b&q channel before I started)

  • Wallpaper Paste
  • Bucket
  • Stirrer
  • Wallpaper Brush
  • Sharp Knife
  • Scissors
  • Wallpaper
  • Microfibre Cloth
  • Ladder/Step Stool
  • Tape Measure
  • Spirit Level
  • Pencil

hanging wallpaperSONY DSC

 As novices, it seemed best to start with some inexpensive paper as a trial run.  This wallpaper is called Brooklyn and I got it on clearance in B&Q, £5 for 3 rolls!  We originally got it for our bedroom but I realised it would look great in Nye’s bedroom.  It’s paste the wall wallpaper so we mixed the wallpaper paste to its thickest setting and applied it straight to the wall before lining up the wallpaper. (And no, we didn’t remove the old wallpaper or start in the middle).  In the end we used about 1 1/2 rolls and it was easy to line up because it has a very busy repeat pattern.

In terms of timing, this first wall took us about 2 hours.  Because it was our first time with wallpaper we double checked all the measurements and then had to rehang the paper after I got a bit snap happy and trimmed too much off the bottom of the first sheet.  (At that point I was pretty fed up, but carried on regardless).  Despite this, in the evening we decided to hang our Marimekko Kippis wallpaper in the dining area (A cheeky Ebay purchase for £30).   Because we still had a huge amount of wallpaper paste lying around unused and all the tools still out it seemed sensible to continue.  The dining room wall only took an hour, as we already had a good wallpaper work flow worked out.
SONY DSCThere’s still much to finish off in the bedroom and dining area but I’m so pleased to know that we’ve at least started to put our own stamp on the house (and learnt a new skill).  They’ll be more to share in the next few weeks as the rooms start to take shape.

How about you?  Been lusting after some gorgeous wallpaper prints? Are you a pro or a first timer like me?

April Flowers

April 10, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 5 Comments

April FlowersHurrah, the garden beds are finally filling out with lush foliage.  Tulips galore in beautiful reds and purples as well as blossom and new leaves sprouting on all the trees.  Here’s a snap shot of our April garden, including some nettles as well as a few unknown flowers, and possibly some pretty weeds…

It’s been a hectic first week of the Easter holidays, we’ve taken spring cleaning to whole new level and finally started to put our own stamp on the house with some paint, wallpaper and there’s still more to do!
SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSCThen in the side garden, there’s a newly painted fence, the loganberry showing the first signs of flowers and sweet william’s reaching out towards the sky. I scattered some old rocket seeds, just to clear out the seed box and they’ve come up unexpectedly strong.  I’ll have to divide and grow them on now, Neil tells me that slugs don’t like rocket so that’s always a good sign. 

SONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCSONY DSCI admit I do love how organic the rocks and plants are looking.  The big garden bed has surprised me, after its stillness during the winter it just suddenly exploded into this fleshy mass of greenery.  I think I’ll add some more winter plants to add some interest towards the end of the year, but I’ll enjoy what I have while I have it. Happy Easter to you, I hope the sun has been shining down on your garden too.

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Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?

Living Arrows 14/52

April 7, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 4 Comments

Living ArrowsWe have lost hours just hanging out in the garden with our buckets, trowels and fishing nets, even in the rain.  Our pond is so big (and dangerous), but it provides so many interesting opportunities to explore nature.  A few weeks ago the frogs came to visit and you have loved seeing the frog spawn floating on the surface of the pond.  We donated some to pre school and you have been learning what it is, expanding your vocabulary in ways I never imagined.  Today you helped me by fishing out the buds from the pussy willow and tipping them into a bucket.

When you’re not in the garden you have become obsessed with monsters, dinosaurs and dragons and chase after me and daddy shouting ‘going to get you’. I enjoyed picking out some books for you at the library whilst you were at pre school this week, trying to pick out things I thought you’d like.  Your favourite book has been Mine’s Bigger than Yours about a big monster who does every mean thing he can think of to steal a lollipop from a smaller monster.
Living ArrowsLiving ArrowsIn your daddy’s arms is where you like to spend your time.  He carries you round in the crook of his arm, and even has you sitting on his knee whilst he eats his dinner (one handed.)  You two are bestest palls, he knows how to settle you and gives you a thousand kisses a day.  When you smile your whole face lights up and your dummy just drops to the floor as every muscle extends into a gummy grin.  Your happy disposition amazes us, you rarely fuss or complain you are just contented and we feel so lucky.  You are now gently settling into 3 nap times during the day and we are trying to put you down in your cot so you can get used to your own room.  Admittedly, at night we miss you when you aren’t snuggled up next to us in bed, but you soon return for your food.

Joining in with Living Arrows, last week I adored these big eyes.

living arrows

Recycled Container Gardening

April 3, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 15 Comments

Following on from my diy thrifty childrens garden earlier in the week I’ve been at it again, this time creating a tower of lettuces out of recycled bottles.  It’s all thanks to joining this amazing group on facebook where someone posted their bottle tower.  I used the guide on the container gardening website to make mine but only went up 5 bottles high so it was a bit more child size.SONY DSCrecycled container gardeningSONY DSC
Don’t those lettuce leaves look good? I just love the red tinged edges, I can’t wait for them to start growing bigger.  I find it quite amazing myself so I’m sure Nye will be intrigued.  The lettuce seedlings have grown fantastically well from seed, I used ‘Mortons Secret Mix’.

To make your own recycled container garden you need:

  • 5 plastic bottles
  • Scissors
  • String
  • Compost
  • Salad Leaves / Herb Seedlings

Then watch this video.

In other news I am also so thrilled to say that my first seedlings planted directly into the ground have made their appearance.  I was just about to plant some more peas, thinking they’d failed when I saw their little heads poking proudly from the soil. I literally can’t tell you how out of this world excited I was to see them.  It made me feel like a proper gardener.
SONY DSCSONY DSCAnd then I turned my attention to the rest of my seed packets to find that there were more things to plant so I’ve sown some green headed calabrese, white strawberries (wishful thinking I reakon) hollyhocks, and then thought I’d be brave and sow my carott seeds in drills straight into the soil.  As a  precaution I have planted a row of onions next to them to try and deter the dreaded carott fly that everyone seems to go on about!SONY DSCSONY DSCThen there’s all those other exciting things, blueberries starting to flower, sweet peas getting bushy, that black hyacinth emerging, and having a go at regrowing celery from the root.
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p.s I started painting the veg patch wall black, and I’m kind of in love!  Can’t you just imagine all that fresh green vegetation against that slick black backdrop. It is all kinds of awesome and amazingly a complete flook that I picked up some black masonry paint at the scrapstore. P.s concrete blocks are a real pain to paint, all those nooks and crannys. Total transformation though, it changes everything from drab to fabulous.
black garden wall

Mammasaurus and How Does Your Garden Grow?
Rejoining the How Does Your Garden Grow crowd this week.

New Parent Sleep habits

April 2, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 0 comments

new baby sleepSomehow Evie is now 4 months old and we are slowly starting to contemplate a vague bed time routine.  So far we’ve played it by ear and been exceedingly lucky that she has since birth, slept in 3 hour blocks through the night, inititally from around 11/12pm until 9am.  She’s awake more in the day now and I make an effort to stimulate her with conversation, play, laughter and fresh air when she is bright eyes and she now sleeps from about 9pm until 9am (waking for feeds every 3/4 hours).

Last month we completed a sleep diary as part of a Kiddicare project.  As part of this, they have put together some interesting infographics.  The first infographic covers sleep during pregnacy.  Part two of the series, which I’ve included below, is my favourite so far. The sleep stats by area in particular made me smile.  I think because all my family live in East Anglia, (I’m a Norfolk girl at heart) I like to think that even though I live in the South West, I’ve got those better sleep habits in my blood…

What are your new parent sleep tips?  Did you ever sleep when the baby sleeps or do you rush round in a manic cleaning panic like me?


Disclosure: Post in collaboration with Kiddicare, all words, pictures and opinions my own.

DIY thrifty childrens garden

April 1, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 3 Comments

DIY thrifty childrens gardenMy toddler just loves to be in the garden pottering.  Digging and watering are his loves and these activities have maintained his interest for at least 6 months, so giving him his very own space seemed like a great opportunity to get creative.

Initially I was going to buy a willow vegetable planter, but I realised it reminded me of something we already had… Oh yes, our old picnic basket, sitting unloved and abandoned at the back of the shed.  I admit I was chuffed to be able to re-use it because it is a relic of our relationship as a couple.  Neil bought it to take me on a trip to Brighton, back in 2008 when we could just take these random romantic trips.  How life has changed!  To make it last a bit longer as a planter, you could add a liner, but I left mine with just the gingham as I was worried that adding a something would stop the drainage.

Carrying on the thrifty theme I used the wicker cup holder, a recycled ready meal lid, some unused cups and an old plant pot holder as a small planter.  We added a pumpkin seed to each hole in the cup holder, replanted some lettuce leaves into the recycled ready meal lid and some wallflowers seedlings into the plant pot.

diygarden.collageSONY DSCSONY DSCTo give the garden a fun personalised feel I used some tin cans to add my sons name to the edge of his patch.  To do this I simply used a nail and hammer to add letters to the ends of some tin cans and dug these into the soil. You can’t see it but I also added a star, for more complicated patterns it’s probably best to use a marker pen to draw the outline.  They’ll look better when the mud subsides and I can’t tell you how satisfying it was hammering holes into tin.

I’ve so many gardening ideas lined up for the summer, I am already loving every minute spent outside with Nye.  The time seems to fly by, and every day everything is growing bigger, there are new flowers in bloom and creatures to discover.   Here are just a few of my plans from my Gardening with Children board.  Plus, here are a few unusual planting ideas to get your DIY thrifty childrens garden started.

Thrifty Planting Ideas:
Picnic basket
Tea cup
Welly
Bucket
Trug
Old kitchen tins
Recycling containers
Tea pot

Living Arrows 13/52

March 31, 2014 by Jenni Clutten | 3 Comments

Living ArrowsThis weekend the sun came back, and we spent a wonderful Saturday afternoon browsing the stalls of a french farmers market in our local town.  We choose baguette, crepes and cream cakes as the sun shone down and then headed off to the park for a run around.  You just loved the freedom of running around after a week inside due to the constant rain and then we treated ourselves to one of those little cakes.  There have been so many wonderful moments this week, a special mothers day present, lots of painting and creating together, as well as making a den in the garden where we had milk and biscuits.
SONY DSC SONY DSCAh my little Evie you are so different to how I remember your brother I can hardly believe it.  It reminds me how amazing nature is, all the endless possibilities that arise for character and temperament.  They are right when they say no two babies are the same.  You just love to sit up or be on your tummy, spreading out your arms and legs and determinedly holding your chest and head high. This week I felt the winds of change, you will no doubt be on the move in a month or two.  Can it really already be time for you to start practicing those first moment of independence?  You’re already grabbing for things and playing with your hands with purpose, what will be next?

Linking up with Living Arrows, last week I just loved the texture and fun in this jumping shot

living arrows