This idea was originally going to be for the kids to do, but Noah got all excited and just ran with it. So, even though an ‘adult’ has actually made these, the plan was for it to be an activity to do with the children! As we have been excavating a huge hole for our tyre hidey hole we have been left with lots of stones. Some of them were huge. They were rescued from the wheel barrow and given a good clean. The plan was for the children to paint them and make them into colourful monsters, ladybirds, fish; whatever they felt like really.

Noah had other ideas. He wanted to have a hige stag do in budapest.

He had been popping into the garage on and off all day. I just thought he had been sniffing wood ( honestly, he does do that). So I was very surprised to be greeted by 2 lovely little ladybirds the next day. Not as surprised as the dog though, judging by the pictures below!


These 2 were such a success that before long they were breeding in the garage. Noah found that using poster paint meant that he had to use at least 6 coats of paint to get the effect he wanted, he then had to spray with clear varnish to protect from the elements.

His new plan was to use spray paint for the next few and see if there was a difference in the end result. He sprayed the whole stone black using Wilkos own brand enamel spray (it’s cheaper than everywhere else we’ve looked, and it is also on special offer at the moment). Once that was dry he used masking tape to mark off those bits he wanted to spray red. The final job was to add lovely white smiles and eyes and a final coat of clear varnish to seal it all. There was a marked difference in the ladybirds finished with the enamel spray. They had a lovely glossy finish. This would probably be a project for dad’s to do with their children, or for very patient children to do alone if you decided to build up the final effect layer by layer with poster paints. (I personally think that Noah had so much fun making these the children would have been lucky to get near them!)

Since these were finished the dog had dug up several new big stones. For a change we are going to try monsters or maybe fish. If the children are good they may even get to have a go themselves!

What do you think? Can you spot the difference between the 2 finishes?



Our child friendly garden is coming along nicely. The pencil and ruler pagoda is up and finished but needs a lick more paint, so I will share that next week. It honestly looks amazing. All the kids who come into the garden say “Wow!”, so we are obviously on the right track in encouraging them to get outside and get some fresh air in their lungs. I saw the blackboard today and to say that is has been well used is an understatement. I shall give it a wipe down tomorrow and see what else they can come up with!

A little bit of creativity is good for the soul of young and old alike!

We have lived in our current house for 18 months now. We moved in with very definite plans about how we were going to decorate each room and how wonderful our little house would be. Well, here we stand now with one bedroom finished! Just one room.

Time, finances and illness have delayed many plans, but I can say hand on heart that I am thrilled with the girls newly decorated bedroom. My original plans had been for a beautiful pink princess room. However, I saw sense. The girls have a 5 year age gap, so the room has to work for them both. I used the bedroom carpet as a starting point. We’d had it fitted when we moved in and were using the room as our own. It isn’t an especially child friendly design but I wanted to make it work for the girls and I didn’t want to replace a new carpet for no good reason. Instead I used it as a starting point for their new woodland paradise.

We painted the room a warm light mocha colour and used blinds rather than curtains to increase the feeling of space. A double wardrobe and chest of drawers were fitted into the space by the door. Behind the door we cut an old wardrobe unit in half depth wise to re-use it as a bookcase/ storage unit. I’m including pictures of these because all too often when I see pictures of lovely bedroom makeovers there is no mention of wardrobes and storage. I’m left wondering what storage solutions have been used. I love storage. Love it.

41 - CopyThe next step was to sand down Bella’s raised cabin bed. It was covered in a very pale pink varnish from a previous life, which was quickly removed with a belt sander. I picked up an old Ikea Leksvik unit at the charity shop for £15 and this was also given the once over with the sander. A few coats of Danish oil were rubbed into them both and they were given a stylish new lease of life. A few centimetres were sawn off the bottom of the Ikea unit and it now fits snuggly under the bed as a lovely bookcase.


We had made the Barbie house especially to fit into the gap at the bottom of Bella’s bed.

We carried on the woodland theme with both of the girl’s bedding which we purchased from Ikea. Fran is using Bella’s old junior bed until she is old enough for them to share a bunk bed.

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Now we got to the fun part, personalising the room and adding our own touches. I had off-cuts of spotty and strawberry fabric in my work box so used them to create cushion covers and also 3 notice boards which we put on a floating shelf above Bella’s bed.


The next task was a really simple, but effective, Home Sweet Home sign. I purchased the required papier mache letters from Hobbycraft and set Will the task of spraying them all gold. Noah gave me a bit of old ply wood which I covered with sticky back green felt ( leftover from Barbie’s roof terrace). We used a glue gun to stick on the letters then embellished them with ladybirds and hearts. Fran made several valiant attempts to remove the embellishments, so the sign is out of her reach until she figures how to get to it!

Craft Project 1

I hope you are still with me, because I have truly left the best until last. We have seen many woodland stick ons for bedrooms, but wanted something a little bit more personal so decided to make our own. We all had a part in the design, but Noah has to take all the credit for the paintwork. It has all been achieved using tester pots and pro-markers for the fine detail. I’m sure you’ll agree that even though I couldn’t get a perfect shot with it all in (without hanging out of the window)  it looks amazing!


A couple of close ups to see how lovely it really is…

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We all watch out for our children’s milestones with a sense of eagerness . However, whilst we are thrilled and proud when our babies takes their first steps, it is inevitably tinged with a small amount of sadness that our baby is now a toddler. One step closer to growing up and flying the nest. As they grow older the milestones change; first day at nursery, first day at school. All signs our little ones are growing up.

One milestone that I feel is overlooked, but is actually quite significant, is when you are no longer “Mummy”. You are now simply “Mum”.

For me it is a sign of my children’s ever growing independence. It brings with it a whole mixture of emotions. Of course you want your children to fly the nest, be happy and live fulfilled lives. On the flip side you want them to stay at home with you forever, so you can keep them safe from the world at large. You may see grandchildren as being part of you future. Yet, the thought that your child may actually have sex some day makes you put your fingers in your ears and hum until the horrific idea leaves your brain.

With my eldest OJ, 15, I have long been mum. He is at that difficult stage where everything we do as parents is wrong. He is already planning when he will leave home and live alone to please himself. Whilst I very much understand this is a normal teenage reaction, it hurts to my core.

Will calls me mum. He is growing up too fast for my liking and the opinions of his peers are becoming much more important than mine. Occasionally Will calls me mummy, but only if he is really tired or upset, and never within earshot of his friends. He has just turned 9 and I have been mum for some time. I have come to terms with it, but wish I could just keep him little for a while longer.

Bella has just turned 8 and I am still mummy. Not for too much longer I fear. Today, when talking about a new umbrella, she stated that she couldn’t possibly have another princess brolly because her friend had laughed at her old one. Could she have a One Direction brolly this time? I said no. We will compromise on a plain or patterned one that has no people, princesses or boy bands on it.

With Fran I have never been mummy. It has always been “Momma”. I quite like this. It is our thing. Her special name for me, that inspired the name of this blog. It is not that she can’t say mummy, she uses it when she is playing with her toys. It’s just something that she said early on that has stuck. I think I shall be saddest of all when I am no longer Momma. A sign that my youngest chick is growing up in anticipation of fleeing the nest.

Of course I would be horrified if as adults they called me mummy. That would be silly. I totally understand their need to grow up and gain independence. It is my job as a mother to ensure that they do this safely and successfully. No longer being mummy means I am doing the job properly. They are growing and maturing. I am no longer the centre of their universe. I am giving them the tools to become wonderful adults as they are wonderful children now. This milestone though, for some reason hurts the most.


This will probably be my last post about our garden makeover for this year. The weather has beaten us. Our pagoda will have to remain 80% finished unless by some miracle we have a week of unbroken hot sunshine. Since heavy snow is predicted for the next few weeks I really am not counting on this happening!

We started our garden makeover some months ago and have made slow but steady progress. The end goal is to inject colour and vibrancy into our back garden. To make it child friendly. An outside space they really want to be in. It had to be done (to my great regret) without adding flowers. Between our dog and Fran (who dig everything up) and the boys playing football, plants don’t stand a chance!

So far we have added some fantastic colourful ladybirds made out of painted stones. We have made 2 outdoor blackboards and added giant pencils to give the area an injection of fun and colour. I made a fantastic purchase and added a large outdoor playhouse into the mix. We have revamped it and installed it at the bottom of the garden and added a little patio. It was OJ, looking out of the window, who first suggested we should make a pagoda type construction to come off the playhouse. Noah took this a step further and has made it out of giant pencils with the addition of a fabulous giant ruler.

The first job was to stock up on giant stakes and a few planks of wood. They were assembled to give a rough idea of where we wanted to go. After the first trial we decided to move the plank that was to act as the ruler to the right and to give the pencils a more casual, slightly haphazard layout.

The next task was fairly easy. However it was time consuming and was the longest part of the entire project. Noah painted the plank white and once dry added inches and centimetres (using a 5:1 scale)  using a black pro marker. He then varnished the wood.

The pencils were painted before assembly, for ease and speed. Again we used poster paint and varnished them afterwards to seal against the elements. Once dry the actual assembly of the pagoda only took 10 minutes (a 2 man job) since the initial holes had been drilled at the trial stage. 2 smaller pencils were also drilled to the fence to complete the effect.

We decided that a second coat of paint would be necessary as some of the pencils were very patchy. However, it has not stopped raining since. So, we have had to leave this project in an almost completed stage.

Once this project is completed we plan to make a new table for the patio and paint the top with chalk board paint so the kids can have a scribble with their chalks whilst they chill out on their little patio. We want to make some little benches that look like rulers with pencil legs. We have yet to start the tyre monsters  (but I have earmarked the perfect spot for them). Our tyre hidey hole is now complete, with a little lid on it so that no one falls down it when it’s covered in snow! I will share that once the grass has seeded around it.

These plans will all have to wait until the return of sunnier days. This gives Noah plenty of time to recover from his up coming surgery and hopefully he will be able to do some of the bigger tasks I have earmarked for him! So, for now I leave you with a picture of our pagoda. Despite not being finished I think it still looks amazing. What do you think?



Today I am pleased to publish a guest post from Zoe Toft from Playing by the book, a wonderful site that reviews books and the crazy, fun things they inspire us to do. Zoe share my thoughts about books. They are a magical, wonderful and necessary part of life. Children should be encouraged on every level to put down their game consoles and delve into a book instead! Today Zoe is sharing details about The Children’s Festival of Literature, a wonderful opportunity to engage your children in reading and to inspire existing passions.


Vicki Toft

Zoe with a selection of amazing books.   

She writes;

Save the date! Saturday November 9 is the day you could brunch with multi-award winning author David Almond, lunch with illustrator-like-no-other James Mayhew & have afternoon tea with former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo… all in central Birmingham.

Yes, just after half term a Festival of Children’s Literature is taking place in the Birmingham Conservatoire (right next to the Town Hall and Museum and Art Gallery and the old Central  Library). The Festival is all about bringing kids together to meet some of the very best authors and illustrators. To inspire them. To excite them and to show them just how much fun books can be.

You may have seen the news last month that research has also shown that the children who read for pleasure are likely to do better in maths and English than those who rarely read in their free time. So not only can reading be hugely enjoyable, it can have a significant, positive impact on the rest of your child’s life.

How do you encourage a  love of reading?

How can you encourage your child to delight in  books?

One of the simplest things you can do as a parent is to take your children to meet an author or illustrator. A little bit of the ”celebrity” gold dust will likely rub off on them, and they’ll see what passion and skill and humour they bring to creating books. November’s Festival of Children’s Literature offers you just such an opportunity.

As well as the chance to meet the creator of the Katie series of  books, the author of Skellig, and the writer synonymous with War Horse, you could also meet Emma Chichester Clark, perhaps best known for Blue Kangeroo (though she has illustrated over 80 books). You can also meet  Clara Vulliamy an established author and illustrator for young children (who also happens to be the daughter of Shirley Hughes).

festival button

The full details are available here

As you’ll see there’s a mixture of workshops and talks for all ages. If you or your children are keen on sewing and habadashary, like Loubelle, you might particularly enjoy the workshop being run by Clara Vulliamy, who is herself passionate about felt, buttons, ribbons and all such gorgeous notions. They are bound to make an appearance in her mini puppet toy theatre workshop based on Bubble and Squeak, a book specially written for her to illustrate, by James Mayhew. Would you like to participate in an awesome party? Try the Kingbike beerbike in Budapest.

The Festival is being organised on an entirely voluntary basis by members of the Federation of Children’s Book Groups , a UK-wide charity who are all about bringing books and children together.

Bella and I spent a few hours of quality time together this morning decorating  candles.

Our first task was a trial run on one of our ‘emergency power cut candles’, just to check that the process we wanted to use would work. It was a success, so we set to work and let our creative juices flow!

The process is lots of fun, really easy and very effective.

Once you have gathered all you will need together you start by drawing your design onto white tissue paper. Bella had a large pillar candle and decided to draw a picture of Pinkie Pie, a character from My Little Pony, surrounded by balloons. She later added 2 robins and some love hearts for good measure!


I used 2 smaller candles to see what effects could be achieved. For my first candle I stamped a rose onto the tissue and coloured it in with my trusty pro-markers. For my second candle I drew a robin free hand and wrote Merry Xmas onto the tissue.


Once your design is complete cut around it and place onto the candle. Wrap grease proof paper tightly around the candle and use the heat gun to melt the design onto the candle. You will know this is working when you see the design turn a slightly darker colour.



Handy hints learnt through trial and error ;

Don’t over heat the paper or you will end up with wax dripping down your leg (ouch) and your finish will be uneven.

It is easier to do a few smaller designs and apply them separately than to do one large design over the whole candle.

Cut your grease proof paper large enough for you to get a good grip on it whilst heating, it is easy to cook your fingers by mistake.

All that remains is to stand back and admire your handy work!!


As a child my mom and nan always had a sewing machine and were able to make clothing with ease. I dabbled a little as a teenager, but it didn’t really become a passion until later in life. It started one day when I picked up a cheap cross stitch kit with the aim of making Will a birth sampler. I spent the next few years engrossed in cross stitching until, for some unknown reason, I decided I wanted to make a cushion cover. I borrowed my mom’s machine and acquired some of her fabric and I was away. I soon purchased my own machine and progressed beyond cushions to making clothes for Bella. Every item I have made has taught me something new and with each creation my skills improve.

Below is a selection of items I have already made;

I hope to share new items with you, mistakes and triumphs, and hopefully share some tips along the way.

A simple no-pattern skirt


 Who am I?


This to be honest is a question I never thought that I would ever have to ask myself. On paper I have it all; a lovely husband, 4 children and everything to live for.  At school I was the girl who passed all her A’ levels without  revising. I had the world at my feet, a huge brain and looks to match. A different boy to date whenever I got fed up with my latest squeeze (which was frequently). I had a big circle of loyal friends, a small but loving family and a bright future.
It all seems to be a different life now. In a short space of time I;


  • dropped out of university
  • married the wrong man for the wrong reasons
  • became a victim of domestic violence
  • got divorced
  • developed serious gynae problems
  • was told I’d never have children
  • had my first child (go figure)
  • became a single parent


So, I began again. After many more false starts I settled down and had 3 more children , my miracle babies. I adore my family, but after the birth of my youngest I was struck down with debilitating depression. This resulted in a 12 week hospital stay, that in all honesty saved my life. However, I became a different person that I don’t know any more. I am improving slowly but it is very much a case of taking it day by day.


I am hoping this blog will be a sort of talking therapy for me, even if there is nobody out there to listen. I want to get my spark back. To define myself as something more than a wife and mother, but still to be the best wife and mother I can be. I have a brain and I want to use it. I have a huge creative urge that I want to find an outlet for. I want to be a better version of myself. I want to find my old spark. Is that even possible? Let’s find out;


Who are we?


I have been together with Noah for 11 years and married for almost 4. He is the most fabulous carpenter, hence the name Noah. He would build an ark if he had enough wood. He often goes into joinery shops just to smell the wood! It is his passion. Sadly, a seemingly small break to his wrist 2 years ago has resulted in various surgeries and his right wrist is now screwed and plated and fixed so he can never bend it again. Learning to do things again has been a steep learning curve. He is now at the stage where he can do an hour or so of work before the pain gets too much. He shouldn’t be doing this but he can’t help himself. Morphine is his new best friend and dulls the pain enough for him to function on a semi- normal level.

I have 1 child from a previous relationship and we have 3 children together. To best describe our brood I have named them after the elements.


  My eldest son is 15 and is a typical teenager in many respects. The thing that makes him different, and  so unique, is that he has autism and aspergers. This is a very recent diagnosis that we are still coming to terms with it. This is an issue I would like to cover in more detail in further posts because I feel it merits some in-depth details and discussion. Fire best describes him because you never know when he is going to combust into flames of anger and rage and you are never quite sure when he is going to burn himself out and become calm and still once more. There is never a dull moment, that’s for sure. I am the only person he totally trusts and I am proud to say that even at this age he tells me he loves me every day.



Will (aka Water) My second son is 9 and he is by turns wonderfully calm and even and then suddenly a tsunami hits and all hell breaks lose. He has the most wonderful cheeky sense of humour that sadly gets him into a lot of trouble at school. He is not the most academic child but is developing a passion for science and with maths he just seems to ‘get it’. His dad is teaching him about woodwork and he is amazingly quick to pick things up, a natural talent. He just has to learn to curb the swells and tides of his temper and spend more time being my lovely helpful hug-bug.



(aka Air) My eldest daughter is 8 and spends most of her time floating in the clouds with the fairies. She lives in a dream world that I don’t want her to lose until she has to. That is not to say she isn’t capable of conjuring up a storm at a moments notice if the mood takes her! She is very academic and excels at school but when it comes to common sense, lets just say she was not gifted in that department! She is a stunning girl and I sometimes just sit and watch her and marvel at her little quirks and mannerisms. She is never being allowed a boyfriend. Ever. End of.



My youngest daughter is  2 and a half. She is astounding in the grasp she already seems to have of the world and the things that she says totally unprompted. She is the baby of the family and all her siblings adore her, but OJ has a special bond with her that makes me all fuzzy to watch. My little earth girl has her shoes on and is out side in a flash. I think she would live outside in a tent if we let her. The terrible twos are rearing their ugly head at the moment and I am patiently waiting for her to get the message that I am the boss. Somehow, though, with this one I think she will always be the boss of the house.


No house hold would be complete without pets. So here’s ours;


Bliss  She is a 10 month old labradoodle/ goldendoodle cross. She has the best temperament I have ever seen in a dog. She is very much my dog and thinks nothing of plonking her 3 stone body on my knee for a lie down and a cuddle. I shouldn’t allow it but I love her so much and she is so good in every other way.


Our cat has the shiniest fur in the world. Not that I ever get much chance to stroke him. He is very anti social. He does love the boys though and sleeps on one of their beds every night if he is not having a wild night out on the tiles. Dirty stop out.