Inspiring reads for sparking creativity


When I wrote my Mumslist post this week it got me thinking about what inspires me at the moment, now I no longer have to read academic books for my course I’ve picked up some old friends again, here’s my rundown of inspiring reads for lazy days when I am mulling over ideas for crafting, blogging, eating and more…

1) Anything by Caitlin Moran

Gosh I love her, she writes snort out loud on the bus books though, so these are for home only. Generally flicking through her books reminds me to bring humour out in my writing, and may make me a little more daring too. I’m not saying that everytime I write a scary personal blog post I think “what would Caitlin do” before posting, but it does often cross my mind that she’s so disarmingly honest and my finding that incredibly refreshing sometimes leads me to hit publish with more confidence, enough gushing, just read her stuff, like this, which I love for capturing the love and pain of motherhood so well:


2) The Goddess Guides

I’m also re-reading these beauties from my collection, lots of snippets, tips and titbits to dip into so they’re kept by the bed, I adore their covers too! My love of macaroons spiralled out of control after reading the Laduree pages! Fashion, travel, ideas to live by, these are written like a magazine, dip-inable and lots of ideas for slow days.

3) The Wonderful Weekend Book

This one’s a bit whimsical, lots of ideas for lazy Sundays and reclaiming life’s simple pleasures. I sometimes need reminding to live in the now, mindful and taking in my surroundings, from sunset watching and jam making to gardening and writing proper letters it’s jam packed with ideas for getting out and living life to the full, inspiring stuff indeed!

4) Homemade

I cant stop picking this one up lately, split into seasons with ideas for home, food and craft it’s a total treasure trove of ideas, beautifully shot photos that make me aspire to make and do more, I think this is a must for any creative blogger

5) Scrapbook

This lovely leatherbound beauty really belongs to Joss, I’m filling it for her and will share some of its pages over the coming weeks

Do you have inspiring reads that you often come back to?

The Best Exotic Marigold Bug Hotel

Further encouraging her love of bugs and the outdoors I picked up a little bug hotel this week, a bargain for £3 it was empty so we enjoyed filling it with bamboo sticks, moss and fabric and bits of dried plants, I think it looks like a rather smart place to stop by, less bug youth hostel more upmarket pad, no?

Making a bug hotel 2 Making a bug hotel

Looking forward to seeing who stops by over the coming weeks, for now here’s my little beastie peeping out, boo!

photo 3

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Zap-It Mosquito Bite Relief Giveaway

The festival season is upon us and I’ve noticed my least favourite summer beastie is back, the mosquito!

I just want to enjoy my picnic without pesky mosquitoes thanks!


Zap-It! is a revolutionary, pocket sized device that is really effective at stopping the itching and swelling caused by mosquito bites and virtually all other biting insects including stinging nettles.

zap-it woman child HR sml

Zap-It! is chemical free, non-allergenic, small, clean and light to carry, it contains piezo crystal which neutralises bites and stings.

A handy sized design with string to be worn round the neck it’s ecologically sound, has no batteries and can be used over a long period to treat up to 1000 bites.

“Clicking” Zap-It! several times around the area of a bite has the effect of localising the poison and inhibiting the histamine release which causes the itch and the urge to scratch. The toxicity of the mosquito bite becomes neutralised with no harmful effect on the surrounding skin. Zap-It! is completely safe for human body and an effective treatment for insect bites.

Zap-It! came in extremely handy yesterday after Joss’ favourite ball ended up in a patch of stinging nettles, I didn’t have anything to cover my hand and so endured a nasty sting to my finger, a few clicks of Zap-it! calmed down the stinging and I didn’t get that horrible lingering feeling after the sting had worn off!

If you’d like to give it a try yourself I have a Zap-it! to give away, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below and leave a comment to let me know your plans for this summer!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Entries close on 20th June and winner will be informed via the blog on 21st June (and by email)
Open to UK only
Winner will be selected via Rafflecopter, there is no cash alternative

Intrepid Explorer Toddler Mumslist

Real Life

I am absolutely loving having such an outdoorsy little girl! These photos from this week really show her true nature coming though, I love how inquisitive she is and the researcher in me is loving it too as I have a lot of ‘what’s that?’ questions coming my way and I was not the most outdoorsy kid myself so trees, insects and birds are slowly filtering into both our minds at the moment! It’s got me thinking about exploring free range parenting some more, I mean look how chilled she is exploring the world through her own eyes and experiences!



Looking ahead to the next few weeks I’ve some big things coming up at work that are probably going to start to filter into home life if I’m not careful, in some ways having this blog to focus on too reminds me that it’s important to try to hold back work seeping in as much as possible, but it’s hard, yes Joss is the most important thing but deadlines are hard to meet in just three days a week, it’s a blooming hard juggling act and I don’t know the answer yet, but we are hoping to take a holiday later this year so that’s something to focus on and work towards.

Blog Life

Two of my fave posts this week were this one on eco parenting (having lovely things to test and look at helped too!) and this one, who knew mix and match crockery was so controversial but the comments I’ve had suggest there’s a 50/50 split! Coming up next week is my post on helping toddlers through fears (Daddy and I keep spelling out words we need to avoid like MONSTERS and HAND DRYER)…



This week I’ve been working on my Pinterest presence helped by this great post by craftsonsea

I also came across some gorgeous floral collages as well as a fantastic blog over at wolves in london

– See more at:

Eco Parenting: From birth to toddler

A positive test, scans and antenatal appointments and suddenly you’re not just thinking about yourself, you’re eating for two and thinking about your new life with a baby. The question that often comes up is “have you started buying for the baby yet?”

There’s a huge amount of ‘stuff’ to navigate, but what if you scrapped the so-called list of mother and baby must haves and went green instead?

What is eco-parenting?

Well, it might be about not spending unnecessarily, it might be about raising little people who care about people and planet, it might be about being ‘green’ and not being wasteful. It’s not an all or nothing way of family life, but it is usually about making choices which benefit and do not harm our environment.

What does it mean to me?

For my family it means making environmental choices, like cloth nappies and washable wipes, reducing waste, avoiding over packaged products and trying to buy sustainable, natural and eco friendly products. It’s about showing an interest in where things come from and how they’re made, avoiding over use of chemicals and exposure to toxins, and for us a big interest is in encouraging outdoor play and learning in nature.

Different choices

So what would be on my eco or green baby essentials list? This is not exhaustive but is intended to offer some food for thought:

eco baby and mum gifts

1) Cloth nappies

I am going to be writing a full review of these very soon, but gNappies offer a great way to make the move into cloth nappies. I’ve posted frequently about their eco, thrifty and gentle to babies skin benefits. These bright and soft cloth pants act as a reusable cover to house either cloth inserts, or biodegradable disposable inserts can be home composted (wet ones only) or binned. Often one of the questions I get asked about cloth nappies is about managing out and about, on holiday, and with childcare. Now I use cloth full time, but I find it handy to have something disposable on hand for poorly tum times or holidays, having this option of a biodegradable insert would solve these issues, could smooth the transition to cloth and give new parents the confidence to take cloth nappies out and about knowing that they won’t have to carry a poo around with them (genuinely this is a concern I hear a lot!)

2) Washable wipes

We are firm fans of Cheeky Wipes and so I was delighted to review their new toilet paper alternative, Joss is not yet ready for potty training, but when we start I would like to continue to use washable wipes throughout the transition and have been considering a family transition to a toilet paper alternative too. These are made from super soft flannel and are roughly the size of an average flannel so a great size for grown ups and babies alike. They are thin like toilet paper and wash and dry easily. I also highly recommend their cloth wipes for babies in bamboo, my set are two years old now and still going strong, I have saved well over £800 in the cost of wipes and nappies and avoided chemicals too, I estimate that a switch to TPA would save us £200 a year and the planet too!

3) Eco toiletries for baby

I’ve tried to avoid chemicals like parabens and phthalates where possible for Joss, this means that I generally use water alone for her baths and I recommend this approach for newborn sensitive skin, but every so often I like to use something natural to help her skin stay soft. Natural bath salts are great for the treatment of skin disorders like child eczema, rich in health-giving minerals such as sulphur, iodine, magnesium, potassium, calcium and sodium these Dead Sea mineral salt products are a good choice for those seeking a natural option. We’ve been trying out these products for two weeks and I’ve noticed an improvement in Joss’ skin

4) and Eco toiletries for mum

For myself, I like to live by the same ethos I choose for Joss, going for natural beauty products where possible and again avoiding preservatives and other chemicals. The Organic Surge range is a great option for offering the amazing scents essential oils offer whilst using only Eco-Cert approved natural ingredients. Lavender is a great addition to any products for new mums, the sleep inducing properties soothe the body and mind and offer a skin pampering treat too, it’s vital you take care of yourself and so this range would make a great affordable gift for a new mum!

5) Organic cotton clothing

Organic cotton fibres are grown without chemicals, are softer and don’t contain allergens as ordinary cotton does and organic farmers get a better price for their crop so fairness factors in too. I know folk say organic is expensive but it really does mean quality and long lasting too. Organic cotton retains its resell value or will keep for future additions to your family! OrganicZOO is a design led organic baby wear company focused on creating lovely, soft and seriously cool collections for baby and parent, we reviewed their supersoft Tuscany Happy Heart Sweatshirt and it was super soft and snuggly, I love the simplicity of the design and the weave is lovely making the fabric a great quality, this is definitely one that’s made to last and stay snuggly

6) Wooden toys

If you can avoid plastic and buy sustainable toys you’re likely to be buying something long lasting and much more environmentally friendly too, check out Babipur who stock a great range, including this lovely Hape musical set which Joss adores

7) Handmade gifts

Joss is lucky to have two crafty grandmothers and handmade gifts make a great eco-gift, first up a vintage patchwork made by her maternal grandmother and probably about thirty years old now, this is a very precious addition to Joss’ nursery. It’s used alongside another beauty, when I was pregnant I’d natter with my Mam and watch her crochet all these pink and green squares, a blanket for a new baby made with love makes a great gift and heartfelt too, if you’re getting ready for your own new bundle it can be a great time to wind down and learn a new skill making blankets and little pram suits instead of buying them.

(Disclaimer: All of the products reviewed here were received as samples, all views are my own)

Picnic lunches and monkeying around

A gentle start to the week, a yarden picnic and we were joined by monkey who must now always be dressed in a nappy made from a napkin…

Monkey cloth nappy

My roses are doing so well, this one was a gift from a friend when I moved into our flat about six years ago, it’s lovely to bring a few indoors!

white roses

Quite pleased with my newly acquired enamelware, including this car boot sale find strawberry bowl

enamel strawberry bowl

A walk through our neighbourhood threw up some surprises this week, what I now know to be a female lime hawkmoth thanks to a friend who spotted my FB photo and put us right!

female lime hawkmoth

And a yellow water iris popping up by the river, a wobbly camera phone snap as I had to lean out to capture it!

yellow water iris

And finally a more common find, a slug, how nice!




Mix and match crockery

Occasionally, just occasionally mind I get a bit antsy about our mix and match approach to homeware, usually after I’ve seen a minimalist blogger post about their crisp white kitchen and collection of Sophie Conran plates. Then I remember that I am clumsy and this eclectic collection suits us well!

I love my small but well-loved collection of Rob Ryan crocks, and as long as I keep to similar hues of blue I think this little lot goes pretty well together.


Just to the left of this shot is another special piece from my kitchen, when we wed in 2011 we were given a beautiful vintage cutlery set by my friend from Uni, I love the plush satin and it’s a well loved piece, coming out for parties and special occasions and sometimes for no occasion what so ever! As you can see I spend a lot of time admiring and polishing them!



Natural Cleaning Part Two

vintage whisk brush.

vintage whisk brush.

Following my previous post which features lemons, vinegar and bi-carb we’re looking at herbs and oils this time

Cleaning with herbs

Herbs make amazing air fresheners, dried mint, lavender and sage popped into homemade muslin sachets keep wardrobes smelling fresh and clean

If you have a fire popping herbs wrapped in newspapers in amongst the logs gives off a beautiful scent

Sprinkling lightly crushed lavender seeds onto a niffy rug or carpet and leaving for twenty minutes before hoovering up freshens them up a treat

Cleaning with oils

Tea tree oil is a natural anti-bacterial oil, most people have a bottle stashed away. You need a very small amount, to make your own spray cleaner dilute a few drops in water and spray onto surfaces, if you’re cleaning mildew you need a bigger kick, so add 20 drops to a large bucket of water and use on a brush on the surface, this one’s great for a sweet smelling bathroom!

We looked at a vinegar floor wash last time, now I find the smell of vinegar pleasant but if you don’t then orange and lemon oils make good floor cleaners, together they smell great, dilute 15 drops of orange essential oil and 8 drops of lemon in 1 gallon of hot water, you can add some soap flakes to the piping hot water for extra cleaning power, a tablespoon should do the trick and dissolve well

Orange oil can be used to polish wooden furniture to a gorgeous shine just add 10 drops of orange oil to a cup of olive oil, dip an old rag in and give your wooden furniture a lovely shine, use a dry cloth to buff everything up afterwards!



Gift Wrapping with Tissue Paper and Fantastic Ribbons

I recently became a Fantastic Ribbons Blogger, my love of washi, ribbons and buttons is no secret so working with a brand that sells all of these lovelies and more was just up my street! Their strapline the more you buy the more you save are words all crafters love to hear, I am an organised crafter and like to stock up in one place so a discount that stacks up as you buy appeals to me.

My first project with them was to choose two items from their store and get creative. When I saw this fuchsia paisley wired ribbon and these candy buttons they just went together so well and said creative ‘gift wrapping’ to me!


Did you know that you can use wired ribbon for all sorts of crafty purposes? They make lovely structured bows, give texture to craft projects and it’s really satisfying to make simple roses from too!

I like to make gift wrapping look really special, especially for handmade gifts as I want that homespun feel to shine through.

If you cut about a half metre of wired ribbon and knot one end you can pull the wire out of the other end of the ribbon (just on one side mind) and gather all that lovely organza up, then simply start at the knot and wind the organza together in a concentric circle to make a rose (there’s a great tutorial here)

With some lovely tissue paper and ribbons and a few buttons glued in stacks you have a really special gift that’s so pretty your lucky someone will not want to unwrap!


Newcastle Community Green Festival And Our Farm

The Newcastle Community Green Festival has been part of my life for years now, I always look forward to it. It started in 1995 and in 1998 took on life as a two day festival of music, food and environmental and ethical activities and chatter in the beautiful Leazes Park.

We headed out today and the heavens opened, man it poured, but hey this is the North’s Glasto and mud is the order of the day! Before we left we visited the Farm at the top of the street, I guess this photo should have warned of the shape of things to come!



So, not letting rain stop us (we’re a resilient wee family) off we went!


Not many pics owing to the weather, but these give a flavour!


Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall