Living Arrows – 42/52

There are only ten weeks left of this year, people. Ten weeks left! I’ve just had a mild panic about what to do for Christmas presents. Also, this is the week for some Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy joke.

A bit of a shakey start to the week, but much improved at the weekend with a couple of things. First, we’ve got the highchair ready for Arthur when he starts weaning (in a month, or earlier if his sitting up improves and it’s getting better by the hour). He also cut his first tooth this week. Flipping ‘eck, the chap, stop growing up so quickly.

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This weekend we saw one of my oldest friends, Fox, who we don’t nearly see often enough because he now lives in Norway. He hadn’t seen Boo since she was a baby, but she took a shine to him (as everyone does when they meet Fox).

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But the best news this week was that my sister gave birth to a girl! Hooray for her! Everyone is doing well from all accounts. Can’t wait to meet Rose soon.

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(this was a picture taken at the end of September when she started mat leave. Betsy, I’d like to point out, isn’t doing her best impression of tooth decay from the middle ages, but had in fact just eaten chocolate cake)

DIY Pumpkin Halloween Garland

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

I bloody love Halloween! I think it’s my favourite holiday. When I was a kid, we would travel down to my Nana’s house in the middle of rural Dorset and set up camp for a few nights. It was a Halloween party, but with a dash of Guy Fawks night in there too. Grandpa would work on the biggest bonfire there was (I’m pretty sure he saved up wood throughout the year for it) while some others carved pumpkins. There was a trip into Bridport to buy scary masks and costumes and a whole load of fireworks (always Black Cat fireworks because we are a crazy cat family). My aunts and uncle would descend along with cousins and we would drink mulled wine (up until very recently I never thought of mulled wine was a Christmas thing, it was always for Halloween) and eat stews and Mum would tell us ghost stories about Eggardon Hill and other places in the local area.

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Nana’s house always felt cold and there were always these horrible huge spiders everywhere (mum once woke up with two spiders fighting in her hair. In her hair!) and quite a few cats prowling about (Nan and Grandpa had up to 14 of them at one point. Told you we’re a crazy cat family) and being in the middle of nowhere with Dorset having that feeling of being stuck somewhere in the middle ages meant there was always a spooky feeling to the evening (and I could have sworn there were fae in the huge garden), but with all the family there chatting and laughing meant these Halloween weekends were some of the best memories of my childhood. Once day I hope we’ll have the space to do a similar thing with our family and really go all out on decorations and have amazing food, mulled wine and find space for a bonfire, although I don’t think we’ll be able to do anything like for good few years yet, we’ll need a house outside Enfield first!

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Much to my excitement, Betsy is really starting to get into this Halloween lark. In particular, pumpkins. She has chosen a pumpkin dress already for the big day (we have a party to go to. Arthur has a skeleton sleepsuit) and every time she spots a pumpkin for sale at the supermarket she wants us to take one home. I’ve not even told her about our plans to do our now annual trip to Willows Farm to pick our own pumpkin from their patch. It’s going to blow her mind!

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

To get ready for the festivities, we made a pumpkin garland out of salt dough. I’ve not made salt dough before, it’s always been one of the things on that ever-growing ‘to do’ list, but armed with some pastry cutters and food colouring we had a go.

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

We used the salt dough recipe from The Imagination Tree. Although we added a whole load of cinnamon to the mixture, we couldn’t really smell it once it was baked and cooled. Betsy got really into the rolling out of the dough and using the cutters, which was good as most of my time was spent stopping a very interested Arthur from grabbing and eating the dough!

I used the end of a crochet hook to make the hole at the top and some garden twine to thread through. The garland is pretty heavy so we’ve had to be quite careful where to hang it (no dainty washi tape holding it up for us here), in the end we tied it onto a couple of window handles. It looks pretty good! It was such a quick and easy craft I’m slightly annoyed we’ve not done this before, but I’ve got a whole host of other ideas to use salt dough as it’s the perfect rainy afternoon activity. So apologies in advance for salt dough Christmas decorations and more rambling tales from my childhood.

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Salt dough Halloween garland | Baking Betsy

Living Arrows – 41/52

SpiderBoo, SpiderBoo,
Does whatever a spider do.

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This girl’s fearlessness when it comes to climbing things will never cease to amaze me, and she’s good too. This climbing frame was bloody high! She’s about nine foot off the ground there, and not a foot went out-of-place. Can’t wait to take her to climbing lessons in a few years.

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This image, the exception of a couple of photos I took during baby massage and yoga, is the only one I have of Arthur this week! (he’s there if you look hard enough) Must try harder this week.

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Some photos of a baby group

Arthur

Arthur

One of the best things I did with Betsy while being on maternity leave with her was a baby massage and post-natal yoga course. It was calming, in a lovely venue and a very nice thing to do with a baby. I loved it so much that when we were reducing Betsy’s hours at nursery when I started leave with Arthur, I made sure to keep her in nursery on a Tuesday so I could do this course all over again.

Baby massage

Both Arthur and I enjoyed doing this group. Arthur now lies perfectly still when he realises a massage is coming his way because he LOVES it and I’ve really appreciated stretching and easing those aching muscles I obtained while pregnant and made even worse while breastfeeding. One of the really lovely things about the course is Jackie, the yoga teacher, takes pictures of while we’re massaging the babies and we’re handed the photos over on the last day. What’s especially lovely for me is comparing the photos of Arthur and the photos of Betsy taken at her massage class at a similar age Art is now. I always knew these two look similar, but can’t quite get over just how alike they look!

Betsy

Betsy

Arthur

Arthur

Betsy

Betsy

Betsy, left, and Arthur on the right

Betsy, left, and Arthur on the right

I’m going to miss this class a lot. It’s been a lot of fun, but now it’s time to do something different. I think we’re going to have a few trips into London and then I think I may start another class I loved doing with Betsy and that’s baby signing. I wonder what else we’ll end up doing in the months ahead? What did you like to do class wise with your baby?

Make your own bird feeder

It’s getting colder, the squirrels are hiding conkers in every bit of bare earth they can find, the hedgehogs are fattening up for hibernation, the leaves are turning brown… you get the idea. It’s autumn. Summer is over. I always feel a bit weird at this time of year. It’s sad that summer has finished (and this summer has been particularly good), but there’s something so seductive about the smell of fresh and crisp autumn air first thing in the morning. I love it, plus there’s the excitement of Halloween and an impending little girl’s birthday. Anyway, autumn also reminds me that soon the birds will need feeding to keep them going through the winter. There is some thought that feeding birds though the winter is a bad thing as it moves the breeding season forward into a time when there isn’t enough insects and other food for the chicks to feed on yet. Hopefully my sister Boc will leave a comment here and explain further as she’s a bit of an expert in his area. I’m of the opinion that as long as you continue to feed the birds well into spring, the local birds should be ok. There’s a lot to be gained from attracting birds into your garden, the most important for me is that it teaches Betsy and Arthur about wildlife. Oh, and me. I am terrible at bird identification so it would be fun to learn alongside them.

This feeder is a lovely thing to do alongside any little ones you have with you (idea stolen from one of the crafting tents at the Enfield Town Show).

You need:

  • An apple
  • A stick
  • A length of garden twine
  • Sunflower seeds

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

First, tie the twine onto the stick.

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

Core your apple. If you have an apple corer, use that, it’s heaps easier and safer than jabbing a blunt paring knife into the fruit, which is what I did.

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

Then poke sunflower seeds into the apple flesh. I found it helps to make little slits with a knife first. You may find that a little mouse has got to the apple before the birds!

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

Feed the string through the apple and your feeder is ready to hang in the garden.

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

DIY bird feeder | Baking Betsy

Living Arrows – 40/52

So the highlight of Betsy’s week wasn’t the train rides, or the swimming or visiting her Aunty Juwee, but her best friend Seren’s birthday party. How can you not love a place where there’s cake, face painting and bouncy castles?

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And Arthur looked on, taking it all in.

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Hello Arthur – 4 months

Arthur at four months

Hello Arthur! My beautiful, happy boy. You have just turned four months and you have been super busy! Here’s what you have been doing these past few weeks:

You are properly grabbing now. You take aim and reach for objects in a much more determined manner than before, especially Betsy’s hair. I’m surprised she has any left, quite frankly. Luckily she takes it all with good humour.

You have started to take an interest in toys. Your favourites so far are a Farm Tails book, a small wooden rocking horse (perfect for grabbing), some links and a teething ring. You recognise Skogkatt when I show you him and he’s greeted with a big smile and cuddle when given to you in the pram and car seat (the name Skogkatt being Norwegian for forest cat – Norwegian forest cats have a strong association with Freyja and Freyja is Betsy’s middle name. Do I over think these things?)

Arthur at four months

You have started chatting and gurgling. Once you start you don’t stop! And you are LOUD too. A proper chatterbox. You have also giggled a few times and it is the BEST thing. I have made you laugh just the one time (that probably says more about how funny I am than your development) but Betsy manages to make you laugh most days, especially when she sings Row, Row, Row Your Boat to you.

Arthur at four months

I think you prefer to lie on your tummy these days. You certainly spend a lot of your time rolling onto your front.

We have started taking you regularly to the swimming pool. You were born in the water so I think you have been a natural aqua baby from the start. I remember taking Betsy swimming when she was a few months old and while she certainly enjoyed it, she was pretty passive and would happily be pulled along in the water. You on the other hand want to swim. From the moment we carry you into the warm water, you want to move on your own accord, kicking and splashing as much as you can. You and I chase Betsy and Dada round the pool and you love it when we finally catch up with them. Swimming has become a weekly highlight for all four of us I think and it’s a wonderful reminder of how we are all growing as a family with you. If we continue like this, things are going to be crazy awesome!

swimming for the first time

Lots of love, you Mama who loves you.
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Some photos of the Enfield Town Show

Every year, Enfield borough council host the Enfield Autumn Show in the Town Park. It’s reminiscent of the county agricultural shows you get around the country and a big celebration of everything local to this area. We try and go most years, and this year seemed to be the Show’s best in quite a few years.

There was the usual horticultural tent with fruit, vegetables, flowers and crafts.

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

I think that the knitted blue tit was my most favourite thing in the tent, and it didn’t win anything! Who are these judges?

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Once again, Dave and I got thinking about what we would enter if we took part. Dave chose the apple pie category as there were only two pies entered this year so the chances of winning something are quite high! I fancied myself entering the framed photo category. We shall see if we actually get round doing it!

There were stalls selling plants, places to do crafts and learn to hula hoop and vehicles from Whitewebbs Transport Museum.

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

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Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Also present was a small petting corner with rabbits and guinea pigs. Betsy had her first ever ride on a horse. I cried a bit, because I’m an over-emotional massive sap.

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Obviously, for any almost-three year old the best thing about the Show was the fairground and their ridiculously over-priced rides. It’s worth the cost to see Betsy’s and her soul brother Caspar’s little faces though.

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

A jolly good time by all. Bring on next year!

Enfield Town Show | Baking Betsy

Living Arrows – 39/53

It’s been a week of birthdays here and Betsy is getting ever more excited about her own, although I think a month might be too much of a wait for her. She already knows what she wants for a birthday cake and luckily for me it looks doable.

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Catching bubbles at Caspar’s party.

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This one gets better every day. Just look at that dribbly smile!

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