Gentle intentions for tough times.

What strange and scary times these are. It feels like we were just reaching the end of a long damp and gloomy winter when these new dark clouds gathered.

How are you holding up?

I think like most I’ve been going through a rollercoaster of emotions these last few weeks. Swinging from being very anxious and sad to feeling calm and even quite joyful at points. Mostly I feel very lucky and grateful – for our home, for my husband’s job, that right now we’re healthy and for the sunshine…thank goodness for the sunshine!

It’s hard to believe we’re only a quarter of the way through the year. Doesn’t new year feel like such a long time ago? What with having a baby I chose not to set any goals at the beginning of 2020, wanting to ease myself into the year and allow time to adjust to becoming a mother of two. I figured I’d check in with myself in the springtime and see where I stood. But Spring looks rather different than I could have imagined this year.

So instead of making any goals at this stage, I’m setting some gentle intentions for the coming weeks or months. They are intentions set during a lockdown during a very uncertain time but also they are things I’d like to cultivate in my life global pandemic notwithstanding…

Lean into the things that keep me grounded.

There has been a lot of talk online about using this time to develop a new skill and pick up new hobbies. The notion that we should be using our time in lockdown to be productive is wholly unhelpful, I don’t know about you but I certainly don’t have any more time on my hands.

So instead I’m leaning hard into the things that I already know will make me feel grounded and content. For me, that’s been cooking and baking with my toddler, meditation, journalling, photography, and mostly just homemaking – making the space we’re spending so much time in feel comfy and calm.

Less mindless scrolling.

I’m sure like many I’ve spent to much time on news sites recently and the correlation between my time spent on those and my anxiety levels is clear. And it’s not just the news. Since the pandemic hit I’ve found myself spending a lot more time on Facebook, which is a channel I barely ever use these days. On one hand, it’s nice to feel connected to the local community, but the inevitably strong opinions and bickering in post comments – about things like whether or not people are using local green spaces appropriately – is just draining.

Although I’ve loved the community and creativity on Instagram recently, even here I can feel myself being very mindless and unintentional with my time. So less scrolling it is!

I’m currently to experiment with setting myself limits on my screen time to see what works and feels good.

Feel out a rhythm.

For me, this seems like the ideal time to carve out a simple family rhythm. The lack of groups, play dates and other activities are giving me the chance to figure out what works best for our little family when keeping things as simple as possible.

Right now, of course, my focus is to keep things feeling good for us during this period of lockdown. Over the last few weeks, as we’ve adjusted to my husband now working from home new habits have emerged and slowly become touchstones in our day. On the whole, it’s working for us but I want to bring some extra intentionality around planning our rhythm to help our days flow nicely and be sure to include a good balance of activities.

Cultivate plenty of (self) compassion.

If there’s one thing I’m sure we all need in abundance to get us through this tough time it’s compassion – for our partners, kids, neighbours, communities and also importantly for ourselves.

Patience, kindness and compassion are traits many of us value and aspire to, but I’ll be honest putting these things into practice doesn’t always come easily for me. Especially in stressful times. There have been days over the last few weeks when it’s all got a bit much but I’m trying to come back to compassion when things get tough: Allowing space for things to be messy and confusing, lower my expectations, accepting that there’s no “perfect” way to navigate life during this pandemic and that there’s definitely no perfect way to parent through it.

If you’re inspired to set some gentle intentions of your own, I’d recommend asking yourself a few questions, you can spend some time journaling or just sit with these: What do you need to keep yourself feeling centred during this time? What can you let go of? What’s feeling like your biggest struggle right now? Are there any changes you can make that will help with this? Remember to stay rooted in kindness, the idea is to cultivate a little more ease and flow rather than give yourself something else to worry about. I always find spending some time to set intentions like these really helps to remind me what is most important when tiredness and anxiety threaten to take over.

Project 52: January

Project 52 Toddler at Troopers hillWeek one // A muddy walk at Trooper’s Hill. Two years in and I still forget to pack the wellies 90% of the time. I never seem to remember tissues either. So he’s often got wet feet and a runny nose but hey, he’s happy.

Project 52 Toddler with whit dianna mini camera

Week two // He’s obsessed with taking photos (I wonder why?!) so I gave him my mini Dianna to play with. Maybe one day in about five years time I’ll develop this roll of film and discover some toddler’s eye view of the world…or most likely they’ll all be black “portraits” of his little hand over the lens.

Project 52 Toddler with toy basketball

Week three // Oh, these little hands and the squeals of delight that accompany a simple game of hoop and ball.

Week four//

Casper: A Saturday trip to the city farm ended with our car breaking down and a lot of waiting around. By the end of the day everyone was cold and tired and a little grumpy, but let’s remember the bright frosty morning, visiting the animals, my giant bump, hot chocolate warming little hands – our last weekend as a family of three.

Indy: …and then there was you.

Project 52 Toddler

Week five //

C: Sometimes Daddy’s version of the bath and bed routine involves an evening mosh to 90’s punk music. I can’t say it seems very relaxing but this kid thinks it’s the best.

I: Our chilled little bub with his funny froggy legs

Life Lately – hey baby.

Happy New Year friends! Yeah I know we are already two months deep, but I firmly believe in easing yourself into a new year. And this year I’ve had even more reason to take it very slowly in these first few months of 2020 because towards the end of January we welcomed the newest member of our family.

Indy Shilo joined us after a whirlwind of a journey earth-side six weeks ago. He surprised us and the midwives that evening by being breech, so he came into the world bottom first with his little froggy legs up and feet nestled close to his head. Since that wild, intense, spectacular night he’s been a pretty chilled out little bub.  Happily getting on with the newborn work of snoozing and feeding.

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m still breastfeeding a toddler, but he has taken to nursing so well and has pilled on the pounds since birth. He was born at 6lb 8 so he’s by no means a big baby but at the rate he has been feeding I’m expecting to see some cute little rolls soon enough.

At only a month old he already has a number of nicknames – Indy-bear, Indybub, sometimes Shilo because we love his middle name but mostly he’s Snuffle Pig for all those snorts, grunts and snuffles. And of course, he’s “baby brother”.

“Where’s Indy?”⁣
“Indy, are you awake?”⁣
“Indy, Indy, come with me!”⁣

I just love the way he says his name… “Indee, Indeee”. There have definitely been some less cute sibling moments too but it’s safe to say Casper is rather besotted with his little brother.⁣

The first few weeks of his little life have flown by in a blur of joy and snuggles, mamma tears and toddler tantrums, nappies changes and dirty washing, night feeds and nap times. We’ve laughed and cried and loved extra hard as we adjust to our new normal – life as a foursome.

I know we are really lucky as a family that my husband Will gets a decent amount of paternity leave – six weeks compared to the standard statutory two weeks (which is really no time at all!). He is able to split this time so initially, we have had a whole month together. Paternity leave has certainly looked different this time around, especially for Will. With a large amount of time and energy having been spent on keeping a toddler entertained. I know it’s been an exhausting task but it’s also been such a special time. I can really see how their father/son relationship has flourished and although he may not be able to articulate it fully, you can tell how much the fun trips and outings with Daddy are appreciated by our two year old.

Having this time with my husband at home has really allowed me to recover and rest and I have tried my best to embrace that wholeheartedly. For the most part, I have been snuggled up in bed or on the sofa re-learning how to recognise those newborn cues. We had a few lovely first outings as a family but we kept them short so I could quickly return to my nest. In fact, the one day we did venture out for longer to register Indy’s birth and celebrate our anniversary with lunch, I ended up suffering from mastitis which had me feeling awful for a good few days. A stark reminder just how important all the time spent resting and feeding actually is for new mothers. I feel so grateful and privileged that this was an option for me.

Will has now been back at work for a couple of weeks. I’m sad that time is over but also excited to begin to etch out a new weekly rhythm with my two little sidekicks, especially as Spring begins.

My baby Indy has turned one month old. He’s grown out of those first tiny onesies, there’s the hint of rolls where there was new wrinkled skin, his little froggy legs from being breech have found their way downward, he’s getting bigger and heavier and changing every day. He still feels so new but I guess the newborn days are coming to an end.

I’m so very happy that the lovely Hannah of Hannah B Photography came to capture this magical time. Her pics, which accompany this post, are the perfect reminder of the bubble that we’ve sat happily in for a month – snuggling and nursing and playing and laughing. Tired eyes and full hearts. All four of us together at home. Our family.

Making time for creativity this season

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There’s something about this time of year that sparks my creativity into overdrive – the autumnal colours, the misty mornings, being stuck indoors on a rainy day; it all just makes me want to get crafting, baking and making.

“The days that seem the most dreary,
Are perfect for being creative and cosy”

A few years ago I discovered this lovely song by Kimya Dawson (you’ll know her from the Juno soundtrack). The lyrics – all about setting intentions while the leaves are falling to see you strong through winter – speak so deeply to my Autumn loving soul. Especially the above quote, it just sums up how many of us feel so perfectly. Is there anything better than being cosy and creative on a dreary day?

I recently shared a poll on Instagram and 84% of those who answered also find themselves feeling more creative at this time of year. It has got me thinking, how can we make the most of this creative energy? Can we go beyond simply embracing a seasonal project or craft and perhaps establish new creative habits?

Autumnal enthusiasm aside, we often find ourselves feeling that we don’t have the time to be as creative as often as we’d like. However, I believe that a little consideration and preparation can go a long way towards helping moments of creativity flow more easily every day.

This is something that has particularly been on my mind recently. Coming to the end of two months of house renovations has given me the opportunity to really think about how I want to use our living space. I want a home that supports a simple and creative life. Supplies and playthings should be easily accessible; so whether we fancy painting, baking a cake or making music the things we need are on hand.

I appreciate I’m coming at this from the position of spending most of my days at home with a toddler but, even if you don’t have young kids in the mix, I believe the same concepts of making things simple and accessible can apply to all. Keep the supplies for your hobby or craft easy to get at, your musical instrument out and not hidden away in its case, a notebook and pen to hand at all times or your “big” camera somewhere you’ll reach for it (with the battery charged!).

It isn’t about expecting to feel creatively inspired all the time, but rather making it part of your rhythm. For me, it’s the small moments that add up to the feeling that I am living a more creative life.

As the hours of daylight decrease and the cold weather encourages you indoors to keep cosy, it really is the perfect time to consider how to honour your creativity this season. Don’t wait until the new year, why not set intentions now to make this winter a creative one? ✨

Here are some ideas for a few lovely ways to embrace creativity this season. I’ll certainly be doing most of these myself…

// Declutter and rearrange your space with prioritising creativity in mind.
// Have a go at writing morning pages.
// Forage for seasonal treasures to decorate your home.
// Bake things!
// Book onto a workshop.
// Get crafting for Christmas.
// Join in a creative hashtag project on Instagram (or start your own).
// Keep your hobby or craft supply underneath the sofa – ‘Netflix and create’ if you will!
// Take a creative e-course. Or, if you’re anything like me, dust off one you bought earlier.
//Meditate on creativity.
// Make a seasonal playlist.


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Playlist: Toddler Tunes Late Summer ’19

One morning recently I put on the radio to rouse my sleepy toddler from his rare lie-in.  Moments later, he sat up proclaimed “hear music!” and promptly started dancing on the bed. This kid of mine literally wakes up dancing!

Music is such an important part of our rhythm. Soundtracking our days together at home, it helps set the mood and nothing will chase away the grumps quicker than a little boogie.

Here’s a playlist of the tunes we’ve been singing along and dancing around our dining room to over the last few months. I like curating a playlist of songs that although aren’t especially for kids have elements that Casper can really engage with. There are lots of animals hidden amongst the lyrics of this collection – he loves roaring during the First Aid Kit track, clapping along with Shirley Ellis and replying “What!” to Lizzo!

I will admit I’ve refrained from including his most requested track. No matter how much he enjoys my indie leanings he shouts “More MOVE IT!” at the speaker multiple times a day. Thank you, Madagascar!

I know it’s all feeling rather autumnal but I think these sunny tunes will help perk up grey days. Enjoy with a toddler or without!

Track Listing

Barry Louis Polisar – All I Want is You
This Is The Kit – Magic Spell
First Aid Kit – The Lions Roar
Graham Coxon – Perfect Love
Shirley Ellis- The Clapping Song
Lizzo – Juice
Metronomy – Salted Caramel Ice Cream
The Beatles – Baby It’s You
The Whites – Kepp on the Sunny Side
Kimya Dawson – Sleep

Weekend Wanderings: By the seaside at the end of summer

The September sunshine we were blessed with this year was so good for my soul. Before I felt ready to embrace the seasonal shift, I sorely needed just a few more warm days, a little longer to not worry about layers, just a couple more ice lollies in the sun, dinners in the garden and a day by the sea.⁣

Our little family of three headed to Clevedon for the afternoon a couple of weekends ago.  The sun was bright and warm but there was a cool breeze blowing through the little town. With a bucket and spade and sandwiches packed in our tote, we made our way to the small pebble beach that sits below the grand old pier. As we ate we watched the waves and boats and watched out for seagulls! Casper marvelled at the brightly coloured kites being flow by children nearby. He knew what they were from his books and puzzles but had never actually seen one in real life. What a strange and wonderful thing to still be so new in the world that there’s so much to see and discover.

After our picnic, we peered into rock pools, found treasures amongst the pebbles and wandered hand in hand down to the water’s edge.

Then it was on to the pier. Which we had last strolled along on cold January day, as bleary-eyed new parents with a one-month-old babe who cried the entire time as the wind blew through his pram. That was almost two years and a lifetime ago. This time, that same baby gleefully ran along the wooden pier and had to be gently reminded to not climb up on the benches to peer down at the sea below.

Sea air, salted caramel ice cream, a pocket full of sea glass, a sweet Indian Summer day to cherish. It was all I needed to feel ready to welcome autumn with open arms.

Oh hey baby!

Pregnant woman stands by a riverPregnant woman stands by a river

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen that I recently shared the happy news that I’m expecting our second baby. By February our little family will have a new addition.

Within a couple of months of turning two in December, our first baby Casper will become a big brother. I guess we have a thing with making Winter babies. My husband is of the opinion that the winter is a rather rubbish time to have a birthday, but as an almost winter baby myself – it’s been known to snow on March 1st, including on the day I was born – I always enjoyed having something to look forward to in those darker months. Besides, it feels like a nice time to be pregnant. Conceiving in spring, not being heavily pregnant through summer, resting and nesting through the winter, snuggling up in a cosy newborn bubble and emerging from the fourth trimester as next Spring blooms. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I’m currently around 16 weeks; the first-trimester sickness has thankfully passed, my clothes are feeling tight, a small but definitely visible bump has appeared. It’s all beginning to feel more real, although I think we’re vaguely in denial that we’ll be welcoming a new little person into our lives in a matter of months. Of course, we’re so excited and grateful but there’s just less time for it to be the sole focus with a toddler around. Practically there’s less to prep and think about this time also – we pretty much have all of the bits and pieces we need already stashed away in the attic.

It feels a little surreal to be pregnant again. In a lot of ways, even at twenty months in, parenthood still feels like such a new experience.  But Casper’s baby days have definitely passed, and honestly, we didn’t want to leave it too long – get too used to our lives with an older kid – before returning to that newborn daze. I’m just so grateful that we get to do this again.

Of course, there’s some apprehension around becoming parents of two – How will I keep up with a busy toddler whilst tending to a newborn? Will I ever find time to work on my business? Will we actually drown under a mountain of dirty washing?! And then there’s our family’s emotional needs and wellbeing. It’s hard not to wonder about how Casper will respond to having a new baby brother or sister, or if there’ll be enough of me to go round – leaving anything left for my husband or myself.

But as much as these are real and valid concerns, to be honest, I’m really not occupying my mind with worries. I know it’s bound to be tough at times but I also believe the new baby will bring immense joy and love into our life. But for now, this little being is quietly and unassumingly getting on with the magic of growing inside me whilst our days unfold around them.

Going plastic free in the kitchen for July

Plastic free july Kilner jars I have been aware of Plastic Free July for a few years now, perhaps first coming across the initiative via The Slow Home Podcast in 2016. This year I finally felt that I have the headspace, inclination and enthusiasm to give it a bit of a go myself. 

We’ve already made a number of swaps around the home that have definitely helped to cut down on plastic packaging over the last couple of years. Mainly: bulk buying dried goods, refilling toiletries and detergents, scaling way back on the cleaning and beauty products we use and getting a veg box delivered. But despite this, I only have to take a glance into my bins to tell we are still a long way off anything close to zero waste.

Not that zero waste is the goal, to be honest – I think it’s a wholly unobtainable and unhelpful troupe to see a year’s worth of household waste fitting into a Kilner jar! And let’s just take a moment to acknowledge that there is a lot of privilege involved in following a lower-waste lifestyle. 

Generally, I feel that taking a slow and steady approach and gradually taking steps toward a more sustainable home is much more manageable and realistic for most. But I do love the way that taking part in a challenge gives me a good kick up the bum to examine the habits that happen on autopilot and make some shifts accordingly. Even the Plastic Free July official site encourages different levels of participation. From going completely plastic-free to avoiding single-use plastics or avoiding the ‘big four’ of bags, bottles, straws and coffee cups.

Plastic free july fruit and veg

Personally, I’ve decided to focus on going plastic-free in the kitchen for the month of July. Although I would like to tackle all areas of our household waste, food packaging definitely seems to be the biggest problem area contributing to the bulk of our weekly refuse. (Well, apart from disposable nappies that is – but please allow me to put a pin in that for a moment.)

Although the waste associated with food is our biggest challenge, food and cooking are also my biggest passion, and I always enjoy a culinary challenge. Rather than finding restrictions frustrating, I like the way having boundaries gets me thinking more creatively with my cooking. So I’m viewing going plastic-free and low waste in a similar way.

I know preparation and organisation will be the key to these stumbling blocks. Planning meals in advance, stocking the cupboards and freezer with homemade snacks, being armed with Tupperware at all times when out and about. I’ve already spent a good month mentally preparing, I’ve done a reccy of what items I can pick up plastic-free where and made lists of meals I can adapt with plastic-free ingredients.

That said, although I love to cook from scratch and I’m partial to a bit of baby-friendly baking,  my toddler and I partake in a hefty amount of between-meal snacking. Rice cakes, cereal bars, smoothie pouches, crisps, cheese, crackers – these tasty lil’ things all come in unrecyclable plastic packaging. And what about spreads and condiments? Does anyone know of a plastic-free alternative to Marmite and Sriracha???

Going plastic-free in our kitchen for a month is definitely not going to be easy, but I’m up for the challenge!

Plastic free july Kilner jars open shelving

Here are a few parameters I’m setting around the challenge…

// I will focus on not bringing any new single-use plastic packaging into the kitchen, but I am going to use up ingredients that we have in our cupboards before replacing with plastic-free. It seems very wasteful to do otherwise.

// Although plastic is the focus I’m also going to try and reduce our waste in general – reusing paper bags at the bakery, using my own containers for takeaway where possible, doing more with our food scraps and watching those leftovers.

// I’m probably gonna cheat when it comes to oat milk! I am going to experiment with making oat milk myself but plan to have Oatly on hand because mornings without decent cuppa are a big no in this house!

// I’m hoping my husband will be up for giving it a good go as well. He works in the office Monday to Friday so will be encountering a few different challenges than I will as a stay-at-home / work-from-home mum.

// Away from the kitchen I do want to explore plastic-free options. I’m going to finally try reusable nappies and wipes and I plan to start ordering loo roll fro Who Gives A Crap.

And a few resources and posts to check out…

Plastic Free July
A great Instagram post from Lucy Lucraft on the problematic nature of the zero-waste movement
The Slow Home Podcast on Plastic Free July

Are you joining in with Plastic Free July this year? We’re almost two weeks in at the time of publishing so I’ll be back to share an update soon.

Amongst the cow parsley

Cow parsley in the park in the sunJust like a lot of mammas around the world our local park has become a mainstay of my weeks. But as the saying goes familiarity breeds contempt and I find myself getting rather bored with the idea of another trip to the park. Sometimes I just can’t muster much enthusiasm to walk along the same old street, past the same old shop and cross the same old busy road to get there.

But once I’m through the gates and the traffic give way to leafy green, and I’m walking through the avenue of grand plane trees, or spotting heron at the pond as I circle with the buggy or witnessing the pure toddler joy as I push him on the swings I never do regret to making the trip.

It’s a big park with plenty of different routes to take. My favourite section has been left to grow quite wild and when taking this path you can easily feel that you are walking in woodland, not an innercity park. Bluebells and wild garlic appeared in the spring and right now there is an array of tall grasses their seed heads turning brown.

But in May there was cow parsley; swathes of green with those delicate lacy tops that seemed to glow in the evening sun. The days were getting longer and hinting at the summer yet to come.

Mini Mindful Moments for Mammas (or anyone craving a little more calm in their days)

It can feel like your time is not your own when you’re a mama. Mum-days are spent constantly trying to working through chores, feeding-cleaning-changing on repeat, jumping from one activity to another trying to keep your little entertained. On work days there are the bags to be packed, drop-offs and collections to do on time, things to remember – snacks, nappies, sunhat, raincoat. CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!

No wonder we end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It’s a lot. But I find practising mindfulness goes some way to helping me both reclaim a feeling of control over my days and surrender to the lack thereof. For me, this means learning to slow down and creating pockets of calm in my days.

Meditation has been an important part of how I’ve cultivated a more mindful way of being and I do still try to keep up a regular practice when I can. But, unlike meditation, mindfulness is readily available at any given time and can be practised anywhere.

“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”

Practising mindfulness isn’t particularly about doing anything outside of your normal routine, but rather reframing the tasks and actions you already do. Even brushing your teeth could become a mindful activity if you fully devote your concentration to it.  For me, mindfulness is the pausing, the noticing. Being fully present in the moment and not letting your mind wander to plans, daydreams or worries. It could be observing the way the light falls in the morning, immersing yourself in an activity or chore or giving your full attention to your toddler (without one eye on your phone 🙋🏻‍♀️). And actually, it turns out toddlers are pretty mindful little souls – being fully present is pretty much their default setting.

I’m at pains to make it clear I’m not walking around in some zen bubble, the image of calm motherhood. I get worn down, grouchy and impatient. When I’ve been up since 6 am I’m still frazzled come naptime. I go on about mindfulness and intentional living because of *needing* these practices so much. Not because this stuff comes easy to me!

My mini mindful moments

The key is to fully focus on the task or activity, not to multitask or to have your attention pulled in various directions but to be completely present in the moment.

// Connecting with my senses upon waking. I run through what I can hear, feel, see etc. and check in with how I’m feeling in my body and in my mind. I often do this whilst giving Casper his morning breastfeed.

// Dropping essential oil in my (usually very quick) morning shower.

// Putting on a favourite song and dancing together for the duration.

// Naptime meditation. Before I open my laptop or get on with chores I head to my bedroom for at least 10 minutes of meditation.

// Hanging out the washing.  This is one of my favourite chores to single-task, especially if it’s a nice enough day to dry the washing outside.

// Weeding, gardening or tending to house plants.

// Going for a mindful walk. Leave the phone at home and just go for a wander. Notice the tiny details, the sights and sounds. Toddlers are the perfect mindful walking companion.

// Finding a moment to sit, pause and enjoy a cup of tea.

// Reading instead of scrolling as I feed the babe to sleep.

// My evening skincare routine. Cleanse, use my face brush, apply an oil. Breath, feel grateful for the day.

These are just some things that can become mindful activities for me. Yours might be different. Of course, sometimes I do these things on autopilot, with my phone in my hand or a podcast on in the background. But I know the more I carve out mini moments of mindfulness in my days the calmer and more resilient I feel. As with my philosophy on living a simple creative life, I believe that the small things we do each day add up – “drop by drop we fill our cup”.

🌙 🌙 🌙

Some more mindful resources…

Getting started with mindfulness (via

Modern Mindfulness for Mothers a guided meditation course on Insight

The Mindful Kind podcast hosted by Rachael Kable

The Zen of Single-Tasking blog post by Brooke McAlary

The Power Of Now a book by Eckhart Tolle

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