Sunday, 16 February 2020

How to Baby-Proof Your Garden

Toddler in the garden

When you’ve got a little one on the way, there are so many preparations to be made you might start to wonder if you’ll get it all done in time! For many of us, the focus is on the inside of the house where your little one will be spending most of their time. You might buy a fireplace cover, install a couple of baby gates and start re-arranging your furniture for a bit of extra crawl-space, but have you thought about your garden?
Parents often overlook outdoor spaces, but this is where a lot of hazards tend to live. Pebbles, thorny plants and water features can all be potentially dangerous for your little one. But don’t worry, I’m going to talk you through a few different ways you can address these problems and thoroughly baby-proof your garden.

Garden surfaces

While you want your garden to look great, you don’t want to choose an outdoor flooring option that’s dangerous for your child. Small stones and gravel can be a choking hazard, so if your garden is covered in them – it might be time to consider a garden renovation.
Grass is an obvious choice, it provides a soft, luscious space for your little one to play, learn and develop. Of course, the only downside with having your garden turfed is the amount of upkeep that real grass requires. You don’t want to be spending the summer holidays trudging up and down with a lawn mower when your little one wants to have a teddy bears picnic and enjoy the sunshine!
Garden furniture

A great alternative to grass is composite decking, it offers a forgiving surface that (although not as soft as grass) won’t cause your little one a significant injury if they do happen to fall over. High-quality composite decking is designed not to split or chip, so unlike traditional wood decking, you won’t need to worry about your little one getting a nasty splinter. Better yet, composite decking will last a lifetime with minimal maintenance, giving you more time to spend with your family!


Having plants in the garden is a great sensory and educational experience for your child. When they get a bit older, they might even help you plant new seeds and begin to take an interest in the natural world (something that’s so often neglected nowadays).
Make sure you remove toxic plants and mushrooms, prickly plants and plants that bear fruit and berries, these plants might look nice in your garden, but they can cause real problems if children get their hands on them.
Instead, you should think about planting vegetables, larger fruits and herbs, the leaves of which are generally non-toxic and safe for curious children to explore. Better yet, if you get a good harvest of carrots and apples, you can add some home-grown vitamins into your baby’s diet.
Some beautiful non-toxic flowers are also a great choice. Pot Marigolds, Amaranthus (shown above), Lemon Balm and Daylilies are sweet smelling, taste rather delicious and will add a touch of colour to your outdoor space.
Purple Amaranth

General Safety Tips

Here are a few other baby-proofing tips to help you keep your garden accident-free!
·         Keep the garden hose out of the sun – If you’ve ever picked up or stepped on a hose pipe that’s been left out in the sun, you’ll know that they can get incredibly hot! Make sure you store them in a shaded, cool place whenever possible.
·         Use plants to protect sharp corners – There are plenty of permeant features in our gardens that might pose a risk to little ones. Use greenery to create a buffer between your child and any sharp edges. 
·         Update your garden furniture – Ditch the glass tables and wooden chairs and treat yourself to a brand-new garden set with padded cushions, rounded edges and removable, washable covers (thank me later).

Hopefully these baby-proofing tips will help you relax and enjoy your garden as your little one explores, grows and changes!

*Guest post

Monday, 27 January 2020

Our home improvements: making use of a corridor space

pantry illustration
There is a small corridor between the kitchen and the village/church hall side of the house that was a dead space. Until a few months back there was a staircase up to a room that used to be where the scouts and brownies met and probably things like Sunday school and parish meetings took place. It's now our bedroom so we knocked a door through from the main house landing and blocked this staircase off in order to make the room bigger.

It was decided that the blocked off staircase would make a useful cupboard space. 

So here we go from the kitchen...


The corridor has double side doors onto the road that was once used for people entering the church hall for functions I think, possibly a fire escape. We use this for loading up the car and Sweep's van, moving furniture in and out of the house, it's bolted up so not used unless planned. 

There was a scruffy little alcove that needed some attention too.

Sweep set about planning some useful storage space using recycled materials, so the old table tennis table was used as a back for the shelves. The space on top extends right back under the old staircase so we decided to buy plastic storage boxes for our huge collection of Halloween items, safely packed away and neatly out of the way.

Pantry area makeover


Sweep made a secret storage panel to cover the cubby hole where the Halloween items are stored. I was really organised and photographed each box so that I know where my spooky items are. We love Halloween! The panel can be unscrewed so the rest of the year it is a secure mini shelf section for small items. Below the shelves are deeper.

Making a storage cupboard

Sweep made a couple of shelves for the alcove, replastered and then painted the wall here which had crumbled away. We decided to keep the kitchen bin here as the beagle had worked out how to open the lid and was causing chaos. 

On the shelves I keep my 'to do' tray and a basket of admin - school letters, things to do with Little Bird's autism appointments, leaflets of places to visit, business receipts and that kind of thing. 

Utility alcove

The cupboard space has become a mini pantry, we have a main pantry on the otherside of the kitchen but LB was sneaking in and eating too many sweet things and the beagle was ripping open bags of dog food so these are all stored in our mini pantry now - useful for the Christmas goodies and stockpiling dog food. 
Mini pantry cupboard

Church hall home conversion

The corridor has had a new coat of paint and the side doors have been made less draughty - Sweep made a little peepo cover for the old key hole - he loves making these quirky things.
sliding keyhole cover
I think I need some cute accessories for this area now, maybe a tin sign or two, a door sign or something to add some colour. But for now I'm glad the area is functional and looking smarter.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

How to make the most of a small bathroom with a large family

Small bathrooms can make a home difficult to live in especially when you have a large family and it needs to be functional for all of them. In this blog post, we will take a look at some of the best ways to make a small bathroom work for a large family.

If you don't have a large family but still find the bathroom is too small for you then this post will also be something you will be interested in reading.

Here are some tips that you can implement to make the most of your small space.

1) Storage

Your bathroom is going to be one of the most used rooms in your home and when multiple people use the room it can soon become cluttered and look like a total mess.

The best way to get around this is to add storage to your room. Storage comes in many shapes and sizes, but you can't go far wrong with wall hanging cabinets, wicker baskets, ottomans and towel racks. If you add one or a few of the above you are going to have more functional storage in your bathroom.

You can also opt for sink units that have storage spaces underneath this can come in the form of drawers or baskets.
Bathroom storage baskets

2) Specialist equipment

The bathroom needs to be a functional place for everyone that uses it therefore if you have young children or children or adults with disabilities the bathroom will have to be adapted. Senior citizens will also need additional help to use the bathroom.

If you want to make your bathroom suitable for everyone that is going to use it, then please consider their needs.

Children using the bathroom won't be able to reach items placed in higher locations so think of adding steps or add stackable storage and put their items on the bottom.

Disabled or older family members can also install items into the bathroom to make it easier for them to use. Bath hoists can be used to help them into the bathtub or walk in baths are another great addition to making your bathroom more accessible and friendly to all.
Walk in bath
Image source: Bathroom Supastore

3) Organisation

Organisation is key in a family bathroom because you don't want to be using each other's items, not only from a hygiene point of view but also from a practical one. If you constantly have to look for your towel or toothbrush it's going to cause needless frustration.

To make the most out of your bathroom be sure to organise each member of the families towels, toothbrushes and everything else in a manner which makes sense for all.

Colour coordination is one way of doing it, adding tags or markings is another. Find a system that works for your family and stick to it.

4) Safety first

If you are designing a bathroom to be suitable for younger children you will want to minimise the chance of burns through scalding water. One of the best ways to prevent burns with a new family is to install a thermostatic valve.

A thermostatic valve is the safest way to prevent burning even if the cold water supply is changed. Some thermostatic valves can also be programmed to limit the time your children can spend in the shower which can save you money on your water bill.

5) Open plan living

A tight shower may be desirable to save space or to look nice, but in a bathroom that has to work for the entire family, you should avoid it. Washing smaller children in a confined space can be a nightmare so try to avoid it if possible. If you do want to install a shower try to keep your space open plan as much as possible and install a wetroom.

If you do choose to install a wetroom, you will have more space to clean your children and you don't have to worry about water splashing everywhere and ruining your floor.


Designing a bathroom that works for multiple ages and needs is difficult but if you take time to think of the storage space needed and the functionality of the room, it becomes a little easier.

Do you have any tips on making the most of a small bathroom for the entire family? If so please leave them in the comments below.
bath silhouette

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Pregnancy 29 week Update and Gestational Diabetes

Here I am at 29 weeks pregnant (now 31 weeks!), in the third trimester and it's been a surprise this time around with various extra issue to consider but then I'm 10 years older than when I had Little Bird.
29 weeks pregnant bump

Firstly at 20 weeks I was told that the placenta was low lying and completely covering my cervix which is a worry as it can lead to ending up in hospital quite early but so far I've had no issue. Most of the time, the placenta will move away as the uterus grows but I'm yet to have the official scan that will confirm whether it has or it hasn't.

Glucose Tolerance Test:
I then went for a glucose tolerance test for gestational diabetes to discover to my dismay that I have it. You fast from midnight the night before the test, have your blood tested before drinking a glucose drink, wait two hours and then have your blood tested again. After two hours my levels were 9.8 mmol/L which is above the recommended 7.8. I was invited to a gestational diabetes clinic the next day.

Gestational diabetes can have implications for the baby and your health during pregnancy such as growing too quickly and cesarean section being required, pre-eclampsia and a deterioration of the placenta leading to premature delivery and worse, read this for more information. It is so important to monitor baby's movements.

The Diet Plan:
At the meeting we had a talk from a dietitian nurse telling us how best to manage the diabetes. I was told no carbohydrates at all for breakfast, just protein and so I now eat cheese and eggs. No dried fruit, cereals or granola as they sky rocket your glucose levels. Even those you think are ok like oats and weetabix.
dairy is great when you have gestational diabetes

For lunch I can have minimal carbs, wholemeal bread is best and I can manage one slice in order to keep my sugar levels below 7.8. Fats and protein are your friend, you can fill up on those. Cheese, eggs, peanut butter are all good. Soup is ok but shop bought can be a nightmare with the sugars in them. A jacket potato is ok but being full of carbs we were told to have one no bigger than our fist but beware the baked bean as the sauce is laden with sugars. Very quickly you realise how it's best to cut these out and opt for cheese or cottage cheese instead.

Fruit is also tricky, bananas are ok when green tinged, fun size apples, satsumas etc, blueberries are good - strawberries are high in sugar and forget grapes which I've seen called sugar bullets. Dried fruit is far too sugary.

Full fat natural or Greek yoghurt is good, as is cream and milk. 

For an evening meal, pasta and rice are out of the window as even if you have wholemeal you can only have two tbsp of them and the shop bought pasta sauces will be full of sugar. No lasagne as you can only have one sheet! This requires some inventive cooking from scratch, perhaps layers of aubergine or courgette instead. Thank goodness that cheese is ok. Other ideas are crustless quiche, halloumi, chickpeas, lentils, mashed cauliflower rather than mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes boiled or steamed rather than roasted. 

Cheese sauce is a favourite of mine so cauliflower cheese is excellent, leeks in cheese and tonight random vegetables in cheese with a vegetarian burger will make a filling meal.

There is a great website and Facebook group for help and recipe ideas:

Daily Testing:
Here is my little testing kit for measuring my blood glucose throughout the day. You prick the side of your finger and touch the blood to a testing strip placed with the small monitor. The reading is then synched to an app on your phone where you add info on what you have eaten. This is all monitored by the diabetes midwives.
gestational diabetes testing kit

My morning fasting result needs to be below 5.3 mmol and one hour after a meal it has to be less than 7.8 mmol. As you can see my first morning results have been over the limit, this is due to the liver producing glucose through the night and is almost impossible to control - there are lots of ideas about how to do this from having cider vinegar in water before bed to a late night snack. Or taking more exercise during the day. As I write this, mine has miraculously started being in the green zone below the limit of 5.3 mmol for the past 5 days. Just as I had picked a prescription up for Metformin tablets which are the first port of call to control so for now I can hold off the tablets. After Metformin the next solution is to inject insulin.
Gestational Diabetes app

This week I have another growth scan, baby is already measuring large on the 90th centile so this is obviously being monitored. Hopefully I will find out if the low lying placenta has moved at all too.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Autumn Mellowing

Beagle Halloween

Finally we are into autumn, my mellow misty time of subdued days with a sprinkle or rather a dollop of Halloween excitement. I'm taking it easy this year as I'm in my second trimester of pregnancy, more on that another time. So......days of mugs of decaffeinated tea, chilling with the dogs and pootling about the village.
Halloween mug and pumpkin syrup

It's been a chore to get the blog back up and running since all my photos were held hostage by Photobucket but I'm updating all the back photos slowly to make my blog its old self of witchy pumpkin goodness at this time of year but it's a long arduous task. Regular updates will be here again since life is good and I have a new life to document.
Halloween shelves

I have a new study for my daily work and I'm so pleased with it. Halloween items which will stay all year for inspiration and other found and vintage items. Surrounding myself with fun things in the home is my necessity. There is a lovely view of the front garden and the church in the distance, even better on bell ringing evenings when I can sit with the sash window up and soak up the sound of my previous existence as a bell ringer.
Window to the garden

The village has a few shops which is perfect for slow paced living. A florist, farm shop, convenience store, random gift and hardware shop with a post office. Just enough for a daily walk through the churchyard, gathering thoughts and sunshine.
Florists Door

Florists Autumn window
The churchyard is on my doorstep, our home was part of the church as their building for functions when the Victorians deemed it unsuitable to be social within the actual church. So the house has a lot of echoes from the past which I am investigating.
Autumn churchyard

Some days I've headed up to the garden centre in Shrewsbury for some autumnal garden purchases, Chrysanthemums for the wall to add to the pumpkins and more spooky items from tinsel spiders to glittery skeletons. I love the autumn garden, beauty in fading items and splashes of red and yellows.

Other days I've been adding to the Halloween collection, spooky mugs, skull decorations, lots of candles, spectred socks and signs to welcome wee ghosties on Halloween night.
Halloween haul

But most of the time I'm just spending time with my gang of fuzzy friends who love the company and the snuggles. We love it on the dark afternoons with a candle flickering and cooking up autumn food ready for Little Bird and Sweep to come home.
Boo dogs

Beagle on an armchair