Sunday, 30 December 2012

cardboard box art...

We've been putting all the boxes we collected over Christmas to good use today and have started to build a cardboard house. Inspired by these amazing creations on Pinterest here and here, we have boxes with windows, a shop, slide and lift and more ideas for tomorrow! 

Saturday, 29 December 2012

ice cream sandwiches...

How to make ice-cream sandwiches

Bake biscuits using a cutter
Spread ice cream (slightly softened) out on a piece of cling film and put in freezer
Use the same biscuit cutter to cut out ice cream and sandwich between two biscuits!
Eat carefully!

Friday, 28 December 2012

swimming under the stars...

I tiptoed over the lego spread out all over the floor, the leftover turkey and the muddle in our house for a day out with my friend at the Lido Bristol yesterday.

So whilst the husband happily took charge of the lego manuals and thousands of tiny pieces I enjoyed a tapas lunch, followed by a swim in the heated outdoor pool and gossip in the hot tub. After drying off and with the virtue of having 'exercised' we were able to justify a slice of cake and the most delicious ameretto and sea salt hot chocolate in the Lido's bustling cafe bar.

We finished the day with a luxurious back, neck, shoulder and facial treatment in the spa, which was the perfect antidote to a manic Christmas. I can see this becoming a yearly ritual!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

our Christmas in pictures...

  1. a potted Christmas tree we can plant in the garden after Christmas
  2. our gingerbread house now sits proudly on our kitchen shelves
  3. making bird seed biscuits
  4. the baby meets Father Christmas for the first time
  5. Santa gave the boys some wax to wax the runners on their sledges (we're hoping for snow!)
  6. Christmas eve
  7. singing carols in the village pub
  8. vintage trees 
  9. a gingerbread biscuit advent wreath
  10. surely it isn't Christmas unless a child wears a tea towel? 
  11. grow your own Christmas dinner seed gifts
  12. taking part in the Fabulous Baker Brothers Christmas Special 
  13. gingerbread star garlands
  14. we made hundreds of pine cone firelighters
  15. our Christmas cake (we copied the idea from here)
  16. everyone should have a Christmas jumper! 

I ♥ film...

The best photographs I've ever taken have been captured on my lomo and polaroid film cameras (you can see a few over on flickr). I tend to go through fads with my various cameras, but have been neglecting the film cameras of late since discovering instagram a few years ago, where ironically I make my pictures look like film ones with various effects!

I love the film cameras as the results are unpredictable, grainy and more emotive. When I use the 'big' camera (which isn't even that big anymore) I don't like how it makes me. I become obsessed with taking the perfect picture, reshooting until I'm happy with the results, or more often than not the expression on a child's face! So as a result I made a conscious decision a few years ago, not to view my children's milestones through a lens, so there are many pictures I haven't taken, instead these are my most treasured memories not to be shared with anyone. Of course I still use the 'big' camera a Nikon digital SLR for planned shoots when I need to check the pictures as I'm shooting or for when I want 'fancy' shots.

So this Christmas I squealed with excitement as I opened my presents to find a lomokino camera, a 35mm movie camera, my lovely husband has given me. Just what I need to rediscover my love of film, and enjoy the journey of learning to use a new camera all over again!

I do hope you had lovely Christmas presents too?

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas...

The Bing Crosby Christmas record is spinning around on the record player,
The fire is lit and I have a glass of mulled perry in my hand.
Good friends have just gone home and we've opened one present with them as we always do on Christmas eve.

It's now time to leave out a mince pie for Father Christmas and carrot for the reindeer, then herd over-excited children up the stairs and into bed and wish you all a very merry Christmas x

Christmas gifts...

After last years 'grandma's garden' and 'grandad's shed' Christmas gifts, the boys wanted to give seeds as gifts again. So they came up with the idea of grow your own dinner and made some gift packets with a Christmas dinner drawn on it!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

making bird seed biscuits...

the elves have been at work this morning, making bird seed biscuits as a present for the birds. We made ours with some lard, a packet of wild bird seed and a few oats and raisins. All we do is melt the lard, mix the dry ingredients in and then press the mixture into shapes using biscuit cutters. We usually put a hole in them too so we can tie them up with string and hang them on branches in the garden.

These are so simple to make and it's so important this time of year to remember our little feathered friends.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

moss graffiti...

I adore this moss graffiti by Anna Garforth. I'm definitely going to give it a try.

festive fox's...

I have been sent some of Fox's new festive biscuit range to review - I think this could be my hardest task I've ever had as a blogger, being rather fond of both the crunch cream and the party ring.

So over Christmas we will be sampling Vinnie's biscuit barrel (rrp. £8), Fox's treasures (mini party packs), caramel rounds and Rocky Rocks chocolate (£2.50). We've already tried some of the biscuits in Vinnie's biscuit barrel, which has five different types of Fox's most popular biscuits in - perfect with a hot cup of tea and I thought good value for money in terms of the quantity you get. The boys tried some of the Rocky Rocks which were really chocolaty and gone in seconds!

We're going to use the Fox's treasures mini bags on winter walks over the Christmas/New Year break, as little legs need a lot of motivation on dreary days. So when we need a pit stop, I can produce these rather fun, child friendly bags along with a hot cup of tea for me!

Fox's biscuits began over 150 years ago in a small Victorian bakery in Northern England and is now one of the UK's leading biscuit makers. You can find their festive selection in shops now.

Friday, 21 December 2012

meeting Father Christmas...

I remember as a child being taken into town every year, to the big department store to see Father Christmas. I would be incredibly excited as the town would have sparkly Christmas lights, the shop windows would look like wintery fairy tales and to get to the grotto on the third floor, you had to go on three escalators! (there was only one shop with escalators in the town, this in itself was very exciting). Once on the third floor, signs would direct you past the carpet showroom and customer services, and towards the grotto.

We would queue for hours, taking off and clutching layers of coats, hats, scarves and gloves, not paying attention to the grotto animated decoration with its twinkly music and fairy lights, for me it was all about the man himself - Father Christmas. Those precious few moments when I got to sit on his knee and whisper what I'd like this year. I really believed in him and went away clutching my plastic toy having promised to be good and not peep on Christmas Eve!

This year, I took the two youngest to see Father Christmas, to a lovely new toy shop in Nailsworth, called the Enchanted Childhood Toyshop. They had an outdoor grotto, with the most wonderful smily Father Christmas sitting inside. It was simple and perfect and the ticket price included a delicious hot chocolate from The Canteen next door with a huge marshmallow on a stick. We waited for our turn and had a good five minutes talking to Father Christmas. He explained to Ted, why he couldn't possibly eat ALL the mince pies left out for him and how carrots help reindeer see in the dark. He didn't ask if Ted had been good this year (phew) and luckily (without prompting) Ted asked for the same lego that he's been wanting for months (again phew!) He then gave the boys a toy each, Ted had Zoob, which I must say, I was delighted with such a good quality toy.

I could tell that Ted didn't believe for one minute that this was the REAL Father Christmas, but he does still believe that he exists for now and with the baby we get to carry on this magical tradition for a few years yet. I would love to take them to Lapland and see reindeer and the northern lights, wouldn't that be magical?

Thursday, 20 December 2012

a Christmas carol...

The village pub was jam packed this evening for Christmas carols. We drank mulled wine and ate mince pies and resisted singing the silly version of "we three kings!"

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

wheat filled hand warmers...

My plan tonight is to settle down on the sofa, away from the distraction of twitter and make some wheat filled hand warmers. I have a lovely piece of check flannel that is actually a John Lewis swatch, that I'm going to back with some natural linen to create a pocket. I will then infuse the wheat grain, (89p from my local health food shop) with some lavender essential oil and fill the pocket, stitching it closed. 

Then when finished, you put them in the microwave for 40-50 seconds and they stay warm for about 30-45 minutes. Perfect for a present for grandma to keep her hands warm when she watches the boys play rugby and also handy when it gets really cold to put in the baby's push chair to keep him warm too. 

*updated: I have made a cotton lining first as recommended, which seems to work better when using the essential oil*

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

note to self...

I was intrigued to be asked to write a "note to self" to coincide with Johnson's® Baby’s latest Mums Know Best campaign. I have been thinking recently about how differently I am as a parent with Stanley, than I was with my other two. With my first baby, almost ten years ago, I was terribly self conscious and hadn't a clue what I was doing. Everyone gives you advice, when to wean, how to get them to sleep and you end up comparing your little sleep monster, with a cherubic child who "has slept through the night since they were just weeks old!" - I always muttered under my breath "I hope they rebel as teenagers then!" So here's a note to me in 2003...

Dear Emma 

Congratulations on the birth of your baby boy!
Don't get upset when family members don't favour your choice of name for him, he is YOUR son, not theirs, oh and they don't much warm to the next two boys names either (Yes you will have TWO more boys!) Stop caring what other people think, if you want to give him a dummy, do it if makes your life easier and buys you more sleep - this baby will graze constantly and your sanity is more important. Also you will never get to grips with real nappies no matter how many attempts you make. 

Remember to take time to relax and care of you, get some sleep, start a good skin care routine and drink more water! You will spend a fortune on buying and pureeing organic avocados and the like, but by the time number three comes along you really won't care as long as they all actually eat their dinner! Also all three boys won't be good sleepers - but in the great scheme of things, if that's the worst that'll happen, life really isn't that bad! 

Lots of love, 
Emma x 

P.s The University of Manchester recently conducted independent research finding that Johnson's® Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes and Top-To-Toe Bath are just as safe as cotton wool and water or just water to cleanse delicate newborn skin*. Save yourself time and hassle having to warm water and find cotton wool balls and just use these instead! 

What would you write in your "note to self?"

I have been asked to work with JOHNSON’S® Baby to write a “note to self” to coincide with their Mums Know Best campaign which aims to empower new mums and women in the last stage of pregnancy to trust their instincts and have confidence in their own convictions, supported by the groundbreaking new independent evidence proving that JOHNSON’S® Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes & Top-To-Toe® Bath are as safe to use as water alone on newborn skin.  They have paid me to write this post. 

Monday, 17 December 2012

when paths cross...

For too long our paths have crossed, on the internet and in real life through chance meetings at the circus and outdoor theatre, admiring comments left on each others blogs and a shared obsession for photographing everything! We met for a few stolen hours in Bath, away from the 17 children we have between us, (with another on the way) and dined on noodles whilst discussing threadworm (yes really!)

I was introduced to the Makery and the Bertinet Bakery, which had the same gorgeous handwritten signage as Baileys by Charlotte Lucie Farmer. As well as a quick stop in Toast, where I stroked this gorgeous jumper!

So grab yourself a cup of tea and mince pie and discover some beautiful blogs from our little collective...
Housewife Confidential, Bristol Parenting Cafe, Steady Eyebrows and Nimble Fingers, Little Green Shed, Oyster & Pearl and Natalie's Kitchen.

move over Baker Brothers...

Tonight it's the Fabulous Baker Brothers Christmas Special 9pm on More4. The Bradshaw Brothers will appear in the 'destruction of the gingerbread house' scene, part of the twelve days of Christmas, with the very gorgeous Tom Herbert! Not sure a career in TV is for them, but they had LOADS of fun doing it and are really looking forward to seeing themselves on TV later, I'm hoping fame won't go to their heads?

If you missed it you can watch it here.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Our homemade Christmas...

We are busy making as many gifts as we can this Christmas, and somewhat predictably find ourselves behind! Our aim is to keep costs down, be kind to the environment by not buying heavily packaged goods and support local retailers. In order to be more organised and realistic I've listed the things I still need to make this week, because crossing things off lists makes me happy!

❄ boys cushion made with off-cuts of Cath Kidston's vintage football fabric
❄ flannels with the boys initials on - Father Christmas only visits clean boys right?
❄ a gingerbread house kit {compromising pieces of gingerbread house & sweets} you can buy my tried & tested recipe and template if you fancy giving this a go?
❄ wheat filled lavender scented hand-warmers for grandma
❄ grow your own Christmas dinner - parsnip, sprout, carrot & pea seeds! Inspired by last years Grandma's garden & Grandpa's shed.
❄ a drawing pad made with expandable pictures
❄ knitted elephant with linen scarf for the baby
❄ fir cone firelighters
❄ limoncello
❄ personalised tambourines
❄ bird seed biscuits for the chicken!
❄ homemade marshmallows on sticks, with hot chocolate mix

and I have no idea what to get the husband! Ideas please...

Saturday, 8 December 2012

choosing the perfect Christmas tree...

When choosing the perfect Christmas tree, you must carefully look at every tree in the field, before coming back to the first one you found!

We visited a pick your own tree farm to find a small tree, which we took with its roots on, so that we can plant it in the garden after Christmas and hope that it survives for many Christmases to come. Well that's the idea anyway - trying to be green.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

gingerbread houses...

My friend Jenny and I ran a gingerbread house workshop for families on Sunday. It was great fun, and as always, I completely underestimated the amount of work that goes into the preparation. Firstly we had to find the best recipe, one that tasted nice, wouldn't rise too much when baking, not too gingery and hard enough not to fall apart in construction. Then we had to design the best size house and make a template, not too big so that scaffolding is needed and it also needed to be able to be transported from the Art Centre to home. There were 64 individual gingerbread house pieces to bake!

Finally, after lots of different practice houses we ended up designing our own recipe and settled on a reasonably sized house, approx. 15cm width by 15cm height. We used boiled sweet for the windows, to give them a stained glass effect and even bought mini fairy lights to put inside to make the windows glow!

The workshop was fantastic with lots of hands on children, mums and dads decorating their houses and getting to grips with icing and piping bags. It was also lovely to meet fellow bloggers Natalie and Laura and their very gorgeous families in person. Some sweets were used for decoration, and some ended up being enjoyed under the table! We have another one to do next week too, and there was a waiting list for both events. So if you were someone who missed out we have put our heads together and have designed a simple PDF of the recipe, instructions and template. I'm selling the PDF in my etsy store for just 99p and I will send it through by email - simple!

Monday, 3 December 2012

all wrapped up...

I'm not vain, but when I was asked to be a guinea pig for a brand new treatment at the Montpellier Chapter Spa, I literally jumped at the chance! The new REN body contouring detox wrap is now available at just three spa's in the UK and Cheltenham is one of them.

Lasting just under two hours this signature treatment is described as one of REN's most indulgent. Designed to visibly reduce inches and the appearance of cellulite. It starts with a full body scrub with salts and caffeine, then you are cocooned in a hot infra-red blanket to encourage sweating, whilst your face and scalp are luxuriously massaged. Finally all the toxins are drained away through a deep lymphatic massage with RENs body contouring anti cellulite gel. It was absolutely amazing.

Now this treatment isn't cheap - 105 minutes is £99 and a course of three treatments £250 but and this is a big BUT, it works, it actually works! Not only have I lost inches, they are still off over 10 days later and I have dropped a dress size. I actually hadn't contemplated this, but with a few Christmas parties over the next few weeks, I am really rather delighted that my skinny jeans are now quite baggy!

So my advice is to ditch those magic creams and fancy pants that restrict your breathing and book yourself in for the new body contour wrap or if it's a little too pricy, ask for it for Christmas or some money to go towards it! You will not be sorry.

Saturday, 1 December 2012


We've made a gingerbread biscuit advent calendar this year after seeing this one on Pinterest. We chose a gingerbread recipe using black treacle that made a dark gingerbread. The boys chose their favourite biscuit cutters, making sure each biscuit had a hole in, we then iced on the numbers before hanging with string on a simple wreath made from willow. The two older boys are sharing the calendar, one has odd numbered days, the other even and on Christmas eve, they both have a large reindeer biscuit.

Monday, 26 November 2012

*NEW* advertise on Bradshaw & Sons...

Yup, that's right - you can now advertise yourself, your blog, product or website right here.

Bradshaw & Sons is accepting adverts from like minded individuals, bloggers or businesses! You can see my blog stats here and choose from three great advertising packages, a standard advert, an advertorial feature or newsletter sponsorship of my brand spanking new newsletter, soon to be launched.

But don't worry there are only a few opportunities each month so as not to bombard this little space that unlike my house I try and keep as simple and clutter free as possible!

I look forward to hearing from you,
Emma x

Saturday, 24 November 2012

a homemade Christmas...

We have been busy making Christmas decorations for our handmade Christmas, jam jar snow globes and pine cone fire lighters. 

how to make jam jar snow globes
you need a selection of jam jars
vintage trees, small play deer or bits of pine tree to blue tack or glue to the lid
fake snow - I used a product called insta-snow bought from my local toy shop that you add water to and it grows! 
we also added a little white glitter to the snow

How to make pine cone fire lighters

you will need
pine cones
cinnamon and mandarin essential oils 
an old saucepan, non-stick cake tray & spoon

Wind a short length of wick around the base of the cone, leaving a short length (1cm) free for lighting
Carefully heat the wax (follow the instructions on the packet)
Add drops of essential oil to the heated wax
Spoon the wax into each cake tin dimple, placing a cone into each
Leave to set (I put mine outdoors in the cold to set!)
Once set, you should be able to lift them cleanly out of the tray

We're going to wrap them up to give them as gifts to friends and family with fires and wood burners this Christmas, as they make a lovely fire lighter and give off a Christmassy aroma too! 

Thursday, 15 November 2012

shopping locally...

One of the nicest things about being on maternity leave is having time. Time to meet friends for coffee, time to plan and make Christmas presents and time to shop in local towns and villages. Today I met up with lovely Anna for a coffee in the new 'canteen' coffee shop, part of Sharland and Lewis shop in Nailsworth, followed by a mooch around the shops. After an obligatory stop in Hobbs House Bakery for some lardy cakes, jammies and my new favourite loaf, organic soda seeds, we called in to the Yellow Lighted Bookshop to browse the beautiful books on display and pick up some lovely Christmas cards (pictured above).

I also found a lovely little antique shop, although I can't remember what it was called selling old plant pots and football comics from 1961/2 - perfect for my football loving boys Christmas stockings - although I am quite tempted to cut out the vintage pictures and frame them! The pots are perfect for planting some hyacinth bulbs in to give as gifts. Finally I called in to Mother Goose, a crafty/Steineresque shop in Market Street to pick up some small candles. I'm delighted with my haul today and the fact that I've made a small start towards Christmas.

Monday, 12 November 2012

a sneak preview...

Here is a tiny sneak preview of the NEW Bradshaw & Sons newsletter, launching soon. It will have things to do, recipes and naturey stuff that you usually find here on the blog, but in a compact monthly format delivered straight to your inbox! All you have to do is leave your email address in the box to your right ☞

Friday, 9 November 2012

six months already...

the babe is six months old! I can't quite believe how quickly he's grown. He is really smiley, starting to try foods such as pear and parsnip and is even sitting up on his own. He still wakes a few times each night, but is quickly forgiven when you see his smiley face in the darkness. Yes, I think he has us trained!

I took this picture of him using my grandmothers 'black out' curtains as a backdrop and sitting him in his bouncy chair in front of the french windows. My trick to capture his attention and keep him still was to use his brothers in the background blowing bubbles and giving him silver foil to play with. I used my cameras shutter priority mode [S] with a 2.5f (depth of field) and increased the ISO setting to 1400. I haven't made any adjustments on photoshop (really should of washed his face first as I'm sure I can see traces of butternut squash in places) and think it would probably be more striking in black and white.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

the queen of hearts...

The boys wanted to do their own baking at the weekend, making jam tarts, and I left them to it! I helped with the oven of course, oh and the eating too.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Whole Foods Opens in Cheltenham

Oh my goodness, I had a sneak preview of the new Whole Foods Market in Cheltenham yesterday, it's the first store to open outside London and it's amazing! There are over 150 local suppliers, with items such as meat sourced just a few miles from the front door, and of course my favourite Stroud Brewery and Winstones Ice Cream. The peanut butter machine (pictured above) looks like loads of fun ~ I know a few small boys that would be very excited to use it! The ingredients are sold in the quantities you need, no matter how small, the beer in refillable bottles and meat sold in whatever cuts you want - perfect for when you are following recipes. There is also a cafe, demonstrations and lots of in store events.

My friend who used to live in the US where Whole Foods originate, said they nicknamed it 'Whole Paycheck' and I can see why, I am totally seduced by the concept, all supermarkets should be like this, so am keen to visit after it opens tomorrow to do my first shop, I'll let you know how it goes and how much I spend!
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