My Captured Moment

I'm packing today ahead of tomorrow's big move and so instead of a lengthy written post I have decided to share with you a precious captured moment from last week. The moment my sister arrived from Devon for a weekend visit.

Pumpkin Carving

Lily carved her first pumpkin today. It wasn't something I'd actually planned to do. Halloween has never been huge in our home, we don't tend to do trick or treating, and if we were going to have a party it would be for my brother as it's his birthday. So when it comes to pumpkin carving, I'm a bit of a beginner.

Also, with the move coming up, I wouldn't be able to face the prospect of doing a messy activity at home. I'm currently navigating between washing, toys and packing boxes, and I'm not doing very well with the stress of it all.

With all that in mind, I headed off this morning in the light drizzle to Lilymae's. It has quickly become one of my preferred spots for taking Lily and Ollie as I love how friendly the staff are and Lily is always asking to go there. As it is half-term and Halloween they are running a new timetable this week and so I thought we'd give pumpkin carving a go.

Wicked Wednesdays

Another old one that always makes me laugh out loud.
Such a beauty.

Review - Eden Kids Corner

On Saturday we got up bright and early and headed into town to check out the opening of a brand new 'kids corner' soft play area in the local shopping centre.

Eden in High Wycombe is a modern shopping centre with a good range of high street shops, restaurants, a bowling alley and cinema. It is also located in the middle of town with the bus station on site, loads of parking, the library and a large House of Fraser. Despite disliking clothes shopping for myself, I spend a lot of time in Eden. It's great for a bit of window shopping and often runs activities and events.
The news 'Kids Corner' is located in a previously quiet and unloved area of the centre which has now been given a new lease of life.

10 things I loved about turning 30

It was my birthday last week. A big one. The last big one for quite some time. The big three-zero.

A few years ago I might have said that I was dreading turning 30, that I would be 'old', that I would be 'boring'. I may even have joked that my life 'would be over'.

How silly I was.

Being 30 is great. At worst, it is certainly no worse than being 29. As for the best bits, I hardly know where to begin...

1. According to my friends at Thursday toddler group, at 30 you're apparently 'mature' without being 'old'. I say apparently because I still enjoy being pretty immature sometimes.

2. You know who your friends are and have left all the inane teenage bitchiness far behind you. I have amazing friends. Some even threw me a surprise birthday lunch this weekend! I've got a few treasured friends from childhood, but often look back and see someone who was just so desperate to fit in and be liked. Now I don't feel that pressure, I feel free to choose friends with warm hearts and a great sense of humour and although I hope they like me back, being popular is no longer my priority.

My favourite autumn blog posts

I've been a fan of reading blogs for a while now. I used to sit in the lonely hours of the night, breastfeeding and holding up my reflux-y baby girl and I'd read tons of blogs that I found on Twitter. It's what made me want to write my own.

And yet, the more I blog, the more blogs I want to read.

It seems like every day I find a brand new blog to fall in love with.

And this week, I'm loving the combination of this brand new interest, with my favourite season.

My #littleloves this week

Strangely, this last week has seemed to go by very slowly. Perhaps because I am looking forward to the weekend so much! It's hard when the days are long and stressful to not wish my life away but I can't help looking forward to getting the house move over and done with. My sister is arriving later today for a birthday visit, it'll be nice to have her here for a bit as the kids adore her (as do I).

So, on with this week's #littleloves, linking up with the wonderful Coffee Work Sleep Repeat.

Lots of birthday cards and Facebook messages! I turned 30 on Wednesday and was sent loads of lovely messages and cards from my wonderful friends and family.


Our stories have included some old favourites, including the classic "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" and a few of our 'That's not my' books which always go down well.

New Home Ideas - Kitchen and Dining Room

On Saturday I shared with you my ideas for our new living room and I'm really quite excited about having separate rooms instead of our current open plan space. I love to cook and bake but hate the tiny kitchen we have at the moment. When we move we'll have a larger new kitchen and dining room - with a new cooker and even a dishwasher (that swung the deal for me, I detest washing up) and so I'm really looking forward to all the culinary delights (ahem) that I'll be creating (we can hope).

When it comes to my dream home, I'm inspired by vintage-style kitchens with pastel colours and a homely style. I love Cath Kidston designs and fabrics and have a slight obsession with pretty bunting and

Wicked Wednesdays

This was meant to be a happy memory, Lily's first train ride on holiday at Dawlish Warren. Instead, we had this, because she didn't "want Thomas to move".

Recipe - Italian Chicken

For last week's #littleloves I told you about the yummy Italian-style chicken meal that I cooked for the family. It went down so well that I even cooked it again this weekend, although I had to adapt the recipe slightly to fit the ingredients I had in the fridge.

It's so easy to make, so I thought I'd share the recipe with you!

Shopping Ordeals

I used to love shopping. I'd even 'pop down to Oxford Street' whilst at uni. Just to mooch around Topshop at Oxford Circus. Now, I couldn't even fit into clothes from Topshop. I don't even want to try for fear of getting stuck in an item of clothing and having to ask a trendily-dressed 14 year old to help undo a zip...
This is why I hate clothes shopping, by Social What Nots
In recent years I have really fallen out with shopping for myself. Shopping for pleasure? I'd even go so far as to say I hate it.

New Home Ideas - Living Room

In less than three week's time, Our Cherry Tree will be planted in a new location. We would have said goodbye to our lovely two-bed terrace and taken up tenancy in a three-bed home in another part of town.

Yes, I'm nervous. Yes, I'm a bit stressed. But. I'm also faithful. Without going into a long story, we thought we'd have to move to another county once we had two children, instead, we have been provided for here in High Wycombe, first with Matt's job, then with a new affordable home and now with a job offer for me that works around childcare. For what purpose, I don't know, but I know that this is the start of a new chapter.

And so, a new home. A blank canvas for the family Kirsch to make their own. It is a rental and so don't expect my design inspiration to join the ranks of 'Perfect Home' magazine, but it's a lovely space, a lovely family space and I'm very much looking forward to making it our space.

This week's #littleloves

Another week has whizzed past! I often look back at the previous week and wonder where it went or what I achieved. That's why I really like the #littleloves linky by Coffee Work Sleep Repeat.

I'm reading 'Queen of Shadows' by Sarah J Maas. It's the fourth book in the 'Throne of Glass' series and I'm really enjoying it as a fantasy book with a strong female lead.

We're also reading Sir Laughalot by Tony Mitton and Noisy Farm by Axel Scheffler at bedtimes as they're Lily's current favourites. Both come highly recommended - I really enjoy the ryhming in Sir Laughalot and the wonderful illustrations and both Lily and Ollie enjoy pushing the sound buttons for Noisy Farm.

Review - Fairydust Entertainment

We first came across Fairydust Entertainment, without knowing it, back in 2014 when we took Lily along to meet 'Queen Elsa' at a bookshop event in our local shopping centre.

It was rather sweet but we didn't think that much more about it until Lilymae's Play Cafe opened in High Wycombe and at the opening celebration, we met 'Queen Elsa' again, along with 'Princess Anna'.

Why I struggle to talk about Mental Health issues

Last week we had 'World Mental Health Day'.

Last month we had 'World Suicide Prevention Day'.

Both topics inextricably linked. Both very close to my heart. And yet, I didn't say too much about it. Either here on my newly formed blog, or on social media.

You see, I was ashamed. I am ashamed.

Ten years ago this April, my Dad committed suicide.  I often try and act like I'm not bothered by talking about it, like I'm OK. Like perhaps I'm dealing with it really well. But really, I hate talking about it because I hate how it makes the people around me feel. I don't want them to feel bad, I can't stand the sadness in their faces, and uncomfortable pauses as they frantically try to think of what they can say.

The joy of a cardboard box

We collected loads of cardboard boxes this weekend. Preparation for the big move. They're neatly stacked in the corner of my dining room, untouched. I can see them when I sit on the floor playing with Ollie, encouraging him to crawl. I can see them from where I sit on my PC, idly browsing through Facebook. I can see them from the sofa when I'm sat watching Downton Abbey on catch-up.

I'm procrastinating. I don't want to start packing yet. It seems like too much of a task. And whilst I procrastinate, those boxes are there to remind me. It's irrational, but I hate those boxes.

Usually though, I quite like boxes. They represent a world of possibilities. They're great for imaginary play and I've lost count of how many cars, trains and houses I have built from them for Lily. My creations are hardly worthy of pinterest but they're great fun.

My favourite cardboard box renovation was a joint project one afternoon earlier this year. It was a Saturday, my husband and I were home, Lily was in bed for an afternoon nap and Ollie was sleeping. I was shattered. I should have gone to bed myself, but instead, Matt and I spent a couple of hours building 'Lily's Shop'

Sharing our weekends

If you saw my blog post yesterday, then you'll know that my family are Pearly Kings and Queens and this weekend was their annual Harvest Festival celebration. I love these photos of my little ones and my Nan outside the church at Covent Garden.

My Pearly Princess

My daughter is a Princess. A real one. She's not famous, you don't have to address her as 'Your Highness' and you don't have to bow. But she's a Princess all the same. A Pearly Princess.

You can read the history of Henry Croft and the London Pearly Kings and Queens here, but as important as that tradition is, what matters the most to me is  how it has affected my family history.

My Grandparents, Pat and Carole, had been Pearly King and Queen of Crystal Palace for years before I was born. They weren't born into it, but introduced to it after showing a passion for charity and helping others. It meant that I was born into it and that for years I didn't know anything else. My Grandparents would do tons of events, fundraisers, fetes and I would go with them as a child, in my 'buttons'. My cousins had 'Pearly Christenings' and the great friends my Grandparents had became my extended family.

Everyday #littleloves

This is my first time taking part in the #littleloves linky hosted by But Why Mummy Why. I love the prompts as a great of recording the little, everyday things that make up our lives.

I'm currently reading 'Half a King' by Joe Abercrombie on my Kindle. It's taking me a while - not because it isn't good, I'm really enjoying it. but because I just don't get the time to read like I used to.

I've also read, re-read and re-read one of Lily's new books, 'Peter Rabbit: Pumpkin Party'. Lily chose this book herself at the bookshop when we were spending birthday money and vouchers and we have read it a couple of times a day since!

Matt and I were introduced to Once Upon a Time by some good friends and I went through the first four seasons in about two weeks (thanks Netflix + breastfeeding baby). I'm hooked and am so glad it's now back for season five but hate having to wait a week for the next one.

Boots! Now the colder weather looks like it is here to stay, I have dug my worn, old, faithful boots out of the cupboard and plan to wear them every single day. At least until they fall off my feet, or my Mummy buys me a lovely new pair as a 30th birthday present (hint hint). And hats and scarves. Even though the last few days have been bright and sunny, there is certainly a chill in the air. Luckily, Lily is quite obsessed with her hat and scarf set, so no persuasion needed to get them on when we're heading out.

We have quite eclectic music tastes in our household. Last week Matt downloaded 'The Sleepy Troubadour' by his old school friend, Brendan Lewes and we've had it on in the background for the last few days. My fave is 'She won't carry your flag' but you can watch 'Hot coals and fire' here:

I always love cooking and trying new recipes. I think it's great when you come across one you love so much it soon becomes an old favourite. That's exactly what happened with this delicious 'One Pot Burrito Bowl' by I Heart Naptime. It is so tasty! I cook mine without the burger and it is so yummy that even Matt eats it without seeming to notice it doesn't contain meat... Check out the recipe, and loads more here.

And lastly...
It's all change in our household right now. Matt started a new job in the summer, we're moving house and I'm leaving a job I loved as an Exec PA to take on a role as a school receptionist! I'm sure I'm going to love it too but I can't help feeling a (bit more than a) tad nervous. At the moment, I'm not sure what scares me most - the house move or the new job.

Who's idea was it to do two of the most stressful life experiences in just a couple of weeks?!
Oh yeah... mine...


Past Posts - Diddy Disco (2014)

Today, Lily and I tried out 'Diddy Disco' for the very first time. Run by 'Dave the Disco' on Thursdays and Fridays in Marlow, Diddy Disco offers an alternative toddler activity.

I don't usually go to Marlow for activity groups. As I don't drive I find that the cost of the bus doesn't justify the expense and there is usually a lot of activities within walking distance in Wycombe so I rarely feel the need to venture further afield.

But today was different. I wasn't meeting any friends and hadn't made any plans so Lily and I jumped in the car with Daddy who dropped us off in Marlow on his way to work. We had a pleasant wander around the park and back streets (OK, I got a bit lost) and made it a tad early to the 'disco' which is held at the Sea Cadets Hut.

Wicked Wednesdays

Well, who wouldn't want to take a sweet photo of their beautiful toddler and peacefully sleeping newborn baby? Oh, wait...

Sharing our weekends

Just one photo moment from last weekend, the others have already been covered in my review of our family day out at Odds Farm on Saturday.

Sunday was much quieter, I think Ollie appreciated the slower pace and enjoyed watching his Daddy and big sister playing football whilst Mummy got on with the cooking!

Party Planning - Nautical Baptism

At the end of July we held a Baptism for Ollie. It was such an important day for us. The welcoming of our son into God's family. A commitment to bringing him to know God.

It is also one of the best reasons to celebrate! The start of an incredible journey.

Our budget wasn't huge. For us, it was more about having a family day. Being surrounded by our family, friends and church family. We were able to keep costs down by hiring out our church hall for a couple of hours after the service and doing the majority of the details ourselves.

Review - Odds Farm Park

A couple of weekends ago Lily was extremely lucky to win a fancy dress competition at Lilymae's Play Cafe. The prize was a family ticket to local attraction, Odds Farm Park and this weekend we decided to make the most of the weather and give it a go.

Despite it being so close, we have never tried Odds Farm before, we've always been put off by the price. The cost for adult entry is £12.95, children £11.95 and under 2's go free. For those on a limited budget, with so many other free/cheap activities nearby, it has never come up high on our to do list.

However, with our lucky free ticket burning a space in my diary we found we were quite excited for our family day out. We arrived on Saturday at just after 10:00 when the park opens and found it very easy to find a parking space, unpack the car, load up the pram and make our way in. There was very little queuing to get into the farm and we were able to purchase animal feed for £1 a bag.

Once inside it became clear that this was as much a play area as a farm. There was a huge outdoor adventure playground to the left, and some pedal tractors in small areas to the right. Lily headed straight to them and had to be dragged away after playing for 15 minutes so we could head to the feeding barn.

Autumn Play

The autumnal sunshine has been glorious this week. On Wednesday we decided to make the most of it and headed to the park once again. Lily and her friend were particularly adventurous, climbing on the larger adventure playground equipment with little assistance. Ollie slept in his pram, and before leaving we fed the ducks and swans.

(As an aside, I wanted to be conscientious and feed the ducks appropriate food. Waste. Of. Time. Lettuce and other vegetables may be better for the ducks than slightly stale white bread but they don't really like it. They want the bread. Lots of bread.)

Lily and I also added to our growing conker and leaf collection. Then, today, we used them in our afternoon activities.

First we did some sticking. Lily is able to completely do this on her own, so it was nice to sit back and watch her be creative. Last week we used leaves for rubbing pictures and printing and that needed a little bit more supervision, today was really relaxing and it was great to see her concentration as she applied the glue and so very carefully chose where to stick the leaves. She's a real perfectionist.

10 things on my Christmas shopping list

Yes it's October and I'm already thinking about Christmas. In fact, you could say that Christmas has been floating around in my mind since (gasp) July, when I bought the first Christmas present of the year.

I like to be organised and get ahead with my present planning. It means I can save up or keep an eye out for sales and it helps spread the cost and keep stress to a minimum.

It's even more important for me this year now that I have two children to buy for and very little budget thanks to maternity leave. So I've been planning gifts for the family, and in no particular order, here are my top ten: