Children’s wooden toys

Both my boyfriend and I have nephews of the same age. His nephew turned 3 years old last month and mine will be doing the same next month, so we’ve been looking for the perfect gifts for both. I think a great choice for any toddler is wooden toys as they’re durable so will stand up to being thrown around by energetic kids, and can be passed down to younger siblings when they are outgrown.

wooden_toys

001Play Mixer Set; 002. Wooden Noah’s Ark; 003. Brio Farm Railway Set; 004. Little Tikes 80 Wooden Building Blocks; 005. Hand Finished Soldier Skittles; 006. Rainbow Push and Pull Toy

Instagram: July 2014

Summer is over half way done already, which is making me a little sad, if I’m being honest. We’ve had the most glorious weather over the past couple months, and I’m not looking forward to pulling out jumpers and jeans from the back of wardrobe just yet. Let’s hope August is equally as good, and we get to spend some more quality time with our family, just as we have been doing up til now. Here’s how I spent my July, every sunny, lovely bit of it.

Instagram: July 2014

Follow me @lucywilb

Summer reads

In our busy day-to-day lives it can be difficult to find a spare five minutes to relax with a good book, and that’s why I tend to catch up on my reading while on my summer holiday. It couldn’t be easier these days with the invention of the e-reader, we no looker have to sacrifice taking those one or two extra books in favour of a pair of sandals. I’ve put together a collection of novels you might want to consider downloading when you’re compiling your poolside reading list.

summer_reads

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Afghanistan, 1952. Abdullah and his sister Pari live with their father and stepmother in the small village of Shadbagh. Their father, Saboor, is constantly in search of work and they struggle together through poverty and brutal winters. To Abdullah, Pari – as beautiful and sweet-natured as the fairy for which she was named – is everything. More like a parent than a brother, Abdullah will do anything for her, even trading his only pair of shoes for a feather for her treasured collection. Each night they sleep together in their cot, their heads touching, their limbs tangled.

One day the siblings journey across the desert to Kabul with their father. Pari and Abdullah have no sense of the fate that awaits them there, for the event which unfolds will tear their lives apart; sometimes a finger must be cut to save the hand.

Crossing generations and continents, moving from Kabul, to Paris, to San Francisco, to the Greek island of Tinos, with profound wisdom, depth, insight and compassion, Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

How to Fall in Love by Cecelia Ahern

She has just two weeks. Two weeks to teach him how to fall in love – with his own life.

Adam Basil and Christine Rose are thrown together late one night, when Christine is crossing the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin. Adam is there, poised, threatening to jump.

Adam is desperate – but Christine makes a crazy deal with him. His 35th birthday is looming and she bets him that before then she can show him life is worth living .

Despite her determination, Christine knows what a dangerous promise she’s made. Against the ticking of the clock, the two of them embark on wild escapades, grand romantic gestures and some unlikely late-night outings. Slowly, Christine thinks Adam is starting to fall back in love with his life. But is that all that’s happening… ?

A novel to make you laugh, cry and appreciate life, this is Cecelia Ahern at her thoughtful and surprising best.

One Night in Italy by Lucy Diamond

If journalist Anna had to write up the story of her own life, it wouldn’t make for a great headline: Dull Journo Has Dull Boyfriend! The only mystery in Anna’s life is that she’s never known who her dad is but with her mum refusing to tell her more she’s at a dead end. When she accidentally comes across a clue that her father is Italian, it opens up a burning curiosity in Anna. Soon she’s cooking Italian food, signing up for an Italian class and even considering dusting off her passport to go and find her dad in person… Sophie is serving gelato to tourists in Italy when she gets the call that her father has had a serious heart attack. In a rush, she grabs her well-worn backpack and heads back to the one place she’s been avoiding for so long – home. Living with her mum again while her dad recuperates, and taking a job teaching Italian to make ends meet, Sophie has to face up to the secrets she’s kept buried in the past. Catherine has no idea what the future holds. Her children have left for university, her husband has left her for another woman and her bank account is left empty after dedicating her life to raising her family. She needs a job and an identity all of a sudden. At an Italian evening class she makes a start in finding new friends Anna and Sophie. And she’s going to need good friends when she discovers her husband’s lies run even deeper than his infidelity… As Anna embarks on the trip to Italy that could answer all of her questions, will the truth live up to her dreams?

Before We Met by Lucie Whitehouse

Hannah, independent, headstrong, and determined not to follow in the footsteps of her bitterly divorced mother, has always avoided commitment. But one hot New York summer she meets Mark Reilly, a fellow Brit, and is swept up in a love affair that changes all her ideas about what marriage might mean. Now, living in their elegant, expensive London townhouse and adored by her fantastically successful husband, she knows she was right to let down her guard. But when Mark does not return from a business trip to the U.S. and when the hours of waiting for him stretch into days, the foundations of Hannah’s certainty begin to crack. Why do Mark’s colleagues believe he has gone to Paris not America? Why is there no record of him at his hotel? And who is the mysterious woman who has been telephoning him over the last few weeks? Hannah begins to dig into her husband’s life, uncovering revelations that throw into doubt everything she has ever believed about him. As her investigation leads her away from their fairytale romance into a place of violence and fear she must decide whether the secrets Mark has been keeping are designed to protect him or protect her.

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen

Claire and Ben are the perfect couple. But behind the glossy façade, they’ve been desperately trying – and failing – to have a baby for years. Now, the stress and feelings of loss are taking their toll on their marriage. Claire’s ready to give up hope and get on with her life, but Ben is not. And then Ben’s best friend, Romily, offers to conceive via artificial insemination and carry the baby for them.

Romily acts in good faith, believing it will be easy to be a surrogate. She’s already a single mother, and has no desire for any more children. Except that being pregnant with Ben’s child stirs up all sorts of emotions in her, including one she’s kept hidden for a very long time: Ben’s the only man she’s ever loved.

Two mothers-and one baby who belongs to both of them, and which only one of them can keep.

How to Build a Girl by Caitlin Moran

What do you do in your teenage years when you realise what your parents taught you wasn’t enough? You must go out and find books and poetry and pop songs and bad heroes – and build yourself. It’s 1990. Johanna Morrigan, 14, has shamed herself so badly on local TV that she decides that there’s no point in being Johanna anymore and reinvents herself as Dolly Wilde – fast-talking, hard-drinking Gothic hero and full-time Lady Sex Adventurer! She will save her poverty stricken Bohemian family by becoming a writer – like Jo in Little Women, or the Brontes – but without the dying young bit. By 16, she’s smoking cigarettes, getting drunk and working for a music paper. She’s writing pornographic letters to rock-stars, having all the kinds of sex with all the kinds of men, and eviscerating bands in reviews of 600 words or less. But what happens when Johanna realises she’s built Dolly with a fatal flaw? Is a box full of records, a wall full of posters and a head full of paperbacks, enough to build a girl after all? Imagine The Bell Jar written by Rizzo from Grease, with a soundtrack by My Bloody Valentine and Happy Mondays. As beautiful as it is funny, How To Build a Girl is a brilliant coming-of-age novel in DMs and ripped tights, that captures perfectly the terror and joy of trying to discover exactly who it is you are going to be.

A Hundred Pieces of Me by Lucy Dillon

Letters from the only man she’s ever truly loved. A keepsake of the father she never really knew. A blue glass vase that catches the light on a grey day. Gina Bellamy is starting again, after a few years she’d rather forget. But the belongings she’s treasured for so long don’t seem to fit who she is now. So Gina makes a resolution. She’ll keep just a hundred special items – the rest can go. But that means coming to terms with her past and learning to embrace the future, whatever it might bring . . .

The Girl With All the Gifts by M. R. Carey

NOT EVERY GIFT IS A BLESSING. Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh. Melanie is a very special girl. Emotionally charged and gripping from beginning to end, THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS is the most powerful and affecting thriller you will read this year.

All information from Google Books.

 

Recipe: Sweetcorn Fritters

Sweetcorn Fritters

I have to tell you before we start that these are delicious. Yes, I say that about a number of things that I post here, but these really are lovely, and I had a difficult job not scoffing them all myself the evening I made them. They’re not quite as ‘fritter-like’ as you might guess they would be, I think that would require deep frying them, but I suppose this just means that these ones are healthier, and a little more like mini pancakes – yum! This recipe has been adapted from this Tapas book.

Ingredients

  • 75g red pepper
  • 1 medium egg
  • 125ml milk
  • 50g red onion, chopped finely
  • 160g corn kernels
  • 75g self-raising flour
  • Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
  • Olive oil, for frying
  1. Roast the pepper on a baking tray under a medium grill, until the skin blackens. Remove from under the grill, cover the baking tray with foil and leave to cool. Once it’s cool, you should easily be able to remove the skin and chop finely.
  2. Whisk the egg and milk in a large bowl, before stirring in the vegetables. Season to taste. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and stir until fully combined.
  3. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add as many teaspoonfuls of the vegetable mixture as you can, leaving space to turn them over. Heat for approximately 2 minutes each side, until browned.
  4. Serve.

Sweetcorn Fritters 2

Sweetcorn Fritters 3

Sweetcorn Fritters 4

Photo Credit: Lucy

Summer drinks perfect for a BBQ

Summer is the perfect opportunity to get together with family and friends, and a popular activity at this time of year is having a BBQ. Whether this be in your own garden, at your local park or on the beach, as well as food, you also need to decide what drinks to serve. Favourites of mine when the sun is shining is anything fruity, and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks work perfectly. You can mix fruit juices with any of the choices below to make sweet cocktails or just add a little lemonade to give it a fizzy edge. Whatever you choose, remember to drink responsibly.

summer_drinks

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Great July Weekend

Good July Weekend

Well, this was a lovely July weekend. The sun shone, I got to spend time with family, eat good food and enjoy a sleepover with my nephew, so there was very little wrong with it. It didn’t start so well, as I was sick from Wednesday to Friday, but I was feeling much better by Saturday morning, and got to fit lots of nice things in before work starts again tomorrow. We went to see an amateur production of The Little Mermaid first thing Saturday followed by a delicious lunch (mine was a pulled pork bun, which was SO yum!). I then brought my nephew back to my house, where he got to play out in the garden with my Mr., before a sleepover and some park fun on Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon was a quiet one, but still a great way to end the weekend. Here’s to another good one next week.