20.04

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G R O W   L I T T L E   P L A N T S ,   G R O W . . .

I’ve been meaning to put together another kitchen garden update for ages now (my last one was in January!) but what with the months on end of snowy, drizzly, and grey weather we’ve had, it’s not really felt like the weather for gardening! But I’ve been getting out and cracking on with my seed-sowing as much as I can, to keep on top of my plans for the vegetable patch.

And things are looking good! With the upswing in temperatures over the last couple of weeks I’ve been able to start putting the young plants out into the beds, with the spinach (‘Red Kitten’ is the variety) planted and thriving, and a second sowing of broad beans (originally sown in toilet roll tubes to encourage strong root growth) out and getting ready to unfurl their first flowers.

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The first ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ peas are under a fabric cloche (I sowed a tray of peas back in March, and then planted those out a few weeks ago whilst also sowing more peas in between the plants to fill the gaps), and the last couple of weeks have also been a mad race to get all the potatoes in! I’ve done 6 rows, two each of extra early ‘Swift’, second early ‘Charlotte’, and main crop ‘Sarpa Miro’ potatoes. The Swifts are already popping up through the soil, which fills me with joy and dreams of early summer potato salads to come!

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I’d forgotten just how wonderful it to see tiny green shoots poking up through the soil, and how addictive checking daily for signs of new growth can be! This week has brought about the arrival of a green haze of carrot seedlings underneath the black netting of their cosy tunnel, though I’m kicking myself for not having checked back at the plan I made for each of the beds and having sowed these seeds in totally the wrong place!

I’d intended to sow the carrots alongside the cabbages and kales, so that I could net them all against their enemies the carrot root fly and cabbage white butterflies respectively, but I stupidly just sowed them right next to the broad beans. It’s no big deal, but just not as organised as I’d hoped to be!

Anyway, carrots were one of my favourite things I grew last year, so I’m hoping this crop will do well. I’ve got one row of ‘Chantenay’ carrots, and one of ‘Purple Sun’, and plan to sow two more rows soon to have a succession of delicious homegrown carrots all summer long!

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And so, to this month’s lists of seeds to get going with!

+ Lettuces, ‘Red Salad Bowl’ and ‘All Year Round Butterhead’
Strangely, though I sowed both these varieties of lettuce at the exact same time and into the same seed tray at the start of the month, only the red variety germinated! I’m totally stumped as to why the butterhead variety didn’t come up, but now I’ve transplanted all the red lettuce seedlings I’d better get on and resow the butterhead seeds or else we’ll be having some pretty boring salads over the coming weeks!

+ Peas, ‘Sugar Snap Ann’ and ‘Kelvedon Wonder’
I’m trying to keep a succession of sowings going with the peas this month, so that we have a nice long season of fresh peas from the garden! Sugar snaps picked fresh were the most delicious thing ever last summer (though I had trouble with caterpillars!), and I truly can’t wait to have them fresh from the garden again this year. The canes and netting are up and ready for sugar snaps to scramble up, and I need to go and cut some pea sticks from the hedgerows to support the peas.

+ Courgettes, ‘Soleil’ and ‘Striato d’Italia’
Roll on courgette season! The Soleil’s are up and potted on and happy and I’m about to sow the second variety, which were the ones I grew last year and that I recommend to EVERYBODY! I’ve learnt this year to only sow three or four of each variety, because a couple of monster courgette plants is plenty for a copious supply all summer long!

+ Beetroot, ‘Boltardy’
This is my first attempt at beetroot, and from what I hear it’s a pretty easy going veg to grow! I’m not actually sure I’ve ever cooked beetroot either, but have big plans for pickling some this year to eat at Christmas time!

+ Cucumber, ‘Marketmore’
I grew cucumber last year but not very successfully- I think I had two cucumbers in total! This year I found them tricky to germinate, but after asking for advice from Sam on Instagram (a veg-growing guru!), and a brief stint on a warm radiator to help them get going, we’re finally away! And I’m so excited because nothing beats a freshly picked cucumber!

+ Leeks, ‘Musselburgh’
I sowed some leeks a few months ago, but I’m not convinced the young plants look all that healthy. I’ve planted them out anyway, and have just sowed another row alongside them and hope they’ll do well! Leeks are one of my favourite veg to cook with, and apparently this variety are fairly easy to grow. Let’s hope!

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And last of all, a couple of book recommendations for you! Hollie Newton’s ‘How To Grow’ was my Bible last year, and I’ve just started reading it once again. It’s just the most beautiful, practical, wonderfully written book- a guide to growing vegetables and fruit interspersed with recipes and anecdotes from Hollie’s own garden. The photos are gorgeous, and it’s the most accessible gardening book I’ve come across so far. I love it!

Charles Dowding’s Diary is, funnily enough, a diary! There’s space to fill in information and notes about what you’re sowing and planting throughout the calendar year, though I’ll admit I’ve been a bit useless about remembering to fill it in. I’ve found the seed sowing calendar the most useful thing about it, plus all the information about no-dig gardening and veg growing in general is invaluable. Worth a read!

What are you growing this year?

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16.04

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D O N K E Y S   A N D   C H I C K E N S   A N D   L A M B S ,   O H   M Y !

Living on a farm, you’d think we might’ve had our fill of cute baby animals already this spring. There’s often a row of sheep and lambs there to greet us when we open the living room curtains in the morning, the horses lean over the fence for a fuss when I’m working out in the vegetable patch, and there’s a nest of baby rabbits next to the outbuilding that pop up for a snack and drive Elsie bonkers as she stalks them from inside the house. Telling the truth, I’ve half a mind to let her out there to scare them off since they’ve already had all the new shoots off my lovely raspberry canes…

But aside from our rabbit troubles we’re still animal-obsessed over here, and none of us more so than Ottilie! She asks to go out and visit the lambs approximately 400 times a day (‘coat, shoooos, NAMBS!’), can’t see a carrot without shouting ‘neigh neigh!’ at the top of her voice, and gives the dogs more ’tisses and duddles’ than they really care for.

And so when the team over at F&F (Tesco’s very own brilliant clothing line) offered to send us off on a visit to Odd’s Farm Park decked out in their very latest and loveliest Spring collection, we jumped at the chance!

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Let’s just take a moment to talk about these clothes, because aren’t they lovely?

The F&F line has been one of my favourite places to shop for children’s clothes ever since we had Ottilie. Initially lured to Tesco by the deals on Pampers, the clothes caught my eye with their fun patterns and gorgeous designs and I’ve been a fan ever since. In fact, one of my favourite ever pieces of Ottie’s baby wardrobe, a grey marl jumper with embroidered multicoloured pompoms on, was an F&F find!

I’m just in love with that floral romper Ottie’s wearing, and the raincoat is her new favourite thing in the world. The moment it arrived at our house she asked to put it on and stomped around the house in it right up until her bathtime! And it’s come in very handy already this spring, what with all the April showers we’ve been having…

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^ So taken with the friendly goats! ^

And yet I’ve never once thought to shop at F&F for clothes of my own, or Jason’s for that matter!

I absolutely love that Bardot top with the floral embroidery (you know how much I love a floral inspired pattern!), the yellow coat is the most cheerful clothing item I think I’ve ever owned, and the cropped-length navy trousers are such a lovely alternative to the jeans I seem to live in these days. And Jason too has been so impressed by his first taste of F&F clothing- he’s lived in that outfit ever since, which is true testament to the cut and quality of the pieces!

Ottilie’s outfit : Raincoat || Daisy cardigan || Daisy romper

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Grey marl jumper || Jeans || Canvas shoes 

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Odd’s Farm Park was such a lovely place to spend a morning too, with so many beautiful animals there to admire and feed by hand. My favourite was the snoozing pile of piglets (their little wrinkled noses just melt my heart) whereas Ottilie thought the rabbits were the best things ever.

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Once we’d had our fill of gazing at all the baby animals in the barn, we headed outside into the bright and blustery spring sunshine.

It feels as though this winter’s gone on for the longest time, so the sight of blossom unfurling on branches and people all around us taking off heavy winter coats as the day warmed up made my heart sing. With my garden back at home suddenly picking up in pace (onions are in, the first potato shoots are up and through the soil, peas are growing like weeds and the lettuces are tiny but flourishing), it’s just the best time of year.

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^ It was a little embarrassing how much I struggled when I tried walking along this wobbly board in the playpark at the farm…Ottie sauntered along it making it look easy, but when I tried? Well, I think my pelvic floor nearly gave way. ^

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Next on our list of animals to visit at the farm was the turkeys and chickens, because we’re all a little in love with them and I’m badgering Jason non-stop right now about when would be the right time to rescue some ex-battery hens!

I just think they’re the most beautiful things, with their knowing eyes and glossy feathers, and I’m desperate to add some to our menagerie. Ottilie just loves them too, though wasn’t nearly so keen on the turkey, who gobbled so loudly at us all that Ottie jumped so hard she nearly fell over!

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And so to our final stop of the day, the gift shop of course! Ottie had beelined for the little rubber ducks (of all the toys!!) as soon as we entered the shop when we first arrived at the farm, and was equally smitten with them on our way back out again. So home one came with us, with Ottie stopping every few paces on our way back to the car to bounce it along the floor whilst shouting ‘QUAAAACK!’  as loudly as she could!

It’s has been confiscated since we’ve been home though, since a certain toddler kept putting it in the dog’s water bowl for a swim…

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It was the nicest day out, and with life feeling so busy lately, a real treat to go on an outing as a family and get to spend some quality time just the three of us.

The biggest thank you to F&F for sending us on such a lovely day trip, and for making us the most colourful, smartly-dressed family around in their beautiful new season clothes!

~ This post was created in collaboration with F&F. Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible! ~

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Posted in DAY TRIPS, FAMILY, Sponsored

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09.04

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There’s something so special about the bedtime routine. Whether you’ve been out at work all day and the half hour before bed is chance to reconnect with your little one, or whether you’ve been side by side all day and the bedtime routine serves as chance to wind down together, it’s such a lovely part of the day.

I remember when Ottilie was really tiny, going through her bedtime routine with Gina Ford’s book open on the bed trying to stick exactly to the timings that were laid out on the ‘two month old baby routine’ page! I think it was shortly after these moments of new Mama madness that I lobbed Gina Ford to the back of the cupboard, realising that doing Ottie’s bath at 6.30pm instead of 6.15pm precisely was probably not the cause of her waking every two hours all night long ;)

I’m always intrigued to know how other Mums and Dads work their evening routine now- whether it’s a calm, quiet affair with dim lighting and relaxing music, or a half hour romp before everyone crashes out in bed!

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Bedtime essentials : An ultra-soft sleeping bag, cosy PJs, Bepanthen Nappy Care Ointment, and Jeffie the giraffe who’s as much part of the family as Teddy and Elsie are!!

I’d say we’re somewhere in the middle of the two. Ottilie is generally one of those ‘run and run and run and then crash’ kind of toddlers, with hardly any wind-down needed before she’ll fall fast asleep in her bed. But I do love the cosy moments that precede bottle-and-bed, and treasure those cuddles even more now that Ottie’s on the go all day long!

Our bedtime begins each night with a bath, partly to wash the baked bean sauce-smudges from Ottilie’s cheeks but also because this little girl of mine is a mermaid and just adores the water!

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I love watching Ottilie learn as she plays in the bath, whether it’s by asking for ‘pop pop bubbles!’ or naming the colours of her stacking cups. She’ll often play in the bath for a good half hour, and loves taking the bath plug out and feeling the water swirl away down the plughole. Simple joys!

One of our favourite games to play in the bath is to match coloured balls with her stacking cups, and she also loves a little penguin toy that was Jason’s when he was Ottilie’s age!

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With bath time (and a couple of times a week, the ordeal that is washing a toddler’s hair…) over and done with, Ottilie hops out and is ready for some skincare! I always like to take time to moisturise and protect her skin, especially during the winter months when she seems prone to dryness just like her Mama.

For preventing and treating any rashes, my go to cream of choice is always Bepanthen. For the first few months of Ottilie’s life she was lucky and never had even the tiniest amount of nappy rash, but ever since she started teething properly at around 11 months she gets such angry skin in her nappy area whenever she’s cutting new teeth.

A light coating of Bepanthen at bedtime always soothes her skin right away, and leaves it clear and calm again by the time morning comes. It’s fantastic too for preventing any rashes caused by new and unfamiliar foods, especially during the early days of weaning! We’ve never had any rashes really take hold which I give Bepanthen full credit for, especially since using it in combination with cloth nappies which seem so much gentler on Ottilie’s skin.

I also love the fact that it comes in a tube rather than pot, that I always find to be messy and potentially unhygienic during nappy changes.

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With skin cared for and a fresh nappy and PJs on, it’s time for Ottilie to romp around the upstairs of our house to her heart’s content!

Ottie generally likes to burn off a last burst of energy for the day with a game of chase and hide and seek, and it’s the best thing ever hearing her roar with laughter as I chase her up and down the landing between our bedrooms.

But in the photos above, she’s doing a bit of nature study! Ottie’s bedroom seems so be a breeding ground for ladybirds, and she was very taken with the little one making it’s way across her bedroom carpet!

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Time for a few rounds of ‘One Little Monkey Jumping on the Bed’, before bed!

It’s Ottilie’s favourite thing ever, second only to being thrown up in the air and rough and tumbled by Jason who, as with all Dads, is 100x more fearless with her than I ever am and which Ottilie adores!

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Lastly it’s time for my favourite, favourite thing ever- story time <3 The way Ottilie adores books gives me the greatest joy, not least because some of my most vivid and happy childhood memories are of reading bedtime stories with my own Mum!

She’s really got into storybooks lately over more simple ‘lift the flap’ board books, which are so much more fun to read! I might share a few of our favourites in a post soon, if anyone would like to know which books we love the most?

This particular night was the turn of The Gruffalo! Ottilie’s a big fan of any books with lions or dinosaurs or creatures that she can ‘roaaaarrr’ at, and the Gruffalo fits the bill!! 

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And with stories read, teeth brushed, milk drunk, and little rosy cheeks kissed, so to bed.

What does your bedtime routine look like? <3

~ This post was sponsored by Bepanthen, a brand I’ve used and loved for as long as I’ve been a Mama! Thank you for supporting the sponsored content that makes Cider with Rosie possible. ~

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05.04

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1. Raising the blinds in the living room in the morning, and seeing a row of little lambs up at the fence line that runs along the edge of our garden. The very best sight for first thing in the morning!

2. Discovering my local farm shop, which is basically my new favourite place in the entire world! They have the most amazing array of fresh fruits and vegetables all loose and free from plastic, spices and dried herbs and grains all available to buy in bulk (again, plastic free!), beautiful fresh bread, a bakery, a deli counter of dreams, AND in the summer they do PYO berries! Can you tell I’m in love?

3. Burning the Diptyque Ambre candle Jason treated me to for my birthday. It smells like the sexiest men’s aftershave you could imagine, and I totally love it.

4. Nocella olives. I can’t stop buying them and snacking on them non-stop. And Miss Ottilie is just like her Mama and totally addicted too…

5. A house full of daffodils! Even though they do turn from perfect to wrinkled and gross within the blink of an eye, they still make me so happy.

6. Seeing Ottilie wear a little yellow and white fairy dress that was mine as a child. It’s so strange seeing her run around in it, when I remember loving it so much myself as a little girl!

7. Being able to eat breakfast with the patio doors open wide, whilst watching the sparrows and robins and blue tits visiting the bird feeder for their own breakfast whilst we eat.

8. So many seeds popping up in the trays on our living room windowledges! Courgettes, peas, sugar snaps…they’re making me so excited for summer!

9. Meeting my sweet baby nephew! I forgot how scrummy newborn cuddles are <3

10. Watching Ottie tuck into a plate of watermelon for the first time since last summer. She ate the most insane amount, and was in absolute heaven!

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