Him & Her #5 – A photo project

fred snow

He has absolutely loved

the flurries of snowfall we’ve had lately,

running up and down the garden

pretending to be a train in the snow.

 

Sasha back

 

She has been a cheeky, 

giggling, monkey-child lately,

who clambers onto our backs,

whenever we are in reach and won’t let go.

A sibling photo project in 2015

Easy Playdough Recipe

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Up until recently, I had always bought my two ‘Playdoh’ in tubs, mainly because I thought that it might last longer and would be cheaper overall than making our own playdough. Wrong! To be fair, it can be convenient to buy from a shop, but we’ve also found lately that Freddie and Sasha have started to want to mix the colours up (this really messes with my OCD side), plus it dries up quickly with the regular use. This means that making our own has now become the way forward a great deal of the time.

I’ve helped out at the children’s preschool a few times, and this has involved making homemade playdough with several groups of children in one session! #terrifying They love helping with the mixing of the ingredients, and it’s a great activity for learning to weigh and measure (loosely) too.

It really is very simple, and you get a whole ice cream tub’s worth of soft, lovely playdough, rather than just a piddly little tub!

You will need:

  • Two cups of plain flour
  • One cup of salt
  • Two cups of water (add drops of food colouring for snazzy, coloured playdough!)
  • Two teaspoons of cream of tartar
  • Two tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil

Method

  1. Add all the ingredients into a large non-stick saucepan and mix together.
  2. Cook the mixture over a medium heat, making sure you keep stirring.
  3. When the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, remove from heat.
  4. Take your dough out of pan and knead it whilst it’s still warm.

The playdough should last a good 3 months or so,  as long as you remember to keep it in a container with a lid and store in a cool place!

Sick days with small kids: The reality

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Now, I don’t consider myself a sickly person, bar the twice-yearly case of man-flu that seems to descend on our house. And you know what? That’s a bloody good job. Being a parent to small children when you’re laid low is HELL. A hangover is bad enough, but if you are floored by flu and can barely drag your sorry arse out of bed, then I can vouch that your teeny-tiny-spawn-of-satan offspring will have ZERO sympathy for you. As a parent, you know if you have are having to have a sick day, things must be BAD. As I can vouch for this past weekend…

6.20am – Get woken up by Freddie (4), who deposits himself in middle of me and OH, demanding Milkshake on CH5. Realise last night’s ‘tiredness’ was actually onset of massive bout of ‘Manflu’. Feel dreadful and like a thousand evil pixies are using jackhammers all over my body. Tongue flails out of mouth, sticking to side of pillow. Lie there, willing OH to get up. 

6.30am – Small boy is joined by Sasha (2), who climbs into bed, sitting on my head, nearly ripping my nose stud out in the process. Wake up IMMEDIATELY….

7.15am – Swift kick to OH’s shins to take, by now, feral children downstairs, all whilst telepathically willing OH to bring Lemsip up. Realise telepathy has slim chance of garnering favoured result, therefore whimper for Lemsip instead.

7.25am – Children deposited downstairs, Lemsip brought upstairs. Now fully awake, despite imminent death from Manflu (Screw you, body clock). Decant Lemsip in cake-hole.

7.40am – Attempt to go back to sleep after reassurance from OH that everything will be under control. 

8.00am – All is clearly not under control, as per the wailing/fighting/terse voices coming from downstairs in the abyss. Drag arse to the living room to add ‘presence’ to ganged up on OH, crawl under blanket on sofa. 

8.05am – Small children swarm around sofa like flies round sh*t, excited at the prospect of a ‘patient’, and trot off to gather together plastic doctor’s implements. 

8.10am – Said implements are shoved in any free orifice “to check if you’re okay to catch the train!” and, “let’s see how much Calpol you need!” as mouth is wrenched open. According to all that probing, I am “fine, just about”. 

8.20am – Lie on sofa face down, dozing. Kids present toy cars, and play the “let’s pretend Mummy’s a mountain!” game, which is actually bearable, and used often in past hangover situations. Kids entertained, and a massage in one #winning (slightly)

9.00am – Small children taken out by OH to the shops/library to be ‘exercised’. Retreat to bed. 

11.00am – Woken up in cold sweat from vivid sick dreams in terrifying fashion, after discovering F’s face about half a cm from mine. 

11.10am – F gets into bed to ‘help’ me sleep. Closely followed by S. “Let’s build a den, Mummy!” she says. Let’s not… 

11.15am – Sasha – “Why are you in bed?” Me – “Because I’m poorly”. Repeat x 10 in space of ten minutes.

11.25am – OH retrieves small children (eventually).

12.00pm – Repeat ad infinitum until bedtime….

 

Linking up with ‘Let’s Talk Mommy’ and ‘Share With Me’

The Gratitude Express: Things that have made me happy lately

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This week both Freddie and Sasha have been off preschool for half term, and for the most part it’s been lovely- we’ve had a few trips out but I’d left pretty much every other day for just chilling and pottering at home. They ‘do’ so much during term time, that it’s actually quite nice for everyone to unwind and for them just to stay at home and play with some of their (many!) toys. In some ways we haven’t had a choice- both children have been a bit ‘up and down’ wellness-wise the past few days, culminating in me taking S to the docs yesterday where she was diagnosed with a chest infection :-(

As I write this I am currently laid up in bed with the lurgy too- sad times all round! Hoping we’re all back to normal by Monday. I’ve loved having a full week with them but it really disrupts my working days, despite having some help from parents/in-laws, so it’s all a bit hectic sometimes trying squeeze in a few hours here and there! So, cracking on, here is the Gratitude Express and the things that have made me happy lately, despite feel like one big snot ball right now:

  • One of my best friends having the most adorable baby boy last Tuesday! They’re doing really well, and I can’t wait to meet him next week for an enormous cuddle!
  • Spending quality time with Freddie and Sasha this half term. We’ve properly played together- baked, read loads of stories (they’re both getting into their Beatrix Potter book set!), built Lego, had tea parties with their cuddly toys, it’s been great, and they really seem to thrive on all the extra positive attention. It can be too easy sometimes to be distracted by other things, but I really enjoy listening to their little stories and thoughts about the world. It’s also made me want to get back to featuring more crafty posts on the blog- it’s what I used to do a lot of on here and I realise that I miss it quite a lot.
  • Getting more wedding plans sorted- our cake toppers for both the sweet cake and the cheese tower cake have arrived from the USA, we’ve booked a decided on catering choices for our evening boat reception, and I’ve found some invite designs that we both really like. I feel in control when stuff like this has been sorted!
  • Receiving post from our friends in the states- they sent Freddie a brilliant book for his birthday that we love. I must send things/write to people more, it really is fab getting post that isn’t bills!
  • Some beautiful, spring-like weather on Tuesday and Wednesday. We went to Stratford on Tuesday with my Mum to stroll around the Olympic Park (I’ve never known anyone apart from Freddie so excited to go to Stratford but there you go!). I grabbed a coffee, Freddie ran around pretending to be a train and all was right with the world- until I took Sasha on the world’s fastest Helter Skelter which she was definitely not impressed with! There was brilliant colourful bus exhibition for Kids Company, run by TFL, that F & S really enjoyed. We had delicious lunch in Jamie’s Italian in Westfield, and despite Freddie not feeling 100% as lunch progressed, we still managed to have a great day.
  • Having my Sister-in-law and baby niece over for lunch along with my Mum. She’s getting so big, and it’s so lovely to spend time with her, as they live over the other side of London and it can be tricky to find time to all see other, what with work/kids schedules.
  • A pre-Valentines night out with Adam. We thought we were being clever by booking a table for the day before (we don’t really do Valentines you see), but the restaurant ended up having the full Valentines ‘shebang’ anyway, with balloons, special menu, the works! The food was pretty decent though overall, and after we went to the local pub, argued over the quiz machines, before doing some dubious dancing (me) to a swing band that was playing- good (romantic) times!
  • Coffee. Sounds sad, but after some bad sleep with the children this past week, I am very grateful for the caffeine pick up!

So that’s my week- how was yours?!

#MyHomeStyle – Edition 1

You may have read a short while ago that myself and the lovely Emma, from ‘Life at the Litttle Wood’ have been planning on a fun new interiors project on social media, predominantly Instagram, called ‘My Home Style’ or #MyHomeStyle. You can read all about this HERE, but essentially we thought it would be a great way of getting like-minded interiors enthusiasts to share snippets of their homes, interior lust-haves, or just beautiful doors/houses/objects that they come across and that just make them smile! Em and I will be sifting through all the pictures that have the #myhomestyle each fortnight, and sharing our favourites with you two Mondays a month.

So, without waffling on, here are my #myhomestyle picks to kick off the week! Don’t forget to hop on over to Emma’s blog to check out her faves too :-)

@mummydaddyme Now, I’m probably a little biased here as Katie shares a similar colour scheme to myself in her retro-inspired living room ;-) What’s caught my eye is the cute yellow and white shelving unit to display treasures, and I absolutely ADORE the custard cream cushion! You can’t beat a funky cushion or three for really stamping some personality into a room, and I like the fact that they’re so interchangeable (which probably makes me really flaky on the interiors-front!).

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@iamalisonperry and @chloegraceb have been all about the daffodils this past week, and they are probably one of my favourite flowers- they scream “spring is coming soon!” and never fail to brighten a room. Sidenote- loving Chloe’s pineapple too!

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@nandawiaderna I love the styling of this pic by Nanda, and I’m hankering after the candle stick. Touches like this are something I’m really trying to focus on now the colour palette of our home is largely complete- I would like a candle stick similar to this in our bedroom.

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@littlewoodlife Now, this may be cheating slightly as Emma is my co-host of #MyHomeStyle, but I couldn’t NOT include this gorgeous pic of her master bedroom! What’s caught my eye is the white stove heater- it’s divine and has got me thinking that I would want one of these should we ever go down the stove-heater route. More unusual than a black one, and really ‘pops’ within the room.

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@mrspthefarmerswife What’s not to love in Kirsty’s ‘shelfie’ pic?! You can’t beat a bit of Emma Bridgewater for  cool country style, and the red ‘Roberts’ radio really stands out. What has really caught my eye though is the ace blue and white striped TG Green Cornishware coffee pot. I LOVE TG Green stuff, and sell some (if I can get hold of it!) in my shop, although I often struggle to part with it. I need a bigger kitchen to store everything!

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@insideoabout I couldn’t believe that Esther’s giant green clock is from Ikea! Major swooning going on here, and really wishing I had space for another big one, as this would be top of the list right now!

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@brickdustandglitter These chalkboard placemats that Emily has are such a great idea, and would cheer up any meal!

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@dear_beautiful Lucy from ‘Dear Beautiful’ blog has the most gorgeous room for her ‘Beautiful Girl’ (I believe the Beautiful Boy shares the other half!). The rainbow tassels hanging down are feminine without being overtly ‘princessy’ and I am totally coverting the ‘hello, sunshine’ cushion for Sasha!

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@xclairewoodx Claire’s kitchen is simply to die for, a really classy mix of old and new, with a modern kitchen in an older home. I love the combination of different work surfaces she’s used, and the curved edges on them are a little detail that helps takes this kitchen from ‘good’ to ‘gorgeous’!

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And finally… @chloegraceb I love Chloe’s cheeky styling here! The red of her dala horse looks fantastic against the blue and white wallpaper, and again, really ‘pops’. A big ‘MyHomeStyle’ thumbs up!

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So which of these do you like the best?

Please keep your pictures coming on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #MyHomeStyle, and Emma and I will be showing our favourites once again on Monday 2nd March!

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Freddie is 4!

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So last Friday (6th), Freddie turned 4! I don’t know about you, but ‘4’ suddenly sounds so grown up? ‘4’ means going to school this September, and ‘4’ can definitely no longer be included in the toddler category (not that I’ve thought of F as a toddler for a long time, especially as he is SO tall!).

On his actual birthday his preschool had coincidentally arranged a trip to The National Gallery in central London for all the children and parents (they are currently learning about colours and paintings), which was brilliant fun. Freddie was convinced that the trip was entirely for the benefit of his birthday (which we sort of let him believe ;-) ). There were jelly babies on the train up there, and the whole carriage sang Happy Birthday to him which was a total highlight for F, and one he’s still talking about that a week later! I’d like to say they found the paintings fascinating, but I’d probably be lying ;-)

Afterwards we took both him and Sasha to Pizza Express for lunch, where they had extra helpings of ice cream for pudding, and I had a large Sauvignon Blanc to celebrate the 4th anniversary of ejecting a human from my lady parts. A trip to The Transport Museum followed, where F was in his element pretending to drive tube trains, and where I spent time grappling with S trying to get her off the driver’s seat of a bus. A queue of other kids was forming who also wanted a turn, but Sasha did NOT want to give up her turn, with loud wails of “Noooooooo, I need to get to East Croydon”, much to the amusement of anyone in earshot :-) With two very tired children we then headed to home to birthday cake with family, new birthday PJs (thanks, Fairy Godmothers!) and an early night.

So, Happy Belated Birthday, Freddie! We are so proud of the little boy that you are, and that you are becoming. Our simply lovely, kind, train-mad, cuddly, first born guinea pig child, the one who is teaching us how to be good parents every day. We love you!

 

What I have learnt about being a Mother, 4 years on

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Come Friday I will have a big, grown up FOUR year old. Our baby boy Freddie, our much-loved guinea pig child will have been on this planet for four whole years. It’s cliche to write, but it really doesn’t seem possible. I was thinking today how much I, how much we have all changed since he and S arrived. You have a vision of what life will be like when your child is born, and a vision of your future. Some of which is fulfilled, and the rest…well… you know what Forrest Gump said about chocolates? Yup, that. Expect the unexpected, be prepared to swallow your pride, and embrace being the parent you never thought you were.

Here are some things I’ve learnt since venturing blind into the wilds on parenting…

Becoming a parent really strips away who you are to your core- all my strengths are highlighted, all my weaknesses brutally exposed. I have realised that I am the most patient person when it comes to explaining things and answering questions about all kinds of random stuff. I am definitely NOT patient when it comes to being woken in the night for ‘no good reason’ i.e. not being ill/ needing a wee, and I find bickering/fighting/wailing as a result of the aforementioned bickering/fighting likely to turn me quite shouty. I will happily read/do craft stuff/ build train tracks/go places, but ask me to ‘role play’ or pretend to be a train/tram/the 119 bus and my heart will sink. I will fulfill the request, but it’s certainly not the parenting area that I excel in!

That no one else will ever have the ability to change my moods/sense of well being like my children do- it frightens me sometimes that people so small can have such control over my emotions, that I can be an on-top-on-the-world, beaming, proud-as-punch parent one minute, and a sobbing, sniveling, failure-feeling mother the next. No job has (thankfully!) left me sobbing big, fat, ugly tears at the end of a bad day like being a parent- thank bloody god for biology and bonding. I could easily have ditched my two for good on certain occasions if I didn’t love them so!

That time really does fly fast. The baby stage feels like a whole world away now, even though it was only two years ago for S. I really hope I still remember all their special moments in the future, and I guess this is why I like blogging so much- you have those memories written down. I also realise now that I’m not a massive ‘baby’ person, that I actually much prefer the ages they are now and can talk to them and not have to change nappies anymore.

I wish we had never stressed about getting F to sleep through the night when he was a baby. We read the books, scoured the internet for sleep advice, tweaked routines, yet nothing ‘worked’. After 9 months he slept through. With Sasha, she went through the night with bugger-all input from us by 9 weeks. We should have gone with the flow more, as I believe now they just do it when they’re ready, and even now they don’t always sleep through. *wails*

That I actually enjoy peace and quiet more than I thought. I have always classed myself as an extrovert, and someone who enjoys socialising and the company of others. When you’re a parent you have small people (rightly) demanding your attention near enough 24/7, it’s lovely in so many ways, but also bloody draining. Often if Adam is out, and the children are in bed, I will sit in silence reading or surfing the net, and it’s HEAVEN. I appreciate time alone so much more now. Which may or may not make me sound like a miserable git.

That having children 15 months apart was actually relatively easy at first in my very humble opinion (newborns sleep a lot). Then it gets harder when you have a moving baby and toddler who just want to push and bite each other, but then gets easier again age 2 and 3 as they can converse and enjoy playing proper games with only a small amount of biting thrown in. The small age gap is starting to pay off, and the lovely dynamic they have now means we’ve decided that we probably won’t have any more children- we are worried that a 3rd child just wouldn’t work with them and our family. I am just going to live vicariously through friends of mine who go on to have lovely large families!

Before you become a parent you can have all sorts of ideas about what you would and wouldn’t do when you have children. I always very judgementally  frowned upon co-sleeping, yet it’s something we still do sometimes and has saved our sleep sanity on many occasions, and I’ve surprised myself by actually really liking snuggling up to a small warm body every now and again! We also used a dummy to plug the screaming cake-hole that was Freddie’s mouth at 4.30am on the first night back from hospital after he’d bawled solidly all night up until that point- before then I never wanted to use one. Let’s just say I am soooo much more open minded now!

I am coming to terms with the fact that I can only try my best as a Mum, and have the best intentions, and that despite all this there will be times most days/weeks/months when I screw up somewhere on the parenting spectrum. I can only keep plugging away, and hope that by the time they are both grown up there haven’t been too many monumental cock ups.

Before having Freddie, I never, ever thought I would know so much about the London transport system as I do now. Due to having a travel/vehicle obsessed child I now know almost every train route in London, every station on the tube (he has a map that we look at religiously!), and most bus numbers and routes in SE of the Capital. You can never predict your child’s interests, and as a result of his, I’ve spent an hour at a time. At East Croydon Station. Running from platform to platform watching different trains pull in and out. Now, that really is true love…

and lastly…

That I know everything and nothing about my children. I can feel I know their bones, and what they’re thinking and feeling. Then they turn things on their head and have an amazing ability to shock and surprise me, even at such tender ages. Which I like. It keeps me on my toes, and makes me realise what incredible little individuals they really are. And as much as it makes me feel sad thinking about it, that they are free-thinking beings who will never be mine to keep….

Linking up with ‘Let’s Talk Mommy’ and ‘Share With Me’

The Gratitude Express! Things that have made me happy this week

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After a bit of a sluggish start last week and feeling a little grumpy (hello, hormones!) and unmotivated (my poor blog has suffered a bit since Christmas), I actually ended up having a really good back-end of the week. This is certainly due to having more time to work, plus get general life-admin sorted now both children are at preschool/with my Mum for a total of 2.5 days a week. By Thursday I had beasted my to-do list *air punches*, and then had a wonderful weekend with my little family and catching up with friends. I’ve more grateful right now for my life than ever, as friends of mine have received sad/worrying news of late. Even on a bad day, I’ve been trying to think of all the things I’m happy about, even the small and insignificant!

1. Booking a camping trip with friends for the end of July! My Mum-chum, Emma, threw it out there on an email to a load of us (we’ve all known each other since F and co were babies), and as a result we’ve booked an amazing, family-friendly campsite in the heart of the Sussex countryside. We must be crazy- there will be 35 of us in total, and all children will be under the age of 5!

2. Getting a handle on some wedding planning. I was starting to panic that we hadn’t done anything for ages but I feel much better that I’ve now decided on, and booked, the flowers, bought the flower girl dresses (all 6 of them!), bought our cake toppers and hopefully sorted childcare for the evening. Whilst there’s still loads to do, I feel a tiny bit more in control, which, for an anal-retentive like me, is vitally important. ;-)

3. Having a great night out with friends on Saturday night. My friend, Maria, moved back to Spain with her young family and English husband last July after 16 years in the UK, to open her awesome new business venture. They came back to visit over last week, so Saturday night was spent catching up with her and a load of other friends in a nice pub near us. It reminded the rest of us to leave the kids with our fellas more often and have regular girls nights out!

4. Daffodils! Already in the shops and I swear it’s getting earlier and earlier each year, but hey, I’m not complaining as it means spring is on the way! Also, the bulbs my Mum planted in our garden last year have popped through- I can’t wait to have some colour out the back once again :-)

5. Taking Freddie and Sasha to the cinema for the first time. We went to see Paddington with my Mother-in-law, which was actually really good (even for adults!), and the children were angels and sat beautifully (which I was very relieved about!).

6. Swimming with Adam and the children on Sunday morning. The pool is grim, but it’s so lovely to see Freddie show his Daddy how well he can swim on his own with a ‘noodle’ now, and to see Sasha leap like a gazelle into the pool. She will be starting lessons too after Easter, so we want to boost her confidence when swimming in the run up.

7. Decluttering. Now, this may make me sound like a massive loser, but I’ve felt disproportionately good having cleared about the medicine cupboard, sorted some the children’s old clothes, cleared a box of baby-related stuff in Sasha’s room to make way for new toy storage and tidied the garden toys. Yes, I most definitely am a bit of a loser here!

8. Home-cooked roast chicken dinner and bakewell tart with custard- need I say more?

9. One night where the kids slept through. I told you it was the little things, right?!

10. Updating the kitchen calendar and our synced iPhone calendars with all the exciting plans we have for this year. Going through everything has made me giddy with anticipation for the rest of 2015, and I feel very lucky to have so much fun stuff to look forward to, both with and without the children :-)

What has made you happy this week?!

A New Interiors Project! #myhomestyle

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I’ve been umming and aahing for some time as to which direction I’d like to take this blog. Whilst I still love documenting our family life and the children whilst they are on the small side, I am also well aware that the older they get, the less they might like to be written about in what, essentially, is a public space. I write a fair bit about other things that interest me though, and what is becoming more and more apparent to me, is that writing about interiors- home makeovers, the vintage homeware that I sell, new design concepts and exciting finds- leaves me with a warm, fuzzy feeling. After all, if you’re going to take time to write a blog, you want it to be about stuff you’re passionate about!

One of the other things I’ve loved about blogging this last year-and-a-bit is finding some lovely new bloggy friends, and it’s even more fab when they share a similar outlook and interests to yourself. Step forward: the lovely Emma from ‘Life at the Little Wood’, who is a fellow home and interiors nut! Over time it’s become clear we have a shared passion for all things house and home, and frequently find ourselves lusting after each other’s finds and ideas on Instagram. We also compliment each other well on the home front: Her beautiful (seriously, amazing!) country pad in Northern Ireland is the housing Yin to my urban South-East London Yang.

So…we thought it might be nice to club together to start a fun, interiors-focused project for any of our blog readers, or IG followers to join in with! Using the hashtag #myhomestyle we’d love people who love their homes to tag their pad-related pictures. It could be a new item you’ve bought for the house, something you’re coverting, a fabulous front door you’ve seen, some nifty up-cycling… you name it, if it’s to do with the home you can tag it! Emma and I will then go through the pictures we love the best, and do a round up on our blogs fortnightly with a handful of our favourites.

What are you waiting for?! Let’s get snapping!

PS Make sure you’re following both of us on Instagram! I’m @spiritedpuddlejumper and Emma is @littlewoodlife

 

Him and Her #4

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He suddenly seems so grown up,

and now is getting braver,

wanting to try the big swings,

which is a good job, as he’s so tall!

 

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She has enjoyed baking with her brother this week,

which meant the cheekiest

little chocolate face

whilst licking the bowl!