Friday, 29 April 2016

Switching Off

We've been away on holiday this week, staying with Sam's parents in beautiful Norfolk. We stayed in a lovely apartment, on a golf course, with all the usual modern conveniences including good old Wifi. Despite the lovely surroundings and my promise to attempt to switch off, when I read an article in the Sunday paper at the weekend listing '20 Wifi Free Breaks', I had a sudden longing to be somewhere just a little more remote.

And then I remembered I could be, just by switching my phone off.
So, on Thursday I conducted a little personal experiment and turned my phone off for 24 hours. Now, I appreciate to some of you that that's no big deal, that you might regularly break away from your mobile, but for me, it WAS a big deal. Despite my initial concerns that my might phone not actually know how to turn itself back on after being off for so long, I actually found it hugely positive. Here's a few things I discovered:
  • I realised how much I tap my pocket and pull my phone out. Mindlessly looking at the screen for any notifications. 
  • After a few hours the pocket-tapping habit was broken and it felt good to be phone free.
  • I found time for things I always hope to do but never actually do (because I'm busy on my phone). Like reading my new Simple Things magazine, finding inspiration in it's articles, photos and recipes or reading the paper.
  • I was present in the here and now, without being caught up with work distractions 
  • I felt just a little smug when I saw others on their phones and mine was SWITCHED OFF! 
  • Photos and memories could still be recorded (with my camera or on Sam's phone) and shared later if I really wanted to. 
  • I wasn't distracted by direct messages, what's app texts or emails. I knew that anything urgent would get to me somehow and in the meantime, the lack of contact felt great
  • I could do it. I really DIDN'T need to have one hand in my pocket, with my phone at the ready, to whip out at any given moment. 
A wise friend left me a comment on a photo I shared after this little experiment saying 'how strange it feels to unplug, correlates to how much we need to do it.' She was spot on. It felt strange but good and confirmed to me, just how much I need to do it, break away from home or not.

If any of this rings true with you then I'd urge you to give it a go. Why don't you unplug for just one day over the bank holiday. I promise you, you'll be glad you did and your pocket will feel a whole lot lighter in the process.

Have a lovely bank holiday whatever your plans.

Lowri x  

Sunday, 24 April 2016


A year ago tomorrow, my family lost a very special person, my darling Gran. Not a day goes by that I don't think about her.

In the days before she died I spent time with her in her care home, sitting quietly, holding hands and just occassionally speaking. I remember commenting about the pretty flowers on her nightdress, Forget-Me-Nots.  The following day I picked a few sprigs from our garden and placed the little posy beside her bed for her to enjoy.
I'm sure this delicate flower that pops up everywhere at this time of year, to cheer it's surroundings, will always remind me of her.

Cutting flowers like this and making posies to dot around our home is something I enjoy doing from this month, right up until the last of the Dhalias bloom in early Autumn.
I find little bottles and bud vases that will hold the tiniest of stems, bringing with them pops of colour from the garden.

Sometimes the vases hold a whole host of colours, especially when the clashing colours of Sweet Peas are brought in. Other times, like this scene suggests, one colour will take centre stage.
I picked up this antique hot water bottle and old pot at the start of this month. I expect the hot water bottle will become a doorstop at some point, but for now it's sat in our hallway, along with other gathered finds.

I'm looking forward to seeing what other colours our garden will provide us with this Summer.  For now though, Forget-Me-Nots, I shall treasure you.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

A Year Of Breaktimes

This month I'm delighted to be celebrating a year of 'My Thursday Breaktime'. Four passing seasons and a wonderful community of people who've shared over 2,200 breaktime moments on Instagram.

Moments which involve lots of cups of tea and coffee, quiet parts of a day, breaths of fresh air on walks and adventures and creative escapes through a whole host of table top crafts.

I've just spent an hour scrolling through the gallery. It's so lovely to see how little ones have grown over that time and how new seasons touch the gallery at different points in the year. I thought I'd share a few of my favourites from throughout the past year, along with March's favourite today. Oh and read on for some exciting news about an anniversary giveaway too!

I don't know about you but I love looking through picture calendars, you know the good old ring bound type, to see how seasons are captured. So I couldn't resist sharing these seasonal snapshots.  

This month I have been wooed by the sea and have enjoyed some lovely afternoons by the sea over the Easter holidays. There's nothing quite like time on a beach to recharge your batteries is there! 
So when I spotted this photo in the gallery this evening, it stood out as a favourite for March immediately. 
I wonder what plans these two are hatching! It was captured by my friend Laura (@lovelylollyb) who really is the loveliest. A true tale of instagram friendship turned real life and for that I'm truly thankful for this community.

To celebrate this anniversary month I've teamed up with the very gorgeous Rachael at Hobo Soy Candles (@hobosoycandles)! I adore the candles that Rachael makes, they smell incredible and the packaging is spot on, so they fit in anywhere in your home. Rachael is generously giving away a pair of Tumbler Candles for this month's winner, as well a travel tin for two lucky runners up. All you need to do is tag @littlemaldod and @hobosoycandles into your breaktime posts, along with the usual hashtag, and we'll announce a winner and two other favourites at the end of the month.  
Even more of a reason for breaktimes to put a smile on your face! 

Thank you as always for sharing, liking and commenting, I so enjoy looking through them each week. Do join in with this break loving community we've created together. Get to know those sharing their breaktimes too, you never know what friendships might follow. 

Monday, 4 April 2016

Had me at Hello (Fresh)

Anyone familiar with the term 'grizzle o'clock'? You know, that hour between about 3 and 6pm when children have the tendency to 'turn', whinging hits new decibel levels and tensions get just a little bit fraut.

Well, it was around this hour back in February when we had a knock at the door from someone introducing a new concept for cooking called 'Hello Fresh'. I'm not usually someone who will go for doorstep sales but the idea of a box of fresh food and ingredients arriving at my door, with everything I needed to cook 5 meals for the family, had me at, well, it had me at hello.
We signed up to two boxes there and then and haven't looked back. We've now cooked and eaten our way through 3 boxes, that's 15 recipe cards and 60 plates of food which have resulted in 4 clear plates (almost - there's no accounting for toddler fussiness) every time.
We signed up to a Classic Box which includes 5 recipe cards and everything you need (minus the salt, pepper and oil) to cook those meals. Opening the box and discovering what meals are ahead of us on a Monday morning has become something that the kids and I all enjoy.
One of my favorite parts is opening up the brown paper bag with a label saying 'the little things', containing little pots of spices, sachets of sauces and vinegars to make the dishes sing. The chilled food is kept cool in a cleverly designed wool lined packs which can be recycled for next time too.
Whilst the box is designed for two adults to share, over 5 meals, the portion sizes have meant that we've shared the meals with the children too, sometimes adding an extra side of rice or veg to bulk the dish out for the four of us. The recipes have varied and have had us cooking some meat and veg that we wouldn't normally buy (celeriac, pork chops). As well as giving us twists on some already firm favourites, like the pasta dish above.
Our favourite meals have included:
- Minted lamb and feta Burgers with crunchy salad
- Quickfire beef enchiladas with homemade ranchero beans (the kids loved this one!)
- Sicilian caponata with herbed pork and garlic ciabatta (Sam recreated this dish when catering for 60 hungry students recently - it was a winner with them too!)

One of the best bits I've loved is not having to THINK about what we're having for dinner that night. As much as I'd like to think I'm organised and totally have a handle on domestic life, the truth is far from it! So, to know that the all the food I need to cook the evening meal is already in the fridge or cupboard, is a huge help, all I need to do is follow the recipe card for whatever takes our fancy. The cards are so easy to follow and generally take about 30 minutes, with some (thankfully) a little quicker and tend to jump straight to the top of the cook list when it's one of 'those' days.
Yes, I'm afraid it's true, the introduction of Hello Fresh hasn't banished grizzle o'clock, but it HAS worked wonders for my sanity!
There have been a few weeks where we've known we were going to be out or away so have put our delivery on 'hold' and resumed cooking Harris family favourites. On those weeks though I do miss the convenience and chance to try meals that we wouldn't necessarily think about cooking.

Our box for this week has arrived this morning and I'm already looking forward to cooking the 'Surprisingly Filling Mexican Broth.'

If you fancy trying out a couple of boxes for yourself then the lovely people at Hello Fresh have kindly given me a special discount for you. Simply click through to their website here and use the code HFMALDOD to recieve £20 off your first box and £20 off your second box.
I'd love to know what you think and, if you've already given it a go, do let me know what your favourite recipes are, just drop me a comment below.

Thanks for reading today and happy cooking!

I have not been paid or sponsored for this post, all comments and opinions are my own. 
However, a big thank you to Hello Fresh for kindly offering my readers such a great discount.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Sea Air and Cider

Last weekend was one of those weekends which you know will stay with you for some time.

The type of weekend which you look forward to all week.  That starts with gift giving to celebrate birthdays and an engagement, a walk on the beach to clear away city cobwebs, washed down with a few ciders.
The type of weekend that involves a delicious meal out, and one child pulling a late one on the unexpecting babysitter...
Where you spend a whole morning watching old Disney films while a storm rolls in. Where you sneak out to the shops for some Mum and daughter time, and finish the day with good food, good wine and a stay up at the wooden cabin.
The type of weekend that involves a LOT of chocolate and great friends who travel to spend time with you, enjoying a garden and the look on little faces when they spot a hidden egg in a clump of dafodils.
Well, this past weekend was one of those.

Whatever your plans for the one ahead, I hope you have a happy one. X