Going Plastic Free….

Reducing our plastic consumption is something I’ve been considering for a little while now, and when a friend at ‘Peterborough Environment City Trust’ (PECT) mentioned that BBC Look East were looking for a family to try being plastic free for a week, I jumped at the chance.  Sadly for me, I didn’t realise that this meant being filmed LIVE on tv! Needless to say, I won’t be pursuing an acting career as a result of my tv appearance! Having watched the BBC documentary ‘Drowning in Plastic‘ a few weeks, I was absolutely horrified at the sheer scale of devastation plastic is having on our planet. Something needs to be done, and I for one am going to try my utmost to reduce our plastic contribution to landfill….

Having attempted a plastic free week, I’d say that time, I don’t think our family could manage being totally plastic free just yet.  It is astonishing just how many things we buy are wrapped in plastic: vegetables, pasta, fruit, confectionary and many many more, To become totally plastic free, the supermarket chains need to stop wrapping everything in plastic just for the ease of adding a barcode. Something else I have found strange during our plastic free week was how much recycling centres vary across the country. My parents can’t recycle half of what we can. For the UK to cut down on its plastic consumption, what can and can’t be recycled needs to be standardised across the country and the information needs to be readily available QUICKLY.

So, what can you do to reduce your plastic consumption and help our planet?

Cling film: I’m not sure how I didn’t know this, but tin foil is a recyclable provided it is mostly clean.  Next on my purchase list are some beeswax wraps.  These do come across as a little pricey, but they have longevity in them and ultimately better for the environment.  Places I am currently looking to purchase from are the ‘Beeswax Wrap Co‘ and ‘Low Tox Box‘.

Plastic bottles: whilst most of these are recyclable, a significant portion of them end up in landfill.  We love our water bottles in this house.  My current bottle has been on the go for over a year, as have the children’s’. My children love their Sistema water bottles, but they can start to get smelly despite constant washing, so once the time has come to get rid of your water bottle, these plastic ones are recyclable!

Straws: single use plastic straws are terrible.  We have reusable plastic straws in our house that we have had for over a year, which get washed in the dishwasher.  But if you are considering upgrading, there are some excellent metal ones on the market.

Takeaway coffee: whilst these cups may look recyclable, the inner coating is actually plastic! A simple solution is a reusable coffee/tea cup. I LOVE my Bodum one as it keeps my tea hot for hours! However, it can be irritating to carry around for the day. I have since found these ones which are great for travelling as they collapse!

Carrier bags: most stores now have a 5p charge for a single use carrier bag.  I am usually carrying a backpack which I use as my bag, or when supermarket shopping I use reusable bags. Try to keep a reusable bag in your handbag or car for those emergencies.

Wipes: these aren’t very environmentally friendly and should never be flushed down the toilet.  I no longer use wipes within my household, I have an army of microfibre cloths for washing dishes and cleaning with. But should I have my time again with my babies (or perhaps there will be a Raitt £3), I would love to get my hands on some reusable wipes. ‘Cheeky Wipes‘ seem to offer the best ones, and there are often some good deals to be had on second hand ones.  As we still use some wipes, I am going to stop buying them and use a face cloth which I have cut into four pieces.

Sanitary products: Whilst I realise that this may not be everyones cup of tea (no pun intended!), but I have switched from the usual tampons and towels to a ‘menstrual cup‘ and I love it.  After a bit of trial and error in the beginning, it really is great and it Is pleasing to know that I’m not contributing so much waster to landfill each month.

Moving forward as a family, I am altering the way I think about waste.  Things I would like to do:

  • Use the greengrocers and butchers more.
  • Limit the number of packaged goods we buy such as biscuits, cheese, and yoghurts.
  • Ditch cling film.
  • Halve the amount of waste that goes into my refuse bin.

For those of you who were fortunate enough to miss our tv debut, here are some awkward screenshots!

Cat

xxx

Is three still a baby?


I know, I know,  it’s a total cliche but I still can’t believe my little girl, the baby of our family has turned three. It seems such a long time ago that we celebrated your second birthday yet like its passed by in the blink of an eye at the same time.

In the last year you really have moved from baby to toddler, even though I hate to admit it. As a family, quite a bit has changed in the last 18 months, I’ve had 2 different jobs, and your brother has started school, but as ever, you seemed to have taken it all in your stride.

You have always been a terrible sleeper ever since you were tiny, however, progress has been made and you no longer co sleep although I do miss being able to cuddle you whenever I like, but I do feel slightly more rested. It was a big decision to start sleep training you, as I knew it was going to be hard. You’re still not perfect in the sleep department but I’m becoming accustomed to having a catnap in a toddler bed each night! You melt my heart every morning and evening when you give me a big cuddle and tell me you love me; it’s my favourite time of the day.

In the last 6 months, you’ve moved into big girl pants, given up your dummy, naps and stopped co sleeping, it seems my little baby girl has slipped away and become a little girl.  It still seems so alien to say I have three year old, and its going to odd now your brother is at school and its just us.

You are strong minded, fearless, confident, cheeky and downright stubborn but I wouldn’t change you for the world.

Happy birthday my little sausage

Love you lots and lots

Mummy

x x x

Books, Bakes and my Babes

Well, its been an awfully long time since you last saw a post from me, but I think life has just been happening.  I have been beavering away trying to get through my Forest School portfolio (with A LOT of moral boosting texts from my fellow FS pals Abs, Jen and Ruth!), plodding my way through my reading challenge, new bakes, and there have been some challenges to deal with in the holidays with regards to the children’s behaviour.

BOOKS:

So far I am on track with my reading challenge.  My target for 2018 is 25 books, and I am 60% of the way through so far with about 4 months to go.  I’ve tried to branch out and read some new authors, but my favourite picks so far are:

Gail Honeyman: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine. I got this to see if it lived up to the hype.  It was slow to start for me as it didn’t grab me, in part because its not my usual style, but it was a fabulous read and you really feel like you are part of the story. A definite must read.

Jo Watson: Love to Hate You, Burning Moon and After the Rain. If you’ve never read Jo Watson before, they are all romance novels which are lighthearted but addictive to read.  I’d say they are relatively short as I whizzed through them, but I think I am also a fast reader.

Louise Pentland: Wilde Like Me and Wilde About the Girl. Bookworm and Theatre Mouse kindly sent me Wilde Like Me, I started this after my Spanish adult holiday (although I took a mid book break, something I don’t usually do!). What a lovely read. It took about 4/5 chapters to get into it, however once I got into it, I really enjoyed it and I was thinking about when I’d next be able to able sit down and read it! And lucky for me, no sooner had I finished it, the sequel Wilde About the Girl was released, which is beautifully written account of a turbulent year in the life of Robin Wilde; a tale of heartache, romance, family life, and happiness all rolled into one.

Whilst I may have read already read 17 books this year, I STILL have a huge (and still growing) ‘to be read‘ (TBR) pile which includes:

Terry Hayes – I Am Pilgrim; I have heard great things from this book, but I am daunted at starting it because of its length.

Jojo Moyes – Still Me; I LOVED the two previous books in this trilogy, and I watched the film after reading them, so I have high hopes for this one.

Ruth Hogan – The Keeper of Lost Things; I’ve heard good things about this book and despite hoping my ever faithful bookish friends (Hayley From Home and Bookworm and Theatre Mouse) have read it, they have not. The synopsis tells me that it is a ‘charming, clever and quietly moving debut novel of endless possibilities and joyous discoveries that explores the promises we make and break, losing and finding ourselves, the objects that hold magic and meaning for our lives, and the surprising connections that bind us’. It’s sounds a little off the track of my usual reads but I’ve been trying to broaden my horizons from my usual traditional romance stories and favourite others. It’s on my list, so watch this space.

I’m currently reading Paige Toon – Five Years From Now as my blogger friend ‘Mummy Matters‘ suggested her as an author I might like. I’m enjoying it so far although it has quite long chapters which isn’t a problem but I have a weird OCD about not finishing a chapter. I keep track of which books I’ve read and my TBR reads on Goodreads if you fancy following me on there.

BAKES:

Like all parents, by day five of the school holidays I had already been asked for a snack 3,947 times and it was getting tedious to say the least. I knew I had to up my game as all the snacks I was giving them were full of sugar and expensive. It was then that I discovered ‘My Fussy Eater‘ on Facebook. And I haven’t looked back. Ciara’s recipes are just delicious, I originally bought the book after seeing her wonderful yoghurt bark flash up on my Facebook feed and boy it has not disappointed so far. I am a passionate believer of homemade sweet treats (and I’m in no way saying you can’t buy shop bought as I do that too for convenience!) but I know exactly what goes into a cake baked by me, no preservatives, just simple ingredients. It is great to see that Ciara’s sweet recipes are mostly healthy as they are made with coconut oil and/or peanut butter but there is butter in them too. Whilst cooking some of her recipes I discovered a new peanut butter and just how unhealthy the peanut butter we were using really was. I now cook solely with FUEL peanut butter as it contains no added sugar and no palm oil (which is great for the environment). I have also been trying to think about being environmentally with our lives and I really want to try being plastic free but I need to research a bit more before I jump in. I have seen an amazing company called ‘Global Wake Cup‘. They produce some fantastic reusable cups and bottles as well as backpacks produced from paper and best of all: 10% of all profits go to the Marine Conservation Society.

Anyway, I digress; so far, the children have been enjoying her sweet treats, in particular her: chocolate chip granola bars, cranberry cookies, chocolate chip energy bites, raspberry twists, and oaty biscuits. My husband and I have also been enjoying her savoury meals and my favourites are currently the apple, carrot and chicken balls, pesto salmon and chicken and mango burgers, although sadly the children haven’t been fans of these yet, but I won’t give up that easily!

Left to right: TL – cranberry cookie and chocolate chip energy bite. TR – carrot, apple and chicken balls. BL – strawberry quinoa bars. BR – yoghurt bark.

MY BABES:

I can safely say it’s been a tiring and challenging yet fulfilling summer holiday with the children. We appear to have reached a few milestones with L as not only has she potty trained, she also given up the dummy. Now both of these weren’t without their teething problems; the potty training seemed to go on for such a long time despite L being a really quick learner. She grasped the concept of going for a wee really quickly, however using the potty / toilet for a poo was a different story. It wasn’t until around 7-8 weeks after initially potty training did she grasp the concept. In that time, there were quite a pants thrown away and a lot of “FML” muttered under my breath when I was once again dealing with a poo in her pants. Thankfully, in the last 2-3 weeks she’s come on leaps and bounds and has been nailing it; hoorah! And the dummy, well I somewhat foolishly chose the hottest night of the decade to give that one up, but 6 weeks in and she hasn’t asked for it since about day six or seven. It has however made her night wakings that bit harder to deal with resulting in one tired Mummy.

Whilst his sister has been hitting some developmental milestones, H has been testing my patience somewhat. It often appears that he and his peers develop a universal non listening function the second the summer holidays begin and at times it has felt like a long and exhausted summer ‘break’. I often feel guilty for wishing the time away, but it has felt stressful and consuming quite a bit of the time. I have actively tried not to take them out on big days to lots of new places as I think it gets too much for both myself and the children so I tried to stick to a rule of a day out, a day in rule. For my day out rule, I think we only visited two brand new places and all the rest are frequent haunts of ours.

I think part of the problem is that all they hear is my voice ALL DAY, so I guess I can become a little overbearing and the same is definitely said for both H and L.

This September sees H begin reception and whilst I don’t feel upset in the grand scheme of things, I feel shocked that it seems to have come round really quickly. Last week, we attended his graduation ceremony for nursery and it is all so real now as I held the past 3 years of H’s nursery life in a folder.

It’s September next week and that will see me only looking after one child on my days off. It will be so strange just having L at home with me, and I think that’s what I’m most sad about. Whilst I am (almost) ready for summer to be over and our routine to be restored, I don’t want to miss anymore days with my little H. Some days he still seems so young where as other days he is totally ready; I think it will be a steep learning curve for him as he is such an active boy and really yearns to be outside so I’m a little anxious for September. I’m sure he will take it all in his stride though.

New Jojo Maman Bébé, Stamford

Today I visited the opening of the new JoJo Maman Bébé store in Stamford. It’s located on the main High Street (64 High Street, Stamford, PE9 2AW). The store is beautifully laid out with a really good selection of baby clothes, toddler clothes and maternity wear. I was on the lookout for something for my daughters birthday in October and I managed to pick up this gorgeous little dress (see below).

Our favourite Jojo pieces have always been their waterproof all in ones and braces, so it’s really pleasing there is now a store nearby.

As I was one of the first 100 customers to purchase on their opening day, I also got a lovely goody bag. My goody bag contained an Ella’s Kitchen pouch (which my 4yr old son devoured), a CD, a voucher for COOK, some lovely stretch mark cream and other pregnancy toiletries (I donated those to my pregnant friend in store (as we’re not currently planning anymore) and the best bit was the cool magnet dress up game which my daughter will love.

Why not pop in when you’re next visiting?

Four seems so grown up…

I feel like today has been looming for a while, but somehow it still seems so odd that I now have a four year old.  I read my post from when you turned three, a whole year ago; and you have grown so much, yet I still feel you are my baby boy.

You are still an inquisitive little soul, you never shut up (which can be very annoying at times!), and you still absolutely love the outdoors, which is a bit of a concern for school come September, but I absolutely wouldn’t change you for the world.

Last year I wrote about meal time woes and having my patience tested.  We seemed to have turned a corner recently with the eating; although you still don’t have a vastly varied diet, you will generally eat most of the time, now we have learned the art of reasoning! My patience, however, is still tested, at least once a day (usually). Most of time, you go on the naughty step for not listening, but we are getting there.

Since your last birthday, I have changed jobs and gained more time with you; going from five days to three which includes a full weekend as a family, and I have LOVED every minute of it.  We have been able to go away for weekends, plan day trips on BOTH days and it has been marvellous!

You are so independent when we go out, always trying the park equipment, even the tall ones I hate. Sometimes you attack things with no fear, other times, you panic and need my reassurance.  I don’t know if its a boy thing or a toddler thing, but you seem to have boundless energy, and my favourite way to spend time with you is inventing adventures when we are outside. We do love a bear hunt or a treasure walk.

School is now looming and it still fills me with horror that in four months time you will be starting school.  We were lucky enough to gain a place at our preferred choice, where you currently attend pre-school.  Looking back it was a hard decision to send you to pre-school, but you settled well without a backwards glance as I always knew you would (even though there were a few niggly doubts at the back of my mind).  The real tough decision was giving up some of my precious time with you. Knowing school is around the corner has got me worrying over things you are not doing and should be doing.  A daily battle I am trying to win is getting dressed. On days we are rushing out to work / school, I find I am dressing you as if left to your own devices, we wouldn’t arrive until lunchtime.  However, other times, you are so independent and demand to put your shoes on yourself.

For your birthday this year, we have kept it quite low key with no party, which I have to say has been nice.  Daddy and I are taking you see a theatre show of Julia Donaldson’s: Tiddler, Squash and a Squeeze and The Smartest Giant and I can’t wait. We haven’t had any time just the three of us since your sister arrived in 2015! For your actual birthday, you are in nursery for half a day so you can celebrate with your pals and of course cake! You will be going to your favourite place, the forest for your weekly forest school session. And I have to say, I feel I have peaked with your cake this year; I’m not sure I can top it, like EVER!

Although, I am anxious about what this next year will bring, I am so incredibly proud of the little boy you are becoming and I can’t wait to see what memories we will make this year. I hope the next year brings you as much joy as the last four have given me.

Happy birthday my beautiful little boy.

All my love

Mummy

x x

We are one!

Well I can’t actually believe that I started this ‘bit of fun’ almost a whole year ago! I’m still enjoying having a go at blogging, but I would really like to up my game for 2018.  Yes I know we are now (almost) in February, but here are some aims and desires for the blog for 2018. I would really love to:

  1. Increase my followers on Instagram to 200.
  2. Blog at least once a fortnight.
  3. Post twice a week on the Facebook / Instagram pages.
  4. Apply to become a QBlogger.
  5. Increase my followers on Facebook to 150.

This year I want to take more photos of us a family and I’m hoping to take part in the #meandmineproject each month (reminder to do it tonight!).  The ‘Me and Mine Project‘ is an incentive to do more family portraits, on the last day of each month you publish a family photo.  This is the one thing we are rubbish at, they’re always just of the children!  I have started to keep track of my reading challenge a bit more by using the hashtag #awooereads2018.  I really surprised myself last year with the number of books I read and I’m enjoying trying some new ones so far this year.  The fitness challenge is still going well-ish, so I am hopeful I will keep this one going for the year and when the nights start getting a bit lighter, it will be easier to motivate myself to get out running in the evenings!

Honestly, sometimes finding a. the content, and b. the time to post can be difficult but I do enjoy it, but the most nerve racking part of it all is knowing people might not like what I have written.  I am by no means a ‘writer’, I have a basic B in GCSE English, so I am definitely not the most eloquent blogger around, and the suspect the grammar police would have afield day on my ramblings; BUT I am passionate about what I write and it comes from the heart.  This sounds very cheesy, but when I receive comments on the website, Facebook page or Instagram page, they really do make me smile.

So……..watch the Facebook page and follow us on Instagram for an amazing collaborative giveaway coming up in February………!!

Balancing, Books and Bakes

It seems apt in the run up to Christmas that I spend some time to share with you what we’ve been up to lately and what I’m planning for 2018. I set myself a reading challenge at the beginning of 2017 and I want to try a new challenge or challenges for 2018! I think being a little competitive, I prefer a challenge. I like the idea of a bigger reading challenge as well as a fitness challenge.  Do you have any challenges/targets you’d like to set for 2018?

READING:

As I have already mentioned, I set myself a reading challenge for 2017, which was to read 12 books in 12 months.  Miraculously, I managed to hit the target and surpass it back in October, and I am current;y searching for book 18 to start. Despite having a large ‘to read’ pile and an uninspiring trip to the library this morning, I am still struggling to pick one. Naturally, suggestions are welcome! I have finished work for Christmas so I have a bit more time than usual to read, although the current 0530 starts from the children aren’t allowing much bedtime reading at the moment, Zzzzzz.  Here’s a list of my reads so far:

  1. Hurrah for Gin, Katie Kirby: a lighthearted book on the trials and tribulations of being a Mum.  I laughed out loud and really enjoyed this book.  If you’re after a giggle this Christmas, this could be a purchase for you, or wife/partner.
  2. Shopaholic to the Rescue, Sophie Kinsella: I’m a bit of a sucker for a Sophie Kinsella book and this one didn’t disappoint.  I’ve read all the books in the ‘Shopaholic’ series, and I would recommend you read them first as it sets the scene, although not essential.
  3. Hope to Die, James Patterson: Again I am an avid James Patterson reader, although I am way behind on the Women’s Murder Club series! I find the short and sweet chapters really easy to read and a fantastic help when I’m often forced to put down the book and pick back up another day.  Book three was a bit of struggle for me as it took a while to get through, in fact, I was already well into month four by the time I’d finished this.
  4. Scummy Mummies, Ellie Gibson & Helen Thorn: Yet another ‘Mum’ read, and again an easy read with yet more crazy tales from Motherhood.
  5. Cross Justice, James Patterson: Shock! Another JP book, similar to Book three, this one is part of the ‘Alex Cross’ collection which are wonderful.  They are up to the mid twenties and they’re all still amazing.  James Patterson really is a wonderful writer, well I think so anyway.
  6. A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness: My tutor group at school (yes I take reading advice from 15 year olds!) suggested this one, and my two lovely friends Hayley (hayleyfromhome) and Kat (bookwormandtheatremouse) seemed to agree that Patrick Ness was a good read. It was a lovely book, but I was not prepared AT ALL for the tearjerker ending! (a little prep if you decide to read it, although might have just ruined it!).
  7. The One Plus One, Jojo Moyes: A Jojo convert after reading this book.  A really lovely tale, and although I could see how it might end, the story was beautifully written with some twists and turns along the way.
  8. One With You, Sylvia Day: Similar to  the Christian Grey stories, this one wasn’t the best book, but I got through it.
  9. The Queen of Wishful Thinking, Milly Johnson: I’ve never read a Milly Johnson book before and I don’t know what drew me to this book in my Amazon order.  I think its the colourful front cover, I know the saying, never judge a book by its cover, but I am a sucker for brightly coloured front cover; they always seem a bit more appealing. I’m trying to do better and read the back before I discount them now.  This was a beautiful and eloquently written story, a romance novel if you will.  I do love a good ‘boy meets girl’ story.
  10. The First Time Mums’ Club, Lucie Wheeler: I grabbed this off the ‘new books’ shelf at the library and after failing to get on with a few books, this one grabbed me.  Was a fun story about becoming a Mum for the first time.  No motherhood tales in this one, but just a lovely story about making new friends during pregnancy.   I am super lucky to have such wonderful friends, and amazingly we all have children the same age!
  11. Sunshine at Wildflower Cottage, Milly Johnson: I seem to be a creature of habit and often try and read books by the same author.  This was such an easy and enjoyable read.  I’m getting to the point where I feel like I should probably branch out and read something a little more thought provoking, but honestly, I don;t know if my brain can manage it!
  12. Paris for One, Jojo Moyes: I was right when I said I was a Jojo convert! This was a really short story, in fact only 100 pages, so I felt a bit of a fraud calling it my 12th book.  I think there is another version of this book which has other short stories in, so it would be nice to read the others.
  13. Me Before You, Jojo Moyes: This book is so good, it is now a motion picture, which i dutifully watched yesterday in my mammoth 2.5hr present wrapping session.  If you’ve not read this, I can absolutely recommend it.  I think I preferred reading the book first and watching the film second.  It really is a moving story.
  14. After You, Jojo Moyes: I won’t lie, I preferred the first story to this one, but none the less it was still good.  An interesting read: a love story, a broken heart and a grieving heart all wrapped up into one book.
  15. Triple Threat, James Patterson: Although I have many more James Patterson books on my Kindle, I found this one on the book shelf in our church whilst attending Community Cafe. It’s actually three short stories in one book.  The first and third stories were really good, but the middle one freaked me out a little. James Patterson has a similar longer story called Zoo which also freaked me out, so I’m not sure why I continued, but I did.
  16. Almost a Bride, Jo Watson: Another find from the ‘New Book’ shelf at the library. I’ve never heard of Jo Watson and upon starting this story, I discovered she is a South African writer (the story is set in South Africa).  Heartbroken and jobless, Annie is having a bit of a dilemma so books a holiday with her girlfriends as rehab, and the story goes from there.
  17. Talk to Me, Jules Wake: After I said I was trying to be good and read the back before discounting a book.  Well I actually didn’t look at the front, it was the red spine that attracted me to this one.  It was until I got it home, did I see the front cover and I thought I’d picked up something a bit more sultry than I had anticipated.  But, it was a gorgeous romance novel instead about a girl being in love with someone she couldn’t have.

A BALANCING ACT:

I have had two children for over two years now (I know, still can’t believe it myself!), but I still struggle with the balancing act, and I’m not sure I will ever be happy! I currently work 3 days a week, and have 2 days with the children. Although H goes to pre-school in our village on both days that I am off.  I’ve really enjoyed the difference compared to last years 5 days, but I still find myself pining to fit more in or do more with the children.  It does make me wonder if I will ever be content with my work:life balance. I’ve toyed with the idea of becoming a SAHM Mum, but then I wonder if I will pine for the adult conversation, solo toilet trips and the buzz of using my brain I suppose. But then I long for a slower pace of life, and I find myself constantly trying to think of new and exciting ways to entertain H and L, and would they still be happy if we’re at home more.   Do you have the right balance? 

TERRIBLE TWOS AND TESTING THREES:

I think we have turned a corner with H these past few weeks were he is beginning to understand a bit more and accept reasoning, but I find all of that goes out the window if he is tired.  Honestly, you just can’t get any sense from him if he is overtired. He has started accepting that he has to say sorry and learn why he shouldn’t have done the things he’s done and just in the last week or so, he has finally become more engaged with sitting and doing something a bit academic.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’re at the MENSA or Nobel Prize winning stage yet, but this is a big leap forward.  He is now asking to draw, write his name and is enjoying doing some more thinking tasks.  I had been so worried about him not being able hold a pencil at school in September, let alone write his name, but I think I’m ok about it all now.

       

His younger sister on the other hand is something else.  I joke to my Mum that she is a lost cause! I’m not sure if she’s stubborn, strong minded or just the devil child sometimes! Mum also offers zero advice, and just laughs as apparently I was like this as a child.  We have got to the stage where she will say ‘Sorry’ now but she is still a little monkey.  We still share a bed every night, which as much as it annoys me, I do love having a quick cuddle and a squeeze of squidgy thighs

FITNESS:

Ever since the clocks changed back in October I have really struggled to ‘train’.  This week I managed two days by myself without the children and I went for a run on both days, but when I’m at work or at home with the children, I have zero motivation.  Once my husband is home, and I’ve finished bath/bed time, its 7pm by which time I’m usually starving and going for a run is the last thing on the mind.  Most people say I’m fit anyway because of my job. My job is obviously active, but I’m not actually improving my fitness.  I think I need to enter a race to set myself a target to hit or even just something to train for.  I will have to set myself a challenge for 2018; a race or a number of sessions/miles per month perhaps.  What are your fitness aspirations for 2018?

BAKING:

Brownies: I’ve recently been experimenting with some new and slightly healthier recipes, which my work colleagues have been testing out, albeit sometimes begrudgingly! Perhaps the most popular of these new recipes was my dairy and sugar free Avocado Brownies. These have been a bit of trial and error really as the recipe uses coconut flour, after some research I discovered I could swap it out for a mixture of self-raising and plain flour as long as I added extra eggs to compensate as coconut flour is extraordinarily absorbent.  This is the recipe I followed (https://www.thehealthymaven.com/2015/08/healthy-avocado-brownies.html), but I had to adapt it slightly, so here are my ingredients:

  • 1 large avocado
  • 1/2 cup apple sauce
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup ( used a mixture of golden syrup and honey because I had no maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1 cup self raising flour
  • 1/2 cup plain flour

Add the wet ingredients to a food mixer, ensuring you blend after each addition.  The recipe states that you should transfer to a bowl before adding the eggs, but I’m a little lazy so I just mixed it all in the blender and it turned out ok.  Pour the mixture into a greased dish, I used a square one, and bake for 20-25 mins.  If you prefer them slightly gooey, check them after 20 minutes, if you prefer them more well done, leave them for longer.  I have a measuring jug with cups on, but if you don’t, here is a conversion website: (http://www.tuscanrecipes.com/cooking-tips/dry-liquid-measures.html).

Breakfast Bites: I tried this last week, and they got a mixed review at work; well actually only 1.5 out of 6 liked/tried them, so not a raging success.  Although my biggest critic when it comes to cake (my little H) enjoyed them! These can be used as a cake snack or as a breakfast on the go. The Mango Coconut Bites were quite tasty, if a little out there (I have officially been nicknamed ‘Mrs Cropley’ by my neighbours!).  These were super easy to make, and the children enjoyed helping me, even though they bickered about who was mixing!

  • 40g raisins
  • 1 ripe banana (mashed)
  • 195g oats
  • 33g of desiccated coconut
  • 250ml coconut milk
  • 1 egg (beaten)
  • 140g of frozen mango

Soak the raisins in boiling water. Add the coconut, oats, desiccated coconut and coconut milk to a large mixing bowl and combine. Now add the mango and stir, followed by the egg. Drain any remaining water off the raisins, and stir into the mixture. Pop into a tin and bake for 25-30mins at 190C. (https://www.healthylittlefoodies.com/coconut-mango-oat-breakfast-bites/)

Nutella Christmas Tree: Honestly, this isn’t healthy at all, but my word, it was soon good and easy to make.  Roll out a sheet of puff pastry, I then cut out a shape of a Christmas tree and used the cut off triangles as the top (you could use two separate sheets though).  Spread a good layer of nutella (or other chocolate based spread on the top and cover with the leftover triangles.  Cut slats all the way up both sides of the Christmas tree and then twist the ‘strands’ into a kind of plait.  Bake for about 20-25 mins, and then enjoy whilst warm.  I am planning this for Christmas Day breakfast! For a youtube tutorial, try this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7So4_MSdjpA.

 

What are your go to quick bakes or healthy treats? My secret santa bought me a Paul Hollywood cookbook for Christmas and the first recipe is for Churro’s which are high on my list of bakes over the festive period.

CHRISTMAS

I don’t think I could write this post without mentioning the ‘C’ word; I think I am ready.  I have bought and wrapped everything, we just have the small matter of building a play kitchen and dolls house, shall we wait until Christmas Eve…..? For children, Christmas is really all about the magic and of course the presents.  Our little H is just that bit older this year, and is beginning to get more excited, although I’m still not sure if he’s cottoned onto to everything yet, but he knows Father Christmas brings presents and he has to be on the good list, BUT, I really want to try and make it extra special for 2018.  I’m probably crazy for already looking to 2018 when most people still aren’t ready for Christmas 2017! But, I want to get H (and hopefully L) engaged into the meaning of Christmas a bit more.  We talk a lot about being on the good list or naughty list, but I want to get the children thinking about how important and special it is to spend time with our families.  My family live 150 miles away in the North West so we don’t get to see them that often, so it is always special when we see everyone as we’re not often together with my parents and siblings.  I have had a bit of an enlightening week were I am feeling very grateful indeed that we are able to share Christmas with my family and despite all the travelling and traffic, we are really very lucky. Some of us will be missing loved ones this Christmas, or not be able to all be together, so I am hoping to make next years’ festive period more about giving and family.  One of my old work colleagues has been telling me about the ‘Kindness Elves‘.  Although, not strictly just for Christmas, I really want to incorporate some of their ideas into our next Christmas, so I will researching that in the new year, but for now, I think we will go and pop some food donations into box in our Church.

Thanks for reading

C xxx

Re-post – ‘Bad Mum-itis’


After what has felt like a bit of a car crash morning of seemingly constant fighting, an (over-tired) 2 year old who wants to wear pants, a brother who wants a snack 5 mins after just eating his previous snack, and goodness knows what else.  The little one is asleep, the big one is at pre-school, I’ve had a cuppa, and I’ve sat down to take stock, and it really wasn’t that bad a morning was it! Here’s a bit of a repost of something I wrote a few months ago.  I think we all need reminding once in a while that we are doing a good job, to relax, and go with the flow.

What is ”Bad Mum-itis’?

I think we all suffer from this at some point. I know I have and still have my moments! I suppose ‘Bad Mum-itis’ is your inner Mum conscience….

As Mums, we are constantly fighting a battle to be the elusive ‘Supermum’-  bake cakes, have a tidy house, make wholesome healthy meals every night or do something your friends did or just doing a better job. The fact remains; we are all GREAT Mums’ and we shouldn’t be second guessing ourselves or our ability. I think the very fact we do this to ourselves or strive for better makes us fantastic at what we do, because we care.  These are exactly the values I want to instill in my children; not the negativity, but the positive: that I care about doing better, having the resilience to forget despite a bad day.

Motherhood is a HUGE learning curve (a steep one too!) but that’s all part of the fun. I’m not ashamed to say I’m probably ‘winging it’ 99% of the time or take the easy route just for some peace and quiet (hence why my 2 year old still co sleeps with us because I actually get some sleep!).

I think we need to stop worrying about what you think you should be doing, what you aren’t doing and start celebrating what you ARE doing. Because believe it or not, these little humans will love you regardless. Live each day as it comes and cherish EVERY moment.

You’re doing a great job!

And just like that, you are two!


So today is the day that my darling baby girl turns two, I literally cannot believe she is actually two.  Two whole years!  All my friends seem to be popping out second siblings at the moment causing my uterus to weep for a third; although like my friend says, “I’ll have a third baby and be divorced in the same year!”. She still seems so baby like to me, I think because I treat her a bit like that (savouring the baby days) and her speech seems less developed than her brother’s was, so it makes her feel younger, although now I’ve written that her speech seems to be improving loads just this week.

You were a shock arrival at just under two weeks early and we were not prepared in any way! The car seat was still in the garage and the moses basket had been in the loft for well over a year! You were such a little dot too at just 5lb 8oz; you had these tiny little legs like a sparrow.  You were fussy to feed and struggled to gain weight in the beginning, but you wouldn’t think it to look at you now.


You are beginning to become such an independent little girl, I guess having an older brother does that.  I can sense potty training is just around the corner (although that would mean no more changing nappies in the day which would be great, but it also definitely signifies you’re a big girl!), you refuse to sit in a high chair anymore and we are constantly asking you to ‘sit down’ at the table, you won’t let me open your yoghurt anymore, you love playing with dolls as well as splashing in muddy puddles and you love watching Peppa Pig and your new favourite phrase is ‘No Mummy‘; usually said with a frown.

However, there are still some baby-ish ways you are accustomed to which I love.  You are a terrible sleeper (ok, I don’t love this trait!), a constant source of my moans and groans.  I think I could count on my hands the amount of times you’ve slept through in two years.   When I went back to work, we got into a bad habit of allowing you to come and cuddle in bed with us as we were exhausted constantly getting up.  I tried sleep training you in the summer holidays and it succeeded for about two weeks, but old habits have crept back in, and you are once again a ‘bed invader’.  Whilst it can be terribly annoying to co-sleep with a child (thankfully for me, my husband usually bares the brunt of the kicking!), I try (and I mean TRY) to take pleasure knowing she likes to be close to us and loves a cuddle, and you do love a cuddle or ‘TUDDLE” as you call it. You are still very much attached to your dummy, it’s essential for getting you to sleep so I don’t think it’ll be going anytime soon! I’m desperately trying to hold onto the baby days just that little bit longer and have recently bought you some more babygrows for bedtime, and boy do you look cute.


She is such a little dare devil: running around everywhere, jumping off anything and everything, climbing anything and everything.  I honestly need eyes in the back of head, and I thought mine were good being a teacher and all, but boy do they need honing to match little L. My Mum will laugh when she reads this, but L is most certainly a chip off the old block.  It is almost like she is ‘baby me’ reincarnated but with the tantrums multiplied ten fold.  She is such a headstrong little girl who knows what she wants, and will definitely sulk if she doesn’t get it.  Obviously, now you are two, we enter the realms of the ‘Terrible Two’s’, although we most certainly seem to have learned how to tantrum with the best of them already.  Jeepers, you can be difficult at times, and I can already see we will clash when you are older as we are so similar minded!

Sadly, she is yet to have a proper birthday party with her friends, but I have attempted to make her some Peppa Pig cupcakes for nursery. We have my parents here for the weekend so I am looking forward to enjoying some family time, more cake and lots of adventures!

I still can’t believe you are actually two, as I remember 2.42am on the 5th October 2015 like it was yesterday.  I hope you continue to be you with that cheeky grin and gorgeous smile as (and I think you know this) it melts my heart everytime.

You’re funny and frustrating, inquisitive and infuriating, caring and challenging, yet I can’t imagine a single day without seeing your infectious smile.

Happy birthday my sweet little baby girl

Love Mummy

x x x x

A Summer of Fun!

Already, the summer of 2017 seems a distant memory as we are hurtling towards Autumn.  It seemed like that the summer break passed by in the blink of an eye, and here I am back at work with a thud of reality. It’s been a while since I’ve written a post about what we’ve been up to, but we have been busy bees having lots of adventures and making memories.

Finishing Work: This summer saw me leaving a job I’d been in for five years, my longest serving teaching post to date. It was most definitely the end of era (well for me anyway) leaving what I’d known for five years and my comfort zone. Whilst I am incredibly sad not to be working with some truly great friends anymore, I am excited about my new prospects: working in a more part time role and being able to spend some more days at home with H and L. We are still adjusting to our new routine, which I’m sure will be sorted by the end of the week.  I see smile every time I walk upstairs and see my beautiful leaving gift has taken up pride of place at the top of my stairs where I can see it everyday.


Our Spanish Holiday: I am lucky enough to work in an independent school, with this it brings an earlier finish for summer. Because of this, we were able to go to Spain before the main state school holidays had started. So on July 8th, we flew to Barcelona for our holiday on the outskirts of Girona with 10 of our friends and their families (4 children in total). The villa was set in beautiful grounds atop a hillside with gorgeous views of the Spanish countryside. It took us a few days to get H’s courage up and get him in the pool (he wouldn’t go in the pool at all on our holiday in 2016!), after the first success it was difficult to get him out! My favourite day by far was our day at the beach. H absolutely loved it (although I’m not sure the Spanish tourists approved of his naked bum!), L needed a touch more convincing on the sea front but still a very enjoyable day by all!


What I’ve been reading: I tried to read a few books over the summer. Gone are the days when I could read for hours on end I the summer, with a 3 and 1 year chomping at my heels, it’s rare I get my book out before bedtime. We were lucky enough to have a cheeky weekend away without the children (courtesy of my parents) and I managed to read a book over the weekend inbetween sightseeing around Knaresborough (see review here). But, here is my list of summer reads:

1. Jojo Moyes – The One Plus One

2. Sylvia Day – One With You

3. Milly Johnson – The Queen of Wishful Thinking

4. Lucie Wheeler – The First Time Mums Club

5. Milly Johnson – Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage [currently reading, and enjoying]

Decorating: this summer has seen a decorating mission!! The house has been in dire need of some updating as it’s virtually not been touched since before H was born, if at all. I had a weeks grace of paid nursery care for both H and L, so I worked like a trojan for 3.5 days to sort the hallway, and paint the front door and garage.  I can safely say I won’t be in a hurry to paint the bannister again!! After a few weeks off, I set to work in the kitchen. This time I didn’t have the luxury of childcare, so it was an evening job.  Each wall required three coats (I know!), I repainted the Welsh dresser and half moon table too.  We also bought new dining chairs as our old ones were disintegrated.  Its now almost finished, I just need to get my custom made pallet wood shelf up and paint the skirting boards and it will be done.  I am so so pleased with how its turned out and absolutely love it! Next on the list is Lily’s bedroom which will be October half terms job.


Memories:  There have been many memories made and such wonderful times with the children this summer, and I still can’t believe its all come to an end, although I do love some puddle jumping and leaf kicking, so I will be welcoming Autumn with open arms (one of my favourite seasons).  Highlights of the summer memories have to be: splashing in the pool and at the beach in Spain, our childfree weekend, lazy mornings, baking, seeing family, the village produce show, the zoo, and many more.

The next few weeks see quite a hectic social calendar for the children, and my little L turns two. More on that in a few weeks.