Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Totally Spoilt

This Christmas I have been complete spoilt by my family and friends. It just goes to show how well they all know me. These are a few of the goodies I got this year.

A fabulous handbag which will go completely with my rockabilly dresses and will make a change from carting round a changing bag.

A very posh handbag, so posh it comes in its own bag. So posh, I dare not use it. So posh, I'm thinking about hanging it on the wall to stare at it and occasionally stroke it.

A wine making kit and 2 bottles of Stags Breathe whisky, my favourite. So 2014 is looking very merry already.

A weekend in Chester. It is a place I have always wanted to visit, as it is steeped in history.

A mass of cake decorating, cake pop goodies and bread making things. These will keep me very busy. Hopefully everyone will benefit from this gift.

Some gorgeous clothes. My New Year Resolution is to make more effort with my appearance, so these will help, as will the make up and smellies I received.

A external hard drive. I'm on a mission to sort all my photos out and keep them in one place in some organised order.

There are lots of other bits and bobs. I'm very grateful to everyone. I'm hoping the presents we got people are just as well received as mine.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Obviously the most amazing thing to happen this year was the birth of Penny, who now at 8 months has flourished into a content, happy, smiley baby who adores her brother. 
James has also transformed this year, from a baby to a thoughtful, caring boy. Who is happy, lively and has a cheeky sense of humor and crafty smile. He is polite and freely gives hugs and kisses to all. He too has come on leaps and bounds. I was initially worried how the new baby would affect him. I shouldn't have, he is a very attentive older brother, who makes sure Penny is included and safe.

Also, thanks to my maternity leave, this year we have had the freedom to go away on holiday. Our week in Yarmouth was brilliant (the weather helped) as was the trip to London to see the dinosaurs and caravaning with Grandad. 
So looking back at this year, I'm thanking my blessings for my little family and the time with have spent together. 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Christmas 2013

We have had a lovely Christmas.
James, at 2 years old, had a lot more understanding this year. We put out the mince pie, carrot and sherry for Father Christmas. After watching Snowman and snowdog, we had a chocolate off the Christmas tree and had a look out the window to see if we could see Father Christmas.  
Christmas morning,  James had completely forgot about Father Christmas. He didn't see his stocking at the end of the bed. John had to go and check if he had been. James liked to explore each present before he opened the next. He walked into the living room, he didn't notice the giant stash of presents right I  front of the door. Ohhhh. It wasn't long before he had helped Penny open her Little Tikes activity house and have a good play in it. Up went the fire engine tent. He was so excited to find he had a roly digger. 
The morning soon whizzed by, leaving the toys was a little too much for James, but there were the only tears of the day and soon past with the excitement of seeing Grandad and telling him about his digger. 
Christmas dinner was lovely. James was well behaved. He is normally went we go out, but this was 3 courses, so a long time for him to sit. Penny fell asleep during pudding, not before getting cuddles from all the staff. 
Everyone came back to ours for the family presents. I think we were all pleased and spoilt rotten.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Right. I'm calling it Christmas.

Right, rubbish telly on, sherry poured and breathe.
Today I have mainly be running around doing a food shop, trying not to turn into one of those fantic woman who shop like the world is coming to an end and has a trolleys full of tea bags.
Today was a mission, we had a plan with the aim of doing all the last mintues shopping done, in, out without have a meltdown eithervthe kids or us. I dropped John and James in Lincoln in find a toy and a few prezzies and Penny and I headed to Morrisons. Success, only took us 1.5 hours. Note to self, write the shopping list in order of the store set out next time.
So, we celebrated by opening the Christmas nibbles for tea and watched the Goonies.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Upholstery part 3

Right the chair is finished just in time for Christmas. Hooray.  After carefully sewing the panels together the cover sliped over the top of the chair. Much to my disappointment it didn't fit right on the arms. However, with a bit of brute force and a heavy duty staple gun, it finally surrended. I'm very pleased with the results. I've kept the pattern just in case it needs covering again. I'm looking for another chair now to go with it.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Bedroom under the stairs.

The other week we visited Warners studio Harry Potter Tour, which was amazing. As a result James has decided he would like his bedroom under the stairs. This is him moving in with a sleeping bag and Sleepy. The hoover now has its own bedroom.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Procrastinating and cake.

Procrastinating - The art of putting what you should be doing by doing something pointless, irrelevant and eating cake. I am an expert and for the last week I have cleaned the cupboards, sorted Penny's old clothes, bleached the shower and eaten lots of cake. Why? Because I'm avoiding ringing up the supply agency and signing back with them.
My maternity leave is due to finish at the end of this month. The thought of going back at the moment fills me with dread, the early mornings, the not knowing if I'm working or not, the irregular money and most importantly missing the children. I know I'm lucky compared with some who have to work fill time and put their children in child care. However, needs must and tomorrow I really need to ring the agency or clean the cooker.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Dusting down the decorations.

It is that time of year again where I find myself crawling into the cupboard under the stairs, groping about in darkness to find the Christmas decorations, tree, slightly damp wrapping paper and a box of crackers which I hope still have some bang in them.
I have to say I'm not one to go over the top with the decorations. We tend to have a nice classy tree and a few choice ornaments and candles. I have a feeling that once my children start school and bring home the cotton ball snowman, doily snowflakes and carrier bag wreaths, my classy will turn tacky and I will turn into my mum. My mum would let me and my sisters decorate the tree (when I say decorate, I mean throw as much stuff at the tree before my two sisters got a chance and arguing) then whilst we were in bed redecorate the whole thing herself.
I have started a tradition in our house. Ever year my children get to choose a new decoration for the tree. The idea is that when they grow up and have a home of their own, they can take their decoration with them. Last year James chose a huge wood star, which our tree struggled to hold, but he was only 1 and at tbe time he was obsessed with cats and stars

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Baby led weaning update.

In an earlier post I explained how we are combining baby led weaning and the spoonfed mush. As we started weaning Penny at 4 months, by giving her baby rice, which she hated unless there was jam in it, and apple puree. Our range of food mush now includes pear, pineapple and apple, plum and apple, damson and apple, carrot and swede, sweet potato, and broccoli and carrot. These have all been super smooth purees.
Now she is a little old we have started in introduce finger foods and less blended food. The blended food we now give her is exactly the same as the food we eat. The makes meals times a lot simpler for us all. So far she has had lasagne,  spag bol, any veg we had, soup, banana and beans.
We had offer her a range of finger food with she can taste and play with. This allows me to eat my food while it is warm rather than feeding her first. So far she has tried toast, spag bol, chips, breadsticks, cheese, yorkshire pudding, biscuits, rusks, carrot, cucumber,  pepper, noodles, broccoli, cauliflower and banana. After she has finished throwing it around she has her puree. I don't think she eats much apart from the cheese, some goes in but comes out again. It is just getting her use to different textures and flavours. We did the same weaning method with James and he eats really well.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Todays effort.

I'm pleased with the decoration. The fondant icing is a bit ropey, I was in a hurry to get it done.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Trick or Treat

This is my pumpkin, James chose the design. He help hollow out the pumpkin as well. 

This is Johns, it took him so long to do that James, Penny and I got bored. It is good though.

Today we made Halloween biscuits and tonight we let James stay up a little longer to see the trick and treaters (we decided not to take him because he is too young still). After a few people had been and he shyly gave out sweets,  he soon got into the swing of things. He kept putting on his pumpkin mask he won, running from the back door to knock on the front shouting trick or treat. He would go to bed because he as insistent more children were coming. We had to convince him they had all gone to bed.

Upholstery. Part 2

As a novice to upholstery, I am just going to wing it with this chair. I have managed so far redo the cushion cover with success.  I thought the zip would be a challenge,  but thanks to You Tube it was pretty straight forward. So on to the next step.
As with most things, it is the preparation which takes the most time. Yesterday, with James' help, I striped the chair and made patterns ready to sew.

First, I labelled each part of the chair with maker pen. This hopefully with make it easier when making the pattern.

Next, I unscrewed the legs and took out the staples which held the black cover the
fabric tight.

Then took the staples out of fabric inside the seat part. This release the fabric cover, which just slipped off.

Using a seam unpicker thing. I seperated each panel of the cover. I seperated at the seam. I have to remember to leave seam allowance when cutting the pattern.

I pinned each panel onto the new fabric. I did the reverse side of the new fabric and the reverse side of the old panels.

Leaving a seam allowance of 1cm I cut out each panel. My scissor are naff so they look a bit hacked.

Tomorrows job Is the sew the panels together.

Monday, October 28, 2013

I've started, but will I finish?

A few months ago I found an old tub chair lucking on a facebook selling page. Since we have a lack of furniture and are going to be inundated at Christmas, I grabbed the chair with both hands. It had definitely seen better days, so I had the crazy notion to upholster it.
Since then it has been languishing in the corner of our living room, rather looking sorry for itself, even with a throw draped over it.
Until now. As a novice seamstress the task seemed rather daunting.  I have started and finished the cushion, even including a zip. It was too different either. It just took careful cutting along the seams to make a pattern. Remembering to add seam allowance when cutting the new fabric and double checking everything before I started sewing. I'm rather pleased with it. As a result the chair is look considerable happier. Now for the rest.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Penny. 6 things I miss about you already.

The 9 months of worrying and waiting for you to arrive seemed to take forever. Now you are 6 months old and it whizzed by so quickly. You have already grown and changed so much that I could write pages on it. However, I have limited myself to 6 things that I miss about you.

  1. The way you used to hold your ear to help you fall asleep.
  2. The way you curled up in a ball around my hand, while I was winding up.
  3. I miss having you in the Moses basket in our room, so I could just look at you.
  4. I miss your tiny baby cry, now you just yell.
  5. I miss you tucking your leg up, curling up and sleeping on my chest.
  6. I miss the hair you had when you was first born.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Chocolate Heaven.

Once again the lovely people at BzzAgent have sent me a load of goodies in the post. This morning I received some Tesco Finest Chocolate to review. Though I'm tempted to indulge and gorge myself in a chocolatey, gooey mess. I have resisted, saving the chocolate for a dinner party later in the week. So I can  share and get other people thoughts and opinion on the product. The chocolates are now safety tucked away, thrown up on the highest shelf, which I can't reach and therefore hopefully won't be tempted.

Cheap Tart

While James was nursery, I used the time (after facebook) to make my beetroot and goats cheese tart. It is so cheap (£1.60) and easy to make.

Shortcrust Pastry.
175g plain flour. (20p)
90g butter. (30p)
3 tbsp cold water.

Cooked beetroot (30p)
Goats cheese (can use brie or any soft cheese) (60p)
2 Onions (20p)
1 tbsp Sugar.

As you know, I'm not a fan of faffing about so I whizzed my pastry up in the mixer (shock horror) but it came out fine for us.
Chill pastry in fridge while you check facebook and have a coffee and biscuit. Roll out pastry and in my case spill flour everywhere. Put pastry in a flan dish. Blind bake for 20min covered then 10min uncovered.

In frying pan cook 2 onions until soft then add sugar keep stiring until they are brown. These go on top of the pastry case. Followed by sliced beetroot then crumbled goats cheese. I only used half a pack of cheese but stick what you like in.
Bake for 20mins.
Serve with chips or salad. It is also very nice cold the next day if it lasts that long.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Secondhand verse New.

Now, I have always been one for picking up a bargain and have no qualms about secondhand toys, books, clothes or presents. However, during a discussion at Mother and Toddler group I got the distinct impression I was being looked down on for having this approach.
Don't get me wrong, there are certain things that I would never have secondhand. Shoes for instance, but this is because I have a weird foot phobia, probably stemming from working in a shoe shop during Summer and dealing with sweaty feet, but I diverse.
My children are 5 months and 2 years old. Penny the youngest is growing so fast that she does not get any wear from any clothes I buy her. We saved all James' clothes from when he was that age, so she often goes out in blue and dungarees. I have just got her a clothes bundle from Ebay with some beautiful dresses in it for £4. Bargain. James, he spent most of the Summer digging in the garden, therefore is covered in dirt. Secondhand clothes for him are to run round and play in and I don't have to worry about getting his nice stuff (not that you dont get nice secondedhand clothes) dirty.
As Christmas is starting to approach, I find myself looking on line, in charity Shops, boot sales and garage sales for secondhand presents for them. At their age they won't know, or care, that what they get isn't new, it will be new to them. I have also heard of swap shops happening,where parents get together and exchange toys, clothes and baby paraphernalia. Excellent idea, I just need to find one near me. I'm hoping to find a James a used digital camera for Christmas. He likes to use mine and Johns and I don't really rate buying a toddler one. James is also Bob the Builder mad at the moment. I put a message on a local selling page on Facebook asking if anyone had any and I was inundated with replies.
Even today, I managed to get a Vtech Driving wheel for £2.50. It was in excellent condition and new it would cost £14. This is being popped away ready for Christmas for Penny.
I am not ashamed that I buy my children (and me) used items, it means that there is a little more money to go round of other things, like little holidays, days out or if the boiler breaks.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween games. Sucking up polos.

This is one for older children and adults. Very simple, very cheap and very easy to understand.

You need: Polos and thread.
Preparation: Tie about 60cm of thread to each polo (one per person).

Each person puts the thread in their mouths, letting the polo dangle down.
The winner is the first person to eat their polo without using their hands. They can either wind the thread up using their mouths or think of more original ways of doing it.

Girlying up the nursery.

Over the last few days I have been a slave to my sewing machine. I have been busy beavering away trying to make the nursery a more girly. Currently, it is the same green and lemon nursery set and curtains that James had. We can't afford or warrent buying new bedding and curtains, so I've been busy making some decorations. Using a matching spare pillow case and some cheap pink fabric, I have made some bunting. I have to say I'm quite pleased with the results.
 I was going to paint a mural on the wall, but my painting skills are limited. Instead I found some really cheap wall stickers from Amazon. They were very easy to put up and look really effective. Pennys room now looks like a little girls room (not too pink) and completely different to when James had it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Wonderful Wedding

Last Friday, we donned our glad rags for a family wedding. I think the excitment was a bit too much for James. He didn't sleep very well the night before and woke up too early in the morning. He was desperate to wear his suit, waistcoat, new shoes and look smart. Penny had a peach dress and looked cute as a picture. John scrubbed up nicely and I managed to find a new dress, which I felt good in.

The service was beautiful. The bride looked stunning and James behaved himself. We had images of him shouting out things, but John let him play with his camera to entertain him. While the photos were happening James and the other kids and a few adfults gorged themselves on the sweeties pick and mix bar. This was our downfall.

Bearing in mind that Penny has been ill for the last few days so it could have been a bug, but more than likely the pick and mix. Our child managed to throw up all down the table and John at dinner. Thankfully everyone at the table was really good about it. John dashed away to our room with James. I cleaned up the best I could and wolfed down my dinner before going to swap over with John. It was a good job we had a room to change and shower in. Quick change for both of them and we went back to the party. It could have been worst, he could have been ill on the bride.

The rest of the evening was great. We drank far too much and danced until my feet ached. Even John danced. James enjoyed running round with the other children. Penny had loads of cuddles from everyone.

For me one of the nicest parts was the morning after (despite feel rough). We all had breakfast together round a huge table. It was a lovely way to end a beautiful few days.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Games. Cereal box.

Ok. This is not strictly a Halloween games, but it is one of my favourites. It is hilarious and you get to find who is the bendiest, most flexible in the group. There are often some surprising moves happening and lots of falling on the floor. Any age group can play it. It is even more amusing after a bit of fizz.

It is very cheap and easy to do.

All you need is a little bit of space and a cereal box.

Preparation: Take cereal out of the box. Cut off top keeping the box as whole as you can.

Idea: Stand box upright in the middle.Without using hands, feet or any part of your body apart from your mouth, pick the box up. You must remind on your feet. Sitting or kneeling is not allow. After everyone has had a go, you cut off some of the box making it lower.

Winner: Last one standing. Players get knocked out if they can't do it, fall over, sit or knee down. I know someone who was able to suck just the bottom of the box off the floor. She was very bendy.

First day at nursery.

The day has come that James is let out on his own, to face to world without his mum, dad, grannies and grandads.
Despite not wanting to fuss over him at the nursery door and prolonging the goodbyes, there was a natural instinct to hold and kiss him, sort his shoes, coat and jumper out. Fortunately,  the nursery has a leave them and the door policy and we (his dad came too on this momentous occasion) were herded out after a quick kiss and James was ushered in, leaving no time to fuss, cry or realise that we had been seperated.
Now I'm here, at home. Penny is in bed. 3 hours of peace. Time to do all those jobs I've been meaning to do but used the kids as an excuse. The house should be spotless and dinner should be a culinary masterpiece.
Think I might have a cup of tea and check facebook.

Fair Weather Crafter.

I am a fair weather crafter. I am one of these people who start something, go at it like mad and then drop it like a hot potato. It isn't just with crafts I'm like this with everything. I once had the idea that I would sand down all the doors in our rented house, 5 years later after we had already moved out, my boyfriend and I were frantically sanding and waxing doors before we handed the keys back. 5 years we managed to live in a house without doors, at least it saved us buying a baby monitor.
There have been many different things I have tried in the past and some I got really good at and even made money from.

  1. Knitting. One year everyone got scarves (the only thing I could knit) for Christmas.
  2. Candle making. Messy and there is such a thing as too many candles.
  3. Candle decorating. Was never very good at this, always look as if it was done by a 2 year old.
  4. Card making. (see candle decorating).
  5. Jewellery making. This I enjoyed, but since having my 2 children I haven't done any due to having sharp bits of wire pinging round the living. 
  6. Painting. I'm just not that skilled.
  7. Polymer Clay: Too much like play doh.
  8. Cake decorating. I can still whip up a fairly decent birthday cake. 
  9. Wine making. At one stage I had a dozen demi johns of wine in my bedroom. It did literally smell like a brewery. In the end I decided it was cheaper, quicker and tastier to pop to the shop and pick up a Blossom Hill.
  10. Fruit liqueur making. I still do this occasionally but it take too long and I'm too impatient to wait. 
  11. Glass fusing in a microwave kiln. I loved this, but as with the jewellery it is too unsafe with toddlers around. 
  12. Quilt making. In my wardrobe there are lots of little squares of what was James baby clothes waiting to be made into a quilt. I might do it for an 18th birthday present.
  13. Rug making. I have just remembered I still have an uncomplete one upstairs might have a go at it tonight.
  14. Bread Making. This is a fairly recent one. I found a used bread maker on Ebay. So far I have used it about twice, John has used it more than me. I forget to switch it on. Whoops.
My newest thing to start and perhaps not complete is upholstery. I brought a cheap chair off of Ebay and I am going to recover it. I watched a You Tube demo and it seems straight forward. So watch this space, it needs to be finished by Christmas.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Halloween Candlebags

Want something different for your Halloween party. These candlebags are a safe way of giving your Halloween party a spooky atmosphere. You can either used tealights or LED candles inside them. They can be used inside  or placed outside to light the way for the trick or treaters. Just put a few stones in the bottom to weight them down.
spooky Halloween candle bags
You can buy them from http://candlebags.co.uk/spooky_candle_bags.htm
They offer free first class delivery to the UK, Ireland and Europe.

Halloween Games. Wrapping Mummy

This is one for the whole family regardless of age. Beware it does create a mess and there maybe some underhanded cheating happening.

All you need is a vast amount of toilet roll, just buy the cheapest you can find.
Pair up. Give each team a toilet roll.
The idea that one person is going to be the mummy, while the other wraps them in bandages (toilet roll). Winner: You can either have a time limit and judge the best mummy or the first completely wrapped mummy wins.

Banana Boy.

We have never had a problem getting James to eat fruit, but this banana cone dessert is a winner in our house. It has even replaced jelly as James' favourite pud.
All it is, is a banana shoved in an ice cream cone, with a drizzle of honey and a few sprinkles.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

BzzAgent White 'N' Bright review

Thanks to the lovely people at BzzAgent a few weeks ago I was sent a load of Dylan White 'N' Bright samples to review. Dylan claim that White 'N' Bright will keep your whites as soft and white as the day you brought them. A claim that, I have say, I was skeptical about.
Firstly, White 'N' Bright is very simple to use, which is excellent if you are like me and just throw it in the machine. I don't even bother with conditioner. You just put a sheet in the drum with your washing and wash as normal. No faffing at all.
First in the tub for testing went my not so white, on their last legs, really should get some new ones, bras. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed not to bringing nearly new undies out of the washing machine, but I thinking a was hoping too much. They did look a little bright, but I wasn't overly impressed. Next went in James and Penny's bibs. Again I was disappointed in the fact there were still stain ridden, however Dylan does not claim to get rid of stains.
However, I have continued to use White 'N' Bright in every white wash and I have noticed a distinct improvement. My undies definitely are much whiter, as are my white vest tops and Penny's baby grows.
This is a product that need to used with new white stuff to keep white as opposed to me hoping that it will bring my grubby, graying whites back from the dead. I will be continuing to use Bright 'N' White and I might also treat myself to some new undies.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Not bathing your child for 10 days!

Yet again, the controversial topic of bathing babies has raised its dirty head again. Part time blogger, Claire Goss, freely admits that her children often go without a bath for up to 10 days. Claire has now been subjected to a torrant of abuse calling her lazy, gross and unfit. So, is daily bathing a sign of being a good mother?
I admit, I do not bath my toddler or his baby sister daily. I don't think they need it. A babies skin is so delicate that it doesn't warrent a daily bath especially with soap and chemicals.
When James was first born we tried bathing as part of a bedtime routine but he always seemed overly excited by having a bath and splashing, rather than being calmed and soothed by it.
As a result, I tend to aim to bath my children ever other day, even then this is sometimes passed over if we need to go out. It has been know for them not to be bathed for up to 5 days. They get a bath when they need one. If they are dirty or sicky they have a dunk. They have a daily wash and my children always (nearly) look presentable and clean.
At the end of the day, it is up to the parents to decided when to bath children. They know is best for they own children and fits in with their homelife. It doesn't or shouldn't take an expert to tell us what is the right thing to do.
How often to you bath your children?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Trick or Treat

With Halloween just round the corner, I'm facing a dilemma of whether to go Trick or Treating with James. My sister takes her son, who is the same age, and she thinks I am making James miss out. At 2 and a half, Halloween is not yet on James' wave length. I'm I being mean to just let this one go. Last year we carved a pumpkin and made bat biscuits, but didn't go into the detail of why we were doing it. Can I get away with doing the same this year?

PS: The image is taken from Spalding pumpkin festival. This year it is held on the 11th October. http://www.sholland.gov.uk/leisure/SpaldingPumpkinFestival.htm

Fashion Rut

On Friday we are going to a wedding. I love weddings. Weddings are a time to catch up with family you never see as often as you like, to get a little tipsy, to dance to cheesy music and to get dressed up. However, this wedding has brought with it the panic of 'what to wear.'

I have never been or ever had the inclination of wanting to be fashionable. Pre-children I was fairly confident in my clothing choice. I knew (apart from the odd faux pas) what suited me and tended to stick with it. Unfortunately, after spending 3 years either being pregnant or breastfeeding, I am suffering a fashion meltdown and I am not longer confident in what I wear or how I look. Yes, my body has altered since having children but that isn't the issue. The problem is that I just don't know whether something suits me or not any more. As a result I tend to stick to all favourites, which probably have seen better days. I now  find clothes shopping a chore and often end up buying the same top/trousers/shoes in a slightly different colour. I have a tendency to buy clothes at the same time I do my supermarket shop. I need to get out of this rut but not sure how.

I have brought a new dress (see picture) for the wedding, along with a shrug, belt and gorgeous new shoes, which I can't walk in. I tried it on altogether this morning. John says I look lovely, but I'm not convinced. Is the belt too blingy? Is red the wrong colour for a wedding? Do red and navy go together? Is my dress a bit frumpy? I think I might just sit in the corner and drink until I don't care what I look like.

Hat montage.

Penny looking super cute.