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
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.

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.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Is nursery that important?

Yesterday we got a letter confirming that James is entitled for free hours at nursery even though he isn't 3 until February. I have very mixed feelings about this.

Currently I'm on maternity leave and will be until January, so there is no need for James to be at nursery so I can work. However, I feel that it is important that James begins to untie the apron strings so to speak. To learn to be independent and to be able to socialise with other children. I know that he would enjoy nursery. So, am I being selfish because I want him to stay at home?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Getting creative

As promised, this is the result of our monster cut and stick session. It has turned out better than I expected and James is very proud of it. It has taken up pride of place in his bedroom so he can see it before he goes to sleep.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Ditching the Dummy

Penny is now nearing 6 months old, so it is time to ditch the dummy.  Penny is a constant dummy sucker. She is the Maggie Simpson of our family.

When I was first pregnant I was adamant that no dummy was ever going to pass the lips of my child, then James arrived. Less than a week and we gave in. We had dummies, spare dummies, emergency dummies and emergency emergency dummies. Peace (sort of) reigned and we were able to get a bit of much needed rest. We did try to limit its use to just at bed and nap time.

With Penny, we have just been plain lazy and when she starts to cry, though it isn't very often, the dummy is popped in to settle her, even James has taken to trying to force her to have the dummy.
James kicked the habit at 4 months, it only took a few night of controlled crying until he was able to self sooth himself to sleep. Hopefully it will be just as easy with Penny.

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Wonderful Weaning

Well, the purees I made seem to be going down well. The damson especially, though I won't give her too much as it might upset her stomach. It was really easy to make.

Handful of damsons which are washed well. Boiled in an inch of water for 5mins. Let them cool and the skin peels off and mush out the stones. Probably best to counted the number of damsons so you know how many stones to find. It is a bit like hide and seek trying to find them. Then blend it all together, place in ice cube trays and freeze.
It has a lovely deep purple colour, which is fine until it gets splashed and smeared everywhere. You can mix the puree will a little baby rice and milk or water to make it go further.

Going to try mashed bananas next, but because I can't stand the smell of bananas this one for John to do.

Friday, October 04, 2013

10 things I found a could do after having children.

As the title suggest, there are many things I am good at and I few things I excel at (sitting for example) this is a compilation of 10 things I can do now I've had children.

  1. Creating food monsters. I have become a master at turning a plate of food into funny faces and monsters, not because James won't eat, but because it makes him happy when he see it. 
  2. Became a master at play doh. Give me a blob of dough and I can create things that Henry Moore would be proud of. 
  3.  Multitasking. OK, before I had children I could multitask, but often I had a choice whether I wanted to or not. Now, I'm lucky if the multitasking only involves 2 things. It is a good thing I am an excellent juggler. 
  4. Actually like children programmes. I have discovered that they snare you in. You start just absentmindedly watch bits of a program while doing something else (multitasking see). Then, I find I'm watching the whole thing while multitasking. Now I'm sitting down purposely watching it, commenting and doing voices throughout the day. Darn you Peppa Pig.
  5. Go out semi-naked. I never would do this before children and given an option I would never do this after children. Called it forgetfulness or baby brain, but after feeding Penny I have been known to not do up my feeding bra. Poor postman. 
  6. Invent a noise for a giraffe and a camel. Thanks to Dear Zoo for this one. 
  7. Be a human climbing frame, digger, slide, horse etc.
  8. 4min Showers. After watching TV the other night about a woman's rehabilitation program where the women were only allowed a 2min showers. I time my shower time, 4mins. It is a rush in rush out job, with the door open so I can hear any yelling, screaming or crashing. Baths are classified as a luxury which I have to book in advance. 
  9. Cook. Before children cooking involved taking something out of the freezer and sticking it into the microwave or oven. Now I cook and bake from scratch. We may sneak in the odd frozen pizza here and there, but most the time we eat homecooked food.
  10. Smile and laugh. Yes, I smiled and laughed before, so number 10 is a bit of a cop out, but not to the same extent. James and Penny amuse me and make me laugh everyday.

5 Essential Light Nights to go to in October.

Fancy doing something completely different for a day/evening out, then Light Nights are something enjoyable for the whole family. Light Nights see buildings being turned into works of art, by lights being projected onto them. They have been around for a while now, but more towns and cities are getting into act and seeing it as a way to get tourism and as most of the Light Nights are free to go to, it is a win win for everyone.

1: Leeds: Friday 4th October from 5pm. Leeds opens its galleries, museums, public buildings and open spaces for everyone. The evening includes over 50 family friendly activities ranging from theatre, performance to story telling.

2: The Enchanted Forest, Pitlochry, Scotland. Friday 4th-27th October.
The Enchanted Forest is one of the oldest Light Night Festivals, this award winning event has be going for over 10 years.As the names suggests the Enchanted Forest is a magical experience and one not to be missed. This sound and lit show is set within a woods which are lit, creating a ethereal atmosphere. There is a charge for this event.
3: Bury: Friday 11th October from 6pm.
Bury are being a little secretive on what they are planning on doing this year, but they do promise it being spectacular, and by the look of at last years photos, the event it will amazing. With diverse street entertainment and colourful light display, it looks like a fantastic evening out.

4: Birmingham Hippodrome, Friday 25th-27th October. From 6:30
Birmingham Light Night promises 3 evenings of interactive light show entertainment, including a 360 cinema experience. There is a trail around the area which leads to the square and the first 100 visitors there will receive free Illoom balloons which will add extra light to your evening.
5: York, 30th Oct-2nd Nov. 
Using Yorks historic buildings as a backdrop, illuminating York is a spectacular showcase. This year you can, taste chocolate in the dark, visit beautiful buildings by candlelight and be wowed by the projected images on buildings including the famous York Minster and the National Train Museum.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

The teacher in me is sneaking out.

Grandad gave James a tractor catalogue. James being mad and tractors, combines and diggers wanted to make a picture for his room. So we spent the morning cutting out farming pictures. I have make. I think I've gone into teacher display mode, just look at the wonderful background I have painted really for tomorrows gluing session.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Penny is on the move.

Penny has got going. not quite crawling, it is sort of a weird carpet swim/shuffle. She looks a bit like a seal out of water. At just 5 months it seems very early. I think it might is a result of trying to escape from James, as he is a little over zealous with her. She seems to know exactly where she is going to goes forward to get it. James and at time John tend to go round in circles, then backwards before achieving anything.