Friday, 29 July 2011

Pick your own? More like spot the raspberry!

The first week of the summer holidays have gone well, thanks to the (mainly) dry weather. This has meant I've been trying to think of things to do that means we get outside, to make the most of the weather before it (inevitably) turns rubbish again.

On Wednesday, I came up with the idea of going to a Pick Your Own - our fruit yield has not been good this year, thanks to the birds discovering the blackcurrants and the intermittent torrential rain getting to the raspberries. So, picking some fruit to take home sounded like a nice way to pass an afternoon. There are no PYOs in the local area so it meant a half hour car journey. I looked at the farm's website to see what was still available to see they were on their last few strawberries, but that raspberries were still available. It certainly looked like it was worth the trip as it also had a farm shop and a cafe.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

My Fitness Story... - Penny


My guest post contributor today is Penny, who describes herself as "writer, blogger, vlogger, mother, wife and arts practitioner in residence at AlexanderResidence. My background is in teaching drama and film. My blog is a creative filing cabinet to reflect on the ups and downs of life with small children, and where life permits, life beyond them." Penny promised to write me her story. It's not a tale of a huge loss, but it's familiar to many - the story of an amount of weight that seems to creep back again and again. Here, she tells how she tackled and finally got to trips with it, thanks to something that has been creating a bit of a stir in the blogging world for a few months, the Slimpod. 

Enough of me, here's Penny's post which she has chosen to call:


Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Toyologist Reviews: Girly Heaven!

Our Toyologist parcel this month had a definite theme. A very, very girly theme. Nearly everything was aimed at little girls so Missy Woo was overjoyed. (We'll skim over the fact that Monkey was somewhat underwhelmed to put it mildly). So Missy Woo and I have been busy having very girly bonding sessions playing with everything. Consequently, she has been in heaven.

Firstly, we have the Melissa & Doug Princess Stamp Set, modelled here by Missy Woo. This is delightful and nostalgic as a craft toy if you are old like me and remember toys like this. Hardly any plastic in sight, it comes in a wooden box with 9 princess themed wooden stamps; 2 ink pads, one pink and one purple; and five coloured pencils. So, it's pretty durable, and it all packs away nicely in the wooden box, which looks somehow prettier and eneater than a cardboard box. The stamps work well and make nice pictures. It kept Missy Woo occupied on a wet weekend afternoon.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Meal Planning Monday

So, first week of the school holidays. As you will see from Saturday's post, I'm a bit daunted - at least last year, Missy Woo still had nursery two days a week so this is the first long holidays we have had with both of them home 7 days a week since they were both babies.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

One thousand and eighty eight hours to go...

...until the children walk back into class again. Not that I'm counting, you understand.

No, not wishing my life away at all...
In the meantime, there will be:

- 144 hours away camping
- at least 240 away on a roadtrip/holiday
- 8 hours going on the train to MOSI
- 1 hour going to the dentist
- 2 hours going to the hairdressers
- 2 hours buying shoes (optimistic)
- 4 hours at the library
- 2 hours (possibly more) at a party tomorrow

Thursday, 21 July 2011

My Fitness Story... - Rachel

The post today in My Fitness Story... is by Rachel, who blogs at Tales from Lewis Lodge. Rachel has lost an astonishing 100lbs (that's just over 7 stone) since last November on the Cambridge weight plan, which is largely a meal replacement plan, although it has progressed considerably from its launch in the 1980s. Rachel's driver to lose weight was being diagnosed as suffering from sleep apnoea, a condition that often affects overweight people. The diagnosis - and the machine she was given to help her deal with her condition - made her realise that she did need to lose weight to resolve the problem. So, here's Rachel to tell her story. 

The last twenty years of my life has been about repeated attempts to lose weight. Some attempts were more successful than others but for most of the last ten years, I have been somewhere between 17 and 18.5 stone (240-260lbs). Did I want to lose weight? Every day. Could I do it? Could I heck!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Gallery - Vintage

I've touched on this story before,but for this week's theme of Vintage on The Gallery, I thought I would tell you the story of how I came to own probably the oldest thing that I possess.

When we were children, we had a few neighbours that we were quite close to. One of them was called Doll (short for Doris) who lived a few doors down the hill from us. She had married quite late in life and so didn't have children. She kind of adopted us (and we he) because my maternal grandmother died before I was born and my mum wasn't close to her dad. We used to visit them quite regularly, even as small children.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Dawdling and tantrums as end of year fatigue sets in

Nearly a year ago now. Wow.
The last week of term. The end of the school year. It's flown and it's dragged. But boy, are the children ready for it!

It started a week or two ago. Missy Woo's reading started going awry. It was like she had a complete block with words I know she knows. She would either sound them out, or guess them. We're not talking difficult words, we're talking short words, even as short as "on" or "for". I kept writing things in her reading record until we all got frustrated and wrote a long diatribe asking for tips as it was becoming a source of tension. Of course, the next book she had she was fine at reading. A few days later, the headteacher took her class and told me the class teacher would listen to her read the next day. She was perfect. Then it dawned on me that she might be tired. So I got her reading as early as possible after school and she's been much better. And I remember what she was like in her first term. She has slowed down. She sat on my knee the other night and I swear that she would have fallen asleep given the chance. It's end of year fatigue. She has it in spades.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Meal Planning Monday


Final week of the school year for us this week. My meal plans might go slightly awry in the next few weeks. Last week went mostly to plan and we LOVED the Sloppy Joes and the baked penne. The only thing I changed was I made one of our faves - Lamb, coconut and mango pilau on Saturday and we had meatloaf on Sunday.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Toyologist Competition - Win a Jumbo Colouring Pad - Princess & Fairy

July's competition is to win a jumbo colouring pad by Melissa and Doug, worth £4.99.This has 50 sheets with Princess and Fairy designs on them; perfect for budding princesses. It's aimed at the 4-6 age bracket - Missy Woo would love it but she's not getting her hands on this one!

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Toyologist Review: Power Rangers Samurai Switch Morphin Figure and Power Rangers Samurai Disc Cycle

Why do I get them confused? Every time I go to say "Power Rangers", I say "Transformers". I mean, honestly! They are NOTHING alike but I've got them muddled in my head. Obviously, this is because I am A GIRL. I know nothing of these things. (We'll skip over the fact I am also too old for either to have been around when I was actually a girl.. cough) I am rubbish.

Monkey, however, being a boy and into all these things, knows the difference and laughs when I get it wrong. He can't even take pity on his own mother. Tut.

Friday, 15 July 2011

How far would you push your children?

Photo credit - pnijhuis
I'm writing this because we've had the coverage of The Open on today, and so Rory McIlroy and Tom Lewis have featured quite heavily. Rory, because he recently won the US Open golf at the age of 22 and Tom, because he is still an amateur golfer and only 20 years old. Some of the footage showed Rory McIlroy as a child and all he is doing is playing golf.

It got me thinking. How are champions made? Are they born talented and just naturally spend their time practising and learning to be better? Or do they need to be encouraged to spend their time improving their craft? I'm suspecting that it's a bit of both really and that is what gives me a problem.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

My Fitness Story... - Fay

Today's guest post really made me feel humble when I first read it. I've read it through a few times now and that feeling has not diminished one bit. It's written by Fay, who blogs at Glass Half Full, which is a particularly apt name. Fay has remained incredibly positive throughout this year despite being diagnosed with cancer. In this post, she tells how she struggled with her weight in the past, how the extra weight may have contributed to her illness, through to her recovery and weight loss. 

This is my story which has beginning and a middle but no end yet; that has still to be written.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Packing a (Summer Fruit) punch - win tickets to a Tatton Park picnic concert

Going along with the theme of people sending me things, Shloer sent me a couple of bottles of their new limited edition flavour Summer Fruit Punch to try. It has flavours of mint, strawberries, orange and cucumber. To me, it tastes just like a Pimm's and lemonade with all the trimmings added, making it a great non-alcoholic alternative for parties if you've got to drive, or just cutting out alcohol. The children have got a taste for it and so I can see I am going to have to hide the second bottle because the first one went in an afternoon! Being a summer drink, it's best served chilled - either over ice or straight from the fridge.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

A round up of thank yous

I've had a few things sent to me in the last few weeks so it's high time I said thanks for them. Where are my manners?

Firstly, Robinsons sent me a skills kit to try out so the children can practice and become a Champion of the Playground. Children can win their own kit by entering codes from special  bottles of Fruit Shoot at fruitshoot.com. The kit contains a drawstring bag (always handy), a skipping rope with digital counter, a hacky-sack, also with counter and a webcam. The counters rack up points the more you play with them and generate a code you enter on the website to progress through a game. The webcam is there to allow you to play some interactive games on the website but unfortunately, I couldn't get the webcam to work on my laptop so we never got to try it but the children had fun doing keepy-uppies with the hacky-sack. We were given a leaderboard to have a champion of the household but the children commandeered it and made up their own scoring system. I'm not sure who won but we also had a crown and it's been worn a few times, mostly by Missy Woo who thinks she is a princess. Thanks to Robinsons - who actually sent us two kits, one of which we donated to the children's school. 

Monday, 11 July 2011

A complicated birth

I had two complicated births. Monkey was a baby with a big head (still has) that caused all sorts of problems that needed instrumental intervention (of the forceps, not the guitar solo, variety) to be delivered. Missy Woo was a much more straightforward delivery until the point she was born and then I very carelessly lost 2 litres (4 pints) of blood in the immediate aftermath.

The reason I can be so flippant about these experiences is that I was lucky. I was surrounded by skilled professional attendants who knew how to ensure our well-being and prevent long term ill-effects. I was monitored and risks assessed during pregnancy, I was appropriately advised and staff adequately prepared for any risks.

Meal Planning Monday

Time to plan those meals again! I think last week went to plan, except Friday because I went to London at short notice and couldn't be bothered cooking when I got home. I was just going to make this week an "old favourites" kind of week but I changed this and that and before I knew it, I'm doing 3 recipes from Nick's book that I haven't made before!


Sunday, 10 July 2011

Forever in my thoughts

Today would have been Dad's 76th birthday. Instead of reflecting on that fact, we're taking Missy Woo, Monkey and a few of her friends to the cinema to see Tangled and then to McDonald's(yeah, bad mother - what of it?). An entirely different birthday to the one my dad would have liked, although no doubt, he so would have indulged Missy Woo - she would have had him wrapped around her little finger.

Silent Sunday


Silent Sunday

Friday, 8 July 2011

Pork, sage and apple meatloaf

Meatloaf has recently become one of my faves for easy cooking. I really don't know why it's taken me until now to realise how easy it is. As family food goes, it's pretty perfect - easy and quick to make, and very satisfying. It also is great to make ahead, and the leftovers are great in a sandwich. It is also an inexpensive dish to make. And if you have kids and they like to "cook", this is great messy play mixing things together - although you might want to make sure they don't try to eat raw meat! Can you tell I love it?

Recently, I've made a couple of meat loaves which I've made for the rest of the family to have whilst I've been away. I've made meatloaves from beef mince and more recently, turkey mince so I thought about making one with pork mince. When I made the turkey and cranberry meatloaf from Nick's book, I noticed that he used sage and onion stuffing instead of breadcrumbs which was frankly brilliant. So, I've used that trick here, hope Nick doesn't mind. I got sage, onion and apple stuffing mix instead here from the supermarket - if you can't get that, just get a smaller pack of sage and onion stuffing mix and see if you can get some dried apple from a health food store.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Toyologist Review - Badge It! Badge Maker

Missy Woo is a creative little soul. You can forever find her drawing something or trying to make something. Whenever we get given some kind of craft item, she wants to do it straight away. The problem is that most things either take longer than her attention span, and on top of that, it makes a mess. Now, I am not the perfect housewife; our house is not the tidiest but it's lived in and livable. But children's craft things seem to be made to create mess, and I get landed with the clearing up. And not just mess, paint on clothes, glue on tables (even if covered), crayon on walls, pen on children. Arrrrgh.

So, when we were sent Badge It! Badge Maker to try, I was a teeny bit reticent about having a go, expecting it to be a) a lengthy process and b) a bit messy. I saved it for an afternoon after school and decided to take the plunge with the children.

My Fitness Story... - Sharon

It's Thursday and there's a post so it must mean I have got myself some more contributors to My Fitness Story... Thanks for everyone who read my post last week and offered to help. I always need new contributions so please don't think your story is not worth telling - be brave! 

Anyway, my willing volunteer this week is Sharon, who blogs at My lot. Sharon always seems to be out running - but it wasn't always the case. Here she shares her story of how and why she came to start running and complete her first marathon, the first being the hardest of course. 

So, without further ado, here's Sharon's story. 

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

My Grandad

I had a lot more to do with my dad's parents than my mum's. My maternal grandmother died before I was born anyway and although we did see my grandfather, my mum had had a distant relationship for most of her life, given that her parents divorced when she was a small child. Consequently, we saw little of them.

My dad's parents, on the other hand, lived less than ten miles away from our home, so we visited regularly. I remember going for tea and being made to eat ham sandwiches with mustard in them (which I hated) and being offered tomatoes, (which I also hated as a child). We'd get given arctic roll for pudding and my nan would cover it in evaporated milk. 


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Five

Sparkly girl
When you are five, life is simple. As long as you have the same as your brother, something pink in your life and a teddy to cuddle in bed, you're happy.

When you are five, life can be complicated. I mean, why isn't July followed straight away by December? They're the two best months of the year!

When you are five, life is interesting. You already have a boyfriend. You tell me in the car one day, then shout "Mummy" sheepishly when I tell Daddy what you said. Then you tell me afterwards it was a secret.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Meal Planning Monday


So, here we are again. And into July! First week of July means Missy Woo's birthday (tomorrow) so the week is slightly different - we're going out for tea for pizza on her birthday and we're taking some of her friends with us to the cinema on Sunday.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Toyologist Review - Nerf N Strike Barricade MREV-10

I've said before that I don't really like guns as toys for children. I'm just uncomfortable with the concept. However, I know that it's impossible for me to ban them; they'll play with them anyway.It's just it makes me uncomfortable to hear children talking about shooting each other - even if they don't generally watch programmes with scenes of shooting.

That said, we've been sent Nerf guns before and at least they aren't harmful or anything. So, this time around, we get sent the Nerf N Strike Barricade to try out. It's smaller than the other Nerfs we've been sent previously - we got sent the Recon and the Rapid Fire Blaster before which are both huge. This size is far better for a boy of 6, which is the suggested lower age limit for Nerfs - and easier to run around with and perhaps the odd "stealth" mission.

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