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31.7.12

Good Natured Salad {Review} Plus Gazpacho Recipe

When I was pregnant with Charles my main craving was salad and fruit, all the way through. I was lucky that I didn't put on any weight at all with him. Infact my post pregnancy weight was less than pre-pregnancy.
I've always been a fan of salads but have to be in the mood for them. I also think they are lovely and refreshing to eat in the winter as well as the summer.

We were given the opportunity to review some Good Natured Salad, including cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, all my favourite salad items!

Good Natured only use natural predators to control pests and disease, so you can rest assured that the range is grown in tune with mother nature, completely pesticide residue free. The produce is both good by name, and good by nature.

You can fgind out more about Good Natured, their farmers and products as well as fantastic recipes on their website..

We were given a £5 Asda voucher to go and purchase the items. We had a problem with this in that our local store doesn't stock any of the salad items by Good Natured Salad, so we had to visit a different store in another town.
Once we located the items I set to work on the recipe provided with our voucher.

The weather has been beautiful this week and, although it is pouring down at the moment with heavy rain and hale stones the air is still extremely warm so my plan of pie for dinner has been rescheduled. 

Instead I'm going to serve Gazpacho and some pasta.

Gazpacho:
Ingredients:

1kg ripe Good Natured Tantalising Tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
4 spring onions, trimmed and chopped
1 red Good Natured Perfect Pepper, deseeded and chopped
3/4 Good Natured Cool Cucumber, chopped
75ml extra virgin olive oil
2tbsp red wine vinegar
seasoning
1 avocado, peeled, de-stoned and chopped
4 boiled eggs

1: Place the tomatoes, garlic, spring onions, red pepper and cucumber into a food processor or blender and blend until finely chopped
2: While the machine is still running, slowly pour in the olive oil and red wine vinegar
3: Season and taste, then add a little more vinegar or oil if you think it needs it.
4: Chill until needed.
5. Serve in shallow bowls, garnished with chopped avocado and halved sliced boiled eggs.

I didn't read the recipe properly and blended the avocado with the rest of the ingredients but it still tasted really yummy.

I also purchased an aubergine and gently fried it and garnished the Gazpacho with it. This was beautiful, the flavours worked really well together.
With the remaining aubergine slices (also gently fried) I served alongside Mozzerella, seasoned with salt and pepper. Why not even add a drizzle of Gazpacho to the side as a dressing.
You could even use chunks of mozzerella to garnish the Gazpacho. The possibilities are endless and all super yummy.

Good Natured salad is available to buy at most Asda stores nationwide.
We were sent a £5 Asda voucher to purchase some salad items. All words above are my own and are honest.

30.7.12

Toffee Flapjacks with a Milk Chocolate Truffle Topping

When I saw Jenny, from Mummy Mishaps, theme for this months I Love Cake was toffee I thought of the perfect recipe. Toffee Flapjacks.
Whilst thinking up my recipe I felt I wanted to make it extra special and to do that I needed to incorporate a chocolate topping of some kind.
This is when I remembered the super easy and super yummy truffle recipe posted by Holly at Recipes From a Normal Mum last Halloween. I made truffles similar to these, well following the recipe then rolling them in nuts and sprinkles for Harry's Christening.

With the ingredients delivered from Good Ol' Mr Sainsburys I set to work straight away.

Ingredients.

For the flapjacks:
125g butter or margarine (I used Stork)
100g soft brown sugar
4 tablespoons golden syrup
250g rolled oats
Toffee (I used a pack of Sainsburys Basic 200g)

For the topping:
200g milk chocolate
200ml double cream
I also added some seasame seeds to mine 

Melt down the butter, sugar and syrup until all combined. 
Add the rolled oats to the liquid and stir until the dry ingredients are completely coated.
I decided to use cake cases to bake my flapjacks in rather than to make a huge slab.
I tried two different ways of adding the toffee to the flapjack mixture.You can either:

Soften the toffee by rolling it in your hands (whilst still in the wrapper) then (removing the wrapper obviously) add these to the flapjack mixture and stir until combined with the other ingredients.
Or, the way I preferred.
Spoon the mixture into cake cases. Then, take a rolling pin, flatten out the toffee and lay it on top of the flapjack mixture.

Bake in a preheated oven, 180 degrees, for 15-20 minutes. Remove and leave to cool.

Whilst the flapjack is cooking you can make the topping.
Take a saucepan and add the double cream and chocolate. Mix until the chocolate is melted. This will need constant stirring as it can burn easily.
Turn off the heat and at this point I added sesame seeds and mixed.
Then, add to a jug and place in the fridge to cool. I left mine for approximately 3 hours.
Once cooled you can then pour it onto the top of your flapjacks. 
Then leave over night to set.

Serve and enjoy!

(please excuse the rubbish photos, they are just taken on my phone so don't show how lovely the flapjacks actually look)


My husband ate the flapjacks so quickly that I didn't have time to take a photo of the finished product but you get the idea ;-)

Check out the other delicious toffee/caramel inspired recipes via Mummy Mishaps: I Love Cake. You'll be spoilt for choice!


PicMonkeyCollage1A

28.7.12

Organix Goodies: Veg and Oat Bars {Review}

With Harry now eating and over 12 months I'm constantly looking for foods, in particular that are suitable for both boys.

Organix Goodies sent us a pack of 6 Sweetcorn and Red Pepper flavoured Organic Veg and Oat Bars to review.

I've recently found it harder to get vegetables into Charles. He tends to go through stages of eating them, then not eating them. We are currently going through a not eating them stage.

Snacks like these from Organix give me great confidence due to their No Junk Promise, No Added Salt, No Artificial Colours or Flavours, No Hydrogenated Fats.
https://mail-attachment.googleusercontent.com/attachment/u/0/?ui=2&ik=a1587755ae&view=att&th=138c8b141c664359&attid=0.1&disp=inline&safe=1&zw&saduie=AG9B_P9m3V6DAaI7XJC3JCdYnVnP&sadet=1343429995951&sads=tWQVgzr1z-ETB43L8oHR_NswMdo
These delicious bars are made with dried sweetcorn and red pepper with the goodness of wholegrain oats.  Then they are gently baked for a soft savoury taste.
Both boys do have a sweet tooth so I wondered how they would get on with these. It's odd as when you first open them you automatically assume they will be sweet due to them looking like flapjacks. Being a savoury snack the sweetness isn't there but welcomes an alternative savoury flavour.

Charles loved them and would have eaten all 6 in one sitting if he had the chance. Harry also liked them but I think he struggled a little with the texture, which isn't surprising as he is still trying new textures all the time.
We will definitely try other flavours in the range.
These are a fantastic snack to include in lunchboxes, picnics or as a mid morning/afternoon snack.

Organix Goodies Veg and Oat Bars retail at £2.49 for a pack of 6 bars.

We were sent a pack of the Veg and Oat bars in exchange for this review. All words above are my own.

26.7.12

Personal Goals

Following my appointment yesterday to work through my anxiety I was asked to come up with a goal. Something I'd like to achieve in 2 months.
This 'something' has to involve facing a fear and facing my anxiety, and we've decided to go with me taking the boys somewhere alone, which yes I do now as you've seen by previous posts but this is working on places I am scared to go to for various reasons, or staying somewhere longer than usual (because I let my anxiety take over and end up leaving)

It seems I have further things to work on than the anxiety, which I'll post about separately and if/when I'm ready.

At the time I couldn't think of anything to achieve. It's typical that your mind goes blank at moments like this isn't it.
Since being home I've had a real think about it and come up with three things I want to achieve.

 

I will set deadlines once I feel ready.

Kelly's of Cornwall Ice Cream {Review}

The weather has been amazing here the past 4 days. We've spent two of those days down the beach and the boys have both been swimming in the sea, a plus side to living by the seaside.
We've had the perfect opportunity everyday to divulge in bowls of yummy ice cream. That ice cream comes in the form of Kelly's of Cornwall.
This does make me chuckle.....
When the opportunity came up to review this ice cream I was hardly going to turn it down. A week previously we had bought the Clotted Cream flavour and the Honeycomb and Clotted Cream and loved both. Infact both tubs were empty within 2 days.
Strawberry
Blackcurrant
Kelly's of Cornwall is the only genuine Cornish ice cream available to buy nationally. It's made using Cornish Clotted Cream and Cornish whole milk, it's these two ingredients that help to give it a beautiful creamy flavour.

We bought the two fruity flavours available for the purpose of the review.
Kelly's of Cornwall Clotted Cream and Strawberry
Kelly's of Cornwall Clotted Cream and Blackcurrant

Both flavours were beautiful, light and refreshing. What we liked most about this, compared to other ice creams with similar flavours, is that it didn't taste at all artificial or sugary (which in comparison others now will do I'm sure) As my husband described them they are "delicate and soft".
We did find that they melted quicker than other ice creams so probably not one thats best to eat whilst sitting in full sun.
I preferred eating mine when it was scooped into a cone but my husband thought it was best out of a bowl.
It would be beautiful if accompanied with a fruity cheesecake, Eton Mess or with pancakes (mmmmmm)

Kelly's also have ice cream parlours situated in popular Cornwall Seaside towns, selling a wide variety of flavours. Well worth a visit if you are lucky enough to holiday that way.
I am currently using Kelly's ice cream to pursuade my husband that a holiday to Cornwall is a must!!

Kelly's Ice Cream tubs have an RRP of £3.99 for 1 litre.
Find out more about the brand, products, recipes and more visit the website: www.kellysofcornwall.co.uk

We were sent vouchers to purchase a tub of Kelly's ice cream. All words and opinions above are my own.

25.7.12

Making New Friends

Growing up I had two amazing friends. For me it's always been about quality not quantity.
They didn't go to school with me, or even live in the same town so we didn't see each other too regularly but it didn't matter. They were my best friends and I thought they always would be.
Sadly these friends didn't see me as a priority anymore and after continually chasing them and putting in all the effort I decided to give up. It broke my heart but it was something that naturally had to happen.
To this day it still breaks my heart that they are not a part of my life, or a part of my boys lives. I always thought they would be Aunty N and Aunty C...we were that close.
I loved them. LOVED. I still do in a way, even though I feel incredibly let down by them.

I've tried on many occasions to make friends now I'm an adult but find it incredibly hard.

I envy Charles for being able to just run up to children and start playing with them. Almost immediately igniting a friendship.
No judgement.
No needing to introduce yourself properly, giving back story.
No importance on appearance: fat, short, thin, tall, blonde, brunette, ginger...doesn't matter.

As an adult it seems so hard to be able to crack the shell and be able to break into new friendships.
To breakdown and work out the differences between wanting a friendship or simply wanting to be friendly.

I need new friends.
I need reliable friends.
Friends who care.
Who want to be friends.
Who nag me to meet up.
Who want to be with me.
NO EXCUSES!!

My friendships at the moment seem to follow a pattern of being convenience for the other person.
By that I mean contacting when it suits them, seeing me when it suits them. Everything is to suit them. Never at what suits me.
I drop everything for my friends, I'm there for them as much as I can be.
I ask after them, and their children when poorly and even send flowers when they are dealing with grief.
I'm not in their face, or needy.  I know when to be there and when not to be there.

But I expect the same back, and it doesn't seem to be available.

So,  I need to work out how to find someone, or a couple of people, who are able to give AND take. Not just take.

I want someone who looks at me as a child would a new friend.
With baggage, looks, appearance not meaning a thing or being important at all.

If you have any tips for making new friends, and keeping those friendships going, to be featured in follow up blog posts then please email me. realhousewifeofsuffolk@gmail.com

24.7.12

Mama Tea {Review}

I have always been a fan of herbal teas, mainly because my mum drinks them. During the latter stages of both of my pregnancies I regularly drank Raspberry Leaf Tea. 
Mama Tea, was created by mum of two Anna Louise Simpson to suit each stage of pregnancy.
She says:

I discovered herbal tea during my first pregnancy. However, I struggled to find tasty herbal teas for the different stages of pregnancy, therefore I wanted to create my own range for others to enjoy.

I was sent a box of each of the teas to review. Although the only one relevant to me at the moment is the one specifically for breastfeeding, it was still great to be able to review the others.
In the range is:
  • morning mama: a ginger and chamomile blend
  • glowing mama: a rooibos and elderflower blend
  • cool mama: a spearmint and chamomile blend
  • ready mama: a raspberry leaf and rose petal blend
  • new mama: a fennel and liquorice blend
I really wish I had discovered these when pregnant.
Each tea has strong flavour with lots of taste but not in an overpowering kind of way.
As I discovered each flavour I thought "wow, this is my favourite" then would try another flavour and think exactly the same.
I have used more of the New Mama, Fennel and Liquorice tea due to still breastfeeding. Normally I can't stand Liquorice BUT this tea is beautiful. A very strong taste, sweet but not sickly. In fact I've found it a great alternative to dessert at night and to keep late night munchies at bay!
My mum and I both suffer from migraines and she was having a tough time with one one morning. I thought to offer her the Morning Mama tea as she said her migraine was feeling sick. We thought it was worth a try.
An hour later she text me from work to say that she was feeling less sick and felt as though her tummy had settled, and she put it down to the tea. Morning Mama is now going to be part of her routine when she has a migraine.
I loved them all though and think they are essential for every mama-to-be or breastfeeding mama....as well as everyone else to be honest!

Mama Tea is available from the Mama Tea website and a selection of stockists in the UK.

22.7.12

Just Another Brain Dump

So on Wednesday I have another appointment to try and deal with this anxiety creature currently residing in my head.
I want to feel excited about this appointment. Other appointments I've had have been an hour long. In that time we've talked about a lot, but still had a lot of area untouched. You can imagine my annoyance at this appointment on Wednesday being limited to half an hour.
It's also pretty clear that any past notes that have been made with previous staff members won't be making an appearance.
So in half an hour I have to talk about everything I've already talked about. Everything I haven't been able to fit into one hour, I now have to squish into 30 quick little minutes.
This ultimately means I will also have to decide which of my issues is most important.
Which one affects me the most?
They all do.

The anxiety.
The birth, still.
The feeling of being worthless. Which is a tough one to explain because I know I'm a good mother. I know I'm a good friend. I know I'm a good wife. Yet I think, I know in fact, that everyone else think differently. It's obvious.

I feel like everyone is waiting for me to breakdown. To totally lose it.
How many times do people want to ask me how I'm coping with two boys?
It's not even a regular question, like a general interest.
But more of a tilt of the head, "how are you coping? You look tired, run down, and like you aren't coping? My goodness, aren't you fat. Comfort eating? Your hair looks crap." #people don't say these things but you can tell what they're thinking.

I know a couple of friends talk about it behind my back. They think I fake at being happy. I fake at coping. They don't think I'm doing well.
They think I lie about how much the boys get on. Secretly Charles is an evil brother who punches, bites and pushes his baby brother.
Totally untrue. Well, he has his moments but doesn't punch as he doesn't no how to (ie we haven't taught him that!) And in reality it's the other way round, Harry is rougher than Charles. But they are just doing what every sibling does. It's not real fighting of course. None of it is malicious.

This links me well with my next "issue"...
Paranoia. I've always been paranoid. Always. But not like this. It's much more heightened.
I guess paranoia and anxiety are closely linked and almost pretty much identical in most ways.
The paranoia I definitely a mutation of the anxiety.

With this new development, or maybe it was always there and I just didn't realise, I do wonder what is next.
I've been lucky to dodge depression but I'm really worried that if this isn't tackled soon then depression will be the next thing to hit.
There's only so much I can do to help myself and at the moment I can't help but to feel a little, well a lot, let down by the Wellbeing Service for not holding my hand.

Part of my issues stem from feeling abandoned and not very important. Being forgotten about. So far the Wellbeing Service have just fuelled these feelings by forgetting about me.
Not a great start let's be honest.

Goodness knows how long this will go on for.
Until I'm better.
Until I feel I can cope.
Until I'm in control.

19.7.12

Cutting Out The Middle Man

I'm a fan of the NHS. I know they do some wrong and can be rubbish but so far my experience has been positive. I know someone who had to have treatment privately a couple of times and didn't rate it as highly as expected and said, if given the choice, they would have had the treatment on the NHS...or paid to be in an NHS hospital I should say.

As regular readers are aware I have been seeking treatment for my anxiety. I've written various posts

November was the appointment with my doctor. I told him I didn't feel I was coping with the anxiety and wanted to see someone to talk it through, train my mind, discover what was wrong and so on.
I then received the letter from the Wellbeing Service saying I had not responded to their letter so they were taking me off their books. I hadn't received a letter. So I had to phone them, assure them I hadn't received the letter, etc and get put back on their books to get an appointment.
March I finally had my first appointment. I thought I was on the road to treatment but it turned out to be just an assessment and after an hour of brain dumping and with a lot more to say I felt exhausted and hoped it wouldn't be long until my next appointment.
Sure enough April 24th saw my next appointment although I was disappointed to be told the therapy she specialises in wasn't really suitable for me so she would be referring me on. Although part of me was glad about this after she told me my anxiety towards Harry's birth was basically my fault.
She told me she would refer me on but would put me through as urgent so I could skip some of the waiting list.
Around 3 weeks ago, in fact it was 4 weeks ago yesterday, I visited my doctor to let him know I was waiting for an appointment and to see if he suggested anything. He put in a request for the Wellbeing Service to contact me and said if I hadn't heard anything in 2 weeks to let him know and he'll chase it up again.
I gave it 3 and a half weeks and then had enough. I sourced the telephone number and phoned them myself first thing on Monday morning.
I explained the situation and was told that it would be chased up and I would get a phone call.
Fast forward to Wednesday morning, totally fed up with lack of contact I phoned again, first thing.
I spoke to the same man as Monday and he promised that he would chase this up straight away and I would get a phone call. I didn't hold out much hope.
Then, at 10.30, my phone started ringing. I again had to go through another assessment. The result of this was to have a different kind of treatment as first thought which may then progress to this previous treatment.
I was told this form of treatment would consist of a lot of homework, so I'm hoping to finally get my Project up and running, and would involve speaking to someone on the phone. I didn't feel comfortable at opening up so much to someone I'd never met and seeking emotional support from them so we arranged an appointment for next week!

I wasn't going to sit back and wait for someone else to get the help I, to be completely honest, desperately need. Sometimes you have to take control of situations, even if you've asked for help from others.

I came to the conclusion that cutting out the middle man is the best way to go when possible.

18.7.12

Glitter and Glue: Rainy Day Crafts

Today I couldn't be bothered to go to the zoo, go for a walk, or go out at all. Which turned out to be a great idea as the weather has been awful!!
I wanted to do something involving craft and decided to print off some of the colouring sheets from the Cbeebies site to then colour and paint. I also remembered some tubes of glitter hanging around since Christmas so we made a quick visit to Asda to pick up some Pritt Stick and PVA glue.

Charles coloured in some of the pictures and then we decided to be adventurous.
It was a team effort. I dotted and lined the glue in various places on the pictures and Charles sprinkled the glitter on, we then shook off the loose glitter and have now left the glue to dry.
They actually turned out really well and were a something a bit different from the usual colouring or painting.

We're impressed anyway and will be making some more!


Charles' New Adventures

This time last week was an important morning for Charles.
I'm ashamed to say that I didn't blog about it despite really wanting to. I briefly mentioned it on Twitter.

As with everything parenting related you are judged, and I knew, knew I was going to be judged for our decisions for this coming September.
I could sit here and justify our decision but why should I? It doesn't make us bad parents, despite what others clearly think.

Anyway, following my nightmare time with the school we originally had his name down at, we were swiftly given a place at one that's even closer. I couldn't mention it in my last post for various reasons.
This preschool is amazing and has 'Outstanding' Ofsted report. In fact due to the type of preschool they are their 'Outstanding' Ofsted report sets them apart from other preschools locally and around the country.

We were asked to attend a session on the morning of the 11th. My mum was due to babysit Harry but was suffering a terrible migraine so we took him with us.
The preschool staff were all very welcoming.
We registered Charles and signed ourselves in on the visitors sheet and then explored the different tables of activities. Various members of staff came over and spoke to us which I found very reassuring.
The manager then came over, took myself and my husband to one side whilst Charles busied himself with Play-Doh and talked through the structure and routine they have in place.
From 8.45 until 10.30 they use the activities, promoting learning through play. 10.30 is playtime/break, usually outside and snack time. Children are involved heavily with snack time and each day a different group will help prepare the food.
Once play time is over they have story time and song time. They involve the children as much as possible by using props and even dressing the children up.
Some children will go into the kitchen and take part in different activities. When we were there the plan was for some children so create jellyfish using jelly.
We will see a folder full of his developments and things he has done at the end of every term. 

We were then told that we could leave Charles if we wished. He seemed to have settled in well and we didn't see any reason not to. We went and said goodbye and left, with the promise of a phone call in an hour.
We popped for breakfast then returned home. I sat by the phone and waited.
The manager phoned after exactly an hour. "Charles is fine. See you at 11:45"
With that I packed Harry into the car and we went into town to spend our Mothercare vouchers....I was constantly watching the clock.
The traffic can be awful in town so I left in, what I thought, was plenty of time. I of course then got every red light, joined various queues, and had to wait for the train.
I arrived at 11:47, raced inside apologising to the manager who told me not to be so silly as I wasn't late.
I walked in and looked to my left and, on a line of small school chairs, I saw my baby boy. He looked so tiny and so cute. His face lit up, as did mine and Harry squealed and waved.
I went over, cuddled him and he showed me his school bag, tshirt and the painting he had done.
I purchased another 2 tshirts whilst I was there and spoke to the manager.
They said he had got on very very well, told us who is Key Worker would be and looked forward to seeing us in September.

Charles absolutely loved his morning at preschool and has talked about it everyday since.
He played in sand, drove a car, played in a train, played with the computer, played with Play-Doh, punched holes into paper using a hole punch and dressed up in a nice red sparkly dress.
Every time we drive past he waves and shouts "HELLO PRESCHOOL! I SEE YOU SOON!!"

We are taking our full 15 funded hours meaning he will attend 5 sessions a week. This may mean him going everyday or going for 2 sessions in one day.
I know some people are against this but you know what? I don't want him to go. I'd have him at home with me forever if I could. But he rarely see's friends and now needs social interaction with other children. He's ready for it. I know it's the right thing to do.
It also means that in the time he is at preschool, which is only for 3 hours lets face it, which goes quickly anyway, I can spend quality time with Harry.
I'm planning on having a set day to go swimming with him and in between we'll go for walks and have special bonding time.

I'm excited that Charles will hopefully make some friends, I feel sorry for him only having 2 at the moment although it's all about quality not quantity but it's no good when he hardly see's them.
Also, as I've said plenty on my blog before, we've never really done routine so it will be nice for Charles to get into a routine before he goes on to big boy school. It will also get him used to taking instruction from other people.

I'm excited for Charles and his new adventures.

Unreasonable Meltdown

Today a friend gave birth to a baby boy. I am really happy for her. I am.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a bit funny about her birth. I still have those issues towards pregnant women and women giving birth, having an easy labour.
I will get over it and if I don't then it doesn't really matter.
Anyway, I digress.

I sold our travel system to this friend.
The car seat, the carrycot, the chair and the chassis. And I bought a pushchair with the money.
I thought I was ok at selling these. They took up far too much room, in the house and in my car.
It was heavy and I wanted to use a buggy board so with Charles adding that extra weight I would never be able to push them.

I just wanted something lightweight.
We don't plan on having any more children so it's not even like I need the car seat to use again.
It's lovely that all these items will get reused and will be looked after. They've gone to a good home rather than to the tip.

So why, tonight, when sitting in the bath, did I burst into tears?
I had a major feeling of regret.
Tonight or tomorrow another baby will be carried from the ward, to the car, driven home, carried from the car, into his new home, placed on the floor, unclipped from the seat and cuddled.
The baby will be unclipped from my seat. The seat I brought my boys home in.
This is where it's utterly ridiculous. My feelings I mean. 
We used that car seat to transport both boys from Central Delivery Suite to our car. We then transferred them to another car seat to drive them home. We preferred the other carseat, a fixed one, in this particular car because the Mamas and Papas carry style one slipped around on the leather seats too much and felt a bit too unsafe. It was fine in our other cars.

Why do I feel so funny about someone using that seat? She paid me for it. So it's not even mine.
It's not only the seat though.
It's the carrycot, the memories I have of pushing the boys around in it. Watching them sleep as I pushed them around. Stopping for people to look in and coo at my newborn babies.
Wrapping them up all snug and warm, adjusting the base so they can have their head raised if needed.
Deciding whether or not they would be forward or rear facing on each trip with the pushchair.
Pushing it and talking to them both. Looking straight into their eyes.

I felt silly telling my husband of my little outburst.
I knew/know it's a silly thing to cry about and that there isn't any point in us keeping these things but I guess its a realisation that my boys are getting bigger and that I will never have a need for those things again.
I won't get to experience the excitement of bringing baby home in that carseat again.
Comparing photos of my children (if I was to accidently have anymore) in the same carseat.

It's silly. Totally silly. For me to feel this way.
And unreasonable.

As my friend makes her new memories with these items, deep inside them, surrounding her baby boy, are our memories too.
The memories we made.
With our baby boys.



17.7.12

Books....That Do Not Include Any Shades of Grey

Before children I used to love reading. Proper novels or celebrity autobiographies.
A good book in my eyes is one I can't put down. I need to read it.
The Da Vinci Code was one of those books. I was that into it that I almost called in sick at work because I couldn't bare to be parted from my book.
I was almost the same with Memoirs of a Geisha. I loved it.
With both books I was eager to watch the films when released but was left disappointed at the lack of content missed out or changed around. I much prefer it to be real to the book.
I tried reading, on a number of occasions, The Time Travellers Wife, but I just couldn't get into it. My head couldn't get round the changes in time. Yet I found the film amazing.
Last year I finally finished a book which I'd started reading during my English A Levels in 2002. I really enjoyed the book but had only read half of it when I moved and the book got lost in a heap of boxes. I finally rediscovered it and over a couple of years eventually got round to finishing it. The book was The Butterfly Collector. I highly recommend it.

In 2006 we went to Tenerife and I took My Sisters Keeper along to read. Although we went out everyday I read as much as possible and ended up finishing the book on the flight home. I loved the book that much that I would prefer not to watch the film.


I am currently half way through two books. The Little House by Philippa Gregory and A Tiny Bit Marvellous by Dawn French.
Half way through both. It annoys me.
I can never finish books anymore, no matter how much I love them.
I tend to go through phases of reading lots then somehow come out of the loop and can't quite get back in properly.

When I realised Claire Richards from Steps was due to release an autobiography I became far too excited. I had to have her book. But then I realised that I still have two books I need to read, I must read, before I get anything else.
So I am being strict with myself. I have to have finished these two books until I can buy any others.
My husband bought me The Little House for Christmas in 2010. I'm now down to the last few chapters after a few nights of heavy reading. It's an amazing book it really is.
I put it on my Christmas list after loving the television series on ITV1 in 2010. The book is just as good, if not better than, the television programmes.
I'm going to check out other books by Philippa Gregory because I have enjoyed this one so much.

Then I need to tackle A Tiny Bit Marvellous which I used to read whilst feeding Harry at night in the first few months, then read on our car journey to Drayton Manor, left in the car and completely forgot about. Which is annoying as I know I was really enjoying it and finding it funny. Damn life getting in the way!

Why am I writing a post about books? Other than to recommend these ones anyway, and to give myself a kick up the bottom and realise that if I write that I'm going to finish these books by September 1st at the latest then I must.
But also to remind you all that there are other books written other than 50 Shades of Grey!
My goodness, I am sick sick sick of hearing about it. It's as if it is the only book that has ever been written, let alone the only racy book that has ever been written.
I feel much prouder for reading books that haven't involved me jumping on any kind of bandwagon and actually have a proper story, other than to be known to be full of sexual scenes. I'd much rather read a book with decent content, that's well written and doesn't rely on sex to sell it.

I see Facebook statuses from girls announcing that they've read all the books, and asking what they should read next. But they don't want a normal book, no Memoirs of a Geisha, no Da Vinci Code, no Butterfly Collector or Little House. Oh no, they want something racy.
Books can be exciting without having any reference to sex!

I expect to be the only person in the world to have not read this book soon.
The only way I would read it is if I was paid, and then it would have to be a lot of money.
The quicker the fuss dies down and something else comes along the better!


16.7.12

Unnoticed

Being a stay at home mum, housewife, whatever term you choose to pin on me, there is a sort of expectation. You can do everything. You have to do everything. You almost have no choice.
You can watch two boys, stop them from eating play-doh, stop them from hitting the cat, hitting each other, running up the stairs, whilst also cooking tea, sorting the washing, ironing....and you are expected to do all this at the same time.
Sometimes I feel only the things I have failed to do in a day are what is noticed. The things I succeeded in doing go unnoticed. Almost like there is a check-list and the things I have managed to achieve are written in such a faint pencil that it's almost like they are not on the list. In thick, bold, right at the top are those few things I didn't achieve.

You could spend all day cleaning up baby and toddler sick, administering regular spoonfuls of Calpol, changing countless nappies and working of calories with the amount of times you have taken your toddler to the toilet. You could feel so drained, stressed, tired and emotional and just want to crash out, or have a cuddle, or be told what a great job you've done at caring for your children that day. But instead all that is highlighted is the fact that.....you didn't load the dishwasher.

Despite being totally busy and not having time to eat or drink at all that day to load the dishwasher, lets not forget that as soon as the dishwasher door is open there is a small baby hand reaching in, go-go-gadget stylee, grabbing the sharpest knife in the cutlery department, bringing it out whilst in slow motion you shout "nooooooooo" and go to grab for said knife, risking slicing your own hand just to save the baby from stabbing himself in the mouth with it or waving it around like a crazy fool!

You try to make dinner way in advance, so it's ready dead on 5.30/6/6.30. Something that would normally take 20 minutes to prepare takes 2 hours, because whilst you are slicing mushrooms, chopping up an onion, wiping tears away caused by the onions, mixing up ingredients, cooking the mince, washing your hands, you have other things to sort out. Changing a nappy, oh he wants milk now, damn he's been sick, clear the sick up, clear the baby up as he's just smeared the sick all over the floor with his hand. The baby is playing with the bin, he's eating food he's got out of the bin, he's covered in yogurt from a yogurt pot he's managed to grab from the depths of the bin. You need to get him changed. The baby is crying, the toddler is crying, the baby has messed up the toddlers train track that it took him ages to build, the baby doesn't want to be shut in another room, the toddler gets shut in another room with the train track, now the baby wants to be held, the baby wants to look out of the window, the baby doesn't want to be held, he wants to get on the floor, as you go to put him on the floor, he wants to get up again. He stands on the floor. "ooooooo! cupboards!" He runs to the cupboard, opens the door. "oooooo soy sauce! that's messy!" He grabs for the Soy Sauce, go-go-gadget stylee, you run for the cupboard, everything is in slow motion, "nooooooooooo" you jump through the air, crash onto the floor, almost catching said Soy Sauce but you miss it, just at it hits the ground, spilling everywhere. The baby splashes in the soy sauce, laughing, clearly seeing the pain in your eyes, outfit now covered in soy sauce. You clear up the baby, he head's straight for the soy sauce spillage and again splashes. Damn. You clear up the soy sauce but the baby is still covered, again, and leaves a trail of soy sauce all over the floor. You clean him up. 
He now wants feeding.
You sit on the sofa to feed him before attending to the remainder of soy sauce on the floor.
The door shuts and you realise your husband has popped home for a toilet break.
All he see's is a pile of messy clothes NOT in the washing machine, a spillage of some kind NOT mopped up, peelings and packets on the worktop and food half cooked, NOT tidied away in the bin or ready to be eaten.
All he see's is you, sitting on the sofa doing absolutely nothing, because you can guarantee that as soon as he walks in the baby will stop feeding so you really will just look like you are lazying around and not stopping to do the most important job of the day.

I've lost count of the many times someone has said "I wish I was a stay at home mum so I could sit around and watch Jeremy Kyle (cringe!) and This Morning"
Yes, because that's all we do. I always get to sit, silently, watching This Morning, with a hot cup of tea. Undisturbed.
I don't sit there trying to watch it, with a baby hanging from my leg wanted to play, with a 3 year old asking for "Rhyme Rocket, Mister Maker, Rhyme Rocket, Mister Maker, Mummy can you turn this off? I need to watch Toy Story. No not that Toy Story, the train one, the train Toy Story"
Then, once you put Toy Story on, exhausted from pausing This Morning and getting no further than the titles and simply just wanting to see what Holly Willoughby is wearing that day (or is it only me who does that?), you child walks away, into another room.

Every trip to the toilet is accompanied by a child, or both children. Hairwashing, drying and styling is rolled out over 3 days. It's a real luxury if all three are done in one day.
Infact hairwashing almost becomes a thing of the past. Rather than every third night, as it once was, it's more like every third week.

When friends, fellow mothers, can't even acknowledge the hard work you put in on a daily basis. The hard work that they moan about when they are at home with their child/ren for 3 days out of 7 (the other 4 spent at work) then you can't help but wonder who does actually understand.
Who does notice the hard work you really do?

I haven't even mentioned the fact that when you are poorly people think you are just able to relax on the sofa all day, feet up....because obviously the children will understand and help you out. Of course they don't. You have to get on with it. This makes for a completely separate post though!

I love being a stay at home mum, I really do.
There are so many benefits but then there are the negatives which people don't take into account.
The lack of adult company, the occasional feeling of loneliness, and the lack of understanding for what you actually do every single day. The fact that your job is unpaid. The fact that you are on duty 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 12 months of the year. You don't get holiday time.
Me time? What's that? For me, me time would involve getting to have a wee in peace. Or a bath. Oooo a bath in peace, with a book. A distant memory.

I'm not complaining about my job. Yes, its a job. It really is a job. It's bloody hard-work. Work, see, its a job.
But sometimes, a bit more understanding, acknowledgement and just someone noticing the fantastic jobs you've done that day and the things you've sacrificed.

(Please be aware that the above are exaggerated scenarios and although may have happened in real life in some shape or form, are not actually real)

14.7.12

Munchy Seeds {Review}

I'm quite open to the fact that I love food. A lot.
I've never really eaten breakfast so do tend to graze a lot during the day, especially since breastfeeding.

Last week we visited Heveningham Country Fayre. I love events like this, mainly for the food tent and food stalls. I don't mean eating all of it of course, but just discovering new foods and new companies.
We tasted some local wine and then noticed next to this stall was some pots of seeds. I spotted that there were spoons in the pots so obviously we could taste the food there and then. Brilliant.
I didn't expect to fall in love with the food though and end up being dragged away from the stall by my mum.

As soon as I got home I went straight onto Twitter, searched for Munchy Seeds and then tweeted them
to let them know how fantastic I think their product is.
I was of course delighted when they replied asking if I would like them to send me some samples!

I was sent a pack of
* Choccy Munchy Seeds: Dark Begian Chocolate with Chilli and Ginger
* Chilli Mix
* Vanilla Pumpkin Mix

The first pack I tried was the Vanilla Pumpkin Mix, simply because I didn't try these at the Country Fayre. Now my first plan was just to try one as I was cooking dinner at the time. As I say, that  was my plan. Within no time at all I was left holding an empty pack. Oops!
These are amazing! Really really amazing. Addictive and...well AMAZING! Even writing about them now is making my mouth water.
I was kind and gave a couple to Charles to try and he also loved them.

I'd tried the Choccy Munchy Seeds at the Country Fayre and really liked them, despite not being a huge chocolate fan.
The Chilli isn't overpowering and really compliments the dark belgian chocolate.

And now to my ultimate favourite. The Chilli Mix. Since I was pregnant with Harry I've found a whole new love for Chilli and Spices. Well, before Harry I had always loved Bombay Mix..although only at Christmas.
I tried the Chilli mix at the Country Fayre and had to stop myself from eating the whole pot. It is AMAZING!! Not too spicy but full of flavour. It's almost like a seedy version of Bombay mix. These are probably the most addictive of all the flavours I have tasted.


At the Country Fayre we also tried:
* Choccy Seeds with Apricot. These were Charles' favourites.
* Munchy Granola
* Omega Sprinkle
* Honey Seeds

All again were really tasty and full of flavour.
They would be great simply as a snack or added to porridge, yogurt, flapjacks (something I am going to try soon) and in stir fries.
The main thing I love about these is that its a snack that can be enjoyed by all the family, and they are healthy.

You can purchase these tasty treats online or from a local stockist.
They are available in 200g tubs, 500g tubs or 25g sachets (ideal for lunch boxes and picnics!)

I couldn't recommend Munchy Seeds enough, and I guarantee that if you bought some you would not regret it.

Although we were sent some sachets of Munchy Seeds all words above are honest and my own.

11.7.12

Documenting Smiles, Laughs and Good Times.

A friend recently commented, although was possibly making a slight dig at me, about girls who constantly post photos of themselves posing onto Facebook. Now although I don't do that I do regularly post photos of me and the boys on there.
It may come across as me loving myself, but it's not that at all because I'm incredibly self conscious. I take photos of myself and the boys because simply, no one else does. In the whole year of Harry being born I have had to ask to have a photo taken of me and the boys. I've just realised that it's easier to take it myself, or set the camera onto self timer.

I'm so proud of the boys and want to capture and document the smiles and laughs and good times that I've had with them. If not when they are older and we are looking through photos they would only ever see photos of themselves or their daddy with hardly any of me.
To everyone else these are just normal photos but to me they have meaning. I know when they were taken, where they were taken, why they were taken, why we were smiling....it's nothing to do with being vain.
It's about the moment.

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Design & Drill® Activity Centre {Review}

Charles loves helping my husband out with DIY, fixing the car....anything that involves screwdrivers, hammers and drills.
When Learning Resources asked if we would like to review the Design & Drill® Activity Centre I knew Charles would love it.
The set includes:
  • 10 double-sided pattern cards providing 20 full-colour activities
  • 100 plastic bolts in 5 vibrant colours
  • Combination spanner and junior power drill with reverse function
You are also provided with a plasticwhite design board. Using the pattern cards your child then drills and screws the bolts into the design board, copying the pattern on the chosen card.
For the first few days of use Charles filled every hole with a bolt. This was great to get him used to how the tools work.
 
 
Please excuse the stripes on this photo.
This toy is fantastic to work on concentration skills, following instructions and working individually. Charles asked for help a couple of times but overall did amazingly well. 
It holds his attention for a long time aswell...any toy that does that is an immediate success.

This is proof that education and learning is fun.

The toy is suitable for ages 3-7, again this is fantastic as I love toys which I know will get a lot of use for many years. It's great quality too so I know it will last a long time too without breaking or damaging.

I'd highly recommend this for birthdays, Christmas or as a general learning gift. It's available via the Learning Resources website. Extra drills and fun bolts are available to buy seperately incase any bits go missing.

*We were sent a Design & Drill® Activity Centre to review. All words above are honest and my own.

10.7.12

Heveningham Country Fayre

On Sunday we'd planned on having a day out and picnic at Thetford Forest. Last minute we changed our plans as we remembered the Country Fayre at Heveningham. We wanted to go last year but Harry was days old so it wasn't convenient.
The weather forecast was shocking but we decided to risk it, armed with wellies, raincoats, waterproof ponchos, umbrellas and raincovers. Thankfully we took those things with us because it rained on and off all day but we had a fantastic time.
We visited the small funfair when we first arrived. Charles, my husband, my mum and her partner had a go on the Dodgems, then Charles went on the teacups with my mum. We then let him go on the bungee trampoline. My husband and mum were concerned incase he was too small for it. I knew he'd be fine because Jenny, aka Mummy Mishaps, had posted about Burton doing similar earlier this year.
Charles loved it and we all had little panics when he was elivated ridiculously high in the sky....and then we would all start laughing.
He then went on the rollercoaster. It was his first time on one by himself. We thought for a minute that he may hate it but he loved it! They had to stop to let the other boy off as he was shouting "stop train stop" but then it carried on with Charles as the only passenger.
We then made our way back to the car for the picnic. On the way to the car we stood and watched Morris Dancers. I love Morris Dancing and could have  watched them for hours.
Once we'd finished our picnic the rain started again so we headed back to the arena and to the food court for a look around.
I love the food courts at these kind of events, especially when they feature crepes....which this one didn't!! But thank goodness they were located outside. Phew!
Inside the food court though we tried some local fruity wine (Rhubarb...yum!!) and I discovered Munchy Seeds. I urge you to check out their website and the Chilli mix. Amazing!!
We then went for a coffee and sat and watched some shows in the main arena. The weather was still all over the place. We walked around the arena, visiting the stalls and the craft tent.
We stood and watched some fun dog racing then left at 5pm.
It was a lovely family day, great atmosphere and fantastic community feel.
We certainly won't let the rain ever scare us off again.