Back to Me.

One thing I always loved about this space of mine on the Internet was the fact that I could write about whatever I wanted (well within reason of course).
I'd say I haven't ever been controversial or offensive, and instead have been open and honest. Even if to some it felt like I was over-sharing and was breaking down the "private life"/"Internet life" barrier and being too open about things personal to me. These being my posts about anxiety, birth trauma, relationships, therapy, and such like.

It's so gimmicky but I really want to have a "New Year New Start" approach to my blog, although more making it what it used to be.
I was proud of those posts. Even if to some I was oversharing. If I was saying things I shouldn't openly share with people who don't know me properly.
Those posts made me feel better, they were my therapy and if people don't like them then they simply don't have to read them. Right?

Having a little break over Christmas made me realise what I want to write about. I've been exploring the things I like to read, and also just thinking about what I want to come back and write.

2014 is going to be my year of thinking about myself, about what I deserve and about what I want. I'm no longer going to be influenced by others, or to worry about what others think.
Well ok, I will always worry about that kind of thing, it's in my nature, but I will no longer let it affect something I hold so dearly to my heart and that I love.

Here's to a happy 2014!



A Magic Break and Some Perspective

Having just got back from a 4 night stay away with my husband and the boys I've realised that a lot of things I always considered important actually aren't as important as I always thought.

We spent a night in London, which was wonderful. We got to our room at 3.45ish and rather than going into London we just stayed in the room the rest of the afternoon, ordering a bottle of wine, juice for the boys, room service food and watching Cbeebies then You've Been Framed. The boys had a bath and then we all settled down for cuddles and sleep.

The following day we made our way to the Eurostar, managing to drop a passport onto the track as we boarded and almost loosing tickets and my husbands phone in the process, and we headed to France for a 3 night break at Disneyland Paris.

I took my DSLR and planned to take lots of photos, even packing a spare SD card feeling sure I would fill them both. But I didn't.
There were moments that I wanted to take photos, but I didn't, simply because it would have meant letting go of Harry's hand for a minute or two, not so much worrying that he would run off but that I would miss out on that contact for a minute or two, because in no time at all he won't want to hold my hand. Or missing out on a reaction from the boys at something, or missing out on something they've said.
I got a little stressed when the parade came along on the first day and we were stuck sat on the pavement and I had Harry on my lap. I wondered how I would get the perfect photo of the parade and of the characters and then I thought....who cares?! The most important thing was to sit and enjoy the parade, to show Harry and Charles the characters we had been discussing for so long. Watching their reactions as everyone walked past, taking in the magic, the music, the atmosphere, and choosing which of the characters I would rather dress up as if I had to work there.
I took photos of the parade, of course most are not in focus and are blurry but when looking through them when we returned home I didn't care.
I felt a little disappointed of course, but then remembered why I didn't get these perfect shots.
Because it wasn't about that. It was about being with my family. Enjoying my family and our time together. The photos will help to share with the boys in years to come but I feel I would prefer to say "look at these, they aren't perfect because we were having a cuddle and we were dancing along to the music" rather than "look at these, you both had to sit with daddy so I could get these photos for you". The memory of the snuggles and the sways are a lot more important.
I realised that whenever I go somewhere I don't always take photos just for us. I take photos of what I think other people might want to see, on here or on Facebook but I didn't do that this time.
I had plans to video the firework show at the Disney Castle and although I took photos of the Castle all glittery before the show started I then put my camera away, collected Harry out of the hired pushchair and held him tight as we watched and shouted "Wow" and pointed out all of the characters and colours that we saw.
I didn't want to video the castle just to show people on Facebook, there are plenty of videos on Youtube for that.

When we got home I felt glad that I put my camera down a lot more. I took the important photos of us with characters and little things I don't want to forget. I looked over my photos when we got back and realised that they aren't all perfect. My settings are out on most, a lot are out of focus but to me, they are fab and I don't need to impress anyone else.
Why are they fab to me? Because they are proof I had an amazing few days with the most important people in my life.

I placed a select few photos on Facebook and realised something else, which is why not all of the photos I took went on there. This isn't a new realisation, more of a reminder I suppose that social media has almost completely wiped out simple, general conversations. 
People just want to see photos. Back in the day (yep, I'm old) it was all about conversation. Telling people about what you got up to, what your favourite ride was, what your childs favourite ride was, what the weather was like, how long you spent in each park. People wanted to hear about your experience, and now it seems it's as simple as piecing together a story from photos, and it really makes me sad, and it's part of what makes me want to shut things away, to somehow force questions and make a conversation happen.

Not only was it nice to just spend that quality time with my family and to switch off from the pressure I had put on myself when it comes to sharing our lives, it was also nice to get some perspective and to understand what is important and to realise what I expect from people in my life. To realise how much of myself and my family I want to freely give away and how much I want to be wanted from us and requested from us.



Never Enough

Not good enough.
Not knowledgeable enough.
Not pretty enough.
Not thin enough.
Not funny enough.
Not trustworthy enough.
Not talented enough.
Not big enough.
Not nice enough.
Not strong enough.
Not wise enough.
Not bright enough.
Not eloquent enough.
Not cool enough.
Not popular enough.
Not special enough.
Not perfect enough.
Not important enough.
Never ever good enough.


Mulled Cyder/Cider | Recipe

mulled cider
Two Sundays ago we visited a lovely pub in the village of Horning in Norfolk. When we walked into the pub I noticed, immediately, a cauldron looking thing on the bar with Aspalls Mulled Cyder. We went to our table, I visited the ladies room with Charles, and came back to find that my wonderful husband had ordered me a Mulled Cyder without me even needing to let him now that it was what I wanted (5 husband points awarded)
Oh. My. The taste was amazing. I went on to order another and, well, my new favourite drink was born.

The following day my husband popped out for supplies and came back with a bottle of Aspalls Cyder. I knew what I wanted to make but didn't know if I had all of the ingredients, a lot of recipes online suggest vanilla pods, cardamom, star anise, all of which I didn't have.
So....I made it up.
It's so simple and easy, and very very tasty.

You will need:
Half a bottle of Cyder or Cider (I highly recommend the Aspalls Cyder for this)
1 lemon wedge
1 lime wedge
1 orange
Some grated nutmeg
Half a cinnamon stick
2 dessert spoons of caster sugar
half a teaspoon of Allspice.
(these ingredients make enough to fill two wine glasses)

Cut your Orange into quarters, squeeze the juice into a saucepan and then add the orange quarters to the pan. Add the lemon wedge, lime wedge, and caster sugar and stir until the sugar is almost dissolved. Add the cinnamon stick, allspice and nutmeg and continue to stir until you can smell that wonderful Christmassy scent.
Add the Cyder (half a bottle) and leave for a couple of minutes until it starts to bubble.
Serve in a glass with a wedge of orange. 
It's as simple as that.

mulled cider
mulled cider
mulled cider
mulled cider

Tasty Tuesdays on HonestMum.com


Hello Again

In 2009, when Charles was only around 5 months old I visited my doctor to talk about feelings I had been having.
Not post natal depression, but anxious feelings which were strong, unbearable at times, and involved clear, very vivid images in my head. A lot of things I haven't shared because some of them are quite disturbing and heartbreaking.

One of the images which prompted my visit to the doctor was of Charles being run over.
I was walking along a road with him, and the path was narrow and I think this is what caused the images to appear. I panicked at the cars driving past us so close, and in my head I pictured his pushchair going over and him being run over.
It was so clear, and so graphic, that I can still see it now.

Charles has always been quite good when it comes to road sense and car parks. He has tried to run away a few times when he was little but would never get far. He understands that he needs to stay close to the car and now will talk to me, or hold my leg, when I put Harry in the car so that I know he is close by.

I'm only now letting Harry walk places, rather than being stuck in a pushchair, and on Friday I decided to take him to a retail park so we could buy some bits from Argos.
We were able to park right outside the door so it was easy for him to walk in, and for us to walk back to the car as I knew I would have a couple of big bags.
It didn't quite go to plan as he ran away from me, into the road, ignoring my calls of him to stop and come back, instead just giggling.
30 seconds earlier he would have been hit by a car.
Thankfully there was nothing coming.
I put down the bags on the path and ran after him, but it felt like I was going in slow motion. I didn't even look to see if a car was coming, but I prepared myself for impact.
I prepared myself for the image of my son underneath a car.
I saw him under a car. So graphic.
I saw myself sat cradling him.
I saw myself at hospital with him.
These images going round and round and round.

But nothing happened.
No impact. Nothing. No cars. Just us in the middle of the road and a few people over on the path walking along slowly and watching.

Why don't people help? Why would people choose to stand back and watch a mother desperately trying to catch her child and possibly save him from a car? Why would people choose to want to watch a 2 year old get run over than to take a chance at maybe offending me by helping me out?
I wouldn't have been offended, I would have been incredibly grateful.

I'm not blaming people. It wasn't their fault. But I'm surprised everyday by how selfish we are sometimes.

As we got into the car Harry just laughed at me. He clearly didn't understand how serious this could have been.
He certainly didn't know what was going on in my head.
Those images still going round, added to the images from 4 years ago which decided to join me again.
I felt and feel angry at him for running.
I felt and feel angry at him for not understanding.
I felt and feel angry at myself for trusting him.
I felt and feel angry at myself for thinking he was responsible enough to not need to hold my hand, or to be on reins or in a pushchair.
I'm angry at myself.

I sat in the car shaking, unable to drive. Just trying to calm my mind down and to realise that he was safe, in the back of the car.
I eventually drove away, still shaking, but still seeing those images.
I shouted at him, he laughed, he didn't understand.
But I was still replaying those images, so vivid.
Even now, it's as if it happened.

It's silly to some, I know that. And I wish my brain didn't work this way, but it does.
I can't filter it out and I've tried, I'm trying, I'll continue to try but the feelings just over take and really, there's nothing I can do.
I can't get rid of it.
I am given time apart from the feelings, a break from them, but then they come back.
It's just something I have to live with.


Pinecones: When Autumn Met Christmas

This year we are making as many Christmas decorations as we can. Some will be made by just me, and some will be made with the help of the boys. We want our tree to showcase the different things we can make ourselves.

One of the easiest and prettiest things we {I} have made so far are these glitter pinecones. We actually collected two big bag fulls from a local woodland and plan to do lots of different crafts with them.
The first craft I did, the glitter is far too pretty to be thrown around and ruined/wasted by the boys, is super easy and just requires pinecones, glue and glitter.
I didn't want to have the pinecones all the same so either dipped them in glue and then sprinkled the glitter on top or painted glue on and then sprinkled the glitter on.
I don't recommend dipping or rolling the pinecones in the glitter as the glitter tends to then get all clumpy and also loses it's sparkle.
Once you've sprinkled the glue on it's best to spread the pinecones out on a tray and leave to dry.

These will now live in a heart bowl and also in a glass jar with some fairy lights.
I think the great thing about these is that although they are perfect for Christmas, you COULD just have them as a pretty household decoration.
Our jar with the fairy lights has been on the table since I made these 3 weeks ago. It's beautiful if you want low lighting and to set a relaxing atmosphere.

The glue is just a strong craft glue from B&Q and I bought the AMAZING glitter from Ebay, the pack is really quite big and little goes a long way.



Mulled Wine | Recipe

mulled wine recipe

Oh yes, it's getting all Christmassy here today.
I haven't really appreciate Mulled Wine much before. We've purchased bottles of cheap Tesco Mulled Wine but we'll buy one bottle and then soon be bored. This year I thought about making our own. I think making your own just makes it a little bit special. Knowing exactly what you are drinking, controlling your flavours, making it as fruity as you like or as spicy as you like. And of course, choosing your own red wine. After a bad experience with red wine 10 years ago at my school prom I'm very picky about what I drink.
It's also super easy to make, and features such cheap ingredients that you can use in other drink recipes or of course in baking.

After searching the internet for a Mulled Wine recipe I got fed up and confused by different recipes from different chefs so I decided to just make it up as I went along.

You will need:
1 Lime
1 Lemon
1 Orange
Red Wine
130g Caster Sugar
1 Cinnamon Stick
1 Whole Nutmeg
1 Teaspoon of Allspice

Peel your lemon, lime and orange. Make sure the peel is in nice big chunks. Add the peel to a saucepan, discard the lemon and lime (or cut up and freeze) and put the orange to one side.
Grate a quarter of the nutmeg and add it to the saucepan along with the cinnamon stick and a small level teaspoon of Allspice.
Add the Caster Sugar to a saucepan and add a little of the red wine, and squeeze some orange juice into the pan too, and boil until the sugar has dissolved.
Add the rest of the red wine and simmer for 3 minutes.
Then, serve in a glass with a slice of lemon, and watch It's a Wonderful Life.

mulled wine
mulled wine
mulled wine
mulled wine
mulled wine
mulled wine
mulled wine
mulled wine


Limoncello {Recipe}

You will need:
5 lemons
Bottle of Vodka-1 litre
750 g of Caster Sugar
500ml boiling water

Grate the lemons, try to just get the rind and not the pith. Put the zest into a jar and pour in the vokda.
Cover the jar tightly with cling film and put to the side for a week. You need to stir this everyday, I just used to whirl the bottle around and it gave the desired effect.
After 7 days, take another jar and put in the Caster Sugar, pour over the boiling water and stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.
Next pour over the vodka and the zest, giving all of the ingredients a good stir. I had to use two jars as I didn't have one big enough for the whole of the mixture.
Again, cover tightly with cling film and leave for a week. Stirring, or whirling, every day.
Then, 7 days later pour your Limoncello in a bottle and tahdah! All done.

Once made the drinks last around 3 months.

Recipe fills two 2 litres bottles with a tiny bit to spare.

When life gives you lemons, make Limoncello!

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