Monday, 29 February 2016

Me & Mine 2016 - February


It's the end of February already! February always seems like such a short month despite the fact it is only 3 days (or this year only 2 days) shorter than the month of January, a month that seems to drag by.

Our photos this month were taken at a local country park. We love going there for a long walk, especially when the weather is nice. You can take a picnic and just chill there all day; something I did a lot when I was pregnant with Miss C and Z was a toddler. The kids love exploring the different trails and seeing what treasures they can pick up and bring along for the adventure.

In February, I've been loving seeing the sunshine more. Waking up to a beautiful sunny morning just makes me feel so...alive! I find it quite difficult to get out of bed when the mornings are still dark and dreary but it is like a new lease of life comes over me whenever I see the sun beaming through my window. I love being able to walk to school and college, go to the park and, even the most simple of things, hang out the washing! I've started my Graded Unit at college which is one of the biggest pieces of work in my course but I'm really excited about it. It means the end is near!

Husband has been working hard as always, either at work or helping out our neighbours by decorating their hall whilst they were on holiday. He has been enjoying watching some of TV shows at the weekend such as The Walking Dead. It's not my cup of tea though!

Z has had a busy month with school, karate, play dates and birthday parties. He enjoyed having a week off school and meeting up with a few of his best friends. He has really been enjoying watching Robot Wars with his Dad and reading some new books and comics.

Miss C really enjoyed her week off school. She much prefers being at home or outside playing to being at school. Having said that, she was so excited when she got chosen to bring home the class bear for the weekend. She made sure he had lots of fun with a visit to the park and horse riding!


I'm looking forward to March and seeing what is in store for us all. We're having our bathrooms redecorated and, finally, my little office area is going to be decorated and I can't wait to see the end results.

The Me and Mine Project

Sunday, 28 February 2016

366 Project 2016 Days 52 - 58

It was a late start to the day last Sunday. I wasn't feeling too bad actually, after a night out for my Mother in Law's 50th birthday. I did chill out it bed though for most of the morning and caught up on Britain's Next Top Model. We had wanted to go to the beach but we couldn't because it was absolutely pouring with rain all day. Instead we cuddled up on the couch to watch Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief which is another favourite here. We had homemade burgers for dinner which are the perfect hangover cure.


On Monday, it was back to the routine of school and placement. It was tough to get up on Monday morning; I could easily have slept on. However it was nice to get back in to the routine. We spotted a rainbow on the way home which I captured with my camera on my phone so it didn't turn out great. I love seeing a rainbow; they always make me smile.


Tuesday was an absolutely beautiful day despite a frosty start. It was so nice to see some sunshine. We walked to and from school which I love because it always wakes us up on the way home and relaxes us on the way back. We had meatballs for dinner followed by birthday cake from my MIL. Delicious!


It was my day off on Wednesday and it was greatly enjoyed! After dropping the kids off at school, I came home for a shower and caught up on Hollyoaks. I'll miss not being able to do this when I'm working full time! It was snowing a little bit but by home time, it was sunny again. The kids had fun playing out on the trampoline together. After two bits of lemon cake, I decided to have a salad with my dinner!


On Thursday, I dropped the kids off at school and headed to college. It was a pretty busy day but it went quite quickly. I made my favourite salmon past for dinner which down a treat!


On Friday, the kids got to dress down for the day! College was pretty quiet but I got lots done and left early so I could pick Miss C up from school. Z was going to his friend's house to celebrate his birthday. Miss C was delighted as she got to bring home the class bear for the weekend.


We were up early for Karate and our shopping on Saturday and, of course, Miss C's class bear came with us. After lunch, we had to wait in for someone to come and see how decorating a couple of the rooms in our house including our bathrooms and then we headed over to a friend's house and had a quick trip to the park to enjoy some of the sunshine. We were all ready for bed after dinner!


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Perfect Brownies for Mother's Day

In just over a week's time it will be Mother's Day; the perfect day to celebrate everything your Mum, Gran or other special lady in your life does for you.

Some of the things I love on Mother's Day are a cup of tea in bed, a long lie, a card from the kids and maybe a trip to my favourite restaurant for dinner. I also love a bit of baking. One year the kids and Husband made me some strawberry and lemon cupcakes (separate flavours) and they were delicious. I'm also quite partial to some gooey chocolate brownies and this recipe is so easy to follow and will give you the most delicious brownie ever.

Ingredients

Makes 16 good sized brownies

150g unsalted butter
300g of light muscavado sugar
4 eggs
150g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
A pinch of salt
200g of milk chocolate

To make them even more morish, you could add in some chopped up fudge bars, crunchie bars or even caramel bars.

Let's bake it!

Start by pre-heating your oven to 180°C, gas mark 5. Line a square baking tin with greaseproof paper.

In a pan, over a low heat, melt your butter. Once it has melted, stir in your sugar. You need to stir it continuously so it doesn't burn and so it combines.

Sift your flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and pour it in to the pan with the sugar and butter. Stir until combined and then remove from the heat.

Whisk your eggs and vanilla essence in a bowl or jug and then pour it in to the cake mix. Again continuously stir it until the eggs are combined.

Chop or break up your chocolate and add it to the brownie mix. Give it a quick stir and then pour it in to your baking tin. Pop it in the oven for around 20 – 25 minutes. I tend to check mine after 20 minutes and if the top looks firm, I’ll remove them from the oven to cool on a cooling rack.


Once cooled, slice in to 16 pieces and dust with icing sugar. Pop the kettle on and enjoy! 


Thursday, 25 February 2016

What I Wore - 50th Birthday Party

It was my Mother in Law's 50th birthday party at the weekend and it was a ladies only night. I was really looking forward to going out and having a few drinks after two weeks filled with college work.

I thought about wearing a dress but the weather was so wild at the weekend, I opted for trousers and a top.


My top and leggings, which are faux leather, are both from Lipsy. I love Lipsy for night out clothing! I've been searching for a top similar to this one to add to my collection but as of yet, I haven't found anything. I think the top cost around £25 and the trousers were about £35. 

My shoes are my trusty black pair from New Look. They are quite high but they have a good platform at the front, making them easier to walk in. 

The party was a lot of fun. There were party games and dancing to some golden oldies. The buffet was delicious; tempura chicken, sausage rolls, sandwiches and potatoes. 

I was quite sensible and returned home for midnight...a bit like Cinderella but I managed to keep both shoes. 

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Dressing Husband with House of Fraser

Spending most of the week in a work's uniform means that Husband doesn't get the chance to dress casual or dress up for going out at the weekend. However, when he does manage to get some time off, I think his dress sense is pretty good! There are some looks I prefer on him and I've had a nosey on House of Fraser to pick out some of my favourite bits.

Husband loves wearing polo shirts and, in particular, Ralph Lauren polo shirts. They are pretty well made and last ages which is what you want when you're spending the sort of money a Ralph Lauren polo shirt retails for. Husband prefers a fitted polo shirt but he always chooses a big pony over a little pony.



These are two of my favourite colours on Husband; red and black. Red is quite out there but it really suits Husband's skin tone and eye colour whilst black is a great every day colour to wear as it goes with pretty much everything and can be worn casually or for going out for a date night.  

Along with a polo shirt, Husband looks great in a pair of jeans. I'm not keen on Stonewash Denim on; I prefer a light, grey or indigo denim wash. Husband's go to pair of jeans are Levi 501s. These are the jeans he has always bought and he swears by them. Again they wear really well and last ages. 



To finish off his look, I would choose a pair of boots or a nice pair of simple white trainers. 

Would you style your other half or do you like their own style?

Featured post. 

Monday, 22 February 2016

Strictly No Crocs - Book Review

Strictly No Crocs is a brand new picture book from Maverick Children's Books. It is written by Heather Pindar; her first book and illustrated by Susan Batori.


Zebra is having a birthday party and all of the wild animals are invited except for three crocodiles named Chomper, Snapper and Cruncher. They really wanted to go to the party so they could eat the other animals so they come up with a plan to go in disguise so no one will recognise them.

They head to the party in their costumes and end up having such a great time, they forget to eat anyone! In fact. they had so much fun, they can't wait to go to another birthday party.

This is a fun picture book which is really easy to read. It's quite short in that there aren't a lot of paragraphs on each page to read so it's great for younger children but easy for first readers to read themselves. The illustrations are really fun too.

Strictly No Crocs is published by Maverick Books and is available to buy now.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Family Fun at the Park

We are lucky where we live because we have not one, not two but three parks within walking distance of our home and I love being able to visit them with the kids when the weather allows. Our most favourite park has loads of woodland trails, forests to explore, animals and a play park. We could spend hours there and still find new things to do and areas to venture through.



We decided to head there last Saturday because it was dry. It was still freezing cold but we wrapped up and popped on our wellies. We took a plastic bag with us to collect some bits and bobs for my placement and I took along my big camera and tripod to capture some family shots.


Z and Miss C are at a great age where they can run ahead and we don't have to worry about them wandering off anywhere they shouldn't. They are sensible enough that they know to wait for us if we aren't in their line of vision. Z loves to lead the way and Miss C usually finds a stick that is almost as big as her to use as a horse.




We spent a good couple of hours walking around and we were absolutely shattered when we got home. We warmed up with a cup of tea and some pizza for dinner.

These family days together are so treasured, especially since Husband works long hours and I spend most of my week in college. I know that this time will become even more special once I start working full time and the only time I'll really see the kids is at the weekend. Something as ordinary as a trip to the park is such important quality time spent as a family.

I made a little video of our fun at the park. I used my DSLR to film it which was great to get some cool effects but not very practical for filming when walking. I think I'll need to invest in a Go Pro.





366 Project 2016 Days 45 - 51

Valentines Day was celebrated fairly quietly in our house. Husband made me a cup of tea and brought it up to bed for me. The kids played together and we enjoyed a quiet afternoon at home. We let the kids watch a movie before going to bed as we didn't have to get up early the next day!


On Monday, it was the first day of half term. The kids and I didn't get up until after 9am which was great! Z had a friend over for lunch and dinner. We took a trip to a local park and enjoyed the sunshine. I even managed to get a washing out on the clothes dryer!


The weather had definitely changed on Tuesday as it poured with rain all day. The kids helped me make my bolognaise for dinner and we baked brownies after lunch. They were really tasty. We played some games, read some books and generally had a very lazy, chilled out day.


On Wednesday, Husband woke up to snow! Thankfully by the time we got up, it was all gone but the rain was in its place. We picked up Z's best friend for a play date at the house. They played Xbox pretty much all afternoon but what else is there to do on a miserable day with your best friend? Miss C was looking super cute in her outfit for the day!


Thursday was just as miserable so we stayed in and watched Matilda, one of my favourite films. Miss C loved it as did Z but he had seen it before and he has read the book.


On Friday, I had to go in to college to do a presentation. Although it is half term for the kids, the college's half term was last week but, with no childcare available to us, I had to stay off and take the kids to college with me to do my presentation. They loved it! After lunch, we headed to Asda to do the shopping. We also picked up a birthday present for Z's best friend who turns 10 next week! Our Friday night movie was Homeward Bound and we shared a big bag of Thai Sweet Chili Sensations!


Saturday was just as miserable as the rest of the week weather wise. I dropped Z at Karate and then Miss C at a party, nipped to the shops to get some bits, picked Z up from Karate, came home for 20 minutes then went back out to collect Miss C. I felt like a taxi service! We had a fun afternoon playing a favourite Orchard Toys game of ours called Post the Most. They discontinued it awhile ago which is a shame cause it is a lot of fun. After dinner, I got myself ready to head out for my Mother in Law's 50th birthday party - ladies only!


Thursday, 18 February 2016

Disneyworld Art of Animation Room Tour - VLOG

Disneyworld Florida; it really is a dream holiday and part of that dream is deciding where to stay. Some people opt for the comfort of a home from home in the form of a villa but we knew that we wanted to stay onsite with Disney so we could enjoy the many benefits available to onsite guests as well as be blown away by the amazing d├ęcor of a Disneyworld Resort hotel.

We chose to stay at one of the newest hotels in Disneyworld; Art of Animation. My favourite ever Disney film is The Little Mermaid and with one of the sections of this wonderful resort being dedicated to Ariel herself, I knew this is where we were going to stay for our two week holiday.

I'll do a full review of the hotel in separate post but for now I wanted to share a room tour I filmed on the day we arrived in Florida. A first impression vlog if you like! But I thought it would be good to show you what you can expect from a Little Mermaid room at Art of Animation, should you choose to stay there.

Just to give you a quick overview, the Little Mermaid rooms are suitable for up to 4 people as the room has two double beds. I'd say you'd be pushed to fit 4 adults in the room but for a family of four, this is a decent sized room. There is a good sized dressing area with plenty of room to hang your clothes and store your suitcases but there are only 3 small drawers. I think they could have put a larger cabinet in the room which would allow for more drawer space.

The room has a small fridge, a seating area and at least 5 power points. We took an extension cable so we could charge multiple items at night. The room also has an iron and ironing board, hair dryer and a safe. Towels are included in the room and changed daily. You can request towels easily by calling mousekeeping and they'll bring them to your fairly quickly. The room doesn't have a kettle or microwave. Wi-Fi is available at no cost. 




Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Springing in to Fashion with Vertbaudet

Spring is just around the corner and with the warmer weather coming, I love looking for new clothing items for the kids.

Vertbaudet have recently launched their new Spring collection and, as always, it is full of colourful items that can be worn so many ways.


Take this denim shirt; it can be dressed down with this beautiful coral stripe jumper and cords for a trip to the park or dressed up with a pair of leggings and a pair of boots (see below) for a party look.

Sweater, Coral Stripe, £19, Perfect Fit Cords, £16, Denim Shirt, £19, Trainers, £25 


I feel like Spring means bright colours but the kids still need to be kept warm as the weather can be somewhat unpredictable until at least May or June. I love the vibrant pink beanie hat; these are so trendy at the moment! And how cool are the biker boots with the skinny jeans? You can still pick these items up from Vertbaudet's winter collection and some of them have money off too! 

Coat, Navy, £39, Cardigan Burgundy Marl, £24, Perfect Fit Trousers, £13, Boots, £29, Biker Style Boots, £29

We'll be reviewing some of the new Spring range for Vertbaudet soon, but in the meantime, why not head over and check out their new collection and see if you can pick up some goodies for your child's Spring wardrobe?

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip - Book Review

A brand new offering from Maverick Books is the rather quirky picture book, Professor McQuark and the Oojamaflip. It is written by first time author, Lou Treleaven and illustrated by Julia Patton.

The science fair is coming to town and Professor McQuark, who has a very big brain, wants to enter a fantastic invention so she can win first place. Her latest invention doesn't have a name so she decides to call it an oojamaflip.


There are lots of weird and wonderful inventions at the science fair such as a self-playing flute and a door with a zip but none of them are as weird and wonderful as the oojamaflip. A large crowd gathers round this noisy contraption to see what all the fuss is about...will Professor McQuark win the science fair first place prize?

The story is written in rhyme which is still our favourite kind of book to read together and it's a book that I can use for work to help the nursery children recognise rhyming words. Rhyming picture books are always really easy to read and I like to give the children a chance to guess what the rhyming words might be. This is a really fun book to read.

It is published by Maverick Books and available to buy now.

We received this book for the purposes of a review. The opinions expressed are my own. 


Monday, 15 February 2016

Sibling Moments #26


Finally the better weather looks set to arrive after enjoying some beautiful if cold days this week. I love when Spring starts to show signs of appearing; I'm really not in to Winter at all. I hate being cold and as much as I love cosying up on the couch to watch a movie, I much prefer when we can be outside, enjoying the fresh air together.

We took a trip to the park and the kids had a great time. Z and Miss C were off together; Z leading the way and Miss C trying to keep up with her brother. She does pretty well actually! It reminds me of when they were 3 and 1 and Miss C would copy everything her brother did. It's really sweet that she still looks up to him, even when he does drive her mental sometimes.


Z likes to have a bit of carry on and joke with his sister. He knows how to push her buttons for sure but isn't that the role of any big brother? Miss C goes mad when he annoys her but she does give as good as she gets. It never lasts long and they are soon back to being the very best of friends.

The Me and Mine Project


Sunday, 14 February 2016

Will You Bee My Valentine?

Love has been in the air in our house for the passed few days. Starting on Friday, the kids had a Valentines disco at school. Miss C was really looking forward to not having to do any work and going for a dance with her friends but Z was feeling a bit worried about it as a girl had asked him to go to the disco with her. He hadn't made up his mind by the time I dropped him off at school on Friday morning.

When I picked them up from school, along with Miss C's best friend who was coming for dinner, they told me all about the disco. They had had a great time, dancing to 1D and playing games. Z was mortified to tell me that the girl who had asked him to the disco kissed him on the cheek and chased him around the gym hall. I'm not sure if he just put on a mortified front and he had secretly enjoyed the attention but he was left with the decision of whether he would be her boyfriend! They are growing up far too fast.

Miss C presented me with this Valentines card which I thought was really cute.


And then I emptied her bag to find another Valentines card from...her own boyfriend! Apparently they are getting married so at least he's in it for the long haul! I asked her if she wanted to give him a Tatty Teddy bear as a present back and she said no, instead giving it to her best friend. Sisters before Misters indeed!


Valentines Day is just another day for Husband and I. Through our own love story we've done the cards, flowers and gifts, the romantic dinners, the nights out. It's not that we don't want to celebrate the day; we just don't see the need in going over the top for one day when we tell each other and show each other we love one another all the time.

However, Husband did bring us some Krispy Kreme doughnuts and, as any good man knows, the way to a girl's heart is through her stomach...with cake!




366 Project 2016 Days 38 - 44

Last Sunday, I was up early with the kids for breakfast and to start getting my bolognaise made for dinner and my ironing done. As much as I love a long lie at the weekend, there is a benefit to getting up early-ish when you don't need to do the school run. Miss C had her horse riding lesson at 12pm as she's been moved up to a more advanced class. She rode Jocky and he was raring to go for his canters. Miss C didn't hold on to her saddle once but she was bouncing out of her seat a lot. After lunch I caught up with Hollyoaks under a blanket on the couch and the kids played a bit of Xbox since it was miserable outside.


On Monday, I dropped the kids off at school and then headed home as I'm on holiday for two weeks! I got on with the first of many college reports I have to do and managed to get it finished before lunch time. I did some prep work for another two reports but I do have all week to get them done without any interruptions which is a big help! I picked the kids up from school and we came home to do their homework. We had fajitas for dinner which are always a favourite!


On Tuesday, after dropping the kids off at school and getting a shower, I conquered my biggest report on assessment and planning. It was supposed to be 3000 words but I did end up going over it a bit! It took me from 9.30am to 2.40pm to do, although I did have some short breaks to regroup and feed myself! Miss C and I did her reading homework when we got home whilst Z got on with his Math work. Husband got home quite late after being stuck in traffic!


On Wednesday, I dropped the kids off at school and spent the day just chilling out. I needed it after my huge report yesterday. It was nice to do nothing. I picked the kids up from school and got on with the homework. Z had to do some research on Tim Peake and Miss C and I read her book. It was lovely to see the sunshine again and it wasn't dark until after 6pm! Spring is on the way!


On Thursday, I dropped the kids off at school and met up with Miss C's best friend's mum for a catch up over coffee and toast. It's great that the kids have such wonderful friends but it's even nicer that we all get on as not only parents but as friends too. In the afternoon I had a meeting to do with my college work which went well and then I picked the kids up from school. I made some of my favourite pasta which you can check the recipe for here.


On Friday, after cleaning the house and taking the kids to school, I got on with some more college work. I have my graded unit coming up and I did some work on the first of three reports for it. The graded unit is really important because it is the only unit that is graded in my course and I really want an A again! Miss C had her best friend over after school. Husband brought us some Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a Chinese takeaway as a treat!


On Saturday, Z headed to Karate whilst Miss C and I went to do the food shop. She's getting very good at helping me pick out all the bits we need. After lunch, we headed to the country park for a big walk and to collect some bits for use on placement. We were knackered when we got home but it was so good to get out in the fresh air again. A doughnut was definitely in order!



Saturday, 13 February 2016

Simple Pasta Salad - Recipe

I literally would eat pasta every day of the week if I could. I love a bolognaise, a carbonara, something spicy, something creamy...if it has pasta in it, I'll eat it.

The only pasta I'm not keen on is macaroni and that's really because I don't like cheese sauce. I make my own cheese sauce for Husband and the kids and they love it but I always make myself something different. Sometimes I'll have a bit of salmon with a black pepper and lemon butter sauce mixed through some penne or fussilli but when I don't have fish, I make a simple pasta salad.


Ingredients

A couple of handfuls of your favourite pasta
A couple of handfuls of spinach
Some plum tomatoes, sliced in half
Some spring onions, chopped and sliced
A good dash of a balsamic vinaigrette
A tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper to season

Let's cook it!

Cook your pasta as per the cooking instructions on the packet. Whilst it is cooking, chop up your spring onions and tomatoes. When the pasta is ready, drain it and sit it to the side. In a pan, heat your olive oil and then gently fry your spring onion, tomatoes and spinach, Add in your pasta after a few minutes and put a good amount of the balsamic vinaigrette in; maybe two tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper to your taste, give it a good stir and serve.

This is so simple to make and it tastes great hot or cold. I tend to make enough so that I can put a small amount in a container for my lunch at college the next day.


Thursday, 11 February 2016

Fun Things to do During Half Term

It seems like the children have only been back at school for a few weeks and already it is almost time for another holiday!

The February holiday is a strange one; there aren't any clubs on because depending where you are in the country, some schools only get a few days off whilst others get a full week off. We're lucky in that we get a full week off here!

So as there aren't any clubs of sort to attend, we make our own fun plans for half term. These are some of our favourite things to do:

Baking

We love baking and the older the kids get, the more they enjoy it as they have the freedom to weigh and measure out ingredients, pour and mix all by themselves and creative freedom over icing their cakes. We'll definitely do some form of baking over half term...I'm thinking of brownies as we haven't made them in awhile.


Swimming

Since we stopped taking the kids to swimming lessons, we try and go swimming as often as we can. They love swimming and lessons certainly improved their confidence and skill in the water however they enjoy splashing, jumping in and going down the slide the most.

Ice skating

This is definitely a firm favourite with the kids. Z has been with his friends a few times and really enjoyed himself. Ice skating was something I loved to do when I was younger and we used to go to the ice discos every Friday night. It can be quite expensive to go as a family so we tend to look out for any deals that are on.

Bike rides

The kids and Husband love their bike ride adventures. They were going pretty much every weekend up until the weather got bad but now that it is starting to improve, I think they'll start going more frequently. I haven't got a bike but I might take them out during half term and try and run alongside them. Maybe.


Walks

We're lucky that we have quite a few parks within walking distance and one in particular has many forest trails you can walk through. The kids love these types of walks. Ask them to walk in to town or to the library...they ain't for it. But they can walk for hours in the country park, spotting wildlife and collecting leaves, chestnuts or flowers depending on the season.

Library

I do love to visit the library during half term holidays. The kids get to pick some books that they haven't read before (which is really quite hard given they have over 500 books in this house!) and they do some colouring in at the art table. Our library also has a museum and art gallery which is fun to look around and passes the time.

Play dates with friends

I will quite happily have a house filled with the kids' friends at any time because they all keep each other amused and I can get on with the mundane tasks that the kids find boring. Miss C loves when her best friend comes over to play and Z enjoys having someone other than Miss C to play Xbox with. You'd think they'd all be needing a break from one another after spending 5 days a week together in school but they never do.

What are your favourite things to do during half term?


Previous Posts