Sunday, 30 September 2012

Inspired by you guys... bath time toys

Ben loves his bath time but as he's getting older, there are less and less bath toys available aimed at his age range. I have bought a few things in the past such as this shoot the duck (fell apart on second use), these bath crayons (a nightmare to wash off) and this football game (ditto the duck game). Normally, we've had little success and so Ben tends to play with plastic figures/ bottles etc.

Then I saw this inspiring blog post. What a fab idea and great for any age!

We went to Hobbycraft to get some crafty bits for various projects but the only foam we could find was quite thin and smooth textured. Unsure it would work, we opted to buy one sheet of grey (40p) as a trial and, if successful, we would buy the £4.99 bumper pack (the bright colour version) with 50 sheets of foam.

I have to say, this is super easy, super cheap and really satisfying to do.

You need:

  • Foam 
  • Scissors
  • A pencil
  • Ten spare minutes

Draw your desired shape in pencil (if you're super confident you could even skip this stage). I got Steve to draw mine as I'm not blessed in the drawing department, if you're like me, you could always print your desired silhouette from Google images etc and draw around that.

Cut it out

Wet and apply to tiles!

How easy is that? Now we know this smoother/ thinner foam works too, we're going to be cutting monster body parts, shapes etc (as shown in the previous linked blog)for Ben to wrap up for Christmas. As he's a bit older, we'll also give him some uncut sheets to make his own designs (though I think he'll have to do those outside the bath).

Happy crafting everybody!xxx

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Can't see the wood for the trees

Today we decided to take my annoying sciatica for a test drive before I try to go back to work on Monday. It was a gorgeous day(sunny but crisp- the best).

Checking out the evergreens

A totem pole... or something!

Working out if it was an owl or a Red Kite on the top of the 'totem pole' when...

Gizzy came and vomited up the grass he'd been eating!

A lovely day in Chopwell Woods. I was a little breathless but managed to walk for a while; when we got back I was pretty uncomfortable but rested for an hour and feel fine now! 

Hope you all had a great start to the

Friday, 28 September 2012

Naming your bump (pregnancy)

Did/ does your bump have a name? 

When Ben was all nestled in my tummy Steve named him 'Bean' (as that's what he looked like on the very first scan at 12 weeks). The name stuck and we referred to my bump as 'Bean' throughout the pregnancy: "When Bean's born..." "We need to get the cot put up for Bean..." etc. 

We didn't know if we were having a boy or girl and just had a vague list of possible names for either. Strange then, that when Bean was born we settled on the name Benjamin, or rather, Ben. It was years later before it dawned on us that all we'd really done was remove the 'a' from Bean!

One of my friend's named her bump 'Heff' after a strange dream where she wasn't actually having her husband's child but Hugh Hefner's! I say 'dream' but I think 'nightmare' would be a more adapt description of that scenario!

This time around the scan was early (as we were going to France for a month) and so at 10 weeks and six days, there was no denying that bubba looked like, well, an alien. We were reluctant to call our baby 'alien' and so asked Ben what he would like to name the bump. He came to some lovely logic: he decided that as he was 'Bean', this baby was to be called 'Pea', and then added that I'm 'the pea pod' as I'm keeping the baby safe and cosy! My little mammy heart melted!

Since then, we talk excitedly about the arrival of our baby Pea so when I saw this top by Boden, I knew I had to purchase one for 
our own little Pea. I had a £10 voucher sent from Boden in the post too (for no reason) so I was thrilled that actually, this top worked out free!

So come on then... what do/ did you call your bump and why?xxx

PS- a further thread on what other people named their bump-here!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Beauty Heroes (4-5)

The Beauty Hero Rules:
1. I have to have used the item for over six months
2. The item must have been re-purchased at least once

You can revisit the purpose of the quest and number 1-3 here.

Soap and Glory
Recognisable by their distinctive packaging, Soap and Glory products are an absolute winner with me as they generally do what they say and smell edible (literally, there are moments where I have had to stop myself having a little lick/nibble)! I couldn't pick one product from their range as I have re-bought almost everything I've bought/ been given. That said, I would NOT recommend their cosmetics- the company's bread and body butter is bath products/ moisturisers and generally I think they'd be better leaving cosmetics to the big guns who already specialise in that area. The moisturisers smell so distinctive that (blush) on two separate occasions when I've went for my smears, the (female) doctors have said "Ohhh, have you moisturised with Soap and Glory?"!I can't narrow down this range to just one product to be a hero so here are my top five:

  • The Righteous Butter (body butter)
  • Sugar Scrub (above)
  • Glow lotion (for a subtle shimmer)
  • Easy Glistening (gorgeous spray I use lightly on legs)
  • One Night Tanned (a spray on instant self tan that works best when blended with a tanning mitt and a little moisturiser)
Note- I couldn't find the bottom two on their website but they are in store at Boots etc.

Barry M Nail Polish
In terms of quality, I would say that Barry M polishes are comparable to Jessica or Nails Inc but the reason they achieve 'hero' status is that they are half the price of such polishes and offer a fantastic range of fashion forward colours. At around £4 a bottle (and often less with 3 for 2 offers etc), they offer fantastic value for money and reasonable longevity. As well as the usual colours, they also offer a range of nail art polishes but although I've experimented with these in the past, they just aren't my cup of tea (I feel that anything beyond a splash of glitter looks a little contrived). Colours I've repurchased (can't remember exact names) are: lilac, navy, a murky brown, a plum and what I call a 'tarty' red!

As ever, I'd love to hear all about your beauty

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A little birthday tea

Last night we had a small party tea for Neil's birthday. It was just a simple affair but a great excuse for a party tea (Ben's favourite). (Sometimes it's only when you look at a photo you notice the bits where you've re-plastered and forgot to paint back over them-oops!)

I was so relieved that the birthday cake turned out okay, it was a recipe that I'd used before for orange and almond cupcakes but I was a bit anxious to see whether or not it would work as a cake. It did- yum yum! I'd be happy to share the recipe if anybody's interested (and as a side note- cupcake recipes translate fine as cakes, you just need to cook them longer than the instructions. Just keep an eye and when they start to turn golden, pop a knife in and check it comes out clean- if so it's ready).

Hope you're all well- still suffering from sciatica here but baby happy and kicking so we're still all

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sunday Summary

Yes, I know... it's Tuesday! Unfortunately I've not been feeling the best (see below if you're interested in pregnancy related stuff- if not I won't bore you with it!) Never mind, here's a belated snapshot of the weekend anyway...

Steve was away this weekend so I was both mammy and daddy (hence I felt justified in using his mug)! Let's get this straight, I am not a woman who pines and mourns when away from my other half (not that there's anything wrong with that), I actively look forward to it! The bed to myself, time with Ben all to myself- I love it! I know some people have to be away from loved ones for long periods and that must be tough but when it's a rarity (as it is for Steve and I), it's divine! 

The vegetable basket is looking remarkably autumnal at the moment. I'm eager to get started on some soup making and cosy down for some hibernating in this cold weather (it's raining so much we have flooding here).

I'm a bit cheeky popping this in as part of the weekend summary but I have to mention that we went to see 'Oliver!' at the Theatre Royal on Tuesday with some of Ben's friends from school. A fab time was had by all although sadly we were sat in front of some people who have a lot to learn about theatre etiquette- I think our well behaved seven year olds could have taught them a thing or two...Grrrrrrr.

We popped into Newcastle for Ben's break dancing class at the weekend and my mum couldn't help treating us to this towel from Marks and Spencer and these cute trousers and baby gro (I love the knee patches) from the Next sale. At the moment we still don't know the sex of the baby (and we can't decide if we want to find out; we didn't with Ben) so we're buying all unisex at the moment.

And finally (excuse poor quality of photo- it was taken in the dark), this is Gizzy making himself comfy on a cushion that had fallen on the floor! This was Sunday night when we were all curled up with candles and the heating on! 

Hope you all had a lovely

PS (pregnancy related)- I'm actually off work at the moment suffering from sciatica (a trapped nerve). It started playing up on Sunday night and then had me awake from the stupidly very early hours of Monday morning. Being pregnant, there's little the doctor can do; she advised hot water bottles and gentle exercise. Seems a little better today so hopefully it'll just be a short term thing.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Maple pork with pomegranate and mint couscous

Despite seeming a bit fancy, this is stupidly quick and easy to make: five ingredients and about 15 minutes cooking time total including prep.

  • Pork medallions
  • Couscous (I used a Mediterranean flavour I happened to have in the pantry)
  • Maple syrup (or glaze, we actually used golden syrup in maple flavour as that's what I had in!)
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Fresh mint

To Make:
  • Glaze uncooked pork with syrup and place in a griddle pan (I didn't bother leaving it to marinade although you could)
  • Cook pork as normal, applying another layer of syrup each time you flip it
  • Cook couscous according to instructions (in our case, add boiling water, cover for five minutes and then separate with fork)
  • Sprinkle pomegranate and mint over couscous, add the pork and sprinkle another topping of pomegranate and mint
And that's all! Really tasty, quick and a bit fancy which makes it ideal to serve to mid-week  guests.

Steve is away this weekend and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretty excited to have a chilled weekend with just me, the boy and the bump! Happy Friday folks- we made it!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Stuff I wear... when on a country walk (pregnancy)

Dress- New Look Maternity Link!
Belt- from a different dress
Cardigan (really old none maternity)
Grey knitted tights- Mothercare sale (couldn't find link as bought in store- sorry)
Wellies- Joules Link!

Strange to think that with Ben you couldn't even tell I was pregnant, yet this time round I'm 17 weeks and I've been in maternity clothes from around 13! That said, I'm lucky in that many of my none- maternity clothes still fit or I've been able to adapt them.

Turns out we didn't really need the wellies that day but better safe than sorry!xxx

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Sunday Summary

On Saturday we headed into Newcastle as Ben had his break dancing class at Dance City; it's a bit of a win/ win situation as Ben loves the class and Steve and I get to relax and have some time to ourselves in the coffee shop.

We were really hungry by lunch time so stopped for a tasty slice of pizza at a sweet little place we've been to a few times in the Grainger Market.

You think we'd have had our fill after that, but no! We then headed to a bakery in China Town (on Stowell Street) to try the some Chinese pastries, I opted for milk and peanut butter, Steve for beef and Ben for pork- we were all very impressed and it cam to under £2 for the three of us, crazy! I think it could become a Saturday ritual. 

In the evening I popped over to see my parents for a cuppa while Ben had a friend from school over, his dad is a friend of Steve's too so they had a couple of drinks and caught up. 

I slipped off to bed at eleven which is actually a late night for me these days!

Despite the weather being against us, we headed off early to Cherryburn in Stocksfield. Defying the drizzle, we still had a lovely time...

  • Finger and print painting:

  • Saying hello to the alpacas (Steve is a bit obsessed with them):

  • Exploring Thomas Bewick's (artist) childhood home:

  • Building dens:

  • And finally, trying really hard NOT to share our picnic with the chickens!

And now, as much as I'm trying to deny that the weekend is nearly over, I'm starting to realise that the pile of washing and marking aren't going to do themselves so sadly it's time to stick my work head on- booooooo! 

It's hard not just counting the weeks until maternity leave, when every day will be like Saturday. Bring. it.

Friday, 14 September 2012

France- Disney Dreams


There were a couple of things I didn't realise when we booked Disney: firstly that is was their 20th Anniversary so there would be a enormousness fireworks spectacular display (lovely surprise) and secondly that I'd be three months pregnant so I would be the official 'bag holder' for the majority of the day! Nevertheless, we had a wonderful time and it really was magical to see Steve Ben get caught up in the fantasy.

{It's okay- it was a friendly monster}

{The day time parade}

{Just about to set off on 'It's a Small World'}
{My other home is a castle}

{What a pair!}

{Toffee apple on Main Street}

{Taken by Ben as we waited for the night parade}

{No- it didn't come out!}
{Ben on Steve's shoulders with his new friend}

{Fireworks at the end of the day}

{Sleepy cuddles}

Hopefully we'll return in a couple of years and until then we'll just keep plodding along in our  own

PS- If anyone is heading their soon and wants to know about parking/ food etc just ask in the comments box.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

A long wait.

Last night, we rushed Ben out of the swimming pool, dumped Ben at my parents (telling him we were going to the cinema- we didn't want to panic him) and dashed to the hospital. I hadn't realised, but I'd been bleeding quite heavily and at 17 weeks pregnant, the hospital told us to come in urgently.

Steve parked the car while I dashed in and he joined me in the waiting room. After our rush to get there we sat in a cramped waiting room/ cupboard for around forty minutes. We tried to smile and chat, we tried not to think about what would happen if we lost the baby. Fingers twitched and feet tapped anxiously.

We were then taken through to another room. We gratefully went through to the next room to be told that although there were plenty of doctors, there were no spare rooms for an examination. Now I'mm all for the NHS usually but at this point I'd be lying if I said I wasn't becoming incredibly frustrated. The sense of urgency when they told me to 'hurry in' seemed a stark contrast to the long wait when we arrived at the hospital. Our small talk ran out, Steve bought us a newspaper and a magazine but it was hard to focus. Sentences were left hanging in the air: "What would we say to Ben...?" There were no answers. Another hour crawled past.

Finally a doctor took us through. He was warm and had a kind face. He gently did an internal examination and told us that, despite the bleeding, all looked well. The relief was immense but I could still barely believe it. Then, he gave us an ultrasound and we saw our baby: one arm behind it's head and sucking it's thumb. 

It was moving. It was alive. 

The doctor spent 25 minutes showing us our baby's organs, watching it dance around, seemingly waving at us. 

I am aware that not all women have such relief and last night we counted our blessings several times over. The colder weather doesn't bother me, none of the more 'challenging' students I teach seemed difficult and the tiredness etc of pregnancy seem like a blessing. 

Today I stare at my growing bump with a huge sense of relief as well as love. Our baby is safe (and if you're interested, we didn't find out but we're both convinced that 'it' had the organs that suggested it's a 'he'- time will tell)!xxx

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Easy peasy very meaty meat loaf

This isn't my cup of tea as I eat very little meat but as Steve and Ben are avid carnivores, I thought I'd have a go at this simple meatloaf suggested by my Slimming World group. Steve had it hot and declared it very tasty but apparently it's great cold too so my plan is to use it in packed lunches.

You need:
Chicken Breasts
Low cal oil (I use Fry Light)
A loaf tin

1. Spray the loaf tin lightly with Fry Light and then line with bacon

2.Take sausages out of skins and mash with hands/ fork in a bowl
3. Cut chicken breasts in half so the depth of them is thinner
4. Layer the sausage mix thinly, then cover with a thin layer of chicken. Repeat until the loaf tin is almost full.

5.Once you've added the final layer (it doesn't matter whether it's chicken or sausage), wrap the bacon around the top. Mine didn't quite cover the whole top so I just added a slice down the middle.
6. Pop in oven for 35 minutes at 190.
7. At this point, remove and pour out any juices, then pop it back in the oven for a final 15 minutes.

8. Done! Remove and eat hot and/or leave some to cool and have it cold. 

I like this as I can decide the type of meat etc I buy (in this case low fat as Steve is watching his weight) but you could also jazz it up (for example adding cranberries).

There you go, easy peasy but very meaty meat loaf.

PS- Gizzy actually pinched this off the bench after I took this photo! Once a kennel dog always a kennel dog (I make this excuse even though we've had him over ten years)!

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Krispy Kreme hits the North East

Krispy Kreme seems to be huge in the US but I'd only ever stumbled across them in roadside service stations in the UK. I'd had one before but didn't really get what all the fuss was about. That was, until today...

I went for lunch with our friends and they suggested we headed to Krisp Kreme for some coffee and doughnuts. Being new, there was a bit of a queue but we didn't mind as the staff gave the kids free hats and balloons, we watched the doughnuts being made and were given a free doughnut which was still warm from being made-amazing!

The plan had been simply to buy one each but then...

Well, these things happen don't they?

Happy Sunday