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Bread, bread and more bread!

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve become a little bit obsessed with baking my own bread. I think this is partly due to re-runs of the Great British Bake Off and partly because I’m trying to start making things that are better for me – baking cakes is brilliant but doesn’t help with my diet and I seem to have stalled at a size 12 😦

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It started badly due to a typo in Nigella Lawson’s How to be a domestic goddess. The recipe stated a tablespoon of salt. A TABLESPOON! Now I haven’t made bread for a while but even so if I’d been using even a 5th of my brain that should have rung alarm bells. Apparently though this is what happens when you have kids, you stop paying attention and accept what’s written at face value. In fact the other day I got in the car to drive to the corner shop (it was raining) and automatically drove halfway to the supermarket before I even realised what I was doing. The bread did actually rise though by rights that much salt should have killed the yeast but was definitely inedible. The next couple of loaves were better – I slightly overcompensated and put almost no salt in before getting it right but ended up with yummy bread in a pretty plaited shape (above). Not perfect but very tasty. Tonight I was in a hurry so didn’t plait the loaf – instead it’s round(ish).

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The kids have loved baking bread and the ex-science teacher in me has loved talking about the yeast making bubbles in the bread so it gets bigger. My husband is getting homemade bread for his sandwiches everyday and keeps winding me up that we’ll be living the Good life pretty soon.

 
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Posted by on April 23, 2013 in Baking, Parenting, Uncategorized

 

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Little fun fest

Thanks to twitter blogger Tiredmummyoftwo we learned about an exciting festival for children being held in Altrincham near Manchester. The festival ran over two days so a friend and I decided to go on the Friday.

Little fun fest was held at Red house farm and had pretty much every thing small people could want, from fairies and dancing to Harry Potter, Hagrid and broomstick rides.

We were greeted by giants and fairies as we waited to hand over our tickets, before enjoying coffee and cake in the lovely little tea room.

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Next we moved on to the open barn where some fairies made a rainbow from magical invisible coloured objects. The children loved handing over invisible creatures and ended up underneath a beautiful rainbow cloth before the next treat of storytime with cBeebies star Alex Winters.

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Not just one story though – we had two stories. We went on a bear hunt and found room on the broom with a friendly witch. On the bear hunt the children went exploring round the barn, through all the obstacles before getting to run away from the “bear” (a poor dad with the misfortune to be sat in the middle). Alex was brilliant with the kids, he engaged them from the start while managing to keep their attention throughout.

There was so much to do we didn’t get round everything although we were there from 10 till 4. Things we did do included watching cBeebies’ Mr Bloom on stage and going on the free fairground rides. We played in the sandpit and on the slide before running in and out of the playhouse again and again (the children that is – we sat on the side and drank coffee).

The highlights of my son’s day were when Alex said hello to him and when he got a high five from Mr Bloom while having his photo taken. His smiles when he met his cBeebies heroes were the best parts of my day.

 

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From the Seychelles to Center Parcs in 5 years

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Once upon a time we had a fairy tale wedding in a castle and a honeymoon in the Seychelles. Beautiful white sand beaches, cocktails at sunset and glorious sunshine. To be fair there was no internet and my husband would have been happier if the local hospital hadn’t been on the next island but in general it was an amazing holiday. This year was our 5th wedding anniversary so naturally we wanted to do something a bit special, but the addition of two little people means that a 10 hour flight to the middle of nowhere is a lot less appealing and a bit too pricey. Instead we went for the less glamorous but much more practical Center Parcs in Sherwood forest. We’ve been before and knew it would be a child friendly, comfortable holiday with a reasonably short drive that potty training toddlers could cope with.

We agreed that we wouldn’t get each other presents as we were spending a decent amount on the holiday, but I found out the day before we left that my husband had been all romantic and got me something as a surprise. Because I never know what to get him I decided to make a cake, although naturally I’d run out of everything so had to make a mad dash to Sainsbury’s.

Apparently the 5th wedding anniversary is wood so I made a rectangular cake and cut it into a number 5. The morning we left involved packing the car and decorating the cake with the “help” of 2 toddlers. The wood effect icing and the ivy were my idea, the butterflies were my 3year old’s.

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Times change and so do holidays but we had a wonderful time as a family. The sub-tropical swimming pool was brilliant, the restaurants had crayons and colouring books for the kids and the wildlife was wonderful for entertaining little ones. At night we sat in front of the fire and just enjoyed relaxing.We had such a good time my son didn’t want to leave. In fact he spent the next week saying he wanted to go back.

I look at the last 5 years and so much has changed. We have two wonderful children, a grown-up house in suburbia and are well on our way to being “middle aged”. It hasn’t always been easy and anyone who has suffered sleep loss from a small baby will understand that it really really really is so much harder than you ever believe it will be. Like most people I always thought parents were exaggerating and that my baby would be different and perfect. But however hard it’s been there are moments when you sit quietly and see how worthwhile it’s all been. I can see the light at the end of the (sleep deprived) tunnel and wouldn’t change it for anything.

 

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Relaxation = Yoga + Childcare

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Any parent with small children knows that finding time to yourself can be a challenge. 4 years ago I could pretty much do whatever I wanted; stay up late, go dancing or go to the gym. I didn’t have to worry about 6:00 am wakeup calls from bouncy toddlers or who’s going to watch the children if I want to have a night out.
Things are very different now; when we had our second child I became a full time mum, keeping our son in nursery for just one day a week. For a year and a half I was always responsible for at least 1 child and even when I could have gone out to the gym – for example in the evenings or if the grandparents baby sat for a few hours – I would struggle to find the energy to go out and would most likely spend the time curled up on the sofa watching bad TV shows.
Recently though things have been getting better. In January we became entitled to government help with our son’s pre-school hours, reducing the cost of his nursery fees and allowing us to send both our children to nursery one day a week. While I wouldn’t feel happy putting my children into nursery full time I was very glad to be able to start sending our daughter for this single day a week. My son was in nursery part-time from 9 months old when I returned to work, however circumstances meant that my daughter had never been cared for by anyone other than myself or a close relative. At 18 months she was very clingy and always needed her Mummy. This is endearing in many ways but it is also restrictive and if it continued would make it much harder for her when she had to begin school. By slowly introducing her to an environment where she is well cared for by non-family members we hope to increase her independence and reassure her that even though Mummy leaves her in the morning it is only until the end of the day. After the first couple of weeks of tears at drop-off and pick-up (from her not me) she now happily runs in to the toddler room to play and jumps for joy when I collect her at night.
Having both children in nursery has meant that I suddenly have a full day to myself with no-one to look after. Of course it’s very easy to fill that time with all the mundane chores I struggle to do during the week, the washing is always there and then there’s the garden and the dusting to do but in the last couple of weeks I’ve started managing to take a bit of time for myself. I’m finally managing to go to the gym for something other than lunch. Once upon a time I used to do a lot of yoga and dance, so I have started going to the Wednesday morning yoga class. You get to stretch and feel all lovely and achy, and you then get to relax for 15 minutes without feeling guilty. After that if I’m not rushing anywhere I sit in the jacuzzi for 10 minutes as well. It may not sound like much but it is making a surprising amount of difference to my quality of life. I feel more relaxed, I feel less guilty about paying for an underused gym membership, and I am noticing a definite improvement in my figure. Because I’m noticing how much better I feel after doing the Wednesday class I’m encouraged to also do the Sunday night class, meaning I feel even better and am getting something close to reasonable use from my gym membership. It’s good to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that as your children get older you do start to get a little bit of your old life back.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Parenting, Uncategorized, yoga

 

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