Friday, 31 January 2014

This weeks meal plan

We stuck to our meal plan again last week, i think planning in the odd takeaway or meal out works well as then i don't feel guilty about having them. It gives me a sense of satisfaction seeing that we've used all our food up at the end of the week. We did have some potatoes leftover but i got round that and used them for potato printing with the boys.

This week Phil is working several late nights meaning that we'll all be eating at different times quite alot. I've also gone for a couple of 'lazy' meals that can just be thrown in the oven as it can be hard to stand and cook every night with two toddlers running riot plus we've been overtired thanks to the dreaded teething.

Chicken Korma with rice and naan
Pork and apple sausages, mash and peas
Fish and chips
Cheese, tomato and bacon pasta bake
Pork meatballs in tomato and chilli sauce with pasta
Pizza and garlic bread
Snacky tea to use up some of our Christmas leftovers

Not a very inspiring week, i shall try harder next time!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Our favourite reads #1

We love books in this house and recently had to upgrade our bookcase for a larger one and at the same time i created a cosy corner in the playroom with floor cushions and a blanket for the boys to sit and read or make dens to read in, i added our Noah's Ark so they can use the space for small world play too. 

I wanted to share the boys current favourite books with you. I always like to see what others are reading as it inspires me with future buys. 


A really simple but clever concept, this book asks the reader to make up the story by choosing things from each page such as where you would live, what job you would like and what would you wear. There is so much to look at on each page that you find something new each time you look. It is fun and interactive and great for imagination. This book has the seal of approval from Seb, Phil and myself and we have read it every single day since Seb received it.  I honestly could not recommend it more for all 3 year olds, it's a must have.
This is a fairly new book to us but it has already become a favourite. If you have a toddler you will relate to the story of Bella who is having one of 'those' days. It made Seb laugh and had me nodding along in recognition. Good fun to read when your toddler is having a day of endless tantrums over anything with a lovely ending.

Alex loves touch and feel books. This book introduces babies and younger toddlers to the Gruffalo by encouraging them to feel his knobbly knees and poisonous wart and our favourite his soft fluffy tummy. Seb still likes to look at this book too and point out things to his brother. It's a good introduction for the longer Gruffalo story.

I saw these books on Dear Beautiful and knew i needed to get some for Alex, i ended up buying this one and Romeo and Juliet. They are basic counting books but using things from classic literature which makes them unusual and appealing to me too. The pictures are bright and beautiful and both boys enjoy looking through these books. There is a whole series of these books and they would also make great quirky gifts for older babies or a mum to be who loves the classics.
This book is pretty special, it was a Christmas gift and we are keeping it apart from our normal books so we can keep it as well as read it.  The story is a boy who has lost his name and he goes on an adventure to find it one letter at a time. The magical part is that the letters found make up your childs name. This is not one of the run of the mill books you can get with your childs name printed inside, the story is imaginative and captures your childs attention and the book itself is beautiful and amazing quality. Sebastian is a longer name so our book is pretty long but it kept Sebs attention and he loved seeing his name at the end.  We will definitely be purchasing one of these books for Alex too., it's a perfect keepsake.

What are your little ones reading at the moment?

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

January Haulin'

I used to do regular "haul" posts on my old blog but these days i don't buy enough to do them weekly so i thought i'd start doing a post at the end of each month with the bits i have been buying for myself as i still do love fashion and beauty. 

My prettiest purchase of the month has to be this bath product order from Bomb Cosmetics. They are so gorgeous and have left our bedroom smelling lovely.
 I had some John Lewis vouchers to use up so I treated myself to this gorgeous Bobbi Brown eyeshadow palette from the new Nude Glow collection. I love Bobbi Brown make up and this palette is perfect for everyday wear and the packaging is gorgeous.
I also picked up a few other beauty bits. This Anatomicals conditioner, 2 OPI polishes, an MUA dark purple polish, 2 Topshop polishes in the sale and the new L'oreal Miss Manga mascara which i can't wait to try out. I did also pick up a couple of half price gift sets in Boots which i haven't pictured. 

 I didn't buy too much fashionwise, just this heart print skater dress from New Look and some cute socks.
 
I also ordered this watch on Ebay after seeing it on a few blogs, i don't usually wear a watch but love this!
What have you been buying this month?

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Painting with water. Non messy fun for babies and toddlers

Anyone who reads this blog will know that i love getting messy. 
However some days, i just want to do something quick and fun for the boys without having to do a huge clean up afterwards, or something i can do with Alex without any fear of him eating the glue etc

Alex is now at the age where he is starting to enjoy mark making be it with crayons or paints, so i got out some sugar paper(we have so much of this as i never seem to use it?) and wet a paintbrush and let him paint away.
 
This occupied him for ages, he explored the paintbrush with his hands and mouth, made marks on the paper and enjoyed touching the wet paper. The sugar paper works really well for this as the water makes it noticeably change colour.

What non messy fun do you have?

Monday, 27 January 2014

Rainy Day Crispy Cakes

 
 Possibly the easiest thing to make with little ones ever, crispy cakes are the perfect things to make on cold rainy days to keep them entertained for a while especially if you let them eat the leftovers from the pan.   If you're anything like me, you will have all the ingrediants to hand anyway so no need to venture out and get wet.

50g butter
100g milk chocolate, broken up
3 tbsp golden syrup
100g rice crispies
A handful of mini marshmallows(optional)

In a pan melt the butter, golden syrup and chocolate over a low heat until combined. Turn off the heat and add your rice crispies stirring until they are well coated in the chocolate mixture. Spoon into cake cases and top with marshmallows. Pop in the fridge until set.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Counting with buttons activity

Seb loves numbers and i like to do fun activities to keep him interested in them. My boy loves sorting be it colours, shapes etc so i thought this simple task with buttons(50p a bag in Tesco!) would keep him busy.
I had some mini cupcake cases which i labelled 1-10 and added half a pack of buttons into a pot. Then i got him to sort the cases into order and create a number line with them.
 Then i asked him to fill the cases with the right number of buttons. He did really well with the first few, but needed me to help count last the last couple of them which i was quite pleased with otherwise it wouldn't have been much of a challenge! I've kept this activity together to bring out and use again. 
 This can easily be extended to add more numbers, try counting different materials(it would be fun to use natural objects), or you could adapt it into colour sorting instead of counting. 

What counting activities do you do?

Friday, 24 January 2014

This weeks meal plan

We stuck to our plan 100% this week, and again Phil has been taking food into work for his lunch. One of my aims this year was to waste less food and i think we're doing really well with this. 
I've also baked alot this week and made soup, which the boys have really appreciated! We're having a takeaway at the weekend as a treat, maybe a Chinese as it's Chinese New Year.

Gammon slow cooked in brown sugar with pineapple, wedges and veg
Chicken tikka with rice, naan and poppadoms
Pasta with meatballs in a tomato sauce
Ham and cheese pasta bake
Pizza and garlic bread
Salmon with a sweet chilli relish, new potatoes and veg
Takeaway!

Linking up with Meal Planning Monday
Meal Planning Monday

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Date Night

One of my resolutions was to make sure we had more time as a couple. It's easy to get caught up in life and forget to spend time together being ourselves rather then Mum and Dad.
We are very fortunate to have 2 sets of grandparents who are always desperate to look after the boys so it was no problem getting a babysitter.  

This weekend the boys headed off to Eureka with their grandparents and stayed out the night while me and Phil went on a date. I was a little worried as Alex has been waking nearly every evening and sometimes in the night since Christmas because of his teeth but of course he slept right through the night when not here!
At first we weren't sure what to do, stay home or go out, in the end we went for a mixture of both, out for a meal and a few drinks and then home to watch a DVD. I really enjoyed the ritual of getting ready to go out, hot bath, putting on some proper make up, listening to loud dance music and spending time on myself, i used to do this every weekend pre children when i would be out in clubs until silly o clock.
It was really nice to spend time with Phil, crack silly jokes and cuddle up on the sofa knowing we wouldn't be interrupted by that familiar cry. We also got a great nights sleep which meant we were both really refreshed the next day, good job really as our landlords came round to inspect the house and so we could sign some new contracts!

Do you have date nights? What do you do on them?

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

A little wobble

This month the majority of children born at the same time as Seb are starting nursery, as now at the grand old age of 3 they are entitled to 15 hours free nursery care.
A while back, I decided not to send Seb and so while his peers are venturing off to start their education he continues to stay at home with me and Alex. I've always been pretty confident in my choices, but i did have a small wobble when seeing little ones on my facebook all ready for their first day at 'school' and parents saying how much their little ones loved it and how they enjoyed having the free time.

There are various reasons i haven't sent Seb, a while back i wrote a post about this very subject and mentioned that i was considering home education and i still haven't decided if that is the route i want to take. I love the idea of it but i worry that i may not be enough as he gets older. I am a member of various Home Education groups over on Facebook and the people on there are pretty inspiring, I'm hoping that we can venture to a couple of local meet ups this year to get more of a feel for it and meet some likeminded people and some home educated children.

Really as parents we begin educating our children as soon as they are born, they learn from us and from the things we do with them, Seb certainly learns new things every single day, through play and by simply taking part in day to day life, it's very free and easy with no pressures. I must be doing something right, he is bright as a button and interested in everything.
I don't like the idea of him going to nursery and being monitored and having to conform and being able to do certain things that the government deem a child of his age should be able to do, though i have no worries about him meeting the criteria it just doesn't feel right to me.
I also like that we have a flexible life, if the boys want to lie in until 9.30am then they can(and even better so can i!), if we fancy a day out to the local farm we can just do it and the same goes if it's horrible outside and we want to stay home all day in our pyjamas and play with Lego, no worries about doing the school run or him missing a day.

I have until January 2015 to apply for a school place for him so plenty of time yet but people are starting to ask when he'll be going to nursery and I'm not sure what to say to them to be honest. Part of me wants to conform after all, going to school is the norm but another part of me wants to choose something different for our family.

Banana and Chocolate Chip Loaf

If you're anything like us, you will end up with some rather ripe bananas left in your fruit bowl at the end of the week, instead of throwing them out, try making a lovely banana loaf instead. 
I found this recipe online, it is a Mary Berry recipe though i added chocolate chips into mine as an extra treat.

100g softened butter
175g caster sugar
225g self raising flour
2 eggs
2 ripe bananas
2tbsp milk
1tsp baking powder
Small bag of milk chocolate chips

Pre heat your oven to around 180oC 
Peel and mash your bananas then add to a mixing bowl along with all of the other ingrediants. Beat together until well mixed. Spoon the mixture into an oiled loaf tin and pop into the oven for around an hour when it should be risen and a lovely golden colour(your kitchen will also smell lovely!). Leave to cool and slice to serve.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Reusable Sanitary Products, part 2

When i posted about resuable sanitary products a couple of weeks ago it got quite a few people interested on here and on twitter so i wanted to psot a little update.

Well without going into too much detail i've now tried out the sanitary towels that i bought and i have to say i have been really impressed with them. They are comfortable to wear, very soft and not bulky. I was concerned about if they would work but i didn't need to worry, they do their job perfectly. I was also a little worried about there being any smell but there wasn't any at all.
There was no irritation that you can sometimes get with disposable sanitary towels either. 
Obviously as it was my first use of them i can't say much about them reducing period pain or making your period less heavy but i am going to be ordering more so will hopefully see some changes over the next few months.

Once used igave them a quick rinse under the tap and kept them in a wetbag and washed them in the machine at 60 degrees with a small amount of powder and they came out like new.

With so many pretty options available, which ones should i go for?!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Babyologist review (MAM products)

Just before Christmas i received a lovely email saying i had been selected as a Toys R Us Babyologist(cue pretty badge!) Shortly aftter i received a box of goodies to test out and review with Alex.
 
We were sent some MAM products, a well known and respected brand. For some reason i have never used any MAM products before so i was looking forward to putting them through their paces.We were sent the products in green but they are also available in pink or blue.

First up we received a green MAM feeding bowl and plate set. The plate and bowl can be attatched together or used apart and the plate has a non-slip base making it harder to push it off of the highchair.
First up, i want to say i really like the design, it's simple and sturdy and i liked that the plate and bowl can be used both together and apart, the size is just right for the meals i give Alex now at 14 months old so it would be a product you can use from weaning through to toddlerhood.
Alex enjoyed the independence of eating from the bowl, because it is non slip he doesn't get frustrated trying to eat from a bowl moving all over his highchair or falling onto the floor.
Though this set is more expensive then other weaning products out there, i do think it is worth it. It is practical and attractive which is always a good combination! 
The second item was a MAM Snack Box. This pot is ideal for taking snacks out and about in your changing bag, it's snap on lid keeps food fresh but when opened it can be attactched to the bottom of the pot so that little ones can easily get to the foods inside. 
 Again i like the simple but practical design of this product especially the large opening meaning that the baby can get the food out themselves which encourages the use of the pincer grip. It is easy to fill and Alex found it easy to get his food out of the pot which of course is the most important thing!
The third item we received was MAM Green Teach Me Toothbrush Set. This set comprises of 2 brushes, a long handled caregiver brush that both parent and baby can use at the same time and a smaller brush that baby can use independently. There is also a gaurd that can be attatched to the brushes to stop it going too far into babies mouth.
Alex has only recently starting getting teeth, so toothbrushing is still relatively new for him. Because of this we used the long handled brush to ensure his teeth got a good clean while he still had the chance to 'help' by holding the brush too. The brush is comfortable to hold for me and also easy for him to grip too. My favourite thing about this brush set is the pink bristles which show you how much toothpaste you need to use, i think this is something that can be hard to gauge as a parent so i found it useful to have there as a guide. The bristles are really nice and soft so perfect for a young babies teeth and gums which can be tender from teething and i have had no problems using it even when new teeth are coming through.

These products are available from Toys r Us

**We we're sent these products to review but all opinions are my own**

Friday, 17 January 2014

This weeks meal plan

We did quite well with our meal plan last week though we did end up having a takeaway one night. The shopping came today with no major substitutions or missing items so this weeks meal plan is looking promising. Phil is only working late 2 days this week so those nights are the quick and easy pasta and pizza nights and the boys will have something different.

Friday-Steak and ale pie with chunky chips and veg
Saturday-The boys are staying out and we're going out for a meal, probably something Italian
Sunday-Cornflake chicken with spiced potato cubes and veg
Monday-Tuna and Sweetcorn Pasta Bake
Tuesday- Pizza and garlic dough balls
Wednesday- Homemade pork and apple burgers, chunky chips, onion rings and peas
Thursday-Pasta with a cheese sauce


Linking up with Meal Planning Monday :)
Meal Planning Monday

Friday, 10 January 2014

Siblings #1

Siblings are the people we practice on, the people who teach us about fairness and cooperation and kindness and caring, quite often the hard way. ~ Pamela Dugdale


Getting photos of the boys together can be hard, they are both constantly on the go and being still for a photo is the last thing they want to do.
So i am joining in with the new Siblings linky, posting a potrait of the boys together once a month. Lets see if i can get them both to look at the camera.

dear beautiful



Thursday, 9 January 2014

Trendy Thursday

So Trendy Tuesday has turned into Trendy Thursday(complete with brand new badge) and it has been on a break over the festive period. I'm so pleased that Alex is back and hope to join in the linky as much as possible this year. I cleared out the boys wardrobes last week and have my wishlists started ready for spring and summer, i've also been hitting the sales.

I will admit i've been a bit rubbish at taking outfit posts recently but here are a few of my favourite outfits from the last couple of weeks. 
 Alex wears Penguin print tee-Boden, Leggings-H&M
 Seb wears Rugby top-Debenhams, Jeans-Primark, Glow in the dark wellies-Hunters
Alex wears Cardigan and vest-H&M, Check trousers-Boden
Seb wears Guns N Roses tee-Tesco, Red skinnies-Matalan, Black and white check hitops-H&M

Check out the lovely Alex and join in with Trendy Thursday 
Badge for TTT, Badge

Slow cooked vegetable casserole

  It's no secret that i  love my slow cooker, i love the ease of being able to chuck everything in and the smells drifting through the house all day.
I made this simple vegetable casserole as a healthy dinner for the boys but the recipe would make enough to feed 2 adults and 2 small children and you can adapt the quantities really easily to suit your appetite or what veg you have in the house.
 500g of potatoes peeled and cubed
1 courgettes, cubed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
1 red pepper, cubed
1 red onion, sliced
2 tsp of mixed herbs
250ml of vegetable stock
salt and pepper to season

Layer the vegetables into the slow cooker adding the mixed herbs. Add the stock and then cover and cook on low for around 7 hours. 

Serve with salt and pepper to season.

This weeks meal plan

We did really well and totally stuck to our meal plan this week, and Phil even took homemade lunches to work with him instead of buying something, i'm hoping to carry that on this week too by sending him in leftovers :)
After 2 seperate food shops last week i have a freezer with lots of food in again. I'm trying not to get stuck in a food rut which seems easy to do at this time of year when we just want to eat comfort foods, my slow cooker is going to be used alot this week though on the nights where Phil isn't home until 9 we do tend to stick to something that can be bunged in the oven(the boys have something proper at their normal time).

Chilli con Carne in the slow cooker
Sticky Chicken Drumsticks(in the slow cooker) with wedges and either salad or veg
Slow cooked spag bol
Slow cooked beef casserole with herby dumplings
Ham and cheese pasta bake
Pizza and garlic bread for us, vegetable casserole for the boys.
Freezer dinner for us, fish crumble for the boys

What are you eating this week?

Linking up with Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Reusable Sanitary Products

Warning! If you don't like talk of periods then look away now!

I mentioned in my new year post that i wanted to try cloth sanitary products this year. I had never even considered it until i saw people talking about them on a cloth nappy group i use.  I'll be honest the idea grossed me out at first we are so used to the ease of disposable products and anything else is seen a bit hippyish and dirty.  After reading about women finding their periods were lighter and less painful which sounded pretty good to me and they are also reportedly more comfortable to wear, i already wash nappies so it's not that much different really. 
Like cloth nappies, modern cloth sanitary products are very different to those of yesteryear, they are coloured and patterned and there are lots of different people who make them in styles from thong, to panty liners and even for post birth blood loss.
So i took the plunge and ordered a couple of clothes sanitary towels to try out this month. I went for a couple of different types so i could see which i preferred then if i like them i can buy more. They arrived really quickly and my first impression is that they are very pretty, almost too pretty to hide away or use! They are also very soft and thinner then i expected, i thought they would be huge and bulky though this does make me worry if they'll do their job! I'm looking forward to being proved wrong.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Jazzed up jars

When we got married we set up a sweetie buffet. As part of it i decorated some jars and filled them with boiled sweets and they looked fab as well as being super cheap.  Unfortunately we forgot to take them home afterwards.  On Boxing Day we had people over for food and my table was set up with white, pale pink and silver so for a pretty touch i made up the jars above to tie in. 

All you need is some washed out glass jars, some lace(i got mine from this seller on ebay) and some pva glue. Cut your lace to the right length and glue to the jars. Leave to dry. It really is that simple.

I also think these will look really cute with little bunches of flowers in come springtime.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Goodbye 2013

Like many for me 2013 had it's highs and lows, from finding and moving into our new home and watching the boys grow to Phil being mugged and then finding out some horrible things that made life difficult. 
I am pleased to be welcoming in a new and hopefully better year. I don't have resolutions as such but i do have things i want to do this year.

  • Have more date nights! Pretty self explanitary!
  • Dedicate more time to reading.
  • Reduce food waste, we are quite good with this but i still think we could do better. 
  • Give crochet a go! I would love to make a crochet blanket.
  • Try cloth sanitary products.
  • Remember to take time to enjoy and appreciate the boys, it's easy to forget to do this.
Do you have any plans for 2014?

This weeks meal plan

This week i have managed to pretty much empty the freezer which means it's going to be defrosted this weekend. In our old flat we didn't have a freezer just a tiny icebox and since we got our fridge freezer i've become so reliant on it for freezing portions of food for the boys or leftovers, i can't imagine not having one now! This means i have 2 food shops coming this week, our normal one plus another for restocking the freezer.
On to the meal plan...

Lasagne
Roast beef plus the trimmings
Tomato pasta bake
Bacon and cheese soup with homemade bread
Chicken fajitas and wedges
Pizza and garlic bread
Pasta and pesto

What will you be eating this week? 



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