Sunday, 21 September 2014

Happy Sunday | Week Twenty Seven

Whether or not you think Sunday is the end of the week, or the beginning of a new one, I thought it would be a nice idea to look back on the week that has just past and to look at the things that have made me happy and made me smile.
I think it can be easy to look back on a hard week and miss out on those things. A week of bad weather for example can really make it seem as though the whole week was a complete fail. But it probably wasn't. We must all smile at least once a day. I know I do, even if I forget it.

Things that made me happy this week:

Mini Spending Spree

I was very kindly given some money from my in laws for my birthday and with a child free weekend I decided to make the most of my time and pop to our local Outfit store. I ended up leaving with a denim dress, which I've looked at online for so long and loved but wasn't sure how it would fit so I was really pleased when it fit perfectly, and that it is a size 14 and is a tiny bit roomy! Woohoo!!
I also bought a black dress. It's in a waffle fabric which is cosy and will be warm in the colder months.
And, as Autumn hits I would obviously by some denim shorts.....we'll ignore the fact that the sun is about to disappear. I wanted some denim shorts all summer but couldn't find any I liked and didn't want to spend over £20 on a pair (yes I am that tight!) so when I found these ones for £12 I couldn't resist. I got them a size too big because I think it's nice to have shorts a bit loose, and with a belt added. Hopefully we will get an extra week or so of sun so I can wear them.
I also bought 2 tshirts, one in a mint colour and one in a pretty deep purple and a cute necklace with bright flowers.

Iced Drinks and a Naughty Breakfast

On Saturday evening I headed down to the boat to meet my husband. On the way I couldn't resist stopping off at Costa for an Iced Cappuccino. On the way home from the boat I went to a retail park to go to Outfit, it wasn't open so I popped to McDonalds and was supposed to only get a drink, but I couldn't resist a Sausage and Egg McMuffin. Judge all you want, but it was goooood.

Salads

This year I have eaten a lot of salads. I've had a lot of fun mixing ingredients and odd flavours together and did worry about how I would cope in the winter when I don't really want to eat cold meals.
I received this book for a blog post and it is amazing! It gives so many ideas for salad recipes for all of the seasons and I'm sure that soon enough I would have made the majority of the dishes.
This week I made the Warm Salad of Roasted Carrots with feta, pine nuts, and a sweet chilli glaze. Oh it was BEAUTIFUL! I served it with smoked salmon and a toasted muffin which just made it a little more filling for an evening meal.
I also made stir-fried tofu, ginger, garlic and broccoli. I haven't had tofu before and although it wasn't horrible I did feel like it didn't add much to the salad so would probably not use it again. The broccoli with ginger and garlic was amazing.

Friendships

I wrote in my Week Eight post about the friends we made through sailing. We met them in the boat shed and they really helped us with our confidence whilst we were preparing our boat for the water and they were so supportive and helpful the day the boat entered the water.
For a number of reasons we didn't get to see them over the Summer but with their boat now moored near ours due to it coming to the end of the season we were delighted to catch up with them briefly on Friday night.
Then, on Saturday night, they had left us a bottle of wine on our boat and some snacks. We popped out for a sail and when we came back and moored up our friend came over to our boat and requested us to join him and his wife in their boat at 8.15 that evening.
So after our quick dinner we grabbed our wine and we went along and talked, joked, laughed, cried (yeah, totes emosh I am) and learnt so much about each other for hours, eventually going back to our boat at 2.15am. It was just such a wonderful wonderful night and they are the most amazing people and we feel honoured to be friends with them.

Winners

I was so excited and happy to find out on Friday night that my friends had won awards at the MADS!
I'm not one of those people who feels really disappointed if my blog isn't featured anyway and instead I really get such a wonderful feeling when friends of mine are shortlisted, or finalists in any blog awards and feel immensely proud when they win. I might have cried.....as I said 'totes emosh'.
Well done Kirsty and Clara on your Most Innovative Blog award and to Katie for your Best Baby Blog award. I'm so proud of you all.

What made you happy this week?

Linking up to:
The Ordinary Moments: Mummy Daddy Me
My Week That Was: Make, Do and Push

Time Management and Meal Planning Wins #afterschoolchefs

Having two children in education makes life really quite hectic and busy. Charles is in full time education and Harry is part time so there is a lot of running around and also a lot of clock watching.
We are usually home around 4 o clock and I always feel like our time together is limited whilst I rush around sorting out school bags, getting them a drink,and all the other jobs I have to do and before I know it it's time to sort dinner and I haven't even been able to talk to them about their day.

I try to vary what the boys eat although they can be fussy so I giving them new foods is somewhat of a challenge.
Because of them being so fussy I like to involve them when it comes to dinner time, but either letting them help me prepare, letting them choose what they would like or giving them options, or going through what I'm making and where the food comes from.

We took part in the Birds Eye #afterschoolchefs challenge and the first part was stocking up on some Birds Eye products.
Provided with £20 worth of vouchers I went to the supermarket and bought a variety of products. I really enjoyed then creating a meal plan for the week around these products.
Charles now has school dinners so dinner times aren't so much of a pressure as I know he would have eaten well at school so I like to have a light option in case he isn't too hungry.
After writing down the meal plan I worked with Charles to decide when they would have each meal, we based this around his school lunch menu so he wasn't having a roast dinner on the same day or a burger for dinner the day before he would be having a burger for lunch.

As I said, the boys are really fussy and we quite regularly find ourselves frustrated at the food we have to throw away.
The week we planned these meals, and involved Charles in more was the best they have eaten for a while. We pretty much had clean plates every night and two happy, full boys.
We were also impressed that each meal took around 20-25 minutes which gave me enough time to catch up with the boys and talk about their day.

Our first meal was using the Original Chicken Chargrills.We decided to use them to make up a roast chicken dinner. The boys both had quite a big lunch so we missed out on potatoes with the roast but included some Birds Eye peas along with Yorkshire puddings, fresh broccoli and carrots, with a small mug of gravy.
One of the meals the boys will always eat is a Chicken Roast and we tend to always have some vegetables in either fresh or frozen, but we don't always have a chicken in the fridge to roast. The chargrills were such a good substitute for a "proper" roast chicken and didn't take long to prepare at all.

I used to hate Fish Fingers then I made them for my husband and for Charles and tried one, well, since then I have loved them (although only in a sandwich). I think fish finger sandwiches are the perfect after school dinner, particularly in the warmer weather. Not as stodgy as a burger can be but perfectly filling. But, lack of vegetables may see this being a frowned upon meal.....well, the best way to have a Birds Eye Fish Finger sandwich is with some Birds Eye peas (cooked, obvs) inside too. Mmmm.

The boys will occassionally eat Korma but don't really like the chicken covering in the sauce, so I cooked some Birds Eye Crispy Chicken, sliced it and served it on some rice. I mixed some Birds Eye frozen peas into the Korma Sauce and served it on the side. The boys then dipped the chicken into the sauce and ate the "curried peas" separately.

Macaroni Cheese is something Charles would eat all day every day if he could. I like to serve it with meat if I can, just to mix it up a bit and sometimes will serve it with chicken nuggets. This time I served it with the Birds Eye Simply Whole Chicken Fillet Kievs. The garlic butter from inside the Kiev goes so well with the Macaroni Cheese. I also mixed some peas in with the cheese sauce...can you tell that the vegetable the boys eat the most is peas?

This meal is perfect for a light dinner or for a post preschool lunch. The boys love dippy eggs and we decided to mix things up a bit and serve them with Birds Eye Crispy Chicken Dippers instead of toast. This went down really well and was a great alternative. We also used waffles which was just as nice.

Taking this challenge has taught me that there are a variety of meals I can create with simply ingredients, and that as long as we have Birds Eye foods like these in the freezer we will always have something we can make for the boys for dinner.
It's also helped me with time management and being able to spend extra time with the boys after school is perfect.

“This post is an entry for #Afterschoolchefs Linky Challenge, sponsored by Birds Eye. Learn more on the Birds Eye Facebook page http://bit.ly/afterschoolchefs.”

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Exploring Suffolk | Snape Maltings

Do you have particular places you continuously drive past and always say "we should go there!"?
I have a few places like this. Most of which seem to be in Suffolk. Although we live in Suffolk we do tend to head into Norfolk more often and almost kind of neglect Suffolk.
So last Saturday it was our last day of spending time with my brother and he suggested we go to Thorpeness. My mum fancied Snape Maltings so....we did both.

Snape Maltings is beautiful. It has such beautiful buildings, some are homes, some are holiday accommodation, some are shops, some are bars/restaurants and there is even a concert hall.
The original purpose of the Maltings was the malting of barley for the brewing of beer; local barley, once malted, was sent from here to London and exported to mainland Europe.

Wiki: 

The Maltings process at Snape came to an end in the 1960s as Swonnell and Son went into liquidation and seven acres of industrial buildings were left vacant. Thirty acres of land was offered for sale, including dwellings and an inn. It was difficult to imagine how such functional structures could be put to different use. However George Gooderham, a local farmer and businessman, recognised the potential. He purchased the site and set about finding alternative uses for the buildings.
By the 1960s the Aldeburgh Music Festival was outgrowing the limited space available in the Jubilee Hall. Benjamin Britten started to look around for somewhere to build a concert hall. Britten had the vision to see the largest Malthouse, in its magnificent setting overlooking the saltings as a possible site. Negotiations began with George Gooderham and after little more than a year Snape Maltings Concert Hall was ready to be opened by the Queen at the start of the 1967 Aldeburgh Festival.
Snape Maltings is a leading destination on the Suffolk Coast with the world famous Concert Hall and rehearsal space as well as independent shops, galleries, restaurants, art exhibitions and workshops. A calendar of events operate throughout the year from the June Festival and August Proms to guided river walks, boat trips, farmers markets and the Aldeburgh Food and Drink Festival.

The shops are amazing. There is a toy shop which from the outside looks quite small but it is really quite big inside and is full of the most amazing treasure. A lot of the stock is vintage design which is beautiful and there are a range of products from cheaper pocket money pieces to those which are saved for special occasions.
We were limited with which shops we could go in because of the boys, us wanting to get to Thorpeness and my lack of funds (I am a self confessed sulker if I find something I want to buy but can't afford it) so as my brother went and played on a nearby garden area with Charles and a pocket money plane he kindly bought him, my mum, Harry and I popped into one of the local craft style shops.
Oh it was heaven, and I ended up having a mini sulk as I wanted so many things.

After a walk around some more we stopped off for a pint and some juice in the on site pub. The atmosphere was wonderful, it was one of those places you could sit all day if you had nothing else to do.
We didn't eat here but looking at the lunch plates coming out from the kitchen it is definitely on our list of places to eat.

In peak season they run river trips along the River Alde, the times of these trips vary because the river is tidal.
If the weather is nice you can enjoy a choice of walks with varying distances. Snape Warren along the river is a 2 mile return walk, Sailors Path walk from the Maltings to Aldeburgh is a 12 mile return walk, Iken Cliff walk is approximately a 2 mile return walk, and Iken Church walk is approximately a 4.6 miles return walk.
The buildings are so stunning and the juxtaposition of the buildings really makes you stand back and just stare and almost entices you in to explore further.

My mum and I have promised that we will be making a special visit towards Christmas to buy presents for the boys from the toy shop and some special pieces for family from the other shops there.

If you are ever in Suffolk and want somewhere to visit you must definitely put Snape Maltings on your list.


Sunday, 14 September 2014

Happy Sunday | Week Twenty Six

Whether or not you think Sunday is the end of the week, or the beginning of a new one, I thought it would be a nice idea to look back on the week that has just past and to look at the things that have made me happy and made me smile.
I think it can be easy to look back on a hard week and miss out on those things. A week of bad weather for example can really make it seem as though the whole week was a complete fail. But it probably wasn't. We must all smile at least once a day. I know I do, even if I forget it.

Things that made me happy this week:

Cards

It was my birthday on Thursday and I absolutely love the cards that my husband got me from him and from the boys too. The words are lovely in each of the cards which makes them that extra bit special.

Wellibobs

My mother in law kindly gave me some Joules vouchers for my birthday so, this weekend with the 25% discount offer, I popped to the Southwold store at the first available opportunity to purchase some Wellibobs. I've wanted a pair for sooooo long and am delighted now I have some! I think I will wear these a lot, as a regular pair of boots throughout the Autumn and the Winter. And look at the pretty floral pattern too.


The Originals

I didn't get to see my mum on Thursday so on Friday I suggested a night in with her and my brother. My brother was staying at my mums this week so I requested one of our favourite dinners and we all watched Captain Phillips together.
I absolutely loved it, and spending quality time with the two originals in my family was fantastic and made me feel very content.
(Also, high fives for two Tom Hanks films in a row this week. Saving Mr Banks on Thursday and this on Friday. Go me!!)

Little Miss

My mum bought me a pair of sunglasses early on in the Summer as an early birthday present, as a result I didn't have anything to unwrap on Thursday, but you know...when you are a grown up it doesn't matter and a card is truly enough. However she did give me a little something on the day and I absolutely love it.
My boys love the Mr Men books and for Harry's birthday his Grandad and Grandma bought him the complete collection. I think these are wonderful books and my mum bought me the Little Miss Twins book. It is so cute and I did laugh when I unwrapped it. (I'm a twin if you didn't know, although I have a brother not a sister)

Haircut

Harry started preschool this week and on Monday it was his turn for a haircut. I never know what to ask for as 'short on the sides and spiky on top' isn't really that simple as you then have to give numbers and lengths and it's all so faffy. I ended up asking for a number 2 at the sides and for it to be long on top. I think it looks really cool and it wasn't until we saw my brother later that day that we realised they have similar styles.

New Jumper

I ordered a new jumper from H&M. I am a bit obsessed with their clothes at the moment and love this floral design. I ordered it in a large and it is HUGE but I am going to keep it as I quite like the oversized look of it, especially when teamed with skinny jeans. I think it will be ideal when layering in the colder months and will be extra snuggly at night time.

What made you happy this week?

Linking up to:
The Ordinary Moments: Mummy Daddy Me
My Week That Was: Make, Do and Push

Saturday, 13 September 2014

It's Not a Myth

I clearly remember before my wedding day, everyone told me to enjoy it and soak in every second because it goes so quickly.
They were right. It goes so quickly and you definitely miss so much.
People said the same about having children. That time goes so quickly and before you know it you are waving them off to school.
This didn't seem true during the newborn days. The long sleepless nights, the long days full of numerous nappy changes, hour long feeds, watching the clock until it's time for your partner to get home from work so you can go to the toilet by yourself.

This month saw some big changes in our house. Charles returned to school and joined Year 1. Year 1 seems like "proper school", not that reception wasn't, but now it's time for learning and it's exciting. He is excited which is the best bit for us.
I love it when he comes out of school with a new "Mummy, did you know......" and then telling me all about the facts he learnt that day.
I don't love the mornings where he takes forever to get ready, with me having to remind him countless times to brush his teeth, put his shoes on, or to get daddy to sort his collar out. But walking him to school, kissing him goodbye and giving him a tight squeeze, wishing him a good day and saying 'I love you' as many times I can before I really need to leave, I realise that actually, those newborn days don't really feel that long ago.

As I now do the same to Harry, and drop him off at preschool, a proud smile beaming across my face at the boy who wasn't at all daunted by his first day and week at preschool and got himself settled within minutes, already claiming to love his keyworker, and everyday so excited as I tell him it's time to put his tshirt on and get ready to leave.

It doesn't seem like long ago that we were dropping Charles off at that very preschool, in the same colour tshirt, handing him over to the same keyworker who he also fell in love with.

I go home and sit there and as I'm getting on with my chores (apparently you're not allowed to sit and watch tv when you're children are at school, you have to be productive!) going through the boys washing I look at the size of their tshirts, the labels that say age 3-4 years and 5-6 years and wonder where on earth those days went where I was looking at 3-6 months.

I keep thinking back to time before school, and how we filled our days. I have a lot of regrets, a lot of things I wish I did. I was always the "there's no rush" or "we'll do that tomorrow/next week/at the weekend" kind of person and those things never got done.  You don't get that time back.
And although I sometimes feel sad as I wave goodbye to my boys and watch them settle into this place where they grow without me, where they don't need me, the place that limits our time together I remind myself how well they are doing, how much they have grown and what a good job we have done to turn them into these confident children who are excited about learning.

The best part of my day is meeting both boys from school and getting the biggest cuddle from them. These cuddles mean so much more to me than ever before and each time I try my best to hold on just a little bit longer and a little bit tighter, and appreciate it a little bit more.

Fairy Non Bio wants to encourage all mums to make the most of those super soft and special moments with your little ones, as they grow up so quickly! Give your babies an extra soft cuddle today. #Powerofsoft


This post is sponsored by Fairy and their #Powerofsoft campaign