Thursday, 19 February 2015

Why can't I play with my boys?

So I have a confession and it really isn't one I am proud of at all.

I suck, really, really suck at being a good Mum who finds time for and plays with my children.

I always wanted to be a fun Mum, making dens, crafting, dressing up and being silly.

Getting involved.

But I am not.

I am a Mum who is always making excuses, always craving 'me time', choosing a house job over playing (despite hating housework) sitting with them but not engaging properly with them, phone in hand usually, or laptop breaks when my mind wanders.

I am sure the words my son's hear most are "in a minute", "later", "we'll do it next day/week..." and how sad is that?

I am more than happy to watch, but I get bored playing the games with them (I am ready for the backlash of that comment as I am sure many people will say how can you), I find it hard to play the same game or push the same cards around over and over.

And yet, as much as I feel guilty I still so nothing about it. What does that say about me?

They are two very happy souls, who are currently playing great together as I type this. Crashing their noisy 4x4 cars into each other and collapsing into giggles, and instead of joining in I am sat watching.

I always had visions of being a fun mum, and I am sure I used to be more of one way back but why can't I be now?

I NEED to snap out of this!
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Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review: Gousto meal box

We had the pleasure to review one of Gousto's meal boxes for two last week-and what a treat it was!

Not heard of Gousto? Well they are a brilliant company that deliver food boxes right to your door, similar to veg boxes you can get from other companies however Gousto's boxes include everything you need to make the meals.

Everything was packaged nicely in the printed box. I must admit I was intrigued as to how it would be packaged with such a variety of ingredients! 95% of the packing is recyclable and from renewable resources which I think is a great thing for companies these days, the meat and cheese was kept cold with a couple of large ice packs and everything protected by a bag of wool which also helped with keeping it all cool. The box was in to compartments which stopped the vegetables and fruit from getting bruised. The only slight problems we had were that the spring onion looked a little limp and the vinegars had very slightly leaked from their pots and bags, but to be honest I wouldn't know a better way to package these. 




It was very exciting to have all the ingredients ready to go for the meals, I am very much an 'open the cupboards and see what dinner I can make from it' kind of girl normally! As I said all the ingredients are there, the only things we needed extra for our meals were house essentials such as milk, butter, salt, pepper and oil.    

We had a box which was for 2 people, which included 3 separate meals:
Steak and blue cheese
Pork and braised apple
Sausage and bean mash

Each meal has a menu card, showing clearly the ingredients needed, quantities (as you can get boxes for 4 people too), time, cuisine, and calorie count per portion. What I really liked about these recipe cards is the easy step to step instructions with photos for each stage, now I am relatively ok with cooking but if say my hubby or my brother was cooking a meal they may need these photos a bit more than I did (shh I didn't say that about them)! I also came across a video icon on one stage on the pork and apple meal which lead to a short tutorial

I'd say each meal pretty much took the same amount of time said on the card, I liked that they were all cooked within 15-30mins each, I think I have always been of the thought that tasty meals took ages to prepare and to cook!

All three meals were great, the stilton (which I don't normally like) was delicious, the pork and leek sausages were the best sausages I have eaten in a long time, and I think the pork and apple meal was our favourite out of the 3. 

Gousto box prices are:
  • Meat box for 2 people - £34.99 per week
  • Meat box for 4 people - £49.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 2 people - £33.99 per week
  • Veggie box for 4 people - £47.99 per week 
If you ever need to cancel or pause you can do so, you just need to make sure you do it before noon on a Sunday before the delivery. I have also discovered you can do a monthly delivery from reading on their website 

Now if I am honest we couldn't afford to get one of these boxes weekly at the moment what with having just moved. But having said that if we did have enough money I would definitely be considering it as it takes the stress out of deciding what you want to eat when on the food shop, everything is ready to go and the meat and vegetables were all of a brilliant quality. 

"Our sourcing team channels an unfathomable amount of effort into finding the best possible quality for you. Not that we're complaining, it keeps us in shape! Our smoked fish, for example, comes from a smokehouse in Wiltshire. Our meat is 100% British and always will be. Take our chicken, it’s supplied by a family owned butchery in Lancashire (and they get it from Cumbria). And our eggs? They come from a free-range farmer called Steven Rowbottom – you couldn’t make it up! He’s based a mere 2 miles away from our warehouse, in egg miles that’s less than a stone (or egg’s) throw. And if all that’s not enough, our sourcing team also do their utmost to buy from ethical suppliers like Suma and Mr. Organic, and family-run businesses like Direct Poultry. Phew!"

Also I am not sure about you,but do you end up cooking the same old meals every week or two? Gousto have a nice range of menus and I know from looking at them there are many things I normally wouldn't cook (or even really try as I tend to stick with what I know) so it brings a bit of variety and an eating experience too. They bring out new menus each week for you to choose from so there is always something new and exciting. 

Now what I want to know, is there a pudding option somewhere on the horizon too? (Sorry- ever the sweet tooth)!

We recieved one Gousto Meat box for 2 to review, but all opinions are our own. 

  




  




Saturday, 31 January 2015

Finally taking the plunge!

So I said I was going to give it a go like I have pretty much every recent year!

I have finally set up a Facebook page for my hopeful business venture!

Eek very nervous and not quite sure how I will work the ins and outs of it all yet!

But really happy to be giving it a go!

If you would like to take a quick look at a couple of items I have made over the last year or two and like the page itself I would be ever so grateful.

I am mainly for the moment focussing on children's items for the time being I think (at some point if it goes well I may make wedding/anniversary/home items) as need to start slowly as I am not quite sure how I will manage my time.

Do you run a business from home? How do you balance work/life/kids/husband and fit everything in?

If you run a small craft business I would be especially grateful for any tips...I really don't have a clue when it comes to anything business!

Things I may need some help or pointing into the right direction with:

-How is it best to keep on track with orders and money etc?

-How long do you allow for handmade orders?

-Who is best and most reliable to post items out with-especially when said item is a frame so has glass?

-Where is the best place to buy packaging? And what/how do you package up fragile items best?

-Do you need liability insurance or is that just for when you do craft fairs?


AND if there is anything else you can think of that might be handy for me to know I would be ever so grateful as I really am a novice at this!




Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tiny Tickers- Heart week 2015 (Feb 7th-14th)

There are so many charities about at the moment that sometimes the newer, lesser known ones need a bit of a push to 'get out there' which is why I am helping promote the Tiny Tickers charity this week as it really seems like such a great cause.

I was shocked to read that congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common birth defect in the UK responsible for 7.5% of baby deaths, which is a shocking amount in my opinion. Research has proven that the earlier CHD is detected the better the babies chance of survival. Sadly only a 1/3 of 3000 babies are detected with before birth, and a further 1/3 detected after birth which means 1000 babies go home with no one realising they have a life threatening heart defect.

Which is why Tiny Tickers is trying to improve the early detection to ensure the babies have the best start and care they need from day one. This would include CHD screening before birth, testing for CHD in undetected babies, and creating awareness for undetected heart problems in the home and community (think HEART).


Tiny Tickers are promoting 'Heart Week 2015' and there are many ways you can get involved...of course if the 7th-14th of Feb doesn't suit you can fund-raise at any time of the year!

What can you do?
There are many ideas for what you can do to raise vital funds:
Dress down days
How about a Valentine's bake sale-heart shaped cakes for a heart cause
A Tiny Tickers' & Love Hearts 'Guess How Many Sweets in the Jar' game

Their 'Heart Week 2015' tool kit has everything you need to get you started and remember - every penny counts so anything you can raise will be gratefully received. 
To get your free Heart Week pack, including your Love Hearts 'Guess the Number of Sweets' game, register here now!
To set up a Virgin Money Giving page for your Heart Week activity,click here
To read a real life story about why Tiny Tickers needs your help please read Robbie's story 

#WELOVEHEARTS

Swizzels, Love Hearts and the image of the Love Heart sweet are registered trademarks of Swizzels Matlow Limited.


Friday, 16 January 2015

A Lego themed party on a budget!

Now Alex, like many boys loves Lego! It was a no brainer that his party would involve a loosely Lego theme! We booked a hall and had around 20 5 year olds to entertain (thankfully with the help of Mum who is a nursery teacher-phew)!



Lego colouring
As with all parties you don't get everyone turn up at once so we had printed various colouring sheets for the children-these were all found online and there are plenty to choose room. We had a range of the Lego movie characters mainly.



Create a Lego Man
One evening I had a really great time cutting out 20+ Lego figures out of yellow card. I manage to fit 3 on one sheet of A4 to give you a rough size. I had ordered lots of stickers and googly eyes for the children to decorate them with and gave this as an option as well as the colouring. Some of them really came out well and my two are pleased there are plenty left for them to use when we draw and make now.


Lego brick game
This is a twist from a game my Mum plays with nursery children at her school. Have four coloured cards behind your back and 4 coloured blocks in each corner of the hall. I had decorated them to look like Lego bricks by covering boxes in wrapping paper and then super-gluing circles to the top of them (the things we do eh)! Basically when the music is playing the children dance and jump about and when it stops they have to run to corner. I am sure you can guess what is next...when the person holding the cards pulls one out the children on that colour are out. When you get down to 4 children or less they have to run to different coloured blocks rather than being on the same one. The kids really enjoyed this and we played it quite a few times!

Pin the piece of resistance on Emmet
It couldn't be a Lego party without Emmet involoved or of course a pin the...game! I actually drew this the morning of the party in a rush-the boys have since enjoyed colouring it in. I just cut out red paper 'pieces of resistance' and took blue tac with us. This is quite a good game to do whislt someone brings the food out!

Lego head cake
I simply baked egg sponge in a brownie tin I have which is square with rounded edges, and also a 2 egg sponge in a loaf tin. The square shape made the perfect Lego head shape, and I just cut the loaf cake into the right lengths for the top and bottom parts. I spread yellow icing all over (I used butter icing because I suck at rolled icing!) and then cut two circles for the eyes and cut a shape for the mouth out of black rolled icing.



Lego moulds
These were probably the only thing I really spent money on-Lego figure and Lego brick moulds that I bought on eBay. I melted chocolate into the brick moulds (I had tried using food colouring with white chocolate but it didn't work out) and left to set and then used fondant icing to make the coloured Lego figures-bit tricky to get out so if anyone has any tips on that I would be grateful! These would be great if you wanted to use for making your own crayons too.



Lego party cake cups
Now this year I just did not have the money to spend on plastic tat for party bags, neither the money to buy Lego stickers or anything remotely good to give so I decided the main part Alex usually gets excited about is the sweets anyway! So I filled up some normal plastic cups with some sweets and the Lego chocolate bricks and placed a cupcake on top which had yellow icing and a Lego icing man on top too. Wrapped and tied with cellophane and ribbon to make something simple look a bit nicer!



Hope these ideas will be helpful for you, apologies for some iffy photos I forgot to take proper ones on the day as was too busy preparing food and getting everything together!


Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What 2015 has in store for me

Well it is nice to be back, and the house is starting to feel like home, albeit a slightly bare one at the moment!

This year I would really like to make a few changes, I let myself slip a bit last year!

Family comes first
I think it was a build up of nerves and anxiety about the wedding, the pressure I put on myself to make anything and everything I could for the wedding leaving not much time for anything else-I know I didn't always put the boy's needs first. I turned them down, and didn't play with them anywhere near enough, we barely did any crafts and I just feel I didn't do my best to make them enjoy their time at home last year. I think it became a habit to be on the laptop or my phone far too much, and yes I am sure that may still be the case but I'd really like to cut down and and enjoy the hear and now rather than watch and everyone else's here and now. I got a bit too selfish with my 'me' time and this needs to change in me-harder to do than it is to write though!

Us time
Now it is no surprise I like some of my technology but that is nothing compared to James-he is never too far from an electronic device of some sort. Do you ever find you and your partner sat at opposite ends of the sofa, doing mindless this on your gadgets and not really talking to each other of an evening? Yes that is us, and we need to make more effort to do something together or just switch it all off and talk!

Get outside
Now this might sound odd to regular readers as many of you know I don't drive so walk pretty much every day. But as a family on weekends we don't get outside enough, we end up at shops or something else spending the little money we have. This year I'd like to go out more and explore, we live not far from the Cotswold's and there are many other beautiful places on our doorstop that we have never ventured too-we need to be more active and get out there!

Set up my craft business
Yeah regular readers might be sighing at this one as I am sure I have said it many times that I would like to sell my makes...Thing is I always seem to have an excuse because I am not quite sure how to start, am useless with finances and am a little scared of plunging into the deep end. But now I have a crafting space, we have an office/craft room in our new house now, I can access all of my crafty stash at ease. I just need to take those first steps and stop putting brick walls in front of me! I need to start earning something for my family, even if it is affectively pocket money in value but if it can help towards the mundane food bills or put towards day trips extras and take some of the financial pressure of James then it will be worth it. I don't have the confidence to get a 'proper' job, I don't think my nerves would even let me through to the interview room if I am honest.

I think this fits me very well, I am all but stuck in comfort zones!


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

I'm back! Moving house, Christmas and New year antics!

Hello! *waves* I'm back again!

Wow this past month or two has whizzed on by in a bit of a frantic blur. With all our 4 birthday's and Alex's birthday party (which I am yet to post about) between the 20th Nov-and 9th Dec, and a house move 6 days before Christmas I am quite pleased it's January!!

After thinking the move wouldn't happen before Christmas on the 15th Dec things soon changed and we were able to move on the Friday-hurrah!

It was madness, it was the first proper move we have ever had to encounter as we had both moved from our parent's house's into our lovely little coach house.

Our house which we had called home for just over 5 years, the place we'd brought home both our boy's wrapped in blankets from the hospital, where we did all our wedding planning and walked in as a complete family of 'Spencer's'. It felt odd seeing all the walls and surfaces empty, suddenly the memories played over in my mind as I sat hoovering the last of the mess on my own-there was a slight tear in my eye but a great longing to get to our new home.




We moved on our own with the help of our old neighbours and some of their church friends. Their help was invaluable! There is no way on earth we could have done it all without all their help with all our family either holidaying in America or on their last day of work. Luckily the buyer didn't need the keys until the evening so was happy for us to take the time we needed-thank goodness it was an investor who didn't mind!

In the evening that followed I wanted to cry at the state of the kitchen, I had never seen anything like it, luckily my parents had the boys for 2 nights in the end as it took me a day and a half to clean the kitchen, we replaced the oven as even strong chemicals couldn't fight of the years of grime!

We somehow, with the help of a few people dropping in, got the house ready just in time for Christmas, even getting a huge Christmas tree the Sunday before Christmas for a bargain £5-James had to chop off about 2 foot of it to fit it in!!



Christmas although hectic, was lovely, it was so fantastic to be in a our new home for it, the boys had space to open their presents and enjoy them rather than us all being on top of each other in the same room.

At lunch we headed to my parents for a traditional and lovely Christmas dinner, we were all so tired we all nearly fell asleep on my parents sofas afterwards! It was nice and relaxed, we were actually back the next day as one set of my grandparents were there. The day after was a big family affair, with meeting James' relatives in Newbury for lunch then heading to an even larger gathering at my Grandparent's house with all my Mum's side of the family!

Santa was very tired from all the hard work!
We had a busy few days sorting out the house and having a late Christmas with James' family once they were back from holiday. New years eve was spent at home with my parent's who had made dinner for us-will be inviting them again ;) and we ended the holiday with a meal with James' sister and partner.

I feel I have been diddled out of a Christmas holiday, but in some ways it is nice to get back to some normality too!

So happy new year to you all, and I hope you continue reading xx

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