Mama OWL Blog: 2011

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 30 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Christmas! I know I did, it couldn't have been better!


It was wonderful! First thing in the morning on Christmas Eve after our pancakes & waffles breakfast we paid a visit to my husband's Grandmother with the children to give her her gifts, and then spent the afternoon decorating Gingerbread houses.
In the evening we had Fajitas for dinner, and then the kids had their baths and had a visit from the Elves who left them a Disney mug each (Tinkerbell for the girls, and Stitch, Jack Skellington and Lightning McQueen for the boys) to have their hot chocolate in, as well as a pair of new pyjamas and a DVD for us to watch together before bed, which was Mr Popper's Penguins.

The movie was fantastic, Jim Carrey was his usual brilliant self and the children were glued to the screen all the way through, screeching with laughter and enjoying every minute. A definite must-see, a charming family film to watch with your loved ones.

At bedtime we left out milk & a mince pie and some reindeer food, then read "The Night Before Christmas" and tucked them in for the night.

The next morning we woke up at a decent hour and the children raided their stockings with gusto and discovered all sorts of goodies that father Christmas had left for them (which also kept them busy for an extra half an hour...) including books, puzzles, notepads, DVDs, small toys, chocolate coins & wishes, a new toothbrush, bubble bath, underwear and the like. Then we headed downstairs and were thrilled to discover we had had a visit from Father Christmas  ;)

We all took it in turns to open our gifts, and then had breakfast together (croissants, pain au chocolat and crepes) and spent the entire day in our pyjamas playing & doing a whole lot of nothing in particular. It was fantastic! My husband cooked a delicious Christmas lunch for all of us, he really excelled himself this year. The one thing missing was my Grampy, but he wasn't far from my thoughts all day. I know he was with us in spirit. I can safely say that Christmas 2011 was a success.


We have just one day left of 2011. It has been a rollercoaster year, we have said goodbye to some special people who may be gone but will be not be forgotten, and we have also recently welcomed someone new in the form of my beautiful baby nephew Theo who arrived on December 12th. There have been plenty of ups and downs, good times and bad, triumphs and failures. This year I walked up a mountain to raise money and awareness for The National Autistic Society, and completed a seven mile midnight walk to raise money for Children's Hospice South-west. There is a lot to look back on and remember, but lots to look forward to and new challenges to undertake in 2012 and I am very much looking forward to what the new year will bring.



As the last R2BC this year, I feel I need to share how happy my family makes me, they are my true reasons to be cheerful. I have five beautiful, healthy, amazing children, a husband who dotes on us and works so hard to provide for us. I have six brothers and sisters who are happy and healthy plus a gaggle of nieces and nephews, and two fantastic parents that I love dearly and am so grateful to for raising me well and for being great role models.
I of course must also give a nod to the parents-in-law, and express how grateful I am to them for everything they have done for us and their Grandchildren in the last almost-decade that I have been married to their son (although I feel I should get a special mention myself for taking him off their hands haha) and how honoured I am to be a part of their family. And definitely not forgetting my joy at being asked to be the maid of honour for my soon-to-be sister-in-law in October, very exciting and I am thrilled to have been asked, and delighted to be able to accept.
There have been some very special friends this year too, and one in particular who I love the bones of and am so glad that she is in my life. You know who you are, chump.

"remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends."

Every day I count my blessings, and as we approach the last day of this year, I will count them all again and know what a very, very lucky woman I am.

Happy New Year everyone, 'see' you in 2012!

Meal Plan Thursday (again)

Thursday, 29 December 2011

I say Thursday as it is past midnight (just)... Well, the week following Christmas is always a bit of a free for all, living off of leftovers and not really planning for much besides using up what is cluttering up my fridge, freezers & cupboards, so there is no "plan" as such this week. We have just been opening the doors up and saying "Hmm..." before pulling a bunch of stuff out and throwing it together.

Yesterday we had a mini roast with some cold cuts of meat, today we had brinner with bubble & squeak using all the leftover mash & vegetables, tomorrow will probably be Lasagne, Friday... Fajitas? Most likely... Saturday is NYE and we are taking the children to see a pantomime in the afternoon so we will probably grab a deli pizza on our way home as the quickest & cheapest option for a night in. Sunday will be a Ploughmans, and Monday we have plans and will be out all day so who knows... We'll wing it. Tuesday it will be back to reality with the kids back at school, so my meal plan starts January 3rd 2012.

Tuesday 3rd January - Baked Cannelloni

Wednesday 4th January - Cottage Pie

Thursday 5th January - Rigatoni alla amatriciana

Friday 6th January - Chicken Fajitas with nachos & savoury rice

Saturday 7th January - Home-made chips and eggs with baked beans

Sunday 8th January - Roast Chicken, with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, mixed vegetables, yorkshire puddings, stuffing and gravy

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 23 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

I think my reasons to be cheerful this week will be obvious ones but here goes!

1. It's CHRISTMAS. I love Christmas, and not because of the presents or the food, not to overindulge or be wasteful or spend silly money on "things"... but because it means I get to spend an entire three days dedicated to being with my husband and children. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day mean I get to shut the door on the world and know that nobody will call, nobody will bother us, and we can spend it together just the seven of us. The children will open their gifts, we will eat together, we will play together, we will watch movies together. Just us, just our family. Me, my husband and our five beautiful children.

2. It's CHRISTMAS. Which means that I get to make memories with my kids that will last a lifetime. They will remember the things we did, the time we spent, the jokes we laughed at. They will enjoy their presents, they will be happy that they have new toys and things to play with, but in 10, 15, 20 years time, what they will remember is that we sat together and watched The Grinch three times in a row 'just because', and we decorated our gingerbread houses, and that they helped me bake cinnamon whirls and made peppermint creams and rocky road. They won't still have those toys when they are grown up, but they will  still have those memories and that is the best gift we could ever give them.

"And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?" ~ Theodor Suess Geisel

3. It's CHRISTMAS. It is a time to remember those who can't be here with us, and to be thankful for those who still can. This year we have said goodbye to people who we will hold dear in our hearts even though they can no longer be with us in body. We will light candles, we will release balloons, and we will think of, remember and love them.

In Loving Memory of Grampy Charlie, Connor, Avril and Vince.

Merry Christmas everyone xx

'Twas the week before Christmas... Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 19 December 2011

Monday 19th December - Brinner

Tuesday 20th December - Baked potatoes, baked beans with cheesy coleslaw & cottage cheese

Wednesday 21st December - Chicken New York, home-made chips & salad

Thursday 22nd December - Lasagne & garlic bread

Friday 23rd December - Cheese feast, Pepperoni & BBQ Chicken pizzas

Saturday 24th/Sunday 25th/Monday 26th December - See our Christmas Menu for our Festive meal plan

Thank you for the Gift of Teaching

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I never ever know what to get for the children's schoolteachers at Christmastime, so this year I have opted to make them something instead. Also, because buying wine/chocolates for 6+ people is an expense I simply cannot afford this year.

I decided I would make them a 'hamper' of sorts, containing lots of yummy Christmas goodies for them to share in the staff room in this final week before the break. My husband suggested adding pots of hot chocolate, tea and coffee too. I thought it would be nice to have something that everyone can share, including all of the teaching assistants, cleaners and admin staff, and I am sure there is only so much wine a teacher can drink... (or maybe not, knowing kids... haha)

I have made Nigella's trusty Christmas Rocky Road recipe, swapping the amaretti biscuits for regular shortbread. I will also be making some Gingerbread men, and some Christmas spiced star biscuits but for now here is a picture of my creation plus the recipe. All hail Nigella! (I sneaked a little off-cut, it tastes fabulous)

This recipe appears in Nigella Lawson's book Feast, published by Chatto & Windus.


250g/9oz dark chocolate, chopped
150g/5oz milk chocolate, chopped
175g/6oz butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g/7oz amaretti biscuits
150g/5oz shelled Brazil nuts
150g/5oz red glacé cherries
125g/4oz mini marshmallows
1 tbsp icing sugar
edible glitter, to decorate (optional)

Preparation method

Place the dark and milk chocolate pieces into a heavy-based pan. Add the butter and golden syrup and cook over a low heat to melt and combine.
Place the amaretti biscuits into a freezer bag and bash with a rolling pin to make crumbs of various sizes.
Place the Brazil nuts into another freezer bag and bash in the same way.
Take the pan of melted chocolate mixture off the heat and add the crushed biscuits and nuts.
Add the glacé cherries and mini marshmallows. Fold the mixture carefully to coat all of the solid ingredients with the syrupy chocolate mixture.
Pour the mixture into a 25cm/10in x 30cm/12in greased and lined baking tray and smooth the surface as much as possible (although it will look bumpy).
Refrigerate for two hours, or until firm enough to cut. Dust with icing sugar, then sprinkle with edible glitter if you wish.
Remove the block of rocky road from the tray and cut into 24 rectangles.


I also made some Christmas Spice Biscuits, the recipe originally came from Parentdish but I found it on the Frugal Family blog. I cut mine in to little star shapes. Here is the recipe:

Christmas Spice Biscuits

250g plain flour
125g  butter
125g brown sugar
1 small beaten egg
3 teaspoons mixed spice
pinch of salt

Pre heat your oven to 190′C / 375 F / Gas mark 5
Beat the butter and sugar and then add the beaten egg to the mixture bit by bit.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix them all together until you can get your hands in and make it into a ball of dough.
Roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 cm thick, then cut out your biscuits.
Place each biscuit onto a greased baking tray and cook for about 15 minutes.  You can tell they’re done as they’ll go a lovely golden brown.
You can use a straw to make a  hole at the top of each biscuit before cooking them so that you can hang them from the Christmas tree if you want to


And last but not least, I made some Gingerbread men. I have wrapped it all up ready for the morning now and completely forgot to take a picture of the gingies and the stars before I did so, but you can find my easy peasy Gingerbread recipe in a previous entry on my blog if you want to give it a go yourself.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 12 December 2011

Monday 12th December - Toad in the hole with mashed potato and vegetables

Tuesday 13th December - Beef Casserole & dumplings

Wednesday 14th December - Cottage Pie

Thursday 15th December - Rigatoni alla amatriciana

Friday  16th December - Chicken Fajitas

Saturday 17th December - Brinner

Sunday 18th December - Roast Chicken with steamed vegetables, mashed potato, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, onion rings, stuffing balls and gravy

Creating a Home-made Christmas

Saturday, 10 December 2011

As I mentioned in my R2BC post yesterday, the children and I have been creating our own decorations this year and after spotting a lovely blog badge I could link up with I decided to make a new post to share pictures and inspiration for anyone who is interested.


As I said, Alicia and I made beautiful hanging paper stars which look very complicated but in reality are very simple and quick to make and look great. I searched the internet for some good, clear instructions on how to make hanging paper stars and came across this blog, which included some handy pictures too. The ones pictured below are our efforts!

Logan and Harrison have been going to Christmas Craft club at school on a Wednesday while Joshua was at football club, and have been coming home with beautiful decorations which are now adorning my tree, ceiling, and window in the living room. The tree ornaments are salt dough decorated with a hefty dose of glitter and look lovely and very effective when the tree lights are on.

I also have two fab little snowmen hanging from the ceiling with Merry Christmas messages on the back


And these two fantastic pots that they decorated for me, Logan's is the one with the bow stuck inside as sometimes he can take a while to warm up to taking part in activities and the pots were the first things they made at club a few weeks ago!


And finally, paper chains (which I don't have a picture of but I am sure you have all seen paper chains!) and paper angels, this is the site I used for instructions on how to make paper angels. Excuse the filler mark on the wall behind the angels, hopefully some time before Christmas my husband will finish sanding and painting that wall  ;)

I have also designed our table place mats which I will print off A4 size and laminate ready for the dinner table. Along with their names and their chosen digital bauble from my collection they chose some lyrics from a Christmas song to go with it.



#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 9 December 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

#R2BC is back home at Mummy From The Heart this week, be sure to go have a read and maybe say hello.

My reasons to be cheerful this week -

1. Harrison & Logan made me beautiful tree ornaments and hanging decorations at Christmas Craft club at school this week. They are absolutely gorgeous, and make the living room look really cosy. We've made a lot of our Christmas decorations ourselves this year, we've got some basic brown paper chains, paper angels and some hanging stars made out of wrapping paper but they look really effective and most importantly we had fun making them together.

2. Joshua's school pantomime "Aladdin" was great. He played one of the emperor's guards and had some lines, he did wonderfully and we really enjoyed the performance. The school always put on a fab show at Christmastime and this year was no exception. All of the songs were Beatles songs with lyrics changed, it was really funny and the kids did such a good job. Joshua was extra pleased as Little Nanny & Grampy made it to see Wednesday's performance, and his Dad & I watched it last night. Very proud of our biggest boy, and a little sad as this is his last Primary school show before he moves up to Secondary school in September! Bittersweet.

3. Tonight "him indoors" and I will be going out for his work Christmas meal, which means no cooking for me! A well deserved night off for us both. The Grandparents are coming to watch the children and they will be having some pizza and popcorn, and Adam and I will be enjoying a Christmas meal at the pub with his workmates. I can't wait! It's been ages since we have been out together, I'm really looking forward to getting dressed up and having a night out! And the best thing is, it's all paid for by someone else, it will be the best tasting meal ever haha.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 5 December 2011

Monday 5th December - Brinner

Tuesday 6th December - Spaghetti Bolognese

Wednesday 7th December - Toad in the hole, mashed potatoes and vegetables

Thursday 8th December - Egg, chip & pepper bake

Friday 9th December - The children will be enjoying a Cheese Feast Deli Pizza as a treat, because the old man and I are off out for dinner for his Work Christmas Meal!

Saturday 10th December - We've moved Fajita Friday, and we're having chicken Fajitas with nachos & rice

Sunday 11th December - Roast Lamb with steamed mixed vegetables, yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, mashed potatoes, sage & onion stuffing, breaded onion rings and gravy

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 28 November 2011

Monday 28th November - Brinner

Tuesday 29th November - Baked Cannelloni

Wednesday 30th November - Chicken Korma with pilau rice, naan bread, poppadoms and samosas

Thursday 1st December - Toad in the hole with mashed potatoes and vegetables

Friday 2nd December - Fajitas, with nachos, salad and rice

Saturday 3rd December - Lasagne with garlic bread

Sunday 4th December - Garlic & Herb Roast Chicken with steamed vegetables, yorkshire puddings, onion rings, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes and gravy

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 25 November 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

This week #R2BC is being hosted by Bod For Tea, pop over for a read & to link up.

Today is my youngest son's sixth birthday, and today my #R2BC are all about him.

1. Six years ago we welcomed our gorgeous son Harrison into the world. He was 10lb 1oz and 55cm long, born at 3.24 on a Friday afternoon. He has brightened our lives every day since his arrival and we love him so much! You know the kid on the John Lewis Christmas advert that everyone says doesn't exist? Well that kind of child does exist, and his name is Harrison. He would do anything to help someone else and loves to give to others and make people happy. He is an absolute star and I am so proud of him.

2. This evening we will be having family round to sing Happy Birthday and share Harry's birthday cake, lovingly made by me. He asked for a fire engine, and that is what he got. He's happy with it, that's all that matters! I also made some matching fire cupcakes for his party.

3. Tomorrow we will enjoy Harrison's first proper birthday party with his friends from school, he is very excited and can't wait to celebrate!

Ooh I've won!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I never win anything so I am very excited to have won the Dino Bite game from Larger Family Life's giveaway a couple of weeks ago.

Dinosaurs are one of Logan's special interests, and we LOVE to play games together so this is going to be a big hit in our house. Thank you very much to Tania at Larger Family Life, and to Drumond Park Games.

[Christmas] Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 21 November 2011

I have finally completed my meal plan & grocery list for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day & Boxing Day. Will sort out next week's meal plan and then decide on our New Year's Eve & Day meals so when the Christmas delivery slots open up I am ready and won't end up with rubbish days/times or loads of substitutes. Also, this way I don't end up just buying tons of food purely because it's Christmas, it's such a waste of food and money.

I am so excited for Christmas! We are putting all of our decs and the tree up on December 1st, which we do every year, all of us together as a family. The children and I are going to be making some new decs this year to add to the ones we have collected over the years. I love making things with the kids, they are always so pleased with their work and feel so proud of themselves. So as well as our baking and decorating biscuits and gingerbread houses, we have that to look forward to as well, I can't wait!

Right, on with the Christmas Meal Plan -

Saturday 24th December {Christmas Eve}
Breakfast - Pancakes & waffles with various toppings (syrups, sauces, chocolate chips, fruit & cream etc)
Lunch - Sandwiches with various fillings, crisps (potato chips) and fruit.
Dinner - It can only be Fajitas for Christmas Eve, a delicious Mexican inspired buffet with chicken fajitas, enchiladas and nachos.
Dessert will be jam roly poly served with custard, and after decorating our Gingerbread houses before bedtime we will all enjoy candy cane cookies with hot chocolate and marshmallows, freshly baked that day by me and the children.

Sunday 25th December {Christmas Day}
Breakfast - Pain au chocolat, crepes, and croissants with jam.
Lunch - Roast Turkey crown served with sprouts, leek, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, swede, two potato mash, cauliflower and accompanied by pigs in blankets, onion rings, sausage meat & stuffing and cranberry sauce, topped off with thick turkey gravy.
Our desserts are going to be Gingerbread cheesecake, and cinnamon whirls (all homemade).
Dinner - Leftovers, so basically everything we had for lunch, in the form of a sandwich, and probably lots of sweeties!

Monday 26th December {Boxing Day}
Breakfast - Eggs & bacon, with sausages, hash browns, baked beans, fried onions, tomatoes and toast. Possibly a little bubble & squeak too depending on what is leftover from Christmas Day.
Lunch - Sandwiches with various fillings, crisps and fruit.
Dinner - Ploughman's - mashed potatoes, cold meats and salad.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 14 November 2011

Monday 21st November - Lasagne with garlic bread

Tuesday 22nd November - Toad in the hole with mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables

Wednesday 23rd November - Brinner

Thursday 24th November - Oven baked potatoes with cheese, coleslaw, baked beans & salad

Friday 25th November - Harrison has decided he wants BIRTHDAY FAJITAS, given the option to have whatever he wants he still chooses Fajita Friday haha

Saturday 26th November - Chicken New York with homemade chips & salad

Sunday 27th November - Roast Beef with mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, steamed vegetables, onion rings, stuffing and onion gravy.

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 11 November 2011

The host of #R2BC this week is the lovely Kate on Thin Ice. While you are visiting her page for the reasons to be cheerful blog hop, please read her fantastic entry about Armistice Day and The Royal British Legion.

I watched 'This Morning' and the two gentlemen who were on the show to talk about their experience as POWs in WWII moved me to tears. During the two minutes silence, I stood and held my sleeping toddler while listening to Big Ben chime 11am, and I sobbed my heart out. Today I remembered the fallen, and their sacrifice, and I thought of those still serving, and those left with memories that will be with them forever, and those with injuries that have changed their lives forever. I also stood in memory of my beloved Grampy Charlie, who always stood and bowed his head to remember his comrades. Today my reasons to be cheerful are actually my reasons to be thankful, and I don't have just three, I have hundreds of thousands of reasons to be thankful.

My reasons are every single one of the service men and women who have and who still are serving our country, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. Thank you.

“They shall grow not old as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them.” ~ Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)


Swings & Roundabouts

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The title would suggest that this will be a lovely entry about visiting the park, having fun playing, enjoying being a child. But no, unfortunately this entry is about my anxiety about my middle child.

As I have mentioned before, Logan has A.S.D. which is Autistic Spectrum Disorder. This year he was also diagnosed with a condition called Persistent Femoral Retroversion, which is a deformation of the hips (think Charlie Chaplin) and tight hamstrings. Since his diagnosis I have been searching for further information on P.F.R. and as my luck would have it, it turns out that it is relatively rare particularly in comparison to the opposite problem (which is called Anteversion) and information is scarce.

We are currently trying to correct the hamstring issue, which we hope will also ease the pain he suffers in his hips. He is on his second pair of specialist boots, but unfortunately at our last review the physio told us she doesn't believe he is getting the 'heel strike' which means the boots are not doing their job, and now we need to take it further.

The physio has referred us back to the GP, who will now in turn refer us on the paediatric orthopaedic consultant. That is where the title of this entry comes in, not only is it a pinball machine of referrals, there is also a 20 week waiting list currently. In the meantime Logan will continue wearing his boots in the hope that they will help in some small way before the next round of treatment starts.

The physio does not believe that serial casts are an option due to Logan's A.S.D. as it is highly unlikely he will tolerate them, and she is quite right as he barely tolerates the boots. The other option we are looking at is injections. Neither of these options sound particularly great to me. I just want my boy not to be in pain any more, and to be a normal kid.

I want him to be able to run and play with other kids and it breaks my heart that it isn't just his Autism that makes that difficult, he can't even do the running bit anymore. His boots are heavy and cumbersome, and he has pain in his legs and hips from both the hamstrings and the P.F.R. which means he is reluctant if not unable to be as active as he or I would like. It is so unfair, like he does not have enough to deal with in his little world without this being added on top of it.

Luckily the children at school are largely understanding of Logan and his difficulties, his teacher assures me he is popular with the other kids, and also that he is making progress academically, albeit a little slower than would be ideal, but he is trying very hard and we are very proud of his achievements. The kids have told him his boots are cool, which has made it easier for Logan because he doesn't feel like even more of an outcast because of them, something else that makes him different.

He never asked for any of this, he didn't cause it or bring it on himself, nothing he or I did made him this way, and I hate that he has to deal with all of this when he is still only eight years old.

The school has been fantastic, moving the boys there was the best thing I ever did and they are thriving there, I cannot even bear to think what would have happened if I had left them where they were. I am trying not to worry about the future, and what will happen when Logan moves up to secondary school but it is something that worries me, that I think about on an almost daily basis.

I just have to keep it together and keep fighting his corner, getting him everything he needs and preparing him (and myself) for when the hard times come back around. Because they do, over and over again. We deal with one issue and then another comes along.

But - what doesn't kill us will make us stronger, I won't let this defeat me or Logan. This isn't ideal, but I what I keep telling myself is "It could be worse". Logan is a cracking kid and I am so lucky to have him, and I wouldn't want him any other way.

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 7 November 2011

Albeit NEXT Monday... Here is next week's menu:

Monday 14th November - Baked Cannelloni

Tuesday 15th November - Egg, Chip & Pepper Bake

Wednesday 16th November - Rigatoni alla amatriciana

Thursday 17th November - Cottage Pie

Friday 18th November - Fajitas, enchiladas, savoury rice and nachos

Saturday 19th November - Baked Potatoes with baked beans, cheese & salad

Sunday 20th November - Roast chicken served with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, onion rings, sage & onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings, with gravy

Just because.

Monday, 7 November 2011

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 4 November 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

As Mummy From The Heart is taking a break, this week's #R2BC is being hosted by A matter of choice, pop across and take a look!
Next week the host will be Kate on Thin Ice.

My reasons to be cheerful this week are fun ones!

1. Monday was Halloween. I love Halloween! Every year the kids and I have such fun, we decorate cakes and cookies, watch scary movies (like Hocus Pocus, Monster House, The Haunted Mansion) and bob for apples! We carve out our pumpkins, and [they] get dressed up to hand out sweets to any ToTers who might call.
We have made it in to a fun activity day which is all about the children and we look forward to it every year. Our big four chose the designs for their pumpkins and helped carve them out. Alicia's pumpkin was an owl, Joshua had a ghost, Logan wanted King Boo (from Mario Kart) and Harrison had a skeleton, and this year I made my first pumpkin cake, which I have to say was delicious. I also made some ghosty meringues, and some gingerbread skeletons. We had a special dinner of pizza, potato wedges and chicken dippers which they all gobbled up before digging in to the cakes and biccies!

2. Tomorrow is Guy Fawkes night! I love bonfire night, and watching fireworks. We've stocked up on burgers, sausages and bacon and lots of rolls to have with fried onions and some chips, and got the sparklers ready for the kids. I think I am more excited than the kids!

3. My kitchen is nearly completely decorated. It looks lovely, all fresh and clean with new paint, new doors, my wall art is up, my shelf for all of my recipe books, the new family blackboards... I can't wait until it is all finished, I will share pictures. The husband has done an awesome job!

Meal Plan... Er, Thursday

Thursday, 3 November 2011

I have booked next week's shopping already so here is next week's menu.

I got a bit over excited as my new kitchen blackboards have arrived and I wanted to use them straight away. My darling hubby has been redecorating my kitchen all week so it is looking super cute, I love it. I have my menu written up on my little window blackboard, and the big one is up on the wall for our family notes. It's all coming together, I will share pics when it is all done! Anyway -

Monday 7th November - Brinner

Tuesday 8th November - Spaghetti Bolognese

Wednesday 9th November - Sausage Casserole

Thursday 10th November - Chicken Korma, pilau rice, poppadoms, peshwari naan and vegetable samosas

Friday 11th November - Fajitas, savoury rice & nachos

Saturday 12th November - Deli Pizza from Sainsburys followed by some cinema sweet popcorn for movie night

Sunday 13th November - Roast Lamb served with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, onion rings, honey roasted parsnips, sage & onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings, with gravy

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Welcome to this week's #R2BC! It's been chaotic with one thing and another but there is always something worth smiling about, even if it hasn't been the best week :)

1. The husband has returned from London! He spent five days at my sister & brother-in-law's house painting and decorating ready for them to move out so I have been flying solo from Saturday-Wednesday. I am exhausted, and in desperate need of a lie-in (haha... one day...) but the kids and I did have fun when it was just us, on Saturday we had movie night with pizza and watched "Rio" and my niece Chloe joined us with some sweeties for the kids to share, it was lovely. But, it is good to have him home, even if just for being able to go the loo without a child (or two or three) hammering on the door asking where I am!

2. My sister is moving home very soon. Nikki has been globe-trotting ever since she finished college when she was 18 and I haven't had been able to spend a great deal of time with her, just when she visited or when we visited them at holidays and a few times during the year though we speak or text almost daily. Now she is finally moving back home with my brother-in-law Clifford and their two-year-old daughter Niah, which will also coincide with Christmas, and the arrival of their second baby! I am VERY excited to have my sister back home with us at last, where she belongs and I am super duper excited to meet my newest niece or nephew (I think nephew!).

3. Alicia's first school progress report was SUPERB. She is already at or surpassing her levels that she has to achieve by July 2012 and it's only just half term, I am thrilled! She's on track for a very successful year before taking her first strides into her GCSEs next September, she's already beyond GCSE level in most of her subjects. That's my girl! I couldn't be more proud, I have said it before and I will say it again, I really do have some awesome kids :)

Holidays are coming, holidays are coming...

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Well as yesterday was October 25th (and when I originally planned to write this post, the children however had other ideas...) it means that Christmas is only two months away! I have begun my Christmas planning in earnest, so that I can have it mostly done by the time December rolls around and it does not interfere with the prep & planning of the birthday of my youngest son, which is just one month before Christmas on November 25th, and also then not left too late to get everything done.

I have started planning our meals for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. That includes everything from the three main meals, to snacks, treats and all of the ingredients I will need for our holiday baking. We have special breakfasts each day, although Christmas Day we let the kids eat chocolate for breakfast at the crack of dawn (*gasp!*), before we venture downstairs for present opening and our actual breakfast, which this year will again be pain au chocolat and croissants at the kids request. I will share our complete Christmas menu a little bit closer to the time, when I have finished writing it!

I have also begun planning our Christmas baking, this year the children each want their own gingerbread house... Great! So I have been collecting cardboard sheets to set them on, and working out the ingredients I will need to bake five houses (one for each of the big four, and another spare, or for any visitors we might have who wish to decorate them with us!) plus extra decorations. It's all good fun though, we had such a great time decorating them last year and it is such a lovely activity to do together on Christmas Eve, definitely a new family tradition we will be upholding.

Another tradition we have had for several years is that we make candy cane cookies to have with the hot chocolate that the elves leave the children while they are having their baths on Christmas Eve, they also leave a present for them to open before bedtime! And when bedtime comes, after checking the NORAD Santa Tracker, we leave out a mince pie and glass of beer for Father Christmas (although I heard a rumour that Mrs Christmas wants to have a well deserved glass of wine left out too), some reindeer food on the lawn, and the special key for him to use to get in our house (as we don't have a chimney, he hangs it on the tree when he leaves! eBay is handy for these) and then we read the children "The Night Before Christmas" before tucking them in.

I've started designing the new Christmas placemats for the children for our table, too. They have placemats already that I purchased online, that they use for our regular meals (saves bickering as to who sits where - if the mats are down, then that's where you sit, end of!) but I will be designing and making these myself. To be fair I bought the others to get a good look at how they were made so that I *could make my own, they're pretty straightforward so I am hoping that my designs will look nice all printed out!

I have been looking up new ideas for table and home decorations too, I really want to go for a different 'look' this year, though with the same colour scheme as last year. A little more vintage I think, traditional decs and things with a more 'homey' feel to them. Alicia and I are going to make our own napkin rings and centerpiece too. I can't wait!

I'm also researching some good local photographers for our family pictures. The last ones we had done were taken when Erica was six weeks old so we are very much overdue for new ones, plus I need a good family one for our Christmas card. I have three shortlisted at the moment, it will all come down to price & value for money because their work is beautiful. I'll be sure to share my top three when we have made a decision.

And the last thing on my list is find some good family movies for our 'movie marathon' on Christmas Eve. Last year we watched the Harry Potter boxset. What are your favourite movies, festive or otherwise? We have a good collection but I am always on the look out for good titles that I may have missed or overlooked so please feel free to share your suggestions with me, I'd love to hear them!

As for Christmas shopping... WELL! I can't say too much here because of little eyes that may be spying on my blog for a hint (hello Alicia!) but I have made a good dent in it already (though running out of room to hide things!) and plan to do some more next week when my topcashback pays out. I am so excited, I love present shopping!

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, 24 October 2011

I have planned and shopped for the next two weeks, so that I can enjoy half term with the kids without needing to worry about writing lists and shopping etc. The children and I planned the meals together again so we have lots of their favourites!

Monday 24th October - Cottage Pie

Tuesday 25th October - Chicken Korma with pilau rice, peshwari naan and poppadoms with mango chutney

Wednesday 26th October - Brinner ("breakfast for dinner" - eggs, bacon, sausage, hash brown etc)

Thursday 27th October - Macaroni Cheese with broccoli

Friday 28th October - Chicken Fajitas with nachos

Saturday 29th October - Homemade cheeseburgers and chips with salad

Sunday 30th October - Roast beef served with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, onion rings, honey roasted parsnips, sage & onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings, with beef & onion gravy.


Monday 31st October - *HALLOWEEN SPECIAL* Pizza with potato wedges and breaded chicken dippers, plus spooky cupcakes and a scary biscuits!

Tuesday 1st November - Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread

Wednesday 2nd November - Baked potatoes with cheese, baked beans and salad

Thursday 3rd November - Lasagne

Friday 4th November - Chicken Fajitas with nachos, and savoury rice

Saturday 5th November - *GUY FAWKES NIGHT SPECIAL* Sausages & burgers in buns, bacon rolls and fried onions, with homemade chips.

Sunday 6th November - Honey roast Gammon served with steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, onion rings, honey roasted parsnips, sage & red onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings, with gravy.

#R2BC - Reasons to be cheerful... 1, 2, 3

Friday, 21 October 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

My #R2BC this week...

1. The windows are DONE DONE DONE. All finished, finally. It took them a bit longer than anticipated but I don't care because they are DONEEEEE. I can feel the difference in the house already, it's wonderful. This means we can now crack on with freshening up the paint in the rooms, and finish decorating the hall, stairs & landing, complete with new carpet! Happy times indeed.

2. It's half term! A week off of lunches, uniforms, school runs, homework, timetables... Just me hanging out with my wee ones having a break from it all.

3. I have made excellent progress with my Christmas shopping. I have made a good dent in it already, and I have almost £200 waiting in my topcashback account which will be payable in a week, so then I can do some more online Christmas shopping, and earn more cashback! It's fabulous. If you don't have a topcashback account... get one here, now! No strings, no fees. It's amazing and so worth it if you shop online lots, like me!

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