Mama OWL Blog: April 2012

Meal Plan Monday #mealplanningmonday

Monday, 30 April 2012

Monday 30th April - Home made cheeseburgers with hand-cut chips and salad

Tuesday 1st May - Brinner

Wednesday 2nd May - Spaghetti & meatballs served with garlic bread

Thursday 3rd May - Jacket potatoes with cheese, baked beans, coleslaw and salad

Friday 4th May - Chicken Fajitas with cheesy nachos

Saturday 5th May - Cottage Pie

Sunday 6th May - Roast Chicken thighs served with mashed potato, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, onion rings, parsnips, steamed mixed vegetables, sage & onion stuffing and gravy

Saturday is Caption Day! #SatCap

Saturday, 28 April 2012

I thought I would join in with #SatCap for the first time after having been observing it doing the rounds every weekend. Here is mine, feel free to leave a caption!

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

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

It's week 17 (already!). Don't forget to go and check out the other great posts on the linky at the bottom of the post, especially the lovely host & creator Michelle at Mummy From The Heart.

1. Tomorrow is our youngest's 2nd birthday! It is bittersweet, I am loving watching her grow up and developing her own little character and personality but at the same time I am sad that she is growing so fast and is not a baby any more. I've really enjoyed making her Peppa Pig birthday cake, and tonight I am going to be making some matching cupcakes for family & visitors, and setting out her presents for her to open in the morning. I'm so proud of her and how clever she is, she's a little star and we all love her so much.

2. It is only just over a week until my holiday. I've sorted out some travel insurance that hasn't cost me the same as my holiday (ridiculous what some will try and charge the second you mention 'heart condition') and I am nearly all ready. Just need to ease the anxiety of leaving the children and I will be fine!

3. I watched a lovely assembly at Harrison's school today. Honestly, I am not the biggest fan of assemblies, because I really dislike sitting with a bored, squirming, squawking toddler while I am trying to watch, it's not fair on anyone. However, despite shouting for her brother a handful of times when she spotted him in the hall, Erica sat nicely and watched the dance and listened to the poem and it was really nice to watch, and I actually got to enjoy it!

Peppa Pig House Cake

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

So it's certainly not to scale, and nor is it neat but I'm sure my daughter won't mind... This is my Peppa Pig House cake I have made for Erica's 2nd birthday on Friday. I made everything myself, from the daisies to the house, including the Peppa & George.

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

Peppa Pig House Cake

#BritMums Blog Prompt - 'I am grateful for...'

Monday, 23 April 2012

It's not as easy writing this post as you might think. I have chosen something very obvious to write about, but I feel it also requires some explanation.

I am grateful for my children. Every day I love them more and appreciate just how lucky I am to have even one healthy child, never mind five of them.

I know that some will read this post and think "Check her out, making out her life and kids are perfect". I'm not, not at all. My life is no where near perfect, and neither are my children. Yesterday I was actually tempted to stick them in the front garden with 'For Sale' signs round their necks because they just would. not. stop. bickering.

Some days they drive me to distraction. I had to referee at least three spats yesterday that I can think of off the top of my head. They leave their pants on the floor, their toys on the stairs, the boys leave the toilet seat up, Alicia leaves make up wipes all over the side on the landing next to the mirror and her bedroom looks like the aftermath of an explosion in H&M. They argue, they protest about going to bed, they tell me they don't like their dinner after I have spent an hour or more making it for them.

But I don't like to dwell on the things that grind me down. The bits I don't like, the little things, that in the grand scheme of everything, simply do not matter. I will not focus on the negative. Yes, all of the above details bother me at times. If you follow my twitter feed, you'll get the run down on our daily life and all the little niggles that go with it. My point is, I prefer to overlook the small details that don't make any odds to how I feel about my family. If you're spending too much time thinking about the bad things, you're going to miss out on enjoying all of the good.

So, as I was saying... I am grateful that I have been blessed with five beautiful, smart, healthy children. I am grateful that I have a child with special needs and all of the challenges that that brings, because he shows me the world in a way that I wouldn't have been able to see without his eyes. I am grateful that I have the chance to raise a family with a man I love, and I couldn't be happier or more proud.

They drive me nuts, but I love them anyway.

Meal Plan Monday #mealplan

Monday, 23 April 2012

Monday 23rd April - Spaghetti Bolognese with garlic bread

Tuesday 24th April - Sticky Chicken served with mashed potato and salad

Wednesday 25th April - Brinner

Thursday 26th April - Baked Cannelloni

Friday 27th April - *Erica's Birthday Fajitas with cheesy nachos, followed by birthday cake for dessert!*

Saturday 28th April - Ham, egg & hand-cut chips

Sunday 29th April - Roast beef with mashed potato, roast potatoes, yorkshire puddings, parsnips, onion rings, steamed mixed vegetables, stuffing and gravy

Friday Night Dessert - Vanilla Sponge Tray Bake

Friday, 20 April 2012

Realising I hadn't put any thought or effort in to a dessert for tonight, I just quickly threw a vanilla sponge tray bake in the oven. The idea was one inspired by Utterly Scrummy but I've used my own recipe.


8oz self raising flour
6oz white sugar
6oz butter, softened
3 eggs
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence

YOU WILL ALSO NEED: a suitable oven tray, the one I use is 8" x 12" and just over 1" deep.

1. Cream the butter & sugar in a bowl, and in a separate bowl or jug combine the eggs, milk & vanilla.

2. Alternate adding the flour, and egg mixture to the butter & sugar mixture a little at a time until all ingredients are well combined. Do not accept a child's offer of help at this stage, it is a trick. They just want to eat the mixture.

3. Pour the mixture in to a greased oven tray, and bake at 190c for approx 20 minutes (times may need adjusting for your own oven, check after about 15 minutes). If a skewer comes out clean and your sponge is springy to the touch, it is ready. Then give the mixing bowl to a small child to lick, as this will make washing it up easier later.

4. Leave the cake cool on a wire rack, preferably somewhere where your children can't break bits off while it is cooling. Leave in the tray for about 5-10 minutes before turning it out on to the rack to cool completely.

5. When the cake is cool, mix up some glace icing according to the packet instructions, drizzle over the cake and then decorate immediately with sprinkles.

6. Serve! And eat your piece fast, so the children don't steal any.



I have linked up this post with Make, Do & Push! for Cake Week.

WIN a Flexibath Baby Bathtub from Whitestep! #GIVEAWAY

Thursday, 19 April 2012

I am delighted to have been given the opportunity by to give away one brand new bath tub from their fantastic range of innovative baby products.

The Flexibath is a fold-away tub, that folds away in seconds for easy storage, ideal for travel (especially caravanning and camping, or just visiting family) or for those where space and storage room at home can be an issue. Wouldn't it be great if you could just fold it up and store it away when it is not in use? Now you can!

Flexibath is the brainchild of Danish designers who created the first and only hard plastic children's bath tub which you can fold up flat and put away in seconds. It is soft and pliable but remarkably strong and holds its shape when folded. The bottom of the bath also has a non-slip surface to prevent any accidents. It is recommended for children from 0-4 years and comes in 6 eye-catching colour combinations.

It is very light, and multi-purpose! When you no longer need it as a bathtub, why not use it as a toy box or laundry basket? It is great value for money, as well as convenient, stable and safe.

Technical details:

Length: 66.5 cm
Width: 38.9 cm
Height: 23.8 cm
Volume: 39 litres (when full)
Weight: approx. 1300 grams
Made from: PP & TPE

To be in with a chance to win this fantastic prize, simply enter using the handy tool below. The competition ends on May 16th 2012 and the winner will be drawn & announced soon after.

Good luck!

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

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Welcome to #R2BC week 16! As always be sure to head over to the host & creator Michelle by clicking the link above, and why not have a look through the lovely posts as they are added to the hop using the links at the end of this entry. If you aren't feeling cheerful when you start, you will be when you're finished. It's always uplifting to read good news.

1. I am back on 'the wagon' of making myself feel better about ME. I'm watching my diet, and I have also given up caffeine. I was somewhat of a caffeine addict and I believe it was affecting my health especially my heart, and so while I will allow myself the odd coffee or Pepsi Max here and there, it's decaff all the way for me from now on. It's going well and I am feeling motivated and happy, I can't really ask for more than that.

2. After a bit of a kick up the backside, I have written a "honey-do" list on our kitchen blackboard and the husband has started working his way through all the little bits & bobs that never seem to get done but really need doing. Our utility room is nearing completion at last, it has been freshly painted and all the new storage is up on the wall, it will be great to finally be able to confine the laundry to that room instead of it being here, there and everywhere. My house feels like widow twanky's laundry sometimes! It had become a bit of a junk room too, boxes and things that needed filing away or going up in the loft, but it is well on the way to being organised and that makes me feel so much better!

3. My passport has arrived! I sent it off for renewal two weeks ago as it had less than six months left on it, and held my breath that it would be back in time... It was delivered yesterday evening! Which means that I am all set for my break with my best friend in the sunshine, we're off in 18 days.
I'm very excited although a little anxious about leaving the children, but they will be at home with their Dad and perfectly safe & happy so I need to focus on enjoying some time out as it is something I don't get often at all and, after my heart scare, something I clearly need.
Aside from being in hospital, I can think of maybe three or four occasions in the last, ooh... 7 or so years (actually, make that since 1998 now I think about it!) that I have been away from my children for longer than one night. I'm going to miss them so much! But I'm very happy my husband has arranged this for me, and very much looking forward to it.

It's MAD! I've been nominated! #MADBlogAwards #BiBs

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

MAD Blog Awards 2012

I am thrilled and honoured to have been nominated in two categories in the 2012 MAD Blog Awards in association with - Best New MAD Blog and Best MAD Craft Blog (so far... feel free to nominate me in any others you wish, such as Family Fun, Family Life or even Schooldays perhaps!). I am nominated alongside some FANTASTIC blogs and I am delighted to be among them.

Fresh Voices Shortlist

I have also been shortlisted as a FRESH VOICE! in the 2012 Brilliance in Blogging Awards by Britmums, again alongside some amazing Bloggers, and I would be thrilled to have your continued support and votes, so if you like me, please click the link and let them know!

Thank you so much to everyone who has voted for and nominated me, it really means a lot to have such great supportive readers who enjoy reading my blog. It is very much appreciated.

Congratulations again to all the shortlisted and nominees of both sets of Awards, and the very best of luck!

Meal Plan Monday #mealplan

Monday, 16 April 2012

Monday 16th April - Baked Cannelloni

Tuesday 17th April - Pork loin steaks served with mashed potato & mixed vegetables

Wednesday 18th April - Home-made Beef burgers, hand-cut chips and salad

Thursday 19th April - Deli Pizza

Friday 20th April - Chicken fajitas, served with cheesy nachos

Saturday 21st April - *DINNER OUT* for my brother's 18th

Sunday 22nd April - Roast chicken with mashed potato, roast potatoes, mixed vegetables, onion rings, parsnips, sage & onion stuffing and yorkshire puddings, served with gravy

Kit Heath Kids Jewellery - Review

Saturday, 14 April 2012

I was delighted to be selected by Kit Heath to review a piece from their new Kit Heath Kids range of designer sterling silver jewellery, to be worn and reviewed by my 13 year old daughter Alicia. She's at an age now where she is very fashion conscious and is particularly interested in clothes, make up and jewellery.

We received a stunning silver heart locket called the 'Sterling Silver Regal Heart Necklace' through the post, in a beautifully presented gift box with bag.

It is a sterling silver heart locket, with a traditional Union Jack design in red, white and blue enamel on a navy cord necklace. It is priced at £100 and there are also matching accessories available, which I will be taking a look at for a certain young lady's upcoming 14th birthday.

Alicia immediately unwrapped it & put it on, and fell in love at first sight! She has worn it every day since, and gushed about how pretty it is to her friends on Facebook. She has many good things to say about the necklace. Her favourite aspect in addition to the stunning and on-trend 'Cool Britannia' design of the locket is the chain, which is in beautiful navy cord rather than metal which she was particularly pleased about.

She mentioned how comfortable it was to wear, and that the navy colour matched with her wardrobe, she felt she could wear it with a wide selection of her clothing to compliment any outfit. Now from my mini fashionista in training, this is high praise indeed - this is the child who won't wear a jumper out if it is freezing cold, if it doesn't 'go' with the outfit she has on.

She is absolutely smitten with this beautiful piece of jewellery and I can see it being a cherished favourite for many years to come.

We received the Regal Heart Necklace FOC for review purposesThe views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Our Spring Break - Part Two

Friday, 13 April 2012

To read Part One of our Spring Break adventures, please click this link.

On Sunday morning, we woke up in our caravan at Parkdean Torquay and had our breakfast, the husband and I packed our picnic & drinks while the children played in the play area just outside our van. It was a fair bit colder (and windier) than it had been on the Friday when we arrived so we put on our coats and headed off to Woodlands Family Theme Park for the day. We had pre-booked our tickets on-line for added convenience, so we only had to have them scanned at the gate, where we were also given a map of the park, and didn't have to spend a lot of time queueing.

On the drive to the park the children particularly enjoyed our brief ride on the 'floating bridge' in Dartmouth which cost us £8 for a return journey with the car and is necessary unless you're driving Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or fancy a swim! It's a very short ride across and gives you a few minutes to enjoy the beautiful scenery. It actually reminded me a bit of 'Balamory' with all of the pretty colourful buildings!

As we entered the park the children all used the facilities (to prevent having to backtrack about ten minutes later, being a parent also turns you in to a Clairvoyant) which were clean if a little cramped, and we headed off to have some fun.
The kids made a mad dash for the huge slides we came to first at the 'Action Zone' and were tearing up and down them like there was no tomorrow and screaming with laughter while they did so. There was a building full of coloured balls in this zone too. I lost them in there for a little while, and they thoroughly enjoyed swimming in there and using the slide to go crashing in to the ball pool at speed. It was relatively quiet at the park so we had most rides to ourselves first thing with no queueing required at all.


Then we stopped off at the Master Blaster (an indoor attraction with a covered seating area next to it) before moving on to the Arctic Zone where they had a great time whizzing around the course on the pedal cars, flying down the Arctic Gliders and swinging on the Polar Pilots rides. J even had a go on the Avalanche ride!

We moved around the park visiting all the zones, and enjoying all the rides that they had to offer. They had a great time on the pedal boats (although I think Mr Owl wasn't expecting that much of a workout, he was rather tired from pedalling when he got off the boat and also looked a bit green haha) and the toboggan run, A was a bit heavy footed on the brake and everyone was held up behind her earning her the nickname "Captain Slow"! She had no such trouble when she and J (and Mr Owl & H) were hurtling down the water slides over and over again before we sat and had our lunch. There are plenty of snack outlets and a restaurant on site, with lots of tables outside where you can sit and eat your own picnic.

After lunch we visited the wild west which E loved, even when she and Daddy were in 'jail'! When A and J got in there too we did debate leaving them there...!


It was getting a bit cold so we headed in to the Empire Zone and the kids were happy there for over an hour, going on the Trauma Tower ride more times than I can count, L thought it was the best ride ever! There was a lot there for E to do too which was nice, she and H went on some rides together and she very much liked the large soft play area for the under-3s. After visiting there we walked around and the kids had fun on the bumper boats, in the mirror maze and on the pirate ship, as well as visiting the petting zoo area and speaking to the parrot, and driving their tractors around the Dinosaur farm.

It was a lovely day out, well worth the entrance fee and kept all of us entertained for the whole day with so much to see and do. We will definitely visit there again some time in the future.

We headed home and the children played out around the campsite while we made dinner. In the evening we unfortunately didn't make use of the evening entertainment on site as the little ones were so tired after our days out, but A & J enjoyed spending time (and our money) in the arcade with their new friends for a while in the evenings.

On our final day, we tidied up our caravan, packed up our things and checked out of Parkdean Torquay at 10am. We were sad that the weekend was over so quickly but had a fantastic time there and will hopefully visit again soon.

We drove from the campsite in the Torquay town centre to visit Living Coasts at the harbourside. It is a coastal zoo and conservation charity, and home to lots of fish, penguins and birds, and has great educational value with lots of interactive exhibits within the zoo. H rather liked the 'penguin crossing' and was very excited when one crossed! It was lovely to be able to see them so close.

It doesn't take long to walk around as it is not a large zoo so remember to take your time and really 'take it all in', read all of the snippets of information on the walls and let the children play with the exhibits, it is a lot of fun! E loved seeing all of the fish and watching the seals playing through the viewing windows underground. The children all especially enjoyed being able to 'play' with the seals using the toys provided next to the window, it was lovely to see them interacting together!

We stopped off in the gift shop and the kids all chose something little each, before we made our way back to the car and headed home.

We had such a wonderful time in Torquay, even with the odd wobble and tantrum here and there the children had so much fun and it was a really lovely place to visit. We would definitely recommend it and will hopefully return in the near future.

*Disclaimer: 'Our Spring Break' is a personal account of our family holiday.

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

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

It's week 15 for #R2BC, please remember to go and visit our lovely creator & host Michelle at Mummy From The Heart

The Easter holidays are coming to a close and we have had a lovely two weeks together, including a fab holiday (which I am blogging about, you can read part one here and part two is coming soon) and a lovely family Easter so this will be a sort of mini summary of our family time this past fortnight.

1. Our Easter Sunday roast was phenomenal. The husband truly outdid himself and we were all completely stuffed afterwards. The Easter cake we made went down a treat and the kids thoroughly enjoyed digging in to it, although Logan & Harrison preferred to just eat the mini eggs and orange buttercream than the cake itself! It's only a little thing, but Mr Owl really did put a lot of effort in to making a really special meal and I very much appreciated all of his hard work.

2. On the Saturday we took the children to a local country park and let them loose with their scooters. It was a bit chilly out but once we set off in pursuit of the scootin' loons we soon warmed up! Good exercise that was. We also found a rope swing in the trees alongside the path we were walking so the kids took turns on that, although it did swing precariously close to one tree in particular and I was concerned about one of my boys (it's always the boys) having a "George of the Jungle" moment and slamming face first in to it... Luckily, this did not occur and we left the park with everyone in one piece. It was so much fun, and best of all, FREE!

3. And finally, I am also cheerful that the kids are going back to school on Monday! I love having them home (mostly because it means no school runs, uniform washing, lunch packing etc!) but they are starting to get on each others nerves, yesterday Logan and Harrison irritated each other all day! They are looking forward to getting back to school and seeing their friends, and having some time away from each other! It'll be nice to have my one-on-one time with Erica again too. And to put my house back together...

Our Spring Break - Part One

Thursday, 12 April 2012

We took the children on a long weekend away right at the start of the Easter holidays. While they were at school on the Friday, the husband and I did the grocery shop and packed up the car before we collected them from school when they finished at 2pm, and off we went!

We stayed at Parkdean Torquay in Devon, and check in was 4pm however after having to take a very long detour due to road closures we didn't arrive until around 6pm. Check in was quick & simple, the husband collected our keys and welcome pack from the very polite & efficient lady on reception and we were directed to our caravan. The hill down to our area of the site was a bit on the steep side but there was a little car park right next to our 'patch' which meant no trudging long distances to carry our things to & from the car.

The caravan was very modern and lovely & clean, and our linen was provided though we had to make the beds ourselves. There was a television with Freeview, as well as heaters in all of the bedrooms and a gas fire in the living room, plus the fridge-freezer and oven which were all fully functional and we didn't have any problems with.

After unpacking our things the children made a beeline for the park, sports court and the large field area right next to our van. We had a great spot as we could see all play areas clearly from the window and the shop & bar area was across the field and just up the steps. The kids had a great time playing football on the field and the sports court, and using the play area which was well maintained. The kids made lots of friends and we had no shortage of little callers to our van asking for the children to come out and play, they had a wonderful time.

When we had unpacked we went off down to the harbourside to have a walk, and to get some dinner. We had a nice walk enjoying the warm sea breeze along the promenade and pier (and enjoyed playing in the bubbles someone had put in the fountain!), and the children enjoyed watching the boats out on the water. We stopped off at a chip shop on the way back to the campsite and got some fish & chips, we'd worked up quite an appetite by then and the kids ploughed through it in record time. They played outside until it was too dark to see the football any more (even with the lights on the field!) and then we came in, watched some TV and went to bed.

Up early Saturday morning, we packed some lunch and headed to Paignton Zoo for the day. I had pre-booked our tickets online for Adam & 3 of the children (Erica was free as she is under 3), but had to buy concession tickets for myself and Logan at the desk. Adam & the kids went through the fast-track gate but the lovely lady directed me to the customer service desk to a very friendly gentleman who whipped our payment through quickly so that we did not have to wait in the large queues at the other desks and could get on and enjoy our day.

Paignton Zoo is fantastic, the children were so keen to see everything they kept running off ahead and shouting for us to come and see. The animals had large, clean enclosures and there were lots of peacocks and geese roaming in the general areas, along with goats and other small creatures in the petting zoo area. The monkeys and gorillas were a favourite with our kids, they were very playful and had the children in stitches with laughter due to their antics! We especially liked seeing the new baby Giraffe that was born in February, and the elephant although unfortunately the rhino wasn't feeling very social that day and didn't come out so we could see him!

There were a few play areas dotted around the site and we stopped off on our way round to let the kids enjoy them. There were lots of stands selling snacks, drinks and ice creams as well as a cafe, and we sat in a picnic area next to one the play areas to eat our lunch, and then had an ice cream a bit later on in the day.

There was so much to see and do, the site is in sections so you can visit animals in the 'Desert' and the 'Savannah', and even see a parrot show. There is also a little train ride which you have to pay extra for (£4 for Adam and all of the children), but it runs every five minutes or so and the children enjoyed it.

We left at dinner time and stopped off in the supermarket which was conveniently just next door to the Zoo before heading back to the campsite for dinner, and afterwards the children immediately ran off out to play with their friends.

A very successful start to our holiday, stay tuned for part two which is about our visits to Living Coasts, and Woodlands Theme Park.

*Disclaimer: 'Our Spring Break' is a personal account of our family holiday.

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