Monday, 27 April 2015

Meal Plan Monday 270415

Meal Plan 270415
Monday 27th
It's a certain little lady's 5th birthday today! So it's home-made GF DF chicken korma with brown rice followed by birthday cake
Tuesday 28th
Avocado stuffed burgers with salad
Wednesday 29th
Sausages & chips with baked beans (Debbie & Andrew's sausages with sweet potato fries for me)
Thursday 30th
Chicken fajitas (with brown rice, no wrap for me)
Friday 1st
Spaghetti (& courgetti) bolognese
Saturday 2nd May
Sunday 3rd
Roast after E's birthday party this afternoon

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

Monday, 20 April 2015

Meal Plan Monday 200415

Meal Plan 200415
Monday 20th
Cottage pie topped with root veggie mash
Tuesday 21st
Chicken burgers with chips & salad (chicken salad for me)
Wednesday 22nd
Thursday 23rd
Chicken skewers with onion & pepper, and brown rice
Friday 24th
Caveman chilli on baked potato (brown rice for me)
Saturday 25th
Steak & chips with salad
Sunday 26th
Roast Chicken

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

Thursday, 16 April 2015

#LoudnProud | Changes & Challenges

Time is whizzing by at an alarming rate. I can't really get my head around it being mid April already - we are fast approaching the end of the school year and before we know it, it will be the Summer holidays and time to reflect on all of the new things we have learned & experienced.

It's been a year of big changes and new challenges, and the kids have really done us proud in so many ways. When the Mister and I went to Australia last month, the children were immaculately behaved and very grown up, helping to make sure that everything ran as smoothly as possible while we were gone.

L & E have both settled in well at their new primary and secondary schools. E has taken to school life like a duck to water and has now moved up to level 12 in her reading, and is doing beautifully. She's moved up to stage 3 at swimming now too and has also moved up a group at Gymnastics. L has - touch wood - been much more settled recently and seems to be a lot happier at school now. I knew that the first year at senior school would be a difficult transition period but he has tried so hard, even taking part in school activities - he competed in the tutor group swimming gala and came first in his race!

J & A have had a lot of things to manage this year, with J being in his first GCSE year and A studying for her AS levels. Both have exams coming up soon and it's all hands on deck as well as a huge amount of work and stress for the two of them, A is always knee deep in revision at the moment but has also managed to land herself a new job at a new local business which is wonderful. Tonight is A's 6th form parents evening so I am looking forward to hearing about her progress from her subject teachers.

H has been throwing himself into his sport, playing for the school football team as well as his usual U9s Sunday rugby, and he's made it to 93% in stage 7 at swimming so we are anticipating his move up to stage 8 very soon (optional, but he's keen to continue), and he's signed himself up to the cricket club at school this term too. He is also delighted to have been chosen to represent the school in the swimming gala again this year. I love his enthusiasm for being busy and active and I hope he keeps it up.

Mama Owl

Monday, 13 April 2015

Meal Plan Monday 130415

Meal Plan 130415
Monday 13th
Chargrilled korma chicken served with salad (because our plans changed last Saturday) and naan for the Mister & kids
Tuesday 14th
Wednesday 15th
Caveman chilli & brown rice
Thursday 16th
Chicken & chips
Friday 17th
Spaghetti & meatballs (courgetti for me) with a homemade tomato sauce
Saturday 18th
I'm out with a friend today so the Mister will be in charge of feeding himself and the kids
Sunday 19th
Roast Pork with applesauce

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

Friday, 10 April 2015

Tips for Surviving a Long Haul Flight | #ShepsDownUnder

We have travelled on a few long haul flights before, to the USA many moons ago, but even those couldn't have prepared us for the epic journey that was the flight around the world to Australia, and so having made it there and back I wanted to share our tips for surviving a long haul flight. They worked for us, hopefully they will do the same for you.

Travel pillows

I have never fully appreciated how awesome these things are. Get one. I picked up a lovely velour memory foam travel pillow from Matalan while the Mister went for a beanbag style one from Primark - both were effective and comfortable, and the Mister's had a handy clip which meant I could attach it to my bag (mine didn't, so I had to carry it). When you use them, it's worth tilting them to one side otherwise your face is likely to slip through the bottom, just FYI.

Socks & comfy footwear

Be it a nice warm pair to pop on during the flight or some actual flight socks, I'd recommend them. I wore slip-on pumps on the way out and flip flops on the way back and kept a fluffy pair of socks in my hand luggage that I slipped on & off on each of the four flights we took. My feet swelled up a lot so being able to remove my footwear easily and still keep my feet warm (I found it got quite chilly on the planes) was handy for me. Also, having to make a mad dash through Dubai airport after a late landing to catch our transfer flight to Adelaide was made considerably easier by having comfy shoes on.

Wear comfortable clothing

I wore a favourite jersey tea dress with leggings & a cardi and the Mister had on joggers & a t-shirt, with a hoody. Sitting in one place for such an extended length of time, you don't want to feel restricted or have anything digging in to you (belt buckles, jeans etc = not a good idea). Something loose fitting and soft is definitely the way to go, and if you have room in your hand luggage, perhaps a spare top/t-shirt & pair of undies in case you feel a bit gross and want to wash up & change between flights.

Get noise-cancelling headphones

Headphones are provided on the flight but ideally picking up a good pair of headphones of your own is a good idea, in the seat backs there are several different types of port so most brands should fit. This was recommended to us by a friend who has travelled between the UK & Oz on numerous occasions and I understand why. You'll want to block out the hum of the aircraft as well as the general hustle & bustle from other passengers on the flight, allowing you to listen to music or watch a movie in relative peace.

Drink water!

Very important. Obviously you can't take water through security, but once you're in I would recommend picking up a bottle or two before you board the plane. I asked for water every time a flight attendant passed me but I was still very dehydrated, & I also took water on board with me. It feels like you can't get enough so seriously - don't forget to drink. If you're drinking alcohol during the flight too, it is even more important.

Get an aisle seat

If you can book your seats ahead of time, try to do so and get yourself an aisle seat. For such a long journey, you'll want to be able to get up and move around without climbing over/waking other people to do so, and you can also stick your legs out now & again to stretch them.

Take basic medicines with you

We had a handful of medicines in our hand luggage, still in their own packaging of course, for emergencies. We took painkillers, anti-diarrhoea tablets & antihistamines as well as a couple of plasters. There's nothing worse than feeling unwell on a long flight and if you have basic medication with you, you can at least manage with what you have.


If you can sleep on the flight, and I know it isn't easy, then do. It'll pass the time quicker, and you'll feel less like the walking dead at your stop-over/destination. It can also help reduce the impact of jet lag once you reach your destination.

Take snacks, & eat before you fly

You might have to buy them after security (= expensive) depending on the airport but I would recommend taking snacks on the flight with you. In-flight meals are not exactly gourmet and on one or two occasions they were sadly almost inedible, if I hadn't had a couple of things in my bag I would have been rather hungry by the time we reached our destination. Also, take the opportunity to eat a good meal before you fly as you don't know how long it will be before the in-flight meals are given out.

Mark your luggage

If you have a generic black suitcase (and lots of us do), then mark it with something that will make it easier to spot in baggage claim. There's nothing worse after a long flight or two than standing there trying to guess which black case out of the hundreds bumbling along the carousel in front of you is yours. We bought luminous straps and tied them around the cases, plus a couple of brightly coloured address tags to make doubly sure.

Do you have any tips or advice for managing on a long haul flight? I'd love for you to share them with me. Happy travels!

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Springtime Celebrations

I think I prefer Easter to Christmas, in all honesty. While I don't necessarily like how overly commercial Easter seems to be becoming, it is generally just 'nicer' in my opinion.

It's a celebration of the Springtime - the weather is warming up, the evenings are lighter, there are flowers and baby lambs everywhere (I'm a sucker for a frolicking lamb). There is less expectation, it's a lot more relaxed. Well - it is in my house, anyway.

Here we enjoy the long bank holiday weekend watching movies, doing a little baking (Easter nests, biscuits, and a carrot cake are the tradition) and crafting, and having a little egg hunt around the garden before diving face first into a basket of chocolate. We give our kids two eggs each (one medium, one small) and a little chocolate something else (this year was a Kinder Egg, last year was Malteaster bunnies if memory serves) presented in a little basket, and they also receive eggs from other family members.

On Good Friday we have hot cross buns for breakfast, and on Easter Sunday we have a traditional roast dinner with all of the trimmings. This year I used English Mum's slow roasted garlicky leg of lamb recipe which was utterly divine and just fell off the bone, and followed it up with a delicious dessert for the Mister and kids - a Hot Cross Bun & Butter Pudding courtesy of Munchies & Munchkins simple but tasty recipe.

We were blessed with beautiful weather for Bank Holiday Monday, and I took H & E down to the local Lions Club Easter Egg Hunt with my sister & her children, before spending a couple of hours letting them work off all the chocolate in the playground.

The afternoon was spent in the garden while the younger three went to a different park with their cousin for a few hours, and I very helpfully supervised the Mister from the comfort of a beanbag as he mowed the lawn. I'm quite certain he appreciated all of my assistance. The weather was so nice we even got the lesser spotted teenage boy out of his room for an hour to help his Dad wash the van (in return for XBox credit - of course).

It was a really lovely weekend, spent with my nearest & dearest. Absolutely perfect.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Planning a Frozen Birthday Party

E is turning five at the end of this month and party planning is in full swing.

Like every other child up and down the country, Frozen fever has hit our house hard and little miss moo decided she wanted her very own princess party to celebrate her birthday. She has never had a 'proper' party as we wanted to wait until she started school, but now she is in reception and has plans to invite all of the girls from her class as well as her cousins. We have hired a hall, and will be catering the party ourselves with lots of Frozen themed goodies including:

  • Hans' Frozen hearts (strawberries dipped in white chocolate)
  • Sven's carrot sticks
  • Olaf's arms (pretzel sticks)
  • Bottles of melted snow (water)
  • Snowballs (bonbons & marshmallows)
  • Kristoff's ice cubes (blue jelly)
  • Snowiches (cream cheese)
  • Anna's Chocolate Fondue (chocolate fountain with fruit)

If you have any ideas to add to the list, please do leave me a comment and share! I've created a Pinterest board to keep track of all the wonderful ideas I have found online.

Follow Mama Owl's board Frozen Party on Pinterest.

We've hired local company Bounce-a-Roo to come & wow us with their Princess Party experience, including a special guest visit - E is very excited to meet Queen Elsa, and she can't wait to enjoy having a bounce on the princess bouncy castle with her friends.

Party Delights have kindly sent us some fantastic Frozen themed partyware to help make E's birthday one to remember. They have a wide selection of items to choose from, including paper party plates and cups in packs of 8, and 2-ply napkins in a 20 pack.

It wouldn't be a party without games, and Party Delights have the delightful 'Help Olaf find his nose' game for just £2.75, as well as a fun Disney Frozen Pull PiƱata for only £13.99 which can be filled with up to 900g of sweets, treats and favours for party-goers.

I'm planning an Olaf birthday cake (as she already had an Anna & Elsa cake for her birthday last year) and have been looking up tutorials on how to make a fondant snowman - wish me luck! Have your children had or been to a Frozen birthday party?

We received complimentary Frozen partyware for review purposes.
The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Meal Plan Monday 060415

Meal Plan 060415
Monday 6th
Tuesday 7th
Chicken fajitas
Wednesday 8th
Cottage pie topped with vegetable mash
Thursday 9th
Turkey steaks with vegetables (& mashed potatoes for Mr & kids)
Friday 10th
Caveman chilli & brown rice
Saturday 11th
Chargrilled korma chicken served with salad
Sunday 12th

#MealPlanningMonday linked up with At Home with Mrs M.
{*Brinner = breakfast for dinner}

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Semaphore #MySundayPhoto | #ShepsDownUnder

I took this photo when we were in Australia last week - our friend took us to a little seaside suburb called Semaphore, where we walked along the seafront and out on to the jetty and admired the view before stopping off for lunch on the beach near the World War I memorial clock. Beautiful.


Saturday, 4 April 2015

Weight & Inch Loss | 3 Month Update

It has been three months since I changed my diet and lifestyle. I've successfully completed two rounds of Project 6 Pack & am now beginning my third, and still enjoying it just as much as when I first started. It has, genuinely, transformed my life.

Probably one of my favourite things about P6P is the way the group works together. Everyone builds each other up, spurs each other on, encourages each other. It's a supportive, friendly and caring environment and I am really proud to be a part of it. I've already signed up for the next round! Laura & Amirah are absolutely the best at what they do and I am so grateful for their help and support.

After round one, at the end of week 6, I had lost an amazing 9kg, 50.5cm all over, and my body fat percentage had gone from 36.78% down to 26.83%.

At the end of round two, which was 10 weeks & 3 days progress (as I was in Australia for the final week & a half of that round) I have lost a further 9.5cm, as well as another 6kg and my body fat percentage is down to 23.26%. I was delighted to be able to wear a size 10 dress to the wedding, and to feel comfortable & confident in swimwear. It isn't just about what it says on the scale, but about how you feel and this is absolutely the best I think I have ever felt about myself. I feel amazing.

The pictures below are my starting picture (taken Jan 4th 2015), week 6, and week 10.

I'm not going to lie, I cut myself a little slack while I was on holiday although I was of course a bit disappointed to find I had gained weight when I got back, but luckily it has come straight back off again in just under a week after getting back on track with my diet and upping my water intake. I'm quite sure that being dehydrated during our 27 hour journey home didn't do me any favours. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So - here's to round three, I can't wait to share my next progress report with you!


Thursday, 2 April 2015

Justin & Friends - Mr Tumble's Circus Tour | #CbeebiesLive

sponsored post.

Having had five children, you will know that there has been a lot of Cbeebies watched in my house over the years. With its programming being based on learning through play, Cbeebies has provided my kids with years of educational entertainment. Justin Fletcher MBE is a firm favourite in my house, with E being able to sign along with him whilst watching Something Special, & having a good laugh at Mr Tumble's wacky antics.

We were excited to learn that Mr Tumble's Circus will be touring the country this Easter. Dates for the live shows and all news and information can be found at and tickets can be purchased online through as well as via their official agency, Ticketmaster.

Justin will be joined on stage by a host of his CBeebies friends, and joining in the fun at the circus-themed spectacular will be dino-mad Andy Day, Robert the Robot played by Steve Kynman, and Little Monster. Mr Tumble will be inviting a few family members along too including Aunt Polly as well as some familiar faces from Gigglebiz.

Check out this sneak peek of the live shows - will you be treating your kids to a visit to Mr Tumble's Circus this Easter?

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A Wedding in Australia #ShepsDownUnder

After a 20,000 mile round trip, the Mister and I have returned from what was the most amazing holiday I have ever been on. About 15 ish years ago, a friend of the Mister's headed 'Down Under' to Adelaide to start a new life, and then last year the chap messaged us & said "I'm getting married, I'd love for you to come to the wedding!".

Initially we dismissed the idea because as much as we would have loved to attend, the logistics and expense of it all was seemingly too much. Trying to manage the children with their schools and clubs, care of the dogs, the house, not to mention paying for it all when we are already going away on a family holiday with Mark Warner in October.

But - we thought about it some more, and then the Mister spoke to his parents about the possibility. Provided everything was carefully planned, they would be happy to have the children so that we could go. At this point I had a wibble about leaving the kids for so long and being so far away, even though I know my ILs are wonderful grandparents and would take care of the kids just as well as we do. I had never left them for so long (two weeks give or take a couple of days of travelling) and the thought of it gave me some serious anxiety but before I could back out, our flights were booked. We were going!

Some military planning and a lot of help later, everything was arranged. The children would stay with the ILs as they live close enough to the senior school for the older 3 to walk to & from, my brother & his wife did the primary school run and took the boys to evening clubs, my friend ran E back & forth to gymnastics with A, and two of my wonderful friends offered their help in case of emergency with running around/pick ups just in case (as my FIL is still recovering from a knee replacement op, so is currently unable to drive). Even my next door neighbours pitched in, taking H to rugby on the two Sundays that we were away for. I also meal planned for two weeks, and ordered groceries to be delivered to the ILs house to keep things as simple as possible.

I had to rein in my inner control freak a lot to be able to cope with not being able to oversee everything myself, but the children were absolute stars for the ILs, and I am so grateful to everyone for all of their support and help. Australia is as amazing as I thought it would be - we visited some fantastic places and saw some breathtaking sights as well as enjoying the main event, the wedding on the banks of the Murray River in New South Wales. I am so excited to share our wonderful journey across the world and three states with you all in a series of posts I'll be calling #ShepsDownUnder. Enjoy!