Mama OWL Blog: January 2017

Meal Plan Monday | 300117

Monday, 30 January 2017

Meal Plan 300117
Monday 30th
Chicken fajitas with onions and mixed peppers, served with either tortillas or brown rice, and some quesadillas for E
Tuesday 31st
Freezer diving tonight, whatever anyone wants as we have four different sports clubs to ferry the kids between tonight
Wednesday 1st
Macaroni cheese with steamed veg
Thursday 2nd
Spaghetti & Meatballs
Friday 3rd
Pork Chops
Saturday 4th
Homemade Chilli
Sunday 5th
It's J's 16th birthday today, so whatever he chooses

Meal Plan Monday | 230117

Monday, 23 January 2017

Meal Plan 230117
Monday 23rd
Homemade chicken curry with pilau rice and naan bread
Tuesday 24th
Burgers & chips for the kids, omelette & salad for me
Wednesday 25th
Pasta Bake
Thursday 26th
Sausages, mashed potatoes and mixed vegetables
Friday 27th
Chicken fajitas with onions and mixed peppers, served with either tortillas or brown rice, and some quesadillas for E
Saturday 28th
Deli Pizza
Sunday 29th

#MySundayPhoto | First Tooth

Sunday, 22 January 2017

For months on end I have had to listen to E banging on about wobbly teeth and how all her friends have lost teeth, and that she is the last one. I'm fairly certain that she is exaggerating (as six year olds often do) but yesterday evening after a solid day of wiggling, she finally lost her first tooth. Bedtime couldn't come fast enough, and her tooth was placed in a little trinket box next to her bed to await the arrival of the tooth fairy who left her some money, and a certificate to mark the occasion. Gappy is happy!


Alternative Valentine's Day Movies - 10 of the Best

Friday, 20 January 2017

There are only a few weeks to go until the big Hallmark holiday... But if you're going solo for whatever reason this Valentine's Day or you just fancy a deviation from the predictably saccharine lovefest you get with the average rom-com, I have compiled a list of 10 alternative movies to watch that will make you laugh and possibly cry, for you to sit back and enjoy on your own or with your 'people', or even with your pet.
Love isn't all about the guy getting the girl and driving off into the sunset for a happily ever after. Love is the little things in life, the friendships you make, the people who stand by you through the hard times, the ones who are there for no other reason than just to be with you when you have nothing to give them but yourself. So celebrate love this Valentine's Day, but in all its forms. In no particular order, here are:
  1. How to Be Single (2016)
  2. Thelma and Louise (1991)
  3. He's Just Not That Into You (2009)
  4. Boys On The Side (1995)
  5. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005)
  6. Waiting To Exhale (1995)
  7. Riding In Cars With Boys (2001)
  8. Now And Then (1995)
  9. Fried Green Tomatoes (1992)
  10. Steel Magnolias (1989)
I won't denigrate these movies by referring to them as 'chick flicks' because they are so much more than that. They are stories about friendship, companionship, what it means to share your life with someone in whatever form that comes in. They show that not everything runs smoothly, and that sometimes things don't work out the way you want or how you thought that they might, but that ultimately if you have someone you trust who loves you and is there for you, that it probably will all be ok in the end.

Our Anniversary Trip to New York - Top 10 Tips for a Holiday to Remember

Thursday, 19 January 2017

I can't believe it has nearly been a whole year since our anniversary trip to New York City. Also, I can't believe I still haven't finished writing my blog posts about it! While you're waiting, we have come up with a list of our top 10 tips to make your visit to NYC one to remember. We had the most amazing time & can't wait to visit again some day.

1. Book an Airport Lounge
The Mister surprised me with a pre-booked airport lounge for our outward journey which got our anniversary trip off to a great start. It made it that little bit more special, and after check-in we headed to the lounge and enjoyed comfy seats and free Wi-Fi in addition to our complimentary drinks (free Prosecco, anyone?) and snacks, and a small pre-flight meal. There are several lounges to choose from, we used No1 lounges in Heathrow T3 and really enjoyed our experience with them.

2. Book your Transport between the Airport and Hotel in Advance
Arriving in a big and bustling place like NYC especially at night-time was a daunting prospect, before we left we booked a shared van transfer from JFK to our hotel (and the return journey) using Attraction Tickets Direct. It is a 24-hour and door-to-door service and their current website price makes it only £68 return for two people, and booking it in advance means it's all paid for and won't eat into your spending money. After walking into arrivals we simply took our ticket to the desk, and the customer service representative called it through for us. After a short wait, our driver arrived and showed us out to the van and took us straight to our hotel. For the return journey, the Mister called and booked our van 24 hours in advance for the time required and we left our luggage in reception while we went out to enjoy our last day in the city.

3. Book Attraction Tickets in Advance and Plan a Loose Itinerary
Visiting lots of attractions can work out to be very expensive, it's definitely worth looking into buying your attraction tickets in advance - buying a multi attraction pass is good value as well as a great way to save money when you're sightseeing. We booked a pass for 5 attractions, and chose the places we wanted to visit from the list on the ATD website. You can even pre-book meal tickets (that include a drink, main meal & dessert from a set menu) for places like the Hard Rock Café in Times Square.

4. Use a Hop-On/Hop-Off Tour Bus
We didn't want to use the subway, so we booked the New York FreeStyle Pass mentioned above from Attraction Tickets Direct which is currently £125 per person for 5 attractions, and this also included tickets for the All Around Town Hop-On/Hop-Off Bus Tour and the Hop-on/Hop-Off Harbour Cruise on the Hudson. We used the tour bus to get around the city as they stop at or near all the major landmarks.

5. Take a River Cruise
The Hop-on/Hop-Off Harbour Cruise has four stops and does a little circuit of the Hudson, passing Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty as well as giving you amazing views of the skyscrapers in the financial district. It was definitely a highlight for me & next time I would love to get a ferry out to Liberty Island for a closer look at the statue.
6. Spend a day walking around Central Park
It's beautiful and there is so much to see and explore - and it's free! On our last day our bus tickets had expired and we had used up 4 of our 5 attraction tickets, so we spent most of the day walking around Central Park taking photos and looking at all of the sights including the beautiful bridges and sculptures, such as the bronze Alice in Wonderland statue. Take a picnic and make a day of it. We also walked to Grand Central to have a look around and take some photos as it is only a few blocks away from Central Park and an absolutely stunning piece of architecture.

7. Do a View Attraction at Night, and one by Day
If you're going to visit a 'view' attraction like Empire State, Top of the Rock or One World Observatory, I would recommend doing one at night and one in the day. We decided to visit Empire during the day time, and the Top of the Rock at night. It was awe-inspiring, and I would do it all again to see those views over the city, it was breath-taking. I definitely plan to visit One World next time.

8. Have Small Bills for Tips
You're expected to tip pretty much all of the time, particularly for the guides and drivers if you are hopping on and off the bus and cruise so make sure you keep some smaller bills for tips handy otherwise it could really eat into your budget.
9. Plan Areas to Visit to Reduce your Travel Time
You don't need to be too rigid with your plans, but having a look at where everything is so you can do a day in one area, then a day in another etc. to save wasting your precious sightseeing time sitting in traffic is a good idea. If you plan well, you can design yourself almost a walking tour as you go from one landmark to another, like getting off of the bus at Battery Park to go and see the Bull before walking along Wall Street and seeing the New York Stock Exchange as you head to the harbour for the cruise, for example. Get yourself a map and find your bearings.

10. Walk over the Brooklyn Bridge
Again another free activity, which gives you some lovely views over the river and just has to be done. There are lots of little stalls at the entrance to the bridge, so grab yourself a giant Pretzel and have a leisurely stroll over the bridge and back.

Can You Really Be #FITIN30? | Home Workout Plan with Online Support

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

You know me - I enjoy a good vomit inducing workout session with the lovely body confidence coach and personal trainer Laura, owner of LP Training. You'd be right to question my sanity, why on Earth would anyone want to exert enough effort to make themselves chuck up? Who does that? Well, me. The aim isn't to throw up by the way, but I know I have worked hard when I'm having to have a walk around and take some deep breaths between sets, lest I see my last meal in reverse. I want to push myself to that limit because working out alone at home doesn't mean you half ass it. You go for it with your full ass, you crack out those reps to the best of your ability. You don't stop because no one is watching you, YOU are watching you. You don't work out for someone else, you do it because it makes you feel good as well as look good (though that won't happen immediately after as my sweaty red face above illustrates).
You do it for yourself.
So the question is - Can you really get results by following nutrition advice and training at home? Can you lose weight and increase your fitness levels simply by working out 3 times a week and eating well? The answer, of course, is yes. Yes you can.
You don't need fancy equipment or a gym membership. You need motivation, and determination. You have to WANT it.  There's no point signing up to anything if you don't stick to it. You can't out train a bad diet, and you can't expect to see results if you're not honest with yourself. Don't make excuses, just do it. Your body can and will respond to a healthy diet and exercise and this is where #FITIN30 can help you.
Regular readers will know that I joined local fitness group Project 6 Pack two years ago and I earned myself a killer bod by working hard and following their expert advice. Laura is one of the personal trainers behind Project 6 Pack and her new home workout plan with online support group is, in my opinion, the next best thing to being at P6P. So many people said to me "Oh I wish there was something like that around here" - well, now there is and better yet, you don't even need to leave the house!
I've agreed to trial the #FITIN30 workout plan for 30 days & see how I get on. I'm going to share my thoughts on the exercises, whether or not I see any results at the end (entirely dependent on the degree of effort I put in, too, to make that clear) and if you're unlucky perhaps some time-lapse videos of me sweating profusely and questioning my life choices. The plan comprises 3 sets of exercises and a stretch routine, and you're added to a private Facebook group for support, advice and information with other members who are using the plan. The routines are straightforward and Laura posts videos of herself completing the workouts as well as photos of meals, and motivational messages, as do the other members. It's a warm, supportive group & even though you're working out on your own, you're never alone.
Probably the most difficult thing about a lifestyle change is maintenance. Losing weight to be honest has been the easiest part for me. Learning to move out of my comfort zone, to push myself, and to not stuff an entire box of Jaffa Cakes in my face whenever I feel like it has been bloody hard going at times. Sometimes I have fallen off the wagon. Spectacularly. And we probably should just not talk about Christmas. The important thing is to realise that this is a lifestyle and not a diet. You're not being deprived of anything, you are doing your health and your body, and also your mind, a favour. You need to commit to eating well and training as a part of your every day routine, it is a way of life. We all have cheat days or weekends... The trick is picking yourself back up & doing better next time and when you know better, you do better.
I have been able to maintain a healthy lifestyle and exercise routine by myself for two years using all of the amazing advice and knowledge that I have learned from Laura, and my time at Project 6 Pack. I know what to eat, what not to eat, and how much effort I have to put in to get the results I want from my fitness routine. From an entirely personal point of view, I genuinely cannot recommend Laura highly enough - she and Amirah taught me not only how to change my diet and my body, but my whole life. As you can see from the comparison pictures, these were taken a few weeks shy of a year apart and I am not only the same size but fitter and stronger, too.
Ready to give it a try yourself? Want to know how to get signed up? Laura's #FITIN30 plan is available to all, drop her a message on Facebook and change your life for the better. In addition to #FITIN30, there is also a Vision nutrition plan bolt-on available to help you achieve the best results possible. There is even the opportunity for you to WIN your next phase of #FITIN30 simply by sharing your meals and workouts on social media and using hashtags #LPTraining #BodyConfidenceCoach and #FITIN30.
Be sure to check out my #FITIN30 progress on my social media channels, and come back to the blog to see how I get on with the plan. Better yet - join me! Find out more and sign up at

Meal Plan Monday | 160117

Monday, 16 January 2017

First official meal plan of the new year! We have been meal planning as usual I just haven't had time to blog it and in all honesty, I have been lacking motivation - back to our regularly scheduled programming now, starting with posting our meal plans again. What's on your menu this week?
Meal Plan 160117
Monday 16th
Chicken fajitas with mixed peppers and red onions, served with brown rice or tortillas
Tuesday 17th
Burgers & chips for the kids, sweet potato hash browns with egg for me
Wednesday 18th
Homemade chicken curry with pilau rice
Thursday 19th
Friday 20th
Saturday 21st
To be decided...
Sunday 22nd
* Breakfast for dinner = Egg, bacon etc
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