Monday, 31 March 2014

The Rediscovery of Forgotten Toys

We made our way round to my Parent's house on Sunday afternoon to discover my Dad emerging from their loft with a rather retro looking suitcase. The kids were intrigued, as was I.

Dad set it down in the living room and the kids scrabbled to get close and see what treasures lay inside; on opening the lid they found a whole host of action men and barbies that had belonged to my Brother and I when we were children ourselves!! The wave of nostalgia hit me full in the face and I couldn't help but join in playing with the kids..I think all of us adults did!

I love rediscovering old toys; they always bring back so many wonderful forgotten memories with them. I had no idea my Parents had kept so many things we used to love and care for and play with..their loft is like a treasure-trove of childhood memories. Needless to say, the kids spent an afternoon discovering action man, his enemies, his vehicles and dressing them, along with barbie, up in all their clothes and gear. They had a lot of fun and, I have to admit, I did too!

Meal Planning Monday - 01

Toad in the hole with new potatoes, veg and gravy ✓
Meal Planning Monday
Homemade mexican bean soup & tortilla chips for dipping

Homemade sweetcorn and chorizo fritters with chips & salad ✓

Macaroni cheese with bacon & warm bread

Homemade chicken curry with rice & naans

Breaded chicken goujons, chips and beans ✓

Homemade beef koftas with lemon & parsley cous cous

Sunday, 30 March 2014

#SilentSunday - 02

Exploring The Outdoors #CountryKids

We've had some rather rubbish weather throughout the week, culminating in a massive hailstorm that had both the children and I standing at the windows in awe (the hailstones were enormous!) and a thunderstorm that we all got a bit soaked in. But, there have been a couple of afternoon's of sunshine and the weekend, so far, has brought us a lovely Saturday so there's been plenty of opportunity to enjoy and explore outdoors.

On Thursday the kids and I walked up to our local Supermarket then took a leisurely stroll back in the sunshine. The kids had a lot of fun exploring and playing, checking out everything that we walked past, climbing tree stumps, splashing in any puddles that were still lurking, picking fallen blossoms and collecting anything and everything they could find to show to each other and to me.

Saturday has turned out to be a lovely day too; we woke to some beautiful sunshine which had the children rushing out into the garden, still in pyjamas and fresh from the breakfast table, full of excitement and energy. It was wonderful being able to let them out to play so early; it was so bright and warm and lovely and we were all able to sit out and enjoy our little garden. While we were outside we spotted several butterflies (Amy's favourite 'bug'), some bumblebees and a ladybird, which landed on Amy's arm. I cannot wait until Summer, and I don't think the kids can either, where we will be able to have our breakfasts outside and spend the days playing in the garden and having picnics.

Saturday was also my Grandad's 80th Birthday, we had a tasty and enjoyable meal at a local restaurant as a family and then returned to my Grandparent's home for presents, cake and fun. The children spent a lot of the afternoon playing and exploring my Grandparent's garden; they have such a gorgeous garden and my two always love going round to see what they can find in it.

We've been blessed with some lovely weather this week, here's hoping that Sunday and the following week bring much of the same.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

The Little Moments

More often than not I've found that it's not the big days out, as you would imagine, that bring the biggest smiles to my face but the small day-to-day moments of lovely normality that have me grinning from ear to ear with nothing but love and pride in my heart. Don't get me wrong, the big days out are fantastic but I just love all the normal everyday moments that come with being able to care for my children full-time. There is the love that you have for your children that fills up each day and never goes away, it is unparallelled by anything else. And then there are the sudden rushes of love, stronger than anything you have ever felt in your lifetime that make your knees buckle a little and plants a smile on your face and in your heart so wide that nothing could chip it away. I've had rather a lot of those this week, along with so much pride at how my two are growing into individuals, full of love and achievements of their own, and each time it has come along in the most normal of circumstances.

After a few downpours, an enormous hailstorm that had us worried for the glass in our windows and a thunderstorm is was brilliant to have some sunshine back to remind us that it is Spring and Summer is beginning to show itself on the horizon. The kids and I went down to one of our local Supermarkets during the week and enjoyed a lovely walk home. The kids were rushing along together, having lots of fun exploring everything as a Brother and Sister should; checking out all the things we passed, stomping in the puddles left over from the rain, climbing up onto tree stumps, picking up pieces of blossom that had fallen from the trees in awe and collecting all manner of stones, sticks and leaves to show to me and to each other. They have their moments where they drive each other barmy, arguing over the smallest of things and winding each other up, but they are so close to each other, it's wonderful to see. They share the same blood but they also share a friendship and you can see the love they have for each other and the fun they have playing together; they are exactly as a Brother and Sister should be and so much closer than Aaron and I had ever wished they would be. It's day-to-day moments like this that make my heart swell for them, feeling like it could burst open with love and pride at any moment.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Reasons To Be Cheerful #R2BC - 01

I haven't joined in with this wonderful blog-hop since I stopped blogging in October/November 2013 over at shayandfamily, so it's wonderful to be linking up with all the positive posts again.

There was rather a lot going on in my little world at the end of last year and I was struggling with a host of health issues so I took a brief break from the blogging world (and everything really) to focus on the things that needed it and to give myself a bit of a breather from it all. I'm back, as of last week, with a brand new blog having had a much needed rest and I'm looking forward to rejoining the wonderful blogging community.

Linking in with my break from blogging was my break from running. Those who follow me on twitter will already be aware of how unwell I was towards the end of 2013 and how I began my recovery journey; this meant I had to give up running because I just wasn't well enough to do so, something which hit me pretty hard. I'm happy, and rather proud, to be able to say that I'm now well enough to start running again, wahey! I went for my first run last night and it was bloomin' fantastic. I found my pace quickly and trundled along really well. Health permitting, I'm planning on competing again this year as it's something I've really missed and was unable to do in 2013.

Although it doesn't look like it from my window this morning, it would seem that Spring has just about arrived. We've had our fair share of drizzle where we live but we've been quite lucky with rather a lot of sunshine over the last couple of weeks too. The kids have been out in the garden and the local parks taking advantage of the improving weather and we've all been out planting bulbs, seeds and flowers and tidying our garden after the winter months.

Recipe : Homemade Sweet and Sour Chicken

The Husband and I do love a good sweet and sour chicken but we sometimes get bored of the sauces available in store. This is my delicious homemade sweet and sour recipe; it takes around 5 minutes to prepare and 10-15 minutes to cook and will serve 3-4 people. I've used chicken but pork works really well with this sauce too.

  • chicken, diced or cut into strips
  • 1 large red pepper, sliced into strips
  • 4 spring onions, sliced into strips
  • 230g tin of pineapple pieces in juice
  • 1 tbsp cornflour
  • juice from ½ lemon
  • 1½ tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • pinch of salt & pepper

Heat 1tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Add the chicken pieces and cook for 5 minutes until sealed. Add the red pepper and spring onions next and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Drain the pineapple juice into a bowl, making sure you keep the pineapple pieces. Whisk together the pineapple juice, cornflour, lemon juice, light soy sauce, granulated sugar, salt and pepper. Add the mixture to the pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring until the sauce thickens slightly.

Add the pineapple pieces and cook for 1 minute to heat through. Serve with rice and tuck in.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

#SilentSunday - 01

Spring Is Here #CountryKids

Spring has most definitely made it's arrival and is busy making itself well known within our garden. Our grass has received it's first trim after the Winter months, the weeds have begun to spring up from the flower beds and have been expertly removed by the two terrors and the ivy, trees and shrubs, which became a little wild over the colder months, have been pruned back to form neat, tidy borders again.

The children have been outside making use of the garden and their toys and helping me with the gardening. We've been to the park several times, something we've not been able to do so often over the Winter, and the children are definitely enjoying the warmer weather and the sunshine. I think we're all happy to see it after the horrible rainy, windy Winter we've had.

We've been taking advantage of the good weather and have been out planting our summer-flowering bulbs, crocosmia and peacock orchids, in the front garden and have started to fill up our borders in the back garden with geraniums, forget-me-nots and veronicas. There is still much to be done but the rise in temperature, the arrival of sunshine and the flash spring showers are helping everything along nicely.

Terror 1 helped me to choose a couple of items that we could add to our garden to encourage the birds to visit. Our neighbours, and the bottom of our garden, have a lot of trees and tall bushes so there are always birds flying around the but they often skip over our garden and land next door. Terror 1 chose a pretty yellow bird box and helped me to find a nice, private place within the ivy that lines our fence to place it. She also found a bird feeder and some fat balls for the birds to pick at while they're visiting. So far, it's working! We're seeing a lot more birds in our garden and the children are loving looking out from the breakfast table in the morning and seeing what they can spot.

After last year's success growing our own chilli peppers and tomatoes, the children and I decided to grow our own vegetables again this year. We've already planted up our array of peppers, this year's consisting of chilli's, barancios and bell peppers. They are residing in a mini propagator on our windowsill and we're all waiting patiently for the first seedlings to appear. We've also got plans to grow our own garlic and spring onions and, instead of buying seeds, we'll be attempting to do so from our own kitchen scraps which should prove interesting.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 21 March 2014

Make Your Own : Hair Bows

Recently, Terror 1 has started to enjoy picking out pretty clips and ties to wear in her hair. I've been having a look around town and online to stock up on a few more bits and pieces for her but I couldn't really find what I was looking for...and when I did I found they were pretty expensive for a hair-band and a bit of ribbon! That's when I decided to create my own! Not only is it much cheaper, as it's made from bits and pieces that I had lying around the house, but it's much easier than I'd expected and each hair bow can be personalised. And the best bit? It will only take you 15-30 minutes to create!

To make your own you will need;
  • A hair-tie (a chunky one works the best)
  • Some assorted ribbons of your, or your little ones, choosing
  • Matching thread
  • A needle and some scissors

Cut one of your ribbons into two pieces of equal length. Secure both pieces to the hair-tie with a knot at the middle of each length of ribbon as shown above.

Taking your other piece of ribbon, form the bow which will act as the main feature on your hair bow. I find the above method gives me a perfect bow each time but the 'conventional' method would also work...whichever you find the easiest.
  1. Taking your length of ribbon create two loops with your fingers.
  2. Cross the loops over each other, creating an X.
  3. Taking the top loop, wrap it round and through the hole as if tying a knot.
  4. Pull the two loops tight until a bow is formed then adjust as necessary.

Position your bow onto the front of your hair-tie then secure everything with a needle and matching thread. Turn your hair bow back over then trim all of the ribbon ends.
Ta-dah, your DIY hair bow is complete and is ready to wear!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A Return Trip to Potty Training (with 5 top tips!)

It's been a good eighteen months since we last properly visited the world of potty training with Terror 1. She was almost three years old and we'd waited until we felt she was definitely ready for it; a tactic which proved helpful when she went from nappies to knickers within one to two weeks. Thinking back now, it seems like it was such a quick and easy ride compared to our current one.

It's the turn of Terror 2 and, unfortunately, things aren't going along quite as smoothly. He's coming up to three and a half (just gone three if you start counting from his due date) and despite numerous attempts it isn't quite clicking into place for him just yet. He's been showing some signs that he's almost ready for a few months; using the potty for poos ninety percent of the time, occasionally doing a wee on his potty, knowing when he's wet and wanting his nappy to be changed as well sometimes showing an awareness of when he needs to use the toilet.

We've waited for a while to see if Terror 2 will initiate potty training in his own time, as Terror 1 seemed to do, but I think he needs that little nudge, just to get him started. Which is how we've come to here, nervously approaching the land of potty training for the second time.

  • Hunt down all of the loose fitting trousers, preferably with elastic waistbands, that your little one owns. Pyjama bottoms are brilliant while you're at home as they're easy for little hands to pull up and down and mean they're not fussing over buttons and poppers when they need to go to the toilet. If it's quite warm at home you could skip the trousers altogether and just put your little one in pants/knickers. Skirts, loose fitting shorts and jogging bottoms are a good option if you need to go out of the house during the first few days of initiating potty training as they're quick and easy to remove when the time comes.
  • Put together an 'accident kit' for when your little one has an accident and keep it somewhere that is easy for you to get hold of. In my 'kit' I have a roll of kitchen paper for mopping up accidents, a small bucket of warm soapy water and a cloth for washing down Terror 2's legs and the floor and a towel for drying everything off.
  • If, like us, you don't have a downstairs toilet or bathroom your little one can get to quickly, invest in a potty to keep in the living room that they can use when there isn't time to get upstairs.
  • Take your little one to try for the toilet regularly, every quarter or half an hour should be enough. Try to make a note of when they last had something to drink; generally they will need the toilet around one hour afterwards.
  • Take a potty or children's toilet seat with you where-ever you go so it's easy for your little one to use the toilet if they need to. Don't forget to pack a couple of changes of clothes, including socks and another pair of shoes, and some bags to keep wet clothes in just in case they don't quite make it to the toilet in time.