High on any kid’s list of favourite pass-times are making a mess and stuffing their greedy little faces with junk. It goes without saying then that baking, an activity that combines both these things, is always a winner. While I do a lot of baking when I have the kitchen to myself, I rarely have the patience or inclination to allow my two little helpers in on the act ‘just for fun’. This recipe is my secret weapon for those times when I can no longer avoid the joy that is baking with children. It’s simple enough for the kids to get involved, quick, has 3 basic ingredients and best of all uses little equipment so you won’t be left with a mountain of washing up.
If you’ve attempted to bake with kids before you’ll already know that they have zero interest in measuring out the ingredients or lining baking trays. All this stuff is boring. They basically want to get their hands covered in goop and eat the end results as soon as possible even if it means first degree burns to the tongue. Just get everything prepped beforehand (it won’t take long in this instance) and I promise things will be 100% less painful.
Like most families our weeks seem to fly by from one to the next, a busy jumble of school runs, work, to-do lists, chores, after-school activities and emergency fish fingers sandwiches. Weekends are just as hectic to be honest, only with a lot more football and laundry involved. Which is why school holidays are such a relief when they do come along, a chance for all of us to take a break from the usual routine and spend some family time having fun. This half term coincided with a bank holiday which meant even Daddy got the chance to kick back for a few days!
After a rare family trip to the cinema we headed to Prezzo with our tummies rumbling (Italian is the ONLY option we can all agree on when eating out). The La Famiglia sharing dish was just what the doctor ordered, no fussing about what who was having what, just a huge bowl of spaghetti bolognaise delivered to our table pronto! There are 4 pasta dishes to choose from so something to suit every family. Dishing out for the family in a restaurant setting is a genius idea – everyone gets to enjoy a family style meal together just how they like it – from the spaghetti monster who always asks for extra pasta to the one who insists on having the sauce on the left, minus the cooking and washing up! Plus no food envy whinging (guilty!) and because everyone is served just the right amount, no wastage – ooh we like that a lot! Along with a couple of garlic flatbreads, we found the portion size perfect for 2 adults and 2 children, leaving just enough room for that all important dessert!
David Walliams, Frank Lampard, Ricky Gervais – to you and me well known names from the celebrity world but to my 8 year old son, authors of some of his favourite children’s books. Now you can add to the list of famouses-turned-author, funny man David Baddiel. In fact Baddiel has been writing for many years but has only ventured into children’s fiction more recently. Already a huge fan myself I need no convincing of his humour and brilliance but as we know, kids are the harshest critics and so on this occasion I’ve delegated the task of reviewing ‘AniMalcolm’ (Baddiel’s latest) to my own little bookwork, Spud.
At first he thought the book looked a bit big compared to his usual reads but inside the text and illustrations are well spaced out and make this an easy read for him- he flew through the pages chuckling away to himself! He really enjoyed it and especially loved the idea of the main character being turned into all the different animals and experiencing life from their point of view! Two big thumbs up from this little bookworm.
“I loved it when he was turned into different animals!” – Spud Brown, 8 years
You may have noticed the #rockingmotherhood tag popping up on your favourite blogs quite a lot recently. A list of 10 reasons why you’re acing it in the Mummy game followed by 5 nominees to join in. I’m all for encouraging us mamas to ditch the mum guilt and actually celebrate the positives of parenting so here goes…
1:EMBRACING NEW EXPERIENCES – Ha! Where to start with this one? Becoming a mother brings with it no end of new experiences and challenges. Some of these we may prefer to erase from our memory (Morning sickness? Episiotomy? Cracked Nipples? I could go on but I won’t!). Others open up a whole new world where we are forced to deal with things totally outside our comfort zone. From Great Aunt Aggie to Gina Ford (urgh) we’re bombarded and bamboozled with advice but ultimately the buck stops with Mama Bear and slowly you begin to grow in confidence, learning as you go. Every stage of parenting a small human throws up (!) weird and wonderful experiences. Eventually I realised that being a mother is a bit like being Charlie Bucket in Wonka’s Chocolate Factory; you know it’s a privilege not everyone gets, you spend most of it being slightly freaked out but ultimately you embrace it as one of the most amazing things you will ever experience.
As you might already know I’m running the Vitality London 10,000 at the end of May. Yep, that’s actually happening (well that’s the plan anyway!)
Not only will this be my first 10k race, it will be my first ever race. I’m part terrified, part excited, part terrified. Any previous attempts to run for more than 2 minutes have ended with me convincing myself I’m just not built for it, quickly returning to my comfort zone of long walks. After a knee operation and a long, boring wait for tendonitis to ease up I was happy just to be able to manage walking without pain. So there I remained, content with my daily mooch to the next village and back. A long enough walk to rack up a decent amount of steps and my daily therapy fix to boot- perfect.
This year however, when an opportunity came up for me to run as part of The Children’s Society team I knew it was just the motivation I needed to give running another try. It’s a wonderful charity that works with disadvantaged children dealing with a wide range of issues from child poverty to government policy, always working to transform the lives of vulnerable children. Being able to raise awareness for these guys through my blog while training for a 10k seemed like a no-brainer.
I thought I’d give you a little update on how it’s going so far. As the title of the post suggests, I’ve reached the halfway point of my training today *pats self on back* so I thought it might be useful for anyone considering the Couch – 5k to have a little insight of my experience.
I decided to train using the C25Kapp as it’s the most well known, tried and tested approach I’m aware of. It’s tailored to first time runners and seems to have a good success rate. For anyone who hasn’t heard of it or used it before it’s an 8 week running plan aimed to gradually build up your running to 5k through a combination of walking and running, until you are strong enough to run without stopping. Each training session lasts between 30-40 minutes including a warm-up and cool-down.
Each week has three workouts ideally with a rest day in between which works perfectly for me. I drop the kids to school and do the workout straight after on Mon/Wed/Fri meaning I don’t have to worry about fitting a session in over the weekend.
I would say that before starting C25K my level of fitness was average. I’m no gym bunny but I do try to make a bit of an effort to move my body and keep active. The very first day of training was this: 5min warm up then alternate 60sec jogging and 90sec walking for 20min. Pff, I mean how hard can that be? Turns out it can be quite hard. Hmmm….so at that point I may have had a mild panic about how the hell I was ever going to run 10k if I was struggling on Day 1!
8 weeks on, I have somehow managed to learn to run continuously for 5k! I just have to read that back because it seems unbelievable to me. I’ve never before managed anywhere near that and I know for a fact that the only reason I haven’t quit weeks ago is because I can’t. I’ve committed to running 10k and not doing so, well it just isn’t an option.
When the voice on the app tells me to run, I run and I keep running until she says I can stop. It’s that simple. I reckon Forest Gump had the right idea you know, just keep on runnin’.
Some days are harder than others. In fact most days are a little bit hard but I’d liken it to childbirth in that once it’s over you feel an overwhelming sense of joy and completely forget the horror you’ve just endured.
So recently I’ve been contemplating going back to work sometime in the near future. Both the kids are in full time education and so the opportunity to return to the workplace is there if the right position were to come along.
Of course this would mean a real change to our current family dynamic and would bring with it a whole heap of challenges, childcare during holidays being the biggest and most obvious one.
In January I decided to dust off my CV have a tentative look to see what was out there (if anything) that would suit my requirements. I’m not really looking to get back on the career ladder as such, just something admin based that I can do well while still being around for the family as much as I can.
So here I am, noseying around on jobsites for something that might be remotely suitable when I spot an interesting little post that appears to tick a lot of boxes. On a whim I click the ‘Apply for this job’ button for the craic, my CV gets whizzed off through the interwebs and I crack on with life never giving it a second thought.
Until a few weeks later when I get a call from the company inviting me for an interview!! After a brief pause while I suddenly realised she hadn’t got the wrong number and that I had indeed applied for an actual job, I arrange an interview date.
Right, ok then. So that happened. I’m going for a job interview. For a job. A job that could actually be my job. It’s just an interview though, not an offer so no biggie right? If anything I should go purely because the last time I had a job interview I was a mere child, pre-marriage or parenthood, so I could really do with the practice.
Obviously I discussed it with Himself and he agreed that whatever the outcome I should go for the interview regardless.
I’m not a runner. I try, honestly I do but ultimately I get to a point where it all seems like a bit too much hard work and the same old excuses come thick and fast.
“I’m not built for running, my legs are too stumpy.”
“What if my old knee injury flares up?”
“It’s too cold/dark/late/wet”
“My asthma’s playing up, better not risk it”
“I don’t have time today”
“It’s too much faff, all that gear and gadgets.”
(I’m sorry but contrary to what I’ve read you don’t ‘just need a pair of trainers‘ to get started. What about your mobile for music/running apps, earphones, keys, gloves, jacket, drink, shades, hat and that’s not even including investing in actual running gear from head to toe.)
You could say I haven’t exactly embraced the idea in the past. Despite ‘Run the London Marathon’ featuring on my bucket list (the only sporting event I get ridiculously emotional about ever), I’ve just never had the motivation to stick at it for any length of time.
Whaddya mean never heard of it? The famous ‘100 Things Chuck Out Challenge’? Come on you must have seen the book? Alright, I admit I made it up. I mean AS IF someone could write an entire (best-selling) book about chucking stuff out and how it can lead to a more confident, successful you, giving you the courage to move on from negative relationships, achieve all your life goals and even lose weight while dancing in a meadow with magical unicorns, or something. That would be INSANE.
One of the great things about blogging is that wherever you are, as long as you have access to your PC, tablet or mobile you can always busy yourself in someway or another. Drafting up a post from the comfort of your own bed or catching up on your favourite Instagram feed on the bus. This can be really handy but I never feel like I’m in the best frame of mind to write unless I’m sitting at a proper workspace. For months my proper workspace was the end of the kitchen table but I got sick of the laptop constantly being there along with the homework, marker pens, unidentified crafty creations etc etc. Oh, and sometimes we even needed to eat our meals on there.
Happy 2017 lovely readers – I hope you’ve had a fantastic Christmas and New Year filled with family, fun, food and festivities!!
NOW DROP AND GIVE ME 20!
Because I saw you sneak that third slice of pudding with custard AND double cream and now you must be punished OK? At least that’s how I used to see New Years Day. One seriously big dose of guilt and self-loathing after weeks of eating and drinking with abandon, sometimes (but not always) served with a side of optimistic enthusiasm for the new me. The ‘definitely being good from today’ mentality that year after year guaranteed the same outcome – TOTAL FAILURE! Yup, whatever half-cocked new foodie hogwash was topping the Amazon book charts, it was in my basket quicker than you could say alkaline acai bowl. Sometimes, if I was feeling really enthusiastic I’d even treat myself to the celebrity endorsed fitness DVD de rigeur to ensure optimum success. Six-pack sorted.