THE MUMMY FAN CLUB (MEMBERS: 2)

Sometimes I feel like I’m forever trying to fob my kids off or keep them entertained so I can concentrate on Getting Stuff Done . While I wait for those Lotto number to come up this will probably continue to be the case for the foreseeable future; which is a shame really because while I imagine I’m not alone here, I also know that the one thing my kids want more than anything from me is my time and attention (and snacks). Just me and them and definitely without their annoying sibling.

Look-at-Me
Image: Blogspot

Not an unreasonable request in their eyes but one that’s almost always met with a “Not now pet, I just need to…”. So when? After all the stuff is done? In which case never. Hmmm. Now might seem like a strange time to mention a Christmas ad (bear with),but if you haven’t already watched this one by IKEA then take a look, it illustrates my point beautifully. (WARNING: Viewers may experience Mum Guilt, sorry!)

Everyone ok? Excellent. I’m guessing this won’t always be the case though, I mean there’ll always be ‘stuff’ to do, but our children won’t always want to spend time with us, or even be seen dead in public with us for that matter.

Now that Spud and Flump are both at school their schedules are pretty much identical meaning that the opportunity to spend one-to-one time with either of them can be a bit tricky. We are very lucky that we get to spend a lot of family time together but I need to figure out a way to factor in a little bit of the day/week/month when I’m all theirs. (I was never this popular before I had kids!)

Of course I do make an effort to show they matter to me in lots of little ways. Whether it’s acknowledging a (rare) act of kindness towards their sibling or just listening to whatever the big news in class was today, even if they are just waffling on about Billy Tucker’s pet hamster Mr Fluffypants.

Listen Earnestly

We all know kids grow up quickly, so I’ve promised myself I’ll enjoy regular time with each of my little cherubs while I can and  I’ve come up with a fail safe way, that guarantees that it is absolutely 100% going to happen. I’m going to tell them! No chance of forgetting then right?!

To start with I’m going to let them pick a date (or a weekend) which is ‘theirs’ every month. I’m not talking spoiling them with grand days out or a trolley dash around Toys r Us (not a chance!), just doing something where we can have a chat and enjoy spending a bit of time together. Spud loves going for a walk with me in the evening when Flump is in bed and this is the type of thing we could easily do regularly. Flump has a thing about cafes (more specifically M&S cafes) so a little girly lunch date once a month is very do-able. I can’t wait to hear what kind of (ridiculous) suggestions they come up with!

It sounds so formal to have to ‘pencil in’ quality time with your own children but weeks just seem to go from one to the next in a blur of uniforms and after school clubs. In an earlier post Beauty & the Brainbox I mentioned the values in children that are thought to lead to a successful and more fulfilled life, one of which was love. Being loved obviously makes us all feel good, wanted and secure but these little acts, moments spent together showing the kids they are loved, will also allow them time to open up, build trust and feel valued. When the day does come that they would rather spend weekends with their friends than me, I have a feeling I’ll be glad I took time to build that trust!

 

 

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GETTING STUFF DONE WITH MIGLOO’S DAY

“But Mummmmmyyyyyyyy….what can I dooooooo?” Spud’s at a football tournament with Himself so she’s at a loss without someone to torture.

“How about playing with Barbies / Hama Beads / Aquabeads / the house full of tat you refuse to throw away pet?”

Actually, on this occasion I have a secret weapon on hand to keep her entertained while I crack on with stripping the beds – Migloo’s Day!  We were sent a copy of this gorgeous new book by William Bee to review for Mumsnet/Walker’s Books, thankfully it’s good because this is my first review and I’m a rubbish liar. As you can see it’s bursting with colour, think ‘Where’s Wally?’ but with a storyline and more (lots more!) really cute characters.

The story follows Migloo throughout his day of adventures in Sunnytown (where he manages to blag an impressive amount of snacks along the way – I like him already). Each page is an absolute treat for the eyes, full of action and loveable characters such as Reg (sells the veg) and Flossie (the candyfloss lady) . There are lots of things to spot along the way as well as added challenges at the end of the book.

Flump seemed pretty taken with it, as you can see it even came with her in the car and come bedtime we were still pouring over it. (Mummy will find that damned purple headed pigeon if it kills her!) In fact we’ve been enjoying this book for over a week now and we’re still nowhere near done with it. It’s great for bedtime when Flump’s attention span is not the best so we read a page and then do a little bit of searching or just look at the characters (who are all listed at the front with a little description of who they are).

This is a very sweet book which I can imagine most kids (and parents!) will really enjoy, although Flump needed some help with reading the story, she was more than happy to just look at the scenes and enjoy the illustrations. From a parent’s point of view  – the ultimate doctor’s waiting-room book.

(Oh, and when Spud eventually did return from footy and started to show an interest in Migloo too, the book was swiftly confiscated and taken to the safety of her indoor tent!)

 

We received a copy of Migloo’s Day in return for an honest review.

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WHY BODY-SHAMERS CAN KISS MY (SQUIDGY) BUTT!

This is not the post I intended to write this morning.In fact this is not even something I feel very comfortable discussing at all (now I am no longer a secret blogger!). As far as subject matters go, you could say it’s a bit close to home.

This morning I read an article by Elizabeth Aram: “Body Shaming – Why is this a thing?” with mixed emotions. The author confidently challenges the social standards of beauty while admitting to feeling the pressure to strive for physical ‘perfection’, (despite being a standard UK Size 10 /US Size 6). Her body is, as she describes it “socially acceptable,  but not ideal”.

Socially acceptable, but not ideal. These five words sum up how I’ve perceived my body for as long as I can remember. These days I’m size 10ish (8 on a good week, if I’ve dropped a few pounds to squeeze into something fancy).  I’m not going to bore you with my long list of body hang-ups but needless to say, at 5’3″ I will never achieve anything remotely resembling the long (thigh gap)-legged, big boobied idea of perfection however hard I try. Nevertheless, I continue to make those comparisons EVERY SINGLE DAY in my head. Reinforcing the ‘not good enough’ mentality that so many women* felt when they looked in the mirror this morning. While social media has been buzzing with excitement at the warm weather we’ve been experiencing this week ,I’ve been filled with dread at the prospect of my nemesis, The Summer Wardrobe, making a very unwelcome return.

So while I waste yet another day obsessing about how many calories are in half a tub of cottage cheese (or, ahem, a whole packet of coconut macaroons…) I wonder if anyone on the school run noticed that my jeans were a bit ‘skinnier’ than usual this morning ? Or knew that I had to pinch the button a bit tighter to do it up? No, of course they bloody didn’t because they’re all too busy checking that the kids have their factor 50 on and scribbling  initials on the inside of sun hats! So why does it matter so much to me? Why do so many otherwise reasonable, intelligent women have such a downer on themselves over something which, in the grand scheme of things, really isn’t that big a deal.

It’s easy to point the finger at the diet or fitness industries, who of course reinforce then prey on our insecurities in order to succeed, or the body shaming magazine articles berating celebrities for daring to ‘pile on the pounds’ but actually I think we need to bear some responsibility ourselves. Who could do with an inspirational quote right now ?

I know it’s not easy to be thick skinned in a world where we are all judged on our appearance, but if we can somehow instill the right mindset of confidence and self worth from a young age then imagine how different things could be? I have a 1957 copy of Vogue magazine and flicking through it these ads show how little things have changed in the last 50 years, how sad that in 2016 women are still bombarded with the same message, ‘You are not good enough’.

In all honesty I AM my own worst critic, I doubt there is anything anyone could say to me about my appearance that I haven’t already told myself many times over. This is MY problem, no one else’s, but to use a well known phrase: ‘What others think of you is none of your business’. It is up to us to decide that we won’t be made to feel inferior any more. Not by the dieting industry, or the fitness industry (Are YOU beach body ready??) or the media. I desperately want to prepare my 5 year old daughter for the pressure she is almost certain to experience in the coming years but I feel like whatever I do it won’t be nearly enough. She loves her food and although she’s usually satisfied with a handful of carrot sticks, there is a point where I just have to say “No more food!” Obviously I think she is beautiful and perfect but I also know that in the real world she will eventually be subjected to comments about her weight which will result in her confidence being knocked, cue a lifetime of food/body issues.

Although there are a handful of body positive role models for girls in public eye today (Adele, Lena Dunham, Meghan Trainor) they are the exception and we are still a long way from acceptance of women regardless of their size and shape. Unfortunately it will always mainly be women from the entertainment industry considered worthy to grace the magazine covers and so it will always be these images that girls are presented with rather than the athletes, engineers, entrepreneurs, or explorers (or presidents?!) . It made a refreshing change to see the below article on the cover of the paper today The ‘perfect body is a lie’. In it Lindy West tells how, as a ‘big’ girl,  believing in the perfect body affected her terribly growing up until she eventually realised that the perfect body is a lie. Which makes perfect sense, I mean when you think about it logically, who gets to decide???

For my daughter’s sake I would love to see this issue receive a lot more attention in the media, from the government and in the classroom. Surely body confidence and appreciation from a young age would have a huge positive impact on other areas of children’s lives giving them a healthy, informed view and allowing them to realise that ‘body-shaming’ is bulls**t. Unfortunately I have never managed this confidence for myself but now as a mother I feel it’s my job to be a real-life (not so glamorous) role model. To try to focus on nurturing a healthy attitude to our bodies, whatever size or shape and appreciate just how amazing they are.

I am under no illusion that this is going to be easy, especially as my daughter gets older, but I am learning and I am determined. For her sake I will do what I can to prepare her for the big, bad body-shamers. The below plaque hangs in my cloakroom, as a little reminder, some days I have a harder time than others actually believing it – it’s work in progress.

(If you have already experienced any body image issues with your child (young or old) I would be really interested to hear your views or advice on how you are dealing with it.)

x

You are Perfect Just as You are Plaque*I am aware that increasing numbers of men are being affected by body confidence issues today, however this is a personal blog post based on my own experience on the subject.

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HOW TO MAKE A SUPERHERO CAKE

Slightly different post this week as I thought I’d give you a peek into my other life of all things cakey!! Back in 2012, after I had left my full-time job I decided that I wanted to DO something other than just be a SAHM, because as you know looking after a baby and a 3 year old leaves you plenty of time on your hands right??!!! I’ve always enjoyed baking and dreamed of my own little cake shop, a pretty little café in Cornwall, all ‘cake domes on the counter, flowers on the table’ and  a little sign swinging above the door – I’m thinking blue facade, to match the Cornishware mugs….

cornishware
Image Cornishware.co.uk

Anyway, what with now having two small humans, no income and Cornwall being quite a commute from Bedfordshire, I decided to work with what I’d got and set up my own little home baking business. I attended a brilliant ‘Start-Up’ workshop (to get my head around all the dull legals and numbers) and Googled ‘How to set up a website’. Cue two weeks watching YouTube videos on HTML, trying to figure out how the hell to add tabs, insert images, create dropdown  lists etc etc. Finally, on Jan 24th 2013, ‘Martha’s Kitchen’ was officially born. Sorry, I’ve digressed massively, banging on about cake domes when you’ve come here to see how to make a Superhero cake! (If you enjoy looking at cakes you can have a peek at my creations over here  ).

SO, on to the cake. TAH-DAH! Perfect for any little (or big) superhero and I’m gonna show you how it’s done!

IMG_4004Anyone can make this I promise you, it doesn’t involve any particularly tricky decorating techniques or require much skill but there is one thing you will need masses of and that’s time. There are a lot of stages but if you plan ahead and break it down as I show below it’s completely do-able . You’ll be Parent of the Year AND get to feel smug about it – WIN!!

I started with the Hulk fist, modelling it from a mixture of Rice Crispies, marshmallows and butter. Melt a standard bag of mallows (minus one or two for QC) on a very low heat, with a knob of butter. Add crispies until there are enough to make a firm but well coated ball when you squash them together. Allow to cool.

Now for the messy bit. The mixture is really sticky , so for this part I wear disposable gloves coated in butter but you could just coat your hands in butter. Squash the crispie mix together and form a fist shape using your own fist as a guide. Allow to set (pop it in the fridge to help it along). Cover in a layer of white fondant, pressing into all the nooks and crannies, to smooth over the bumps a bit. Don’t worry about getting it completely smooth as I’m guessing Hulk’s hand is a bit gnarly anyway. Cover with green fondant and add some details like knuckles and wrinkles using the end of a teaspoon or anything pointy but not sharp enough to cut the fondant. Rub in cocoa powder to highlight the details and make the fist look grubby. That’s it, Hulk hand done.

For the next part I’m going to assume you know how to bake a sponge cake, if not, er, go learn how to bake a sponge and comeback. A Madeira type works well for stacking as it’s firmer so can hold the weight of fondant, decorations etc. (I’ve still used plastic doweling rods in the bottom layer though – it not that firm! You’ll get them online or in any cake decorators shop).

You’ll need 3 sponges: small, medium, large on cake boards and covered in red, blue and grey fondant respectively. I’ve used 6″, 8″, 10″ here but  depending on how many you’re planning to feed you can go bigger or smaller. A note on covering cakes in fondant – there is no easy way, sorry, I still hate this part but if you just keep lifting it up round the sides and gently easing it down evenly all the way round, you’ll eventually get a feel for what your doing. Failing that you could always do what my friend does; chop the excess off with scissors and hide the wonky bits at the back. Your cake, your call.

Score the top of the red sponge with a sharp knife (see above) and gently peel back the layer of fondant making enough room to place the Hulk fist, to give the effect of it bursting through the cake. To transform the top tier into a Spidey cake, roll out and cut black fondant strips (pizza cutters are perfect for this) and attach to form a web pattern using a small amount of water. I started with 8 vertical strips spaced equally around the cake then joined them up with a row of slightly curved horizontal strips. Make a simple spider shape and position  at the front adding creepy crawly legs.

For the remaining tiers I made a stencil of the Superman and Batman logos and cut around these to create badges from coloured fondant (again, attach with a little water).

Stack your cakes (Tip: coordinating ribbon around each tier makes everything look neater!) Once stacked, roll out some red and black fondant and cut into 2 rectangles, you can judge this by eye as these will be the ‘capes’ at the side so don’t need to be precise. If in doubt, better to cut them too big and trim to size. Attach these to each tier with water leaving a small part of the fondant unattached to give the effect of fabric billowing. I’ve covered a large base in leftover fondant and added the birthday boy’s name (no, it’s not for me!). That’s it, stand back and admire your handy work!! Cool huh?

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P.S. I really deliberated whether or not to write this post as I understand that not everyone finds this kind of thing easy. The main thing here is to take your time, it doesn’t have to be perfect, just give it a go -your kid will think you’re awesome!

Just don’t blame me next year when they request a Hogwarts cake. X

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BEAUTY AND THE BRAINBOX

Despite being brought up by the same people, in the same environment it’s quite common for siblings to develop into very different characters. I mentioned briefly in my post The Quiet Man ,  the difference in my children’s characters and having spoken to other parents I know this is the case in a lot of families. It has come as no big surprise to me then that this is also the case regarding my children’s approach to learning.

Spud (7) is the logical one. Information goes in, is processed and documented accordingly. This is his brain:

Flump (5) however, well let’s just say she was never quite as interested in her ABCs or 123s. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of letters and numbers right? Jigsaw’s? Pfff. Join the dots? SNOOOORE. Her brain looks like this, but with more glitter:

I have no doubts that she’s gonna get along just fine in life, she knows her mind, she’s independent, tenacious, funny, perceptive, did I mention tenacious? To be honest, I kind of admire her “Why would I want to do that when I can just get someone else to do the boring stuff for me” approach, however I know this is not going to do her any favours in the classroom.

When Spud started school he was more than ready for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying he’s a child genius, just that he has a natural interest in learning, or more specifically understanding things. How does it work? Why does this happen? He likes symmetry, order and logic. Plus he’s one of the oldest in his year so he has a big advantage over some of his classmates.

Obviously that’s great and entirely a result of  our excellent parenting and encouragement through his early years. Or so we may have thought until Flump arrived. One ‘Baby Einstein’ CD and a few phonics books from Poundland does not a boffin make apparently.  Nope, it seems we can take none of the credit when it comes to our son’s thirst for knowledge.

Now it’s relatively easy to encourage a child to be more creative, Spud likes Lego, Minecraft or K-Nex as they suit his little cuboid shaped mind, although if I sat him down with a bunch of crafty bits and NO INSTRUCTIONS he would definitely be out of his comfort zone. Trying to trick  encourage a creative child to think more logically however is a much more challenging task in my experience! How can I help my daughter approach learning in a way that sparks her interest and will give her the mindset she needs to thrive in the classroom and beyond? (This is a genuine question by the way, if anyone has any experience in this field then I’m all ears!)

It’s possible of course to achieve great things without a Masters in Quantum Physics  – literally change the world in some cases ( Shakespeare, Einstein, Churchill, Jobs all either poorly educated or dropped out of college) but like any parent I don’t want to see my child struggle through their school days any more than they need to.

It came as quite a relief to me then when I discovered a book by Hilary Wilce,”Backbone: How to build the character Your Child Needs To Succeed“. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have all the answers at the back (I checked), but it does describe “The 6 key qualities that children need to live a fulfilled and successful life” (tell me more!) and shows how parents can help their children develop these qualities. I won’t go into too much detail here as you can check out the link above for more info and the authors credentials etc but in a nutshell here’s what we’re looking at:

  1. Love – Feeling loved and connected allows children to comfortably develop links with others. Appreciating themselves as a valuable part of the world with their own unique talents and taking their place in teams, being led and leading. Appreciating the world around them.
  2. Resilience – A resilient child will make friends, ride out setbacks and develop a robust but flexible attitude, giving off an optimistic vibe to which others gravitate.
  3. Honesty – Living authentically builds trust and allows you to have good relationships with others. Being honest with yourself gives you a clear and balanced view of the world and your place in it.
  4. Self-Discipline – Children with better self-regulation do significantly better at reading and maths than those who give in to their impulses. It also helps to manage friendships and resist unhelpful peer pressure.
  5. Kindness – Having a kind, empathetic disposition lifts our mood, improves our health, boosts our image and makes us feel more positive and optimistic. 
  6. Courage – Mental courage (failing then trying again), moral courage (saying no to what is wrong) and steadfastness allow a child to live their life with resolution and direction.

 

The book explains in more detail the importance and relevance of the 6 values and what parents can do to encourage each one. It’s a thought-provoking read and for less than the cost of a glossy it’s certainly (sadly) more relevant to me than “30 cool ways to wear culottes” these days.

An interesting concept and whether or not it works in practice I think these are all values that we would like our kids to practice in life regardless. It’s also a very short book. I like short books. I mean what’s interesting about a bunch of words anyway?

 

 

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40 BEFORE 40

Birthday cake

Last week Stevie from A Cornish Mum set herself a ’40 before Forty’ challenge featuring a list of, you guessed it, 40 things she would like to achieve before her fortieth birthday. This is right up my street, I love a good list so I went to work on putting together my own ’40 things’ and in no particular order here’s what I came up with:

  1. Learn to play Poker (and win a game)
  2. Post more cards/letters/gifts
  3. Craft something functional, that actually looks nice.
  4. Learn to play the drums
  5. Learn a ‘proper’ dance.
  6. Learn to swim (yup!)
  7. Grow something, anything, successfully.
  8. Clear braces
  9. Visit Lake Bled, Slovenia
  10. Make my own jam
  11. Read more Oscar Wilde
  12. Take a hot air balloon ride
  13. Buy a proper grown up camera
  14. Learn how to use it
  15. Weekend away with the girls
  16. NYE fireworks in London
  17. Get a 6 pack
  18. Run the London marathon
  19. Family knees up with my cousins
  20. Learn (a lot) more about blogging
  21. Volunteer
  22. Afternoon tea at The Ritz (and Claridges!)
  23. Botox my 11s (the angry looking bit between the eyebrows)
  24. Learn to speak French
  25. Drive and Aston Martin on a racetrack
  26. Visit a vineyard
  27. Spend a day watching all those old movies I’ve been meaning to see forever
  28. Life drawing class
  29. Buy a piece of art
  30. Prettify the garden
  31. Go to the ballet
  32. Jump off a diving board
  33. Christmas Carols at The Royal Albert Hall
  34. Get a National Trust membership
  35. Drive a campervan around Ireland
  36. Visit a theme park
  37. Take the kids to see a West End show
  38. Go geocaching
  39. Cook every recipe in ‘Leon- Baking & Puddings’
  40. Quit stressing about turning 40

Given that I have a MUCH smaller time frame than Stevie to achieve the above (3 years in June!)  I probably need to start oooh about 6 years ago. I’ll also need to sell a kidney to fund it all but apart from that I’m good to go.

I’ll admit No.15 is a little bit cheaty because I do actually have a girls weekend away coming up but this is something I’ve never done, even before kids, despite wanting to for years so it’s staying.

NYE Fireworks in London I’d like to do just once because actually I secretly like staying in with Himself watching it on telly with a bottle of bubbles. Learning to play the drums is something I’ve wanted to do for so long, it’s only the teeny matter of actually needing to own a drum kit that’s been holding me back. There was a brief moment, student loan safely secured in my account, when I came close. Sadly I had to choose between that and food. Let’s just say I put on quite a bit of weight that term.

Abs?  Pahahahahahahahahahhah! Neevvver gonna happen. Marathon? Again,unlikely given my aversion to anything remotely athletic.

Even still, looks like I’m going to have a busy few years ahead, best crack on I suppose…

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EEK – I’VE GONE PUBLIC!

 

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Hello!

 

When I started my blog 3 months ago I knew I was going to be a secret blogger to begin with. I’m not a ‘proper’ writer. My blog is work in progress and I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to figuring out the many different aspects of blogging. The thought of anyone I actually know reading my posts makes me feel a little bit sick. So why go ‘public’ I hear you ask?? Well, it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot since I started blogging. While I am not a confident writer, I did say in That Difficult Second Post that “I want you to know I am human”. While I enjoyed the security of anonymity I always felt equally uneasy about it,  as if I wasn’t being 100% honest with the reader. I also know that I personally prefer it when I visit a site and can see who the blogger is either through their About Me page or Twitter profile. Oh, and I have an atrocious memory so an image definitely helps me remember and differentiate between all those brilliant bloggers that I want to follow.

 

A couple of things last week helped me make up my mind to ‘out myself’ properly; although my family and I have actually popped up in images within previous posts and I still haven’t quite advertised it to all and sundry, I have decided to change my Twitter profile to a mug shot and added an ‘About Me’ section to my blog. So still *slightly* wussy but if anyone who knows me stumbles upon my blog it would be quite obvious who was behind it!

So what was it that gave me the final nudge I needed? Firstly while I was on holiday last week I had a message from a friend to say that she had started a beauty blog if I wanted to check it out and having enjoyed a large glass of Merlot (the irony) I decided to ‘fess up, come clean, shout it from the rooftops (to the 3 people included in the message, my oldest, closest uni-mates) that I too had been dabbling in a bit of blogging! So that was that. Actual real people knew. Gulp.

What if
Image: Pinterest

Of course they have been very lovely and supportive with their comments (and fluffed my ego up no end) but that’s what friends do right? Plus I’d kill them if they said anything to the contrary.

 

Secondly I read a great post by Honest Mum, What Other People Think of You is None of Your Business where she talks about trying not to worry about other peoples opinions of you and having enough self-worth not to be shaped or limited by them. You should check it out if you get a minute, she says it much better than I did! It definitely made me consider how much of what we do (or don’t do) is as a result of the fear of being judged. So I put my big girl pants on and went for it.

What Iffing
Image: Pinterest

 

I still cringe every time I think about the fact that eventually more and more people I know may read the odd post and I’m not sure yet if this will have any impact on my writing but I know that I feel a little bit proud of doing something even though the thought of it scares the pants off me!

Can any other bloggers relate to this? I would love to know what you think and the reasons why you decided to be a secret blogger or not?

X

 

 

 

 

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MAGICAL RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS PARTY

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This week Flump turned 5 and we celebrated with a little party in the house, just a handful of her classmates and of course big bro, Spud. Himself was back to work after a lovely few days off for Easter but luckily I had lots of Mummies on hand to help out. Flump is big into unicorns at the minute so we went with a ‘Magical Unicorns and Rainbows’ theme which I have to admit I absolutely loved!!

 

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Notelets, Paperchase £3.50 for 8

I wanted to keep the budget fairly small for this one as it’s tempting to get carried away with party planning these days with so many gorgeous ideas and inspiration online (Pinterest I’m looking at you!!) I honestly think a lot of it is wasted on the kids who just want to be made a fuss of and run around with their friends like a bunch of loons. So on a mission to get the balance of fun and finance right, I started looking out for anything that might fit with the theme well in advance, picking up brightly coloured pieces here and there and stashing them away in preparation for the big day. I’ll try to note where everything was from if I can remember but if there is anything in particular you would like more info on just comment below.

The invites went out pretty early as the party was being held during the Easter Holidays so I needed to know if people were going to be away on holiday – luckily everyone was around that day – phew! I saw these notelets in Paperchase and although I know you can buy much cheaper ones these were so cute and perfect for the theme I just couldn’t resist them!

I found some party bags on Ebay and picked up unicorn trinket bracelets (also Ebay), a selection of pens/pencils (B&M)  individually wrapped sweetie necklaces and marshmallow twists (Poundland) as party favours.

Sticking with the theme I decorated the room with a unicorn helium balloon (Amazon) which turned out to be HUGE and some coloured paper decorations and balloons (both ASDA) which I tied together in rainbow colours.

Before the guests arrived I laid out a few crafts on the table (covered in this cute rainbow fabric available by the metre at The Range) to keep them occupied. ‘Make your own unicorn horn’ station with cones made from sparkly card and lots of jewels and stickers for them to decorate with – they loved this! We had colouring sheets, glitter tattoos, nail painting, glow sticks and some good old fashioned party games like pass the parcel and pin the horn on the unicorn (with some painful looking results!!)

I made this Rainbow Unicorn cake inspired by a YouTube video by My Cupcake Addiction although I used a few more colours and made them a bit less bright as I wasn’t so keen on the red buttercream used in the original, I also added a buttercream ‘cloud’ for the unicorn to stand in. The unicorn topper was made by piping white chocolate (using a template underneath some greaseproof paper) and sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and edible gold dust – BLING!! (Apologies for the rubbish shots, it was a bit of a manic day!) The usual triangle sarnies, crudités and cocktail sausages kept the girls happy followed by cookies and giant marshmallows (Tiger) on sticks which I dipped in pink candy melts and then into sprinkles – so easy and mega cool looking.

As you can see she seemed pretty happy as we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ (accompanied by Spud on keyboard) as she was presented with her birthday cake adorned with FIVE (how is this possible??!) silver candles. Party bags distributed  and lots of kerfuffle with coats and shoes, the guests headed home and the birthday girl settled down to open her gifts – exciting! Mummy put the kettle on and cut an extra large slice of cake. Birthday party, done. Now I could do with a magical unicorn to tidy up this aftermath.

x

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DESIDERATA – A MODERN DAY TAKE

For anyone not familiar with the Desiderata, it is a poem written in the 1920s by American writer Max Ehrmann. As someone who has never had much interest in poetry I hold this particular piece of writing close to my heart. I first came across it at the age of about 6 while mooching around my Aunt’s house one weekend. She had a copy of it, with a colourful floral border (which is probably what really initially caught my eye) and it was sealed inside a hardback plastic cover with a hole at the top for hanging. Even at such a young age I knew there was something special, almost magical about the words, or at least the sentences I could understand! I was a very happy girl when my Aunt let me take it home with me that day.

Over the years it has been stashed at the bottom of drawers, packed away with a car boot load of university-bound belongings and stuck inside the wardrobe door of my London bedsit. And today? It hangs proudly in my downstairs loo (hey, some people keep their Oscar’s in the downstairs loo!). If you’re thinking that’s not a very salubrious spot for something I hold dearly, let me explain. Where else can you go everyday, anytime you like, even if the kids are home for a couple of minutes to yourself? See?

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Like me, a bit older and shabbier than when I first found it over 30 years ago! Pride of place in the downstairs loo.

Onto the poem in question, below you will see the beautifully written words by Ehrmann in bold italics, with my slightly less romantic interpretation below on how I apply it to my own life. If this is the first time you have read it I hope you enjoy and get a lovely warm fuzzy feeling inside (oh, and sorry if my bits spoil the magic, you may want to ignore those for the first read through!!)

Go placidly amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Don’t be a drama queen. Don’t take any nonsense from people. Don’t be a dic  treat others how you’d like to be treated.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Be honest. Be friendly.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

If someone winds you up, or drags you down you don’t need them in your life right now. You’re never going to have Kylie’s bum, get over it and remember there are a lot of people who would give anything to be in your state of health today.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Have something to look forward to but take time to appreciate the special moments in the day. We can’t all be chocolate tasters for a living, but whatever you do, give it your best.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Don’t be no fool. Recognise and appreciate small acts of kindness (and do the odd favour when you can).

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

As the man says, “Be Yourself”. Don’t be fake, you’re not fooling anyone. Love and know that will always be loved.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Ah, this one is particularly testing! Accept that ‘laughter lines’ are not the end of the world. Maybe leave the Jagerbombs to the 20 year olds, (apart from the odd particularly messy night out obviously, after which having been woken up by a small child playing the tambourine at 7am, you’ll wish you HAD done!).  What’s wrong with a nice glass of red on the sofa anyway, eh?

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Believe in yourself, you’re stronger than you think. Don’t over-think things or you’ll drive yourself mad.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

STOP BEING SO HARD ON YOURSELF! We’re all pretty awesome in our own way.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.

Take a walk, look around, watch your little munchkins when they don’t know you’re looking, appreciate the wonder of life. If that’s not always possible, (or you’re not feeling that Zen today), remember: grapes = wine = kind of amazing).

And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Life isn’t always easy, chin up and enjoy the good times.

Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata“.
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Every time I read this a different part resonates, depending on what happens to be going on in my head but one thing is for certain, I always carry on my day feeling just a little bit more chipper as a result.

On a few occasions I have printed a copy and framed as a gift and it has always been genuinely appreciated by the recipient. If you would like to do the same or have a copy for yourself you can find lots online, I like this one in particular, if you click on the link it will direct you to a free printable download.

I hope you enjoyed reading this – what do you think of the Desiderata then? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

x

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WHY AM I BLOGGING, REALLY? 10 GOOD REASONS

At the moment I’m still finding my feet as a blogger, having only posted a handful of blogs since my initial foray into this wonderful world a couple of months ago. If I’m excited about the prospect of starting something new, I tend to have a  ‘just do it now and figure it out as you go’ attitude. And boy have I been busy figuring it out! The realisation that blogging is  actually pretty hard work! (I know, shocker!) came quite early on,  the actual writing part makes up a small percentage of what you actually need to do if you want people to SEE you and interact with you. So as the initial excitement of ACTUALLY STARTING A BLOG! wears off and I continue to get to grips with all the different aspects involved, I found myself asking:  “Why am I blogging, really?”

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Luckily, I managed to think of lots of reasons – yay! So here are my own personal Top 10 Reasons for Blogging :

1.Skills! – I am not a writer. Or a food stylist. Not an ex-editor of ‘insert glossy mag name here’,  or a freelance writer or any such role that has ever required me to ever put words down in the understanding that someone is actually going to read them. Ah. While this would have been MEGA useful right now, I’m seeing it as a positive that at almost 37 (practically a dinosaur in my kids eyes) I’m on a steep learning curve as a result of my decision to start a blog ‘just for fun’. I am extremely lucky to have the time to indulge myself in some reading or writing blogposts while the kids are at school and although I probably spend far too much time doing this I do try to justify it to myself by getting the dark wash on and a bit of exercise in first! It definitely stretches the grey matter more than daytime telly that’s for sure.

2.It’s mine, all mine! MWAHAHAHAHA…. – At the moment my role of Mummy, SAHM, homemaker or whatever you want to call it is made up largely of taking care of my family, which I LOVE and appreciate every day. It was a conscious decision that Himself and I made after Flump, our second, was born and one I have never regretted for one second. However, giving up my job undoubtedly had its downsides too (apart from the obvious lack of cash appearing in my bank account every month). I definitely feel that I have lost my sense of independence, or that I at least have to try harder to be recognised as an individual, rather than someone’s Mummy. Starting a blog is a great way to have a project that is completely my own and although I would definitely consider it a ‘Mummy’ or ‘family’ blog (hence the name), its something that I keep totally separate from time spent with my family. One day my role as  wiper of noses, tables, bottoms or tears, will come to an end and I don’t want to wave my kids off into the world thinking “Wow, that was great but who am I again?”
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3.Comradery – WOW, my experience of the blogging community so far has been nothing but positive. Such a welcoming, entertaining, intelligent, awesome bunch of people to hang out with! I’d say I’m generally pretty happy in my own company, I never really get lonely at home during the day and would much rather go out for the day by myself than with friends (is that really bad? I love my friends, I’m just not someone who needs to see them or be on the phone to them regularly. In fact preferably only when there is wine and no children involved). So in that respect, making new connections online suits me perfectly. I can happily converse with a total stranger on my thoughts on parenting/Topsy and Tim (please go away)/Cumberbatch (please come back), etc etc without ever having to leave my kitchen or tidy the house before you arrive!
4.Enrichment – OK, I’m aware this is now at risk of turning into one massive post so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet from here on in (*must work on waffling less). I’ve found joining in with linkys in particular a surprisingly enriching experience. Aside from the obvious benefit of a few people hopefully reading my blog, I have read and enjoyed articles which I never would have found otherwise. Some may be funny or useful but others have actually made me think about subjects which I would have never normally considered.
5.Confidence –  That’s not to say I am lacking confidence especially but would I want my nearest and dearest to read my ramblings? Probably Absolutely not, because in relation to writing, I am most definitely NOT confident (hence, for now anyway, I’m a relatively secret blogger).  Like most new skills, its a learning process, and the more I blog, the more my confidence grows little by little in my writing. Every tweet, every reply, every little comment from other bloggers or readers means a great deal to me, like a virtual ‘keep up the good work’!
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6.Dear Diary – I couldn’t bring myself to refer to it as Journaling. When did that become a thing anyway? Isn’t that just a term that we stole from our American friends for writing in a diary Adrian Mole style? OK maybe Diarising doesn’t have quite the same ring to it (*waffling again, naughty). Anyway, there are already moments that are woven throughout my blog that I would have without a doubt forgotten had I not written them down. A family event, a special moment or an awesome experience that I will now be able to look back on in the future and remember fondly.
7. I got Style! – Or do I? In relation to the contents of my wardrobe I got ‘jeans and t-shirt’ style but as far as blogging goes, developing a writing style is actually something that never really occurred to me. I naively assumed that writing just consisted of getting the words from your brain onto the page. Nope. The more I read other blogs, the more I realise that there are actually quite a few different writing styles and that I have no idea how I come across to the reader. Another learning curve. For now I’m just writing the same way I would probably say things out loud, but minus the swears and with the help of spellcheck.
8. Contributing something – Despite starting a blog just for kicks, I would like to think that some of what I say might actually be read and enjoyed by other people. I mean, otherwise I may as well just keep it to myself right? I’m not talking changing the world with my views on e.g. the antics of CBeebies finest, but it’s nice to think that as I mooch through a linky, cuppa in hand, someone somewhere might be doing the same, enjoying something I wrote.
9.Wearing your Blogger hat – I feel like there should be some sort of official process whereby you need to sit an exam, or complete a challenge or at least do a meaningless 95% discounted Groupon course in Grade 1 Blogging before you should be allowed to refer to yourself as a Blogger?! But then I suppose I didn’t have to do any of those things to become a mother so…never mind. I now find myself questioning the most random of topics, thoughts or products as possible blogging fodder. Luckily for you, the majority of these ideas fall down the back of my brain never to be seen again but starting a blog definitely makes you think more about all aspects of life, however ordinary and I love that!
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10. Courage of convictions – regardless of subject matter, blogging forces you to think before you type. Once you hit that ‘post’ button your words are out there for good, so you better be prepared to be accountable for them! Questioning what I truly feel on a subject, either on my own blog or when commenting on others has been a new and interesting  experience for me. Honesty is the only way, in my opinion, that you can write with conviction while building your own credible identity online, giving readers a true reflection of yourself at the same time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this post, I did go on a bit didn’t I?! Sorry. I’m sure there are lots more reasons that I love blogging that I’ll remember later. I’d love to know the driving force behind your blog – what made you want to start and more importantly made you want to carry on?
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