Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Sam turns two!

(Before I start his birthday was last week...oops!)

Well it 2 years since you made your slightly early entrance into the world-two years, how?!

You have grown up so much this past year, you are generally such a happy soul.

Your blonde curls made an appearance in the first months of the year- I am not quite sure where you get them from as neither your Dad or I have curls! But boy don't you get a lot of comments on them-and you love it too although you shy away and hide with a little coy smile on your face!

Like many 2 year old's across the country Peppa pig is one of your favourite programs and you pretty much know all the characters which I am not sure is a good thing or not! Although to be honest you will happily watch many children's programmes given the chance-one thing I know we need to try and stop a bit is the tele watching!!

Happy with his George pig top!
You adore your older brother (squabbling aside!) and want to be just like him, you can often be found copying his games or trying to join in a be much older than you really are. It is so funny and wonderful to hear you saying things like 'come on buddy' when playing your cars.

Talking of cars, you love them! You can often be found lining them up and creating races, sometimes getting half of our Hot Wheels cars out and taking over the lounge floor!

In contrast to Alex you aren't scared of many things, I always find it funny (and frightening) when Alex is scared of glass balconies in shops with split level and won't go anywhere near it yet you press your nose against the glass and look down, and sometimes can even be found trying to climb up!!

You are generally quite a quiet boy who just gets on, you potter around ours and other family members house and sometimes we almost forget you are there as you are very content. However you are very strong willed and when you want to (or don't) do something we know about it!

Along with your logic you are also pretty amazing at talking, you are now stringing together many words to make sentences, and are even managing to get the tenses of some words right which does surprise quite a few people. Your funniest thing at the moment is doing a Welsh accent with a saying that my Welsh Grandma says-it's actually pretty good as far as impressions go!

We didn't do too much for your birthday as you were a little unwell (and I think we were all birthday'd out!) but your friend G came over for a short while and a small amount of family in the evening for cake.

The cake requested was a 'chocolate Peppa pig cake' so of course that's what I made-not my best cake but you certainly didn't seem to mind!

You had no trouble knowing what to do with the presents this year and got straight into opening them and were obviously desperate to get the items out of their packaging!

on his new wheels!
Happy 2nd birthday! Now we need to work on the terrible two paddys that have appeared since your birthday! But until then I am really looking forward to a Christmas with you and Alex this year!

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Monday, 8 December 2014

Christmas favourite wines with Waitrose Cellar

You may have seen my post the other day on the handy Christmas dinner calculator from Waitrose, well I have had another fabulous opportunity to review some of their wine selection too!

Christmas is a busy time of year where pretty much everyone is either entertaining or going somewhere to be entertained, and whether you drink or not it is often polite to have or bring a bottle of wine for the people who do.

With that in mind I think that Waitrose's 'Our Christmas favourites' selection is a great one to buy for this time of year, as it has something for everyone. Or you could even split it up and give the bottles as gifts-if you aren't to keep them at your own house of course! At £50 I think it is a very good price for the 6 bottles included.

Reindeer's not included!
The set includes:

1 x Villa Vincenta Prosecco NV
Veneto, Italy

1 x Waitrose Sauvignon Blanc, Villa Maria
Marlborough, New Zealand

1 x Laurent Miquel L'Artisan Chardonnay
South of France

1 x Cave De Roquebrun Col De La Serre
South of France

1 x Malvirà Barbera d'Alba San Michele
Piedmont, Italy

1 x The Cubist Old Vine Garnacha Pablo

So that's 1 bottle of something sparkling, 2 white wines and 3 red wines-perfect for our families who love reds but have older relations who prefer white.

We took the Italian red bottle over to James' parent's yesterday as we were having an early Christmas meal before they go away. Unfortunately the wine was corked, just one of those things I guess!

We've not had the chance to try any of the others yet due to not being able to find our bottle opener (thanks to the impending house move)! But I am sure the others will all be lovely-they have certainly called to me the last few days with the house packing stress!

We received one 'Christmas favourite wine selection' for the review, all opinions are our own as always. 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Christmas dinner planning with Waitrose

Many people stress at Christmas time over the all important Christmas dinner, especially if they have more people over than they would normally cater for.

Now I must admit to never having cooked a Christmas dinner, and if I let you in on a secret I rarely cook a roast as often find them too much work-even if it is one of my favourite dinners! However when I do cook a roast I often get the quantities completely wrong and often go way over board with the spuds and not enough of the veg!

This is why Waitrose have come up with a handy tool for Christmas-The Christmas Dinner Calculator.

The Calculator suggests quantities of the popular and traditional Christmas dinner ingredients depending on how many guests you select on the bar at the top. You can choose between a couple and a group of 25 guests.

Now part of our review was to cook an early Christmas meal based on the quantities shown on the calculator chart, although there are 4 of us, I know that Sam doesn't eat much and the boy's aren't the biggest veggie eaters so I did a calculation for a family of 2 and for 3 to suit their likes (knowing that the calculations are based on adults and Sam's portions being teeny) excluding the pigs in blankets which I calculated for a group of 4!

With this is mind our calculations are:
Turkey: 1.5kg (our turkey ended up being 1.8kg as couldn't find a smaller one)
Bread sauce: 150g
Brussels Sprouts: 200g
Roast potatoes: 495g
Red cabbage: 200g
Roasting Veg: 300g
Gravy: 300g
Cranberry sauce: 60g
Stuffing: 225g

All the right weight of food (except for the slight extra on the sausage and stuffing)!
Now when I was preparing this I really thought that there weren't enough potatoes or vegetables, however once cooked I was proven wrong there was plenty between us. I don't think all of us had our biggest appetites this evening but I think on the whole the chart was pretty much spot on, we did have a small amount of red cabbage and sprouts left, and had a lot of turkey left (but bare in mind it was 300g more than the chart said).
Forgot to take a photo with gravy on too due to hungry kids!
 Personally though if I had guests around for dinner I would much rather have a little left than not enough, and who doesn't enjoy a turkey sandwich later in the day? We did admittedly have extra cooked of the pigs in blankets and the gorgeous stuffing which has been nibbled on since the dinner!

This is a very handy tool, I think especially more so for when you have a larger group to cook for than normal as it is very hard to guestimate the quantities for so many mouths! The only thing I did think was a bit odd were the weights for the gravy and bread sauce as this isn't something I would personally measure in grams and would opt for measuring in a jug instead. 

Going forward for next year I think it would be very handy for Waitrose to have a Christmas dinner timings linked to the calculator's quantities and perhaps a few simple recipes that you could click on directly from the 'cabbage image' for an example rather than going to other pages on the site.

If you are planning a party over Christmas there is also a handy Festive Party Calculator too.

This is nothing to do with the post, but we also let the boy's choose items for pudding from Waitrose and they were delicious! 

The icing on the reindeer is to die for! Mmm...
This is a sponsored post but all views and opinions are my own. We received a £60 Waitrose voucher to buy our food and also a few lovely Christmas decorations which will look great in our new home.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Birthday (party) pooper. Is it selfish to want to feel special for a day?

So yesterday I turned 25. Yep quarter of a century, half way to 50, I know, I know.

Now if I am being honest I wasn't expecting a great deal, I know I wasn't going to get many surprises as knew a few items I was getting from mum and one from James. Due to moving this year we also aren't buying each other much too. That didn't really bother me though.

The morning itself started with Sam coming into our bed at 3am, kicked about for a bit before deciding he'd actually go back to his room. After tossing and turning for a while I went back to sleep for about an hour for him to come back in- I just started drifting back to sleep again before james' numerous alarms rang to wake him (and me!!) for work around 5am. I just got back to sleep 10 minutes before my alarms went off, cue tired mummy-great start to the day!

It got much better from then on though, Alex came in giving me one of his big squeezes before remembering it was my birthday and shouting it out, for Sam to follow suit and to the same.
they had breakfast whilst I enjoyed opening the pile of cards whilst they sang happy birthday and told me they loved me-very cute. Especially upon opening their card in which Alex had drawn this for me...

It's us 4 in a double decker bus apparently :)
We did the normal school run whilst my phone happily beeped away in my pocket with birthday messages. Then it was a normal morning, I ate breakfast and enjoyed Sam, I even caught a cute video of him talking and singing happy birthday to me! (I'd love to share it but not 100% sure how to off my phone onto here!)

My youngest brother had a day off due to an exam so met him after lunch in the new Costa for a drink which was nice to break the day up. Then headed off to collect Alex & my brother kindly dropped us back too so no afternoon walk back int he cold-woo hoo!

Then the day just got boring, the kids squabbled, moaned for food, I was tired from lack of sleep and after changing the 3rd dirty, smelly nappy of the day from Sam I felt a bit flat. I was glad when mum popped over, as she was the only one who did all day.

I already knew I had no birthday cake, James said he was going to make one the night before but understandably was too tired and Sam refused bed until late that night when I was at netball. I can't remember the last time someone made me a birthday cake, or even 1 single cupcake which I would have been happy with. I try and make birthday cake for so many members of our family on their birthdays...

I was adamant I didn't want to cook so gave the boys leftover pasta bake from the night before and hoped something would be made or bought for me later....but that didn't happen and I ended up with McDonalds as my birthday dinner (after a bit of arguing as I wasn't being helpful in saying what I wanted, when really I didn't want to choose I just wanted something done for me as a treat)!! At least I had my favourite dessert I made the day before to enjoy afterwards. We did nothing special that evening just sat in front of the box, just like any other day...

I was down and moody, James tired from work and well I felt it was another birthday that I missed that special feeling, I don't mind not being showered in expensive gifts that doesn't bother me. I much prefer the effort someone has put in-not that I would say no to a lovely gift or course ;)

I just feel that I put so much effort into everyone else birthdays, just wish I had the same back, just once. I know I don't like eating out so that ruins the easiest thing to do on a birthday evening but just a nice home made meal would have done for me.

Apart from our wedding day I can't remember the last time I felt special, really special. I just hope that next year will be better, or am I just being selfish and asking too much? Is it too much to want one day of nice surprises/treats a year when you are a stay at home Mum with a husband who works silly hours?

Is my birthday doomed for the foreseeable future, it comes at the end of the month, before pay day at the most expensive time of the year-another problem we had this year is James had no money to even buy me a cake, and had to use my credit card to buy my birthday card and small gift from the boys (in a last minute dash to the supermarket the night before my birthday-nice last minute planning...)!

When I've been asked whether I had a nice day I haven't filled with excitement and smiled, I've just gone "it was ok, didn't really do much", maybe I am just feeling silly and selfish, but is it really so wrong to just have a day to feel great?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

We're on the move!

I may have mentioned breifly in a few blog posts recently that we are on the move!

Our house was put on the market the week before we got married...yes really-thanks for that one James! Unfortunately the first estate agents were useless so we changed and then sold relatively quickly.

It was then a bit of a race to find somewhere we liked, somewhere we could afford and somewhere we could move into quickly (as our buyer-an investor-wants to be in my Christmas so he can so any work that needs doing before renting it out).

We looked at a handful of houses about, a couple we fell in love with on first visit, but I think we weren't thinking long term or looking beyond the nicely furnished and decorated rooms!

But with a stroke of luck a house just down the road from us was dropped by £20.000 because the owner needed it sold before Christmas as he has already moved up north.

With a little financial help from my parents we put in the offer and it is ours-well as good as as soon as all the searches etc are done.

Ideally we would have liked somewhere closer to Alex's school (we have a 25 min walk to it) but ultimately nothing comes up in that area, and if it does it's either out of budget or well, not worth buying if I am honest!

We are keeping everything crossed that it all goes through ok, and that with any luck will be in by Christmas!

I have packed up non essentials, sorted the contents of our loft (I may have reminisced over tiny baby clothes of yesteryear and marvelled at how tiny our boys once were), and now our hallway and bedroom are over run by boxes of piles of things to sell of give to charity!

We are so excited, we moved into our current house as an expectant, newly engaged couple, we put in an extra, small bedroom to make it a 2 bed just over 5 years ago, as family we have grown in numbers and items and have just simply outgrown the space.

I struggled this year more than ever without a garden to let the boys play in, in the summer, they are lively lads and there is only so many times you can go the park in the day! The boys sleeping in the same room just isn't practical as their bedtime antics keep the other awake and we have had many nights where Alex has slept in our bed until we move him when we go to bed. Also our kitchen has been driving me up the wall pretty much the whole time we have lived here, it is quite possibly one of the smallest kitchens I have ever been in!

Our new house is a 4 bed! It has an 'L' shaped garden for the boys to run about in, for us to have a BBQ in the summer, for us to be able to more easily entertain in! The kitchen we can all fit in, as well as our dining table-a vast difference to ours which barely fits 2 people at once! I might also be able to get a dishwasher which I think is one of the best reasons to move there ;) I can't stand washing up! The dining room we are planning to use as a bit of a playroom at first, I seems the most logical use as I can't see us using a dining room very much! The spare room may become a study craft room too-although many have said it will soon be another little ones room instead!!!!

Now I just want to be in there, it is literally 2 streets away, and we drive past so often, seeing it empty and longing to be in making it our own. It may not be closer to the school, but it should be a great change for our family, and will mean less living on top of each other which is how it feels here-I just need to up the pace on the cleaning front as our space in doubling!!

Exciting times, I can't wait to show you once we've moved in!

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Alex turns 5!

Wow I am sure I say it every birthday, but 5 years!? Already!?

Well Alex you have turned from a Disney Cars loving boy to a Lego obsessed 5 year old, fuelled by the Lego City Undercover Wii game we got you for Christmas last year. Due to that your love of Police and 'arresting' people in role play have played a major part this year too!

You still love your cars, and can often be found making up all sorts of stories with them on the lounge floor (of course they lurk about the other areas of the house too)! This is made even sweeter when Sam copies you in your play.

At the start of the year you weren't too fussed with superheros but how that has changed! You love Marvels and know more of their names than I'm sure I ever will! In most of your play you love to make up scenarios which include your favourite characters. Of course this love of them has greatly increased as Lego have Marvels and superhero games and Lego sets which has given you more fuel to the fire!

Considering you have always had a dislike to dressing up I was really surprised to see you happy to wear your Spiderman outfit on your birthday yesterday-even if it was a bit of a challenge to get you to wear the mask just for a photo.

It's been a whirl-wind year. You enjoyed a fantastic holiday to Florida which you loved and still mention on and off now-your memory is still amazing with the small details you remember-you walked behind me at Mummy's and Daddy's wedding, and you started school without a problem at all (apart from that one day after half term...!).

There was no doubt that this year's birthday cake had to include Lego or Superheros, I chickened out of one idea and decided to keep it simple and stress free-thankfully you were very happy with the result. This smile made it worth it!

When you are lovely, you really are a joy to be around, we just need to work on that really short temper and attitude you are developing at the moment-I don't think that the apple falls too far from the tree there though-as for the whinging I really hope that comes to an end soon!

You have done really well in your first few months at school, and have made so many new friends, it seems like you are very liked there and I am so pleased you have settled in well. You are a kind and caring brother to Sam, he looks up to you much and wants to be just like you and be playing your games and toys whether you like it or not, Sam always has some of the best giggles just for you and I love it when you play your silly games with each other.

Happy 5th Birthday Alex! *

Now to make things for the Lego themed party next Sunday!

*behind on this post it was actually last Thurs!

Monday, 24 November 2014

12 days of Christmas with The Snowman and The Snowdog: Blog tour

I have always been very fond of The Snowman, in fact I think I remember having a 5th party roughly themed around it-I certainly remember watching it on a video my Mum had borrowed for the party at home!

Now years on (it was first shown on Channel 4 Christmas 1982), it has become a bit of a tradition to watch it every Christmas!

So when I was contacted to review a new The Snowman product I was delighted, of course in recent years The Snowman has a new companion in The Snowdog and he is featured in their new products too.

We received a lovely 'The Snowman and The Snowdog finger puppet book'. I wasn't surprised to find it really good quality, it has thick board pages perfect for young hands! It simply tells the story of The Snowman and The Snowdog, the finger puppet part makes it more interactive and fun for the little ones.

"A boy built a Snowdog, and the Snowdog came to life! Wiggle your finger to play with Billy and his friends in this adorable and playful finger-puppet book. Featuring beautiful artwork from the animation, The Snowman and The Snowdog, this is a brilliantly fun book children will treasure. For children aged 3 and over."

For the RRP of £7.99 from www.puffin.com this would make a great addition to your Christmas goodies, perfect for a stocking filler, or as part of a book Advent calendar. I know ours will join our Christmas box of stories that I put out in December.

To follow along the blog tour tomorrow and see some other wonderful new Snowman and the Snowdog products do visit the lovely blog The gingerbread house and follow on twitter using #SnowmanSnowdog over the next 12 days!

*We received one finger puppet book to review but all views and opinions are our own as always.