Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quiet Time Craft...

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My little one isn't really ready to just sit and do crafts or read books but I thought I should get prepared for when he is. I definately do not consider myself a craft queen (you will realise this when you look at the picture) but I found a fantastic easy (and free) printable here for a Mr. Potatoe Head quiet book (there are lots of other great quiet book templates too).

Felt is nice and easy to work with as it doesn't fray but I didn't have any black or white felt for the eyes etc so my Mr. Potatoe Head does look a bit strange (!). We will call this one a trail run. I did get some velcro spots to put on but with felt it will generally stay there unless it is lifted up and shaken around!

I didn't do it in a book form, but on the reverse I sewed on two little pockets to store all of the items.

Anyway, if you give it a go, let me know how you get on...

Monday, January 28, 2013

Blog Button...

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I finally managed to work out how to get a button for my blog (all by myself - high five)! 

You can grab the code to the left and share it on your blog if you feel so inclined - thank you x


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spring Clean...

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You all know the term 'Spring Cleaning,' which kicks in at the turn of the New Year. New Year, new you, new goals, new ideas and a 'new' home. Not literally a breand new home but redoing some decor or just giving it a full on proper deep clean and update. But is this a dread or a love for you? Its a great opportunity to bring individuality and some colour back into our homes during the January gloom. When will you start your spring overhaul this year?

If you are thinking go big or go home in terms of an update then perhaps time for a wallpaper upgrade? Nothing says 'spring cleaning' like taking a leap! Next have some fab wallpaper prints this season - Elissia Ochre found here or a neutral Metallic Natural Scroll found here or even Birds Wallpaper found here - this would be great in a kids room.

What's the first spring cleaning task you'll take on this year? Being my OCD self, I have a couple of tips to help with the cleaning side of things...

One of my sisters cleans everything with white vinegar. I had never really thought (or even heard of) doing this before. But after giving it a go, it really works and you can use it for pretty much everything; toilets, tiles, laminate floor, sink, worktops. It is so much cheaper than buying cleaning products too.

I for one love the smell of vinegar but if you don't, cleaning with the stuff could be a bit much. Here is a littel trick you could try to still use vinegar to clean but it will leave you with out the vinegar smell:

- Soak orange peels in some vinegar for about two weeks in a sealed jar (like a mason or jam jar).
- Then, pur the vinegar into an old spray bottle.
- Simple as. You now have an effective 'green' cleaner that smells great.

I also find cleaning week in week out is much better when I have a list. With all that we have going on in our life its nice to know what must be done each day (especially on dys when I am feeling lazy). I have seen some great cleaning checklists on Pinterest, but this is one that I like (taken from Evelyn Kate Designs).



#SilentSunday

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Love All Blogs

Monday, January 21, 2013

Plans...

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Excited to see this face at the weekend - my baby sis...



In other news, I think I have finally sorted out the problems I was having with comments not working, so please do leave a comment if you feel so inclined ;) x

Perfection...

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I have been searching around on different blogs recently and came across one on 'Circle of Moms' that made me think; here are my thoughts...
We are all doing it, we are all taking part in it. I am on definite guilty party. The craze right now of Pinterest and reading blogs and reading and seeing all of these amazing things, amazing women and convincing ourselves that we are not doing enough as a mother, wife, home-maker, employee or friend.
We see the perfectly colour coded homes, perfect children's parties and the women are wearing the most amazing clothes (in a tiny size, of course), with perfectly coiffed hair and make up.
I do really enjoy Pinterest and find a lot of things inspiring and motivating to improve myself. But we do have to be so careful to not keep comparing ourselves to everyone else. We need to realise that our family and friends don't care about how much we do or don't do from Pinterest, but they actually care about us - who knew?!
I look back to my own childhood - my mum is amazing! I do remember crafting with her when we were younger and making gifts from time to time, but that was us spending a fun time together and learning different skills. Our home was always a lovely place to be, a proper family home with out a live plant or scrabble letter craft in sight. She didn't lift weights or run marathons but she always looked great and always made my sisters and I feel like the most gorgeous and important girls in the world.
How can we be an example to our children if we are so down on what we look like and what we aren't doing? Can we all decide that we are not going to sit around feeling discouraged about all of those things?
It is us that our children long for, our little quirks, smiles and voices. Its only natural that we want to learn, exercise, be better, make our homes lovelier and provide experiences for our children, but when it comes down to it, our children don’t want a disgruntled, freaking-out parent who wishes she were someone else. I remember hearing a quote when I was growing up and something we should all remember: 

Picture from www.outerbankscountrystore.com
So, how can we keep from comparing ourselves to others? 
Make sure you are being the best you!


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Snow Day...

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Being in the UK we know snow can only mean one thing - the country will come to a stand still so we can all go out and play; Snow Day. Well today, church was cancelled so we introduced Max to the snow! I think last year when it snowed he was only a few weeks old so we didn't bother taking him out in it.

He really wasn't sure at first, but after sitting in it, touching it and walking in it, he decided it wasn't all that bad.

I love my little family!

PS - I am having reports that it is hard to comment on my blog. Can you try and leave a comment and let me know what happens (send a tweet or an email) that would be much appreciated - thanks!


If the shoe was on the other foot...

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Before I was a mother, I found that people would always say "Just do what you want to do", "Don't listen to what everyone else tells you to do" etc. Since becoming a mother I have only realised how true this is. There is advice from here, there and everywhere about how you should raise your children and the things we should and shouldn't do with them.

Becoming a new mum was so overwhelming where no amount of preparation is enough. So I would often be thinking that I should be taking all of their (not always wanted) advice. They knew more than me, they had older children or they had loads of children, therefore they must know more; I should listen to them.

I have come to realise (its only taken over a year or so) that I know my child best. I am the only one that is with him all day every day. I know the small things that he does and doesn't like and the little routine that we have got ourselves into.

I know that he loves to pull his socks and shoes off. And he survives without socks on. The amount of people I have had commenting if we are in a shopping centre (not outdoors don't worry) "Oh his feet must be cold". I know though he is fine. He hasn't got ill from it. He screams if I try to put them back on, happy without. And knowing my little as I do, I know he'd rather be sock-less and we get in and out of the shops as quick as we can, rather than me spending every few minutes putting socks back on and picking them up off the floor. I know best.

I know before I was a parent though I would be the worst judge "my kids will never go out looking like that" etc. But I know whenever I see a weary mother out and about with her kids wearing their dressing up superhero outfits, its that it makes their child happy. They are the mother, they know their children the best.

I know we will never get away from Judgey McJudgesons but lets all do our little bit and remember... mother knows best.


#SilentSunday

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Workouts...

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Since having my little man and my local gym not having a crèche, I have taken to Pinterest and You Tube for my workouts. Sometimes though I am lacking in motivation to do a list-style one I found on Pinterest, so the You Tube videos do really help as I can just follow along.

My faves are... (all are around 20 mins unless otherwise stated)

Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1


Level 2


Level 3


Jillian Michaels Six-Pack Abs



Jillian Michaels Banish Fat, Boots Metabolism workout - just under an hour long


Jillian Michaels Yoga Meltdown (I normally find Yoga so boring but this makes you feel like you are actually doing something, you will actually sweat lol)


Denise Austin Cardio Kick Fat Burn


Denise Austin Fat Burn Pilates


Zuzka Light - search for her channel on YoutTube - her ZWOW workouts are tough, but good tough!



Let me know what you think and how you get on with any of them.


Monday, January 14, 2013

...

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Just a quick note to share a link to my distributor site if you are interested in a new catalogue that has some great things for home and family and great prices. There are a lot of things similar to Pampered Chef, but at much cheaper prices! There are also cook and spa parties that can be arranged (and if you host you get some freebies and money off).

Have a click on the link above and if there is anything that you want go to the main website page and you can order it there.

Use the contact me page on this blog, or leave a comment, and I will help you out if you have any questions - thank you :)

First Shoes...

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My little has gone through one of his first life events; being measured for his very first pair of shoes! Not that he is really aware, but as he is pretty much walking by himself now, needs must. He smiled away as he had his feet measured and had fun walking around with daddy, showing off the two nicest styles, whilst we decided which to get.

I cant't believe how fast my (not really anymore) baby is growing! Eeeeeek!





Centre Parcs...

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The hubs and I went with (nearly) all of my family, at the beginning of the new year, to Centre Parcs in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham. We had such a great time and it was good to all be together, have the nephews and my little all together and start the new year in a healthy and active way! (Nothing makes you eat less at Christmas than the thought you will have to be in swimwear a few days later)!

We were staying right by the main drag so we didn't need to rent bikes, but we had a great time swimming and water sliding, peppermint hot chocolate drinking, following trails and walks, playing at the park, snookering, mini-golfing and lots of Settlers of Catan-ing. (I have such a love hate relationship with that game, it can be so infuriating. I do recommend it though).

Happy Monday!










Friday, January 11, 2013

Oreo Fudge Brownies...

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"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate" - Charles Dickens

The hubs and I have a rare and exciting date night coming up tomorrow night, so in prep for our babysitters I thought I would bake them a chocolatey treat - Oreo Brownies! Hope they go down well - give them a go... (These are also adapted from a Lorraine Pascale recipe, I love her).



What you will need:

- 165g butter
- 200g dark chocolate, grated or finely chopped
- 3 eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tsp vanilla extract (again, try to avoid vanilla essence where possible)
- 165g soft light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- Pinch of salt
- 154g pack of Oreos, broken into quarters

Equipment:

- Square baking tin
- Electric whisk (or a non-electric one and some arm power)
- Two large-ish bowls

What to do:

- Heat oven to 180 degrees C and grease the baking tin and line with greaseproof paper if you like to do that
- Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl in the microwave, stirring well (or do in a pan).
- Whisk the eggs, egg yolks and vanilla together in a different bowl, until they are light and fluffy.
- Add the sugar and whisk until the mixture becomes stiffer.
- Once the egg mixture is ready, pour the chocolate mixture in.
- Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt and a third of the Oreos and stir until combined.
- Pour into the prepared baking tin and scatter the remaining Oreos on top; press them in slightly.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes (depending on how gooey you like brownies) and leave to cool before serving.
- Enjoy!


Skinny Fruit & Filo Tarts...

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With everyone's good intentions for the new year, I thought I would post a reasonably healthy dessert for you to try. This one is based on a recipe by Lorraine Pascale. It is really simple to make too but will look like you spent ages on it, when you present to your family or dinner guests. If you give it a go, remember to let me know what you thought to it. They have gone down a treat in the Family U household!



What you will need:

- 80g butter, melted (to make it even healthier you could omit, but the butter is to stop the pastry from burning in the oven - up to you)
- 270g shop bought filo pastry (shameless short cut)
- 4 tbsp jam (apricot & strawberry would work pretty well but your preference)
- 500g fat free Greek yoghurt
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 drops of vanilla extract (try to avoid using essence if you can)
- Assorted fruit of your choice, chopped up (I used blueberries, red grapes halved, pomegranate seeds and figs quartered)

Equipment you will need:

- 12 hole muffin / cupcake tin (I definitely recommend using a silicone one if you have access to one, the tarts will come out so much easier)
- pastry brush
- assorted cups and bowls to use for melted butter, mix up yoghurt etc.

What to do:

- Heat the oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F, Gas 4) and grease the muffin tin well (less so, if at all, if using silicone tray)
- Cut the filo pastry into squares that are  big enough to fit in the muffin tin hole but will overlap slightly. Brush each piece of pastry with a little butter then push into muffin tin hole. Add another layer and keep layering up for about 3-4 layers. Repeat until pastry is used up (about 8 holes filled).
- Put the filo cases into the oven for 5 minutes or so, to crisp up. Once done, remove and let to cool for 10 minutes or so before removing from the tin.
- Put the jam in a small pan, or microwave, and heat gently until warm.
- Mix the yoghurt, honey and vanilla in a bowl then place a good dollop in each pastry.
- Divide the fruit among the pastries and pile on top of the yoghurt, brushing with the jam to make a shiny glaze - then serve!

This recipe is good for dinner guests as you can make all of the components ahead of time and then throw together when you are ready, so they are nice and fresh.





Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New Year, New Me...?

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Well, isn't it the cliché thing to write a New Year post? But hey, it would be rude not to. I thought I would just give a quick update of all things Family U and what I have planned for the year Twenty-Thirteen (hopefully, lucky for some).

My 2013 Top 13:

(in no particular order)

1. Blogging, blogging and more blogging
2. Travel - staycation or abroad, lots of family trips
3. Run 10k for charity - I am signed up for one in March, yay!
4. Weight loss!
5. Baby no. 2 (no, this is not an announcement, but I would like to be pregnant again at some point this year)
6. Get my sewing machine up and running - I have been doing a few bits and bobs on it, but I want to make proper things like skirts and cushions. New needles needed.
7. Learn something new - language perhaps?
8. Sell more on Ebay (slightly addicted?!)
9. Grow my nails - now I am no longer playing netball all the time, I have no excuse to have them short.
10. Have better date nights with the hubs
11. Go to more groups / clubs with the little one
12. Get the business up and running with the husband and father-in-law
13. Improve my scripture reading - make sure that it is not just reading but studying

What are your new year goals? Any success stories from last year? x

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Insta-Update...

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A little bit of Christmas and New Year happenings...


Some cousin time in Yorkshire


Rudolph resting up at Centre Parcs, Sherwood Forest 


Christmas wedding of Ben and Hailey


Opening pressies!


My fave boys


Chris rather excited about the new xbox kinnect, onesie style


Bling Bling


Yay, I must have been a very good girl - Father Christmas did bring me a Toy Watch! One very happy lady.


Christmas eve snooker challenge. Yep, I'm rubbish at it (though I was playing against 5 boys)!


 

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