Friday 30 September 2011

Life Circle I: Wheel of Life

Life Circle

Kate over at Five F's has started some of us off on a Life coaching course and each week is setting us some homework. This week we are starting off by examining our Wheel of Life to see where we starting off from:

I'm not going into full details for each section but this is my score out 10 for each sector at this point:

Fun and Recreation = 6

As a family we are having some good fun times at the minute but I need to find something more which is just for me. I do exercise classes but it would be great to have a hobby or some adult evenings out.

Career = 5

I'm hoping that my books is taking off slowly but I've yet to find some paid work to supplement the bits I'm earning. With more time I'm sure that this will be increasing soon and just hope that I'll get sorted soon.

Health = 7

My weight is slowly coming down so I'm a lot healthier than I was. Touch wood I haven't had any bugs for a while apart from some sniffly colds. My dodgy knee that I've had since I was 10 hasn't caused me problems since the spring (since it was prayed for!) so it may finally be better.

Personal Development = 6

I did get my PTLLS earlier this year which made me feel like I was working my little grey cells. I could probably do with more of a challenge in improving an old skill or learning a new one.

Friends and Family = 8

I am very blessed by living near my parents and an aunt and uncle. Having them all less than 10 minutes away is wonderful. My best buddies from school are still close but unfortunately live a long way from me. In Kendal I've met lots of lovely people I enjoy being with but it takes time to build up those really close friendships. 

Environment = 8

Living in Cumbria has to be one of the nicest parts of the UK to live. My children are at school in the Lake District National Park so I get to drive through beautiful countryside every day. The air is fresh and even the rain doesn't seem so bad up here even though there is a lot of it! Just need to sort the house out so that home is as lovely as what's outside the walls...

Finance = 2

I am still at the point where money comes in and goes straight out. Yes we have some little treats but I need to find a way of getting more money coming in... 

Romance/Significant Other = 0

I've been on my own now for just over 2 years and divorced for 3 months and as yet haven't had even a sniff of romance! Oh well its still early days ;-)

Click on the badge and go see what everyone else has put!

Thursday 29 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXIV (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Always a good way to spend my Thursday counting my blessings so thanks once again Michelle. Now its going to be an easy place to start this week:

1) Summer's finally here

OK well its strictly Autumn but we didn't get much of a summer up here in Cumbria. We were teased by a fabulous Easter and then some hot weather in May but the main summer holidays weren't fantastic! I am so glad I hadn't got around to packing away my summer clothes and I'm making the most of the sun whilst it lasts (though remembering to apply sun tan cream is a good idea!).

Sunflowers still going strong

2) The house

It may seem like a silly thing but the fact that the laundry isn't hanging around for days drying is making the house a lot less crowded. By doing a load a day (or even 3 yesterday!) and getting them on the line and getting them away the same day it seems a lot more manageable. The space now in the kitchen means that I've been able to get to the under stairs cupboard enough to sort out and can now shut the door!

3) My children

They both still seem happy in their new classes at school. My son is still keen on getting in to class in the morning. I had a lovely afternoon volunteering in his class when they go to Forest School. They go up to the top of the school grounds and have lots of fun in the little woodland and the open spaces. I'm looking forward to doing this every week. My daughter seems to be doing especially well in science and history (her favourite subjects!) and is looking forward to her first overnight school trip next week. She has planned her birthday sleep over for the following week down to the finest detail!

4) Kendal Passion Play

Last night I went with the children to the launch of A Passion For Kendal by Kendal Community Theatre. This is an exciting project that I am running the social media campaign for. My daughter was impressed on meeting his Worship the Mayor of Kendal:

Wednesday 28 September 2011

#TheGallery: Home

Today Tara wants us to showcase some photographs that mean Home to us. I'm guessing there will be a lot of different takes on this one (click on the camera to see other entries!) but here are mine:

Home a safe place for my children to sleep:

Home is a place to cook and have fun with my children:

Home is a place my children feel safe and relaxed:

Home a place I love to be:

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Zumba with Caytie

I was quite excited when my Rosemary Conley instructor Caytie announced she would be doing Zumba classes from early summer. Unfortunately none of them were at a time I could go until she started a brand new daytime class last week. Having done Zumba on the Wii at home I knew it was a fantastic workout and was keen to try a class out. 

There was a mix bunch of ages at her first class from 20s up to probably 60s and most had never been to a Zumba class before. We were told to go at our pace and to drink plenty of water between the tracks. It was an easy aerobic warm up to get our muscles stretched and heart rates up with a funky salsa style routine to get us all ready to go.

The main bit of the class has 6 Zumba tracks and they are pretty fast and furious. We had a mix of salsa, mambo, reggae, Bollywood and swing tunes to workout too. As most of us are new to it all there was plenty of laughter as we ended facing in the wrong or getting our steps wrong. 

By the end of the 6 tracks we had had a really good workout and were very hot and sweaty. Apparently in a 45 minute session you can burn off 600-800 calories and it certainly felt like it! If you've no idea what Zumba is all about then check out this video guide to the basic steps:

If you fancy having a go yourself then Caytie offers a first class for free! So check out one of her Zumba sessions and party yourself slim:
  • Monday 7-7:45 PM at St Mary's Infant School, Bowness on Windermere
  • Tuesday 9:30-10:20 at Kendal Parish Hall
  • Wednesday 7-8:30 Stramongate Primary School, Kendal
  • Thursday 7:15-8 PM at Lindale Village Hall
For more details please e-mail

Monday 26 September 2011

The Secret Life of a Laundry Basket

Back when I first moved into my own flat in the late 1990s I invested in a pretty bog standard plastic laundry basket to transport my washing from the 1st floor to the outside washing line. For several years this was its sole purpose in life.... 

Then my life changed and I became a step-mother and then a mother and things were very different. With 6 of us in the house the never ending laundry meant that I invested in a couple of different laundry baskets to cope. My original bog standard laundry basket often ended up performing other tasks instead of being used for carrying laundry in:

Collecting stray items to return them

A carriage for Barbies

A comfortable seat

A cage for dinosaurs

What alternative missions has your laundry basket been used for? 

Saturday 24 September 2011

A Passion For Kendal

There has been a slight adjustment to my normal Saturday posts as I've been working on a new blog for A Passion For Kendal. This is a Kendal Community Theatre project for Easter 2012 and they are looking for volunteers for the cast and the technical team. Hop on over to see what it's all about!

Friday 23 September 2011

Flashback Friday 1973

You know it's amazing what turns up when you decided to go tidy up the garden shed! When I moved into my house just over a year ago there was a wooden box with what looked like nothing in particular in it so it got shoved out of the way in the shed. Today having taken my bicycle out for a long over due overhaul I had the space to shift things around. 

I was surprised to find several photos from about 1973 in the box (I daren't post the one of my mum complete with trendy perm and Clothkits top!). They must have been taken when my mum was assisting at the Pre-School Playgroups Association in Netherton outside Huddersfield. I am guessing on the date as I look somewhere around the 2 1/2 year old mark:


You have to just love the massive collar and the corduroy flowery dress! Funny how my daughter's  hair does a similar flick if we leave it too long between cuts. I look very solemn in the shot I must have been told to sit still for the photographer!

What old photographs have you got lurking in strange places that you are to share?

Thursday 22 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXIII (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Another guest host with Mum of All Trades this week. I have to say I have plenty of reasons for being happy this week!

1) My weight

I hadn't felt all that optimistic going to my Rosemary Conley class today but when I stood on the scales I'd lost 3 pounds! For the first time for ages I've had successive losses which is a great boost. A combination of factors is involved:
  • with both children at school there is more routine and I can stick to my healthy eating programme better with solo slim meals
  • I've been listening to Thinking Slimmer for a couple of weeks and maybe the message is finally getting through!
  • I went to a Zumba class run by my Rosemary Conley instructor in Kendal. Amazing workout and such a laugh. Can't wait until next week to go again
Thinking positive that it's all going to keep coming off after this! Oh and top it off I got another Slimmer of the Week award.

2) My work

I had a major Usborne event at the Babymaze Baby and Toddler Show. Not only did I sell lots of books on the day I got one confirmed booking and lots of interest from local groups, nurseries etc. Today at the breastfeeding group I took books to I have been invited to visit on a regular basis and have got 2 more bookings in pipeline plus a lead into a school. All in all a good kick start to the Christmas season! If you want a party between now and Christmas you need to get in quick at the rate my diary is filling up...

3) The house

There are no major changes yet but I'm amazed at what I have done by following the FlyLady's babysteps. I haven't spent more than 15 minutes on any particular task but I've got rid of all the heaps of laundry everywhere (had to put kitchen radiator on to get them to dry in less than 2 days!) and even managed (briefly) to get to the bottom of my laundry basket. There was a brutal 15 minutes with the odd sock pile and I binned lots of odd black socks and baby/toddler socks that will never ever be reunited with their partner. In preparation for the big bedroom swap I've started to remove DVDs from the current study to the living room and the baskets of homeless toys and paperwork are shrinking as things are returned to their rightful place. Two weeks until my daughter's sleepover so the clock is ticking...

Why are you smiling this week? Please visit all the others taking part:

Wednesday 21 September 2011

#TheGallery: Guilty Pleasures

The challenge this week from Tara's gallery is Guilty Pleasures. So here are a few of mine:

Breakfast in bed

From a fairly young age my daughter has loved bringing me breakfast in bed. Her first ever attempt was a ham sandwich! The photograph above was the next step with a hot cross bun buttered on the outside and a fairy cake. She has progressed onto bowls of cereal and toast but sometimes just a mug of coffee on a Saturday morning whilst I'm still under the duvet is a great way to start my weekend. In fact any time I can curl up with a mug of good coffee and book is a definite guilty pleasure:

Happiness is...

Another guilty pleasure is make a big batch of pancake batter on a Saturday morning and after putting on some healthy fruit I drizzle over some maple syrup over the top:

Yummy pancakes for brunch

Oh and of course the ultimate guilty pleasure for a mum after the kids have gone to bed:

A glass of wine

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Top That Publishing Review: The Froobles

This is my third "Yummy Mummy" book review for Top That Publishing:

This time we were sent 2 of the brand new The Froobles books Apps Apple and the Tooth Fairy and Bobby Blackberry and the treasure island. The books have an RRP of £2.99 and are compact in size like other popular ranges of children's books.

Each book starts with a scene created by children from a playgroup. Each story has a different lesson for children to learn such as not being selfish or listening to others. There are nice bright illustrations using a mix of models and collages. 

The stories are a good length to keep a young child's attention though my son was desperate to  use the free stickers that came in the book. Much to his sister's annoyance he stuck some of them over the words on the first page!

There is a Froobles website which has games for children to play with the characters such as noughts and crosses with Apps Apple. From November there will be Apps available on iTunes voiced by celebrities Johnny Vaughan, Denise van Outen, Edith Bowman and Reggie Yates.

The series is priced well for the pocket money and stocking filler market. With 12 to collect I'm sure this will become a popular range especially with all the website and apps links to keep the children's attention.

Monday 19 September 2011

Meningitis Awareness Week

Today was the start of Meningitis Awareness Week. As a parent this is a disease that has to be one of the most feared for our children. Luckily people are becoming more aware of the signs and symptoms but still too many children and adults are fatally effected or have to live with the damage caused by the disease. So the Meningitis Research Foundation (MRF) have launched a video and e-petition to highlight the need for more to be done.

Please watch the video and then sign the e-petition:

I was shocked to hear in the North West region alone that in 2009 there were 149 cases which generally resulted in about a 10% death rate and then 25% of survivors are left with after-effects which ranges from moderate to severe. Here is just one of the heart breaking stories from my local area:

Sue and Emily Gudgeon - Ambleside, Cumbria

Sue says: "Emily was in her first year at Durham Uni when she contracted W135 meningitis. The week before she had been on a rag day to Edinburgh raising money for MRF and raising awareness too. When she felt unwell she remembered the symptoms on the card and called the out of hours GP. She was admitted to hospital the next morning and began treatment for meningitis. She was in Durham Hospital for 18 days then home for 2½ weeks before returning to Uni having made an almost full recovery. She was left with some arthritis."

If you want to help stop more families suffering either bereavement or the after effects of meningitis then please sign the e-petition.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Saturday Recipe Swap: Microwave Cheese Sauce

Back after the summer break its time to dig out your favourite microwave recipes to share! What little tricks do you have to save time and make yummy food at the same time?

For my contribution I give you Microwave Cheese Sauce. My children would eat "cheesy pasta" every night if I let them so I needed a way to make it quick and fool proof. Having tried out a few versions I found via Google this is the one that works for me!

  1. In a big jug put 1/2 pint milk (semi or skimmed depending on who I'm making it for)
  2. For a coating sauce I add 1 oz of plain flour (use 1/2 oz for pouring sauce) and whisk out any lumps
  3. Put in microwave on HIGH for 2 minutes
  4. Whisk
  5. Return to microwave and keep whisking every 30 seconds (or if rises too high) and cook for total 3 1/2-4 minutes
  6. Once thickened to required consistency add grated cheese to taste:

Stir into pre-cooked, drained pasta and serve to the starving masses!

Please link your recipes and then grab the code. Grab code for yourself: get the InLinkz code

Friday 16 September 2011

EX Smokers Are Unstoppable

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This is a campaign close to me heart as I hate my children (and indeed myself!) being exposed to second hand cigarette smoke.

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“Ex-smokers are unstoppable” is a three-year awareness raising campaign promoted by the European Commission. The campaign provides smokers with motivation to quit and - very importantly - with practical assistance. The campaign highlights ex-smokers as inspiring individuals and role models who encourage current smokers to quit.


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Thursday 15 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXII (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

It's definitely not been a perfect week in our house but there are plenty of reasons for me to be smiling (just as well or I'd be swilling the gin!). So here you go for this week:

1) My children

My son is loving being at school and so far there have been no tears or tantrums from him about it. He's only done half days so far and is pretty wiped out but here's hoping full time school next week goes smoothly... The changes in him were commented on at Sunday School as apparently he sat down straight away and tackled all the craft projects with great enthusiasm! 

I was also told what a delight my daughter was to teach again back at school. Apparently she is very keen in class and loves doing the work. So glad she is saving all her bad behaviour for me at home!

2) Kendal Torchlight Procession

This was the 43rd year of the traditional ending to the main tourist season for Kendal. Plenty of floats and bands parade through the town entertaining a large chunk of the population. Last year it rained all evening but this year the weather held and we had a wonderful evening. My dad was taking part but the rest of us were able to applaud the entries and I was amazed at how many people I knew taking part (what a difference a year makes!). We would love to take part next year but need to work out how!

Kendal's very own Steve Hall from BGT!

Wednesday 14 September 2011

#TheGallery: A Happy Memory

For this week Tara has asked us to post a photo which brings back memories of a happy moment. I have plenty of photographs to choose from for this so its hard to just pick one! This is what I have chosen:

So I give you my granny and my daughter having a cuddle to celebrate my granny's 98th birthday last year. I'm so glad they had developed a really close bond in the time that we lived up here. A moment to treasure as it can never be repeated.

Tuesday 13 September 2011

One week down...

Well we've managed to survive the first week back at school and there are only 5 and 1/2 weeks to go until half term! So how's it all been going for the three of us since I wrote my New Term post?

Day one looking keen

My daughter

We'd had a few wobbles about going back to this school but she was pretty cheerful going in on day one. Trouble came when I brought her little brother in to start after lunch and she had a tantrum about leaving me to go back into school. After school she had quite a big tantrum in the car too. All a combination of tiredness and jealousy that her brother was still getting time alone with mummy! These tantrums have now subsided thank goodness.

I have been told that in class she has been lovely and really knuckling down to work. Apparently she got upset when told to stop work and go out to play! She's been good about reading her book to me after school and was very keen to do her first bit of homework. I do wonder how long that will last...

My son

He has been really keen and eager about school from day one and loves wearing his uniform. A very independent young man he hasn't needed me to cross the classroom door after the first day. He seems to be very well behaved and enjoying it all. Like his sister he is completely shattered by it all. Apparently he does nothing at school all day but it must be fun as he skips ahead of me up the path into school!

Monday 12 September 2011

Monday Review: Fairfield Farm Campsite. East Sussex

As mentioned in my previous post on Camping in Sussex I spent nearly a fortnight camping at the Fairfields Farm campsite at Westham near Eastbourne. My mum found the campsite through google and it was chosen because of its location and facilities. We needed to be close to Herstmonceux Castle for the medieval festival and there were plenty of campsites within a 10 mile radius of the castle.

Having experienced campsites that offered family entertainment in the past and then kept us all awake with the sound from the bar we were looking for something a lot quieter. We aren't complete glampers but we like some creature comforts when camping so a decent shower block and laundry facilities were a must. Fairfields met all these criteria with a newly re-furbished wet room shower block and a single washing machine/tumble dryer. It also had no organised entertainment but did offer a nature trail and a chance to get to know the farm animals.

On arrival at the site there was a small shop/reception which was open during the day, there was also a warden on site available at any time. It was good to see that vehicle access wasn't allowed after 10 and before 7:30. The site is located between an industrial estate and the railway but these did not really act as too much of a noise disturbance during the day. There was a mix of electric hookup and basic pitches and we selected one not too far from the facilities but not too close to the industrial estate or the duck pond!

Saturday 10 September 2011

Mission "Organised Mum": Report 1

After yesterday's disorganised post I'm going to start laying out how I'm trying to undo 40 years of chaos and train my children to be more organised than me! This may be mission impossible and I have tried before and failed but maybe this time I'll do it...

Organising My Life

For a couple of years now I've been using an Organised Mum family calendar to keep track of all the activities that we get up to as a family. It is displayed in a prominent position in the kitchen next to where I prepare all our meals. It has lots of room for writing everyone's commitments on and nice colourful stickers to make things stand out. I'm getting much better at using it and adding school events on it as soon as the letters come home. What I need to do better is adding things like the car service etc on with a reminder the month before to book. 

Organising My Home

This is the area that I've fallen down the most on over the years. Between the 3 of us we create complete chaos with things not being put back where they belong. It seems to me that every time I sort out one space then the stuff that was in the wrong place that I moved out gradually works its way back... I've never managed to get on top of things so give up and go back to chaos!

So I'm once again trying the FlyLady system which was created by an American lady called Marla who herself was fed up of living in what she calls CHAOS (Can't have anyone over syndrome). I have had a few goes at this in the past but either ran into opposition from my partner or life just got in the way. I still try and do some of the bits I remember from the last time I signed up such as having a launch pad to place items needed for the school run and laying out clothes the night before so make mornings less stressful.

However the system starts with Beginners Babysteps as FlyLady knows we can't fix everything straight away so she doesn't want to overwhelm us! I've got to day 5 now and have tried to stick to the rules - though getting dressed including make up in the morning is really not my normal style... 

Alongside her babysteps I'm trying to keep the basic household chores running more smoothly and getting the children to do a lot more around the home (putting away clothes/tidying toys etc). I know I'll have to get back into things such breaking into zones and using a timer to get things done. 

Watch this space to see how I get on... Oh and I found the missing spectacles under the driver's seat in my car...

Friday 9 September 2011

Disorganised Mum

Anyone that knows me in real life will know that I've never been a very organised person and I'm always surrounded by chaos and confusion! I'm so easily distracted that I never finish anything before putting things away so I then can't find them when I next need them...

I am renowned in my family for losing keys, phones and anything else that is small and portable... Yesterday I misplaced my spectacles somewhere between the house and the car (I wasn't wearing them I was testing out contact lenses). This morning I still couldn't find them and nor could I find my spares (not sure I've seen them since moving house..). So in order to take my  children to school in the car I had to put in the only contact lenses I could find - both right eye prescription which was not ideal.

After the school run I went to delve in the Aladdin's cave of my parents' garage where there are boxes of my possessions awaiting me to sort them out. I rummaged through lots of them and only managed to find a really old pair of spectacles dating from the 1990s:

The good news is I found a whole load of things that I have been wondering where they were since I moved:

  • spare car keys (could have done with those when I got locked out of my car in the spring!)
  • my smart shoes and long boots
  • my premium bond certificate (which was inside an old handbag)
  • an umbrella
  • teach yourself Latin
  • a Harry Potter wand
  • my daughter's toy picnic hamper
  • and lots of other bits!

Do you think I'm too old at 40 to learn to be more organised?

Thursday 8 September 2011

Reasons to be Cheerful XXI (#R2BC)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

The skies are grey and the rain may be falling much of the day but I still have plenty to smile about!

1) Holiday

I came back from a lovely relaxing time away with my parents and children in Sussex this Sunday. Whilst we were away my children often selected my parents for doing things with so I could take it easy. It was great to re-visit some of the places we loved when we lived in Sussex and to catch up with old friends too.

Dover Castle

2) Back to School

After what seemed like a lot longer than 6.5 weeks my children went to school yesterday. As much as I love them dearly having them at home all day together is not good for my blood pressure! For my son this is a new school and after one afternoon he seems very happy and excited about getting his first reading book today. My daughter has had more mixed feelings but I'm hoping things will settle down soon. With only a couple of hours of me time so far this week I've already made progress at sorting out the kitchen - wonder how long it will be before my new term resolutions are all completed?

3) Freebies!

Way back in March I did a sponsored post for Disney about Minnie's Bowtique (one of my most visited posts!). Yesterday I went to the post office to pick up a mystery parcel and it turned out to be some lovely back to school Disney goodies from the PR company. My children were dead chuffed with their surprise present and its definitely one of the pluses of doing sponsored blogposts! There is currently a sale on the products on the website if you want to treat your children.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

#TheGallery: Shoes

I've missed a few of Tara's prompts whilst away on holiday so I'm looking forward to having a crack at this one! She wants us to take a look at shoes and show them in our photographs this week. So here are my contributions:

These boots are made for walking!

These are the boots of my family after a summer hike on the shores of Windermere. From bottom to top (clockwise) myself, my son, my mum, my daughter and my dad. I have to say that my kids boots are lot more fun and colourful than our boring adult ones! My boots must be well over 15 years old and I do wonder where I have walked wearing them... As a child I was taken on family hiking holidays staying in Youth Hostels and aged 7 walked up Ben Nevis. We are trying to get my children into hiking now that we live in such a fabulous part of the country for the great outdoors.

Big girl shoes
As my daughter is approaching her 8th birthday I thought it was high time she learnt how to do laces! So this holiday when I got her new trainers I made sure that they had laces on them. It only took a day for her to get it and this is her proudly showing off her first successful self lacing. I'm sure as a child that we learnt to do laces a lot sooner as we didn't have all the velcro fastenings modern children have? Any way I'm proud of her quickly mastering this important life skill and hope she can now do up her own hiking boots!

Please pop over to Tara's site to see all the other fabulous entries in this week's gallery.