Muddy boots

Muddy boots
Messy hands

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Reasons to be cheerful: 1, 2, 3...

Yesterday has been and gone and I got through it.  Today is a new day so I am going to start on a positive note.

Things I have to be thankful for:

  1. I have a loving family
  2. I have a decent place to live
  3. I have my health (if you ignore the current virus attack)
  4. I have food,  warmth and clothes
  5. I am well educated
I could go on, but you get the picture.  I also like to notice life's simple pleasures,  which for me include the sound of the sea, the smell of warm privet, the sight of a conker nestling in its case, acorns, lambs, forget me nots, tea in bed, a spontaneous hug, being creative.

Another one which is pretty rare is not being woken up at night,  and last night it happened!  Ok so Apple woke up just as I was going to bed and I didn't leave her room til nearly 2am after trying to resettle her, but that aside, Sausage slept all night. Hooray! I did have to clear up dog poo when I took him downstairs this morning as Wobble's sensitive stomach is playing up again,  but it didn't diminish my joy!

This coming week I need to do battle with two different councils about school places and council tax refunds,  and will need to entertain the troops whilst feeling under the weather,  but hey ho. It's nearly February,  I am expecting a visit from lovely brother soon and I can feel a baking session coming on. Onward and upward.


Saturday, 24 January 2015

Should I stay or should I go?

It's been a tough week. Fevers have flourished,  snot has poured,  nights have been broken and tantrums have reigned. I have been screamed at for such long periods I am surprised that the screamers can still speak and I can still hear. I have been bitten,  pummeled, pushed, scratched and jumped on. The dog ("Wobble"), has looked on in forlorn bemusement.  She has missed out on walks. I have tried to be a model of calm, sympathetic motherhood, but failed many times. It has been relentless. Now it is Saturday,  there is no work for Mr Green so he has taken Wobble to the beach with Middle child and Littlest (known henceforth as Apple and Sausage respectively). I am home with Firstborn (AKA Cheese) and the messy kitchen.

It has got to the point where I am feeling claustrophobic and ratty and need some space. Mr Green has offered to have the children for the day so I can go out and 'be'. This is a lovely offer,  and I should jump at the chance,  but I know he has had a busy week at work and seems to be coming down with the dreaded lurgy. I have therefore stalled in my decision making and after a slow start to the morning it is now lunch time and I am nowhere near ready to go anywhere!  Go, I must however.  Everyone needs space and I have decided I must get out for the rest of the day. Today is one of those difficult January anniversaries I mentioned in an earlier post - the most difficult in fact. I will go and be and Mr Green will cope admirably. Then I can come back to the bosom of the family with renewed positivity.  Hopefully. . .

I apologise for the gloomy mood of this post but I hope to be rid of the January blues soon. Why not take a moment to comment and let me know what you do to lift your spirits or deal with tantrums.  It would be nice to know who is out there :-).

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Guilty pleasures

It's 9am and I have lots to do. Unusually,  for the first time in years,  I am not doing regular school runs as Firstborn gets the school bus, Littlest just has a couple of days at preschool and Middle child is waiting for a school place to be available.  This,  coupled with the fact I am still being woken up by Littlest every night means I am struggling to get going in the mornings. I am determined to be better and provide more structure for the children,  but after several days of tending to fluey children at night I am exhausted.  So, despite my long 'to do' list I find myself back in bed with a cup of tea, waiting for the bath to run. I may have accidentally tidied up the last sliver of coffee cake too... (try adding a couple of squares of melted white chocolate to coffee icing, it's delicious). I have given this post the title 'guilty pleasures', but actually I am not guilty about it. I am learning to be kinder to myself and if I am more relaxed the children will be too. The dog will get walked, the children will learn useful things,  my admin tasks will get done and food will be cooked. Just not yet!


Sunday, 18 January 2015

Sunday baking

I am not a cook, baker or nutritional expert, but I am interested in food and nutrition. I constantly strive to feed my family a healthy, balanced diet but we are all a bit partial to the things that are supposedly not so good for us. So I do a lot of home baking in order to control the ingredients and amounts of fat, sugar and salt in things.  Today I want to share two recipes, the first probably can't be labelled as low sugar or fat but it does provide nutrients and a good hit of energy,  ideal for taking on chilly walks. The second is something my kids love for breakfast or a lunchbox snack and is certainly healthier than a bowl of sugary cereal . Here goes:

Peanut butter oat cookies

90g oats
90g natural peanut butter (no added sugar,  salt or oil)
90g pear and apple spread (available from most health food shops)
30g brown sugar
I egg
Handful of chocolate chips (optional)
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees (fan) and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper
  2. Mix all ingredients together well
  3. Dollop heaped teaspoons / half dessert spoons full of the mixture onto the paper and flatten slightly with a fork. The cookies don't spread much and you should get about 14.
  4. Tidy up ragged edges and bake for approximately 20 minutes. They should be firm ish.
  5. Transfer to a coolng rack and they should firm up as they cool.

I am still tweaking this recipe and find them quite sweet,  so may reduce the sugar further.  You can replace the fruit spread with more peanut butter as long as you keep the amounts the same. I have used both crunchy and smooth pb and both work.

Breakfast scones

8oz flour (I use 3 of wholemeal or spelt and 5 of white. If it's not self raising add 3 tsps baking powder)
2 oz butter or marg
1 egg made up to 150ml with milk
1 small carrot, grated
1/2 a very ripe banana,  mashed
A handful of nuts, seeds or both
A handful of chocolate chips (optional)
A tablespoon of brown sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees,  grease or flour a baking sheet
  2. Add baking powder to flour if necessary then rub in the butter
  3. Mix in the banana,  carrots and nuts / seeds (and optional ingredients if using)
  4. Gradually mix in the egg and milk mixture until the dough comes together and is not too sticky to handle. Don't overwork the dough. You may not need all of the eggy milk
  5. Tip onto a floured board, form into a round with your hand (about2cm high) and cut out circles with a cutter or glass. Repeat until all the dough is used up (I normally have one misshapen mini one at the end!). I usually get 6 to 9 scones depending on the size of the cutter
  6. Place on the prepared tray and brush the ops with some of the remaining eggy milk
  7. Bake for approximately 20 minutes until golden.
These scones are lovely warm with butter and are best eaten within 24 hours. I have added various ingredients in the past including blueberries and blackberries, cinnamon and vanilla. You can also swap the banana for grated courgette and add some grated cheese for a savoury version. Happy eating!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Wet January?

I wasn't expecting to have such a long gap between posts, but life has been hectic.  As well as having Christmas and all of the associated delights and duties we have also moved house. We are now in a different part of the country with a new job for Mr Green and new challenges and opportunities for all of us. We are having fun exploring the area,  trying to make friends and trying to be involved in our new community.

I am trying to keep my head above water and not succumb to the January blues but it's hard.  January sucks. Its post-festive, grey, cold, soggy, austere qualities are depressing enough but I have some difficult anniversaries to get through.  So...I need a strategy,  and that is as follows:

  1.  Forget any notion of 'dry January' and embrace merry consumption of wine (in moderation of course! )
  2. As above re diet and chocolate etc
  3. Enjoy simple pleasures
  4. Make time for my creative pursuits
  5. Make time for fun with the kids
  6. Arrange things to look forward to
  7. Be mindful
  8. Do good deeds.  
January needs to be filled with cosy evenings, warm hugs, yummy (albeit frugal) food and good friends / family. I have been grumpy and irritable today due to various worries but pausing to reflect (instead of tidying the house) has helped to put things in perspective.  This is a very general post with lots of unsaid things,  but that's ok. Moving is tricky but exciting. I will do what i can to help the children settle.

So, sod the tidying,  forget all the worries for now, I'm going to go and hug my kids and look forward to a cosy Friday night in with Mr Green. And maybe wine. And chocolate...

Monday, 12 January 2015

Smile and the world smiles with you..

I still seem to be grumpy today,  partly due to cabin fever with a house full of fluey children and partly due to sleep deprivation,  as well as the January slump. I have lost my mojo and extreme inertia has set in. But, slowly throughout the day my energy levels have increased, I have dispensed calpol and cuddles and improved the state of the house along with Mr Green.  Despite being a bit scared of the dark I took the dog out so Mr Green didn't have to. I started thinking about my January strategy and life in general. I am saddened every day by the bad things that happen in the world. I am always counting my blessings and appreciate my lot in life. I would like to do more to help others,  but don't always know what I can do. But I always try to be kind and compassionate. Although it is a small thing, I always try to smile at people and be polite and courteous.  I teach my children these values too. I am far from perfect but feel so much better about the world when I know I have done my best. When I have smiled at people in the street,  offered my assistance to those who may need it, thanked the shop assistant, sent a friend a good luck message.  Maybe if everyone smiled more and were a little less selfish there would be fewer bad things happening.  Smile,  give, hug, help, forgive, live. Make the most of the life you get and take opportunities.  Get off your bum and do something useful ;-).