Pinkys Autumn/Winter Wardrobe

Pinky is 3 1/2 now. Since she was about 2 she has decided what she wears. This started with just picking out an outfit from her wardrobe, we still actually chose the clothes in the shop. After a few months this progressed to only wearing things she has chosen from the off. I quite like this independent and decisive trait. We have always tried to give her choices, this she chose for herself. It has its draw backs. People who don’t know her very well but are still close enough to us to buy her Christmas and birthday presents often insist on buying her clothes. Occasionally this isn’t a problem and she likes the gift, usually when it is a pretty party dress or something similar ideally with sparkles. However most often this ends in me trawling the shops trying the return or exchange the item for something she will wear so that people’s money doesn’t go to waste. I have long since some to terms with the fact that trousers and a t shirt are a total no go with her. It is dresses or a skirt and that is it. Tights when it’s cold. Now what we do instead of trawling the shops with two little girls on tow we shop online. I fill a wish list with various choices, nothing too expensive and nothing too ‘party’. She really would fill her whole wardrobe with puffy tulle party dresses given half a chance. Then we go through the list toothed and she tells me which ones she does and doesn’t like. The extra exciting part of doing it this way is Pinky gets her own parcel delivered to the house which she loves.
This time we did all the shopping online from Next. Ideally, where I can, I buy all the clothes from one shop, that way most of the clothes are interchangeable and tops, bottoms and tights compliment each other.

This is what Pinky chose for her Autumn/Winter collection:

A little red dress with ruffle detail. Currently £10-£15


A pink cardigan £8.50-£9.50 essentials range, pink tartan skirt with matching tights £14-£16


Unicorn dress £15-£20


Butterfly t-shirt £7-£8 tutu skirt £12-£13


Character print dress £13-£14


Purple fairlisle cardigan £16-£18


Pack of 5 long sleeve tops £16.50-£18.50

We also got a couple of packs of tights in red, blue and various links to compliment the clothes.

We are still waiting for a couple of items that won’t be delivered until October. This is ok as it means Pinky is going to get two more parcels to open.

White butterfly t-shirt, this was on offer with the pink sparkly one above as a buy 2 for £12 or 3 for £18


Ecru printed ponte dress £14-£17

Bless her she had lots of fun trying it all on, even Perky wanted to join in.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Cuddle Fairy
Dear Bear and Beany

Iced Gems

As Great British Bake off returns to our screens so does our weekly requirement for sweet treats. This show is impossible for my and Hubby to watch without cake or chocolate. Initially I decided to make triple chocolate cookies because…. Well you know….. Chocolate. But last minute I decided iced gems would be better.

Ok…. Ok…. I made both! Super greedy but so good.

Anyway the iced gems and how I made them. The biscuits are a simple vanilla biscuit I make all the time.

200g Butter
270g Caster sugar
400g Plain flour
1 Egg
1tsp Vanilla Paste

Cut the dough into any size or shape wanted, place on a baking tray lined with grease proof paper. Bake at 170 degrees for 10-15 mins (size dependant) until golden and firm.

Little trick: I use a couple of squirts of 1 cal fry lite spray on the baking tray to stop the paper curling up before the dough shapes are on it. This is especially useful when you get towards the end of the roll.

In this instance I didn’t have a round cutter small enough for what I needed. It’s my fault for making such last minute decisions. Never fear I thought a little outside of the box. I was going to use a shot glass or a large icing nozzle but I wanted to be able to extract the dough if it got stuck inside. I used the lid from an apple juice carton. The juice was nearly finished anyway. I put it in a chopping board and slowly cut through to leave myself with a little cylinder. It seriously worked!

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Whilst the biscuits were cooling I made the royal icing. I make a lot of this and the recipe can be halved but it does keep for a couple of weeks in an airtight container. It will separate but with another good mix it will be good to go. If the container isn’t airtight the sugar will form crystals then you may as well throw it away. I’m not sure if these can actually be broken down, I have tried and given up before I succeeded.

1kg Icing Sugar
30g Albumin mixed as per packet instructions.
1tsp cream of tartar
3tbsp water

Mixed for 20 mins. Honestly for this long!

Then coloured using sugar flair gel food colouring and thinned down to a stiff peak consistency. I used the Wilton 2d nozzle for a looser ruffled look.

Et voilà….

 

 

Cuddle Fairy
This Mum's Life

What I want my Daughters to know

As days pass by and I see my daughters develop into their own independent little ladies, I often wonder what sort of women they will become. This isn’t something I particularly worry about. Perhaps I should. I don’t mind what jobs they have, I don’t mind if they go to university or not. Their happiness is the most important thing. Along the way I hope they learn, or I can teach these few things….

Be strong minded but not hard hearted. It is important to know what you want and to have the courage to go and get it for yourself. Accompany this with a warm heart and an ability to empathise with others and you will go far and be loved.

Have an opinion. Base this opinion on facts not hear say. Not everything you read or hear will be true. Don’t jump to conclusions. Be prepared to debate. Be prepared to have your opinion changed. Remain open minded. You won’t always be right, be gracious in defeat and always admit when you were wrong.

If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all. If asked for an opinion then yes, voice it. Sometimes, however, a question wasn’t asked, a debate wasn’t started. In this instance, if it is too hard to find something nice to say then just don’t say anything.

Ambition is important. What the ambition is isn’t overly relevant. Having ambition itself is what matters as it gives you drive and focus. You can do anything you set your minds to it. Hard work goes a long way.

Be organised. This can be hard to do at times. It is important to stay organised in both thoughts and process. Sometimes things happen in life that knock your confidence, don’t let these things get in the way.

Trust your own instincts. We are all individuals and because of this we will each take different paths in life. We will all enjoy and dislike different things. As they say ‘it takes all sorts to make the world go round’. Only you will know what is right for you. Trust you know the answer.

Stand up for what you believe in. Trust me no one else will.

Stand up for others. Not everyone is strong, and sometimes even strong people have their strength taken away from them. Don’t stand and watch people be bullied or have their confidence sucked from them. Stand up for what you know is right and give others a voice when they have lost theirs. Someday you may need them to return the favour.

Value yourself. There will be a lot of people that come and go throughout life, sadly many of them will try to take advantage of you. If you let them they will keep doing it. Know your worth and value it! Don’t let anyone walk all over you.

Be decisive and be determined. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but learn from them.

Learn from other people’s mistakes and not just your own. This is hard to do but pay attention. There is no need to replicate someone else’s mistake.

Believe in karma. Trust me… What goes around come around.

Love freely. Those who love the most are loved the most.

Most importantly…

Be happy! Do what brings you joy. Be with people that make you happy, surround yourself with the good in the world. Happiness comes from within.

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This Mum's Life
Cuddle Fairy
Dear Bear and Beany
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Diary of An Imperfect Mum

Disappointing Weekends

Truth be told I look forward to the weekend from about 10am Monday morning. I long for the adult company and conversation of Hubby, I relish the idea of being able to split the parenting duties, not being the only one saying ‘no’. It is very common for me to post something on my Instagram with some sort of Friday or weekend reference, ‘Happy FriYAY’, ‘Have a great weekend’, ‘Can’t wait for Friday wine o’clock’. Etc etc….. I like these posts by other people but when I do it all I manage to do is to piss myself off. It doesn’t matter what we have planned for those glorious two days of double parenting the weekend will always be a disappointment.

As a stay at home mum I am naturally on hand 24/7 for all the needs of the girls. Other than 15 hours a week that Pinky is at preschool I am the go to girl! We are never apart. So I understand that it becomes very normal to ask me for something when they need it, from food to cuddles. I truly get it. HOWEVER, it would be nice if they could learn that their father is equally capable of providing for them. When they are physically sat on his lap having cuddles, or playing a game with him it would be nice if they didn’t leave his company to hunt me down and ask me for a snack, or to take Pinky to the toilet. Call me melodramatic but they really do hunt me down, in my own home and pull me out of whatever corner I am hiding in trying to get 5 minutes peace whilst I can. Ok,y it’s their home too but I swear they have infiltrated every single part of it. Even my makeup bag has their hair bands in it!

Believe me Hubby does try. He genuinely tries to get the girls to understand that he is more than capable of getting their preferred snack out of a cupboard for them. He tries to inform Pinky that he too knows where the toilet is in the house and could be equally as capable as Mummy in the art of arse wiping! But no, only mummy could possibly do it right!

In some ways I know I should be flattered, happy even, and definitely enjoying these days whilst they still very much need me. And I am under no illusion, I know full well I will long for these days back when they are gone. Living through them is a different story though.

Things have changed in our household recently. Hubby is working longer hours and is traveling more than he has ever done before. One week the girls saw him Monday morning then not again until Friday evening. They missed him loads and wouldn’t leave him alone. I think they would have cuddled him for hours if it wasn’t nearly bedtime. It was really cute, they are actually showing huge signs of being ‘Daddy’s girls’ where for years they have been ‘Mummy’s girls’. I saw a light at the end of the tunnel, I thought to myself that as much as I miss Hubby when he is away if it means the girls get to enjoy the time they spend with their Daddy more and maybe appreciate his presence I may get a chance to deal with one less toddler request over the weekend.

Alas no!

It doesn’t matter how much they miss him only Mummy could possibly complete their request properly. Only Mummy deserves to be screamed and shouted at, tantrumed at, because only Mummy could possibly understand the reason and all consuming need for a catastrophic meltdown over a fleck of dust on Dolly.

So with another weekend over, another Monday morning looming, have I been on call all weekend?

Oh yes!

Will I still sit and long for next weekend most of the week?

Oh yes!

I will always remain hopeful that next weekend will somehow be different because without hope there is only despair. And that is not a healthy place to parent from on a regular basis.

Of course Wednesday’s wine o’clock helps, or is it Tuesday’s? Or Thursday’s? Meh! They all help….

Cuddle Fairy

 

Dear Bear and Beany

Our ‘Date Nights’

Over the past few years what I consider to be ‘date nights’ have been fairly few and far between. I understand that this is somewhat inevitable once you have kids but it does grate on me. Then the other week I realised that that wasn’t a fair outlook on the time Hubby and I spend together. We actually spend quite a lot of quality time together and although we may not get to go out for dinner once a month as we would like to that doesn’t mean we don’t have ‘date nights’. So since September is our special month I though it was a good time to reevaluate what I consider to be some of our dates both out of the house, having utilised a babysitting token with the ‘in laws’, and stay at home dates. Plus I’ve thrown in some ideas that we haven’t done yet but we have discussed in the past.

Baby-sitter dates:  

  • .Dinner at a restaurant with cocktails pre or post romantic meal. Candles are a bonus. I’m currently a huge fan of Japanese cuisine.
  • G.o karting. Not the most romantic of dates but loads of fun. Plus a bit of ‘healthy’ competition.
  • Pub quiz. I struggle with this as a date but I love a pub quiz and since kids we just don’t get to do them. We went to one a couple of weeks ago and it was really good fun.
  • A night in a hotel, maybe even a really swanky one! My fav! I love a good hotel, I’ve stayed in quite a few over the last few years so now I think I’m a connoisseur (I am not!)
  • A night time haunted tour. I like the idea of this but in reality I don’t think I would sleep for a week afterwards.
  • A museum or art gallery trip. I’m not sure Hubby would go for this one. Maybe the Imperial War Museum, or Churchills War Rooms could persuade him.
  • We’re going to the zoo zoo zoo. I fecking love the zoo!!!!
  • Boating on the river. Very wind in the willows. Probably not in reality.
  • Day at a Theme Park or one of their special fright nights over hallowe’en.
  • A picnic. Very romantic! Just beware when you set up the picnic blanket and don’t almost put it on top of the dog shit left by an irresponsible owner. I nearly did this the other week…. It would likely ruin the mood.
  • Visit a local farmers/craft market.
  • Spa day. Maybe even enjoy a couples massage in the interest of spending time together. I like this idea in theory but I’m 99% certain I’d be bored after an hour.
  • Cinema trip. The end of December through January is ‘Oscar Season’ which is when a vast majority of the best films are released in the cinema. This is an added bonus as I would rather be in a cinema in the winter months than the summer ones.

Staying-in Dates:

  • A takeaway with a bottle of nice wine. I’m a wine snob and not hugely proud of it…. So it has to be nice wine!
  • Turn the TV off and play a game. We enjoy scrabble or a few card games. Recently we’ve even managed to calm some of the competitiveness.
  • Light some candles, put some cushions on the floor and talk, maybe plan the next holiday. Again wine and a takeaway helps.
  • Make a home cooked meal together. Add dessert. Add wine. Again… Good wine only please. On these evenings I go out and buy an expensive cut of beef, Hubby cooks it whilst I sort the trimmings.
  • Movie night. We don’t get to go the cinema these days. Fortunately this isn’t really a problem anymore as most films get released fairly quickly from cinema. We have Apple TV so I use my iTunes to rent a movie at home. Plus a bag of microwave butterkist popcorn 😋😋😋😋😋.

I’m sure there are other ideas I have missed.

I’m open to further suggestions……?

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
This Mum's Life

Birthday Cake for the Mother in Law

The Mother-in-Laws birthday gave me an excellent opportunity to practice some skills I am trying to perfect. We had invited everyone around ours for Sunday lunch and as that meant 8 adults and 3 children I decided to make a fairly large cake with the idea of giving everyone some to take home with them.

The cake itself was chocolate flavoured. This isn’t personally my favourite cake as it can be very dry but over the years of home baking I have found various methods to keep to as moist as possible, such as adding oil or buttermilk to the mixture. I hear beetroot is also a good way of doing this but I am yet to try it.

The icing was vanilla Italian meringue buttercream, which I urge you to try if you haven’t done already. It’s surprisingly easy to make and tastes so much better than normal buttercream. I’m a total convert and now will never use anything else (other than maybe Swiss meringue buttercream but that is slightly harder to make). I use Sugarflair paste colours mostly because they are the ones I can get locally but also because I have done some research into other brands and I actually like their colour tones the best anyway. My second choice is always Squires Kitchen as they too are relatively local to me and I always use their sugarpastes. Anyway…..
I added enough of the ‘pink’ sugarflair colour to make it nice and vibrant as I didn’t want it to be a pastel coloured cake.

As we are all fans of macarons they had to go on the cake. Obviously. I used a very small amount of ‘navy’ Sugarflair and filled them with ‘violet’ vanilla Italian Meringue buttercream.

With this I made rainbow meringue kisses. I use edible paint I found in Lakeland but I cannot remember the brand.

I have always wanted to try to temper chocolate. I believe dark chocolate is easier than white chocolate but I like a challenge so I steamed straight in. It worked but my technique needs improving. It’s such a shame that this has forced me to practice with chocolate causing me to eat my attempts. Life is so hard sometimes 😉

I also decided that I wanted this to be a drip cake. Now I am very good at ganache, even if I do say so myself but I had never attempted to make the trickier white chocolate ganache before. This wasn’t as successful as I would have liked it to be but I know how to improve it next time. And it tasted good so really I’m just being overly critical of myself but that’s how I improve.

This was all finished off with a little of the buttercream piped using a star nozzle.

It went down really well and my MIL was really pleased with the end result and quite flattered since she hadn’t asked to make her anything at all. As generous as it may seem it gave me the excuse I wanted to practice all these techniques and I enjoyed every second of making it. I’m not sure what the next family occasion I bake for will be but I’m sure I will make something just as elaborate. in the mean time I shall just keep practicing the individual elements.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Time to ‘Wife’ a bit more

This month Hubby and I will have been married for five years. It’s not that long in the general scheme of planning to be together for the rest of our lives, but I can’t believe it’s already been five years. This year our anniversary lands on a Saturday. Bonus! This of course means we are going out. Out out parent style! Dinner and cocktails before heading home to relieve the baby sitters (brother and sister in law) and collapsing in a tired, makeup smeared heap. I can not wait! I may even buy a new dress for the occasion.

As Hubby has written we have done a lot in five years, and two of those huge things take up so much of our time and mental capacity. I wouldn’t change Pinky and Perky for the world but I have decided that since September is our month, I am going to concentrate on husband and wife stuff. I parent daily but I’m not sure I can honestly say I ‘wife’ daily.

I don’t think our marriage needs ‘spicing up’, we have a really good relationship, we really really work. We talk about everything, no subject is off limits. As cliché as it sounds we laugh daily. No one can make me laugh like Hubby. If one of us needs a quiet sulky evening we have it, if we need a cuddle the other simply knows. I want this to last. Forever.

Since becoming parents our stuff has taken a backseat. Of course it has, it has to. We don’t go out as often as we did because two more humans need feeding and clothing. Speaking of which our wardrobes could really do with updating. We had originally said that we would try and have a date night once a month after Pinky was born and I was comfortable leaving her for a couple of hours. This hasn’t happened, life got in the way. That’s not to say we don’t ever have date nights because we do. However, what has generally happened in the past is we don’t go out for a few months at a time, so when we do, we go out out. All out out. We organise a sleepover at the grandparents for the girls and we go up to London for the night. ‘The Big Smoke’ isn’t far on a train (just ridiculously expensive) but we don’t go up as often as we would like as we love the city. To make the most of it we will head up in the day and do a spot of retail therapy. Solely my therapy I suspect but bless Hubby he tags along with minimal complaint, mostly just unsubtly asking if there is anywhere to get a drink in the department store in which find ourselves. Then it’s dinner and a hotel stay before heading back home on the Sunday morning. This is expensive. I love this date and would do it more regularly if we could but until our lottery numbers come in it will have to be a very occasional treat. Having said that just because we are parents doesn’t mean we don’t deserve a little luxury ourselves every now and again. Many people enjoy a little spa weekend and there are many good offers out there to take advantage of. I love a good back massage but to be honest a spa weekend really isn’t our style. We would be bored by lunch.

So this month I’m going to concentrate on marriage stuff. I am going to think about Date night ideas, ways of lowering my own expectations and accepting there are other ways of having a date that doesn’t necessarily involve leaving the house or needing to organise baby sitters. It doesn’t need to involve an over priced, white table cloth adorned restaurant that serves lobster (not actually something we have ever ordered but it’s nice to know we could). I want to concentrate on the smaller things and appreciate them.

I am also in the market for a suitable anniversary present, wood for the fifth year. All ideas on a postcard please.

This Mum's Life
Cuddle Fairy
Dear Bear and Beany

This went quickly – Daddy

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We are approaching our 5th wedding anniversary. We have been busy since we said ‘I do’, houses, children, work… the list goes on. I was sat in my office last week and just happened to catch a glance of the picture of Special One on my desk. I smile, that smile that only she can bring to me. I’m guilty of not stopping and thinking as much as I should,  I started to reflect on some key moments in our life.

In 2008, I stood next to you whilst I dreamt about what might be… Your smile, your laugh, your company, what could I say or do for you to give me a chance to spend some time with you.

In 2009, I stood next to you as we walked into our first flat together.

In 2011, I stood next to you while I put a ring on your finger, and you put one on mine. Smiling in amazement, shaking in anticipation, heart pounding through my chest because I knew my dream had come true…

In 2013,  I stood next to you waiting to hold our first child. Nervous, inexperienced, I had no idea how to be a Daddy….

In 2015, I stood next to you waiting to hold our second child. Nervous, worried, I had made up being a Daddy and now to 2 of them…

In 2016, I stand next to you knowing the only reason I can stand next to you, is because you hold me up.

I watch in pride as you do your thing: wipe tears, settle sister arguments, smile when world war 3 is kicking off, feed us, care for us, look after us, cuddle us, pick us up when we are down, love us.

Happy Anniversary Special One, I love you!