The Weekly Daly Roundup #5

Our week that was… been a tough week in all honesty, tiredness really taking its toll, anxiety levels a little elevated, general grumpy demeanour this week..

High

Fun day out at York Maze with the kids

Its been about 4 years since we last went, and wow, there have been some great additions the the venue. This truly is a place to visit if you can and I feel excellent value for money.  Went with friends and their kids, weather was good, loads to do, list is a long one, so thought the pictures may give a better view of everything on offer.

A few of the mazes to explore

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Adventure playground

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Amazing sandpit and waterplay

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Bouncy Pillow

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Pig racing, crazy maze golf, snake slides & water wars

Other activities 1 collageMotor boat driving, graffiti wall, Crowmania ride, House of Confusion

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The gang! Icecreams! Medals won! – what fab day

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Low

Spending a night at A&E.  Natalie went over on her ankle at York Maze – being a bit enthusiastic on the bouncy pillow.  We had a few tears at the time, but a quick inspection of the foot, wiggling of toes and rotating of the ankle, I thought she’d survive.  She solidered on for the rest of the afternoon with a bit of a limp but without complaint (my kids are used to not complaining.. I’m not the most patient when it comes to potential injuries, unless its dropping off, then stick a plaster on it and get on with it).  That evening, getting them ready for bed, socks pulled off – minutes later her ankle had ballooned! .. despite the lateness in the evening, figured it should be checked out and bundled kids to the car and took them to the local minor injuries unit. Arrived there at 9.02pm (by their clock on the wall), to be turned away as their X-ray dept shut at 9.00pm.  (Disgruntled would be an understatement!) So made the journey to a main Hospital A&E – 5hrs, one X-ray, and 2 very tired and fed up children later we were told it was a sprain, treat with a bag of frozen peas and keep it moving.  Arrived home at 3am!

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Good

Made it through Soap & Suds week at Mini Mess without any accidents, injuries or mishaps.  This is the week that I fear the most.  Regardless of the risk assessments I complete on the activity, despite the health and safety precautions and warnings I make, its always a worry that given the nature of soap (slippy, slidey), that something might happen… but phew..it didn’t.

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Bad

No let up with the insomnia – it really is starting to grind me down.

Enjoyed

A bit of a get together with friends and an impromptu pamper time with them and the kids.  Footspas, mini pedicure, painting of nails along with a natter and catch up.

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Didn’t Enjoy

My grumpiness this week.  Its been a tough week.. maybe as we are in to week 4 of the holidays and having to constantly juggle work and home, keep the kids entertained, keep some sort of eye on the budget, all whilst having very little sleep is taking its tole.  More than usual I’ve found my current living arrangements with hubby a strain.  Trying hard not resent being in a marriage, but for all intents and purposes still a single parent very hard.  The whole trip to A&E on my own with two kids a prime example.  Normal married couples would’ve had a partner there to help – hmm.. but not me.  I know it will all come ok eventually, its just this week ‘eventually’ seems an awful long way away.

The mundane

Ramping up the marketing activity for resuming classes in September.  I reduce my work load considerably over the summer to allow myself more time with the kids whilst they are off school.  But being more than half way through the holidays now, thinking has had to return to business.  This has meant starting to put together, plan and start some activity to promote classes in September.

The out of the ordinary

A random act of romance from Hubby.  We eat out fairly often.. we are a couple that like our food! But generally its just a quick decision, lets go out to eat tonight.  However, this week, with us taking on the competition challenge of seeing how many random acts of romance we can do for each other for the remainder of the month, Ron took it upon himself to make an advance reservation, not only that but at my fav restaurant ( and one that is not particularly his I might add).  He didn’t tell me where we were going, drove a totally different way to keep me guessing, and I have to say, was a total surprise when we rocked up outside.  What was the most touching, was not only had he gone to the trouble to book a table, keep it a secret, but had taken me out to a place I love, for my absolute favourite food, despite the fact that in all honesty, its the type of food he can take or leave.  To top if off, on the way home he made a detour past Passion Gelato to pick up deserts we could eat later at home ( alot later I might add.. we were stuffed).  BIG score for him on the romance front.

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Grateful for

The NHS.  For as disgruntled as I was at being turned away from Minor Injuries, and for as much as I had totally lost the will to live after 5hrs at A&E – at least I was able to get my daughter seen, treated and cared for – more than many many families and children get.. and for this, I am very very grateful.

Here’s to next week.. bring it on!

Linking up with #TWTWC

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Linking up with #TWTWC

The Weekly Daly Roundup #3 .. 2/8/15

Week 2 of the holidays and a bit of a jam packed week.  Many more highs than lows, many more goods than bads – so I’d say a pretty productive, fun, family week.

A roundup of our week:

High – successfully managing to bake a cake!  With much help from the girls, a never fail recipe supplied from a friend, more buttercream than you’ve ever seen before – ta dah!  An edible, half decent looking birthday cake for my mums 70th.

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Low – Spending £25 on ingredients, cake tin etc for said cake when could’ve bought one from a supermarket for less that a tenner!  Ah,but it wouldn’t have had the same love, care and attention (and slightly sunken middle or wonkey edges!)

Good – successfully got through the first week of Mini Mess without any mishaps – my summer kids programme.  Week 1 can be a bit manic, and I’m never quite sure how its going to go –  but thoroughly enjoyed myself as I think did everyone else.  Just 3 weeks left to go

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Bad – Currently in mid-bout of insomnia – leading to finding the milk in a a cupboard rather than the fridge, searching for and eventually finding my car keys in the shoebox, leaving house in slippers (twice!), leaving house without kids..

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Enjoyed –  Loads of fun with the kids this week – from baking the cake, swimming followed by the obligatory cheesy chips in the cafe. A day out at Sundown Adventureland with friends.

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We managed a lazy Friday morning before heading off to a kids ‘Breeze’ event in the park for FREE put on by the local council.  Great afternoon making masks, bouncy castles, dress up, icecreams, roly polys down the hill and especially loved watching the kids put on Sumo suits and try to wrestle – hilarious!


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Didn’t enjoy – Spending over 2 hours on the drive back from Sundown – traffic was a nightmare to say the least.  With 4 kids in the car it was endless rounds of hold your breath under the next bridge, spot the green & yellow cars.  In all honesty, they were great, no bickering or falling out, and only a couple of ‘how long till we’re back now’ comments

Mundane – finally finished climbing Mount Everest – otherwise known as the ironing pile!  Something I’d put off everyday for almost 2 weeks, so you can imagine the size of it.  The kids are going through clothes like there’s no tomorrow – they don’t seem to able to keep even just one item clean enough to wear for a second day.

Out of the Ordinary – A couple of things this week.  Went to see Texas in Millenium Square with a friend.  Last time I saw them was 1998 in Sheffield (WHAT!  how long ago!) They didn’t disappoint, fab music, amazing energy.  There is so much to be said for an open air venue, warm summer evening, live music and being out with your bezzie mate acting a bit daft! Makes for a brilliant atmosphere and the ability to remember what it was like to be young and carefree again

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We also attended the lovely wedding of friends – John and Sarah, and they did the Christening of their youngest daughter Isabelle at the same time.  Loved the reception.  The tables all decorated in a shabby chic style, hession table runners, jam jars with fresh flowers and vintage style tea-cups and paper plates.  Food was picnic boxes filled with delights of pork pies (best I’ve ever had), fresh bread, cheese, pickles, crackers, coleslaw and salads.  Desert was a table filled with homemade cakes – coffee & walnut, strawberry and cream, bannofee pie, scones, chocolate cake – it was a help yourself kind of deal.. so would’ve been rude not to try a bit of a few!

Sarah and johns weddingWas such a wonderful, social and relaxed way to have a wedding reception.  Loads of kids entertainment, bouncy castle, soft play, picnic blankets out for them – fabulous. And the sun even made a re-appearance early evening. It was a beautiful wedding. It was also really great to attend as a family and the girls were the best behaved little angels for the full day.  They were polite, they self entertained (with the help of a couple of activity books I’d taken along to get them through the ceremony), no arguing, happy to talk and answer grownups with their simple child endearing conversation when required – lots of fuzzy’s awarded for their chart at the end of the day.

Grateful for – having children that can be (when they want to be) so delightful, so charming and adorable it makes my heart swell with pride and brings tears to my eyes with joy

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Linking up with #TWTWC

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Linking up with #TWTWC

{Ordinary Moments} #4 Let us eat cake

My mum has a bit of a landmark birthday this week – the big 70.  Normally for birthdays I get cakes made, I have a fab friend who has a real talent and does it as a hobby (although I think she should make it her career) or I use Paula at The Perfect Cake Company – who I have to say is the most amazing cake decorator.  She has done numerous cakes for me over the years for my girls birthdays and I’ve loved each and everyone of them.

cake collage

But, I’d left it a bit late to order one, and given its the holidays I decided to try my hand at a cake myself.. or rather, do one with the girls.  Whilst I cook often, and think I’m ok at it (kids eat most of what I put in front of the, Ron eats everything I put in front of him, but he hates waste, so will eat it whether he likes it or not!), I rarely bake.  I’m a bit of a throw it all together type of cook so generally limit myself to baking flapjack or scones.  I think to bake successfully (cakes etc) you have to be precise or it all goes terribly wrong in my experience, and I’m not too good at precision!

But I thought, hey, no matter how it turns out, I’ll just say the girls did it and everyone will think its wonderful.

My girls certainly have their priorities right .. In their own true style they decided on at the outset was who was going to get to lick the spoon and who was going to get to scrape out the bowl!  I know its the best bit, and boy did they make the most of it.

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My friend had given me a Mary Berry Victoria Sponge recipe that she said had never failed her and was the easiest out there. We set about weighing, measuring, cracking eggs in to the mixer

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It wasn’t long before the kitchen looked like a flour bomb had gone off in it, but the cake was in the oven, and the kids were glued to the oven door waiting for it to rise (I stood there with my fingers crossed that it would actually rise!)

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Decorations were in order – I had in my mind to make lovely pretty roses, and cut outs of flowers and butterflies – all looked so simple in the pictures.  In reality.. not quite as easy as I thought, but we gave it a go and overall, did a reasonable job.  The girls loved using the cutters and we had enough to decorate 3 cakes never mind one.

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I actually had a try at covering the cake in icing, not the most professional job, but given it was my first time I was pretty pleased with myself.

We sat around the cake together, deciding on placement of roses, butterflies and flowers, stood back and admired our handy work.  Ok, so entry in to the Great British Bake off is not going to happen anytime soon – but I think Grandma loved her birthday cake so much more than anything professional I could have had made for her.  There’s nothing quite like something thats home made, slightly wonky, but done with much love and effort.

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As soon as we’d finished, the next words spoken – ‘can we eat the cake now mummy?’

The finished article, made with love (and lots of buttercream) and presented with a rather charming if quite loud rendition of Happy Birthday To You from the girls!

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An Easy Oasy Day (and a bit of a foody post)

Easy Oasy days are what I call days where I don’t really plan anything.  Not on purpose, but usually because I’ve just not had chance to give it any thought.

Saturday was one of those.  The girls were at their dads for the weekend, I had a bit of work to do in doing a 4yr olds birthday party, but other than a few errands to run that was it.  Some times days like these are a welcome respite what is usually a busy jam packed schedule, other times I feel at a bit of a loose end, that I’m wasting a day and precious time being unproductive.

Saturday was the former though.  I was more than happy to just mosey along through the day.  Hubby and I took advantage in the morning of having no children and went for a wander round a local beauty spot, and as a bonus it was actually sunny!

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It was nice not to be loading scooters and bikes, checking we’d got snacks and drinks on hand and hearing 5 mins after we’d set off the usual ‘how long before we get there mum’.  We just strolled around the lake, nodding hello’s to passers by, bit of a chit chat about nothing in particular.  We even got ourselves icecreams – 99’s of course – a rarity as its a treat usually only bought for the kids.

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The birthday party went without a hitch, kids had a good time, parents were happy.. job done

After a completing a couple for errands we stopped by a local pub to grab a bite to eat.  I apologise in advance as this is going to turn in to a bit of a foody post.  I enjoy my food – I say that unashamedly simply because I do.  There pretty much isn’t a food out there that I wouldn’t give a try, and I can only think of one food that despite me trying again and again that I don’t like – and that is beetroot (and I still try on occasion to see if I can learn to like it.. so far.. I can’t)

I think that one of hubbys minor bug bears about me (at least i think its a minor one!), is that when ever we eat out I can on occasion find something to be a bit critical about.  I am by no means a food snob, I love fish & chips just as much as fancy restaurant food.  But i like food to taste good, I like it to be reasonably well presented, and I like to get good service.  I don’t think thats too much to ask when you’re paying for the pleasure.

Hubby would say that he likes good value, I say he’s tight!  So when he saw that there were a selection of meals on a 2 for £8.95 offer at the Pheasant in Birstall it was a done deal.  Pubs generally don’t have much of a vegetarian selection (especially on their ‘offers’ menu) and to be honest this was no exception – 2 choices but both sounded reasonable – a butternut squash cannelloni or a cauliflower creamy cheese tart.  We both went with the latter.  I’m not a veggie, but am more than happy to go with veggie options when we eat out (except on the occasions when only a medium rare steak will do!)

Drinks ordered – my standard Lime & Soda – believe it or not, its easy to get a lime and soda wrong.  Too much lime, not enough ice, flat soda are just a few of the downfalls – but this one was perfect, light on the lime so it wasn’t sickly, lots of bubbles still in the soda, spot on with the ice – totally refreshing, could’ve done with a wedge of fresh lime.. but then I’m just being picky.

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The food arrived quickly, very quickly, hmm.. microwaved??  It was presented well, decent meal size too.  To my surprise the quality was spot on.  It most definitely hadn’t seen the inside of a microwave.  The pastry was crumbly, the filling was hot, with creamy sauce,cauliflower and cheese…totally tummy pleasing comfort food.  There were a small mountain of new potatoes and a side salad.

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Side salads –  usually a source of disappointment.  I generally find that they are made up of a bit of shredded iceberg lettuce, a few slices of cucumber and perhaps a couple of cherry tomatoes if you’re lucky. However, what was served surpassed the usual expectations.  A mix of salad leaves, together with the usual tomatoes and cucumber, but also red onion and some tiny red things that brought the side dish to life – delicious. Mental note made to check out what these little red things were, had a taste of peppers but with added zing.

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The meal would have benefitted from a few minor tweaks, the potato’s were served dry, perhaps tossing them first a bit of butter, and maybe a bit of dressing on the salad would’ve finished it off.  But overall, a very delightful, extremely filling and satisfying meal.  Beyond my expectations and a total bargain at less than a fiver each (and I love a bargain just as much as hubby loves a cheap deal).

The service was great, were happy and quick to supply butter for the potatoes when asked, checked midway through the meal if we were happy and even asked if we wanted more drinks.  On asking the server when they were clearing away if he could ask the cook what the little red things on he salad were – he knew straight away – Roquito Peppers – I was impressed.

In the main, you get what you pay for with pub food, but I have to say, we were happily surprised and will deffo return again.

Excellent value, excellent quality & excellent service = happy diners and no room for pudding!  Well, until a bit later that evening when we cracked open the Happy Shopper branded pretend Haagen-Daz style icecream – like I said.. hubby is tight and I love a bargain!

Getting lean in 2015

A bit of a health kick is in order.  Just 7 weeks before our holiday which means my thoughts have turned to shorts, strappy tops, bikini’s and if the health kick fails more maxi dresses that you can shake a stick at.

Weight issues have plagued my life, as they do for many people.  I have been pretty stable for the past few years and comfortable in my own skin, but over the past 6 or 7 months I’ve seen a bit of a creeping up of the numbers on the scales. Some people call it happy contentment, I call it stuffing my face more often than I should!

I became more concerned of the ‘gain’ a few months ago as I noticed a few items of clothing were not quite as comfortable and made a concerted effort to shift a few pounds.  I did – but boy was it hard work – gym everyday, watching every mouthful of food.. when did dieting get this hard.. oh yes.. after I turned 40!

Complacency has crept back in, and a few of those pounds lost have returned. I don’t mind so much being squishy round the edges, the wobbly bits are generally well hidden, but I know from experience that weight gain is a slow burn.  A few pounds leads to a stone, leads to 2 stone and it goes on.

Having once been one of life’s larger ladies (in fact a very large lady), and taking extreme measures along with years of hard work to get where I am now, my weight is something I am conscious of and keep a close eye on.  I will always have the brain and mentality of a fat bird,  what I see in the mirror isn’t what other people see (or at least that’s what I’m told!). How I looked 10 years ago, is not a look I want to return to.

So here goes the health kick – dusting off the trainers (they are the scruffiest, oldest things ever – but comfy like slippers) –  its been a few weeks since I hit the gym (blaming this on being busy with house selling preparations), fruit bowl full to busting, and getting the brain in gear to ditch the choccie biscuits and embrace the carrot sticks.

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I have always said I enjoy cooking,but in reality, its that I enjoy eating!  Everything I cook I want to taste good, but it also has to be fast to prepare, fast to cook – from start to on table within 40 – 50 mins is generally my rule.  Providing balanced family meals is not the easiest in my house.  Jess thinks a vegetable is swear word, Natalie deffo takes after me, an appetite for pretty much anything, anytime, anywhere – so I do try to keep a watchful eye over what she has, and then there’s the fact that I’m married to a wheat sensitive vegetarian!

I used to be really good – I would menu plan at least a month in advance.  It worked a treat, shopping bills reduced, I always knew what we were having, so could get things out of the freezer if needed, make sure we’d not run out of anything etc.  I’d often batch cook – so double up on the bolognaise, and make a lasagna out of the left over etc.

Time to re-introduce it I think.

Off to the leisure centre we went tonight – I’m lucky that both girls are competent swimmers and don’t need me at their sides constantly, they are quite happy to take sinkers (toys that they throw in the pool, they sink and then they dive in to retrieve them) whilst I plough up and down doing lengths.  Managed to get in 40 lengths tonight so mission accomplished.  I even resisted the cheesy chips that traditionally always follow a family trip to the swimming pool (ok, so I lie, I had a couple of the kids, but just a couple!)

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A bikini bod I’ll never have – this is a fact I have accepted, but perhaps with a bit of planning, together with a modicum of self-control on the choccie biscuit front, I might just be able to shift those extra pounds in time for the Ibiza sun.