Friends

Over these past few months I have learned to really value friendship.  I have received love, care and support from so many people.  From those who were already my friends, and from those who I now class as my friends.

I have felt genuine love and understanding, people willing to hold out their hand, offer comfort, give their time, offer their shoulder – and expect nothing in return.  People who have sent a message of support, just to let me know me and my family are cared for and thought about often.

friendship-quote-great-gift.png

I don’t think I really ever appreciated before the necessity of these people in my life – took them for granted I suppose, didn’t give it much thought or concern.  All these people form either part of my inner or wider circle, some whom have a daily impact on my life, some who just add that bit of something here and there.  But without them, without their words, messages, letters, cards, thoughts and prayers I’m not quite sure where I would be right now.

I have had people share some of their most personal and heartbreaking experiences of their own grief, the journey that they took, and how they have survived it.  It has helped so much to know that whilst no-one can really experience exactly what you are going through, its so unique to each individual,  but that they understand, they will listen, they can reassure.  I don’t feel a burden to them when I express how I feel, when the outpouring of tears and sadness won’t stop – they have listened, they have hugged, they have understood.

What a privilege it is to have those warm, loving, caring people around me, to lift me up, often to drag me a long (whether I want to or not!).  So many people in this world are alone, have no-one, have to bear their burdens without anyone there to help.

It feels pretty amazing to know that I am not alone, and I never will be.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Weekly Daly Roundup 2018 #1

I thought I’d re-instate (or try to) a weekly roundup of me and my families week.  Its easy to lose sight of the things you’ve achieved, enjoyed, found challenging, would rather forget!

So I’m going with

  • Highs
  • Lows
  • Good
  • Bad
  • Out of the Ordinary
  • The Mundane

High

Enjoying the sunshine on Bank Holiday Monday – went to Hemsworth Waterpark where we slowly cooked ourselves lazing in the sun, had a picnic, caught up with friends we’d not seen in quite a while.

Low

Being the emotional eater that I am (whether that be happy or sad lol), indulging far too much. Mr Cadbury along with Ben and Jerry are very much my best friends at the moment.

 

Good

Feeling the benefits of my increased anxiety meds – only way to describe it is feeling more even.  Doesn’t sound much, but believe me, I’m grateful, more than grateful that my range of emotions aren’t quite so extreme from one minute to the next (I think the family are grateful too!)

Bad

Insomnia – manageable most of the time, but not all, a few pretty bad bouts this week resulting in reduced ability to remember anything.  This is what I am blaming for losing my keys in the garage not once, not twice, but 3 times this week.  You know, you open the garage (which is actually my store room for all my business stuff).  Put the keys down whilst you go searching through the storage boxes, trollies, shelves etc, and instantly forget where you put them down.  Then due to the fact you’ve moved loads of stuff around, realise they could be anywhere and spend the next 20 minutes getting more and more frantic that they are forever lost in the abyss.  Actually, one of those times, after an extended, long, stressful search in the garage, I actually found them under a tea towel in the kitchen – how they had got from the garage to the kitchen I have no idea!!

Out of the Ordinary

Had to attend an appeal for Jessica’s chosen high school.  Not an everyday occurrence.  To sit in front of a panel of 3 along with the headmaster of the preferred high school and plead your case is pretty stressful to say the least – fingers crossed for a positive outcome – find out Monday.

Mundane

Sorted my office – its been getting increasingly worse as I piled more and more stuff on my desk over the recent weeks that I just wasn’t ready or able to deal with.  But took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, made lots of different piles all over the desk, floor, in the bedroom. Filed stuff, binned stuff, actioned stuff (well, put in in the action pile.. promised myself I’ll actually action it later!)  I don’t work well in chaos and cluttered environments, tidy space, tidy mind.. so here’s hoping I can get caught up on all the stuff I’ve been avoiding doing over the weekend.

Mums the Word

“Mums the word” – definition – to keep quiet, stay silent

No-one really likes talking about it.. death that is.  Everyone feels a little awkward, not knowing quite what to say.  Knowing that no matter what they say it doesn’t make anything better for those affected.

The grief I am experiencing from losing my mum is beyond anything I could’ve expected,  some days totally unbearable, all consuming, a crushing abyss of despair and pain.  There are days that I cope, there are more days that I don’t.. and most of it you keep to yourself, you hide away, cry on your own..

People care, of course they do, they ask the question with a bit of trepidation – “how are you feeling?” and they smile with just a hint of relief in their face when they see  a slight smile from you and hear an answer of “ok, fine, thank you for asking”.  They know and you know that on the inside you have the deepest sense of loss, abandonment, loneliness and fear, but you don’t mention it, its not talked about.

My mum passing away has hit me hard, its hit all of us hard – well.. thats an understatement to be honest.  This is a distressing entry to write and probably read, but one I need to record, a cathartic exercise maybe.  For anyone reading, feel free to stop here, do not feel obligated to go further.

The weeks leading up to mum passing I want to remember, the night she actually died and the events of that evening I would rather forget, but in reality thats never going to happen.

Mum had a chest infection, a bad one, been to the docs, given anti-biotics, a week later she was no better.

Monday
In the morning, she was struggling to breathe, so called an ambulance.  The paramedics arrived, checked her over, said she was ok and advised her to see her GP, which we did that very same morning.  Her breathing was really laboured, she was getting no sleep, so added to her being unwell was her total exhaustion.  She also had swelling in her ankles and legs, and it was all this put together that prompted the doctor to refer her to Blackburn Hospital that day.

The hospital were concerned and on an ECG picked up on an irregular heartbeat, prescribed some blood thinning meds, arranged a cardio echo and we went off home (this did take a full day of sitting in the hospital).

Tuesday & Wednesday
All seemed ok, mum was still tired and not well, but didn’t appear to be getting any worse.

Wednesday night
I’m a bit of a night owl (get long periods of pretty severe insomnia), so was up late, around 1am.  I heard the familiar sound of mum in her slippers shuffling along on the floor in the hallway (the times I thought ‘I wish she’d pick her feet up!’), figured she was off for one of her numerous night time trips to the bathroom.  I decided it was late enough and to attempt to get some sleep and take myself off to bed.  Going in to the hall I could here odd noises from the bathroom.. I stood, waited, listened – I didn’t really want to just walk in, but the odd noises continued, I knocked on the door and went in to find mum on the floor, she wasn’t able to get up.  She had a severe cut over her eye and was very disorientated.  Ron and I managed to get her up, got her back in to bed and tried to settle her.  A bag of frozen peas on her eye, and a make shift bed on the couch for me.

Thursday
Arranged for a friend to come and sit with mum whilst I went to work.  She clearly wasn’t right in herself, but given I would be back by lunch time we thought we’d see how she got on.  On my return I found mum to be very confused, disoriented still.  Most definitely time for a trip back to Blackburn hospital.

Following scans and examinations, the hospital advised that mum had suffered an acute stroke and she was admitted.  Her sight had been affected, her mobility was fine (well, no worse that it had been before), but she had some cognitive impairment which would need to be assessed.

Mum spent the next week in hospital undergoing further assessments.  She was bright within herself, for the most part was lucid, clear of thought, recognised and understood most of what was going on.  She needed assistance now in showering and dressing.  She had no appetite (in fact, was going to write to the Prime Minister on the shocking quality of food in the hospital!)  But generally, it was felt, with assisted care at home she could be discharged.

The most worrying thing however, was that following a Cardio Echo, they had discovered that mum had severe Ischemic Heart Disease.  They prescribed the necessary medication, made the referrals to specialists that were required, made arrangements for support at home – and she was discharged.

Over the next week mum was doing ok.  I assisted her showering, washing hair and dressing (on the couple of occasions she tried to dress herself, most items were on back to front, or she forgot what she had already put on, so ended up with trousers and a skirt on, or a couple of jumpers – she did laugh about it and insisted she was starting a new fashion trend).

She was able to go to church, and one of the most wonderful things to see was that she went straight back to playing the piano  – all be it hitting a few (well, quite a few) wrong notes, and playing the intro to hymns a few too many times.  But she loved playing the piano at church, it made her feel useful and needed, and it brought me such joy to see that she was still able to.

I had started to make adjustments to my work schedule, knowing that moving forward she was going to need extra care.  In the meantime we received such amazing support from her friends who came and sat with her during the times I had to work.  Who kept her company, talked to her, stayed with her whilst she dozed off.  Made sure she was safe and loved.  I can’t begin to express my gratitude for the help and support offered so selflessly during those 2 weeks.

Friday
Mum had had a really good day.  She’d had company, the carer had been round for a chat and under supervision mum had made herself a sandwich and warm drink.  Some additional mobility aids had been ordered to make her life a bit easier.  Ron and I had come in from work after lunch, sat and had a good chat with her.  It was our wedding anniversary, and we were meant to be going out.  The children were off to Ron’s mums for the night and we had planned to go out for dinner.  But I was tired, and decided we would stay at home and order a takeaway instead.  However, the girls were excited to go to Grandma Betty’s, so rather than cancel and have them home, they still went off for their sleepover (I can’t even begin to express with hindsight the relief that they had gone)

Mum was tired early evening, I helped her shower, wash her hair, clean night clothes on and got her in to bed with a book.  I explained we weren’t going out, and did she want anything from the takeaway – Chips and Gravy was what she wanted, and so its what she got.  My Aunt Jean phoned around 8.30pm and I took the phone in to mum for her to have a chat.  She was so bright, telling my Aunt about her day and our plans to go out for a drive on the Saturday.

It was later that night, around 9.30 / 10pm that I went to give her a night time tablets.  She was in bed, the lamp on at the side of her, duvet tucked under a chin, eyes closed.  I didn’t want to wake her, but she needed her last lot of meds.  I tapped her lightly on the shoulder, but she didn’t wake.  Mum was deaf as a post without her hearing aids in, so I gave her another tap and said her name a bit louder, but still no response.  I got louder and gave her a gentle shake.  There was no breath, there was no movement, but she was warm, normal colour, she just looked asleep.. but I knew.

Then things got crazy – I ran for Ron, he called the ambulance and they instructed to start CPR – I am first aid trained, but you never in all your life expect to have to perform CPR on anyone, let alone your mum.  With each compression I knew in my heart that she had gone, with every breath I gave her the fear inside me grew.  We had to get mum on to the floor – I know it was necessary, but it seemed so wrong, so undignified.  She was so peaceful, so comfy, and in the space of minutes she had been dragged from her bed, I felt her rib crack with one of the first compressions, and I was frantically trying to pump and breathe life in to her.. but I knew

Ron and I took it in turns to continue CPR until the ambulances  arrived – what seemed like a lifetime was in reality 11 mins.  A team of 4 paramedics continued to work on mum for 40 minutes. I prayed, harder than I have every prayed before… but I knew

Ron phoned my sister – she had to come, and come now – but she lives near Doncaster – a good hour and a half drive..

They got mum in to the ambulance, I travelled with her, the paramedics as gently as they could advised that the prognosis wasn’t good, that whilst they would continue to administer CPR on the way to the hospital, the likelihood would be she would be pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital.  I sat by her in the ambulance, watching, praying, trying not to vomit.

I witnessed the most horrific sight I have ever experienced.  CPR is not a gentle process, it is severe, it is a violent assault on the body- essential I know to try and sustain life.. but I knew

Mum was pronounced dead at 12.44am Saturday 24th February.

Her passing had been painless, peaceful, the aftermath was anything but.  The only comfort I can take from our actions and everything I had to witness is that my mum whilst not frightened of dying, wasn’t ready to die and she would’ve wanted us and the medical professionals to do everything they could, no matter what to try and keep her with us.  Sadly, and devastatingly, it wasn’t to be.

Her last meal – Chips and gravy
Her last conversation – with her much loved sister Jean
I was told by the Coroner after the her postmortem that her heart would just have stopped beating.  She would have closed her eyes, and her heart stopped.  There would’ve been no shock, no fear, no pain, no knowledge.

Her heart stopped, and mine broke.

I feel very blessed in many ways for the couple of weeks leading up to mums death.  If it wasn’t for the chest infection she would never have gone to the doctor, the doctor wouldn’t have referred her to hospital, the hospital wouldn’t have been put her on blood thinners, and the stroke she had a few days later would likely to have been fatal.  Having the stroke gave me the opportunity to care for her for those 2 weeks.  To do things for my mum that were a privilage.  To show love and compassion in a very special way .. my mother – a formidable woman, whom I didn’t always have the closest or easiest relationship with over the years.  For those 2 weeks, I will be forever grateful –  she knew despite our fall outs, differences, arguments – that I would have done anything for her, that I loved and cared for her, and was willing to do what ever it took to take care of her.

 

let-go

 

Back to Blogging

Its been a while, probably about 3 years in fact.  But with recent events and changes in my life, I’ve decided to return to the occasional blogging.

As a teenager I used to keep a journal, a daily record of all I did, thought, woeful teenage angst etc etc – I kept them for around 7 years – and wow, to read back on them now is totally cringe worthy for the most, but a good reminder of how I felt and the events that helped shaped the person I am today.

This was what I had in mind when I started a blog some 3 years ago, it was to just be a personal account of our daily (Daly lol) lives.  Just a way of keeping for posterity stories about our lives together, and sharing our experiences with anyone that cared to have a read. But suddenly (or rather over a few months), I found I became more concerned with what I thought people might want to read, how I would be perceived and were the photo’s good enough!  Everything we did, everywhere we went became a photo and story opportunity for the blog.

So I stopped.. I was doing things to blog about, rather than just because it was part of what we were doing for a family.  This was not what I wanted my blog to be, so I stepped away from it.

Life over the past 2 1/2 years has changed so much.  We moved from the big smoke, a large Yorkshire City, to a small Lancashire town.

Ron and I are still adjusting to sharing a life together

My girls are growing up quickly.. too quickly

My mum recently passed away .. she had moved and was living with us, so currently, adjusting and accepting life without her here is the biggest, hardest life changing event I’ve ever had to deal with.  It is all consuming, and I’m not really sure if I am dealing with it yet.

So.. here I am, back to the blog, but with a fresh approach, to keep a record of my family as we move through time.  Something for me, for us as a family, and a read for anyone else that might want a little peak in to our lives from time to time.

FB_IMG_1523400994971.jpg

The Weekly Daly Roundup #4

Half way through the holidays – where is the summer going. I’m so concious that the weeks are slipping away I am trying to get so much in.

A quick round up of the week

High

An early morning brekkie treat with Ron at the local Harvesters followed by a lovely walk around Oakwell Hall to work it off. Was a perfect start to the day. Breakfast was amazing, not only in amount and quality, but cost too – at only £4.99 for unlimited continental option and then full English – can’t go wrong and it may turn in to a bit of a regular weekend outing.

WP_20150808_002

Low

Seeing everywhere and buying back to school stuff – very depressing

back to school

Good

Birthday – uneventful which is the way I like them.

Bad

Birthday – 42yrs old – I’ve never really been able to come to terms with getting older.  I remember turning 10, and being devastated that I would never be single figures again.  Turning 30 was a nightmare, I was traumatised for days!  40 was more manageable, helped by a weekend away with Ron (we were newly dating at that time), Now I’m just doing my best to ignore them.

Enjoyed

Lots of great home activities with the kids.  From tie dying t-shirts , to a sports day & water slide with friends, to paint wars in the garden – its been a blast

tshirt collage

WP_20150806_014 WP_20150806_015

paint collage 2

Didn’t enjoy

Girls being at their dads.  Its a bit of a double edged sword.  Having a break is great.  Having couple only time with Ron is fantastic and not to be taken for granted EVER – but I really really miss them when they’re not here.

Mundane

Got all the practical jobs done on Saturday afternoon – lawn mowed, survived supermarket shop.  Actually gave Aldi a try this week – everyone saying how much they save gave me a bit of a push.  I wasn’t disappointed, must admit, spent less than I usually would. Washing done (and the makings of Mount Everest aka the ironing pile has started again), – might be mundane but still get a sense of satisfaction when its all done.

WP_20150802_001

Out of the Ordinary

Attended the last of the summer weddings – congratulations to Nicola & Zak – finally tying the knot after 10 years together.  Her dress was stunning, and Nicola’s three kiddies were adorable.

WP_20150808_022

WP_20150808_016

Natalie danced non stop at the evening do – she’s her mothers daughter afterall, she certainly has all my moves and more!

Grateful for

All the wonderful local beauty spots we have around here.  We are so lucky to have so many amazing places on our doorstep where we can enjoy green open spaces, woodland walks, wildflower meadows.  Great to enjoy as a couple and explore as a family.

WP_20150808_008 WP_20150808_005

WP_20150808_014 WP_20150808_009

WP_20150808_013

WP_20150808_011

Linking up with #TWTWC

TWTWC
Linking up with #TWTWC

Blended Family – Nice stuff & Niggles

Blending together as a family is one thing, blending together as a couple is another matter entirely.  Its almost unheard of nowadays for couples not to have lived together before they get married, we however didn’t do the the try before you buy scenario.  Not only did not live together before we married, but haven’t done since we married either.  That is set to change in the next couple of months, and its brought to my mind recently on how I’m going to manage the transition from being a married yet singleton so to speak, to being real life couple and all that it brings with it.

I’ve lived on my own for 4 1/2 years (with the kids of course).  I’m a bit set in my ways, used to ruling the roost, making my own decisions, getting my own way pretty much all of the time (except when the kids pester power gets the better of me). Mr Daly is here only a couple of days a week, and as such has little impact on the way I go about everyday life, but there are the odd couple of things that I’ve had to take note of, little reminders along the way that he has his own way of doing things, his own foibles and little quirks.

Blending together as a couple has meant embracing the good and the bad, the odd compromise here and there, keeping a balanced and honest view of our relationship – recognising the positives and keeping them at the forefront of the relationship and accepting that there will always be a few negatives.  No one is perfect, perfection would afterall I think get boring anyway.  However, it can be so so easy to take the good bits for granted and let the little, insignificant annoyances fester.

its the small nice things I love the most.  I don’t need big gestures, hearts and flowers are a bit lost on me really.  The little things are not –

  • He walks through the door, and before doing anything else he kisses me hello
  • He is always the first to ask me how my day has gone.  What I’ve been up to, how have the kids been.  Despite him working very long hours, often being very tired and usually arriving at mine pretty late in the evening, he always puts first my need to off load my day.  Only after I’ve rattled off everything I’ve been up to, do I take a breath, and remember – his turn.
  • We’ll sit down at the dining table to catch up on our day, and he always holds my hand whilst we talk
  • No matter what I cook for dinner he remembers to thank me (and proceeds to eat the lot, thankfully he’s not a fussy eater, just a wheat intolerant vegetarian!)

WP_20150802_013

Then, there are the niggles – small, insignificant things, but as insignificant as they are, they haven’t gone unnoticed!

  • He squeezes the toothpaste tube in the middle instead of at the end
  • He brings a glass of water to bed, but never takes it down again in the morning- amazing how quickly a collection builds up

niggles collage

  • I  find socks anywhere but in the washing basket
  • He uses the nicely folded towel in the bathroom, but never refolds it afterwards

towels

But you know what, even though I give a bit of a mental ‘tut’ when I am re-folding the towel again, or a resigned sigh as I squeeze the toothpaste from the bottom of the tube back up to the top.  I also have an inward smile, a bit of a warm feeling.  Because as tiny and unimportant as these niggly things are, I’m grateful for them.  When I pick up his stocks from the bottom of the stairs and throw them in the washing basket, it reminds me that he’s here, and due to the way we currently live, thats a bonus as the majority of the time he’s not.

I recognise the fact that I am most definitely, without doubt not an easy person to live with or even be around sometimes. I would hate to see his list of niggles about me – endless is a description that springs to mind!  Quite often my stress levels are off the scale for which unfortunately my family bare the brunt of – but he accepts this, without question, with patience and understanding (and lots of hugs).  This is what I mean by me trying to keep a balanced view of our relationship – keeping and remembering constantly of what is good, what is really of value in our relationship, my husbands true worth rather than any of the occasional trivial annoyances I come across.

Blending together is a process for me that has and is taking time, patience (hmm.. need to work on that.. not my greatest attribute),  and love (we’ve got plenty of that thankfully). I am having to learn that I am not the centre of my world , we both are.  That means working together, seeing, understanding and sometimes accepting (only sometimes mind!) an opposing opinion.  I learn a lot from him – mainly a better way to deal with stuff other that screaming my head off, and I do try (not always successfully I admit).  Blending together has wanted to make me a better person, better mother, better wife (again, not always successfully, ha ha…but I’m trying)   And isn’t that the ultimate goal – to become better  and happier people together than you were apart – I hope so, thats certainly where I want to head.

Linking up with #bestandworst

Best of Worst

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.

WP_20150729_139

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

WP_20150729_057

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..

WP_20150730_092

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.

wildwest2

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!


Mini Breeze

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

bezzie mate collagetexas

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

WP_20150801_021

Linking up with #TWTWC

TWTWC
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.

WP_20150727_008 WP_20150727_007

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

WP_20150727_003 WP_20150727_004

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!)

WP_20150727_009

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.

WP_20150727_011

WP_20150727_010

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.

WP_20150727_018

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!

WP_20150729_139 WP_20150729_143

Linked up with #theordinarymoments

theordinarymomentsbadge_zps284f9457

The Weekly Daly Roundup #2 .. 26/07/15

Been a busy week being the first week of the holidays.  Trying to juggle time with the family and fitting in work.  Attempting to make the kids the priority but still fulfilling commitments. Phew..

A roundup of my week:

High – Clothes shopping with Jessica – first real mum and daughter girlie shopping trip.  Choosing and trying on clothes followed by treats of Millies Cookies

millies-cookies630

Low – struggles with arranging childcare over the holidays, having to ask favours of friends to help out here and there.  The real low being getting a response from a close friend that really upset me.  The old saying of you find out who your friends are when you need them is oh so true!

Good – Visiting prospective new schools in preparation for the move, and finding one that I’m really happy with – Decision made!

Bad –  A rather disturbing knocking noise on the car that I am currently ignoring

Enjoyed – our family adventures this week to the Room on the Broom Trail in Wakefield, a Cinema trip & time at Kirstall Abbey – loving the holidays (check out my work blog lifewithminime.com for reviews)

InstagramCapture_ef4c1043-185e-4138-bda6-d54ccf0bba89

WP_20150722_004

WP_20150722_012

Not enjoyed – The weather!  Why is it on my days off  with the kids the weather has to be pants.  The days I am working, or they are off at their dads its glorious sunshine – frustrating to say the least!

Mundane – I really want to say that I’ve got up to date with the ironing – but it would be a lie.  The washing did however get done – although looking in the washing basket you’d never know it

Out of the ordinary – A Saturday morning walk round a local beauty spot with just me and hubby.  No loading the car with kids scooters, packing snacks and drinks, hearing the phrase ‘are we there yet’.  And to boot, we actually got some sunshine!  Not only that we treated ourselves (rather than the kids) to ice-cream too!

WP_20150725_002

WP_20150725_001

Grateful for – being my own boss.  A lot of the time its hard and stressful, but the advantage being that come holiday time it gives me the flexibility to work less, be at home more and enjoy the time with the family.

TWTWC
Linking up with #TWTWC

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!

WP_20150725_002

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.

WP_20150725_001

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.

WP_20150725_010

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.

WP_20150725_004

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.

WP_20150725_006

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!