Friday, 31 August 2012

£20 better off

Finally after 2 years of having the same phone my contract is up for renewal.  However there are no phones on the market that I like and I'm fed up with paying £36 a month yet only using half of my allowance. 

I have a blackberry torch and after a week of searching have found no other like it.  I love having the option of the touch screen and the qwerty keyboard.  I've used papa penguin's iPhone and now his samsung but I just can't get on with typing on a touch screen. 

So after a week of reasearch I've decided to keep my phone and downgrade my price plan to a sim only package.  I have signed up for another 12 months but its now only going to cost me £15.50 a month and that includes 600 minutes, unlimited text and 600 MB of data.  I need the minutes as I like to blabber on the phone and turns out I use 350 minutes if calls a month.

When I got this phone I signed up for 2 years and was mortified at the thought.  I've only ever had yearly plans and always got a new phone at the end.  Now I'll have had this phone for 3 years.  Hope it lasts !

Thursday, 30 August 2012

I want one of these....

Yesterday the postman delivered me my monthly Good Food magazine subscription.  Inside were the usual junk mail leaflets including one from Lakeland.  And this was what they were advertising....

Lakeland Duo Colour Icing Kit
It looks amazing and I'm already dreaming about the fun I could have with it.  I think this is definitely on my shopping list during my next trip into towm.

Reasons 2b Cheerful

Its been tough thinking of Reasons 2b Cheerful beginning with N for this weeks post. 

At the weekend I made Neopolitan Cakes - cakes always make me cheerful !  Can I still be cheerful for my NEW kitchen !  I'm still loving it.  I recently signed up to receive Fly Lady's email's and took on her Shine your Sink lesson. Its so nice coming downstairs to a clean sink and a clean new kitchen every day.  I'm on the look out for fabric to make a roman curtain and normal curtains for the patio doors but 1) I haven't a clue what fabric to go for and 2) I don't actually know how to make curtains so that is putting me off hugely !

I'm off to my mums this weekend and she lives near Norfolk.  My mum looks after my grandad and its been a while since I've seen him.  My grandad is train mad and loves it when we come visit because he means he gets to act like a big kid and play trains with toddler penguin all weekend !

Names have been a big topic of conversation between papa penguin and myself this week.  With 7 weeks to go till my due date and two births amongst my friends means we need to decide on a name.  I think we've decided on a girls name but we are still struggling with a boys name.  I have 2 names that I like but can't get papa penguin to agree on them. Watch this space !

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Countdown begins - single figures !

I can't believe I only have 9 shifts left at work before I give up and become a full time mummy.

I have 3 weeks to go and I work part time 3 days a week.  I've been working a desk job since I left university 9 years ago and its been with the same company.  I've gone through office relocations, a name change and a takeover and finally took voluntary redundancy which luckily coincided with my maternity leave.  Its going to be weird not having a monthly income and relying on redundancy pay and hubbie for a while but I'm looking forward to the challenge of what next year will bring.

On another note 50 days until my due date !

Blog post update.....oh dear I've just agreed to stay on an extra week :(  At least I'll get another weeks pay !

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Neopolitan Cakes

I make fairy cakes ALL the time. In my second trimester I was making them weekly.  I don't eat a lot of dairy as it doesn't tend to agree with me so I stick to Rice Milk on my cereal and Vitalite or Pure Spread as my source of butter.  Hard goats cheese and Lactofree cream cheese and yummy soya yoghurts are my other favourite products.  Therefore I don't buy shop bought cakes as they all have cows milk in ..... and preservatives 

This weekend I fancied vanilla fairy cakes but papa penguin wanted chocolate so a compromise was needed.  I made these Neopolitan Cakes (gets the name from the ice cream) last year for family and they went down a treat !  

Very easy to make just a bit time consuming !  I use the classic 4-4-4-2 cake mixture but changed the ratio to 6-6-6-3.  Thats 6oz butter (in my case Pure Spread), 6oz caster sugar creamed together.  6oz self raising flour and 3 large eggs are mixed in with about a teaspoon of vanilla essence. The then divide the mixture into three bowls.  Add a bit of pink food colouring to one and a tablespoon of cocoa powder to another.  I put a teaspoon of each of the 3 mixtures into the cake cases and use a cocktail stick to give the combined colours a swirl.  In the oven they go 180degrees for about 25 minutes.

I then make up a batch of butter icing.  I use about 13oz of icing sugar and about 6oz of room temperature butter.  Sometimes I need to add more icing sugar, sometimes more butter.  I then pipe some of the white butter icing in a row on the centre of each cake.  Then spilt the remaining mixture into two bowls.  Add pink colouring to one and cocoa powder to the other and pipe out rows onto the rest of the cakes.

Best served with a cup of tea !  I store my cakes that have butter icing on in the fridge as my kitchen gets a lot of sun during the day! Mmmmm yum yum !

Weekly Meal Plan - August 27

Tuesday: Pork schnitzel - trying this receipe
Wednesday: Chilli con Carne
Thursday: Couscous coated Salmon
Friday: Yummy beans on toast before we head to my mums
Weekend at my mums - lots of yummy food to look forward to !

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Guten Tag & Bonjour

Last week we went to Germany and France for a week for a friends wedding.

Wednesday we had an early 4am start, leaving the house at 5am.  I was dreading waking toddler penguin up but he was an angel and soon went back to sleep when we got in the car.  We flew from Heathrow and the flight was only 90 minutes.  toddler penguin kept himself occupied with his new toys! The iPad was fabulous as were all the snacks we bought with us.  He loved looking at the window and shouting clouds!

We got a taxi from Stuttgart airport to the city centre and checked in at the City Hotel.  Toddler penguin had fallen asleep in his car seat which we managed to get into the room without disturbing him so we all had a quick cat nap. Once awake we headed into Stuttgart town and straight to the huge toy store Kurtz.  My husband lived in Stuttgart when he was a kid and remembers it well. We explored two floors, stopped for lunch then headed back to the toystore and treated toddler penguin to some Playmobile 123. Kurtz even has a train set out on their roof.
We then headed on the Tram to the TV Tower and took the lift to the top.  Amazing views and toddler penguin didn't seem to be fazed by the height at all. We stopped at an Italian on the way home and toddler penguin was treated to a huge fish shaped pizza ! We had to help him finish it as it was so big.  Wasn't a problem for me as I'm eating for two and papa penguin loves loves loves pizza !

Thursday we took the Tram to Wilhelma Zoo, Stuttgart.  Wow what an amazing zoo.  Its really big and very picturesque.  We recently went to London Zoo and although the food wasn't great at Wilhelma the animals and scenery was so much better. We got really close to the penguins which was definitely the best part of the day introducing bump to all of them. Unfortunately toddler penguin had fallen asleep in the buggy by the time we reached the kiddie petting area but it was great to see him recognise all the animals.

Friday we left Stuttgart and headed to Karlsruhe for lunch and to briefly catch up with papa penguins old school friend.  We then headed across the border to Baerenthal, France and checked into Hotel Le Kirchberg.  Here I got to practice my french.  Papa penguin is fluent in German and French so its been great for him to be using the language again...and translate everything for me. Our hotel had a seperate bedroom for toddler penguin and he loved the bunk beds.  It was in the middle of nowhere and so peaceful compared to our other city hotels. Toddler penguin was an angel for the long car journey that day.

Saturday, the whole purpose of our trip we headed back across the border to Bad Bergzabern, Germany for our friends wedding ceremony.  Unfortunately for me it was all in German but it was a lovely experience.  It was however 36 degrees and very humid.  I'm so glad that we got married in the winter as we were sweating ! After the ceremony we then headed back across the border to Rott, France for the reception. It was very hot but we soon found a breeze and shade in the back garden and luckily all of papa penguin's friends spoken English.  Toddler penguin ran around like made not realising that running was making him hot and sweaty which in turn meant he got a heat rash.  The food was amazing but German weddings run a lot later than English ones.  They did the speeches in between the meals and didn't do their first dance till about 1130pm which was to YMCA and did a fab routine. Being 7 months pregnant and having done a lot of travelling and that our hotel was an hours drive into the country I was sadly ready to go so around 1am we headed back to the hotel seeing lots of deers on the way!

Sunday we headed back to Rott, France for brunch with bride and groom.  We chilled out in the gardens for hours letting toddler penguin play in the hotels playground and catching up with everyone.  Turned out the dancing went on till 5am! Such hardcore friends we have ! It was lovely to chill out with the shade of course as it was another scorching day! We decided to check out the village of Wissembourg for dinner on the way home.  Wow what a gourgeous own.  We wish we had maybe stayed there instead as it was more local to what we were doing but ho hum it was nice to visit.

Monday we headed back to Karlsruhe, Germany and checked in at Hotel Santo.  It was very chic and good location with only a short walk into town.  We stopped for lunch and had some german sausage and found a toy store for toddler penguin. However it was sooo hot that we ventured back to the hotel and literally all had cold showers.  Talk about bad for the environment but toddler penguin was in the shower for about 20 mins.  He'd been a very terrible two that day all down to the heat.  He had a blast in the shower!

We had dinner in the hotel and it was yummy yummy.  It was an Italian restaurant and the pizza's were amazing!
We had a voucher for 50% off cocktails and I treated myself to a non alcoholic one.  Toddler penguin loved it too! Turns out my ever growing belly has its uses!

Tuesday we had a late breakfast and checked out of the hotel and headed to Media Mrkt in Karlsruhe and as it was the day before my BIG birthday papa penguin bought me the Canon S100 digital camera that I had my eye on. We took a trip to Linkenheim where papa penguin used to live.  Cooled ourselves off my dipped our feet into the  River Rhine and watching the boats past then stopped for an amazing last Germal meal of schnitzel.  Yum!

Our flight Tuesday evening was at 730pm so toddler penguin was well and truely shattered and as soon as the seatbelt light went off he lied down on my lap and watched Cars on the iPad and was asleep within two minutes which meant I could finally read my book that I had taken with me!

Wow sorry for the long blog post, hope it hasn't bored anyone but its a great way for me to keep track of what we did on holiday.  I have the worst memory !

I am in love with my new kitchen !

When we viewed our house I knew straight away I wanted to replace the kitchen.  I know that it didn't need doing and it was liveable but we had nowhere to put the dining table and the storage wasn't great.  Also the real wooden worktops had rotted in places.  We decided to live with the kitchen for a few months so as to know where we wanted things then I set out one weekend and designed it myself using the Ikea Kitchen Planner.  

Beginning of July we ordered the kitchen and a few weeks later it had arrived.  Papa penguin put it all together and then we went to the Lake District for a week and my step dad came and took over and made it into a construction site !  Ahhh fun times indeed living off a camping stove but roll on 4 weeks later with visits from him a few days a week we can finally cut the red ribbon and enjoy our brand new kitchen !

I am in love !  I love the kitchen storage, I love how much space we have.  I love that we have somewhere for the dining table and we can all sit around it and I love that toddler penguin still gets a playroom.

Now all I need to do is get my friends round some entertaining. Next project is the hallway !

Reasons 2b Cheerful

For this weeks Reasons 2b Cheerful I've really didn't have to think hard about for the M Edition what I am cheerful for.  

The word Mum comes straight to mind this week.  I am cheerful for my Mum and for being a Mum. 

I'm very close to my mum.  Okay so not in terms of distance as she is about 150 miles away but we chat about anything and everything.  My mum is a great role model for me.  I like to think she brought me up well and has taught me great values in life.  She is also an amazing cook and has taught me well and to be resourceful on those evenings when you have nothing to eat but always something in the cupbard that you can russle up. 

My mum and I are very similar.  We write lists for all occassions as we like the satistaction of ticking things off.  We like to make use of ikea sandwich bags for everything and anything that we can get in them and we like spreadsheets.  
I love my mum and I love being a mum.
I enjoy every day being a mummy to my 2 year old son and I'm looking forward to being a mum again in approximatelI love the sentences he comes out with !

I like to think I am a good mum.  I want to be loving yet I want to have respect.  I want to plays arts and crafts and get messy with my kids yet I want them to understand how to tidy up.  I want to be a mum that supports my child in whatever he/she wants to do yet also guide them towards the positive and away from the negative.  At the end of the day I want my child to be safe and loved!

On a lighter note I am also cheerful for the amount of Milka chocolate bars I brought back from my recent hols !  Yum yum !

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Reasons 2b Cheerful

For this weeks Reasons 2b Cheerful I've really had to think about when continuing with my letters.....for the L Edition what I am cheerful for.  My name is Lara - therefore can I be cheerful for myself ?

Obvsiously I am cheerful for my Life.  And the Love in my Life. My husband, my son, my baby growing inside of me, my family and and my friends.....I Love them all and they are all part of my Life.

I am currently in Germany and heading just across the border to France tomorrow ....therefore I am cheerful for their Language.  I don't speak much French but with our word "the" being translated to "le" or 'la" I am therefore cheerful for les vacancesla météol'aliment et le temps avec ma famille !

Monday, 13 August 2012

Packing and cleaning and leaving on a jet plane....

We're off on holiday on Wednesday and I can't wait !  However if I thought packing was boring so is housework !  I'm trying to do loads before I go and catch up on all the washing and ironing as its a big birthday for me the day after we get back and I don't really want to spend it cleaning.  

We have no meal plan this week as its just tonight and tomorrow that we need feeding so its a case of clearing out the fridge. We have some bacon left over so I'm really looking forward to beans and cheese on toast with bacon bits.  Such a cheap meal yet soooo tasty !

Not sure how we are going to cope with the 4am wake up and getting our 2 year old in to the car at 5am but I'm sure once we get to the airport he will be super excited. We have bought lots of new toys for him and got lots of snacks and sweets.  I'm really looking forward to seeing his reaction to the aeroplane but from a pregnancy side of things I'm nearly 31 weeks and although pregnancy generally agrees with me I can see it being the most uncomfortable 2 hours of my life.

Watch this space.....

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Reasons 2b Cheerful

For this weeks Reasons 2b Cheerful hosted by Glass Half Full I'm continuing with my letters.....for the K Edition I am cheerful for the following:

Today I am 30 weeks pregnant - thats 10 weeks to go....roughly !  I am grateful everyday for getting pregnant straight away and I am very blessed to have had such an easy pregnancy.  Therefore I am cheerful for the amount of kicks I get from "baby deux" throughout the day - even when I'm made to walk around the office at work because I'm so uncomfortable from being kicked repeatedly in the ribs or when lying on the sofa I have to readjust because my hips are getting a battering !

There is a charity called Count the Kicks who encourage mums to monitor their babies movement and report any worries to a midwife.  I think this charity is amazing and although I've never needed to worry about the kicks as I get so many I hope that other people pay attention and keep and eye on things.

I am also cheerful that my kitchen remodelling is going really well and last night the tiles started to be fixed.  By the time I get home tonight from work it should be looking great !  Can't wait !

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Bye bye wires

I'm actually surprised I've made it to 30 weeks but its time to say goodbye to the underwired bras.  I'm sure there are breast experts out there who will tell me off for going this far but each to their own !

I dug out my maternity bras from my previous pregnancy and they are all too big for me so I took a trip to M&S and was very disappointed to find they didn't have any maternity bras in my size in stock.  I tracked down a shop assistant who said that I could order some in or save money (they were selling a pack of 2 for £30) and buy normal non-wired bras from another section at 2 for £16.  What a I picked up 4. My boobs are probably going to continue to grow so I'm going to get fitted properly in about 6 weeks.

Its actually quite a nice feeling owning new bras !

Monday, 6 August 2012

Weekly Meal Plan - August 6

Monday: Jacket Potoatoes with beans, cheese and salad
Tuesday: Pork Stir Fry
Wednesday: Chilli con Carne
Thursday: Fajitas
Friday: Pad Thai
Saturday: Whole family out at an engagement party
Sunday: Salmon and lemon rice pastry parcel - recipe from Good Food Sept 2012 Magazine

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Reasons 2b Cheerful

Following on from last weeks R2bC post and for this weeks Reasons 2b Cheerful J Edition I'm going to dedicate this post to my husband whose name begins with J!  Infact I chose Husband as a reason to be cheerful 2 posts ago.

I met my hubbie at university in 2002 and we got together in 2003.  Sadly we broke up after the summer but in 2005 after a random catching up we got back together! 4 years later we got engaged in Iceland and then I found out I was pregnant.  We had toddler penguin in April 2010 and got married New Years Eve 2010. He is my best friend and my soul mate!  And he doesn't leave the toilet seat up !

I am 6.5 months pregnant and he gives meme a lower leg massage most nights to help my swollen ankles and he makes me a cup of tea every night after dinner !

Hubbie - you are a HUGE reason to be cheerful and you make me laugh everyday !