Wednesday, 31 July 2013

The Gallery - Door

This weeks theme from Sticky Fingers is Door.

I am currently vacationing in the Lake District so today am sharing with you a picture of the door to our holiday cottage.  On the left is an entrance to Leven Hall Topiary Gardens, and on the right is a entrance to their maze.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Weekly Meal Plan - 28th July

So I'm on holiday this week in the Lake District! I'm staying in a massive 6 bedroom cottage in the middle of nowhere with 4 other families/couples! We do this every year and it is fab!

With 7 nights to cater for, 10 adults, 4 kids and a baby to cater for we all take turns to cook a meal and then have two bbq's. It works really well as on "your" night you cook and wash up which means the rest of the week apart from bbq nights we can put our feet up.

This is what is planed for this week....
Saturday we had cottage pie which friends cooked in advance and travelled with it frozen. That meant on arrival night no one had to worry about cooking and unpacking. 
Sunday we had Maggie's So Juicy Mexican chicken and rice. Chicken baked in a bag in the oven! Fantastic idea and super yummy.
Monday (tonight) we are all having a bbq....meat, salad, tatties and more meat (that's what happens when you send the men to the shops!)
Tuesday will be chilli con carne with jackets or rice
Wednesday will be chicken fajitas and apple crumble for pudding.
Thursday will be our night. Steak casserole with a pie topper served with tatties and veg and ice cream for pudding.
Friday our last night will be a bbq....lets just hope it will be sunny!

The kids will be joining us for the bbq's but have fish fingers, waffles and peas or spag bol for the other nights.

I've linked this post with At Home with Mrs M and her Meal Planning Monday linky.
Meal Planning Monday

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful

I'm so glad it has rained.  I love the freshness in the air now and it certainly feels less humid than last week.

At the weekend we went to Greenwich Park for a picnic as it was my friends 30th birthday.  She was born in the year of the pig so had some really cute piggy cupcakes. Her brother in law took these pictures of toddler penguin and I couldn't help but share!

Monday the kids and I went to RHS Wisley on what was the hottest day of the year so far.  I met up with some friends but we all had to escape back to our air conditioned cars just after lunch.  It was just too hot. The kids didn't seem to mind though and were still running around with not a care in the world! Wisley were showing a WI Scarecrow trail which was very bizarre.  They had a few strictly come dancing characters and a few randoms that I didn't have a clue what they were.  Here's an example.  Also a pic of sweaty baby penguin sporting her new dress from H&M!

Finally my last reason I'm cheerful is that I'm back on the pill!  Weird reason I know but gosh my skin is a state!  I had baby penguin in October, finished breastfeeding in May.  Got my first period end of June and then have had to wait for another one in order to start taking the pill, which I got last night!  Apart from the contraceptive reasons of the pill, I like to take it as it stops me from getting spots and makes my period less heavy and practically pain free.  In the last month my skin has got more and more greasy every day and lots count of the blemishes I keep getting.  I hope that being back on the pill will sort it out!

On another note they have issued new guidelines about taking the pill.  I'm on Yasmin but it works for others as well.  Instead of taking a 21 pill packet and then having a 7 day break.  New guidelines tell you to 3 packs of 21 pills in a row and then have only a 4 day break before starting another 3 packs.  Weird but I won't complain as thats only 4 periods in a year instead of the normal 12!  What do you think?

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Gallery - I Made This

This weeks theme from Sticky Fingers is I Made This.

I've been really thinking about this one as it turns out I've made quite a few things.   I've hit the sewing machine loads and made lots of things for toddler penguin such as bedding, a cot bumper, bunting, cushions, stockings, a teddy and even personalised a t-shirt for his first birthday. With the help of papa penguin we made a Gruffalo Cake and as I bake all the time I'm constantly making cupcakes.  My Ferrero Rocher cupcakes are a huge hit.

However since buying a new Macbook Pro I've not had easy access to any old pictures.  Therefore I'm sharing a picture of something I made today.

A Brio train track layout.  These pieces of tracks are mainly papa penguins from when he was a kid.  A few bits are mine and then we've bought things like the level crossing and crane over at the back as a Christmas present for toddler penguin.  There are still more pieces in the box.

I love how you can make a different track every time and its actually I toy I really enjoy playing with! Hours of fun!

Monday, 22 July 2013

Weekly Meal Plan - July 22nd

Toddlers Dinners
Monday - Ham and Egg Fried Rice
Tuesday - Turkey Thai Curry and lots of rice
Wednesday - Sausages, Potato Waffles and Veg
Thursday - Omelette with cucumber and carrot sticks
Friday - Pasta and cheese with sauce from the freezer.

Grown up Dinners
It has been interesting trying to plan this weeks meals as we are going on holiday next week so therefore trying to use up all the fridge bits.
Monday - Thai Turkey Red curry and rice
Tuesday - Freezer food for papa penguin as I'm off to the cinema to see Now You See Me and meet a friend for dinner
Wednesday - Spaghetti Bolognese.  I actually cooked this on Sunday as the mince wasn't going to last through the week.  Looking forward to it being a nice easy meal to cook.
Thursday - Omlette with left overs
Friday - Chilli Con Carne from freezer with rice

I've linked this post with At Home with Mrs M and her Meal Planning Monday linky. Its been great to see other meal plans as well!

Meal Planning Monday

Saturday, 20 July 2013

They are sharing a room

With the arrival on my mum on Thursday it meant we had to move baby penguin out of the spare room and put her in with toddler penguin.  In order to do this we had to dismantle her cot as it doesn't fit through the doorways in one go.  She could've come in with us but it would have meant we either couldn't get into our wardrobe or actually into the bedroom itself so the only solution was for her to go in with her brother.

Baby penguin turned 9 months old this week however she still wakes in the night, 4 times out of 5 for a bottle and we didn't want her disturbing toddler penguin.  However what with this so called heat wave we've had all the doors and windows open to circulate the air and her crying at night didn't disturb him at all.  The first night she woke about midnight and was happy for me to just give her a dummy.  Her crying didn't wake her brother at all.  The second night didn't matter as at 2am toddler penguin wandered into our room and spent the rest of the night in our bed.  Luckily its a king so we hardly notice him in it.

Now mum has returned home, we've decided to let them share for the foreseeable future.

Here's a pic of them sharing.  One day they'll be in bunk beds but for now I think their room is ok.  I do need to have a tidy up a bit especially under toddler penguin's bed and maybe I'll add a few girlies touches! 

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful

We went to a wedding at the weekend on what was possibly the hottest day in the year so far!  It was an amazing day.  The ceremony was in a beautiful church and the reception held on the grounds at a local boys prep school.  We only took toddler penguin who was an angel and managed at 3 years old to last just about to midnight! Food was amazing.  Lots of champagne flowing, only 2 glasses for me as I decided to drive and lots of dancing.  Well not from papa penguin or my step dad who definitely had their fair share of booze! Still it was an amazing day....I surely do love a good wedding!

My second reason, and also a reason to not providing a picture for the above is that I have a new Macbook Pro and love love love it!  I haven't transferred my pictures over yet.  My old macbook doesn't work unless its plugged into the wall and its overheats just too much to the point where its burning my hands from touching the keyboard.  Just way too hot for this weather!  I've only had this new one since Tuesday and just can't stop looking at it.

My third reason and one I can provide a photo too is that yesterday our sunflower finally bloomed!  I planted the seeds back in March and its amazing how one is taller than the others.  Sadly slugs for to two of them but at least one stands tall and proud!  Toddler penguin gets very sleeping around 430pm so I get him to water the plants just to give him a burst of energy and stop him from falling asleep.  He loves doing it, especially in his wellies as he gets to jump in muddy puddles afterwards!
My final reason is that I won Ojo's World raffle on her facebook page.  I'm super excited as I've never won anything before....not even the lottery.  She is going to make me something which is amazing as I love homemade items!  

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

The Gallery - Archives

This weeks theme from Sticky Fingers is Digging into the Archives.

I had a clear out of photographs from my macbook when toddler was born in 2010 and put them all on an external hard drive.  This went into a box when we moved early 2012 and I can not find it anywhere.  Papa penguin says its in the eaves of the loft and its just too much hassle to get to.  

So today I share with you a couple of pictures "from the archives:.

The first is a picture of toddler penguin aged 3 hours old.  One of the first pictures I have on my macbook.  I love his little scrunched up face and how papa penguin cradles his face.

The second is a picture that I happened to find on facebook in one of my mums albums.  My junior school was lucky to be selected as a choir for the world famous Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat with Philip Schofield.  We performed at the London Palladium when I was 9 for 150 performances.  We started doing Monday evening, Tuesday evening, Wednesday matinee and Wednesday evening performances then halfway through we changed to Thursday evening, Friday evening, Saturday matinee and Saturday evening.  We were paid a very small amount and were encourage to complete our studies in the dressing rooms.  It was a fantastic experience, not just for me but for my mum as well who came along as a chaperon to probably over 50 performances and got to stand at the back of the auditorium watching. Apart from his trademark grey hair I don't think Philip has changed at all!

The third is one of the old pictures I have on my macbook, one that I would never delete.  This is taken in the early 80's of me and my daddy who I sadly lost in 2005.  I put together a photo album of pictures of him with friends and family for his funeral. However during our move last year we've lost it. I'm devastated and know it is somewhere and I really hope it will turn up one day.

On a brighter note I must share this picture I just found of my mum and dad in the late 70s in not only matching t-shirt but t-shirts that have their own faces on!  Funnily enough they separated 20 years later. The t-shirt were just not enough to keep them together!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

View from The Shard

At £25 a ticket you've got to be serious about going up to the top of The Shard.  I bought papa penguin two tickets for his 30th birthday back in March (in the hope that he would take me) as during construction he became a little bit obsessed with the building. We used to live in Wimbledon and often drove through London in the evenings or at weekends when visiting friends the other side.  Even though he occassionally works in the city and saw it regularly, in the car he still had to be the first person to spot it!  We even took a picture of toddler penguin when he was 11 months old with the construction of The Shard in the background.

Papa penguin was over the moon with his present but his birthday being in March and all the rubbish weather meant that we we put off buying the actually tickets until we could guarantee good weather. Luckily Monday was a lovely day (bit too hot in my opinion but I won't complain!

We met with some friends who also had tickets at the Starbucks just outside the entrance and then ventured in.  Booking online is the best option however as mentioned above £25 is quite a lot and also you have to pay for children once they turn four years of age.  They had a lift for pushchair/wheelchair users so it was easily accessible however we were asked to leave our pushchair behind the desk in a little area designated for buggy storage.  We were given a ticket for the buggy then set off towards the lift.  We didn't have to queue at all and the staff were all really friendly.  It took 6 seconds to get to the 33rd floor then we changed lifts and continued up to the 68th. The speed at which the elevators travel surely make your ears go pop.  I found out that the staff take it in turns and only on lift duty for an hour at a time. The views from the 68th floor were impressive so even though the same at the 72nd floor you are outdoors and the breeziness of the fresh air among the London smog is refreshing.

You are not limited to time once you are up there you just book a turn up slot. They could do with some seating as carrying baby penguin around for over half an hour and particularly in that heat really wore me out.  Still as you can see from the photo above the kids got to sit down. I absolutely love the one of toddler penguin sitting on a window ledge looking out the glass window.  Kids just have no fear!

Now the only downside of the View from The Shard (apart from the price) is the disgusting River Thames.  It is brown and ugly and although I'm not sure what but something needs to be done about it!

On our way out we couldn't help but stop at the gift shop.  Lots of goodies and souvenirs to choose from.  You also get your photo taken on your way in.  We chose to buy one of our pictures and pay extra for it to be leather bound and be emailed a copy.  Picture quality is great but over 24 hours later I'm still waiting for the email...

Overall splashing out for tickets would be great for a special occasion and not just something to do.  It would be disappointing if the weather was bad or really cloudy as you wouldn't see much for your money at all. Looking in to the future we might go back again but not this decade. Still add it to your bucket list.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Weekly Meal Plan - July 15th

Toddlers Dinners

Monday - Ham and Egg Fried Rice
Tuesday - Fish Fingers, Waffles and Veg
Wednesday - Omlette
Thursday - Sauages, Potatoes and Veg
Friday - Chilli Con Carne with lots of Rice

Grown up Dinners
Monday - Jacket Potatoes with Cheese, Bacon and Beans
Tuesday - Creamy Pasta with Asparagus, Peas and Pancette
Wednesday - Fragrant Courgette and Prawn Curry
Thursday - Chicken Katsu Curry and Rice
Friday - Salmon with Sticky Chilli Sauce
Saturday - Schnitzel, Potatoes and Veg
Sunday - Chicken, Leek and Bacon Pie

I've linked this post with At Home with Mrs M and her Meal Planning Monday linky. Its been great to see other meal plans as well!

Meal Planning Monday

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful

Last week I had my neighbours little boy for two days.  He was an angel but I have to say hard work in terms of keeping him entertained!  He didn't sit still for longer than two minutes at a time.  We did so much that it really wore me out.  However he was such a sweet little boy that I didn't mind....good practice for when I'm a childminder!

At the weekend papa penguin banned me and the kids from the house as he had work to do and apparently we are too noisy and distracting!  So Saturday we packed up the car and went and met friends at RHS Hyde Hall near Chelmsford. Hit horrible traffic on the way there, those roadworks on the M25 are really getting annoying.  Thank goodness for dummies, iPad's, Shrek music and air con!

It was sooo hot on Saturday and I was still recovering from my badly sunburnt back.  I expected Hyde Hall to be busier but it was the weekend of the wimbledon championship finals.  We walked around for a bit looking for pine cones and admiring all the flowers then stopped for a lunch picnic.  This meant finding a nice grassy spot and boy were we spoilt!  How often do you search for a weed free patch of grass?  I could not see a weed for miles! The grass was!

After lunch we fed the fishes and check out the home grown veg.  It was so hot that not long after we had to stop for lollies and cakes and sit in the shade for a bit!

Sunday I met papa penguin's aunt and uncle at National Trust Polesden Lacey for managed to spend the whole day there!  We stopped and had some ice lollies in the shade and toddler penguin climed a tree.

Then we walked to Mrs Greville's house to check out the old car show.  This was amazing to see so many old Fords (I think thats what they were) that were actually still in full working order.

We then checked out the childrens play area and even found time for a mini family photoshoot.  Maybe I should photoshop papa penguin in!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

My gardening experiences

Over the weekend I visited RHS Hyde Hall on National Trust Polesden Lacey and took pictures of all the flowers that I need to have in m garden (with the exception of the lily pad!).  I have no idea what any of the plants are called but I love them all.  

Earlier this year I dug up an ugly flower bed to start from scratch and planted various seeds that I found in the shed.  Little did I know that the majority of them were grass seeds albeit a few sunflower seeds, some marigolds and some other random orange flowers which I haven't got a clue of their name. I really need to go on a gardening course!

So here is the flower bed in my garden with its one lonely orange flower amongst lots of grass and most likely weeds for all I know!

The Gallary - Sun

This weeks theme from Sticky Fingers is Sun.

We've certainly been spoilt for sunshine this last week haven't we. I stupidly got sunburnt on Friday and my back is still sore but I won't complain as I don't want the sunshine to go away.  I'd like it to be a bit cooler, maybe a bit more wind but I shall enjoy it whilst it lasts.

I took this picture on Saturday whilst visiting RHS Hyde Hall with some friends.  Toddler penguin has just fed the fishes at the pond and baby penguin is chilling out and watching the world go by.  I love how this picture captures not only her toes but also toddler penguin licking his lips, the sunshade, his sun hat and then everything in the background.  The lily pads on the pond showing the reflection of the gorgeous blue sky. All the individual reeds growing on the bank and finally the green grass in the background....yes it really is that green!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Fill n Squeeze Review

I've been the proud owner of my Fill 'n' Squeeze pouches for just over a month now and I'm in love with them so much that I had to share.

Toddler penguin is going through a phase where he doesn't like fruit however he loves the "squeezies" as we call them but they do workout expensive and in my opinion all shop bought ones taste the same.  I wanted to make my own for him and for baby penguin but wasn't sure where to start. Whilst browsing the Jojo Maman Bebe website for clothes I randomly came across these Fill 'n' Squeeze pouches and ordered them straight away!

They arrived shortly after and the pouch filler jog was washed immediately as  I couldn't wait to start using it. In the box you get a pouch filler jug,  a plunger (which doubles up as a masher), a jug closure cap, 5 reusable pouches which are sterile and ready to use. You can also purchase an extra 10 sterile pouches for only £4.50 which if you do the maths is 45p each. These pouches are reusable so I think its all money well spent!  The box it comes in is really sturdy which makes it great for storing all the bits and pieces between uses.

So having just bought some apples, pears, bananas and plums from the supermarket I set about making my fruit purees.  You can make endless amount of purees (just use the current ones on the market for inspiration however the first one I chose to make was apple, pear and banana puree.  I peeled, sliced and cooked in a little water the 2 apples and 4 pears. When soft I added one banana, gave it a quick stir and turned off the heat.

I decanted the fruit into the pouch filler jug making sure i had the yellow lid in place and then using a hand blender I gave it all a quick zap

I inserted the masher with the rubber covering in and pushed down whilst holding the yellow plug in place.  I then tilted the jug bag and pulled the masher upwards in order to stop the puree from flowing out the bottom hole whilst I removed the yellow plug and quickly inserted a pouch. Pushing down gently pushes the puree into the pouches.  These are mainly for baby penguin so I only really half fill them but have done the odd few to the max line.

It took me a few tries to get the hang of it and controlling the flow to stop it dripping but once I was on a role I couldn't stop!
I found it easier to write the contents on little labels and sticking them on. Here are all my pouches lined up and ready to go in the freezer!
So now for the fun the reuseable pouches.  Firstly I suggest you use rubber gloves as you are putting your hands very close to hot water and I do not want to be responsible for any burns....secondly the only con about this product is that this process isn't that great on the evironment with the amount of water I had to run!

To begin with run your tap on hot to just more than a trickle and rinse the pouch out. It is best to hold the far corners of the pouch to avoid being scalded.

Put your finger over the spout and tip the pouch upside down and ensure you get to all the creases before pouring out and repeating again.
I then add a tiny drop of washing up liquid to a rinsed pouch along with some more hot water and give it a shake with my finger over the spout.
Turn it upside down and give it a shake using your spare hand (mine was holding the camera) to give it a good squeeze ensuring you get to all the creases.
 Finally give it a good rinse a couple of times and clean the lid.
Using the pouch filler you can insert some air or I use a balloon pump to open it up and then sterilise it using cold water and a sterilising tablet.

Disclaimer: This is my own personal review and I have received no payment for this post.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Weekly Meal Plan - July 8th

Toddlers Dinners
Monday - Cheese and Ham Toasted Muffins
Tuesday - Chipolatas, Waffles and Veg
Wednesday - Thai Green Chicken Curry
Thursday - Fish Cakes, Alphabet Potatoes, Peas
Friday - Turkey Drummers, Potatoes and Veg

Grown up Dinners
Tuesday - Thai Green Chicken Curry
Thursday - Risotto (leftovers)
Friday - Thai Red Prawn Curry
Saturday - We are at wedding with just the toddler (the inlaws have baby penguin) so we are stopping at a Brewers Fayre pub for lunch then looking forward to our three course dinner - I feel a bit spoilt at weddings!
Sunday - Hoping to have a bbq to thank the inlaws for looking after baby penguin.

I've linked this post with At Home with Mrs M and her Meal Planning Monday linky. Its been great to see other meal plans as well!

Meal Planning Monday

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Reasons to be Cheerful

I usually write my posts on Thursdays either when the kids are eating breakfast or whilst toddler penguin is at nursery and baby penguin is napping.  However I write this weeks on a Wednesday night as tomorrow (Thursday) and Friday I am looking after my neighbours kid all day. 

He is a lovely little boy (just turned 2) and him and toddler penguin get on really well together. It will also be good practise for when I'm registered as a childminder. He will have to accompany us whilst we take toddler penguin to nursery and pick him up at lunch but I have lots planned!

On Saturday we took the kids to the Natural History Museum. Was a really good day out though we had to leave a little after lunch as toddler penguin was complaining of a belly ache. The place is amazing and I can't believe its free!  Baby penguin was amazing and drifted in and out of naps and I preempted any cries by getting her out the buggy every now and then and carried her round.  Toddler penguin wasn't 100% well but  enjoyed the minerals section and the dinosaurs.  We took packed lunches so all we had to pay for was travel....and souvenirs bought in the gift shop!
Sunday I caught up with my friends at Bluewater.  Was lovely to have a girlie shopping trip even if baby penguin had to come with us (papa penguin wasn't up for looking after two!) I spent more money than I had anticipated but got some lovely clothes from H&M for baby penguin to wear next year and some trousers for toddle penguin in the Gap sale.

Another reason to be cheerful is that I sold our microwave on one of those local FB selling sites.  It was an all singing all dancing microwave but the light had broken.  Every morning I was managing to over bubble my porridge and research showed it would be easier to buy a new microwave than replace the bulb. I got £25 for our old one and in return bought a new basic and smaller purple one that fits my needs much more.

Happy Thursday everyone.  Looking forward to the weekend....its going to be a scorcher!