Friday, 20 February 2015

Half-term Day 5 - Back to the Old Routine

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Football again today. After a lazy start (a longer lie in was due after our Youtubing and TOTPing musical eduction last night), I dropped him off, not on the bike for I am bringing two other children home later. I went for a run, but struggled today. I only achieved 2/3 of the run, but hey. At least I did it. Then it was off to discuss options for a new car! It seems that, a test run notwithstanding, I will be getting a new bucket of new bolts very soon! Exciting times.

When I picked up Ben from football, his coach said he'd been fine today. When asked why, Ben said "Because I wanted to be good." I explained that he'd dropped himself in it now, as I know he can be! How many extra marbles shall I give him today? Three? He's currently out on the common playing football with R and S. As if he hasn't done enough today... Off out for dinner tonight. Glynn's treat, to make up for having to work all week.

Last day of the holiday.

MONEY £10 for football (already paid) and £2.50 for a hot dinner. Dinner tbc.

HEALTH AND FITNESS A run, 2/3 of normal route.

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT It will probably be enjoying a family dinner tonight. Oh and hearing Ben has been good today.

Half-term Day 4 - Party Time



A break from the team training today, as Ben was invited to a party by Charlie Up The Road. He came round to play in the morning, they invented two ball games for the alley, one of which was called Curly Wurly (I forget the other name, probably Kit Kat). Charlie's party was at Bowlplex, Ben should've been an expert as he'd been to Harry's party there a few weeks ago. He was the oldest there (Charlie is a year younger) and because he wasn't winning, he got into a right strop! I moved away from him to have a cup of tea in peace for 10 minutes; either that, or he was at risk of being bowled himself down the alley. When things were going his way, he was, funnily enough, in a much better mood. He did come second in the end, which satisfied him. On the car journey home, he dropped his iced cake and made a mess on the floor the car. Never mind, I'm getting a new one very soon.

MONEY Not included was the £4 parking and present money; £2 for a cup of tea in Bowlplex.

HEALTH AND FITNESS No riding today (after 20 miles in two days). In fact, no exercise today, only exercising control over unhealthy food!

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT The introduction, and good start, of the Marble Reward System. A jar into which marbles are placed for good behaviour, and which can be exchanged for 10 minutes of screen time. Screen time is reduced to one hour a day (after 9am meaning I can lie in bed for an extra hour!). We did this a few years ago, and I realised with the decline of his behaviour, and a chat with another mum, that we needed to do something. I have heard from two other mums that their kids are playing up at the moment, so I'm clearly not the only one! Phew!

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Half-term Day 3 - Indulgence



Ben went to football today with his friend from up the road. He opted for a packed lunch today which, at £2.50, isn't too bad especially as he told me ate 5 pieces of pizza and 5 burgers! I cycled again today, and down to Southsea again, but by a different route. At home after football, we did some more Skylanders drawing. When I say drawing, I mean copying out the logos. And when I say we, I mean I drew them and he coloured them in. I'm a good copier, apparently.

MONEY Football £10 and lunch £2.50; lunch £10 for me; face and eye creams £10 (well it could've been £60! Read on)

HEALTH AND FITNESS I cycled over 10 miles again and apparently that's about 700 calories!

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT Glynn bought me a pamper voucher for Riva 6 which I used today for a massage and facial with a glass of bubbly. It was pure bliss, and very decadent to have bubbles at just gone midday! I nearly bought the £60 set but resisted thinking I'll get something different from Southsea. I then had a leisurely lunch reading my magazine (well why not? It's my only time on my own) in The Garage Bakery (delicious eggy bread with ham and cheese). This is my me time over this week.

Half-term Day 2 - Football as usual



What do we usually do in half-terms? Yes of course, play football. It's with SSA, who he plays for, and at £10 a day from 10-3, it's very good value. Add a packed lunch too to save more money. For my money saving effort, but mostly purposeful exercise, we cycled up to Goals and then I rode back into Southsea along the sea front, pausing for a quick gaze at the sea, feeling the heat through my black jeans, before meeting my old friend for lunch in Capers. Time went on, we nattered, I bought lunch, she left to start work. I cycled back the same way to pick Ben up. At home, we spent the rest of the afternoon eating pancakes and drawing Skylanders!

MONEY Total spend today: £10 for football; £16 for lunch for two (using up 3 free drinks on my loyalty card saving approx £4)

HEALTH AND FITNESS I cycled well over 10 miles today, which is unbelievable really, if I hadn't seen it on Map My Run.

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT Nattering with my friend, whom I hadn't seen for a year.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Half-term Day 1 - A little taste of independence

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MONEY Total spend today: £4.75 on Ben's swimming; £1 spectating; £2 cup of tea; parking refunded; £3 half of holiday money for Ben spent on Skylanders cards. Total: £10.75
Planned spend rest of week: 3 x football @ £10/day; possible cinema.

HEALTH AND FITNESS After my normal run yesterday, I walked and ran today to pick up the car.
Planned exercise for rest of week: 2 x runs; Wii Fit; stair walking.

TODAY'S HIGHLIGHT As it was rainy, we decided swimming was the order of the day but with a twist. We let the boys in on their own! They were all very sensible, stayed in 2s or the whole group (of 4). Managed to organise lockers and everything!

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Simplifying our weekly menu

In my head, I have this ideal image of us all sitting down together every night for dinner, at a table not adorned by Lego Movie sets in the middle of being built, but with napkins and everything. I bring to the table a scrumptious lamb ragout/paprika chicken/lasagne that I've slaved over that afternoon.

Of course this never happens. Increasing one's hours at work happens. Football clubs and other after-school activities happen. Other Half working late happens. This ideal is ... well an ideal.

I've just about admitted that it ain't every gonna happen, so what am I going to do about it? Simplify the week's menu, so that a couple of times, after we've eaten, I can prep a meal (like one above) to serve the day after. My mum does this. In fact she does most of her cooking the day before! And it works. You know how cottage pies and soups always taste better after they've "settled" for a day?

So while experimenting on these simple "nursery" type meals, we rediscovered bacon and egg sandwiches. Dippy eggs, not just for Sunday breakfasts. Scrambled eggs. Omelettes. Egg fried rice. Jacket potatoes (which I'd avoided for years after they were named the "worst food ever" as they had the highest - or lowest? - GI on their index).

Mr Other Half was pleased too - nothing like a bacon sarnie to keep him happy. And an omelette just about brings him to his knees.

Ben wasn't upset either at the disappearance of these "occasional" big meals. He does occasionally eat a massive meal, but is usually known to eat a normal one and then by the time he's placed his cutlery on the plate, says "Can I have some cereal?" So this type of menu suits him too. He can have a packed lunch style snack after school, eat a nursery tea, then cereal before bed. (And before you ask, we don't need to worry about his weight!)

This week's menu:
Sunday - bacon sarnies for lunch; roast lamb
Monday - birthday meal at Pizza Hut
Tuesday - omelette and bread
Wednesday - jacket potatoes and tuna
Thursday - chicken stew (prepped the night while the potatoes are baking!) (Thursdays are my late and heavy work load day so something in the slow cooker is the best idea.)
Friday - who knows night! Carpet picnic probably.

Another great recipe - this time for quiche



I'm no stranger to quiche. I have made filo ones aux Hairy Bikers (very nice, bit more fiddly to make) and my mum always brings up a quiche from The Pasty Shop opposite Glynn's mum and dad's house in Saltash (why make them when they taste so nice and are basically home made?).

For Christmas, my in laws bought me the Higgidy Cookbook, you know they make the yummy little pies we buy from Waitrose? I chose to use my in laws as guinea pigs for my first recipe - a mixture between their Quiche Lorraine and Smoked Chicken and Parsley Pesto Quiche.

I had to bake blind, which I hadn't done for years, so I had to buy some baking beans. I didn't put enough beans in the, nor prick my pastry, so I had a few balloons. Also as the sheets of pastry (no I didn't make my own, who do you think I am? My mother?) were too small, instead of rolling out (which I will do next time) I tried to join two pieces together. Not successful but as my mother in law kindly said, it makes it look more authentic.

Here's my version of the recipe:
1 sheet of shortcrust pastry
Bake blind (prick it!) for 20 mins on 180 degrees (fan). (I did this the night before and kept the pastry in the cool oven.)

200g meat (I used leftover gammon)
a few asparagus stems that I'd fried earlier
snipped chives
250ml double cream
3 medium eggs (I was supposed to put 1 egg yolk in it but I forgot - but didn't notice!)
handful of grated cheese

I spooned in the warm asparagus stems (chopped) and cool meat and herbs. Then I whisked the cream and eggs together, seasoned, and poured in the pastry case, scattering the cheese on top.

I baked on a hot baking sheet for 25-30 mins (but I think it was catching after 20 mins). We had most of it hot that night, and small leftover cold slivers for lunch the next day. Delicious! Best one I've ever made.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

What am I grateful for?

http://www.ahaparenting.com/_blog/Parenting_Blog/post/Shift_Your_Mood_with_Gratitude_Practices/

I just read a post about gratitude - this is something I try to regularly think about. Not in the #blessed way, as that annoys me a teensy bit. 

It asks for you to think of 10 thungs you're grateful for today:-

1. The pizza I had yummy
2. My lovely colleagues who help me on Thursdays
3. The experience of the extra marking (thanks Teacher!)
4. Watching the Nation's Fav Queen sing with Ben
5. My clean house when I returned home
6. Glynn being home early
7. My lovely 20 min lunch break with The Girls
8. Funny friends on FB
9. My health - not got The Cold yet!
10. Being me (ha ha). 

Sunday, 5 October 2014

When I grow up, I want to be just like daddy...

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... said Ben today. Let me explain the context. I was helping Ben with his homework by showing him a few rudimentals of Excel. He then said "I think I might take over Dad's job when I'm older. It's a really cool job" (A year ago, Mr Humdrum and his friend set up an architectural technical firm.) I felt really pleased that he'd said this, and asked Ben to repeat it to his dad when we were in the car a bit later on, going to football.

So he did. When pushed for more information, here were the four reasons why Ben wants to follow in his father's footsteps:

  1. He doesn't get bossed around by anyone.
  2. He can go and have a poo if he's feeling bored with his job.
  3. He can have snacks whenever he likes.
  4. He can play hide-and-seek with the other two there for fun.
And that, ladies and gentleman, is why he thinks it's a really cool job.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Victorious Chicken Burrito



One of my aims this week (while I'm Ben-free) is to consolidate my list of recipes. I'm getting fed up with stressing about what to cook. I love cooking, I love shopping for food, these are not my issues. It's when Ben and I get in after activities in the evenings, I don't have time for cooking long and complicated recipes. I'm not averse to cutting corners from time to time (I've started to buy ready made mash from Waitrose -it's only got potatoes, salt and pepper in it!) but obviously I don't want to eat ready meals often.

Which brings me to my first recipe I'm going to share with you. I'm naming it Victorious Chicken Burrito, so named after the fabulous Burrito Boys's delish food at the Victorious Festival here in Portsmouth last weekend. I ate there twice on Saturday and it's reignited my love for Mexican food. I also follow a Slowcooker Facebook group and this recipe is adapted slightly from theirs. If there is any sauce left from dinner tonight, I shall probably freeze it to use another time. In fact, it would be worth making two lots, wouldn't it?

Victorious Chicken Burrito
To make the chicken -
- 4 chicken thighs
- half a can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- a can of ratatouille (need to investigate the salt and sugar here, it was just for convenience)
- half a packet of Taco seasoning (I just found that in the cupboard, you could make your own or use any Mexican seasoning)
- a can of tomatoes

I bunged it all in the slow cooker and cooked for around 6-8 hours on Medium and then let it settle all night, and it's still settling now. I have pulled the chicken apart, that's the photo I've used.

To make the burrito -
- for convenience I'm using a pack of Mexican rice
- salsa (I may just chop some tomatoes up and add coriander etc)
- grated cheese
- natural yogurt
- guacamole (I'm going to make my own tonight, I may post the recipe if successful)

Pack the pulled chicken, alongside rice, salsa, guacamole, cheese and yogurt into a tortilla wrap. Fold and EAT! Photos later.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Smile

You don't know how much you appreciate your child's smile until one of his teeth is damaged. Thankfully our NHS repaired it. 

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Ideas jar

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I've seen this many times online, so I'm not taking any credit (Diary of a Frugal Family, one of my favourite blogs, has it here for example). I got the idea while reading A Mother's Ramblings' post where they got up at 4am and watched the sunrise. The photos were amazing and it's inspired me to put some ideas into a jar. I haven't actually made the jar yet, but I have started a list!

Friday, 8 August 2014

I don't want to watch

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Since receiving his stunt scooter at Christmas, Ben has visited the skate park a few times, mostly at my mum's house in Cornwall, where he has watched shyly until confident he can do the same moves. We have heard from a few people about how good the Southsea Skate Park was so a few weeks ago, we went with E and the JRs.

Then the JR's mum asked if we wanted to go this week as well, for the scooter training. The two boys duly achieved their Level 1 certificates, well done Ben and R! While we were there the first time, we saw a teenager attempt some scary stunt only to fall heavily in a kind of vertical direction. Amazingly he didn't break his neck, or any other part of his body, and walked away. But watching him and the others who all do their stunts properly, it made me realise I might wish to take advantage of the Pay and Go Away system. Is Ben old enough for me to leave him?!




Off to camp

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Ben, or Elf as I used to call him, has today gone to his first Cub Camp. He's been away on Beaver and Cub sleepovers, spent weeks away from us with his grandparents and at friends' houses. I remember when he was a toddler and as Grandma and Grandpa drove away from our road, we expected a wave, certainly not tears. He didn't even wave, he just started reading a magazine or something and that was it.

Which is good. I am amazed at how many parents say "Oh so and so has never been away from us". I have even thought in the past "Are we bad parents?" No! I work term time and whilst it's lovely to not have to worry about childcare in the holidays, I don't ever get any time on my own. Save for the one week a year when Grandma and Grandpa whisk him away to Devon. Then I get time to spend doing exactly what I want (like falling off a bench or deciding to stop blogging and use my Facebook page, hang on haven't I just done that again?). So this year I'm extremely lucky because I get that Devon week (after Bank Holiday) and the next four days!

Friends are about to dump send off their children at camp (Brownies and Cubs) so we have made a couple of plans to meet up! Yes, meeting up. SANS ENFANTS. Maybe going out for a meal? Having a drink without the tiny thought in the back of your mind that you may have to sober up in the next few minutes to deal with an injury or a scrap.

Ben's mate J said to his mum "I'm so excited about going to camp. Two days not under your control!" And he thought he was the winner. No J, we are the winners. I'll report back how the evenings out went.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A bittersweet visit to my parents

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One of my oldest (longest) friend's dad died recently and I travelled down to the homeland to pay my respects to him, and to support my friend. Travelling alone was a bit of a luxury, sans enfant et sans Glynn. I never get to spend time with my parents on my own, so we made the most of it. The funeral went as well as could be expected, but the party afterwards was a true celebration of his life. He would have been so proud of his two sons. 

The next day, the three of us went to Mount Edgcumbe Park for a long ramble, hoping to find where I lost my dog Kim many, many years ago. In fact my friend and I were discussing it only the day before (he'd been with me). I don't think I did find the actual pathway but we did walk around in an odd figure of 8 shape, finished off by a nice cup of tea in the Orangery. Here Dad and I are racing back from the Folly to up where Mum waited.





How many posts do I write about actual blogging?

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I don't actually know, but I'm guessing I could count on more than one but less than two hands. Today I had some time on my hands (hence the counting) as my dear boy had to be collected from school as he wasn't feeling well. After quickly covering my lessons, I took him home and we bundled on the sofa, watching MOTD, Outnumbered, Tom n Jerry and Johnny Test. I read three chapters of The Mystery of the Strange Bundle (Blyton's Five Find-Outers) and I'm reading the last two chapters before bed. I've also done a load of washing and done a bit of surfing, both things I rarely have time for.

Searching for a magazine-like website for women, I came across Huff Post's post Top 10 Websites for Women and discovered xojane.co.uk and blogher.com from whence popped this!

Inspired, I start (again) and hope I continue...

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Beef goulash - yummy

Mr Humdrum's "fun" Christmas present this year was a Hamlyn recipe book "200 really easy recipes". It's nearly the end of April and he hasn't been near it.

I batch cooked in the Easter holidays and made beef goulash. Defrosted it and ate it yesterday with a jacket potato. Gosh it was yummy. The sauce was thick and tasty. I didn't use my own stock but hey. And I discovered that marjoram was basically oregano. Result!

Can thoroughly recommend it.



Monday, 7 April 2014

Sunday Monday happy days

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(I have just changed my font to Helvetica - didn't the creator die recently?) (Yes and I know it's a typeface not a font.)

This past week or so, I've been doing the 100happydays challenge. You have to Facebook or tweet (or email to be private) a photo of what makes you happy for 100 days in a row. You receive a book of your images at the end as a reward. On day 8 so far, the hardest part for me is not, as the raison d'etre of the challenge suggests, that I'm too busy for this; rather I am prone to forgetting! I have therefore set up a reminder on my phone. I'm worried that food pictures will feature, and I don't want all of my posts to be "Oh so proud of my son" etc. 

And it's not like I'm not happy! I am, well I'm content, and that in my (photo) book is better than being happy. I like being content with the happy bits coming often. 

Anyway, why not take up the challenge? I just want the book. But how on earth the photo of the cup of tea on Day 2 will make any sense without its caption (Cuppa made for me at cub drop off), I don't know. Watch this space.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Thankful Thursday

This probably exists already as a meme, but let's just assume I made it up. I have managed to get through a whole month without blogging. Things have been annoying this year so far; not THAT bad but downright annoying. And while I can manage one or two annoying things, when EVERYTHING is annoying, well it just gets you down. Let's just think about work though...

Just as the Spring weather bursts out, I am starting to feel better. This Thursday I am thankful that I've had a good week at work. Not just a good week, but the best week this year so far. In January I changed my role at work. Feeling like I needed a change, I asked for it. But when it happened, it had attached to it another role that challenged my confidence. Realising I am "externally referenced" (thanks Shorwood and her NLP training!), when I understood this reference was not forthcoming, I knew I had to look inside myself to boost my confidence. I aspire to be more "externally referenced".

Due to ill health (a horrid flu-like thing and a small, planned hospital procedure) plus half-term sandwiched in the middle, a three-week break inadvertently afforded me the opportunity to step back and view my progress, or my perceived lack of, and how I was going to "make it work". Unfortunately I cannot explain how I did it - I think it just happened to me. Maybe it was in the back of my mind all the time, and it needed time and space to move around and sort itself out. However it did it, it did it.

Hence this week's HURRAH. (I also started teaching French to more classes so that might have something to do with it!)

In any case, this positivity resulted in a desire to blog today. HURRAH indeed!

So this Thursday, I am thankful for my nasty flu bug and a small operation.