Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year New You!

Hello there strangers!  Well it's been bloody ages since I last wrote a blog and boy have I missed it.  Unfortunately returning to both jobs after being on maternity leave coupled with looking after a 5 year old and a 1 year old doesn't really leave much time to do anything else except feed ourselves and keep the dirt level to just acceptable.

So, what better time and way to restart the old blogging lark than on the 1st day of the 1st month of 2013 and with my first blog post being my New Years Resolutions.  I have to admit, I am a tad weary about committing resolutions to paper (I am constantly re-writing to-do lists so that they look better) let alone putting them out there on t'internet but I thought, what the hell so here goes!

1)  To try to blog regularly. 

I am not committing to a set amount each month and lets be truthful....at the moment the only person who really reads my blog is my mum but I enjoy writing on my blog.  I find it therapeutic and I like being able to document certain things that happen in my life rather than them getting lost on a time line etc.

2) Reduce my work hours. 

I currently have two part-time jobs.  I work Mon-Fri 8.30am-12.30pm in a local secondary school and I thoroughly love this job and the people I work with.  I also work Wed-Fri 6pm-10pm and most Sundays 4pm-8pm in a well known Supermarket.  This job I don't enjoy so much but I remind myself regularly that there are lots of people out there without jobs so I am very lucky to have two.  However, if there are any mums reading this post right now and thinking "hey, she has a 1 year old who must be in childcare and a 5 year old who must be in primary school...that doesn't leave a lot of time in between drop-offs and pick-ups" well, you'd be absolutely correct!  So, I plan on having a little chin wag with my boss and seeing if I can drop some hours.  I let you know how these conversations go on!

3) Read more. 

At the moment I struggle to read my monthly copy of Mollie Makes before the next is delivered and my lovely Mum subscribed me to Pretty Nostalgia for my Christmas present this year so I need to get this under control.  I also plan on getting back on track with reading proper books again.  I may need to invest in a book light as most of my reading could be done whilst feeding my son.  I am hoping that resolution number 2 will assist in this!


4) Make an item of clothing.

I love to craft.  I love to sew but I have never made an item of clothing and this year I will.  Whether it be something for my daughter or son or myself I WILL make something this year!

5) Trust my own instincts and choices when it comes to parenting. 

This is a major battle I have had with myself since having my son in 2011.  I had no confidence at all in my parenting skills when I had my daughter in 2007.  A stressful birth followed by lack of support from health care professionals led to her refusing breastfeeding which definitely affected our bond.  Not having a support network of like-minded mummies around me left me following the "norm" with *whispers* controlled crying and self settling.  The worst things I could have done in my opinion. 

This time round I have breastfed my son, co-slept with him, refused to allow him to cry when all I need to do is pick him up and give him a cuddle.  I joined my local La Leche League before my son was born and received the most amazing support from the lovely ladies there.  I started following the amazing Lulastic and the hippyshake who is brilliant for anything activist/attached parenting/breastfeeding/general making the world a better place for our children....I could go on.  I also made some like minded friends and consequently joined a brilliant support group called Harrogate Instinctive Parenting Group on Facebook which was created to help support local mum's who wanted to follow their natural nurturing instincts and not be told to "give them a bottle" "leave them to cry, it did mine no harm" "you're making a rod for your own back".  The support I receive from my new friends is invaluable because when the "norm" is getting comments like the ones above you start to question what you are doing.  These magnificent mummies (and some daddies) are always there to remind me to trust in my own choices and ignore the negative voices. 

So for all you who don't like it....I breastfeed my 1 year old son and I don't think he plans on stopping anytime soon.  My son sleeps with my husband and I.  It is the only way I can get a decent enough nights sleep in to do 2 jobs, along with looking after 2 children and a house.  It might not work for you but it works for me and my husband.

And finally.....

6) To remember (and be prepared for in advance) people's birthdays!!!!!!

And that concludes the resolutions for this year I think.

I wish you all a happy and healthy new year! x x x x

Friday, 15 June 2012


I have been having a little dabble in the kitchen every now and then.   I am by no means within a healthy weight range and know that I should watch what I eat but do you know what?  I don't want to.....! Ha! There!

Me and the Mr do not have many luxuries in our life as we just cannot afford them and food is the one thing that I do try and enjoy so we do our best to cook things that are nice.

So,  I started watching Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall Everyday series.  I truly do love this man.  I don't know why because I don't find him sexy attractive or anything, I think I just like the fact that he drives an old jeep, he looks like he's wearing old clothes, he has a scabby bit of thread tied round his wrist that looks like one of his kids made him a friendship bracelet.  He grows his own veg.  He has the most amazing house.  What more can I say.

Anyhow, on one episode Hugh is trying to encourage people to make their own bread.  This is right up my street.........something we eat everyday.........that I can make.........and save money..........BRILLIANT!

And here is what I made........

Pretty good eh?  They weren't as light in the middle as I would have liked but I'll get there.

I also baked a delicious chocolate cake for my niece's birthday.

I was quite impressed with myself as I have never made a cake like it before ever.  This was done with a recipe I got online!

Have you baked anything scrummy lately?

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Street Art

This is just a short post as really I wanted to get your opinion in street art.

I feel there are many opportunities around us for street art.  I don't mean graffiti or tagging I mean proper art.  I also don't just mean a random piece of metal put up in a flower bed to represent..............erm...........a piece of metal in a flower bed.......I mean art that people can look at and know what it is. That people can appreciate for being a well drawn/painted/sprayed thing.

I know an up-and-coming artist who has worked with young people in projects and got permission from the local council for them to graffiti some buildings that were due to be torn down.  He has also been known to stop teenagers who were about to poorly graffiti on a wall and gave them a lesson in how to do it properly!

Anyhow,  if you've been in Hitchin recently you may have come across some of the following posters/stickers around the Town...........

The following was on a wall near a badly stencilled Banksy wannabe thing......

then these were in a stairwell of a car park

The next day a conversation was overheard by a street cleaner talking to a colleague about how he was keeping one!

So what is your opinion on street art?  Just a mess or should be encouraged at the right level?

Note: I do not condone damage to public or private property but personally I think they are very good and brighten the place up!

Monday, 11 June 2012

magazine rack makeover!

So......I have a bit of an addiction to magazines..........

It's not as bad as it used to be.  I normally only buy 2 a month now (Mollie Makes and Red) but can sometimes be tempted with Country Living or Country Homes and Interiors.  When I've read the magazines I them cut out any pretty pictures that make me feel happy or inspire me (or articles) and stick them in a scrap book.  However, having a wee one and a pre-schooler sometimes leaves me with little free time so the mags were just getting stacked up in the living room.  I decided I needed a magazine rack so headed to my local car boot.......................................................

and came back with this.........

So me and Izzy set about making it a little more interesting.

I don't know why but for some reason I seem to have ended up with red accessories in my lounge (see tablecloth) and quite like this colour so decided to go with it.

Here is the finished item.  Just a bit of sanding and 2 tester pots of paint (I'm far too lazy for a base coat).  Not bad eh???

I keep looking at other wooden items in my living room and wondering what else I can paint??????

Watch out table and chairs.............here I come!!!!!!!

Saturday, 12 May 2012


Right then, lets get this straight.  I am not someone who preaches that there is only one way to do something and all other ways are wrong but when I find something that works and I love I become very passionate about it and breastfeeding is a very good example. 

I'll set the record straight, breastfeeding hasn't always worked for me.  My daughter who is now 4 years old refused the breast at 2 months after being breastfed and then topped up with a formula bottle since about 2 weeks old.  There was nobody more devastated than me.  When I was pregnant with Izzy I was determined to breastfeed.  On one of the (many) pregnancy magazines I purchased, I was given a free breastfeeding book which I read from cover to cover.  It was really helpful, showed me the correct latch, talked about expressing and also told me that if I was doing it correctly my baby would feed for approximately 15 minutes per feed and go 4 hours in between feeds.  Like I said, really good book.  Well, Izzy fed for about that during the day for the first 2 weeks.  She wouldn't however, go to sleep at night (in her own cot).  For 2 weeks I slept for minutes at night in a chair in our room as she constantly wanted to suckle and every time I tried to put her down she would scream. Unfortunately I did not take the advice of most people about sleeping when your baby sleeps so I got a little tired.  To make matters worse, Izzy was not putting on weight.  Each time a midwife came they would tell me she had lost a little more but I was given no advice as to how I could rectify this problem.  At the end of 2 weeks I was exhausted and my right nipple was cracked and bleeding.  After another visit with the message of lost weight I faced another agonising feed.  My husband and a friend suggested giving in and ringing the breastfeeding helpline that was given with all the hospital information............I got the answer machine...........so I rang the on-call midwife in tears.  She was not happy..........she told me to express as much milk from my right breast, feed from my left and then give Izzy the bottle of breast milk followed my formula if she was still hungry. My very good friend took Izzy's moses basket into her room for the night,  I fed Izzy, put her down, and then went to bed.  I remember it now, it was 9.30pm  I woke up the following morning panicking that my friend would've been awake all night with someone else's screaming baby............it turns out Izzy had woken, taken the couple of oz of breast milk I'd managed to express and then guzzled 6 oz of formula before falling asleep again............at 9.30am she was still asleep.

From that point on I was advised by the midwives to breastfeed and then top up with formula.  This worked a treat and Izzy started to put on weight.  I was signed off from the midwives and progressed to the health visitors!  They were ever so helpful and were quick to tell me that I needed to stop giving formula as my breast milk would dry up.  So I stopped...........and so did Izzy's weight gain..........so they told me to start again...............and so did Izzy's weight gain.  Back and forth this went until at 2 months old Izzy decided she was not going to feed from me anymore.  It was one of the saddest moments of my life.

Not breastfed but she survived!

I blame a lot of factors on my failure to breastfeed Izzy.............false ideas given by the book I read..........lack of advice from the midwives and health visitors (actually I did get some advice from one midwife "nobody said it was going to be easy"!!!!!)..........nobody actually checking my latch position...........lack of support.

This time however I was determined to give breastfeeding a go.  Luckily on a trip to my midwife drop-in clinic at my local Sure Start centre there happened to be a La Leche League drop in clinic and I met a lovely lady named Lesley.  I told her all about my problems feeding Izzy and that I was determined to give it my best shot ever with my soon to be born son.  Lesley was amazing, she gave me some advice about latch positions and leant me a book called "The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding" by Diane Wiessinger, Diana West and Teresa Pitman.  I didn't read it all, instead I just dipped in and out of the chapters I thought were relevant.

I was shocked to discover how important skin-to-skin contact is in the first few days after birth.  I kept a very open mind and gave birth to a healthy 9lb 5oz baby boy called Charlie.  Straight after his birth I gently offered him my breast and like a miracle he started to breastfeed........and didn't stop for 4 hours! I fed Charlie on demand, which meant practically constantly for the first week!  Nobody tells you that can happen........ I only ever read that babies should go hours between feeds, my little boy was a real booby man.  I didn't ever let him cry for long. If he did I would pick him up, cuddle him or change his nappy and if that didn't work then I would offer him the breast.  At first it was hard and one night he fed from 4pm until midnight but he gradually went longer an longer between feeds.

My 2 Monsters!

The best thing I have ever done is to listen to Charlie.  I remember a health visitor telling me, when Charlie was about 2 months old, that he should be going at least 3 hours between every feed.  I got quite upset and almost listened to her until I went to my La Leche League meeting and was reassured to feed Charlie when he wanted feeding, not when some woman told me he should be fed.  It made perfect sense,  I bet the health visitor wasn't abstaining from Mars Bars when she got a bit peckish so why should I make my 8 week old hold out when he was hungry?

Me and the Booby Grub

Charlie is amazing,  he is quite chilled out, happy, lively.  Sometimes he will feed a couple of times in an hour and sometimes he will go 3 hours.  Yes he might be a little clingy but other than me and the Mr we do not have anyone one else local that we can leave him with and as he is breastfed he needs my babillons!   I have just returned to work 3 evenings a week so Charlie is learning to take a sippy cup of milk from Daddy as a bottle just does not come close to a nice warm, squidgy booby.

At night Charlie feeds about 3 or 4 times.  I used to put him in his cot and get him out for feeds and then put him back when he was finished but I found myself falling asleep whilst sitting up.  Charlie now co-sleeps with us but I'll post more about that later as I know lots of people have opinions about it.

The Booby Grub is actually feeding here!

So, breastfeeding.  For me it is amazing.  It was hard work at first, but it has got easier.  The bond I have with Charlie is fantastic, completely different to the one I had with Izzy when she was a baby which makes me very sad.  I know breastfeeding is different for everyone but what makes me saddest of all is that breastfeeding is not seen as the normal way to feed our babies.   I don't know how long I will feed Charlie for.  Originally I just wanted to be able to do it so I didn't even think about when I'd have to stop.  I used to think that women who breastfed toddlers were hippies and a bit weird but now it just seems natural. Again, I don't know how old my booby grub will be when we stop but for now I am just grateful that I have had this opportunity and I'm going to enjoy it for as long as I can.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on breastfeeding or your own experiences...............

Thursday, 19 April 2012

What I've been up to......

So, it's been a good few weeks since my last post.  Unfortunately The Bruiser seems to be taking up most of my time (even eating into my evenings...........I know...........how dare he?) and when I do get any time to myself I seem to waste it surfing the Internet or reading a magazine.  I remember when I used to get through 4 or 5 magazines a month.  It takes me a month to read 2 now!!!!!!!

So, what have I been up to?  Well there's actually loads going on in my life right now.  Not all good and the bad seems to be taking up more time than the good at the moment (but that's a whole other post).  I don't like to write what I call "bad" posts but this particular subject is something that is very important to me and my family and has affected us all so much that I feel I need to put it out there.  However, it is one of those posts that I really want to take some time writing so I'll save it for another time.

Right then...........I've done a bit of making.............

This is the first official crochet thing I have ever made!  I have to say I am quite proud of myself.  I gave it to my friend as a birthday present.  Being on maternity leave I have to be careful with the old pennies at the moment and I love receiving gifts that I know the person giving has spent their time making as opposed to spent a lot of money buying.  I get the impression my friend didn't feel the same though............

I have lots of other ideas for crochet gifts so beware friends and family members!

These two books were picked up at my local house clearance shop.  They often have a collection of things they don't think they'll be able to sell, so they put them in the "free to take" section.  My brother is an art teacher in a prison and I thought they would make good reference material but he is adamant that he is keeping them to himself.  They were all part of his birthday present.  I decided to make him a hamper up.  His girlfriend is gluten and dairy intolerant and my bro is a little clueless so I put together the following.............

I purchased a brand new wicker basket from a car boot sale for £4.  I filled it with gluten free baking ingredients and some little essentials (gravy powder, stock cubes).  I then bought a plain black book with clear pockets in from Paperchase (approx £5 I think) and decorated the front cover with a tippex pen.

I then went online and copied various gluten and dairy free recipes and put them in the book!  You see, my bro has a 4 year old daughter and I thought it would be nice for them to be able to bake things together that his girlfriend would also be able to enjoy.  Oh, I also made each of them an apron but completely forgot to take photos of those!

I also managed to pick this lovely basket up for free when I found the books

As you can see the handle is a little broken but that wasn't about to stop me.

I figured I'd tape the handle and then put some material round it or something, however, when asking the Mr for some tape to mend my daughter's torch/sword/light up thingy he came back with some  satin looking sticky material tape stuff...........brilliant.............I just need to find some that comes in a Cath Kidston print now!

 I love the shape of the basket though.  It is now filled with my sewing stuff (I just need to make little drawstring bags to put cottons and needles and bits and bobs in etc).

Finally, I will leave you with a couple of pics of the cake that I baked for my niece's birthday.  Not bad to say I've never made a proper (as in with chocolate coating) cake before with decorations.  It was delicious!

Hope I won't leave it as long between posts next time. x

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Out With The Old..........

So.............I've reached that point that most women who've just had a baby go through.  You know, the point where you think "who am I?" "what is my style?".  I remember going through it not long after The Monster was born and I don't think I answered either question.  My problem is I loved being pregnant.  I loved the clothes I could wear, the glow I had, everything.  Being a curvaceous girly I felt like I had a reason for being bigger than average, my growing bump hid a normally wobbly tummy and allowed me to wear tops that clung to my middle as opposed to skimming it.  I loved it.  I miss it.  I want it back!  Now, after having two children my middle is wobblier than ever.  The Bruiser is now 12 weeks old and I've lost most of the baby weight (back to my pre pregnancy weight which is still overweight) so the maternity clothes are just too big, however my old clothes are just that little bit too snug.  They fit but give that little bit of a muffin top which I hate.

My other problem is I feel stuck in a no-style rut.  Working in a secondary school (although on maternity leave) I am very conscious about wearing so-called "fast fashion" as it's so embarrassing bumping into a student who's wearing a similar outfit to you yet rocking it so much better than you.  However, I don't want to be a boring mum either.

I find myself veering towards country styles due to my love of Country Living magazine and the fact that I still dream of owning my own little cottage (like Kate Winslet's in the Holiday) with chickens and stuff - think tweeds, knits and layers, tea dresses, wellies with chunky socks etc.

I also love Red magazine and the style of the women who appear in it's features.  To me they are smart and often attractive but normal looking (not the stick thin model fashion feature bits). 

My next love is Holly Willoughby,  when I think of her I think of lovely dresses.

Next is Louise Redknapp, to me she is smart casual and I love that she often wears tops that are loose and flowing not skin tight.

Now, my current girl crush is Zooey Deschanel, I'm loving her style in New Girl.  To me she is all about vintage style, little tea dresses, skirts and blouses etc.  A little short for my legs though...........

I really envy people who can wear true vintage items.  Unfortunately they do not seem to come in my sizes (I don't think people ate toast and cakes in the olden days.............) but I long for the day when I can go into a charity shop, spy a vintage item and it actually fit.  I guess I'll just have to stick to trying to find cheap alternatives in shops.

Another lady who's style I am in love with is the lovely Kat from the blog kat got the cream.  It amazes me the bargains she grabs in charity shops yet she still looks stylish and fun.  I'm so envious.  I think the only people who donate clothes in my size are granny's (and not stylish granny's either).

So,  I took a long hard look at my wardrobe.  It seems for far too long I have been buying clothes because they are cheap.  I can't remember the last time I purchased an item of clothing because I really liked it.  It also means that when I buy the cheap item I am not thinking about what other items of clothing it would go with in my wardrobe.  Don't get me wrong,  I am all about a bargain so I have nothing against buying clothes in sales but for me, the money monster seems to take over and I find myself buying the item because of how much money has been knocked off the original price not because it goes with anything else I've already got or I really really like it.  Quite often the item doesn't fit properly either. 

The other thing I find about my wardrobe is that most of the clothes don't fit properly and I don't feel "nice" in them yet I'll wake up in a morning and still throw on one of these items.  All this does is depress me when I catch sight of myself in a shop window or glance at my reflection in the mirror whilst sorting out the washing etc.  Why do I keep wearing these items though?  I can only presume it's because they're still in my wardrobe............

So, yesterday whilst The Monster was at nursery I took the opportunity to raid my wardrobe.  First of all I separated all the clothes that I didn't wear into a "car boot" pile and "attic" pile.  Then I went through the clothes that were left in my wardrobe and thought long and hard about each item.  Am I keeping it because I really like it and it makes me feel good when I wear it or do I just wear it because it's there?   If any of the items fell into the second category they got moved to the "car boot" pile.  Then I went through the "attic" pile.  Most of the clothes in this pile are there because they are either not suitable to wear whilst breast feeding or they don't fit.  Again, I took a long hard look at these clothes and moved a lot of them to the "car boot" pile.

I am now left with a nice selection of tops, trousers, dresses and cardigans/jumpers that fit and I do feel  comfortable in.  I am also more aware of the items of clothes that I have so if I do spot anything that I think is a bargain it is easier to remember if it will go with the stuff I already own!

Well done you may think..............ah but I didn't stop there.  I also went through my shoe box, make-up bag and nail varnish bag!

So, have I answered my "what style am I" question?  Well, no but at least I know my style is not ill fitting clothes that make me feel bad!

I would love to hear if you've felt the same way about your fashion style, do tell.......................