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 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 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 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 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 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 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.......................

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Visit to Ripon

On Tuesday I had a little trip to Ripon.  It was actually a trip to Ripon Community Hospital to take The Monster for an eye test (luckily her eyes are fine).  Visiting the hospital itself was an experience.  It is straight out of the 1900's and very quiet inside.  Not like most hospitals these days.  My mum (bless her) came along to look after Bruiser whilst I was in the appointment with The Monster.

Anyhow, after our little outing to the hospital we took a little walk into Ripon Town Centre, we had a wander to the Cathedral and then took The Monster to the park for a short while.  We then went for an early lunch (as we were starving and freezing) at a little Tea Room called Morgans.  Mum and The Monster had cheese on toast with bacon which was lovely and I had prawn sandwiches.  I had a lovely pot of Taylors Tea and mum had a nice cup of Taylors freshly brewed filter coffee with cream.  After our lunch we spotted the homemade cakes behind the counter!  I haven't mentioned this before but mum and I have a little addiction to coffee cake.  So much so that we have set ourselves the challenge of finding the perfect coffee cake.  Of course that involves sampling each cake we come across!!  However it was a little early for cake so we decided to take a piece out.  The staff at Morgans were very friendly and were only too happy to wrap a piece up in foil (as they don't actually do takeaways) for us.  The price was also very very reasonable and mum had to ask if they'd remembered to charge us for everything!  On sampling the cake it was lovely but the coffee flavour was not strong enough for my liking so the hunt goes on.

One of the other things I liked about Morgans was the fact that I breast fed The Monster whilst in there and was not made to feel uncomfortable.  Don't get me wrong, I do try to be very discreet but sometimes a nipple pops out here or there..............  Anyhow, the tea room soon filled up with regulars and I was worried someone would disapprove but there were no funny looks or comments so it was all good.

After our lunch we went for a look round and chanced upon a charity shop and found some bargains.

I spotted these building blocks.

Whenever I've seen any before there have only been a few blocks in a box but this is almost a complete set and was only £2.99.

The Monster picked an old Thomas the Tank Engine book and mum picked up the most beautifully illustrated book of poems that was in fantastic condition. (Such a shame I didn't get a picture of it).

Well, I was very pleased with our little trip but both me and the mum commented on how quiet it was in the town.  Lets hope it was because of the freezing temperature and not the economic climate.................

Today I managed a quick peek in my local charity shop before picking The Monster up from nursery and found this..........

Not the height of fashion but it's in really good condition and I think it's really pretty.  Also, it was only £1. Bargain!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Anyone for Crochet?

So, having recently spent a few days at my parents I had challenged my mum to teach me how to crochet.  I absolutely love the vintage crochet blankets. I own one that my nan made for my brother when he was born (30 odd years ago!) and The Monster was given one made by my nan when she was a year old.  However, I really want to make a great big one that I can snuggle up under and keep in my living room.  Nan is unfortunately suffering from dementia and therefore is no longer able to make such beautiful creations and mum struggles to stay awake whilst crocheting so it's a DIY job then.

The first challenge was finding a spare hour to have a lesson as The Monster kept us occupied during the day and The Bruiser keeps having marathon feeding sessions every evening.  We finally managed to grab a broken hour the last night of our stay (which consisted of The Bruiser being propped up on a pillow with a boob dangling in his mouth so that I had both hands free!).

I managed to pick up the basic stitches and how to read the pattern I am following and managed to produce this.........

I don't think it's bad to say how many interruptions we had and the wool is the wrong sort for crochet!

Since my visit to my mum's I have made a start on my own blanket and have produced this.........

I know it's not perfect and is also not finished but I am so proud of myself!

Oh well, I suppose I'd better go do something constructive (like the shopping) instead of this blogging lark but I will leave you with some little gems that mum pulled out of the cupboard whilst looking for the crochet stuff.  How beautiful are these?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Ready For Christmas?

I know, I know, it's only January and hubby tells me I shouldn't start thinking about Christmas until at least April but I disagree.  Truth is I have a 6 week old baby, a 4 year old daughter, a 12 year old stepdaughter (not counting all the friends and family) and very little cash to spare! This Christmas just gone I did try to make as many presents as possible (broaches, soap, earrings) but starting in November doesn't give you much time to spare (and having a baby inbetween doesn't help). I also found that loads of people on Twitter were posting some fantastic ideas as they were making them but I just didn't have the time to recreate their brilliant crafts. 

So, this year I am starting now!

I aim to start small.  A Christmas list first of all because if you don't know who you're making for how do you know what to make?

Then I plan on making a list of all the things I could make, which I will add to as the year goes on and other people put fantastic crafty ideas on Twitter etc.  By now you have probably guessed that I like list making........

Then I will assign certain gifts to certain people. 

There, now the tricky part.............actually making the crafts/gifts!  This is my downfall.  Ordinarily it would be because I procrastinate but this year it is because I have Bruiser and at the moment he takes up most of my time in the evenings.  This is why I feel that if I start now, I may have a fighting chance of actually having some presents ready for Christmas and maybe saving some money.

I am making a special little folder in my favourites list and putting links of brilliant ideas in there as I find I often look at some great blogs, think "I could make one of them" and then can never find the link again when it comes to making them.

I also Sky + loads of Christmas cooking programs and Kirsty's Homemade Christmas programs from this year so I plan on watching them throughout the many mammoth feeding sessions Bruiser has to give me ideas and inspiration.

I will blog about the great craft ideas I have come across and any presents I have managed to make as the year goes on.

So there,  the only thing I have to do is follow through with my amazing plan!  (Maybe I shouldn't have committed it to blog!)

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

First Day of a New Routine!

So, it's 11.30am on a Tuesday and I am sat writing my second blog post.  Today is the start of our new family routine because it was the first day back at nursery for the Monster.  My OH has been back at work for a week now after the festive period and paternity leave (he used holidays because paternity pay is rubbish).

I admit I was very worried about how this morning was going to go down.  Firstly I didn't think I'd be able to drag myself out of bed as Bruiser is doing mammoth feeding sessions every night (feeding from 8pm-11pm non stop most nights).  Secondly I didn't think we'd make it out the house in sufficient time and thirdly I thought the Monster would kick off big style when it came to me leaving her at nursery.

I can confirm that I woke up with OH's alarm, fed Bruiser and put him back in the cot, woke up the Monster and whilst she was having breakfast with OH I had a wash and got dressed, got the Monster dressed, packed up the bags, packed up Bruiser and was out the house only 10 mins later than what I'd intended.  The Monster was quite happy being left at nursery (I think she'd missed her friends and mum's company just wasn't cutting it anymore) and I had a nice stroll home whilst chatting to a girlfriend about the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding.

I'm now sat watching This Morning (love Hollie Willoughby and the Silver Fox), having just fed Bruiser (and had him puke down my cleavage) and typing this blog.  You'll discover that I normally do 3 things at once, this being a skill I picked up when the Monster was a baby.  I'm also waiting for my mum to arrive as she's visiting for the day having not seen us since Christmas.  We then plan on taking advantage of Bruiser being little and we're going out for lunch and I plan on raiding every charity shop in Harrogate as I haven't been in them for ages.

Ok, so I'm going to sign off as mother has just arrived and is about to start crying at how much Bruiser has changed since she last saw him..............I will post and let you know of any purchases made!