Tuesday, 19 February 2013

My boy turns 1!

Yesterday my little man turned one!  I can hardly believe it has been a whole year since he came bursting into the world; but when I look back it also seems hard to believe that it was just a year ago that we were a household of only two. It seems like he has been around forever, he is so much a part of our lives.
We had a really great weekend with both our families.  On Sunday we had a retro tea party at home with sausage rolls, party rings and jelly!  Then we went to Beale Park which only recently re-opened for the season, it was lovely strolling around in the sun looking at all the animals, my favourite were marmosets, Orren liked the chipmunks. Later we all went our for dinner.  Unfortunately Orren wasn't very well for the whole day so spent much of it asleep or wrapped up in a blanket.  He was much better on Monday so the hubby and I took him to an aquarium and he enjoyed looking at the fish.  He still isn't 100%, had a bad cold that knocked him for 6, and made me think that actually he hasn't ever really been ill, this was definitely the first time he has ever had a high temperature and he had a terrible nights sleep, (which meant we had a terrible nights sleep), but at least now I know what to look for is he seems poorly and it is reassuring that my boobie milk is doing him some good in the immunity department! 
I am trying to not dwell too much on the giving birth bit of him arriving because I still feel pretty traumatised by it, and trying to focus on how lovely he is and how much I am enjoying life with him in it.  It is hard not to think about it though and I am reminded of how much I have changed in the past year, not always in good ways, I have definitely lost a bit of my self confidence amongst other things.  Hopefully time will help heal the emotional scars. 
Anyhoo, here are some photos of our special birthday weekend:

Opening presents from family and friends, he got A LOT of presents, think we might have to have them on rotation!

Everyone listened carefully and bought him some beautiful wooden toys sans batteries.

The fam in our living room, with Orren at the centre of everyone's attention, just where he likes to be!

His birthday cake that I made and iced, he loves balloons and the icing colours I used are those I chose for his bedroom before he was born.

Looking at the Emus, Orren is fascinated by birds.

Pidgy Goat!

Fast asleep.

Enjoying a delicious evening meal.

Scallops with cauliflower puree and pork scratching's, yes please!

All in all and lovely weekend, I felt very happy afterwards, not least because my sister came back from 3 and a half months of travelling, I missed her.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentines day Spa treatments

A few days ago I was contacted by Michelle Pino from the Skana Spa in New York wondering if I would like to share these redipes for two delicious sounding, home made body treatments.  "Yes please"  I said "so long as they can be made from natural ingredients"  and they are!  So here are two really delicious, romantic body treatments to get you in the mood this Valentines evening

Chocolate-Berry Inspired Spa Treatment

Though no excuse is needed, Valentine’s Day is the perfect one for some pampering.  And the pampering can be easy, relaxing and inexpensive if you bring the spa experience to your home.  It is possible to bring luxurious treatments home and to have a great night to enjoy on your own, with a loved one or with good friends and still keep within budget.  

These spa treatments use all-natural ingredients and center around berries and chocolate, a decadent combination that will leave your skin feeling fresh, hydrated, velvety and smelling delicious.  

Simple Chocolate Face Mask
1/3 natural cocoa
3 tbps heavy cream (organic)
¼ cup honey
3 tps powdered oatmeal (blend oatmeal in food processor)


Directions: In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients.  Mix well.  Apply the mixture to your face, (should be clean and make- up free), making sure to cover the entire are.  Leave it on for about 10 minutes.  Rinse with warm water.  Skin will feel fresh and moisturized.

Summer Berry Body Scrub
10 large strawberries
½ cup raspberries or blackberries
½ cup blueberries
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup cane sugar
1 cup sea salt (fine)


Directions: Remove the stems from the strawberries and wash all the berries together in a colander.  In a blender, puree the berries together with the oil, the sugar and the salt. Put the mixture into a small glass jar and seal with the lid. Tie the jar with a bow and you have an easy, DIY gift that will make anyone feel special.

Application: Shake the scrub well before applying it to the body.  Use a loofah or a washcloth to apply the scrub to the whole body and massage the mixture gently into the arms, the torso and the legs.  This scrub works well to purify and exfoliate the entire body and the high amount of berries in the scrub serve to deliver a powerful punch of antioxidants to the body.  Since the scrub uses all natural ingredients, it is perishable and should be stored in the refrigerator to extend its shelf life. Lasts for about a week.  

Chocolates and Berries: The Perfect Combination
This mixture of tastes and scents is the ideal combination for Valentine’s Day. The all-natural ingredients combined with an inexpensive price tag make this the perfect treat for anyone – including your self! Add a bag of some chocolate dipped strawberries and a bottle of wine, or fresh mineral water and you will have the ultimate present that’s sure to bring a smile to your special someone’s face.

“Michelle Pino has provided this article in hopes to share some of her knowledge with others. Michelle works at Skana, a luxurious spa in central, NY, at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino. When she isn’t working, Michelle will usually be found with a book in hand, baking, or starting a new project. She enjoys living a healthy lifestyle and inspiring others to do the same.”

Photos courtest of weheartit

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Celeriac and Blue Cheese Soda Bread

My husband's mum gave us a calander when we went to theirs after Christmas, it's from Abel and Cole and came free with their veg box.  Every month it has a lovely looking recipe to follow and this month I decided to give the recipe a go.  It was a pretty simple looking recipe for creating a kind of bread but using self raising flour rather than yeast.  I used up a chunk of celeriac that I had loftover from making soups and the only ingredient I needed to buy was the blue cheese, I chose a vintage stilton.  The recipe said it would take 40 mins at 180 degrees but I ended up leaving it for a good hour because it was quite a wet mixture and a knife came out wet after 40 minutes.
Here is the recipe if you would loke to give it a try:

175g Self raising flour,
175g coursley grated celeriac,
Pinch of pepper,
75g crumbled stilton,
50ml natural yogurt diluted to 100ml with water,
1 egg beaten.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees,
Mix flour, celeriac pepper and cheese,
Whisk yogurt, water and egg and fold into flour mixture to form a wet bit firm dough.
Place on an oiled baking tray,
Bake for 40 mins or till golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped.

Yummy!  We ate it with our dinner but I am sure it would be lovely with soup.  It's inspiring to have made something that is so like bread in such a short amount of time, I will remember this in future when I realise I have run out of bread and don't have 6 hours to wait for a loaf to rise, I can easily make something to go with soup and not have to rush to the shops and buy a nasty supermarket loaf. 

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Thoughts on becoming a stay-at-home-mum

I have been wanting to write this post for a while now and had a few of the sentences floating round in my head.  Now I have come to finally write it I am finding my phrases imperfect and not truly reflecting the emotions I have been through over the past year, however I have gone ahead and written some words, imperfect as they are to try to describe where I am now in my life, I am sorry they aren't flowing and poetic, but I hope they show truth and I guess that's the most important thing.  I hope you can forgive me...I am tired!
On the 31st of January I officially completed my last day of maternity leave and became a full time stay at home mum (although I have to say there isn't an awful lot of staying at home involved!) I went into my school to hand in my keys and access card and say bye to the other teachers in my department, as I left school I felt a range of emotions, from sadness at leaving my job, my fellow teachers and my pupils, to joy and relief that I wasn't going to have to leave my baby boy with a nursery or child-minder, and I would get to do what I have always dreamed of, bring up my own baby and being a mum.  It wasn't an easy decision to make, losing one income in our house means making cutbacks in our daily living, lots of compromises and penny pinching.  I also have a strange shadow of a feeling of losing part of myself somehow.  I don't relish the thought of not being employed, particularly not having my own money but also losing a substantial part of my identity, teaching art is part of who I am and I am not going to have that any more, I certainly feel like I am losing a small amount of independence, it's something I am still getting my head around, but trying to accept that I have a new job now, the most wonderful and important job I will ever and could ever do.
As I drove home, my little mad sleeping in the back, Lady GaGa on the CD player, I reflected on the past year, on the highs and lows and on what a challenging year it has been.  As well as the most wonderful experiences and emotions, at times I have also felt broken, torn apart, vulnerable and insecure.  It has definitely been the hardest year of my life.  And as stressful and frustrating as teaching has been at times nothing has compared to how hard it is being a parent.  I used to think it was hard work being a teacher, going to work every day, teaching unappreciative children, working long hours, often thankless and sometimes depressing, but I didn't know anything!  I didn't have a clue about how hard life could be until I became a parent. Giving birth has defiantly scarred me, it broke me open, both physically and emotionally and I am still recovering.  Looking after a tiny baby who doesn't...can't thank you, the breastfeeding, the wakeful nights, the feeling of desperation when your precious baby is crying and nothing...nothing seems to make him feel better.  The hours I spent walking in circles around the green opposite my house soothing him to sleep in the carrier, these are all just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to actually looking after a baby. 
And I now have so so much admiration for my parents, my mother particularly, and mothers everywhere.  To me there really is nothing harder than being pregnant, giving birth and being a mother.  I can't even being to imagine how hard it must be for women who desperately want to stay home with their babes and for financial reasons they have to go back to work, I know how lucky I am that statying at home was an option for me.  And don't get me wrong, I chose it, I wanted it, it was, is a dream that for a long time I never thought would come true.  And I LOVE it.
On Monday my gorgeous boy turns one and I will reflect on the day my life changed forever and do you know what, we may not have much money but I couldn't be happier. And I can't wait to continue sharing my life with you, hopefully more frequently in future even if I am clumsy with my words and stumble on my phrasing, I have found writing this blog helpful in enabling me to reflect on life, so as sparse as it is sometimes, I still love it.
Is he gorgeous or what??