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muddy-hands

This week I am joining in with Living Arrows, a wonderful project created by the mums at I heart Snapping. Living Arrows is about capturing the beauty and magic of childhood.

My camera is never far from arms length and I love to be able to capture the small but unique details of our lives. This particular picture was taken, one sunny day last week when we all spent the afternoon in the garden. Mummy was weeding and Littlelish was making mudpies. It is unbelievable how much joy one child can get from mud. She doesn’t care if she gets covered from head to toe, playing with mud is a wonderful sensory experience for her and makes her very, very happy as you can see by the smile on her face.

living arrows

 

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ll-and-pup

Littlelish loves animals. I often sit back and watch with amazement how gentle, unafraid and calm she is around them. It is beautiful to watch and something that comes so naturally to her. Even as a tiny toddler at the farm she was the one feeding all the sheep and goats, no fear of their large mouths and jerky movements. When we got chickens in the back garden it was her aged 3, who showed mummy how to pick them up and not be afraid. For her fourth birthday, the present she wanted most of all was to ride a horse which she took to with incredible confidence and determination. She will already tell you she wants to be a vet when she is older.

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Her one and only wish since she was old enough to talk was to have a dog of her own. Everytime she blew out her birthday candles, I knew what she was thinking…  When she was old enough to write she wrote a wish for the fairies and put it on her window sill. The pink flowery paper said one word… D O G.

running

Luckily the rest of the family really wanted a dog too so when we were ready we started to look into the possibilities. I will never forget taking the trip to choose our new pup. Littlelish climbed back into the car having chosen the one with the red collar and turned to me with two wet eyes (welled up with tears of happiness) and said excitedly “I can’t believe we are getting a puppy”. It was one of the sweetest, most heartwarming things I have ever seen.

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Our new arrival is a fox red labrador puppy. He is absolutely beautiful, with a lovely nature. He is a calm (apart from when he smells roast chicken), soft and strong with a very intelligent mind. He has settled in well and is already very much a part of the family. Littlelish just adores having him around and they spend hours playing together already. She snuggles up in his bed with him, plays fetch and is trying to teach him not to eat her toes. We are all excited about our new doggie adventures!

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…holidays are expensive, pets are expensive, houses are expensive, bills are expensive. I don’t think there is a family out there that wouldn’t be keen to save some money on their bills, I know we would. I’ve been reading about the new initiative from British Gas called HIVE which has been designed for families just like us that want to keep their heating bills low.

So the concept is that you get to control your heating anytime, anywhere. British Gas install a wireless receiver, thermostat and hub and you have an online account and an app on your phone or tablet or laptop to control it with. So why would you want to control your heating using an app? Isn’t that a little lazy? Ok sure if you are at home you could get off your bum and turn the heating on and off, but think about all those times that you are not at home and your heating or hot water is heating an empty house. Not exactly energy efficient is it?

Even though we try to be careful in our house, we still manage to waste energy. Like when we are on holiday or away for the weekend and the heating comes on all the same or when we are out for an evening and the house is nice and toasty but for who? Just by stopping this wastage, turning off your heating remotely when you don’t need it, you could save up to £150 on your energy bill a year. Hive Active Heating™ works with your existing heating system so you don’t need to change your setup, you don’t even need to change your supplier, you just get an engineer from British Gas to come and fit the technology and that is it!

As well as saving money there are other perks to being able to control your heating and hot water from afar… you can turn on your hot water by the press of a button so your bath is ready to run when you get home from a long day… you can set a temperature alert so that when the temperature drops below a certain level the heating kicks in… and you can even set a special frost alert to stop your pipes from freezing if you are away from home. Genius!

With that in mind I thought I’d share Littlelish’s and my current wishlist with you, things that we would love to have but just don’t have the extra cash for right now, unless we saved £150 by installing HIVE…Oh wait, we may have just bought one of these things, which will arrive next month… and might help to keep us warm, can anyone guess what it might be??

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dunelm

It’s pancake day tomorrow and I know one little girl who is very happy about that thought, it is basically the only day a year she is allowed a pudding for her dinner!

Although a traditional lemon and sugar pancake is divine, over in our house we like to add to the fun by mixing and matching flavour combinations. We stock up on all the basics eggs, flour, milk, lemons and icing sugar but we also fill the counter with other ingredients, cocoa powder, honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, chocolate sauce, sprinkles, a variety of fruit like bananas, mangos, strawberries and blueberries. Then we get our chef hats on and have fun playing around with new creations. It is a chance for Littlelish to be creative and experiment in the kitchen and one thing she loves is flavour combinations (this is the kid who dips cucumber in her orange juice and carrots in her milk, mmmm)!

These are some of our tried and tested, family favourite flavour combinations for pancakes.

apple-and-cinnamon-pancake

Apple, cinnamon and maple syrup

This is a simply heavenly combination. Bake the pancake as normal but add thin slices of apple to the top of your pancake while in the pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Flip over using the spatula and brown the apple side too and then pop on a plate and cover in maple syrup.

chocolate-pancake

Chocolate and banana

This is taking your standard chocolate and banana pancake to a new level! Take some of your pancake mixture aside (enough for one small pancake) and add a teaspoon or two of cocoa powder to the mix. Your kids will love the idea of a chocolate pancake. We serve ours with chocolate sauce and slices of banana. Yum!

cherry-pancake

Pink cherries

One for the little girls in your life, the pink sprinkle and cherry pancake! Simply a normal pancake with cherries, pink sugar sprinkles and icing sugar. Pretty as a picture.

banana-blueberry-pancake

Banana, blueberry and honey

This is a lovely flavour combination and one I eat most mornings with my paleo pancakes. Cook a handful of blueberries with your pancake and serve with sliced bananas and some yummy organic honey.

I’m sure we will be creating some new, exciting flavour combinations tomorrow if Littlelish has anything to do with it! What are your favourite family flavour combinations? I’d love you to inspire us!

A big thank you to Dunelm who sent us the perfect set of equipment for pancake making and will ensure we have a successful pancake day tomorrow with no lumpy pancakes sticking to the bottom of the pan!

  • A Mason and Cash mixing bowl – the only mixing bowl as far as we are concerned! Ours always comes out of the cupboard when we are baking, we love it.
  • A Spectrum collection whisk – large and sturdy.
  • A spatula – definitely needed for flipping.
  • A beautiful beechwood lemon juicer – a great sized, hand juicer which I know will come in very, very handy.
  • A copper bottomed Infinity frying pan – did a great job of ensuring our pancakes did not stick.

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bloggerrelaybaton

So you may have heard about this little thing called Sport Relief, no? People up and down the country raising money for Comic Relief… it’s why Davina did her amazing 500 miles recently and why Nick Grimshaw will be cycling 1000 miles in a few weeks on Radio one.

As one of the biggest fundraising events, Sport Relief brings the entire nation together to get active, raise cash and change lives. The money raised by the public is spent by Comic Relief to help transform the lives of some of the poorest and most disadvantaged people both at home in the UK and across the world.

And in less than 24 hours it is my turn! As you can see, Team Peterborough handed over the baton on Sunday, after walking 15miles and cycling 25 miles, raising a whopping £1173.00.

We (Mr. B and I) are having a little rest today and psyching ourselves up for tomorrow when we are joining TEAM NOTTINGHAM, the group of Nottingham bloggers to do our part for the Team Honk Blogger Relay which has seen more than 200 bloggers up and down the country (with help from their friends and family) unite to do a blogger relay.

The relay started in Lands End on the 12th of January and finishes in John O Groats on the 23rd March 2014. There are 38 regional teams and the aim is to collectively raise over £20,000 for Sport Relief! You can check out the route here http://teamhonk.org/2014-blogger-relay/team-honk-2014-relay-route-and-masterplan/

We’ve literally seen all different types of transport: pushchair pushes, roller blading across the Humber, boating round Bristol, #Honkopoly around London, fancy dress, onesies, bikes, scooters, planes, hiking, rafting and mountain climbing. It has been so much fun to watch but now… it’s our turn!

Team Nottingham is split into two teams, half the team (Penny, Donna, Hannah, Emma, Jennifer, Simon, Alex, Rebecca and Sarah) joining me tomorrow, the 25th of Feb, to take the baton from Grantham to West Bridgford by bike dressed as Robin Hood and his merry (wo)men! In total it is a 30 mile trip which I have to say I am ill prepared for – wish me luck! We then hand over the baton AND costumes to some more fair maidens (Amanda, Jen, Emily and Louise) who will be walking a further 30 miles to Derby on the 26th of Feb.

You can support us (please support me, I need it!) by donating to our Regional Team page here http://my.sportrelief.com/sponsor/nottinghamteamhonk.

The money raised by Sport Relief goes towards helping people both here in the UK and abroad. You can read more about the kind of charities supported by Comic Relief as Penny and Jen recently went to visit a Comic Relief project http://lovechicliving.co.uk/sport-relief-money-go/

Want to join in too?

The first ever Sainsbury’s Sport Relief Games take place from Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd March 2014. The public can join the fun and games by running, swimming or cycling their way to raising cash at over a thousand venues around the country, including the landmark events at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

As a regular reader you may remember a while ago I wrote about Littlelish being highly sensitive, what led me to believe this and how it isn’t always a bad thing. It was entitled ‘We have a sensitive child and she is great!‘. I received quite a few comments and emails from people on this subject, many with not such positive experiences who are struggling to deal with their HSC. There are many highs to having a highly sensitive child but I would be lying if I ignored the fact that there are quite a few lows or ‘challenges’ too. But this is parenting right? It is all about the challenges…

One of our major, major challenges in our house is… socks… and knickers… and shoes… and pretty much clothes in general. On a particularly sensitive day (like today) we will have to change knickers (once), socks (once), clothes (once) and shoes (three times!) because they don’t “feel nice”. This isn’t just a casual statement, these words which I have grown to hate are said in an ultra whiney voice, combined with ‘Kevin the teenager style’ huffing, puffing, flailing of arms and legs, wailing and throwing herself to the floor. I get it, she is sensitive, sensitive to how things fit, how tight or loose they are, seams, any possible squeezing, rubbing or uncomfortable feeling. I really do get it, but oh my goodness it is SO frustrating, especially when you are trying to get them dressed for school and out the door so we aren’t late… again.

I try to patiently work with her on this and am happy to accommodate a change of socks/knickers/tshirt here and there – fine! But woah did I have to do some serious breathing techniques this morning to stop myself from exploding. It didn’t work, I totally lost my temper after the second shoe change (this was after the knickers, jumper, socks AND first shoe change) and we ended up getting into the car with some real feelings of sadness, anger and frustration about how the morning had played out.

We talked about it in the car on the way to school, I explained just how frustrating I find it and she in turn explained how yucky they make her feel. I explained how when my patience runs out I get angry and she told me that it makes her sad, which made me sad… But really short of moving to a sunnier clime and becoming nudists, what can we do? We all have to wear clothes and socks and shoes most of the time. Here are some things we have tried to use to ease the situation with differing degrees of success. Who, oh who, has anymore tips for me?

Test: We always test when buying clothes to see if they are comfy. (They normally are at the time of purchase but don’t always stay that way)

Avoid: Any clothing that is too tight or that rubs.

Adapt: We often cut the feet out of tights and wear them with socks to school because tights are just too unbearable!

Wiggling: We always do a wiggle test. If it doesn’t feel nice, I make Littlelish wiggle around or do something for a minute and sometimes she gets used to it!

I love the conversations I have with my 4 year old daughter, sometimes funny, sometimes thought provoking but always cute. I love to see how her mind works and my goodness does it work! Our conversation yesterday after school went something like this.

LL: Mum, if we didn’t dry ourselves after a bath would we go mouldy?

Me: No, babe, people don’t go mouldy (at least I don’t think! eeek)

LL: Oh right because sometimes liquid makes things go mouldy, like the toys in the bath if you don’t dry them properly.

Me: Yes, it does sometimes but not with people.

LL: So whatabout blood?

Me: What about blood?

LL: Well that is a liquid but does that make us mouldy on the inside? Because we can never dry our blood on the inside…

Me: No, that doesn’t make us mouldy either.

LL: Actually can we ever have a wash on the inside? What about when we are drinking water? Is that like washing our blood inside?

workout

I’m not really one for New Years resolutions, I know how easy they are to make and break.

This year is no different, I’ve not made any official resolutions. Something is different though, I do have a focus, I’m going to get fit and healthy in 2014.

Since having a child 4 years ago my body has not been the same. It wasn’t so much the pregnancy that wreaked havoc with my waistline, rather the change in lifestyle.

I became a stay at home mum. My priorities and focus changed, I took on motherhood with great enthusiasm and my baby daughter was my life. I happily played with her for hours, read to her, admired her every move and coo. I did not care one bit for how I looked on a day to day basis and neither did she. I had less time and desire to look good, I was in love!

I didn’t eat unhealthily, I’ve always been big on homecooked food, fruit, vegetables and fish and that didn’t change. But I did find myself eating lots of bread and pasta, my two biggest weaknesses. My little girl and I also loved to bake cakes and biscuits together, so much fun but for someone like me who loves food and doesn’t seem to know her limits, it was difficult. I could happily scoff more than a couple of cupcakes we’d made together.

I stopped going to the gym and 4 years down the line, I had put on 2 stone and was a size 16. It felt like a constant struggle. I was happy with how I looked and felt annoyed that society put pressure on me to be a size 10, I was beautiful just as I was. But actually the reality of it was, I was unhealthy and sluggish and probably really deep down, unhappy about my appearance. I did dream of being thinner but then talked myself out of it, I was fine.

While ever I thought like that there was no chance of my body transforming. Any change in lifestyle that you want to make requires a real commitment and desire to achieve.

Once again, it is January, a New Year and time to start again. Last year was a tough one, I made a few big changes which turned my world upside down. Now in a better place, I felt more in control over my life and who I wanted to be. I recognised that yes I was a mum and I loved that but I was also still me, the ‘me’ before children and she still wanted to play. I was a woman who was a loving mum and a healthy, happy, determined, empowered woman who could achieve whatever I wanted.

And one thing I really wanted was to take control of my figure again. The fate of this body was in my hands and nothing was going to change until I did something about it. It was like a switch went on in my head, I signed up with the gym, started researching nutrition, diet, fitness and sport so I was well informed. It became an interest of mine, a daily hobby and a lifestyle change. I even started a new blog all about fitness and wellbeing called www.timetotry.co.uk.

After a couple of times dragging myself to the gym, I realised how much I enjoyed it. From my research I’d decided to focus on a mainly resistance exercise program to build muscle. Because this wasn’t just about being thin but about being fit and strong, building my body up to be the best it can be. Plus I hate cardio, so I needed to do what worked for me. I was not scared about bulking up as I had discovered it was near on impossible with a women’s body design.

I’ve also taken up running, something I never, ever would have imagined. I am not a runner, this is what I told myself year after year and yet after a few times out there, I realised I actually like running. There is a certain power it gives you, a drive and it is addictive.

As for my diet, I have decided to try and give the Paleo diet a go. There is so much contradicting information out there once again I had to go with what would work for me. I’m basically eating fruit, vegetables, meat and fish and have cut out all grain and dairy. It is the diet of the gatherer hunters rather than the farmers we evolved into. So far it is working, within about a month I’m down to a size 12/14 having lost quite a few inches off every part of my body.

I don’t know what is different this time. Perhaps I just really, really want it more than ever before. Rather than finding an excuse not to exercise or go to the gym, like I have too much house work to do, too much work to do, I have to go and do the shopping or some other task that can wait. I now make time for me. My body and health is a priority and nothing is going to miraculously happen unless I put in the hard work.

So I guess I did make some kind of resolutions but these were more lifestyle changes that are hopefully less likely to be broken.

1. Make time

In this world where everything is rush, rush, rush we need to make sure we are taking the time to look after our bodies and minds. We need to make time for sport and exercise, take time to prepare delicious healthy meals and to try out new beauty ideas. We need to set our mind to this and find the time for ourselves, because looking and more importantly, feeling good, makes us more confident and ultimately, happier people. And there is no time better to start than now!

2. Try

It is about trying, wanting to achieve, persevering, having the willpower to succeed. No one else can achieve this for us, it will take hard work, there is no denying that but it will be worth it in the end.

www.timetotry.co.uk is a blog about fitness, diet and beauty written by me, Lucy. I am not perfect, I do not have a beautifully sculpted and toned body (yet), I am not an athlete or a model. I am a curvy, size 14 woman, mum of one who is making time to improve my lifestyle and fitness. So if I can do it, so can you. Are you going to join me? It’s about time to try getting fit!

(www.chillhour.com)

Our converstation this morning went a little like this.

Littlelish: Mummy, I’ve changed my mind, I don’t ever, ever want to go to Disneyland.

Mummylish: Really darling, why not?

Littlelish: Well erm, we don’t have the time do we?

Mummylish: (confused) Well of course we do, we would just go in holiday time. But surely that isn’t the reason you don’t want to go?
Is there some other reason?

Littlelish: Well…. it is the place that dreams come true. Only I don’t want my dreams to come true…. because some of them are scary.

Mummylish: (scoops LL up) I know baby but it is only the nice dreams that come true.

Talk about taking things literally, so sweet!

debenhams-page

Christmas came a little early at our house this week, as the post man delivered some parcels we were allowed to open before December 25th!

You see I had been asked to take part in the Debenhams Blogger Secret Santa. With a budget of £80, a group of bloggers were chosen and allocated a secret santee (we decided this was officially a word) to choose a gift for from the Debenhams site.

After carefully reading through and researching my secret santee’s blog, deciding what they might possibly like to receive, I set to work browsing the Debenhams site.

Christmas is my all time favourite time of year for many different reasons but one of them is, I love to buy people gifts! There were plenty of beautiful things to choose from and it was pretty hard to narrow it down and commit!

I managed to choose what I think they might like (fingers crossed they did!) and I waited excitedly to see what had been chosen for me. I wondered if my blog gave enough clues into the type of person I am… hmmm! Exciting stuff :)

sweetshop-collection

First to arrive was a package of vintage sweets, it was like opening a mini sweet shop! So lovely, we all appreciated this one, Littlelish, me and my man. Littlelish discovered a new found love of shrimps, I devoured the pear drops the minute I opened it (they are my weakness) and my man opted for the licorice sweets. The sweets tasted so good, nothing artificial, old school and well just scrumptious. There are quite a few empty little jars already and we are just deciding whether to reuse them as a play sweetshop for Littlelish or to fill them with crafty beads, buttons and sparkles!

melissa-and-doug-stamps

The second item that arrived was for Littlelish. A fabulous rainforest stamp set by Melissa and Doug, whose toys we love! This is a great present as Littlelish loves to get crafty and creative :) Of course it was immediately put to use, out came the paper and she was in stamp heaven :)

debenhams-black-bag

The third item made me gasp a little. It is not often I get to really treat myself and when I do it is normally something quite practical so receiving a wonderful luxurious clutch bag was a real treat for me. It is stunning, sexy and modern and will go with everything! Sleek black leather and a slinky silver strap it is the perfect going out bag. I put it to the test on Saturday as I dined with a friend at an Italian restaurant, it looked great with my red dress and black heels. I know I am going to get a lot of use out of it, small enough not to be a nuisance when you are out but large enough to fit makeup, my purse, phone etc. Just perfect.

So I was in luck, my santee obviously got a pretty clear picture of me as I received some fabulous gifts just right for our little family. So I’m thinking my blog says sweet, creative and stylish which is just about right! Hurrah :) I have literally no idea who my secret santee could be, I wish I could guess but I just have no clue… Amanda? Tanya? Stacey? Come on, who was it?? ;)

Whoever it was, thank you so so much, you put a smile on all our faces. And of course a big thank you to Debenhams for choosing us to be part of the fun! xxx

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