Category: Family

Flights to Florida booked on the Thomsom Dreamliner

8972592333_661b21f885_kI’m obsessed with thinking about this holiday to Florida now! We’ve got it booked in for right at the end of August crossing into September for 2 whole weeks. Since we don’t need to pay accommodation as we’re staying at my sister’s holiday home (all she wants us to do is to buy her a couple of things for around the house and some food as payment – lucky us!), we’ve got a bit of extra money to spend elsewhere. Of course, as I said before, it’s easy to save money on theme park tickets by buying several days worth and getting them altogether, so we’ll be doing that, so our splurge is on something a bit different this time: hubby allowed me, for the first time, to upgrade our seats on the plane to Premium Economy! I was initially planning on budgeting a bit on the flights, for example, using the same app my sister did, SendMyBag, to get our luggage over instead of paying extra for all the kids’ stuff including pushchairs, but apparently with our seats, we get additional luggage allowance too, so there’s no need this time.

I’m really excited as I’ve never flown anything other than economy before, and even better, our flight is on the new Thomson Dreamliner. We get extra legroom, wider seats, our own personal TV screens (I know the boys are going to love this – a brilliant way to keep them occupied during the 8 hours!) and slightly better food and drinks than economy. There are also features that are exclusive to the Dreamliner plane including windows that can turn opaque at the touch of a button instead of having a screen to pull down over them, lighting which imitates sunset/sunrise, more oxygen pumped around the cabin and a higher ceiling. Apparently the whole experience makes it easier to cope with jet lag, so that’ll definitely be interesting to test out.

The configuration of the seats is 2-3-2 across the plane, so we’ve booked two sets of the two seats with the windows, so we’ll get to test out the ingenious new features – very exciting! I can’t wait to see what it looks like. Even the economy seats are apparently wider than a normal plane, so I’m not sure we need the extra we’ll be getting, but it’s nice to treat yourself every once in a while since we’re saving money in other areas. I’ll be sure to report back on it!

Image courtesy of Mark Murdock.

 

Starting the big move

BoxesSo when I said that my sister had bought a villa in Florida as a holiday home and she would be going out in a couple of months to take a look and get things set up over there, I didn’t realise it would come round so soon! The first flights she’d booked were actually only a month away (unbeknownst to me!), so I’ve had all the hard work of helping her pack things up to take over with her for their first trip over with the kids during their school’s half term next week.

So as I mentioned before, she decided that it would be a good idea to send a few boxes of things ahead of her to save her carrying them all over on the plane and having to pay more. Why she didn’t just buy things for the house over there is a mystery to me, but that’s my sister for you! So over the last week, I’ve spent quite a bit of time over at her house, helping her choose which things to pack and organising them into boxes.

We started off with a couple of cardboard boxes and marker pens, thinking that would be alright, but we were so wrong! Of course, she has way more stuff than that, plus it’s also way too heavy for regular cardboard boxes! So we ended up buying some sturdier plastic ones in IKEA and we had to get some labels sorted out to stick on them too – we found those for a pretty good price on a website called Data-Label. Honestly, without me she would have had everything in raggedy old boxes in no sort of order whatsoever!

I’m also very jealous, seeing her pack bikinis and shorts into a suitcase while it’s been pouring down the last couple of days here. Not to fear though as I’m now looking into booking my flights to go and stay over there soon – hopefully sometime in the next couple of months, but I’m trying to find the cheapest ones at the moment. I’ve never been out of Europe before, so that’ll be really exciting, but I’m not so sure about the long flights. We’ll just have to see how it goes, but I’d really love to go to Florida yearly now I get free accommodation!

Image courtesy of quadrapop.

Labour wards

pregnancyEvery morning I wake up to the sound of the radio playing. My husband always has it on as an alarm clock to get him up for work every day, and I usually lounge around for an extra 10 minutes after he’s got up to listen to the news before going to check on the kids. Today a news story peaked my interest in particular: it was to do with healthy pregnant women to be encouraged to use midwife-led units to give birth rather than traditional labour wards with doctors.

This is something I have fairly strong opinions on since, as you might remember from when I mentioned it, I had a rather difficult pregnancy and birth with my first. I suffered terribly with morning sickness (although it was rarely just confined to the mornings!) through the first few months, and even though it improved later in the pregnancy, I still had issues with it right up until the little one arrived. There was one occasion where it got close to me being admitted to hospital because I was dehydrated and actually losing weight rather than gaining it.

The birth itself started off fairly well – I went into labour only a day after my due date and seemed to be running smoothly through each of the stages with not too much pain. But things began to slow down, and I ended up being in the throes of labour for about 23 hours. It was a close call to me having an emergency caesarean because the baby’s heart rate was racing and I was exhausted, but he was finally born naturally. I dread to think what would have happened if I had been in only a midwife-led unit rather than a labour ward and had needed to have that emergency caesarean.

But then again, perhaps I would have been advised to go to a hospital rather than a midwife unit because I’d had a more difficult pregnancy than most. Apparently only straightforward pregnancies and women at low risk are being advised to attend the midwife units. According to the statistics that have come out, the care from these midwife-led units is just as safe as hospital care with doctors if you’re at low risk, particularly for women who have already had one child. What do you think? Have any of you mothers experienced the care of a midwife-led unit?

Easter news

Easter weekend ended up being a lot easier than I thought – my sister’s simnel cake was amazing and went down so well with the kids (surprisingly!) and I didn’t have any issues with the lamb I made. In fact, it was pretty good if I might say so myself, especially the gravy. It’s definitely a recipe I’ll be doing again soon, it doesn’t need to be Easter to have lamb. The chocolate egg making didn’t go too badly, although it was just as much of a mess as I expected so I think we’ll wait for the boys to be a bit older before letting them at melted chocolate again!

My sister actually managed to surprise me with some exciting news, it’s something she’s been thinking about for a little while: she’s bought a holiday home in Florida! Not only is that exciting for her, but also for me because I get to go out and visit her with free accommodation in the sun.

Disney OrlandoIt’s not too far from Orlando where Disneyworld is, and I know her girls are so exciting about meeting the Disney princesses. I think the boys would definitely enjoy it, especially as they start to get older. They haven’t seen the property in person yet, which I think is a bit risky, but they’ve booked flights over in a couple of months to get everything set up and ready. They’re thinking about renting it out to other holidaymakers while they’re not there because they won’t be spending that much time there, so it should be a good little money earner. But being my sister, of course she’s managed to go out and spend plenty on bits and pieces to fill the house without thinking about the fact that she’ll need to get them over there! Luckily she’s come across a company called Send My Bag that does exactly what she needs, collects her bags and delivers them for her so she doesn’t have to pay extra at the airport or carry all the heavy boxes over. To be honest, I’m not sure why she didn’t buy everything over there, I mean it’s just stuff like towels, ornaments, rugs and little things from IKEA, but it’s all bound to be cheaper over there, but never mind, at least she’s found a solution for it.

Florida

I think we’ll maybe go over with them later in the year, maybe September or October since we were planning a holiday then anyway but hadn’t decided on anything. They’ve got an amazing 5 bedrooms in the house so there’s loads of room for all of us, especially since the kids are still sharing at the moment. There’s an outdoor community pool that’s free for the complex to use just round the corner from the house – it’s only shared by about 15 or 20 houses, so shouldn’t be too busy. I cant wait to see it!

Images courtesy of Peter E Lee and Stuck in Customs

Preparing for Easter Weekend

 

Easter Eggs

Now that we’re only a week away from Easter Weekend, I’ve had to start thinking about what I’m going to be doing. Hubby has Friday and Monday off work, so we were originally thinking about booking a weekend away somewhere for just the four of us, but decided it would be a bit pricey and busy during a bank holiday weekend. So instead I’ve invited some family, my sister, her husband and two girls, over for Easter Sunday and I’m planning to do a big Sunday Roast featuring the traditional roast lamb.

I’ve been trying think of what makes up the ultimate Easter Sunday lunch and think I’ve finalised the menu now. I’ve come across this recipe for a slow roast shoulder of lamb with anchovy and rosemary which sounds amazing. It takes a few hours to roast, so I’ll need to make sure I’ve got my timings spot on so that everything will be ready at the same time. We’ll be having it with a gravy made from the pan juices, mustard glazed roast potatoes, and a selection of vegetables including carrots, broad beans and peas.

My sister’s bringing along the dessert. It’s her version of a simnel cake stuffed with loads of dried fruit and topped with marzipan but chopped up into small squares. I’m not sure whether the kids are going to like it, but I’ve got something planning for just in case they don’t: over the next week, while nursery is closed, we’re going to be trying our hand at a bit of chocolate making. Nothing too fancy, but I’ve got some egg moulds and plain chocolate, so all you need to do is melt it down and pour it in. Sounds simple but is probably going to get very messy! I’m hoping the boys will be excited to share them with their cousins!

Easter eggs

I’m also planning a bit of fun with kids on Easter Sunday too – we’re going to have an Easter Egg hunt in the garden with some mini chocolate eggs in the afternoon (so they won’t get a chance to fill up on chocolate before lunch!).

We’re not especially religious, so we won’t be going to church on the day, but I like to think that the boys know the meaning behind the holiday, so their bedtime stories recently have been kids’ books about Easter – nothing too heavy, just explaining that it’s not just a day to eat chocolate eggs as everyone seems to think it is nowadays.

Images courtesy of Cait Hurley and tiaragwin.

New Greenhouse

We buy most of our veg from Riverford, as well as our meat, however we are intending on growing our own veg this year. We will still be relying on Riverford, as its going to take us a while to get ourselves established. So we have built a greenhouse to get us going and dug a few plots to grow veg in. As spring comes, we will be getting a few small plants going in the greenhouse, ready to plant for the summer.

Autumn Veg Delights

We don’t expect much this year after all first yields are never very successful, unless you’re lucky. Hence why we will still be keeping the organic veg box! Anyway I though growing our own veg would be fun for the whole family. The boys are getting bigger and won’t be too long until they can help out, plus it’s a great learning experience for them. Plus it has meant and means hubby gets to put his DIY skills to good use.

What it has made us realise is that we really needed to tidy up the garden, it’s been a little neglected since the boys were born. Plus the weather this winter really took its toll. So as well as adding a veg plot and greenhouse, I also looked at the Garden Trends for 2014 to get some inspiration. I defiantly need to add some more colour to the garden, there really aren’t many plants in there at the moment, so my task this spring is to get a few more potted up!

The garden is an important aspect to a home and whilst you can spend time and money of getting the inside right, the outside can become neglected, as ours has. That being said we still have work to do on the house, it’s a work in progress since we bought it. The boy’s arrival slowed things down though. But we will get back on top of our home improvements, after all you can quite easily double your house for half the money if you’re canny.

Image courtesy of TheCameraGirls

Spa Treat on Friday

I was treated to a spa day, with one of my girlfriends by the Hubby. A gift he got at Christmas, to be fair it was a voucher for a discounted treatment which was great value for money. He took the day off to look after the bots, even taking us to the spa and dropping us off, so we could enjoy some bubbly.

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The voucher was for the Feversham Arms, Helmsley their Verbena Spa. We were treated to good weather although not that warm and the whole day was nice and relaxing. We had pre booked the voucher special which was the Elemis Skin Specific Facial, also included was lunch and a complimentary glass of Prosecco. I was glad we book, the spa was pretty busy, many people taking advantage of these vouchers, however whilst we were using the spa facilities it didn’t seem busy.

We arrived 30 minutes before our appointment, which gave us time to get changes, tour the facilities and have a fruit tea. My facial was a wonderful experience, I have used Elemis products in the past, before going organic and have not had any problems with them. The facial was 60 minutes and very relaxing, I actually dozed off at one point! Afterwards my face felt super smooth and baby soft and it’s been a while since it felt that well.

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Afterwards my friend and I made the most of the spa facilities as it’s not something we get to enjoy very often. We started in the Aromatherapy Room, which is a warm and relaxing environment. It’s not too hot so you can spend a while in hear whilst all your troubles melt away. It’s a good room to for the respiratory system and to relieve congestion. Afterwards, we stepped into the Salt Vapour Room, here the humid room, filled with a salt mist is perfect for your skin. And again nice and relaxing, although we couldn’t spend as long in this room as we would the Aromatherapy Room.

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From then we enjoyed a Monsoon shower, only with the warm water not cold, but we did make use of the ice cave. Here we rubbed ice into our legs, which helps the skin close your pores and cool down. We managed to fit in the foot spa, as there were only two, my tired feet (after running around after two small boys) needed this. Mice and relaxing before moving into the Saunarium which had been pretty busy. The heat soothed my body and completely relaxed me. Afterwards we headed outside to the hot tub, although nice and warm, the wind which had picked up wasn’t favourable, so we didn’t spend long in here.

ProseccoWe had a nice glass of Prosecco whilst warming up, before enjoying a delicious and healthy lunch. However the two puddings we shared probably weren’t so healthy but they were sure yummy. My friend picked up a couple of Elemis products, before we changed and headed out to do some shopping in Helmsley. Although the sun was out, it was chilly, so whilst we waited for my hubby and boys to come, we enjoyed some more Prosecco back at the Feversham Arms in front of a nice warm fire. A great end to a wonderful day. I would definitely recommend the Verbena Spa as it’s a really lovely and calming place with great staff.

Shrove Tuesday – Making Pancakes in the Prendergast House

My boys love, love, love Pancake Day, to be fair though who doesn’t? Growing up at Christian and attending a C of E school, I learnt the meaning behind the popular day. Not many people do I would bet now. Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians around the world, now no longer a practising Christian, I still share the meaning of the day with my boys. It is the last day before the penitential season of Lent. The basis behind this day is to indulge in the foods you are giving up for lent.

Many people give up rich foods for lent, many centuries ago, eggs, milk, and sugar, we considered a rich food (before the days of fast food) and pancakes were a good option to use these items up before lent begins on the Wednesday. This is where Pancake Day begins, and throughout the centuries has become a popular way to celebrate the beginning of lent. But it has also been taken up by non-believers as pancakes are so yummy.

There are a number of traditional celebrations which happen on Shrove Tuesday, for example back in the 12th century some towns held “mob football” games. These still happen now, with some places closing down streets (and all the paper work that it involves) so we can keep the traditions going. Today was also a “half-holiday”, at 11:00am with the ringing of a church bell, many would attend church. It is also when Pancake Races originated according to folklore a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake.

Pancake Recipe

Ingredients

100g plain flour

2 large eggs

300ml milk

1 tbsp. sunflower or vegetable oil, plus a little extra for frying

Lemon wedges, to serve (optional)

Caster sugar, to serve (optional)

Method

Put the flour, eggs, milk and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug, then whisk to a smooth batter. Set aside for 30 mins to rest if you have time, or start cooking straight away.

Set a medium frying pan or crêpe pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe it with some oiled kitchen paper. When hot, cook your pancakes (see Step 3, above) for 1 min on each side until golden, keeping them warm in a low oven as you go.

Serve with lemon wedges and sugar, or your favourite filling. Once cold, you can layer the pancakes between baking parchment, then wrap in cling film and freeze for up to 2 months.

Recipe from Good Food magazine, February 2013

Anyway, this afternoon the boys will be helping me make pancakes, in the meantime these are last year’s efforts, the extra-large pan used was for the hubby, the fatty he is!

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Women and Clothing

Not wanting to sound stereotypical but I think it may be true that (most) women have a lot of clothes. Now obviously I know there are some women who aren’t that bothered about fashion, nor what they way and that there are some men who are just as bad but I think it is safe to say most women have a clothing problem.

clothing pile

The problem comes when your current crop of clothing will no longer fit in your wardrobe, bursting at the seams as it were. Something I am fairly familiar with as my vintage style armoire is pretty packed. It’s full of all my clothes, shoes and bags. My husband has his own wardrobe and storage in his office which is next to the bedroom. The decision was made after his clothes started to be put in under bed boxes and some ‘donated’. It was only fair that he got his own space.

Luckily the spare bedroom converted nicely into an office for the hubby and opened us up to extra smart storage options. Just recently we have had a fitted wardrobe put in as it was the best use of the space in the room. It looks smart and stylish and hides away all the husbands’ clothes and the rest of his man stuff. When my parents came round, they liked it so much they ordered a fitted wardrobe to replace the late 1980’s stuff they had in. They got it from the same place as us buying some like these which look so much better.

My mum noted that they have quite a bit of extra room and she could maybe go shopping to buy some new clothes. Can’t say my dad was impressed with that, but he did really like the finish and the quality of the product. I can’t quite bring myself to go for a larger wardrobe in the bedroom, as the vintage style I have going on in there wouldn’t suit a new style modern wardrobe. I did think about maybe buying another chest of draws or something similar, however hubby suggested just getting rid of the clothes I no longer wear. Or to stop buying new clothes. To be honest I don’t like his options. Anyway as you know I recently had a bit of a splurge online buying some pretty new items from Boden, which hasn’t helped matters!

Image courtesy of Ali Elangasinghe

Valentines treat

My husband is taking over kiddy duty and taking the boys for Saturday as a Valentines treat, so he says. It’s a wonderful gesture because it means I can get some time to myself. So what am I going to do with this free time? Easy relax! I’m going to take a long bath, pamper myself then curl up on the sofa nice and warm and watch a movie.

bubble bath]

For my bath I will use my favourite Lavender Meadow Foaming Bath from Organic Surge which smells just divine, creates plenty of bubbles and leaves my skin super soft. I will also be giving my face a bit of a boost with a Rose Formula Antioxidant Facial Mask from Neal’s Yard, keeping spots and wrinkles at bay. And I won’t be forgetting to light my Neom Tranquility Candle which smells delicious and really works to help relax me! All whilst enjoying a glass of crisp white wine, my favourite at the moment a good Riesling.

Afterwards I plan on watching my all-time favourite movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s whilst enjoying a treat of Joe & Sephs gourmet popcorn which I bought for the hubby and I. I got myself some of their valentine’s popcorn, caramel, macchiato with Scotch whisky. MMMMM…… yummy! Plus if its chilly, whilst I have the fire on it would be rude not to enjoy a rich and creamy Green & Blacks hot chocolate topped with marshmallows.

So if you want a lovely pampering day, just follow my lead above!

Image courtesy of Rebecca Barray