Friday, 11 July 2014

Learning to ride a bike

I know that's it's been a while since I last blogged but I just haven't had any urge to.  I take all the photos but can't seem to get any words out.  But then the lovely Fiona from Coombe Mill mentioned me in a Country Kids tweet this morning and I decided to actually write something.

Last year I tried to teach my middle boy to ride a bike.  He did manage some short distances on grass but really wasn't very keen, and then the weather turned and that was the end of that.  He didn't show any enthusiasm for learning to ride his bike, preferring to go out on his scooter, and we never pushed him.  Then yesterday, as he had the day off school due to the strikes, I decided that it was finally time for him to learn.

After a back-breaking hour, lots of tantrums and tears, he did it.  It's one of those moments when I realise that all the effort I put into teaching my children is really worth it.  In just one afternoon he has mastered the skill of keeping his balance, learning to steer, pushing off on his own, and stopping without falling off!  In his own words, the next step is taking part in races!  I am a very proud mummy.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Friday, 23 May 2014

The importance of a child’s routine

As your toddler begins to grow into their own person, they soon begin to become more self reliant and will want to exercise their own free will. Often this can conflict with a parent’s needs and can cause problems in the home, so encouraging a child to maintain frequent habits through routine can help to establish discipline and prepare them later in life.

Why does my child need a routine?

The transition from young baby to toddler is a troubling time with lots of big changes, from weaning off breast feeding to sleeping alone and learning to walk and talk. With so many developments, many beyond your child’s control, change can be frightening, and so introducing a routine with the same everyday tasks occurring at the same time will help your child to adjust.

Encouraging your child into a routine can also help them become more self reliant, from brushing their own teeth to doing their own homework without needing to be nudged. An organised household is likely to produce an organised child, who can take better control of their day to day activities under the influence of routine tasks.

What activities should I schedule?

From birth through to school age, a night time routine is an essential part of a child’s development. Encourage your child to go to bed every night at the same time, whether it’s a baby who goes down after a feed and a bath, or a child who goes to sleep following a tooth brushing and story time routine. For older children, encourage them to go to bed by providing a comfortable sleeping environment, from comfort blankets to child friendly mattresses.

Meal times are also very important for both younger babies and toddlers. Arrange your baby’s meal times around their sleep cycle, for example, feed them during the night if they cannot go back to sleep by comforting alone, and feed them whenever they wake from a nap. Older children will benefit from a regular evening meal time, especially after becoming used to regular breakfast and school lunchtimes. If your child’s dinner time is too early for you, prepare a smaller, lighter meal for your child and cook for yourself once they have gone to bed.

For older children, make sure in particular that their evening is well scheduled – providing a routine ‘play time’ will give your child a good incentive to do their homework after school, while bath times before bed will calm and relax your child and encourage them to sleep.

Whether you've a baby or a school age child, a regular routine will encourage him or her to develop good personal habits and further their independence later in life.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

I'm a #MorrisonsMum for the Bank Holiday

I don't usually shop at Morrisons as my nearest store is further away than all of the other big supermarkets names so I was delighted to be given the chance to find out what it's like to shop there as part of their #MorrisonsMum campaign with Britmums.

I love doing the weekly shop as I leave the children with hubby and get to go off all on my own.  No nagging, shouting or random goods ending up in the trolley (and that's just the other half!).  I had visited this Morrisons in the past so had some idea of my way around.  I went late Saturday afternoon and it was fairly quiet.

When I walked into the store I noticed lots of yellow signs everywhere.

Morrisons have cut their prices on over a thousand products, so if something is marked as 'I'm cheaper' then the price is staying down.  This type of campaign appeals to me far more than the short term offers as I haven't got to worry about stocking up when the offers are on, but instead can be safe in the knowledge that the prices are going to stay low.

I usually complete a meal plan every week and shop to a budget, but I have to admit to getting a bit excited at a new shop with vouchers to spend ahead of a bank holiday, so I did pick up a lot of the offers that I saw when walking around the store.

I loved all of the fruit and vegetables on Market Street and got lots of great offers there.  There were lots of items for 69p each, or 3 for £1.50 and I got a bag of baking potatoes, a tray of tomatoes and a big bag of carrots at this price.  Fantastic price.

The fish counter looked beautiful and so fresh, and though I didn't buy anything from there on this occasion I definitely would in future.

I got my whole chicken and the rest of the items to cook a bank holiday roast for the family.  I did have to ask a member of staff where to find the goose fat (a must have for my roasties), and was really happy with the service I received.  I found a member of staff quickly, she was polite and chatty and took me to find exactly what I needed, before asking if I needed help with anything else.  

The product pricing was very clear in most cases, with lots of products having the price clearly indicated on the packaging, though there were just a couple of items that I picked up where I couldn't see a price on the packet or the shelf, and that put me off buying.  I like to have some idea of what I'm spending as I shop so won't usually purchase an item if I can't see a price.  

I was pleased with the layout of the store, and other than the goose fat, was able to find everything I needed easily.  I went to the checkouts and only two of the larger checkouts were open so there were some queues building up.  I was disappointed that no other checkouts were opened, as though the store was quiet, everyone must have headed for the checkout at the same time and people were starting to queue into the aisles.  I waited to about five minutes before being served myself.  

I was served quickly and efficiently, and was offered help with packing.  Again, the service was great.  The customer behind me was using a mobility scooter and when she asked to help with unloading her items, and packing, a member of staff came quickly, which was great to see.  The standard of the service alone would make me want to return to Morrisons in future and I think that Morrisons in Neath should be proud of their staff members.

I did spend a bit more than I normally would on a weekly shop, though part of this were that some offers were so good that I thought I'd stock up, so it's unlikely that I'll have to do a big shop for two weeks.  I normally shop around to get the best offers from different stores, but found Morrisons to be of a good price overall, and it was nice to do all of my shopping in one store for a change.

Our Bank Holiday Roast

1 large whole chicken
2.5kg white potatoes
1 heaped spoonful Goose fat (for the roast potatoes)
1 tbsp Cornflour (for the gravy)

I roasted the chicken according to the clear directions on the packet and it was so tender that it fell apart when I was trying to carve it.  Delicious.  I parboiled some potatoes before roasting in the goose fat.  The remainder of the potatoes were boiled and then mashed, and the carrots and broccoli were steamed.  To make the gray I added a tablespoon of cornflour to the chicken juices, some chicken stock for flavouring, the water from the potatoes and some gravy browning to add colour.  A beautiful bank holiday roast dinner that all of the family enjoyed.

This meal worked out at cost of £9.18 which is just under £1.84 per person (family of 5).  There was also a good portion left over and hubby had two servings so this could be reduced even further.  That is amazing value for great quality food.

The children finished off their meal with a bowl of Morrisons Mint Choc Chip ice cream and a glass of cloudy lemonade and I think it's easy to see that they all enjoyed it.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Spicy Sausage and Tomato Pasta (Degustabox)

When I think about using organic produce it's usually fresh foods such as fruit, vegetables and meat that comes to mind, but this months Degustabox brought some Organico pasta and sauce which I couldn't wait to try to see if I could tell the difference.

As pasta is a staple meal in our family, I thought a pasta bake would go down really well.  The Organico pasta comes from the 'La Marche' region's pioneering organic co-operative, founded to protect vanishing jobs in the countryside, promote bio-diversity and sustain rich agricultural soil* so it's ethical as well as being healthy.  The tomato sauce comes from another co-operative in Tuscany where the tomatoes are picked and packed within 24 hours to maximise freshness* .  All sounds really good and I like knowing where my food has come from.

To jazz the pasta up I decided to add some spicy sausage, lots of Pepperdew Piquante Peppers that I received in last months Degustabox, and off course, some cheese to top it off.

500g Organico Italian Durum Wheat Pasta, cooked
1 Jar Organico Tomato and Basil Pasta Sauce
Pepperdew Mild Piquante Pepper1 spicy sausage, chopped
Grated cheese

Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C for fan ovens), Gas Mark 4
Add the cooked pasta to a large ovenproof dish and mix in the pasta sauce, spice sausage and lots of whole piquante peppers.  Add plenty of grated cheese and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes.

Serve with salad leaves and some fresh bread for a simple, yet healthy meal that the whole family will love.   The flavour of the pasta sauce with the peppers is simply delicious, and I will definitely be using Organico again.

You can find DegustaboxUK on Facebook and Twitter

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Project 365: Days 75 - 81

I didn't have the best week last week and took very few photos so didn't do a 365 post, but it made me more determined to do one this week.

Day 75: Enjoying an ice-cream
Day 76: My little book worm
Day 77: Silly hats in the office
Day 78: My cross training workout
Day 79: Enjoying the fine weather and a bit of scooting
Day 80: Ready for Sports Relief
Day 81: Ready for a party (not that you'd think so by the look on his face)

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Project 365: Days 61 - 67

Day 61: A trip to Cardiff and Hamleys toy shop.
Day 62: Stepping stones using footstools.
Day 63: Pancake Day!
Day 64: Sleeping boy - it's the only way I seem to be able to get a photo of my oldest son these days.
Day 65: his train has to have a sandwich too.
Day 66: Kickboxing grading.
Day 67: Acrobatics.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Project 365: Days 54 - 60

It's our half term this week - a week later than most other areas.  It's been a week of guitar practise, lost teeth, Minecraft (that game seems to be taking over our lives) and indoor picnics due to the bad weather.  We've also had the obligatory half term project which involves designing a poster for St Davids Day.

Day 54: Another tooth has come out!
Day 55: The books on my bedside table
Day 56: Guitar lesson
Day 57: Playing Minecraft
Day 58: Indoor picnic
Day 59: This dinosaur seems to be following me today
Day 60: The school project is half done! Happy St Davids Day.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky