Wednesday, 26 September 2012

8pm - The Gallery

The Gallery word this week is 8pm, which is fantastic as everyone will have different images of what they are doing at this hour. So I look forward to viewing all the entries.

And here is mine...

Most 8pm's in our home pretty much run the same way. Well that is Monday to Friday anyway. I always let Aalliyah have a little extra time up over the weekend :-)
I think its really important to teach children how to be responsible from a young age, so Aalliyah is responsible for her little night-time "ritual" and making sure she does it herself.

Body cream
"Special" Face cleanser
Teeth Brushed

When she is all squeaky clean, its on to making sure her book bag and P.E kit (if needed) is packed and ready for the morning by the front door. Teaching them to be responsible from a young age helps keep them acting responsible as they grow up. They learn to value their own items and time.

Why not head over to Sticky Fingers and have fun viewing all the entries and then why not add your own?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Saving The Planet In 10 Simple Steps

Going green is not as hard as some people may think. Everyone assumes that its going to take something on a massive scale to help save the planet, and that one single person making a change would be insignificant, but this is so untrue. If we all thought like that, there would be no hope of turning things around and helping our planet to go greener.

Getting our children involved is even better as we are doubling our efforts and helping to save the planet by twice the amount. Plus we are passing on our knowledge in the hope that they will grow up and continue on a greener path 

I have put together a list of 10 simple ways to go green and help save the planet. They are easy and simple changes we can implement. You can do them without breaking a sweat or your bank balance :-)

1) Saving water - There are many simple yet effective ways to do this such as turning the taps off while you are brushing your teeth. This is great as the kids can get involved too. What's more is you can save up to 8 gallons of water a day! (Based on brushing morning and night). Another fun way of conserving water is to collect rainwater. Its great for watering the plants and kids will love collecting up the water in their buckets.

2) Wash at 30 or below - I have always washed at 40/60 and 90 degrees depending on the load. But for the past year all I have ever washed at is 30 degrees. My laundry comes out just as clean and reduces your electricity consumption by an average of 40%. Most leading washing detergent brands are now designed to clean just as good at lower temperatures.

3) Switch To Energy Efficient Lighting - By switching just one of your standard light bulbs to an energy efficient one can save you an average of £3 a year and by changing all our lighting to energy efficient lighting can save us up to £55 per year. Most leading supermarkets no longer stock standard bulbs which is fantastic as it gets us all changing to a more efficient source of lighting.

4) Recycle - An obvious one, but many of us still do not recycle our everyday materials like glass, aluminium and card. Most of us don't even have to go further than our doorstep and we have weekly collections of all our recyclable materials. On average, we will all throw away our own body weight in waste in just 7 weeks! That's crazy!

5) Change your batteries - Stop using regular disposable batteries and change to rechargeables. Over 15 billion batteries are made and sold each year, most of which are disposable. That's nearly 15 billion batteries disposed of in our landfills. For a small price tag you can buy a battery charger with a set of rechargeable batteries. Saving you endless money in the long run and believe me come Christmas day you will be glad you have rechargeables.

6) Pull The Plug - We waste a massive amount of electricity every year by leaving things on standby, such as out televisions, dvd players, sky/virgin boxes and laptops. Having something on standby still uses on average up to 90% of there power still. You wouldn't leave every appliance on when you went to bed as you would see this as a massive waste of electricity, so switch off and then turn off at the mains. Less harmful to the environment and your annual electricity bill.

7) Plot it - Making your own vegetable plot is a fantastic way to go green. It is  a brilliant thing to do with the kids, and how satisfying is it to be "living off your own land". Growing your own produce is a fun way to teach your children about going green. It costs millions to transport vegetables to local supermarkets. That's a lot of exhaust fumes!

8) Make Over - Turn your old disused items into something better by giving them a new lease of life! Make over your old furniture or clothes. Make some handmade jewellery. The possibilities are endless and definitely a number one activity that the kids will love being a part of. Don't fill up the landfill with yet more waste! Jazz it up into something you CAN reuse.

9) Bag it - Plastic shopping bags are not biodegradable, even the ones that say they are will never fully decompose. They will hang around our landfill for years to come. Think of the billions of bags used in our supermarkets everyday? That's a lot of waste! Always try to use a cotton/canvas reusable bag which are sold in most shops now. You can use them again and again. You could even get a plain bag and lets the kids paint it for you! 

10) Branch out - Plant a tree! Simple and to the point but just by planting a tree you could be making a massive future change. An adult tree can absorb approximately 48 pounds of carbon monoxide in a single year and produce enough oxygen to sustain two people for a lifetime. That is incredible and your little ones will love being a part of this one! :-)

So there you have it, my top 10 ways to help save the planet :-)

Have fun going that little bit greener... 

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Early Days..

OK, So I am on day 3 of my new Weight Watchers Pro Points plan. I am really surprised at how easy it is to follow. I am still tediously looking up "everything" in my handy little point checker book, but as time goes on, I guess things will stick with me and I will automatically know point values for certain items I eat more frequently. I must admit, when I first went to the meeting and the group leader was explaining about how to count points and that everything must be weighed before hand, so to calculate the right number of points, I just thought "Oh god, I'm going to be spending half my life weighing food". When it comes down to it, it literally takes no more than 5 seconds to pop some rice or a potato onto the scales. So there really is no excuse for not weighing anything before hand. There are even some fantastic little hints for when you are dining out and cant just pull some scales out of your pocket. Such things like how to use your fist to use as a size comparison for a potato or how one portion of spaghetti (pasta) would fill a five pence coin. So even when you are out, you kind of get an understanding of how big your portions are and how to calculate the points.

I wont lie, I am a "big" eater! If I wasn't then I wouldn't be at weight watchers ;-) so the portion sizes are very different to what I would normally have. For instance, they say a portion of mashed potato would be similar to the size of a lime. Well in that case I have been having around 8 portions on my plate up to now. I would easily have a mountain of mash with my Sunday dinner. So with the portion sizes being so different to what I am used to, Im learning to eat things that will keep me fuller for longer so I am not starving within a few hours.

I love the fact that you have zero heroes. Besides a few, every fruit and vegetable is 0 pro points, which is fantastic as you can have plenty with your dinner and not rack up any extra points. I personally love fruit and vegetables so this is great for me, and I have probably had more fruit and veg in the past few days than I have in the past week! The pro points plan is definitely changing my eating habits, and getting me making much healthier meals,which is great!

I am a night snacker! Most definitely. I would snack on things at night time. Biscuits, tea and cake, crisps.. all the naughty things. I thought "No way can I give these up" But I have found much tastier alternatives, and if I want to I can still enjoy some biscuits or piece of cake. That's the great thing, its all about moderation and portion size as opposed to what you can or can't eat! When I fancy something sweet, I have been having a meringue nest filled with fresh strawberry's with lot of sprinklings of sweetener (Tate and Lyle granulated sugar substitute- The best sweetener out there if you love your sugar)

There are also plenty of chocolate or cake bars out there in the Weight Watchers range. I have some myself. They are very tasty and only a couple of points each :-)

I am really looking forward to going back next week..Hoping I have lost a little. Id be happy with a pound even! Just something to show its working.

As I said before, I will keep you updated. If there are any fellow weight watchers out there or anyone who blogs any tasty healthy recipes I would love to hear form you, leave me a comment/follow :-)

My little Picasso ..

Being totally rubbish at Art myself, I can only imagine that Aalliyah must get her arty skills from her Auntie (My sister) who is fantastic at art. I on the other hand can barely draw a stick man! :-)

Aalliyah has always been a huge fan of anything arty. I am always surrounded by sketches, painting, sculptures and models she has made. She has a huge art trunk bursting with pens, paints, sequins and more. She is constantly on the "Google" look out for fun crafty activities to do.

Obviously I have a totally biased opinion, but I think Aalliyah is very talented and will always encourage her with her art, weather she decides to continue with in in secondary school or not.

If you have any ideas of things to make and do, please leave a comment and we will check out your blog for some ideas. Or if you are an arty/crafy blog we would love to hear from you!

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Saturday Caption Day #Satcap

My little Einstein here, all dressed up for Mad Science day at school. Oh and FYI ..Yes she gets her brains from me! ;-)

Have fun captioning :-)

Wanna caption some more photos? Or maybe add your own pic?.. Then head over to Mammasaurus .. Have fun :-)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Autumn Is Upon Us

Well it is official! No more blazing sunny says, perfect for barbecuing and getting the swimming pool out. Although we still have some beautiful sun, the air is so much colder and we are definitely on the path to Christmas.But that's still a while off yet so I will enjoy the Autumn months while I can. Aalliyah is very exited about Halloween as she is every year. We both love the Autumn time, summers over but not too cold to still enjoy a beautiful sunny stroll somewhere :-) So with that in mind Aalliyah decided to write a little poem all about... You guessed it Autumn! Only a little verse, but I loved it!

The sun is out, but it's still quite chilly.
I'm sitting on the ground watching a dying lilly.
I'm walking on leaves, so crispy and brown,
Scattered around all over the town.
Soon it will be Halloween.
Then it's time to hear the fireworks scream!

By Aalliyah Asante

What are your favourite things about Autumn? My top three have to be 1) The colours (Trees/leaves) 2) The fashion (All the knitwear and boots that come out) 3) Food! (Yummy comfort food to enjoy with your slippers on)

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful :-)

You have all heard people say "Today is the first day of the rest of your life"? Well that's how I feel today. Yes OK a tad over dramatical since it was a weight watchers meeting that has given me this buzz, but it was my first meeting and I left feeling very positive which makes a change to the past few months. I went along with a friend which made it a lot more fun and relaxed. Absolutely horrified when I stepped on the scales and realised exactly how much weight I had put on, but must not dwell as I will hopefully see that number getting smaller week by week. Very Exciting :-) It was also wonderful to see my friend and her beautiful daughter too. We were childhood friends who lost contact and have recently got back into contact with each other so having giggles with her definitely cheered me up today too.

The final reason to be cheerful today (which was actually the first to occur) was the fantastically tight squeeze I got from my daughter this morning in the playground. And lets not forget the kiss too! I see some kids in younger years barely giving a shrug to their mums and dads to say bye, so I'm happy Aalliyah feels no embarrassment and still gives me a hug and a kiss before she skips merrily into school.

Those are my reasons to be cheerful today.. What has made you smile today? Head over to Mummy From The Heart and let everyone know

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Weight Watchers

After hearing some very good reviews on the new pro points plan at weight watchers, I have decided to bite the bullet and give it a go. I have wanted to join weight watchers for a while now, but never fancied the thought of doing it alone. So after a mummy friend of mine suggested going, I though why not?

I have tried a few diets in the past but never really stuck to anything or changed my eating habits. And I wonder why they never worked? All the diets I tried before just seemed so restrictive, always full of things you had to give up! Where as the pro points plan works quite differently than anything else. Its not about giving up the foods you love, its all about moderation and portion size. Nothing is really "off limits".You just have to plans you meals carefully, and make your daily points allowance last. There are also extra weekly points (49 I think) for when you have a cheeky bottle of wine or meal out at the weekend maybe.

I have always been a larger sized lady, but I am at my heaviest I have ever been before. I was at a nice sized 14 before having my daughter. Not skinny granted, but at a comfortable weight and was more than happy with my body. Obviously, whilst pregnant I gained weight, and lots of it! After having Aalliyah I was far too relaxed and thought "Well I've put on weight anyway" and didn't really watch what I ate at all. I kept thinking Id start a diet and or exercise plan soon. Days turned into weeks, then months and years. Before I knew it, it was years later and I'd barely lost anything. I was roughly up to a size 18 at this point. My weight went up and down, but not by any more than a few pounds here and there.

In January this year I quit smoking, its been around 9 months now , and while I am over the moon at the fact I actually quit for good this time! The weight I have put on since quitting has really got me down. I know the benefits of quitting smoking far outweigh putting on a few pound and you can always lose the weight, but it doesn't change how you feel in yourself. I am now up to a size 22 and can honestly say I cant remember the last time I actually weighed myself!! Tomorrow is my first meeting at Weight Watchers and I'm dreading the initial weigh in as its then I will find out exactly how much weight I have put on!

On the plus side, I've got plenty of extra weight to shift, so I'm hoping if I stick to the healthier lifestyle that the pro points plan gives you, and start getting more exercise then I will soon start seeing and feeling a difference.

Will keep you updated on my progress..

Until tomorrow....

Easy Peasy Pasta

Here is a fantastic little recipe for a tasty pasta dish. Easy to prepare and not time consuming, while still being healthy and using fresh ingredients.

Thanks to Karen over at The Mums To Do List for this great recipe.

1. Chop 1 onion (I use red) and add to pan with 1 tablespoon of oil.

2. Add 2 garlic cloves (sliced)...but if your children will cringe if they see a slice of garlic, crush it instead...they will never know!

3. Add 1 chopped red pepper.  Again if kids are funny about peppers chop it really finely to hide it, or you could substitute for mushrooms, carrots, peas or courgette.  In fact any veg that your children like could be added to give them another of their 5 a day.

4. Soften the above ingredients in the pan, then add a big handful of pancetta.  If you can't find pancetta in the supermarket just buy streaky bacon and chop it up.  Cook until pancetta browns a little.

5. Add half a teaspoon of fennel seeds if you like a bit of flavour, then 4 (chopped) fresh tomatoes and 400g of tinned tomatoes.  Then a little water (about 75ml).  Bring to a simmer and add 1 beef stock cube.  You could season with salt and pepper, but if cooking for toddlers lay off the salt.

6. Allow the sauce to thicken on simmer, and once the pasta is cooked either spoon over the pasta, or you can mix the pasta into the sauce and serve.

7. Sprinkle with a little grated parmesan (or any cheese finely grated).

Mine differed only slightly from the above recipe. I omitted the fennel seeds (not a fan) and instead of peppers packed out the sauce with peas, green beans, carrots and sweetcorn. (Love my veggies) 

Clean plates all round and safe in the knowledge we have had our 5 a day :-)

Breakfast - The Gallery

Myself and Aalliyah are not the the only ones who wake up with grumbling bellies, ready to ravish some brekkie :-)

"Must keep storing, may never see another breakfast again!"

The Gallery theme this week is "Breakfast" - Link up your posts over at Sticky Fingers

Tuesday, 18 September 2012


On the First of October, thousands of people will be giving up cigarettes in a 28 day challenge. It is said that by quitting for 28 days, you are five times more likely to carry on and quit for good! There are endless amounts of free support out there, so if you have been thinking about quitting then use "Stoptober" as your golden opportunity to try and kick the habit at last.

After years of being a heavy smoker, and more than a few quit attempts, I had pretty much got used to the fact that I would always be a smoker. I had tried and failed, again and again. With the rising price of cigarettes and the decline in my health, I decided enough was enough. I took advantage of all the support that was available to me, by joining online support forums, Facebook pages, visiting my GP and even calling the stop smoking helpline. Anything that was going to give me that little extra help to stop me lighting up and breaking my smoke free cycle. In January this year both myself and my sister (also a daily smoker) decided that now was the time. It was far from an easy journey and something which I would absolutely hate to go through again, but with the right support and the determination to succeed, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my wonderful sister for her continued support. We have both been smoke free for 8 months now.Amazing!!! Being able to go through it together and share the journey has made it so much more manageable :)

It sounds like such a cliché , but it is a million times better to try and fail , than to fail to try. 

If you fancy signing up for the "Stoptober" challenge, or just want some advice on quitting smoking then click the link below to be taken to the official smoke free page.

And remember a problem shared is a problem halved, so if you ever need advice or support during your quit attempt then please get in touch, I will do all I can to help :-)

Quit Now!

Alton Towers

OK, So almost all of us have been here some time in our lives. We went a few years back, but before then I hadn't been since I was 16! Yes I know.. Far too many years to mention ;-) Although I am not a massive thrill seeker, I do enjoy Alton Towers. There is something for everyone, and If the thought of loop the loop and race car speeds scare you, then you can always enjoy the tea-cups. Aalliyah is not a fan of "scary" rides and at the time of going was only 6 years old, so her choice of rides were limited to the younger section of the park, which in comparison to other parks aimed at younger children was not very good. Luckily for me, I also had my mum, niece and nephew along for the day, so mum was on hand to enjoy the "calmer" rides with Aalliyah, while "Auntie" enjoyed some thrill rides with the kids. (Who turned out to be more fearless than me). If you are a fan of the "fear" then there is no question you will enjoy Alton Towers. You have the popular main thrill rides such as The Oblivion, Rita, Nemesis, Ripsaw and Air amongst many others. For younger fun you have a smaller selection including The twirling toadstool swings (which even scare me senseless lol) , The Frog Hopper and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory - The ride. There are plenty of places to eat around the park, but as you can imagine the prices are quite steep. All in all it is a good day out for the family, maybe a bit wasted on the younger ones :-)

If you fancy some thrill seeking, click the link below to be taken to the official Alton Towers booking page.

Book Tickets

Monday, 17 September 2012

Harry Potter Studio Tour London

A while back, I was lucky enough to win a family pass into the Harry Potter Studio Tour. What was even more exciting, is that we were allowed access before the official public opening, meaning ourselves and others were treated to a sneak peak tour before anyone else.
I am a HUGE harry potter fan. I remember casually watching the first movie and then I was hooked! Aalliyah is also a massive fan of HP. So as you can imagine this was a fantastic day out for us. 
The tour is absolutely amazing and a total must for any Harry Potter fan. Get to see how all the magic happens behind the scenes. See all the magnificently built sets, famous props and costumes as well as being able to experience the green screen technology yourself by taking your broom for a spin. Then venture outside to take a look at the night bus or pull up a stool and grab a butter beer! And lets not forget the amazing gift shop where you will be spoilt for choice. It was a fantastic day out and definitely one we will never forget.

If you fancy experiencing the magic for yourself, click the link below and head over to the website to book your tickets now!

Buy Tickets

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Here is a great recipe for a scrummy "Lemon drizzle cake". I would love to say that it's mine but it is actually one belonging to the fabulous Nigella Lawson. Made this last week and it went down extremely well, much like the 2nd and 3rd slice (naughty).

The recipe can be found in the book: How to be a domestic Goddess - Nigella Lawson

Lemon-Syrup Loaf Cake
125g unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
2 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
175g self raising flour
pinch of salt
4 tablespoons milk
23x13x7cm loaf tin buttered and lined

For the syrup:

Juice of 1 and a half lemons
100g icing sugar

For the glaze:

Juice of 1/2 a lemon
150g icing sugar

To Make The Cake:

Preheat your oven to 180 C/ gas mark 4.
Butter and line your loaf tin well.

Cream together butter and sugar and add eggs and lemon zest, beating them in well.
Gently fold in the flour and the salt, mixing thoroughly and then add the milk.
 Spoon the batter into your prepared tin and bake for 45 mins or until cake tester comes out clean.

For the syrup:

Put the lemon juice and icing sugar into a small saucepan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves.

As soon as cake is out of oven, puncture all over with skewer and pour over the syrup.
Leave cake to cool completely before removing from the tin.

For the glaze:
Combine lemon juice and icing sugar until smooth and white, add a little more icing sugar if needed.  Make sure your cake is completely cool before drizzling with the glaze. 

Here's one I made earlier :-) It tasted to die for and was very simple to make. :-)

And breathe....

OK, So here it is.. My first blog post! After trawling Google results for what seemed like hours, trying to figure out the simplest of things (Such as editing a blog layout) I finally have a blog started. Granted its very early days, but I am well on my way. I am hoping to bring all sorts of parenting news, reviews and advice along the way, as well as sharing our own adventures with you all. 

So for now, a huge warm welcome from myself and my sidekick, AKA Aalliyah.