Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Merry Christmas To All

It's Christmas Eve! Today is all about rushing around getting the last few bits for dinner, delivering presents to people and making sure everything is organised for Santa's visit..house is cleaned, bed covers changed, christmas pjs are ready...it's always a very busy day here!
It's hard to believe that this time last year Luke was a chubby little 6 month old and now he's a right little toddler ruling the roost and calling Santa and saying Ho Ho Ho.
This year is slightly different than last year seeing as I'm back at work so it's been a bit of an extra rush to get organised as well going to work but I am now off for a couple of weeks and I am so looking forward to celebrating the festive season and spending some quality time with my family and friends.

So Merry Christmas to you all, I hope this festive season is full of all of the joys for you and yours. I shall see you here again before the end of the year for a closing post on the year that was 2014. Now let's all go eat, drink and be merry :)

(I'll leave you with Luke's Christmas cards photo's for this year)


Thursday, 18 December 2014

Christmas Eve Treats & Traditions

Since Luke has arrived into our lives, I've been really excited about carrying on family traditions as well as making new ones for him and Christmas is the best time of the year for such a thing.

Our Christmas Eve is always a busy day, rushing around getting the last few bits and pieces for Christmas Day, prepping the veg for the dinner, tidying the house ready for Santa's arrival. I've got the raw end of the deal since moving out of home though because now I have to do the "tidy" in my own house as well as the parents because Mum usually works till the evening on Christmas Eve, the joys of retail, so I have to do it...it also means I now have to put up 2 tree's and decorate 2 houses! We then have finger food for dinner, cook up a load of it in my parents and then we chill out and watch some Christmas TV, generally something like Noel Edmonds, he does this show every year where he helps people and gives them gifts and what not and me and Mum usually end up sobbing into a chicken wing! Mum does a bit of last minute baking on Christmas Eve night. Pre baby days I would head over to the local country pub for a drink or 2 with some friends before heading off to midnight mass in the church next to my parents house but these days its home to get Luke ready for bed and to sleep early ahead of his fun filled Christmas Day. We'll be spending Christmas Eve night putting together his presents this year because we are gluttons for punishment and managed to buy him presents that all need to be assembled before they can be used...note to self for next year not to do that again.

We also got Christmas pjs when we were younger so of course Luke had to get the same, I still get myself a new pair of pjs for Christmas every year! I used to always chance my arm trying to get the parents to allow us to open one, just one, present on Christmas Eve but we were never allowed so I thought I would start the tradition of a Christmas Eve basket for Luke, I thought this would be enough to contain his excitement in years to come while waiting for the big guy in red to bring his presents. We don't go over board, just pick up a few Christmassy bits and pieces and out them together in a basket I kept a few years ago from an Easter egg Mum had been given.

Here's what's in his basket this year:

This year Luke has a pair of pjs from Penneys for €7 that say Dear Santa, It's Not How It Looks.. totally fitting for this boy of mine! We have some Christmas slipper socks also from Penneys for €3 I think, a soft toy puppy from Dunnes Stores for €5 and some Kinder minis and 2 Christmas story books from Dealz. I also included a new sippy cup that the lovely folk over at Haberman sent to us. We are already big fans of their Anyway Up Bird cup so included the very funky Anyway Up Cow cup in the Christmas basket this year. Decorated the basket with a bit of tinsel and a felt snow flake and it's ready to go. 

We were also sent a personalised Christmas book by the super people over at Digital Scribe so I am happy to include this in our Christmas Eve tradition. It's a wonderful story about Luke and his cousin Katie and his dog Murphy who go on trip with Santa around Ireland visiting some of the very popular landmarks while mentioning our home town. An ideal book to get kids involved and I loved the the personalised letter that came with it and Luke's little picture on the front. When ordering the book you can fill in an information sheet with details about your little one for the story to include their names. This book is €15.99 plus P+P and can be ordered on their website.

Have you got any Christmas Eve traditions? I'd love to hear about them.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Slimming World Journey - Week 5

So I am now 5 weeks into my Slimming World journey and they have flown by! I've found it much easier to stick to than I had expected. Once I familiarised myself with the different food groups, Super Free, Free, Healthy Extras and Syns I've slowly been able to prep meals without having to refer to my hand book (Slimming World bible) for everything.
There's no magic trick with this diet, it's basically eating right, cutting out the junk but still allowing yourself the odd treat now and then. I look forward to the weigh ins but dread them at the same time, I'm afraid to go up in weight but delighted to step on those scales and see I've gone down, it's a bit of a love / hate relationship!
Unfortunately I haven't been able to stay for the group talk since my registration week as I'm usually rushing home to put Luke to bed because the OH has training most Tuesday evenings or else he's working but I am hoping to sit in on a group talk in the next week or so.
I will admit last week I was bit bold and indulged in Pringles and chocolate but I'm back on the wagon firmly now. I received my first 1/2 stone award last week and it's made me more determined and eager to get my next award at a stone weight loss.
Even though I can't stick around for the group talk each week I find the Facebook group a great help for motivation, recipes, hints and tips and general positivity, the members are so friendly and it's so nice to see them encourage each other, something that is of a great help and inspiration when you are having a down day.
My favourite meal at the moment is my weekend dinner, in place of pizza and frozen chips, I now have SW chips which are delicious and a wrap based pizza topped with ham, cheese and tomato, it's so yummy.
I've had 2 alcoholic drinks since I joined and that was 2 glasses of wine on a night out for a birthday celebration. I have a lot going on from this weekend, nights out, work parties and lunches so I am a bit anxious as to how I'll manage but hopefully I'll be ok and make the right food choices.
I still need to up my physical activity and include some regular exercise in my daily routine, you'd think running around after a toddler would do it though!
I can already feel the effects of it on my mentality as well, I beginning to feel like the old me again, pre baby body and my clothes are starting to fit better than they have done in ages. It's so satisfying knowing that I am fuelling my body with the right foods.
All in all I'm 100% happy that I signed up to Slimming World to help me on my weight loss journey and I can't wait to report back in another few weeks where I'll hopefully have hit another milestone along the way :)

Now for the important bit:

Total amount of weight lost in 5 weeks: 11.5lbs

I am beyond delighted with this and it really is such an incentive to keep going when I see the scales coming down every week.

Are you a member of Slimming World? Or using another method to help you on a weight loss journey? I'd love to hear all about it.

You can read about my first week of Slimming World here.


Monday, 8 December 2014

The Santa Experience

On Saturday we took Luke on his first official Santa visit by going to The Santa Experience in Dunnes Stores on Patrick Street in Cork city.
First of all I never even knew there was a whole other floor in Dunnes Stores so I wasn't too sure what to expect and second of all it beat a lot of other places price wise. It was €10 per child and €2 per adult which was quite reasonable.
We went up to the top floor where it had been turned into Santa's grotto. We handed in our information sheet about Luke to the girl at the desk and then waited in line to be called.
After hearing our names off we went with the friendly elves through to Santa's post room where Luke proceeded to sit on all of the "sacks of post" and then try and run back out the door we came in through.
Soon after we walked down a lit up cave like walk way and went into the polar bear express type area, Luke was quite impressed with this, the elves were telling us about the baby polar bear and it's Mum and Dad and he kept calling "Baby", very cute.
Then it was onto the reindeer stables where there was a big sleigh waiting, after a quick chat about the reindeers the elves took the kids for a spin in the sleigh through to the next room here it was "snowing" and we would wait for our turn to see Santa. So far so good.
Santa's room was very good, a nice big tree, a fire, couch's for the parents to sit on and the kids on the floor while Santa had a chat with them. There was also Santa's bed in the corner which Luke spent the entire time trying to climb up on. On the information sheet we'd handed in at the start it asked for 2 things about your child that Santa could mention which I thought was a good idea. However Santa was wrapping up his friendly chat and he had forgotten about Luke so we had to say it where he quickly asked him how his pet dog, Murphy was, gave him a present and that was it. I did feel like Santa rushed through his chat with the kids, I'm not sure if it was because of the time of day, it was almost 5pm and he was just losing interest. I also wasn't too impressed when he Ssshh'd Luke when he let out a screech when we tried to keep him still for 2 seconds. I didn't get any pictures in Santa's room as there was no flash photography allowed.
We sat down for a picture with Santa which cost us €8, not bad really for an 8x10 and they take a few so you can pick which one you want, if not all of them.
The present itself wasn't really suitable for a 1 year old, a pop up book, it was no sooner opened and Luke had a bit of it ripped out. The whole thing lasted about 30mins
Overall it was a good experience, a 1 year old's attention span for these kind of things wouldn't be great and the time for the experience was ideal.


Wednesday, 3 December 2014

A To Do List For November - A Round Up

So at the start of November I set myself some goals for the month which you can read all about here. Now that the month has been and gone I suppose it' only right that I let you know whether I actually managed to stick to it! (That was the purpose of me posting online, an incentive to get these things done!)
So here you go, just how many of these tasks did I complete:

  • ü Two shelves for the utility cupboard - Bought and put in place, although we only need one in the end 
  • ü Paint the utility cupoboard - Done and dusted, it looks so much better and more organised now
  • ✗ New rug for the living room - Unsuccessful, I just can't find one I want 
  • ✗ I have yet to try out the Slimming Wraps, I will be trying them this week though
  • ✗ The spare room has just become even more cluttered by stuff, this will take longer than I thought
  • ✗ Toddler Group didn't happen but that's because our Fridays have been taken up with visits to nanny's garden and meeting friends
  • ü Bringing my lunch to work - This has been hugely successful due to joining Slimming World
So 3 out of 7, could have been better but the utility cupboard took longer than expected whic gave me less time for the spare room and it is impossible to find a rug the right size and design that I want!

I've more than enough going on in December so I won't be making any monthly plans for this month, but expect my usual January aims and goals and New Year resolutions :)

Happy December Everyone 


A Time For Giving

Last year I mentioned to the OH briefly about making a donation at Christmas a regular thing, we would pick a charity each year and donate in some way, be it financially or donating items such as clothing, food etc. We thought no more about it until yesterday when we had both decided to do it without remembering last years conversation and telling each other last night.

The OH has donated to the Mercy Hospital Fundraising Cancer Appeal in Cork this year and signed up for monthly donations. This is an issue close to his heart and he felt it appropriate to have this as his charity for 2015. The fundraising from this appeal is to help support the hospital in delivering the highest quality of care to its patients as well as supporting advancements and innovations for the care and treatments of it's patients. He signed up for this with a fundraiser who called to the house but you can find out more info by clicking on the link above.

I have chosen Focus Ireland to make a donation to this year. My drive to work recently has been filled with headlines on the radio of how the number of homeless people on the streets of Cork and nationwide have increased and I think the tragic news of Jonathan Corrie, a homeless man found dead in a doorway in Dublin this week has driven it home for me. Cork Simon Community have said that the number of people sleeping on streets of Cork have risen by 500% in the last 3 years. I find this statistic astonishing and it's made me determined to do what I can to help the situation, be it big or small, all of these donations together make a difference. For  more information please click on the link above.

And lastly while I was discussing this with my work colleague, she suggested doing something in the office too. We have 420 students between our 2 sites and decided that the St Vincent De Paul Food Appeal would be a great idea., donating food to families who will find it a struggle to feed their loved ones this festive season. We are asking our students to donate items from a shopping list provided by SVP and leave them in Reception up until December 22nd when we will arrange for someone form our local SVP office to collect the items. Please click on the above for more information about the 2014 Food Appeal.
We spend most of December running around trying to find the perfect Christmas gifts for our loved ones and it's easy to forget that there are people out there struggling, be it financially, fighting an illness or just getting through each day at a time with whatever resources they can find at the time. While these kind of donations are required all year long, I think Christmas is a good place to start.
Do you donate or volunteer with any organisations? I'd love to hear your stories. 


Sunday, 30 November 2014

Me & Mine November

Can you believe that 2014 is almost over?! Most definitely the fastest year, it feels like only yesterday we were taking our January pictures for this project.
November has been a busy one mostly to at home though. Our bedroom has been painted, the utility cupboard has finally had a bit of a makeover and at long last the garden is being tended to. We haven't been doing anything particularly exciting this month, its always a month for hibernation for me before December kicks off with all of the Christmas festivities.
Sadly our month ends on a bit of a bum note with a car incident yesterday, a freak accident where our car rolled out of the drive way and hit a car across the way, just what you need before Christmas eh?! Fortunately no one was hurt, it could have been a lot worse.
Our portrait for this month was taken on Luke's first trip to the woods and it finally includes Murphy, our dog who isn't actually facing the camera in any of the pictures! They aren't the best quality but I was wrong when I thought trying to get a toddler to stay still was hard, try getting a toddle AND a dog to sit still is much harder! Anyhow here we are, our family portrait for November:

This month Luke loves:
  • Gardening
  • Wearing his wellies
  • Playing with Murphy
This month Dad loves:
  • Seeing the garden improve
  • Cooking nice dinners for Mum ;)
  • Teaching Luke new things
This month Mum loves:
  • Watching Luke and Murphy become even more close
  • Joining Slimming World
  • Having most of my Christmas shopping done


Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Sit Back, Relax And Listen

I'm a huge music fan, all kinds, well most kinds, I'm not a fan of jazz or swing music. My mp3 player has around 2000 songs on it from either end of the spectrum and it's mostly on shuffle so one minute it will be blaring a bit of Metallica and the next song could be a soppy love song from Westlife.
Music is my release, I put on my favourite song or album and I instantly feel better, the drive to work might seem long and tedious but blaring my music in the car makes that journey easier to do, putting in my head phones and going for a walk refreshes my mind and who hasn't had an album that's helped you to get through a heartbreak?! (In my next life I WILL be the singer of a rock band!)
Most of all though music relaxes me , chills me the F out and there's nothing I love more than putting on some tunes, sitting back with a few candles, possibly a glass of wine, ear phones in, eyes closed and listening to some music that takes my mind off of everything. I have a play list of my favourite songs to chill out to, I've a few select few on here, have a listen here:

  • First up is a track from one of my all time favourite bands, it's Jimmy Eat World with Disintegration. I drift away into a pool of nostalgia everytime I listen to this. This song is so emotional, I had to think hard if it it actually is a chill out song but for me it is, I would put this one the list I'd play going to sleep. I've been lucky enough to see these guys live 3 times, outstanding.

  • Placebo's version of Running Up That Hill is a chilling track that can take me away from reality in the first few seconds. I love Brian Molko's voice and alongside the piano in this one it's haunting, perfect for a bit of escapism

  • If you haven't listened to the composer Ludovico Einaudi before, I really suggest that you do. I was never a big fan of classical music until I listened to him, I love the classical piano. His music is featured on a lot of TV ad and programs so you may have heard his stuff before. Primavera is one of my favourites, I used to put this on going to sleep when I was pregnant and it really helped me to drift off when I used to find it hard to do so. I have his double cd, Islands and would definitely recommend it for some down time.

      • Massive Attack with Teardrop make the play list too, I think this could a popular choice but the opening beat is mesmerising, it hits you instantly and before I know it I'm floating along with the rhythm. This song is about the death of Jeff Buckley, a friend of the singer Elizabeth Fraser, I think knowing the history of the song makes all that more intriguing. 

      • The Noose by A Perfect Circle is another eerie track that I associate a certain time of my life with and sitting back listening to this song takes me right back to that time, it gives me that flighty kind of feeling and about 2minutes into the track I'm fully immersed into the silky tones of James Maynard Keenan's voice.

      Of course these days I don't get as much time as I would like to stick in those head phones and listen to this playlist, the baby monitor above my bed may have something to do with that ;)
      Do you have any particular songs that you find relaxing, that you can chill out to? I'd love to hear about them, we might even have a few of the same! 

      I'm linking this post up with wonderful #AllAboutYou Link and Pin Party 


      Monday, 17 November 2014

      I Took That Step

      Right I wasn't going to blog about this, well not this early on but I've changed my mind partly because it'll help me to be even more disciplined in regards to achieving my goal.

      I took that step, one I've been putting off for ages now. I joined Slimming World. I have one week down already. Joining Slimming World itself wasn't the step I needed to take but getting my self in check to get back in proper control of my body was and joining Slimming World is my way of doing it.
      I think I was in denial about the amount of weight I had put on since being pregnant with Luke and I'm sad to say I am still 3 stone over my pre pregnancy weight. Foolishly I assumed it would go away by itself but of course it doesn't, sure it's super easy to gain the extra weight but not so easy to lose it as I have discovered. Having high blood pressure is also another push for me to do this.

      About 8 months before I got pregnant I had joined the local gym and loved it. Now don't go thinking I was in there every day lifting weights, pumping iron, running miles on the treadmill because I wasn't. I did try and go 4 times a week after work though and did 40 / 45 mins of cardio on 3 different machines, the treadmill, cross trainer and bike. That might not seem like much to some but for me it was fine, I got back into some kind of shape and for the first time in a long time I was comfortable and happy in my own skin. I kept going until about 9 / 10 weeks pregnant but then the tiredness hit and I was lucky if I made it home from work before I fell asleep at the wheel, needless to say I haven't been back since. I was considering rejoining but that time after work I used to spend in the gym is now taken up with getting as much quality time in with Luke as I can between me getting home from work at 6pm and him going to bed at 7.30pm. The OH usually works until 10pm so I am housebound most evenings.

      I tried this, that and the other to lose the baby weight but didn't stick to anything so that's where Slimming World came in. Myself and my boss joined a local group near our office, took the plunge, got weighed and began our journey to slimmer versions of ourselves! We attended the group talk our first night and I personally found it very motivating, everyone was very encouraging of each other.

      It takes a bit of getting used to what with knowing the syn value things and what's a free food and what isn't but the whole concept of the program is quite simple. For those who don't know how it works this is it:

      Every day you are allowed: Unlimited free and super free foods, 1 option from the Healthy A list, 1 option from the Healthy B list and 15 syns which are like points. You get all of this information in the booklet they give you when you sign up as well as details to register online which I have found to be a great source of information especially for recipes. I'm happy to say I've tried out 5 of the Slimming World recipes and so far they have all been very tasty. Simple recipes that you would see everyday but with different versions of the ingredients, healthier versions. You can buy their own chocolate bars at the meetings, I got one packet as they are handy to have if you fancy something sweet.
      Honestly I'm still able to eat so much that it doesn't feel like a diet, more like a lifestyle change. The book and folder you are given on day one has become my bible and I personally need the discipline of the weekly weigh to keep myself on track. There is also a Facebook page for our local group which is so handy because the more experienced people seem to help out the beginners and everyone can share their thoughts and recipes.

      Week 1 down and I am 3.5 pounds lighter! I am pleased with that and I hope that I can keep up that amount of weight loss every week for a while. I won't reveal my starting weight just yet as to be honest I'm still in shock over it (and I'm just not that brave yet!) but I would hope to be able to reveal it once I've reached my current goal. I'll try and post here weekly about it along with what I've been eating, if not I should definitely get around to doing it fortnightly.

      This week I hope to be more active before our next weigh in on Tuesday. I've meal planned a few days in advance and batch cooked some things for lunch for work, I find this all really helps. You what they say, Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail :)


      Wednesday, 12 November 2014

      A Trip Down Memory Lane...Windsor, England

      Finally I’m getting around to writing about a recent trip my mother and I took to England which was actually almost a month ago now at this stage.
      Not many know but I was actually born in England and spent the first 6 years of my life there. We lived in Slough and we spent a lot of time between there, Windsor and Eton where Mum is from and even though it was only 6 years I still hold a lot of memories from our time living there, I suppose because they were my first formative years. I remember so much from our time there and always feel a connection to there so I was excited when Mum asked would we go and visit some family friends who we had not seen in 20 years.
      So we booked our tickets and for the first time in over 20 years we, Mum especially, were boarding a plane to go back “home”. I was anxious for her because she hadn’t been back there in so long and it’s where my grandparents lived, worked, owner their own business and now sadly are buried. She was nervous too I could tell, she wasn’t sure how she was going to feel being back there after so long.
      I can safely say it was a wonderful weekend where we spent some much needed quality time with our family friends, mum’s childhood friend, “Aunty” Kath who we used to visit every week when we lived in the UK. Kath lives in Eton and as soon as we stepped through her front door it was as if we had never been away, I suddenly had visions of being there as a 6 year old on a Sunday afternoon with my older sister and Kath’s daughter Claire who is like my other sister, me more than likely annoying the 2 of them, they are 6 years and 10 years older than me respectively and drinking Vimto because Mum would never get that for us at home. The train track runs across the back of Kath’s garden and I remember being on the train with Mum as a kid and keeping a lookout for the house whenever we were on the train.
      Things have changed so much in the last 20 years of course but it was so nice to see the places I knew so well as a child through my adult eyes. For Mum to point out places she used to go to as a child, where she went to school and the corner my Grandad used to stand on selling his newspapers. We drove past where my grandparents and Mum lived, where they used to own a shop and petrol station, which was now a hair dressers. I met some local people who remembered Mum and asked after her, this was so nice because obviously there is no one in our local area now that knew here before we moved there, everyone knows my Dad from years ago but not Mum so it was nice to experience people that knew her and she knew for a change.
      I spent time catching up with Claire who now has 2 wonderful children, Elizabeth and Amelia. I think I’ve a new best friend in 4 year old Amelia too! We said it a few times, it really was as if that 20 year gap didn’t even exist. They took me to Windsor castle for a visit, somewhere we would have gone as children, back in the day when it was free to go in there! We did a bit of shopping, visited my grandparents grave and talked, a lot!
      Mum and I have vowed not to leave it so long before going back again and keeping the lines of communication open between us all and hopefully not letting life take over quite so much again.

      While Ireland is my home and always will be as it’s where I’ve spent the last 22 years, there will always be a part of us – me, Mum and my sister no doubt, in England where I feel that should we go back again which I’m sure we will it will always feel like a home away from home. 


      Saturday, 1 November 2014

      A To Do List For November

      I've been very bad this year at getting anything done, it's just so not like me. I'm going to place the blame on tirelessly trying to balance work and home life with a toddler and a dog, who is also a toddler. So for November I am doing a "To Do" list of things I want / need done before the festive season kicks and it will all be forgotten about until 2015. I feel that by sharing it here with everyone then y'know I have to keep to my list, to save face and all that.

      So here goes:

      • Buy 2 shelves for the utility cupboard
      • Paint the utility cupboard, the paint and all of the paraphernalia is there, I just need to actually paint it now
      • Get a new rug for the living room, the dog has the cream parts of the current one destroyed with his muddy paws 
      • Try out these new slimming wraps the internet is gone crazy for, yes I got some last week but have yet to try them, no point when all I've been eating is crap during my week off work
      • Finally finish the spare room, I've cleared a lot of the junk and moved the furniture but now don't like it this way so have to move it back, but that's a lot of effort
      • Bring Luke to a toddler group on Friday mornings. I've been saying this since I went back on a 4 day week in September but we seem to have had something on every Friday so far
      • Actually stick to my "I'm going to make a batch of soup and get Mum to make me some bread for my lunches to take to work to save me from buying them" weekly mental note that I have yet to stick to at all
      Ok that's enough, there's only so much a working mama can do in one month. I'll be back at the end of the month with an update on these!
      Have any of you got anything special lined up for November?


      Friday, 31 October 2014

      Me & Mine October

      Wow October just by in the blink of an eye! We had a super busy month with trips away, a birthday party and get togethers, holidays from work, organising the house some bit although you wouldn't think it was organised if you saw it now. I was hoping the garden would be sorted this month Dad has been flat out at work so hopefully November will see that being done.
      The OH had a trip away to Manchester with a friend for the football and myself and Mum headed off to the UK to Windsor for a few days, more of which I'll post about later. It was a lovely trip down memory lane for both of us.
      We were hit by a stomach bug at the start of the month but we weren't long getting over it although we all now have colds but nothing major.
      I've been on a bit of a baking splurge this month and still have a few more recipes I want to try out.
      The OH had a week off work and I'm currently on a weeks holidays from work too so we've both had lots of quality time with Luke this month, it's been great. He's getting 2 more bottom teeth at the moment so is requiring lots of cuddles and I'm so glad I've been at home this week to give them.
      It's hard to believe that today is Luke's second Halloween, we are going to Mum's tonight for a bit of a gathering and some finger food and goodies for our tea.

      Here is our family portrait for October:

      This month Luke loves:
      • Having his cousin Katie stay with us for most of the week
      • Talking Tom, every morning he goes straight to Dad to show him the talking cat on his phone
      • Learning a few more words
      This month Dad loves:
      • Having a week off
      • Finally buying FIFA 15
      • Quality time with Luke
      This month Mum loves:
      • Also having a week off work
      • Finally making the spare room look like an actual bedroom
      • Visiting places from my childhood


      Thursday, 30 October 2014

      One Misty Morning

      I took these pictures on a very foggy Sunday morning on my way out to my parents house, I love how the fog descended so thick and fast and then as quick as it came it was gone again. There was a big bright sun hiding behind all of that fog as I captured at Cuskinny, looking over towards Roches Point. Right across from my parents house is an old grave yard, the thick fog only added to an already eerie picture. The cobwebs were huge and as the fog lifted the sunlight streamed through them. 

      Something beautiful is on the horizon, keep on going 

      Don't be afraid to go into the mist, be excited because you don't know where you will end up

      Oh, what a tangled web we weave 


      Sunday, 26 October 2014

      Halloween Shortbread Biscuits

      I love baking when it's an occasion, I love nothing more than getting out my food colourings, icing, sprinkles, cake toppers etc, decorating is the best part of baking for me. So what better time to get all of these out than for Halloween.
      Yesterday we made bat and coffin shaped shortbread biscuits with a jam filling, they were a great hit and so quick and easy to make for a treat.

      Here's the recipe:

      6oz Plain Cream Flour
      4oz Caster Sugar
      2oz Butter (I used "real" butter, y'know the block stuff that has the best taste rather than margarine)
      Strawberry Jam
      Icing Sugar
      Food Colouring
      Sprinkles of your choice

      • Preheat oven to 160degrees, we have a fan oven
      • Mix together butter and sugar until a soft creamy texture
      • Add in the flour to form a dough, we used our hands and the wooden spoon for this bit
      • We found the mixture a bit dry and crumbly so added in a drop of milk to bind it together which worked fine
      • Bring the together into a ball and then roll out on a floured surface
      • This amount of mixture allowed us to get 14 biscuits
      • Place biscuits on to a lined baking try and bake for approx 20mins or until biscuits are lightly golden
      • Allow to cool before putting jam on to one side of a biscuit and placing another on top to make a biscuit sandwich.
      • We decorated ours with black icing and sprinkles


      This food colouring is the best I've used. Only a small bit needed for a strong colour. We got this in Home Store and More in Mahon Point, Cork, it's the only place I've seen it before. I think it cost about 2.69euro


      Tuesday, 14 October 2014

      The Baby Market, Cork

      The other week myself and the lovely Fiona went to the The Baby Market here in Cork to off load some of our baby stuff that our boys no longer use or need. The Baby Market is a regular event that runs around the country in different locations rotating approximately every 6 weeks, it's a place to find a bargain or make a few bob on anything baby / toddler / maternity related.
      I've been a fan of The Baby Market set up since someone told me about them back when I was expecting Luke in early 2013. I first went to the event in Cork in the Barres GAA club, venue was a bit a small but it didn't take away from the bargains to be had. I managed to pick up lots of essentials like a bath, changing mat, sleepbags, newborn neutral clothes that weren't just white, playmats etc all at a fraction of the brand new price and these items were in great condition. So it only made sense that when my spare room began to fill up with all of the things Luke no longer used that I would return to The Baby Market as a seller this time.
      The venue has since changed to Rochestown Park Hotel which is so much better and it's allowed the event to grow in my opinion as there is so much more room for stalls to sell and customers to comfortably look at everything for sale.
      Signing up is simple, I visited their website and enquired about a stall and received an email with a pay pal invoice to confirm my place. It's €25.00 per stall. Our place was reserved and we arrived at 10am that morning to set up our area, we had a lot of stuff and took full advantage of the 2 hours beforehand to get ready. At 12pm the doors opened and in came the customers. The event ran for 2 and a half hours and it was great fun. I've been a few times now but it's always nicer to have someone on the stall with you to chat with. It's a great pace to meet new people too, customers as well as other sellers, it's nice to be able to impart some wisdom as well to some of the expectant mother's who stop by the stall. We managed to get rid of few big items this time around which was great because we couldn't face loading up the cars again with it all!

      Of course I can never leave without having a look around for a bargain myself although I wasn't successful this time because I saw a fabulous wooden rocking chair for toddlers for sale and I went back for it and it was gone, I was not impressed!
      There are also stalls that aren't selling second hand stuff but things like baby massage classes, gymboree, handmade products, homeopathy etc.
      I bought 2 things from these stalls and my own personal recommendations are:

      Rhymes For Remedies by Jackie Griffin Synnott

      I've been meaning to get this book for ages. I'm a big fan of the alternative option, the homeopathic route for remedying any ailments with Luke so this book is ideal for learning the basics. It's set to children's nursery rhymes so easy to remember too. It's a great introduction into the world of homeopathy. As you can see in the picture the books are 15euro and can be purchased here.


      I love love love these custom buggy liners especially this star design! Our buggy is all colour coordinated with a cosy toes and bag but if it wasn't I would definitely invest in one of these. They also do seat liners, strap pads, dummy / toy clips in really funky designs. I picked up a dummy clip with a star design for 5euro with a much stronger clip which means Luke hasn't been able to pull it off. You can visit their Etsy shop here

      The Baby Market seems to be expanding quite fast and they seem to be adding new locations all of the time, if there is one on in your area soon I would definitely recommend you go for a look.


      Tuesday, 7 October 2014

      Fisher Price Smart Stages Crawl Around Car*

      We received a super cool package in the post last week for review in the shape of the Fisher Price Smart Stages Crawl Around Car.
      The Smart Stages is a brand new range of toys from Fisher Price allowing babies and toddlers to explore the world in an innovative way. There is 3 stages to the Crawl Around Car starting at 6 months, 12 months and 18 months. The toy adapts the older the child gets by changing the settings with the manual switch to Level 1, 2 or 3.
      Level 1 is for when babies are learning their first words and experiences feedback. Level 2 is encouragement in building on learning and level 3 is role play.

      It's actually much bigger than I expected, we had to build the car from the pieces provided which was very easy. You are given stickers to put on certain parts of the car once it's built (my alphabet may be a bit lopsided though!) I left it on the living room floor for Luke to see in the morning, well it was like Santa had been early. He is delighted with it.
      He spent ages figuring it all out and testing all of the buttons to hear what they say. I think his favourite is turning the key as if to start the car. My favourite is the windscreen wiper on the front that changes from night to day and from sunshine to rain.
      There's a door on the left hand side that opens and closes very easily, Luke is all business when he gets in and shuts the door behind him. On the door also is 3 shape inserts, a circle, square and triangle with the corresponding shapes. Luke is flying it with putting the right shapes into the right insert, he gives himself a big clap after each one. He spent much of the first day figuring that out.
      On the other side is an insert for 3 balls to go into and they roll down a slope, this keeps him very entertained. He then likes to throw them out, run after them and out them in from the opposite side again. There's a little petrol cap that makes noise when you turn it and the wheels are slightly off the floor so he loves to turn them around and have look at the stickers on them.
      It's light enough for Luke to move it around the floor by himself. Every morning so far it's the first thing he goes for, there's so many features on it to keep him entertained and he's remembering the sounds each button or dial makes now. His other toys are a bit neglected although that suits me fine because he was beginning to enjoy emptying out the ball pond numerous times a day far too much!
      The car itself stores away quite neatly, while it's big it's not too big or an obstruction in the living room.
      Here are a few snaps, we were very impressed with the Fisher Price Smart Stages Crawl Around Car.

      *We were sent this product for the purpose of this review, all opinions and feedback however are our own*
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