My best girl

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

I feel like I blinked and, all of a sudden, you grew up.

Where did the chubby baby cheeks go? And the little voice that said so many words wrong, but I never wanted to correct you because your versions were so much better.

When did you become so sensible and independent? Wearing your tie to school and running through the doors without a second glance back to wave goodbye.

What can I do to make time go slower? I refuse to let these moments slip by without grasping hold of them and remembering the little bits. The bedtime cuddles. Brushing your hair and plaiting it. Sharing chocolate under a blanket on the sofa and watching a movie. Laughing and being silly in our own way. No one else finds it as funny as us, because we share the same sense of humour. 

I hope you never stop asking me if we can have a 'Mummy and Meryn day'. We don't have nearly as many as I'd like, but that makes them extra special.

I can't believe how beautiful you are. Inside and out. 

I'm so proud of you. My best girl.

Slump-free snacking | 5 healthy (and tasty) super snacks

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

In an attempt to fill my snack breaks with something a bit healthier than half a packet of hobnobs (easily done), I've recently converted to slump-free snacking. Admittedly, it doesn't have quite the same initial appeal as a cuppa and a KitKat, but I can't ignore how much better I feel if I reach for something healthier when I'm feeling peckish. 

Going with one of my slump-free options gives me energy, keeps me full until dinner and, most importantly, makes me way more productive. Ayden's naptime after lunch is my opportunity to get on with things - jobs around the house, answering emails, blogging. I can't afford to feel sluggish in that hour and these healthier snacks really help me to stay on the ball. Whereas the 'hobnob effect' would have worn off within the hour and left me scurrying to the kitchen cupboards for another sugar fix.

And it doesn't have to mean more hassle. Most of my favourite snacks are super quick and easy to throw together, so there's no excuse to go to the dark-side.

Houmous and quinoa crispbreads. Quite often I'll have a few of these for lunch, rather than a snack. Especially yummy if you spread some mashed avocado on top of the houmous, then add some sea salt and black pepper. Two of these will keep me full for ages and its something I really look forward to eating. 

Super smoothie. This is my go-to post run snack, or a great 'whoops, I forgot breakfast but can't wait till lunch' option. You can find the full recipe here, but I basically chuck some frozen cherries, frozen banana slices, peanut butter, almond milk and cacao powder in a blender and blitz until smooth, then stir in some chia seeds. It's seriously good and surprisingly filling.

Cacao bites. I can't deny my sweet tooth I'm afraid and these little chocolatey, peanut-buttery snack balls are just the ticket. I found the recipe on one of my favourite blogs and have a permanent stash in the freezer, just in case.

Almond butter and apple slices. I saw a YouTuber snacking on this in one of their videos and saying how amazingly tasty and satisfying it is. Can't say I was convinced at the time, but having now tried it for myself, I can confirm that they really are delicious. Quick and easy too.

Edamame. It was a happy day when I discovered that most supermarkets now sell edamame beans in their pods! Having fallen in love with sea-salted edamame at Wagamama years ago, it was pretty much impossible to find them anywhere remotely close to me and I had to make do with the already shelled version in salads. Now I can order a bag with my weekly shop, edamame in pods have become one of my regular snack options. Healthy, portable and seriously moreish!

If this has inspired you to chose healthier snacks, you can find more ideas here.

What's your go-to snack? Do any of these appeal to you?

* This is a collaborative post. All words and opinions are my own.

5 unlikely toddler tantrums

Friday, 11 September 2015

It struck me the other day that the vast majority of things that my toddler loses his shizz over are pretty daft.

As parents we soon come to realise that small people are anything but rational, but there are times when even the most seasoned Tantrum Diffusion Squad can be taken by surprise.

Time to get back in the pram. Tantrum. Dropped his ice-cream. Tantrum. Standard tantrum-inducing practises that we all have to deal with. These we can handle and, with a little bit of bribery, can move on pretty swiftly. 

But these... these are uncharted territory, my friends. These are the unknown tantrums. I don't see them coming and, if I were a better parent, I would know how to deal with them. As it goes, I mostly laugh in total shock and disbelief.


1. I opened his mini milk for him. Now, one would think this was a nice thing to do; given the fact that he can't physically open his own mini milk and he clearly wants to eat it pretty urgently. Turns out I may as well have presented him with a shit on a stick.

2. The blue crayon is blue. He wanted green. He could reach the blue one. It let him down. Carnage.

3. He got himself wedged between the sofa and the cabinet, called for help, seemed pretty distressed by the whole situation. I helped him out. My bad.

4. Controversial it may be, but I wish I loved anything as much as my toddler loves his willy. It's getting ridiculous. With two boys, I knew the fascination would become an issue at some point; I just didn't count on having to put Ayden's twig and giggle berries back in his nappy half a dozen times every night before he falls asleep. He's never happy about the intervention. Surprisingly.

5. I stopped the dog from eating the chicken dipper he dropped on the floor. Now usually, I get a "thank you", a smile, at the very least a nod of approval for rescuing a piece of Ayden-approved food from the floor before the labrador can get her greedy chops on it. But every once in a while, you know, to mix it up a bit, this is not the right move. No siree. On these occasions I am supposed to have realised that dropping a dipper on the floor was, in fact, a calculated move on Ayden's part. And my stepping in to retrieve said dipper.... no. Just, no.

What unlikely tantrums have your little ones delighted you with this week? Please share. Help another mother out. How else will we stay one step ahead of these tiny geniuses!?

This month I love | matcha green tea

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

A few weeks ago, inspired by numerous food and healthy lifestyle bloggers, I ordered a pot of Pure Chimp Matcha Green Tea. The rest is history. This stuff is amazing!

I've been drinking it pretty much daily and can definitely feel a difference since introducing it to my diet. 

Matcha tea is basically pimped-up green tea. Instead of steeping the leaves in water, the whole leaf is ground into a fine powder, which means you're getting some serious immune-boosting, stress-reducing benefits. With 137 times the antioxident levels compared to a conventional cup of green tea, it packs a serious punch. It also performs in the energy boosting department and this is where i've noticed the biggest results. 

I tend to drink a matcha latte just after my lunch. I mix a teaspoon of matcha powder with half almond milk and half water, add a teaspoon of honey to sweeten and pop it in my nespresso milk frother to heat and whisk. I would say you definitely need a whisk of some description, a small handheld milk frother like this is ideal, as it would be difficult to get a smooth texture without one.

It's also said to have weight loss benefits, in terms of boosting your metabolism. I haven't seen any evidence of this yet, but it's still early days. It certainly curbs my appetite in the afternoon though, which is no bad thing. Mid afternoon munchies, be gone!

Ok, so it doesn't taste quite as good as a flat white with sugar... but then, I never expected it to. It is pleasant to taste though. I haven't tried adding it into smoothies yet, but I'm enjoying it as a latte so don't feel the need yet.

I even convinced Mr Sceptical himself (my husband) to try a matcha shot before a run and he knocked almost five minutes off his normal time! Not so sceptical anymore... 

Have you tried matcha tea? Let me know what you think if you have.

A great day | The Ordinary Moments

Monday, 7 September 2015

My eldest two have only been back in school for three days, but it feels like we've been back to it for weeks already! It's funny how quickly you can slot back into the routine.

Summer passed by in a flash this year. Last year I felt like we really squeezed every last second out of the holidays. Lots of long afternoons on the beach and picnics. But, with the weather against us for much of the holidays, our options were a bit more limited. We had some great days though. 

A highlight was one of the very last days before school started back. What started out as 'bowling and burgers' - exciting enough in itself - ended up including a trip to a funfair and late evening ice cream. 

Ayden slept through the bowling, which was fortunate as it meant we could spend quality time with Dylan and Meryn enjoying the game. He woke up just in time for burgers and Oreo shakes at GBK. Well timed I thought!

Despite being not far off bedtime, we decided to head to Cardiff Bay beach - a seasonal 'pop up' beach and funfair. It was pretty quiet, being quite late in the day, so we could enjoy everything without having to queue and worry about losing Ayden in a busy crowd, as he ran free loving every single second.

We finished the day off with a few games in the amusement arcade (something Dylan always wants to do and is never allowed) and ice cream, before bundling three tired little people back in the car to head home.

A really great day.

Amazing Adidas trainers | Fashion Friday

Friday, 4 September 2015

Just casually browsing the internet this morning and I came across these. 

I'm probably really late to the party, but Adidas has launched a range of trainers in the most amazing prints. And I have to have them. All!
I have a real soft spot for leopard print - for myself and for Meryn and Ayden (Dylan probably wouldn't go for it, at 8 years old). So these are going straight to the top of my wishlist for Ayden. Up until very recently, he's been living in toddler moccasins, but he needs a pair of 'big boy shoes' for the autumn. These might be the ones.

And how could I resist this amazing floral print pair for Meryn!? Well, I have to resist them for now because they're out of stock... but I think they'll be absolutely perfect for the autumn. The great thing about a print like this is they can potentially go with so many different outfits. 

Damn you internet. Damn you.

Wait, what!? They come in adult sizes too? Oh dear... 

New (school) year resolutions

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Yes. I'm that person. I sat down and wrote a list of new (school) year resolutions. And I'm not even sorry.

Plus, it's less than half way through day one and I've only broken two of them so far. Result.

I always see a new school year as a fresh start. More so than the actual new year. Must be all those new uniforms, shoes and bags, meaning I'm almost as broke as I am after Christmas!

I'm the type of person who fantasises about being super organised. I have a planner and the best of intentions, but always seem to fall slightly flat. But not this year, my friends! No. Get ready academic year 2015/16; I'm coming for you!

After that build up you might be expecting something a bit ground-breaking. Sorry about that.... here's my list of pretty unexciting (but important nonetheless) resolutions:

✚  Do
everything the night before (uniform out, shoes cleaned, school lunches made). 
✚  Write all clubs, classes, parties, trips, deadlines down as soon as I get them. In one place. That I will refer back to daily.
✚  Eat breakfast. And don't buy biscuits. Because I will eat them.
✚  Write a plan each week - for meals, activities, work outs, blog posts. Everything. It's easy not to bother when I'm at home all the time, rather than work, but I probably need it even more to keep me motivated and make sure I don't forget things.
✚  Make dinner before I pick the kids up from school, if possible. I love having everything ready in advance. Makes me feel a bit like Nigella. Unless it's chicken dippers for tea... they're not so good cold. 
✚  Get outside every day (not including soggy school runs!). Even in the rain. The shortest of walks can make all the difference and fresh air works wonders.
✚  No wine! Monday to Thursday is a grape-free zone (disclaimer: unless I have a really bad day, then wine is allowed).
✚  Get to bed (and preferably to sleep) before 11pm each night. The previous resolution should help with that.
✚  Tackle a room each week. By that I mean a deep clean or decluttering. I cleared out Dylan's wardrobe/toy cupboard/black hole of crap last week - it was bloody horrendous at the time, but I feel great now it's done.
✚  Enjoy every single second of my time at home with Ayden. This time next year I will have just dropped him off for his first day of school. I can't even think about that for too long... waaaah!

Do you make a new (school) year resolution list? I'd love to hear yours.

Homemade peanut butter fudgsicles

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Something about the word fudgsicle sounds way better than ice lolly doesn't it? Americans have definitely got the naming food thing down. Popsicles, candy, corn dogs, soda, zucchini.... everything sounds way more exciting. Even courgettes.

Anyway, back on point. Meryn has been nagging me to buy a Zoku after becoming addicted to the Nerdy Nummies YouTube channel (which is totally awesome by the way, definitely check it out). Sceptical at first, I lasted a good three or four weeks before caving! 

I needn't have been sceptical though. After just one use, I can definitely see us getting our money's worth from this cool little kitchen gadget (anyone else a complete sucker for kitchen gizmos?). I ordered our duo Zoku online for only £12 (reduced from £30). I'd previously looked at the triple version, at nearly £40, so was pleased to pick up the smaller one for such a good price.

You may or may not have noticed that we're having a bit of a peanut butter 'moment' in our household (can a year or more be classed as a moment...?) so it goes without saying that 'zoku peanut butter recipe' was my google search of choice within moments of opening the box.

I found a few recipes, tweaked them slightly to my taste and we were all really impressed with the results. Seriously tasty and I'd say 'fudgsicle' - albeit a little rude sounding ;) - is a good term for these, as they're slightly denser than your average lolly with a definite fudgey taste. Plus, they're dairy-free (a bonus for me). We loved them!

You will need:

1 can coconut milk (full fat)
4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
4 tbsp honey
2 tbsp raw cacao powder (or 3 tbsp cocoa powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract

Pop everything in a blender, zap until completely combined. Chill your mixture for as long as you can bear it (we lasted ten minutes). Pour into your ready-frozen Zoku (or lolly moulds), wait until frozen and enjoy!

*This recipe makes enough for approx. nine fudgsicles.

I plan to write a more detailed post on the Zoku once we've had more chance to experiment with it, but I thought I'd share our first successful recipe. You could definitely make these with a traditional lolly mould, rather than a Zoku, if you choose to.