Monday, 31 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 31 December 2012

Happy New Year's Eve. How cool is that - 2012 has just about outstayed its welcome and I can hear 2013 heading down the path to knock on the door like the postie with a parcel of something you ordered from eBay but can't remember what it was - exciting stuff! Looking back to this time last year I was amused to see I meal planned for the entire month of January. Can't say I feel inspired to do the same this week.

Here is my plan for the next week. Tonight is Chinese takeaway as promised to the kids, but after that normal food resumes in earnest because, quite frankly, I have overdone it somewhat at Christmas and now feel like poo.

Whole Chicken Done in Slow Cooker
Chicken and Veg Soup
Veg Stew and Dumplings
Sausage Casserole with potatoes of some sort
Minced Beef Yorkies
Chicken or Beef fajitas

I have no plans to bake this week unless my kids don't stop bickering, in which case it might get a little Hansel and Gretel in my kitchen. Fruit and veg will be eaten in abundance because I am a bit concerned they may develop scurvy. 

As always, remember to check out other Meal Planning Monday posts over on Mrs M's blog.

If you are celebrating tonight I hope you do it in style and if you are not, I hope those noisy buggers with fireworks don't keep you awake.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

What Were 2012's Most Popular Christmas Presents?

Not me - I would not be smiling like this if I got a teddy bear unless I was wondering where to stick it
The wrapping is off and the toys have had a good few days of being thoroughly road tested and now it's time to work out what was a success and what not to bother with next year. The difference when I quizzed the kids was funny. My 10-year-old was very diplomatic and said he liked everything, before managing to narrow it down with difficulty to his favourite five presents. The 5-year-old was less tactful about it, happily listing what he liked and (though I didn't ask) what he didn't!

Popular with both is LEGO Lord of the Rings for the Wii. They managed to make a fair amount of progress on this before the "+" sign on all remotes stopped working. From what I have been able to find out (ok, been told by my more technologically savvy brother in law) it could be the sensor bar so they are stuck on level 9 until the replacement arrives and hopefully fixes the problem. They also got LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, but haven't had a chance to play on it yet.

He also liked the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, The Third Wheel, and a box set of the Wimpy Kid DVDs, this LEGO Orc Forge set which I have just realised I scored a total bargain on because I paid £23 and it's currently £45, making it one of my favourite presents too ...

... and his Razor stunt scooter which I paid about £20 more than this for - pah!
He was also given a blow pipe (like a sophisticated pea-shooter) and a remote controlled car that does stunts, and some nice drawing pencils which made his list of favourites.

My 5-year-old's list was much shorter. He loves his LeapPad Explorer 2, playing mainly with the video and photo functions and the extra Spongebob spelling game I downloaded for him. At the recommendation of Mrs M we also got him an AC adaptor so he can play with it plugged in at home and I am sure it has saved us a few battery changes.

He also loved the PaperJamz set with guitar, drums, microphone and amp and unfortunately the feedback you get by putting the mic near the amp! There are also some good voice effects which we all had fun with. I got these on sale at The Entertainer for £22.99. No way would I have paid the original £80 or whatever the set sold for, but £23 is about right.

The other item that made his favourite list was his Angry Birds hat/scarf/gloves thing. It's a bit big and my husband hates the way it looks, but he likes it and he's easy to spot when he's wearing it, so I like it too

What was a hit in your house this Christmas?

Friday, 28 December 2012

When does Optimism become Stupidity?

Congratulations to Kate Winslet and Ned Rocknroll who have recently got married. It's her third trip down the aisle and I wish that she wasn't so secretive about it because I would love to see her wedding dress. Kate is my only girl crush - I would be delighted if I looked like her. I am fairly sure I've posted about my admiration for the way she always looks spectacular on the red-carpet and pretty stylish day-to-day as well. I reckon she wore something in heavy oyster silk and 1930s inspired like the woman in this gorgeous 1930s inspired wedding or this stunning original
Photo from

I'm 18 months older than Kate, married at 25 and have just celebrated my 13th wedding anniversary, so to have been married 3 times by now seems a little exhausting, however I sincerely wish her well. Like Elizabeth Taylor (8 times), Zsa Zsa Gabor (9 times), Mickey Rooney (8 times), and countless others with multiple marriages under their belt I admire their romantic enthusiasm. A bad marriage could (ironically) put someone off matrimony for life but Kate and others jump in with both feet, believing that a failed marriage or a romance that has run its course doesn't mean they are unlovable or undeserving of happiness, just that they are with the wrong person.

Kate has been getting a fair amount of stick in readers' comments, as does Ulrika Jonsson (4 children with 4 different fathers) at times, with people calling them stupid, selfish (not thinking of the kids), or weak for constantly needing a man. I do not believe they are any of these things. Their decisions have not been easy and both keep their children out of the limelight therefore showing consideration for their childrens' wellbeing. I think Kate and her ilk are optimistic and I'd like that, should my marriage end, I have their hope, openness to love and enthusiasm that will allow me to find another partner.

What are your thoughts? Leave me a comment and if you know what her dress looked like please share!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Ring in the New

I love this time of year. Ok, it's all a bit blah and flat after Christmas (except for my stomach which is more rounded after copious food and drink indulgence) and with the weather so crap it's nice to plan ahead to rosier times when life is perfect because I have made exactly the right changes. Here are my 2013 New Year's Resolutions.

Only buy new shower gel and shampoo when the bottle is nearly empty, and don't buy conditioner every time. My bathroom shelf is full of half used shower gels in various fragrances (I get bored) and full conditioner bottles because who uses as much conditioner as they do shampoo?

Wear more dresses. I like them. Life is easier with a dress because it already goes with what I have on.

 Iron more. I have got really slack with ironing lately and though my kids are always clean there have been mornings when they have left the house looking more than just slightly rumpled. A few minutes in the tumble drier or hanging things over the radiator is not an adequate substitution.

 Get up earlier. Sure, it's difficult in winter but getting up at 6am makes my day so much more productive than if I don't get up until 7am (or even later). Dragging myself out of bed is not easy but once I'm downstairs I'm fine.

Blog more. Not for you lot, but for me. I am getting on a bit and keeping a blog helps me remember when I did things, or what that place was I liked so much, or which time-wasting website is the best

Disclaimer: these are not my nails - how does she do stuff?
Get a shellac manicure. Despite my best efforts I cannot stop nail polish from chipping. It doesn't matter what brand I use or what I put on before or after, my nails chip within hours of being painted. I have been meaning to get a shellac manicure for months. In 2013 I will see if it is the answer to my goal of virtually effortless grooming.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Film Review - Rise of the Guardians

In a display of spontaneous parenting (and because I wanted to see it) we took the boys (10 and 5) to see Rise of the Guardians (PG) on Tuesday night. We normally try and see a film as a family around Christmas because I think it's a nice family activity and it's more enjoyable than standing around freezing in the park, pushing the youngest on the swings while the oldest does his best to break his neck flinging himself around on his scooter. So, Tuesday night I felt all Nice-Mum and surprised them with a trip to the flicks.

As with all great kids films Rise of the Guardians is about a battle between good and evil and includes a voyage of self discovery. It has an exciting plot that progresses well. It was enough to keep both kids interested, and even though it was a late night for the youngest he didn't get bored or (too) fidgety. It's not always easy to find a film they both enjoy but this is one of them. It's just over an hour and a half long, although I'm going to voice my normal complaint about Vue's overkill with the whole ads, preview, Edith Bowman bit where they just show clips from all the films they've just showed the preview for. Adding half an hour of bumpf before a kids movie is pushing their patience somewhat.

Rise of the Guardians is by Dreamworks (who brought us the likes of Shrek, Puss in Boots, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda) and it lives up to its family film pedigree providing entertainment for children and adults. The characters and sets are well drawn and gorgeous to look at with beautiful colours and detail. Each of the main characters has their own unique personalities and quirks and is totally believable. I could quite happily suspend my disbelief in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, et all for the duration of this movie. The plot is a little wooly at times but not in an annoying way. I loved the casting - Hugh Jackman as the Easter Bunny was funny without being cheesy, Isla Fisher was perfect as the Tooth Fairy in raptures over Jack Frost's white teeth, I loved Alec Baldwin's Santa Claus and Jude Law's husky voice added just the right amount of threat to the Boogeyman.

It was a little scary at times for the five year old who spent the second half cuddled up on my lap. In the spirit of all great children's films it has an uplifting finish and he's suffered no repercussions with the portrayal of nightmares and fears. It is definitely PG rather than a U. It's not about Christmas as such, but the inclusion of Santa and plenty of snow provided courtesy of Jack Frost (the leading character) make it nice and festive. I recommend you go and see it and if you go to Vue, take advantage of their Cheap Tuesday where adults get in for the same price as kids and it's much quieter than on a weekend. Rise of the Guardians is out in both 3D and 2D. We saw it in 2D because I'm not a massive fan of 3D films and the youngest drives me crackers by forever losing his glasses because they don't sit on his face properly. Some of the flying scenes are probably great in 3D, but I don't think I lost anything by seeing it in 2D.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Meal Planning Monday - 3 December 2012 (the Fantasy Edition)

Welcome to the Fantasy Edition of Meal Planning Monday. This is where I plan what I wish I was eating instead of what I will actually be eating. It's not that I mind my diet so much, just that Tesco does the planning for me and I miss browsing Pinterest meals board and cooking with my slow cooker. Here is what my alter ego will be eating this week.

(total fantasy since I am the only one in my house who would eat this. Love the serving suggestion "serve it with roast chicken and steamed veg for a complete meal" Mac & Cheese is a complete meal! The only thing you need to serve it with is more Mac & Cheese)
(would swap the rosemary for thyme to go with the chicken)
(anything with sweet chilli sauce is a winner, in my book - unless it's fish)

Mmmm.... I love this meal plan and think I will pop over to my fantasty alter-ego's house for dinner this week. In reality I am sticking to my diet plan and utilising what I have in the freezer & cupboards to make room for CHRISTMAS (yes, it lives in my kitchen).

Have a great week and remember to check out more Meal Planning Monday posts on Mrs M's Linky or follow on Twitter at #mealplanningmonday

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Elf on the Shelf... ish

My five year old son is, well, five, so I thought that Elf on the Shelf might be an extra carrot/stick in my December parenting arsenal. When I investigated the cheapest I found was around £25 and I am far too tight to pay that for something that looks like this:
So I shelved (sorry...) the idea until I was in the pound shop last week and I discovered these beauties. I think you'll agree that they could practically be twins - in the freaky sense, anyway.

Son was sceptical about the origin of the "elf" but the beauty of him being five is that he is a die hard Santa believer and when he suggested we get rid of it I said we couldn't possibly because Santa had sent him. It's kind of working in that he's a little freaked out but I'm sticking with it because he hasn't had a nightmare or anything and any way I can get someone else to be the bad guy "do you want the elf to tell Santa?" is a way I can stay looking golden.

He's on a high shelf which would require a chair to get to, but this is how I frequently find him

If you get a chance you definitely need to google Elf on the Shelf related blogs. Some parents really get carried away, some totally tongue in cheek and others really creative and funny, like Lil Blue Boo's