Thursday, 31 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 31

Day 31 - Why Do You Blog?

Can you believe this is it! :-(

Why do I blog?

I first started up a blog for my business Craft EE's as it seemed that this is another level of the social networking side of the business.  I must admit, I am a bit rubbish at keeping that blog up to date and really must go over and do a post.  I have been so distracted with this one, that I have rather neglected that one even more than usual!

After I had started that one, I started to notice that some of my facebook friends, mainly from the baby forum that I am in, had blogs.  I started to read BusyBee's blog and then Thirty Mummy.  In reading these blogs I started to wonder if I could do this.  It would be a good way of showing off my baking and crafting and just be a way of documenting what was going on in my life.  At the time I was also dieting and thought that this might be a good way of keeping me on track, ha, yeah right! lol.  I figured that in this format, if people weren't interested, they didn't have to read it, unlike on facebook or twitter where it goes into their newsfeed.

From taking part in this blog challenge I have read some other fantastic blogs and it has also introduced me to other link ups that I am finding interesting.  Weekly photo challenges like the Pretty.Little.Things one is a nice way of me looking through my photos to find the right one for the prompt.  The My Week that Was and Reasons to Be Cheerful are also good weekly ones that get me talking about my week and remembering the good things in my life.

On the whole, I am enjoying writing about my life and what I am up to.  It is a nice outlet for me.

I also just want to take this opportunity to thank Outmumbered for hosting this blog challenge this month.  I think this blog challenge has ALOT to do with my new addiction to blogging!  Thanks Emma! :-)

Jackie. x

Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Pretty.Little.Things - Daddy and Me

This weeks Pretty.Little.Things prompt is daddy and me.  Often it is hubby behind the camera, so it is rare to get a photo of him with the boys.  This one was taken on Christmas day.  My mum had gone away for Christmas, so my sisters and I took over her house and had our Christmas day there.  Hubby cooked the dinner, which he has done for the last couple of years now.

Here is him and Noah having a bit of a nap after dinner. :-)

Jackie. x

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 30

Day 30 - What's In Your Make-Up Bag?

I only wear make-up if I go on a night out, so I don't have a great deal amount of it.  You can tell that I used to be an Avon rep though from the amount of Avon products in there! lol.

So, we have:
Make-up tools - I have a Body Shop set of mini brushes, a set of Oasis brushes, an Avon foundation brush, an Avon kabuki brush and a Body Shop pencil sharpener.
Foundation - Avon's Magix foundation in medium beige.
Cheeks - I have Avon's Arabian Glow bronzing pearls that I use all over and Avon soft mousse bronzer in Sunkisses that I use on my cheeks
Eyes - We have Avon's 8 in 1 eye pallet in Smokey Eyes, Body Shop's shimmer cubes pallet 23, Avon's In a Blink eyeshadow and eyeliner pencils in Onyx, Steel Smoke and Teal, Avon's Glimmerstick Diamonds in Smokey Diamond, Avon's Glimmerstick Liqui-Glide in Black and Avon's Daring curves mascara in Black.
Lips - Avon's Glimmerstick for Lips in Perfect Plum (I don't think they even do this anymore!!), Avon Colour Trend Read My Lips lipgloss in Modern Mocha, Avon Quick Pen lipgloss pen in Nude, Avon Colour Trend Colour Squeeze lipgloss in Vanilla, Avon Ultra Colour Rich Lipstick in Buttered Rum, Avon Pro-to-Go Lipstick in Classic Beige.  I also have two Avon sample lipsticks in Spicy Cinnamon and Mocha Madness.
Nails - In this make-up bag I have Avon's Nailwear Pro nail varnish in Decadence and Wicked, although I do have another bag with my nail products in!

Wow, that is alot of Avon products isn't it!  What's in your make-up bag?

Jackie. x

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

My Week that Was - Week 1 & #R2BC - Week 2

Last week I joined in with the Reasons to be Cheerful 1, 2, 3 blog hop and during the last couple of weeks I have also stumbled across the My Week That Was linky.  I thought that these two themes would go perfectly together and (hopefully!!) I am planning on doing this as a weekly post, most probably on a Monday.

So, without further ado, here is

I am going to start from Monday of last week.

Monday started off quite eventful for me.  I thought I was actually going to be running on time for the school run, which is quite an achievement for me most mornings and as we were about to head out of the door I get a phone call from my eldest son's school.  He had managed to injure his arm on the way into school and the schools first aider felt that a trip to the hospital was in order.  So, the morning ended up a rush to get Aled off to school and then a mad dash to the next town along to pick up PJ!  In asking PJ what he has done, it transpires that he was trying to do a front flip and fell onto his elbow.  By the time I've picked him up the swelling has gone done, but just to be on the safe side, I take him off to the hospital.  After waiting for what felt like ages, we get sent off to be x rayed.  We wait around in Childrens A&E for another 1/2 hour or so and finally a nurse comes to call us.  She advises us that the x ray is clear and there is nothing wrong with the arm.  Thank goodness!  The rest of the day was pretty uneventful.  Hubby had come home from work to pick Aled up from nursery, so he gets back off to work when we get home.  What a wasted morning!

I was not as organised Tuesday morning and ended up in the usual rush to get everyone ready in time for the school run.  In trying to find shoes, it appears that one of Noah's shoes has gone walk about.  It is still missing now!!  He ended up walking to the school in Aled's shoes which are a whole size too big!  
Tuesday evening I went up to my friends house to get some waxing done.  She runs a Beauty Therapy business from home around her day job.  It was nice to catch up with her, as I hadn't seen her for quite a while.  It was also nice to catch up with all the gossip, as I very rarely see my old friends these days.

Wednesday sees my first quiet morning of the week as Noah goes to crèche on a Wednesday.  We still hadn't found the missing shoe, so he ends up in Aled's shoes again!  Using my free morning, I go and do some shopping.  I also pick up some new shoes for Noah!  When I get back, I have a note through my door from the postman, I have a parcel left with my neighbour.  I was rather excited and confused, I hadn't ordered anything, so what could it be??  It turns out to be a Herman the German Friendship Cake.  A friend from a facebook baking group that I am in sent it to me.  When she posted on the group to say that she was given one of these and needed to pass a portion of the mix on, I was intrigued.  I am on day 7 at the moment and can't wait to see how he turns out!
Wednesday was not all fun and games though.  I had work Wednesday night and on my drive to work, after just coming off the motorway I get a flat tyre!  I was lucky in that I was very close to a petrol station, so very slowly I drive there with my hazards on and pull up by the tyre pump.  I try to pump up the tyre, but nothing was happening.  A very kind gentleman saw me by the road and came over to offer his assistance.  It turns out that he was american and was staying at the hotel across the street.  I thought that this was very sweet of him to help.  Anyway, there wasn't anything he could do, so I call work to let them know the situation.  I was closer to work than I was to home.  My colleague tells me about a product called Tyreweld and advises me that this may help.  In I go to the petrol station and buy it.  I follow the instructions and attach it to my tyre and turn it on.  All I hear is a hissing noise.  On closer inspection it seems that the tyre has completely blown and nothing is going to help!  I also didn't have a spare.  I call back to work and see if they can get anyone out to help me.  Our warehouse guy Aaron comes out to me in the van and he brought with him the spare wheel from his car.  Now, he has a tiny Peugeot 106 and I have a massive Citroen Picasa, so the tyre was too small for the car, but thankfully it managed to get me to work.  After my shift I decided it was best to leave my car there, as I didn't want to risk driving it home with the small wheel.  Aaron very kindly let me borrow his car to get me home.  He normally leaves it at work during the week while he uses the work van.  It was very strange driving such a small car on my way home! lol.

Thursday sees me dropping the boys off to nursery and creche and then going off to source a spare wheel for my car!  I was very lucky and managed to find somewhere that does second hand ones which were not too expensive.  Using Aarons car, I go and pick up the wheel and then head off to my workplace to change the wheel on the car.  Aaron changes the wheel for me and I have a catch-up with my sister who also works there.  I then make my way back to pick up the boys, stopping at the petrol station to make sure my tyre pressures are all correct.  I leave the car and home and walk down to the school.  I go to get Noah first from the crèche (which is next door to the school).  In waiting to get into the building a lady comes up to me and whispers in my ear that my trousers have split at the back and tries to tug my top down over the split.  I was mortified!!  I still had to get Aled from nursery and walk all the way back home!!  This is turning out to be a right old week!  On the plus side, Aled's nursery had a farm visit in on this day, so Aled was very excited about all the animals.  His teacher tells me that he sat on a horse (shetland pony) and also fed the horse.  Aled shows me round all the animals when I pick him up (being very self concious of the split in my trousers) and then asks me if he can take the rabbits home.  Um, no!  I tell him that nanna has rabbits and he can go visit hers instead! lol.

On Friday me and Noah take advantage of the gorgeous weather and go to the park after dropping Aled off at school.  We spend about 20 minutes there when I realise that I had left my phone at home, so we head off back home via the shops.  This ensued a major tantrum from Noah who wanted to stay in the park.  About 1/2 hour before Aled's pick up time, I take Noah back to the park.  In hindsight, maybe that wasn't such idea going from the tantrum that I got when we had to go collect Aled!  In the afternoon we had a meeting about Noah's space for the nursery starting in September.  It was just an informal meeting to fill out some forms and to ask any questions that I may have.  As Aled is currently in the same nursery, I am familiar with how it works there.  It was also confirmed in this meeting that Noah will be attending the morning sessions when he starts, which I am really pleased about.

On Saturday I had work at my other job.  It was a busy one at work, which was to be expected with the hot weather.  I finished work about 4.30 and head off home.  By the time the evening set in, I was starting to get quite a bad headache, so after catching up with 'The Voice' I headed off to bed at about 8.30pm.

Sunday I was at work again.  I finished a bit earlier on Sunday and was home at about 2pm.  I decided to dye my hair in the evening.  I had bought the new Schwarzkopf Shake it Up hair dye when I went shopping earlier on in the week.  I did find it easier to use than normal hair dyes, but as usual when I dye my own hair, I am slightly dissappointed with the results.  I have such dark hair, that I struggle to find a dye that will come out really bright.

Well, there we have My Week That Was.  With the happenings of last week, I had a bit of a struggle trying to think up my Reasons to be Cheerful, but here they are:

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

  1. We have had beautiful weather and it has been lovely having the sun out.
  2. I have Herman to look forward to baking and eating. :-)
  3. Noah has a morning nursery slot.
  4. PJ didn't break his arm!! 
So, there we go.  Until next week. 
Jackie. x

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 29

Day 29 - Where Have You Travelled.

Well, as you all have probably gathered, I have been to South Africa.  I have been there three times now, first in 1996, then in 2001 and lastly back in January this year.

Other than that, I haven't really travelled abroad since I was 12.  I'm guessing for the purposes of this post Butlins and visiting family in Wales don't count! lol.

When I was a child my mum and dad loved to do camping holidays abroad.  When I say camping, what I mean is going to the campsites that have the huge tents already set up for you.  We loved this as kids and would go off with the holiday reps for the kids clubs every day.  Mum recalls one morning when the reps were up partying rather late the night before and me, my sisters and cousins would be the ones that goes to wake them up! lol.

With these holidays I have been to France, Spain and Italy.  On one of the trips we passed through Switzerland as well, but I don't remember that too well.

When the boys are a little bit older I would love to start doing these types of holidays with them.  We have been to Butlins with them a few times, but I think there is something special about going abroad.  My ultimate dream would be to go to Disneyland Paris (the American ones are way beyond my budget unless I was to win the lottery!!).  I really want to do that before the boys get too old for it to be totally magical for them.

Jackie. x

Monday, 28 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 28

Day 28 - What Are You Looking Forward To?

Can you believe we are on day 28??!!  I am going to miss this blog challenge when the month is over.

So, back to today's prompt.  What am I looking forward to?  This is a bit of a hard question for me as I have had my big holiday of the year.  I feel like saying that I have nothing to look forward to, but on thinking harder, I managed to find something.

I am looking forward to the double bank holiday next week.  I am not working on either of the bank holiday days, so I am looking forward to spending some time with the family.  My mum is planning on having a BBQ on the Tuesday, so I am looking forward to that.

I am also looking forward to the summer holidays.  I know alot of parents dread the summer holidays as it is hard work to keep kids entertained for 6 weeks.  I, on the other hand love it.  Not having to rush in the morning, being able to relax, take our time and not worry about being anywhere by a certain time, that's bliss for me!  Don't get me wrong, 6 weeks is a long time to have to entertain the kids, but that's where my Merlin pass will come in handy!!

The next thing that I am looking forward to after that is the boys going back to school in September!!  I'm sure I will be begging for it come late August. lol. Noah starts nursery 5 mornings a week in September and Aled will be going to school full time then as well.  I am looking forward to getting that bit of a break from them during the day.

So, there we have it.  I may not have any big plans to look forward to, but sometimes the small things actually work out just as good as the big things!

What are you looking forward to?

Jackie. x

Sunday, 27 May 2012

31 Blog Challenge - Day 27

Day 27 - My Favourite Recipe

This is a bit of a hard one for me.  I don't think I really have a favourite recipe as such.  I only really bake cakes, so tend to use sponge cake recipe for my cakes.  Main course wise, I really dislike cooking, so if a recipe calls for being stuck in a kitchen for an hour or so, then you can forget it!

This one however, I have made a couple of times and my family are always impressed with it.  It's Rosemary Conley's low fat version of a South African dish called Bobotie.

I have yet to try the original version of Bobotie, but we really do like this version.  It's a bit like a South African version of Shepherds or Cottage Pie (with a bit of a kick!).

Jackie. x

Saturday, 26 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 26

Day 26 - An Old Photo of You

This is one of my favourite photos of me.  It was taken when I was about 2 years old and I am the one in the middle in the red dress.  I am with my cousins and it was taken before we moved to the UK.  Just for fun, I thought I would share with you the photo taken back in January with those same cousins (and my sister taking over the front!).

With my cousins at approx. age 2.

With the same cousins (I'm wearing red again!! lol) in Jan 2012

Jackie. x

Friday, 25 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 25

Day 25 - Your 5 Favourite Blogs

I am still quite new to the whole world of blogging, so at the moment I don't follow alot of blogs.  This blog challenge has been fantastic for me to get to see new blogs and I am really looking forward to seeing everyone's favourites.

My top five would have to be:

  1. The Crafty Bums Blog - I am loving the Quilt Along on here.
  2. Molly Coddle's Kitchen - I love her fantastic Wordless Wednesdays and her products are great too.
  3. Thirty Mummy - Without Lisa, I wouldn't be here.  I found out about her blog through baby forums and have been hooked since. :-)
  4. Her Pretty - This is one I have seen through this blog challenge.  I love her style of writing and enjoy reading about Katie and her family.
  5. Laura's Slimming World Journey - This one is quite an old blog and hasn't been updated in a while, but I do love the recipes on here.
So, who would make your Top 5??

Jackie. x

Thursday, 24 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 24

Day 24 - Your Favourite Childhood Book

I was quite a bookworm when I was a child.  I still love to read, but don't have as much time as I used to, so the gap inbetween books is much longer than they used to be.

I would read all sorts of books and have always liked books that run in a series.  I loved The Secret Seven and The Famous Five, The Making Out Series (yes I did just have to google to remember the title, I remembered it was based on a character called Zoe! lol), The Chronicles of Narnia.  As I got older, I loved Stephen King and at about 15-16 after watching 'An Interview with a Vampire' I got into Ann Rices The Vampire Chronicles.  It's no wonder I'm a huge fan of Vampire Lit now!

To narrow it down to just one favourite is quite hard for me.  Two books from my childhood really stick out for me.  The first one was given to me by my grandparents.  They gave me a set of books, all with red hardback covers.  In the set was Black Beauty, Wind in the Willows, Little Women and Heidi.  I was never too fussed with The Wind in the Willows, but I loved the others.

The story of that little girl in the mountains and of those four sisters have stuck with me throughout.  I have watched the film of Little Women and although I think it's lovely, it doesn't compare to the emotions in the book.  The same goes for Heidi.  The high level of emotions in both these books are ones that really pull on the heartstrings.  I remember watching an episode of Friends where Joey puts a copy of Little Women in the freezer because he couldn't bare to read it.  Both of these books are very much like that.  You get attached to the characters and although you know something bad is going to happen, you really hope it doesn't.

I really wish I'd kept my original copies of these books, but as time has gone on, my book collection has dwindled.  I think I am going to have to go to my local library to see if they have these in stock as they deserve another read after all these years.

Jackie. x

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 23

Day 23 - Your Dream Job

When I was 15-16 and it came to doing work experience at school, I didn't have a clue what I wanted to do, so I ended up doing my work experience in an insurance brokers office.  Since doing those two weeks there, I ended up with the admin bug.  In choosing what course to do at college, I chose an Administration and Secretarial course.  I did end up leaving college after less than a year, but I managed to gain a couple of word processing qualifications while I was there.  Looking back now, I do wish that I completed the course.  It would have given me the skills to do a bit more than just an admin assistant.

I have always worked in admin ever since my first 'proper' job at 18 and I still love doing it.  I would like to find a career in it now though.  Although I love admin work, I would love to do it in a specialist field, such as law or finance, or be a PA.  At the age of 32 and in our current economical climate, I think this might be a bit of a pipe dream though.  The big firms tend to only take on people who are qualified in that field and I don't have that extra experience.

At the moment though, I am a stay at home mum to my monsters and until Noah starts nursery in September it isn't financially viable for me to even consider full time work, so I have a little bit of time to think about it.  I am lucky in that I can be more picky in what job I do take, so I don't have to take the first thing that comes along just to pay the bills. :-)

Jackie. x

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 22

Day 22 - The Best Thing to Happen This Year

The best thing to happen this year has to be my trip to South Africa back in January!  What better way to start the year.

I loved my time spent with my South African family.  Being able to be *me* again!  Also, meeting my biological father and brother and sister for the first time.  Meeting my cousins on his side of my family was great.  I really wish I'd taken more photos of my time there, but here are some of my favourite moments.

Jackie. x

Monday, 21 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 21

Day 21 - Your 10 Favourite Foods

Well, after that last post and reading all the other difficult times, I am glad to be writing about something that makes me!!

I love food (as you can tell by my size!!), so it is going to be hard keeping it down to 10!!

Here we go, in no particular order:

  1. Chocolate
  2. Pizza
  3. Cake
  4. Chocolate digestive biscuits
  5. McDonalds Quarter pounder with cheese meal
  6. Sweets
  7. Crisps - current fave is Walkers Sunbites
  8. Chinese food
  9. Biltong (I hate living in the UK and not being able to get any real biltong!)
  10. Braai food (or as we say in the UK, a BBQ, but a braai is much, much better!)
That was really hard narrowing it down!!  What's in your Top Ten??

Jackie. x

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 20

Day 20 - A Difficult Time in Your Life

I know, I know.  I'm a day late.  I don't know about you, but I'm starting to see a pattern on the days that I am late with my posts!!  That's work interfering with my blogging! lol.  Normally I would combine the two posts together when I'm a day late, but because of the subject, I feel this one deserves it's own post.

Ok, so a difficult time in my life.  I would say that there have been two major difficult times in my life, but I am only going to write about one here.

The first difficult time I had was when I was 11 when my dad died.  I can still remember the day it happened now.  I was supposed to be going to my friends house for tea, so was really surprised and confused when my mum came to pick me up from school.  I normally walked home from school, so it was unusual in itself for her to pick me up, but even more so as I was going to my friends.  My grandma was with her, so I thought maybe it was because grandma had come over to visit.  Grandma lived what I thought was really far away (it is in actual fact only about 30 miles away) and it was rare for her to come on a weekday.

My dad
Anyway, off I went with mum and grandma, a bit annoyed about not going to my friends house.  When we got home they told me the news.  I can't remember how I reacted to the news, I'm guessing there was alot of crying involved.  I remember hating it whenever anyone asked me if I was ok when I was back at school.  I would try to be really strong, but as soon as those words were said I would end up crying again.  I try my best not to say them now to anyone who's grieving, but I think it's natural for those words to come out when we don't know what to say.

The pain of loosing a parent is one that never goes away.  It does get better in time, but every so often, something happens and I find myself wishing my dad was here.  I think because I was so young when my dad died, it was only as I became an adult that the grief really *hit* me.

Six months down the line, I was watching Pretty Woman with my mum.  It was the first time my mum let me watch a '15' film, so I was feeling pretty grown up.  After the film ended, my mum told me the truth about my dad not being my natural father.  This really confused me and I felt like I'd lost my dad all over again, not only was he not here, but now he wasn't my biological father either.  I felt *different*.  I felt like I didn't belong.  When I look back, I can't believe how naive I was in that I couldn't see it.  I am dark skinned and have dark hair and eyes and both of my sisters are very fair, blonde and blue eyed!  Whenever anyone asked me about my colouring I would just say that it was because I was born in South Africa.  I never even clocked on that I was born two years before my parent met!  It was only after my grandma had died a couple of years later that I realised that to them it really didn't matter whose genes were inside me, I was still family to them.

My eldest child PJ is named after my dad.  Whenever I hear the song The Living Years by Mike & The Mechanics, I always think of my dad.  I wish he could be here to see his grandchildren.  The anniversary of his death and his birthday are always sad days for me and I think they always will be.  I like to think that he's looking over us, watching and guiding us, but mostly I wish he was here with us.

Jackie. x

Saturday, 19 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 19

Day 19 - What Do You Collect?

I am a bit of a collector, although at the moment I haven't collected anything for a while.  (I'm guessing my cake decorating mags don't count do they?).  I do like to get fridge magnets whenever I go somewhere, although I haven't bought a new one for a while now.

My biggest collection would have to be my 'Piggin' collection.  I do still have them in a box somewhere here.  We took them down a couple of years ago to redecorate and they have never gone back up.  I will have to dig them out sometime.  Every Christmas and birthday I would get a new Piggin.  I also have an original Natwest Annabel pig money box in there from when I was younger as well.  I did have the baby one, but my mother gave it to one of my sisters and I never got it back. :-(

The more I think about it, my pigs are probably safer tucked away in their box until Aled & Noah are a little bit older.  I would probably cry if any of them got broken!

Jackie. x

Friday, 18 May 2012

TGI Friday (A #R2BC post)

Reasons to be Cheerful at Mummy from the Heart

This is my first Reasons to Be Cheerful 1, 2, 3 post and I thought that it would be good to write down why I want to take part in this blog hop.

After seeing a couple of different bloggers R2BC posts, I was intrigued as to what it was all about, so I followed the link and came across Mummy from the Heart's blog.  I love the idea of remembering the good things on a weekly basis and think that this is something that I really need to do.

Since Noah was about a year old I have struggled with daily life as a mother and wife and eventually last year I finally went to the doctors and admitted just how down I was feeling.  The doctor diagnosed me with depression.  It feels weird to say that I have PND, when Noah was almost two by then!  He put me on citalopram anti-depressants, which did help.  As most people with depression will know, I had good days and bad days, but on the tablets I found I was having more good days.

In January I went to South Africa for two weeks for my sisters wedding.  Because of financial reasons, I went on my own without hubby and the kids.  I can honestly say it was the best 2 weeks I have had in a very long time.  It really helped me to unwind and find *me* again.  On my return I felt ready to come off the anti-depressants.  I went back to the doctors and we weaned me off the tablets.  I now don't take anything any more, however, I am starting to find daily life a struggle and very stressful again.  Noah is most certainly going through the terrible twos and at the age of four, I don't think Aled has ever outgrown it!

These last couple of weeks have been pretty hard going for me.  The Saturday before last my 13 year old son was violently mugged and we spent most of last week coming to terms with it.  He is doing much better now and although his confidence has been knocked, he is slowly regaining it.  This week Aled & Noah seemed to be on a mission to wear me down.  It feels like it's been one big non-stop tantrum from waking up time until bed time every day all week.  We are now at the end of the week and I feel exhausted! reasons for being cheerful this week:
  1. We are all here, in one piece and together.
  2. Bedtimes.  I love story time at the kids bedtime.  On hubby's turn he does interactive books on the ipad, but when it's my turn we get the normal books out and I read to them.  Hubby says he doesn't know who enjoys it more, me or them!
  3. Cake!!  This week I made my very first coconut cake.  There's nothing more satisfying that trying a new recipe that has come out well!
  4. PJ is starting to get his confidence back.
  5. I have new bedding on my bed today.  I actually can't wait to go to bed! lol.
So, there are my reasons for being cheerful this week, what about you?

Jackie. x

Pretty Little Things - Come Rain or Shine

Hello there,

This is my first Pretty Little Things blog post and I hope that there will be many more to come.

This weeks theme is Come Rain or Shine and that instantly reminded me of this picture that I took last June when my boys took part in the Big Toddle at The Discovery Centre in Bracknell.  It had been raining all morning non stop, but we didn't let that stop us from going.  Luckily, it did stop raining for the Toddle, but as it was forest land, it was pretty wet and muddy!  We had a great day and the boys thoroughly enjoyed it!

Aled & Noah not letting the weather spoil their fun!

Jackie. x

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 18

Day 18 - The Meaning Behind Your Blog Name

Well, I'm afraid, I have a very boring blog name.  It's a username that I use in various places and is just simply my initials.  I am Mrs Jackie C.

As that was so short and boring, I will also tell you the meaning behind my twitter name @sawelshbird.  This is a username that I have been using since I was about 18-19, so quite a while now.  The SA part is in relation to my birth country South Africa, the Welsh part is from the fact that I was brought up in Wales and therefore Welsh; and the bird part, well that's to determine that I'm female.  When I was a teenager (it may still be the same now), alot of blokes would call girls 'birds'.  I actually really dislike that term, but I think it sounds right in my username!

So, there we go, the meaning behind my blog and twitter names.  What's the meaning of yours?

Jackie. x

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Oh Coconuts

A couple of weeks ago I had some junk mail through the door.  Normally it goes straight in the bin, but one of the cards stood out for me.  It was for Abel & Cole, a company who deliver fresh organic fruit and veg to your door weekly.  The idea of this intrigued me, so off I went to their website.  In looking at the options, I decided to give the medium fruit box a go.

Last Monday was my first delivery and in the box I found apples, bananas, kiwi fruit, pears and a coconut!!  A coconut!!  What on earth am I going to do with that!  I have never bought a fresh coconut before and did have to google to find out how to even open it!  

After asking hubby what we should do with it, he suggested making a coconut cake.  I'm happy with that.  I mean, what else am I going to do.  So off to google I go again.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a recipe for fresh coconut?  Most of the recipes I found asked for dessicated coconut.  Eventually, I found this one by Delia Smith.  Finally, a recipe for a coconut cake using a fresh coconut.

I did have to wait until after the weekly shop so that I could pick up some of the stuff I don't have in my cupboards and yesterday I took to the task of opening up the coconut.  Using a metal skewer, I made holes in the 'eyes' of the coconut and drained it of its water.  I then placed it in a couple of sandwich bags, put it on the floor and battered the life out of it with a rolling pin!!  It worked and I then got the flesh of the coconut away from the shell using a blunt knife.  Using my vegetable peeler, I peeled away the inner skin and grated up the flesh.  It was at this point that I wished I have a rotary grater!  By the time I'd managed to do all of this, it was time to get the monsters from nursery and crèche, so the cake making would have to wait another day.

Today, after dropping the monsters off, I got straight to work.  I mixed up my batter as per the recipe and then discovered that one of my 8" cake tins have gone missing!  I ended up using an 10" tin that I have and just made the one cake.  When it came out of the oven it did look a bit flatter than what I would have liked, so I decided that I wouldn't be able to cut it into layers and just frost the top of it.

So, once it cooled, I got on with the frosting.  I halved the quantities of the recipe figuring that I wouldn't need all of that if I didn't have layers.  I was right in thinking that as I still ended up with more than what I needed!  I then got on with frosting the top of the cake and smothering it with the left over grated coconut.  I am really please with how it turned out and it tastes great.  I have now discovered that Aled doesn't like coconut or the frosting, so all the more for me. :-)

Jackie. x

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 17

Day 17 - What is Your Most Proud Moment.

As a mother, obviously my proudest moment is having my three boys.  Although they were all born by c/section, I am still proud of being able to carry them and have them.

My t-shirt and back sign
With my friend Jenny ready to go
My next proudest moment is completing Shine for Cancer Research's half marathon night walk.  Anyone who knows me knows that I 'don't do' exercise, so to walk 13.1 miles was a real challenge.  I did it in honour of a fantastic little girl who sadly died a couple of weeks ago from leukaemia.  The way I saw it was if this wonderful little girl could battle leukaemia with the amount of courage and grace that she had, then surely I could do this.

It took me 6 & 1/2 hours to complete and I can honestly say that it was the hardest thing that I have ever done.

Jackie. x

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 16

Day 16 - What's at the top of your bucket list.

I think I must be one of the very few people who doesn't really have a bucket list.  I never have done.  Of course I have dreams of things that I would love to do, but nothing that I feel I HAVE to do before a certain age.

My top dream would be to emigrate to South Africa.  I really miss my family out there and would love to live there, however, short of a lottery win, I think it will never be more than a dream.

My next best place to move to would be to move back to Wales.  I also have family in Wales and all of hubby's family is there as well.  This is a much more realistic dream and one that me and hubby have discussed a few times.

I would love to have a nice 3 bedroom house instead of us all being cramped up in this 2 bedroomed flat and I would also like to return to full time work.  When I do return to work I would like it to be a career job rather than just a job to earn money.

Jackie. x

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 15

Day 15 - Timeline of Your Day

My typical day varies for what day of the week it is and also which week it is, so I will give you an example of my weekdays.

Anywhere from 5.30am-6.30am - Aled or Noah (sometimes both) will climb into bed with us.  We try to get them to 'nap', but it doesn't always work.
7am-7.20am - I will get up.  Most mornings hubby is already up and has given Aled & Noah his breakfast.
7.30am - On week 1, I will take PJ and a friend to the train station for him to get his train to school, on week 2 PJ gets picked up and taken to the train station.
7.50am - I will have my breakfast and give Aled & Noah theirs if they haven't already had it.  While eating breakfast I will check my bank account, emails and of course facebook.
8.10am - Take the boys into the bathroom and brush our teeth and wash faces.  I let them 'brush' their teeth while I am brushing mine and then I brush theirs properly afterwards.
8.25am - I will get dressed.
8.30am - Get the boys dressed.  Sometimes it's done pretty quickly, other days are a nightmare.
8.45am - Check Aled's school bag to make sure he has everything.  On Wed & Thurs I also check Noah's bag as he goes to crèche.
8.50am - Leave for school.  We walk to school as it's only down the road.
9.00am - Drop Aled off at nursery and on Wed & Thurs I also drop Noah off at the Sure Start Centre.
Between 9am and 11.20am varies on how I am feeling.  Most mornings I end up needing to go to the shops, so I walk to the shops and get what I need.  Sometimes I drive to Iceland and do a weekly shop (to be delivered later in the day), other times I just come straight back home.
This also tends to be when I do my blogging.  Sometimes I put a wash on.  Sometimes I tidy my kitchen and do my dishwasher.  Sometimes I just chill out and play games on fb.  On a Wed & Thurs I catch up with my soaps and try and do the things that I can't do with the monsters about.  This could be sewing or baking.
11.20am - Walk down to the school and pick up Aled (and Noah) who finish at 11.30am.
11.40am - Get the boys in and change Aled out of his uniform and put it away for tomorrow, or in the wash if it's dirty.
12-12.30pm - Make and eat lunch.  A typical lunch is a sandwich, fruit, crisps a drink and sometimes a yoghurt.
The afternoon is pretty much spent like the morning, but with the added attention required for 2 demanding toddlers.  Emptying the potty, breaking up fights, dealing with tantrums, things like that.  And of course, playing.
4.10pm - PJ gets home from school.  He usually walks home from the station.  I chat to him, find out what his day was like.  He then goes into his room to do his homework.
5pm(ish) - I make a start on dinner.
6pm - Dinner is usually ready for about now, so we all have dinner.  Hubby normally gets in between 6 & 6.30pm.
6.30pm - Every Wed and alternate Thurs I leave for work and then at work until about 9.30pm-10pm.
6.45pm-6.50pm - Get the boys ready for bed.  They don't have a bath every day, as it's bad for Noah's eczema, but every 2-3 days they have a bath about this time.
7pm(ish) - Boys go to bed.  Normally Neil does the bedtime story on the iPad, but sometimes I do it with normal books.
7.30pm - Boys are generally settled by this time and me, Neil & PJ just chill out.  Sometimes one of us has a scout meeting that we go to and on Fridays Neil and PJ have scouts, so they leave about 7.15pm.
Bedtime varies day to day with what might be on tv, but is usually about 10-11pm.  PJ goes to bed at 10.30pm.

There we go, a typical weekday.  Well, kind of.  There are some things that I haven't included as I'm not doing at the moment.  Next month the darts season starts back up, so Tuesdays will be darts night.  Also later on in the year I will be going back to my role as Explorer Scout Leader, so that will be my Monday evenings gone as well!

What's your typical day?

Jackie. x

Monday, 14 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Days 13 & 14

After a very busy day yesterday with the family, I ended up too tired to blog, so here is yesterdays and todays blog challenges.

Day 13 - What is Your Earliest Memory

This is a bit of a tough one, as I can't really say what is an actual memory and what I've heard from family.  I can't really say that I have memories from when I was really young, but more when I was 5-6 and again, just snippets of a memory rather than a full memory.  I have problems remembering what I did last week, so to go back 30 odd years is quite difficult for me! lol.

One memory I do have from when I was about 8-9 was lying in bed reading a book when I was supposed to be sleeping.  My dad was working late and my bedroom window was at the end of the driveway.  I heard my dad come in from work, so quickly turned my lamp off and pretended to sleep, but he must have seen the light through the curtains as he came in to ask why I was awake.

I'm sure there must be others, but that is one that has always stuck with me.

Day 14 - If You Won The Lottery...

Now this one is much easier.  If I won the lottery, I would emigrate to South Africa.  It really is as simple as that.  I would love to be back with my family out there and a lottery win would mean that I could afford to live there and send my boys to school there.

Who wouldn't want to live here?!

Jackie. x

Saturday, 12 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 12

Day 12 - What's Inside Your Fridge

It's actually quite a pitiful amount of real food in my fridge.  

We have:
A tub of left over sweetcorn
A tub of left over tuna
Left over birthday cake
Left over chocolate butter icing
Trex (shortening for our US friends)
Left over coleslaw
Frankfurter sausages
Stork margarine
Utterly Butterley margarine

In the salad drawer we have apples and satsumas.
In the door we have jam, mustard, Hershey's Kisses and tomato purée.

There we have it.  That's what's in my fridge, what's in yours?

Jackie. x

Friday, 11 May 2012

I found me some treasure Capt'n

As you know, yesterday was Aled's 4th birthday.  Currently he is really into Jake and the Neverland Pirates, so with this in mind, I decided to make him a pirate themed cake.  After doing a bit of a Google search, I came across this video of how to make a treasure chest cake.  Perfect.

First things first, I needed a 13x9" cake tin.  All I have are some standard sized round tins, so off to Amazon I go and end up with this one made by Wilton.  It was only when it turned up that I realised just how big a 13x9" cake was going to be!  My usual sponge cake recipe wasn't going to work for that!

So off to Google I go again, looking for recipes suitable for the size of the tin.  The only receipes that I can find are american ones, so in the end I settle for this Yellow Cake recipe.  What I loved about this recipe is measuring in cups.  It's so easy!  Why don't us Brits measure in cups instead of faffing about with the weighing scales?

I did have to trim off the edges, as they were slightly overcooked, but all in all I was pleased with the way the cake turned out.

One thing that I decided to do differently to the video was to use Chocolate Ready to Roll icing as opposed to butter icing.  I cut the cake into three and gave it a crumb coating using chocolate buttercream.  I then covered the base cake with a layer of the ready to roll icing.  I cut the small section into a wedge and placed that on top of the bottom layer using buttercream to attach it and covered that with a small bit of ready to roll.  Lastly I crumb coat the lid and cover that with the roll out icing.  I then cut out two strips of ready to roll in yellow and place that on the lid to look like straps and a small piece to look like the lock.

I used a thin layer of buttercream on the bottom and stuff a load of sweets in there.  As it's the wrong time of year to find chocolate coins in the supermarkets, I ended up using Quality Street & Roses sweets and Hershey's Kisses as the 'treasure'.  I then put another layer of buttercream on top of the wedge and put the lid on top.  I make sure that the middle is well and truly stuffed and hoped for the best!  I honestly couldn't believe that it worked! lol.

Aled loved his treasure chest cake and I was really pleased with how it turned out.

Jackie. x

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 11

Day 11 - List 15 of Your Favourite Things

So, 15 of my favourite things.  I wasn't sure if this meant physical items or just things in general.  Going from Boy Oh Boy's post, I think it means things in general, so here are my top 15.

  1. My family.  Of course.  They mean the world to me and without them, then nothing in life matters.
  2. Tea - without it I can't function.
  3. My Motorola Xoom.  Before I had my Xoom I had a refurbished iPad 1.  I much prefer my Xoom, to the point that I am considering getting an android phone when I upgrade.
  4. My laptop.  
  5. My Kindle.  I'm starting to see a bit of a theme going on here! But seriously, I love my kindle.  I love that I can just whip it out for a page or two anywhere and anytime.
  6. Food.  I am a food junkie.  Crisps, chocolate, take away.  Everything I'm not supposed to have.
  7. I don't know if this comes under favourite things, but it's certainly one I can't live without - my car.  Seriously, this girl doesn't do public transport!
  8. My Lego Harry Potter Dobby keyring.  It just makes me smile when I see him.  I have it on my lanyard at work and loads of kids point it out and love it.
  9. My hair 'pretties'.  I have a couple of hair barrettes made by Floating Vintage Designs on facebook that I just love.  I love how unique they are.
  10. My new love - my sewing machine. :-)
  11. Cape Town.  Ok, I know that it's a place, but that counts right?
  12. My wedding dress.  It was the most expensive part of my wedding, but soo beautiful.
  13. This blog challenge.  I am really enjoying doing it and love seeing other people's posts on the challenge.
  14. My Sky+ box and tv.  Without the sky+, I would never get chance to watch my favourite programmes. 
  15. Lastly - old photos.  I love old photos and don't get around to looking at them often enough.
So, what are your top 15?

Jackie. x

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Happy Birthday Aled!

Today is my middle sons 4th birthday and in honour of the birthday boy I thought I would do a post about his birth story.

Just out of theatre
Due to PJ being born by c/section I had planned to have a selective c/section with Aled.  This was booked in for the 13th May, but as usual, Aled was too impatient to wait.  At about 2am of the 10th I woke up with what felt like period pains.  By 3am I realised that this wasn't Braxton Hicks, but in fact the real thing.  I woke up hubby (who had fallen asleep on the sofa) and told him.  We timed the contractions and they were about 5-6 mins apart.  I called my mum to come over and look after PJ.  She decided to take her time and waited until my sister had finished work at a nightclub and brought her over to babysit so mum could take us to the hospital.  It was about 5am before we finally set off for the hospital.  When I got to the hospital they checked me over and confirmed that yes, I was in labour, but I was only about 3cms dilated.  I was told that I could either go home or stay there.  We decided to stay there and was taken into the labour ward.  I told the midwives that I was booked in for a c/section in a few days and I was told that I could continue with the labour naturally or if I really wanted to, then they could bring the c/s forward.  I decided to see how things go naturally.

1st Birthday
By 9am the labour still hadn't progressed, so the consultant decided that they were going to break my waters.  I had already asked for an epidural, so they gave me that at this point.  They came back a little while later and broke my waters.  Literally, within minutes of breaking my waters, labour progressed and lets just say, I was glad that I had an epidural.

For the whole time that I was in the labour ward I was hooked up to the baby monitor which records the baby's heart rate.  The midwife noticed that every time I had a contraction baby's heartrate dropped, so she called the consultant in so that they could put clips on baby's head to check if he was ok.  In doing this the consultant realised that there was a problem and called another one in for a second opinion.  The second consultant came and announced that I had a prolapsed cord and I was rushed into theatre for an emergency c/section.  To be honest, at this point I really didn't know what was going on as it all happened so fast.  I only really got told later on just how serious it all was.  Apparently my mum had a bit of a freak out about it all!

At this point again I was so glad that I had opted for an epidural, as the alternative would have been to give me a general anaesthetic for the operation.  The surgeons worked quickly to get Aled out and I remember panicking when I didn't hear his heart beating on the monitor.  Neil quickly reassured me that this was because they had got him out and a couple of seconds later I heard his cry.  I felt so relieved and couldn't wait to hold my baby.

Writing about it now, I can't believe that was four years ago!!  Here's the birthday boy today with his new Innotab. :-)

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 10

Day 10 - What's Your Best Physical Feature

I really struggled with this as I (and I'm sure I probably won't be the only one) really couldn't think of anything that I really like about my appearance.  So I asked hubby what he thought.  He said with no hesitation that it's a no brainer and most definitely my smile.  I'm happy with that answer, so that is what I am going to say.

Jackie. x

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Day 9

Day 9 - What are your worst habits

Ok, my worst habits.  I'm sure my hubby can think up loads more than what I can, but here goes:

- Being untidy.  As I have said before, I can be very untidy.

- Leaving things on the side 'to deal with later'.  I guess this comes in with the untidiness, as later ends up being weeks later! lol.  This also applies to things that hubby has asked me to do.

- Not listening.  This is mainly with hubby or the kids, but I just seems to zone out when they are talking to me. It drives hubby insane!

- Facebook.  I am addicted to it and find myself on there when I am supposed to be doing something else.

- Forgetful.  If I don't write things down, then I am terrible at forgetting.  Hubby uses this to his advantage though as he will say that he has told me something when he never did!

That's all that I can think of for the time being, but I am sure there are loads more! lol.

Jackie. x

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

31 Day Blog Challenge - Days 7 & 8

Due to a late one at work yesterday, I am doing both yesterday and today's blog challenge posts together.

Day 7 - Your Pet Hates

Ooh, where do I start!  I have a few pet hates, but I will try to limit myself to two of the biggest ones.

- People who don't have manners.  This one really bugs me, I mean come on, how hard is it to say please and thank you!  Even my two little ones at the age of 2 and 3 know their manners.  Aled even knows to say 'your welcome' after someone says thank you to him.  It's a pity some grown ups don't have the same manners.

- People who can't drive or drive badly.  About two years ago I got depression and have struggled with it since.  Since getting depression I have found that I have very little tolerance for bad drivers.  This is people who drive painstakingly slowly, people who cut me up and then drive painstakingly slowly, people who like to drive bumper to bumper and other arsehole drivers.

Day 8 - What's in Your Handbag

My handbag is surprisingly tidy today.  I had a clear out last week, so there's not much in it.

We have my purse, lip balm, a notebook, set of darts, some receipts, my wage slip and my First Response booklet.

The First Response booklet is what was given when I did my course with the scouts.  I like to keep it in my handbag in case anything happens so I have the advise right there.

So, what about you, what does your handbag hold?

Jackie. x