Friday, 26 February 2016

A Muddy Adventure With Hatley's


Isn't it amazing how as soon as the sun comes out, your mood lifts and everything around you seems so much better? The past few days have been so lovely, sunshine aside, Abbie has had ONE tantrum in 4 whole days, FOUR! It's been a dream, I mean she's a pretty good 3 year old anyway, i'm very lucky in that sense but the week before she had been particularly testing! It's been very refreshing! Her sleep has also improved drastically, she's sleeping through and isn't waking up till 7.30, thoroughly deserved if you ask me ;)

I've also been blogging regularly again this month, it's amazing what a blog makeover can do, I suddenly have this new lease of life and inspiration!

Yesterday we popped out with Abbie for the day, back to the animal park actually, but this time we turned left instead of right so we avoided the trampolines, or we end up there for 30 minutes and see zero animals! It was still a bit wet out from the frost overnight so we popped Abbie in her new outfit from Hatley's! 

She wore her waterproof Pink Splash Pants to keep her jeans from getting all muddy, and although they were a little bit big, the drawstring around the waist kept them up perfectly! Also comes in yellow, black and red, all of which are now half price, so grab yourself a bargain!

She then wore the gorgeous Electric Butterfly Raincoat to keep her top half clean! With a gorgeous teal and white fleeced lining, with what feels like a thin towel material, she was kept nice and warm without being restricted! Abbie is now at the age where she wants to get herself dressed, so it's much easier for her to use the snap closure poppers instead of fiddling around with a zip!

I highly recommend Hatley's products, amazing material, even better quality and gorgeous prints too! Hop on over to their website for more!









Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Booking Your Cervical Screening Test!


This post is a little different to what I usually post, it's a bit personal and you're probably wondering why on earth I want to share it! But I really wanted to share my experience and to hopefully urge you other ladies to go and get yourselves checked! It's a bit of a taboo subject talking about your lower region, but when it comes to Smear Tests, it's really really REALLY important that we do! When I researched mine online, I struggled to find any positive stories with the same result as me, the internet is full of the negatives and people trying to convince you you're dying from something as small as a headache! So I'm hoping my point of view and experience will help to reassure you! And no, it's not a sponsored post either! :)

In the UK, once we near our 25th birthday, us women are entitled to a free smear test on the NHS.
I received my letter and instantly panicked and worried about what it might be like, and more so what the results would show. I decided to bite the bullet and book, I wanted to hide the letter and just not think about, to avoid another few weeks of anxiety! But I booked it, and it was two days later. The sooner the better really, less time to think about it. 

I'm a very anxious person, especially the last few months with blood tests and Abbie's vaccinations. It would've been easier just to do nothing.

I panicked A LOT. I panicked about if the test would hurt, if I would bleed. Then I googled it...the worst thing I could've done. I then panicked about the results, what if they found something abnormal, what if I needed more tests, had to go to hospital, had to stay overnight, I've never left Abbie so how would it work, what if it was cancer, what if I was dying. 

The test itself was waaaaay better than I thought it would be, after having one at 19/20 I kinda knew what to expect, but that time it really really hurt and I cried. 

I walked into the nurses room and she asked how I was, all my anxiety came out and I cried. Nothing had even happened yet, she was so lovely though, reassuring and made me feel at ease. Don't worry about looking like an idiot if you cry, chances are if you show you're stressed, it'll make the whole process a lot easier!

Before you start, don't be shy in asking for the smallest speculum, there are actually 3 sizes so don't be shy in asking for the smallest one (especially since they cannot use any kind of lubrication now!), your nurse should be more than happy to oblige so if you're worried about that part, definitely ask!

So I was asked to undress from the waist down and lay down...yes it's a little embarrassing, your legs are now wide open with a bright light shining up there, but I promise you, and this coming from a seriously anxious person (and a prude), it was absolutely fine! The nurse made a joke, and I made one back, it was relaxed and it was no where near as scary as I thought it would be. 

 The only slightly uncomfortable part was when the speculum was opened, but again for me, it was just a bit weird, not painful, kinda made me say ughhh rather than ouch! She then pops in a brush and brushes it gently across your cervix to gather some cells, again a little uncomfortable but not anything awful, after about 15 seconds, its all done and you can go home! Yay!

Waiting for the results was the hardest part, 2 weeks of anxiety hoping to God I was ok!

I spotted the postman doing his rounds and knew that day COULD be the day I got my letter, its been 12 days since the test and was told it can take 10-14 days for the results...and sure enough, there on the top of the pile of crap put through our door, was my letter. I don't think i've opened a letter so quickly in my life, and there it was, first line..

"The result from your screening test are normal"
HOORAY! 

Now I can relax, 30 seconds of being slightly uncomfortable could save your life, it really is worth it ladies, don't hesitate in getting yours done, make time, book yours today by phoning your GP!

x


Monday, 22 February 2016

A Snickers Inspired Cake!

It's been a while since i've baked an actual cake, this recipe is actually from my Birthday last year but I never got round to writing up this post! I remember being so adamant about making my own cake, but I knew I wanted to keep it simple too, I so don't have the patience levels for complicated baking yet and because I wanted to eat the cake as soon as possible really, so it needed to take very little time too! I think this year i'll have to try making my own again, I actually have a few ideas in mind already, so look out for that in a few months time! Last year, my favourite chocolate bar Snickers so it was only fitting that I created a snickers inspired cake, I pretty much made it up as I went along, and it turned out bloody delicious if I do say so myself!

To keep this super easy, I used a few ready made Betty Crocker products, and used some of my favourite ingredients for the decoration! Feel free to adjust the ingredients to suit you!



Here we go...

INGREDIENTS


Betty Crocker Devils Food Cake Mix
Chocolate Fudge Icing
200g Nutella
200g Chopped Nuts
2 x Snickers Bars
6 tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 Eggs
Water
100g Milky bar (optional)

You will need;
1 large mixing bowl
1 microwavable bowl
2 x 20cm cake tins

Wooden Spoon
Cake leveller or flat curated knife
Whisk 

WHAT TO DO

1. Preheat your oven to 170 degrees C


2. Add your 3 eggs, oil and water into your large mixing bowl and whisk together well

Add in your cake mix and continue whisking until well combined and smooth

3. Line your 2 cake tins with baking paper or cake release spray (or both if preferred)

Split your mixture between the tins, try to make them as level as possible!

4. Bake in the oven for 18-22 mins

Once your cakes are baked, leave to cool in their tins for 5 or so minutes, before transferring them to a wire rack.


5. Using your cake leveller or knife, gently trim off the top of one of your cakes to make a flat top and spread on your chocolate fudge icing. Now, you can either keep your rounded top on your other cake or chop that off too, it's up to you! Now place your other cake directly on top of the mixture and push down gently

6. Spread a small amount of your fudge icing to your cake, on the top and across the sides too, this is known as a 'crumb coat', then place in the fridge for 30 minutes



7. Spread another layer of icing until you are happy. Whilst it is still soft, sprinkle on your chopped nuts and pat onto the sides of your cake. Chop up a snickers bar and pop on the the top for extra decoration!


Optional - melt some white chocolate and drizzle over your cake for extra decoration!



ENJOY!







Thursday, 18 February 2016

Travel Bucket List!


"I haven't been everywhere, but it's on my list"

It's no secret how much I want to travel, now Abbie is at the age where she could handle being on an airplane and travelling more (don't hold me to this), I want to get out there and explore the world with her! I have a whole list of places I want to visit in my lifetime, and i'm adamant I WILL visit them all. Our first holiday abroad will have to be somewhere in Europe, just so Abbie can get used to the short plane journey and little time difference!

I would absolutely love to travel around Europe, all in one go, for 6 months just drive around in a camper van and explore. My love for travelling has been maximised because of my love for photography, when I imagine the travelling I just think of all the beautiful places I would see, all the photos I could take, the hours of editing on top of that and the memories I could make.

I thought I'd create a little bucket list of places I want to visit and share with you!

Ireland
I don't even know why I'm so drawn to Ireland, I think it started when the film p.s. I love you came out, so I've got a lot to thank Gerard Butler for, anyone know where I might find him? ;). On a serious note, i'm going to Ireland next year for the first time, we are going to hire a gorgeous little cottage in the countryside, and visit all the lovely Irish people!

Basel - Switzerland
Florida
Paris
Rome, Sicily & Venice
Bora Bora/Moorea
New York
Northern Lights
Grand Canyon
Amsterdam


More specific places after some googling and yearning...

Zhangye Danxia Landform - China 
Salar de Uyuni - Bolivia
Bamboo Forest - Japan
Lençóis Maranhenses - Brazil
Victoria Falls - Zambia
Moraine Lake - Canada

A dream i've had since I was about 14 was to take an America road trip, the whole cliche you see in movies, the car with the roof down, music blaring (Living on a Prayer mainly), and driving for hours, into the sunset, heavenly! 

I'd love to then branch out and step foot in every continent, see all the Wonders of the World, and before I die, I would love to be able to say I visited every single country! You only live once and I really want to start living mine!

You can just imagine the amount of photos I would be taking, after my New York adventure I took about 1500, in just a few days...I always make sure I don't miss a single thing! After each trip I think i'll create a scrapbook, full of photos, stories and souvenirs i've picked up along the way!


Where would you like to visit?
Also would love recommendations on hotels/places to stay in any of these!

x


Monday, 15 February 2016

Quick & Easy Vegetarian Meals

When it comes to making meals for the family, I love things i can whip together quickly and that are cheap and healthy! I'm pretty lucky that because Abbie was very much baby led when it came to weaning, only really eating solid foods properly after she turned 1, I left it all up to her and now she will eat pretty much everything I put in front of her! 

Although i'm not a Vegetarian myself, I've never really been a big meat eater and could quite happily go without it! I always found vegetarian options to sound more interesting and tasty too, especially around Christmas time with nut roasts, yummy! Oh and in Jamie Oliver's restaurants he serves a Roasted Squash & Winter Greens dish, which I need to try right now please!

My favourite meal (and Abbie's), has to be pasta, it's such a comfort food but can be so versatile with what you add to it, add a delicious beetroot salad during the summer for a light and filling meal, or throw in a bunch of different roasted veg and topped with cheese for the ultimate winter warmer! Oh and don't forget the garlic bread either ;).

After browsing online through Pinterest and some lovely food blogs, and feeling so hungry I almost started dinner at 3.20pm....I bookmarked my favourite recipes to share with you, all of which I will be trying myself! Also if you don't fancy the vegetarian side, you could always add in some meat if it suits you or even some Quorn!

Parmesan Stuffed Courgettes


Vegetable Lo Mein


Mediterranean Baked Sweet Potatoes



Goats Cheese Lemon Pasta with Kale


Summer Squash & Mushroom Quesadillas


Crispy Gnocchi with Basil Pesto


Grilled Courgette Nachos
by Two Peas & Their Pod (again, I know, they are amazing)


Bell Pepper Pizza


Red Thai Curry Noodle Soup


Portobello Fajitas


One Pot Pasta Primavera


Tortellini Caesar Salad


Spinach & Onion Omelette
















Tuesday, 9 February 2016

New Blog Design & Easter Recipes!

Hello all!
A bit of a random coupling in the title there, but I didn't want to spring such a big update on you without talking a little about it first! As you've probably noticed, we've had a big makeover here today, I say today, it started yesterday at midday and is still needs tweaking after 13 hours of editing! BUT, I'm finally happy enough with it to publish it, I think..

If you've followed my blog for a while, you would've seen me change the design so many times, but after a bit of a stressful start to the new year with anxiety and other bits going on, I wanted a fresh look for it, something simple but a little more current I guess. I'm really bloody proud of it actually, so I hope you all love it as much as I do, if there's anything not quite right or doesn't work, do let me know so I can sort it out!

Anyway, onto the actual reason why you've clicked on this post...cake.

My second favourite time of the year is coming up, Easter! The time when we can devour our body weight in chocolate and no one can judge you. This year however, I am going chocolate free, I've not eaten any for a good few months now and I can't even say I miss it (shock of the century to those that know me personally). But it doesn't stop me looking at lots of yummy treats and making some for the family anyway! 

Growing up, Easter was one of my favourite times of the year, firstly, every year, my Nan would host an Easter Egg hunt for the grandkids and we'd all be at her house for the day, each of us with a little wicker basket, searching for colourful eggs amongst the trees, bushes and the rockery, we all had one of each colour to find, to stop us just collecting every egg we saw! There would be little yellow chicks everywhere, and even big easter eggs for the grown ups hidden on the tops of the greenhouse! We also had a tradition where my cousin and I were able to design our own Easter Bonnets (I really must dig out some photos!), we could do to them whatever we wished, add ribbon, add chicks, beads, glitter, anything! It was an amazing day and is something I really want to do with Abbie as she gets older too!

My go to recipe tends to be shortbread cookies at the moment, they're quick, easy, delicous and you can decorate them however you wish! I bought these adorable cookie cutters from Matalan a few weeks ago, so i'm looking forward to using those this year!

So without further ado, here is a little selection of some of my favourite Easter Inspired Recipes i've found!

Peanut Butter Cookie Pie
First of all, giant cookie, secondly, peanut butter and thirdly pie. I mean, do I really need to convince you anymore? Ok go on then, lets throw some Mini Eggs/M&M's on top too! And no, you don't need to share if you don't want to...


Creme Egg Brownies
You can't really write an Easter post and not include something about creme eggs can you?


Cake Batter Rice Krispie Cakes
Chocolate Peanut Butter Birds Nests
Click here for the recipe


Chick Macarons



Easter Bunny Popcorn Bars

Carrot Cake Pops


Cadburys Magic Bars


Chocolate Chunk Hot Cross Buns


And last but by no means least..
Creme Egg Cheesecake
by Taming Twins


What are your plans for Easter this year?

Monday, 1 February 2016

My Favourite Place


Since I was eight years old, i've had this *little* obsession with New York, after being bought Home Alone 2 on video, my love affair began, I wanted to be just like Kevin McCallistar, go on the huge airplane, sit in a hotel room stuffing my face with all the yummy deliciousness, I wanted to play all day in FAO Schwartz, and I wanted to walk through a snowy Central Park and feed the pigeons with the scary lady. My first crush began and I need to go, pronto.


It soon became obvious, this wasn't just a silly crush, this was to be my first true love!


I would talk about it all the time, watch the film every day, I would beg my mum to take me there, and she promised, she promised that before I turned 18, I would go. I held on to that promise.


February 14th 2009 started like any other day, except my Mum had insisted I go to the airport with her to pick up a family friend, obviously being the lazy teenager I was I moaned a little, but then I agreed to go along, I can always go back to bed when i'm back after all!


So we are standing in the airport, with my Mum and Step Dad (why we all needed to be there I don't know), she asks me to check her passport to make sure it was definitely hers so I open it up, and panic hits..

"Mum, you've got my passport, this isn't yours!"
I'm then told,
"You might as well have this as well then"
and given to me was a New York Guide Book, things still didn't trigger for me, I remember feeling confused, then I'm asked
"Would you like to go?"
Thats when I realised, in that moment I WAS GOING TO NEW YORK, RIGHT NOW, I instantly burst into tears, this was it, it's actually going to happen.



I can't even begin to tell you how magical this trip was. Stepping off the plane and heading off to our hotel, even just driving along the roads made me feel content, there's something about America that makes me feel at home! That first sight of the city itself was incredible, the child in me was jumping up and down in my seat, squealing with excitement!

It was everything I could have imagined, 9 years of planning and expectations this City had to live up to, I knew damn well it wasn't going to let me down. Over the next 4 days, we visited so many places, the obvious ones, the Statue of Liberty at Sunset, The Empire State Building, the Rockefeller Centre, we even visited a British Pub to watch a game of footy on the tv! (necessity obviously!). We ventured to Madame Tussauds, The Nikon Camera shop, Ground Zero and even had a magical limousine ride through Times Square!

I've been yearning to go back ever since we came home almost 7 years ago! A part of me is still somewhere in the midst of New York and I think it would only be fair to head over there again in a few years. So in 2019, I am off again, however this time, I will be sharing the magic with Abbie, sharing with her my most favourite place in the whole world, experiencing some of the things I missed before and watching her soak up every little bit. And of course it'll have to all begin with snuggling up and watching Home Alone 2 together, at the same age I was, only 20 years later.




What's your favourite holiday?
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