The Rules

Tags

, , ,

Do you remember the opening scene of Bridget Jones’ Diary? It begins with Bridget having a moment of sad-life epiphany at a family New Years Day party. She realises that unless something changes she is going to end up sad, and alone and found dead in her apartment half-eaten by Alsatians. That is the moment that inspires her to buy a diary and set up her New Year Resolutions to take control of her life.

I really relate to that moment.

After Orla was born I lived in a strange state of exhaustion for a number of months. My brain was in a fog of sleep deprivation, breastfeeding and nappy changes that took twenty minutes because I dropped a dirty nappy on my knee and now everything is covered in poo. They were the weeks that I just had to get through each day and remember to enjoy the cuddles, oh and rely on the support of my Mum, who would pop round each day, wash up, make me food and send me up for a nap every afternoon. God bless my Mum!

But after a few months Orla eventually started sleeping more and breastfeeding less. I got some energy back and my brain kicked back into gear. And there came a moment when I realised I had to get back in to the habit of doing my own washing up and sorting out my own lunch. I wanted to pick up my old hobbies and responsibilities and I wanted the house to have some resemblance of order, and of course, I wanted to take good care of Orla. So, like Bridget I turned to my diary and wrote down ‘The Rules’ to help me get control of my life.

A list always helps me feel more in control and here is the list I used to get a hold of my day to day life and make sure I was achieving my priorities and staying sane at the same time:

Rule 1: Orla comes first.

Rule 2: Give Rob your full attention. Put your phone down, he is more fun anyway.

Rule 3: Do the daily household tasks every day without fail.

If you are curious my daily household tasks that I set myself (and yes I do have a chart for tracking this…) are make the bed, wash clothes, check/empty bins, wash up, wipe down kitchen counter and high chair, tidy up for 20 minutes, and put clothes away at the end of the day.

Rule 4: Ask Rob for help.

 

Rule 5: On Tuesday/Wednesdays/Saturdays and Sundays do 2 or 3 of the weekly cleaning tasks.

The weekly cleaning tasks are: vaccuum, clean bathroom, change bedding, dust, clean kitchen floor, check fridge for out of date food, iron and do an hour of gardening.

Rule 6: Read the Bible and pray at the first opportunity each day

Rule 7: Go for a run when Rob puts Orla to bed

Rule 8: Do blog activities (new recipies, photos, craft projects…etc) on Saturdays, write up blogs on Thursdays

Rule 9: Invite friends around on the weekend. Make lots of plans, you never regret spending time with friends. 

Rule 10: Your brain turns to mush in the evening so switch off and unwind after 8pm. Go to bed early.

Rule 11: If it is sunny enough to sit out in the garden and read a book then do it! All housework rules are cancelled.

Rule 12: You can do most of these things even if you feel a bit tired but when you are sleep deprived do whatever gets you through the day, all rules are off!

Some of these rules I keep really easily, some of them (hello Housework!)I am still rubbish at, but these rules do help me by giving me a plan of what to do when I feel overwhelmed by things. They also give me a little kick in the backside when I am being lazy and they remind me of the important things in my life; my baby, my husband, my friends and my God.

What are your life rules?

Advertisements

Cathy’s Kitchen: Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins

Tags

, , ,

Every couple of weeks I try out a new recipe from one of my Cook Books. Last Saturday I did my first attempt at Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins, here are my notes:

Recipe Origin: Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins from Scrumptious Muffins by Marc Grossman

Date baked: Saturday 1st July 2017 on a sunny afternoon whilst Orla napped after tiring her out at the Barrowford Lifestyle Festival in the morning.

Difficulty Level: There quite a few steps in mixing the ingredients in the right order, and a couple of extra ingredients that I didn’t expect like chopped up pear and Greek yogurt but each step was simple and the recipe was easy to follow. As you can see in the photo below, the kitchen did get messy!
Results: Beautiful, perfectly golden muffins. The pear pieces and yogurt made the muffins really moist and the lemon icing had a great tangy taste.

Who Ate them: I took eight with me to a friend’s house that afternoon as a housewarming gift. They in turn had baked brownies and scones to share with us so we had an afternoon of indulgent eating! I took the rest to my parents house the next day and we ate them after my Mum’s Sunday Roast.

Would I make them again? Absolutely! And I may have to do it soon, I have half a jar of poppy seed left over!

Currently…June 2017

Tags

June has been a lovely month for our little family. We have fit in two mini-breaks and have made the most of the sunny weather. Here is a snapshot of this month.

Currently I am…

Treasuring the memories we made on Orla’s first visit to Ireland. We spent a perfect weekend with Rob’s side of the family. It was our first time taking Orla on a plane, and she slept through the entire flight there and back! We played on the beach, visited gardens and spent lots of time eating with family. We loved every minute!

Nitpicking Orla’s reading material. This buggy version of the very hungry caterpillar has irked the pedantic in me by labeling a plum as ‘blue’ when it clearly purple, or indeed plum! What is the world coming to?

Jumping on the Unicorn trend and ordering a Unicorn Hot Chocolate at a Hipster Chic Coffee bar in Clitheroe, Escape Coffee and Cocktails. Orla was more interested in Rob’s banana milkshake, which was good as I certainly did not want to share!

Drinking in the view from a cocktail bar looking over the river in Bristol. Last week we took another small holiday to Bristol and met up with our friends who also have kids. We took it in turns to go out, and one of my best moments was sitting on a terrace, eating chocolate torte looking out over the river at a very late sunset.

Stopping to smell the roses. On our way back from Bristol we stopped at the Trentham Estate, just off the M6 near Stoke on Trent. It broke up the journey back home and gave us a really fun day out exploring some stunning gardens. These roses gave off such a lovely scent it was hard to leave them behind.

Book Bag: Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery

Tags

,

I know in my last post I said how much I was looking forward to picking out my own reading material after several months of reading other people’s recommendations BUT this last weekend we were in Ireland visiting Rob’s Mum and she passed me a book she had just finished that she thought I would like and…

I absolutely loved it!

We were in Ireland for four days and in between visits to gardens, visiting family and playing on the beach I managed to read the whole thing. I literally read the last few pages in the car on the way to the airport on Monday morning.

The book was Summer at the Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I have read a few of Jenny Colgan’s books now and they follow a pattern that I know some will find sickeningly sweet but that I actually enjoy; woman takes on challenging small business in an old fashioned community finds love, friendship and healing along the way.

But this book is a little bit different, it is clearly a sequel and so we skip over the story of Polly making her home in the small Cornish Island that is connected to the mainland by a causeway that is underwater in high tide. In this installment Polly is faced with losing her job and her home and her friends, and has no easy answer to fix her problems. This book is about what you do when you have failed repeatedly and how to pick yourself up from the dust when the fight has gone out of you.

Yes, the cutesy town is there and ultimately a happy ending, and on the way there are plenty of mentions of comforting food, baths and the occasional lavish party due to millionaire characters who occasionally appear which keeps the book light and frothy but underneath that there is a true grit of character. Here there are people drowning in circumstances beyond their control and finding ways to break through to the surface again.

The sea battering the island makes a beautiful metaphor for this inner battle and after reading about the vicious storm in the book I lost myself for a while watching real life footage of storms at sea on YouTube. It has given me a new appreciation of the sea and a longing to get to our coastline more often.

There is talk of a family holiday to Cornwall next year and I would love to go see St Michael’s Mount which was the inspiration for the fictional location in Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery. Fingers crossed that if we do go the weather will be more welcoming!

Now that I have finished that book I have now started reading something new that I picked out at the library all by myself! I am half way through that one and have two other books sitting waiting to be read so hopefully there will be more Book Bag posts soon!

 

 

Book Bag – Fairy Tales Galore

I have only one book left in my reading pile at the moment! For over a year the majority of my reading has been books that have either been given or loaned to me and once I have finished the book I am currently reading I will be completely out of gifted books.

It is interesting to read what another person has loved and I am grateful that my family consult my reading wish list when it comes to present buying, but I am really looking forward to go book hunting soon and pick out some things for myself.

Before I go in search of new adventures I want to share what I have read in the last few weeks. Weirdly, they have all been fairy tale related:

Snow White by Jospehine Poole and Angela Barrett, and Beauty and the Beast by Max Eilenberg and Angela Barrett

These books were actually presents to Orla from Fionne but I absolutely adore them and have read them cover to cover myself. These fairy tales are beautifully retold and each illustration by Angela Barrett is packed with enchanting details. Orla especially likes Snow White as it has lots of cats that she can point to and go ‘meeeeeeow’.

The challenge now is keeping them in good condition so that Orla can truly appreciate them when she is old enough to take in the words.

Politically Correct Bedtime Stories by James Finn Garner

James Finn Garner has taken the opportunity to rewrite classic stories for more enlightened times: from Snow White s relationship with seven vertically challenged men, Little Red Riding Hood, her grandma and the cross-dressing wolf who set up an alternative household based on mutual respect and cooperation to the Emperor who was not naked but was endorsing a clothing-optional lifestyle. For the first time read the true story of what happened when the Ugly Duckling was judged on its personal merits and not on its physical appearance. At last, here is bedtime reading free from prejudice and discrimination to witches, giants, dwarves, goblins and fairies everywhere. You can remedy this cultural defect by reading Politically Correct Bedtime Stories and discovering what really happened when Jack climbed the beanstalk, when Cinderella went to the ball and when the wolf tried to blow down the house of the Three Little Pigs. For anyone brought up on sexist, racist, sizeist and ethnocentrist reading matter these stories have been purged of the influence of an insensitive cultural past to become fables for our times.

This was another gift from Fionne to contrast the more traditional fairy tales. This is an exceptionally fun and witty little book that makes cutting jibes against over the top correctness in the most mild mannered tone. Cinderella was particularly hilarious.

Fables Vol 15: Rose Red

It feels like Rose Red has been wallowing in her bed forever since the death of Boy Blue. She has been completely useless and to be honest I was getting rather tired of her but at last she rises from the murky bed sheets of despair and rises up once more to her position of leadership. It felt really good to see the old Rose Red back and to get a look into her past life and what caused the fissures in her relationship with Snow White.

In bigger news the fight against Mr Dark was spectacular but unsuccessful and now our Fables are having to flee once more. I am desperate to read the next volume to find out whether they are going to take back the homelands or are they going to fight to keep hold of the mundy world.

I love this series and 15 volumes in I still want to read the next one!

Chocolate Cake with Cherry Buttercream Icing

Tags

The urge to bake overtook me last week, I had been inspired by my pinterest feed when I saw this pic:

Source

Unfortunately I couldn’t get the recipe without subscribing and paying the site, which is fair enough, I suppose, but I didn’t feel like paying for a recipe when I was just having some fun baking at home.

I decided instead to make my own version so I looked up a simple chocolate cake recipe and then made my own cherry flavoured buttercream icing and, as usual, it started off disastrously.

I followed the normally reliable BBC Good Food’s website and a recipe that was literally called; easy chocolate cake. And let me tell you, it was not easy, it called for oil instead of butter, and it did not produce chocolate cake. Instead it produced sunken burnt sponge bowls that smelt weirdly of popcorn.

At this point I would normally have given up and packed the mixer away for another day, but whilst the disaster cakes had been burning in the oven, I had been making cherry flavoured buttercream icing, and shock! Horror! It had actually turned out rather well!

I had used this recipe to make the base of the icing and then I added a generous dollop of ASDA’s Very Special Cherry preserve. It turned the icing a lovely pink colour and gave it a cherry rich taste.

In fact the icing had turned out so well I decided to bake a fresh cake that would be worthy of such a delicious topping.

For round two I used this recipe from House and Garden that was actually easy, and the result was pretty flawless;

Just look at that beautiful cake! I then employed Rob to slice it in half using the old fishing wire technique which he executed with precision resulting in two level halves.

 

Then it was just a case of putting the cake and icing together and topping off with some chocolate curls:

And voila! Chocolate and cherry cake ready for devouring! It tasted lovely and sweet, in fact I liked it so much that I ended up having some for breakfast the next day! But that can be our little secret!

 

Five Movies I could (and do) Watch on Repeat

Tags

, , , , , ,

A good movie is great comfort to the soul. I remember that Glee episode where it is revealed the Mr Schuester watches Singing in the Rain every time he is sick and I know I am exactly the same. When I am sick, tired or drained there is nothing quite like revisiting a story with familiar faces and reassuring promises that good will triumph over evil in the end.

Here are five movies that are on the top of my DVD pile:

For Romance: Down With Love

This is my favourite romantic comedy of all time. It is delicious eye candy from start to finish. Overly stylized with superb sixties outfits, fake and romantic back drops and a score that punctuates every joke in this zany farce. It’s sweet, funny and bright. Perfect for when you need cheering up, not so good if you are on a diet; chocolate is heavily featured.

Oh and it has the tightest script, not a single line is wasted and they pack so many jokes into 90 minutes that the time will fly by!

For Blockbuster Fun: Jurassic Park

I can recite this movie, word for word by heart  but if it comes on the telly I will watch it again. It is all so perfectly done. The T-Rex attack, the build up of the raptors as the most deadly animal, the beauty of the special effects that are so good that you accept the dinosaurs as they are. Not to mention the brilliant characters who nearly all get a proper character arc. And that music score that lifts your heart as the helicopter sweeps over the island. Pure Blockbuster perfection!

For Sci-Fi: The Fifth Element

The day after our wedding Rob and I checked into a hotel at Manchester Airport so that we would be ready the next morning for our flights to our Honeymoon in Turkey. I was very happy, but also very tired. My mind was still in ‘to-do list/organisational/event planning’ mode even though there was no more event to plan. I just couldn’t switch off. Then Rob turned on the TV and the Fifth Element was on, we both collapsed on the bed and with the help Bruce Willis, Mila Jovovich and a flying ball of dark matter heading straight for Earth, we gently came down out of the wedding buzz and began to relax.

For Creature Feature: Lake Placid

Lake Placid borders somewhere between tongue-in-cheek horror and outright parody of creature horror movies. It’s funny more than it is scary but it will give you second thoughts about paddling in the nearest lake. I have strong memories of watching this with my friends as a teenager and I still think it is hilarious today especially the cranky old lady mouthing off to the police!

For Old Style Hollywood: High Society

Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra singing and lounging around a millionaire’s palatial home. They exchange sharp barbs and cool wit over coffee, drink cocktails by the pool, and misbehave in a the most glamorous pre-wedding shindig you will ever see. I love every minute of it!

Currently… May 2017

Tags

, ,

Yikes! It has been over a month since I last blogged anything and I have no idea how that happened. Here is what is going on right now:

Currently I am…

Getting the most out of the Bank Holidays. Last Bank Holiday Monday we got up and out of the house for half nine and headed straight to Spring Wood in Whalley for a walk around the bluebell filled woods. It was brilliant! Orla loved exploring the paths and it was a challenge to keep her still enough to take a couple of photos. We left just as the car park was getting busy and headed off for brunch!

Reading blogs again. I had gotten out of the habit of flicking through my blog reader but I’ve recently taken it up again. I use BlogLovin on my phone and laptop to group all the blogs I follow together. I am currently really enjoying Cupcakes and Cashmere for sunny LA fashion and Marcus Design for beautiful interior designs.

Gardening. The garden is the main reason why we bought our house. It is massive, practically a small field. The look we are going for is part English Cottage garden and part wildflower meadow. We are letting a large segment of the garden grow wild and try to encourage natural wild flowers and bees as much as possible, we have an impressive sweep of forget-me-nots and bluebells at the moment. Then we have a patch of tidy lawn and a full flower bed near the kitchen door. There is always more jobs to do then we will ever get to but it’s so cool to see what changes have taken hold now that we are entering into our third year of living here.

Marveling at Orla’s independent spirit.  We took her to Blackpool’s Sea Life Centre last weekend and try as we might we could not get her to pay any attention to the many wonderful sea creatures there. Instead, all she wanted to do was dance in the pretty seahorse light they were beaming on the floor. I guess this is how we know we are entering into the toddler world! Little Miss Strong Will!

Watching Taskmaster. Every Tuesday night, 9pm on Dave is the most random comedy game show that is an absolute joy. Five comedians complete silly games and tasks to be awarded points by the taskmaster; Greg Davies. Any description doesn’t do it any justice but it is good natured and it really makes me laugh each week and I find it is perfect for helping me unwind from the day and go to bed happy.

Miss Patina Summer Picks

Tags

, ,

I am in the middle of a beauty and style revamp at the moment. We have just finished decorating our bedroom which has been a great opportunity to clear out clothes that I don’t wear or don’t fit anymore. I am very loyal to the clothes that I buy and tend to keep them for years but post baby and almost thirty I have found I am less inclined to wear the things I picked out at 19. Time for some changes!

I am getting ready to refresh my wardrobe with some new pieces and I have been drooling over one of my favourite British designs; Miss Patina. They’re clothes are whimsical, well made and have a vintage feel. I already have two pinafore dresses that are great for winter with tights and long sleeved tees underneath but I am really in need of some summer outfits.

And I know that this is coming across as a sponsored post but scouts honour, this is just me putting the links to clothes I would like in a place I will remember! Plus I actually do like it when other bloggers share their wish lists, that’s how I find out about new designers to stalk! I do genuinely love Miss Patina and think it would be cool if more people knew about them.

Here are the things in their new collection that are currently on my Wish List.

The Jane Austen Dress

Link!

Ignore the awful shoes and sock combo and replace them with some sandles and you are ready for all riverside picnics the summer may offer. I love the collar and the fact that it has pockets! In fact, my other two Miss Patina dresses also have pockets, it’s one of the reasons why I keep coming back to their site!

Unicone Cardigan

Link!

Unicorns are the new Flamingos – they are everywhere! And whilst the trend has not really appealed to me so far, I will admit that I find this cardigan rather cute, especially for summer evenings when it is getting cool but you are not ready to go inside yet. £55 is a bit steep for a cardi though, may have to wait for the sale for this one.

Vanilla Petal Top

Link!

I love this collar detail and the shade of cream, I just can’t decide if a big collar like this would work on someone with a larger bust. Also because the top is tucked in to the skirt on all of the photos I can’t work out how long it is. I am so close to loving it but I feel this is one of those items that you need to see in person to decide whether or not you really want it.

Peppermint Playsuit

Link!

Look how happy the model is! Maybe it’s impossible not to be happy in a playsuit? I think this looks really cute. I love the pattern and how light weight it looks. It is a little bit short but then again would be a good thing to slouch around the garden in and try and get a bit of sun on your legs.

Loop the Loop Dress

Link!

This one is from their sale section and is only £25! Swoon! Sometimes all you need is a classic summer dress in a vibrant colour. I love the cut out collar, the nipped in waist and the contrasting hem. I think I would also like the shoes too with this one!

Well, those are the pieces that are luring me back to shopping. Is anyone else doing a summer wardrobe revamp?

 

The Benefits of Bible Journaling

Tags

, , , ,

What is Bible Journaling?

Bible Journaling is when you illustrate a Bible Verse with a picture or with creative lettering in the margins of your Bible. It is a creative way of expressing prayers and thoughts and meditating.

I have always liked highlighting and writing notes in my Bible and notebooks to help me remember what I have read or to organise my thoughts. Bible Journaling is doing this in beautiful ways. The idea is that when you flick through your Bible there will be an eye catching and visual journal of what God has been teaching you as you read and study his word.

How did I start?

I came across it on Facebook  and then I joined a Facebook Bible Journaling group to find out more. I looked at what other people did and lost a fair few hours watching You Tube videos of tutorials and women flipping through their Bible Journal.

At first, I didn’t like the idea of drawing in my Bible, it was already cluttered with my notes! So I began by using a scrapbook and having a go at a couple of the monthly challenges that were set in the Facebook Group. These were really good prompts to get me started. One of the first challenges I did had this prompt:

This month we are looking at Colossians 3:23
‘Whatever you do,work at it with all your heart,as working for the Lord,not human masters.’
The art work or presentation is totally free choice. The challenge is to respond on the page with a prayer.Looking forward to seeing what God says to us all.

I spent time thinking about this verse and it challenged me. When I finished my piece of Bible Journaling piece I posted this on the group:

This verse got me thinking about my attitude to being a mum. Sometimes looking after a baby is so relentless that I begin to resent the time I have with my daughter, as if she is keeping me from doing my ‘real’ work for the Lord. My prayer is that I will instead see that raising my baby is the centre of my ministry. That being a good mum can be an act of worship and service to God, as much as worship leading or preaching is.

Once I knew what I wanted to express the artwork came together quickly.  I wanted to put Orla at the centre of my life’s work so using Google images, tracing paper, watercolour paints and a black pen put this together:

I loved that image so much that when I did eventually get a Journaling Bible I transferred it to the cover of my Bible so that I would always remember my true priorities.

How do I journal now?

After a couple of months of using my scrap book I felt that I wanted to start journaling in a Bible. Rob got me the Bible above for my Birthday, it has big margins so it is perfect for Bible Journaling.

Here is my current process:

  1. I read my Bible and if anything stands out to me  I make a note of it on a mini post it note and stick it in the page. In my old Bible I would just highlight the verse or write a note straight on the page, but for my journaling Bible I want to keep the pages clean until I have decided what to do with it.
  2. When I have decided on a verse to journal, I will read it a few times, research the passage and spend some time thinking and praying about it. I may make notes about it in a separate notebook.
  3. Often as I do this an image will come to mind. If I can I will draw it myself, or if it is beyond my artistic ability (which doesn’t take much) I will look up similar images online to copy or trace.
  4. I then will spend a couple of evenings actually doing the artwork. Sometimes I do a practice run in my scrap book, sometimes I just go for it.
  5. When its done I add the date and a tab made out of washi tape to help me find it easily.

Is it helpful or is a distraction from actually understanding and obeying God’s word?

If I illustrate my Bible with the skill of artists or Instagram Bloggers, but do not follow the word, I am only a scribbling toddler or a messy scrawler. If I have the gift of acrylic and can paint without bleed-through, and if I have calligraphy that can rival wedding invitations but do not understand what I write, I am nothing. If I decorate each page of my Bible in array of colours and wonder but do not love God, I gain nothing.   

The criticism of Bible Journaling is that it is a hobby that feels spiritual but actually doesn’t encourage growth in faith or love. The videos and blogs and Instagram accounts filled with illustrated verses encourages people to compare and compete with one another more than it does to encourage them to be like Jesus.

Nearly every blog I have read about Bible Journaling has been pre-faced with ‘it’s not about being perfect’, which is good but the fact that it needs to be said shows that there is a potential trap there.

It is also really easy to give ourselves a pat on the back for creating a pretty picture about loving our neighbour, but painting the picture is no substitute for actually loving our neighbour. If Bible Journaling is doing it’s job it should motivate us to not want to leave the words in the page, it should be part of the process to turn the words into flesh in our lives. The time we spend drawing and thinking about the verse should be building up our will to live the verse; to be more generous, more patient, to trust in God, to forgive that person.

And actually, for me, I have found Bible Journaling has strengthened my resolve to follow God’s leading. It has become a way for me to mediate on things God has said and it has stuck with me.

One example I can share is this verse:

You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions, stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. 2 Chronicles 20:17

I thought about this verse for weeks. There was a situation that I was worrying about because I couldn’t see a way to fix it without having to cause a fight. Through this Scripture I felt God was telling me not to try and fix it but to trust in Him. I was not to bow to pressure or change what I believed but that it wasn’t on my shoulders to rush in and sort everyone out. (as if I could anyway!)

Since then this verse and image has appeared in my mind whenever I am worrying about things I can’t possibly control. When I remember this verse I stop worrying, I say to God ‘I trust you’, and I go and do something else.

I find that Bible Journaling is a good tool for meditation especially if you are not good at sitting still and just thinking. It normally takes me about two evenings to complete one entry and all that time I am painting, drawing, planning and writing I am also thinking about God’s word, and that can only be a good thing.

The other thing I have benefited from is the Bible Journaling Facebook Group, far from being a snarky environment of competition and shallow perfectionism, the group has been a supportive and celebratory culture to belong to. It’s really good to talk about the scriptures with a new group of people, especially when we all draw out different thoughts from the same verse. I have found what other people share to be inspiring and encouraging and it opens the door for us to connect with one another.
My conclusion is that Bible Journaling is a great activity to slow you down and help you to engage with God and to connect with others and I would recommend anyone who is interested to just have a go and see how you find it.