A residence on Pinterest

After spending one evening last week making a collage in old school fashion with my printer, scissors and pritt stick, I felt it was time I finally got with the cool kids and engaged with Pinterest. I will post about the image mind map of goals I made another day, as it’s a really life changing exercise, but for now back to last night’s mission.

After I went to Peggy Poyser’s really well structured and super clear session at Cybher on revamping your blog for under £50, I felt I should stop procrastinating over a blog makeover and actually do it.  Peggy gave me the baby steps I needed. Checkout her Easy Tech Club for some great tips.

She told me to make a mood board.  Until Peggy said it I kind of thought that was an extravagance, but now I totally see why it works.  From my mood board you will get that I should live in Scandinavia, or failing that Ikea. Look, I have even pinned a Scandinavian ferry because I liked the red and blue stripes. But colour, font and theme wise, there’s definitely some stuff emerging, stuff that wouldn’t have come out of my mouth had I had to explain what I wanted. Oh I love the power of the subconscious mind.

Next step is to send it to my web-expert-person-who-I-am-related-to who will probably laugh lots and send me right back to the Pinterest board.  Or at least make me pin my ideas down more firmly. I can do collages and brainstorms, I just don’t do converting that to minimalism and design very well. Peggy did cover how to DIY design, and I definitely want to make time to play more with this for myself.

So I am on Pinterest finally as A Residence, and look forward to working out how to interact with people, oh and fit another social network into my life.

Belated thank you for two safe deliveries

So I was sat on a wooden chair in the centre of woman-I -had-just-met’s living room, surrounded by people I had also just met for the first time that day.  They were standing around me, doing their best to intimidate me, pretending to be something they clearly weren’t.

I hadn’t fallen in with the wrong crowd, it was a childbirth class and we were role playing who might be in theatre should we need a C section. The point, which I am really glad they made, was that an awful lot of people can be in theatre.

Turns out I did need a section, twice. Both times I was immensely glad of all the people there, the midwives who had been with me for most of the labour, the anaesthetist with a cracking sense of humour, the no messing consultant who snapped at her team to get moving, the team of people who did just that. I wish I knew their job roles, but there wasn’t much time to get acquainted.

Both my sections were emergencies, but it never felt that way.  I felt like I was in good hands.

After I left hospital with both my babies, I wracked my brains trying to think of suitable ways to say thanks.  How do you thank a midwife, or an entire medical team in both my cases? A box of chocolates and a thank you card praising them didn’t seem enough, gift tokens lovely, but to whom?

As a teacher it was people’s words that stayed with me long after I had scoffed the chocolates,  the flowers had wilted or the wine had been drunk. So I tried to make those words in the cards count.  Don’t ask me what they said, my brain was too foggy back then.

I stumbled upon the 2012 M.U.M (Maternity Unit Miracles) Award when I was reading over at Babyworld, the awards offer a chance to say thank you and nominate the maternity team involved for an award.  And before you ask what I was doing over at Babyworld, nope I’m not expecting again, but I am soon to be an Aunty, and I have to do my research for my Lazy Daisy posts.

The criteria mean there’s still time for me to say thanks:  ‘If you or any of your family or friends have experienced complications or problems with a pregnancy or birth in the last 5 years (the child must be at least 1 or less than 6 years old at 01/03/12, with a birth date between 02/03/06 and 28/02/11)’

How did you say thanks?

If you’ve read/written any good pregnancy and birth posts why not enter them in this, for a prize:

National Vegetarian Week Recipe Linky

Hand’s off!  That’s my veggie breakfast. It’s national vegetarian week and also my birthday. So what better present to me than to give some veggie meals a whirl this week? This year NVW is all about celebrating breakfast.  I do love a veggie breakfast with eggs, mushrooms, beans, toast, tomatoes, hash browns and veggie sausages, preferably Cauldron ones. I’m always a little sad when places don’t offer a decent veggie fry up breakfast option, although sausages are only a small part of the overall experience for me.

Regardless of what time of day you’ve been eating veggie, if you’ve got a veggie recipe in your archives, or a favourite you’ve been meaning to share, then why not share a great veggie recipe this week? I have added a couple in the linky below.

Tweet me @Aresidence or @nvw_2012 and make some noise!

The time travelling mini metro

It hit me at 2am last year.  Prior to that I’d been singing The Artic Monkeys – Mardy Bum at the top of my lungs out on the decking in our back garden, surrounded by many of my nearest and dearest.  The wind had got up and the last of my guests had started to call taxis, but I could have carried on singing all night.

My brother and his girlfriend helped me load the dishwasher, wished me Happy Birthday and went to bed, and it was just me, the wind and the stars.

There had been a tough moment earlier in the day, when I saw just Dad’s name on my birthday card. That moment was about missing her,  I still wasn’t ‘getting’ the day’s bigger significance. At 2am it hit me. The anniversary of my birth. The day my mum gave birth to me. Being born. Sounds daft, but whenever the wind blows it always makes me think of her, and it was really howling then. It reminded me how she showed me the stars, my first ever little legacy.

Birthdays will never be quite the same without her. This year I’ve found the anniversaries are hitting me ahead of the day, instead of on or after. But I have the best people looking out for me tomorrow, and that makes me feel very lucky to have been born.

Earlier I stepped out the door into sunshine, just as a clapped out primula yellow Mini Metro chundered past.  It was exactly like the one mum used to drive, right down to the eighties hounds tooth pattern interior.  It looked completely out of place on the road, like it had travelled through time, like the Ford Cortina from Life on Mars. I watched it disappear in disbelief, a little blast from the past, and it made me laugh out loud.


Yorkshire is Great plus Sand le Mere holiday offer

Being an ex media teacher I am a sucker for a good advert.  I’m off on my hols to Yorkshire and the recent TV ads Have a Brilliant Yorkshire got me even more excited. Maybe it’s because it has chips, snogging and pillow fights in it.

Unfortunately that ad isn’t available to embed, but this one takes my breath away and is worth a click, I think it makes perfect background music to this post:

I’m a Northern lass, I’ll always have an affliltation with Yorkshire.  I was born in Yorkshire, although I’ve never lived there. When I was 18 something pulled me back,  I went to Uni in Hull. I had an awesome time.  More recently I had the most amazing holiday near Malham Tarn with my parents shortly after L was born.  I went camping with my friends from Uni in Scarborough when I was pregnant with G. Last year we took our caravan to North Yorkshire. I love the mix of sea, hills and interesting stuff to do, it makes holidaying with kids so easy.

So when I was asked if we would review a trip to Sand Le Mere holiday village in North Yorkshire, in a holiday home, I said yes please. I reckon their £5 million pound redevelopment with a swimming pool, kids’ club and entertainment is going to make family holidaying in Yorkshire even easier. Plus Mr A has been nostalgic for the holiday park experiences of his childhood. I’ll admit they were never part of my holiday experience growing up, but that’s part of the reason I’m keen to try it.

The new pool design at Sand le Mere Holiday Village

We’re going in August and I will be sharing how we get on.

Special offer

There are money-saving offers available at Sand Le Mere. These include 10% off breaks taken during the school holidays, between 1-9 June, 20 July to 1 September and 26 October to 2 November. To claim the saving, you need to use the offer code EB10 and book on the website www.sand-le-mere.co.uk. I also spotted a 30% discount today on the website, for holidays at other times.

The Have a Great Yorkshire ad, if you want a look, is here

Disclaimer: I will be taking a 4 night break August 2012, in return for sharing and reviewing my experiences at Sand Le Mere.  This post does not constitute a review.

A Whole New Wurld

Thanks for the lovely comments on Gurls Gurls Gurls, the video of 3yo Mr G saying ‘girls’. It started a whole debate over accents and 3yo pronunciation.  Fellow Nottingham resident Jen from Love Chic Living reckoned it had a Nottingham twang, It’s quite a tricky accent to place Notts, so I take her ‘wurd’ as gospel, even though she doesn’t have the local accent, she’s lived here a little longer than me.  The Boy and Me’s nearly 3 year old says ‘wurld’ too. And Mummy Mummy Mum says her 3 yo daughter says ‘girls’ in an Essex accent in Hampshire, so maybe it’s just a 3 year old thing.

I was reminded of my daughter singing A Whole New World, from Aladdin when she was 3. I dug out the video, she’s not going to thank me for this when she’s older, it’s very funny, but it is very cute. And at age 5 she sings a whole lot better than her mum can, so who knows, maybe they’ll be digging this one out to embarrass her on X factor 2025.

What do/did your kids mispronounce?

Queen of Soreen

I’ve got a bit of a name for myself, but I quite like it.  Queen of Soreen. The Soreen bag, the Soreen badge, the Soreen lunchbox, the Soreen mug, the Soreen lunchbox loaves and money off vouchers.  My husband and friends might tease, but they’ve also been pestering me for samples, declaring their love of Soreen on my facebook wall and direct messaging me on Twitter asking how you become a Soreen tester.

We took around 20 lunchbox loaves to the park last week, in a rare moment of sunshine. These are mini loaves, pre packaged, in banana or fruit flavour. So like a lunch box size mini malt loaf or banana bread.  They were all polished off in seconds.  Do you like them I asked? ‘Nom, nom, nom,’ came the reply. Out of the 50 or so loaves I gave out, only one child and two adults weren’t so keen. I thought Soreen was more like Marmite, either love or hate it, so I think this represents pretty good feedback.

The great things we came up with about the loaves were: they are very light, packaged ready to go, under 100 calories, low fat, perfect size for lunch boxes, freezable, great for quick energy, great for athletes/cyclists, great for busy kids.  I’ve also suggested them as a good snack for mums to be and new mums, over at Lazy daisy antenatal site this week.

My only complaint is they are so moreish.  But that’s where the freezer comes in.  You can take JUST one out, pop it in a lunch box or bag and it keeps everything cool, but defrosts by lunchtime.

So my time as Queen of Soreen must draw to a close, it’s been a great reign.  Let them eat cake! If you’re a Soreen lover, do go and show the Soreen facebook page some love. Don’t forget the scooter competition. The good people at MumPanel have a fab Scooter competition you can enter to win a limited edition Red Union Jack Maxi Micro Scooter worth £105.

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic Scooter with Soreen Lunchbox loaves, just click on Mum Panel and answer a quick question.

Disclosure – I choose to blog about brands that are meaningful to my family. I am paid to express my honest opinion about Soreen. I received free samples.

Young British Artists The Very Hungry G-aterpillar

I have a slight obsession with trying to predict what my kids will be when they grow up.  I posted a while back about giving up on the idea of organised gymnastics class with Mr G on a Monday morning.  I thought he’d love it, he’s really agile, we call him mountain goat. But it turns out he’s more into toddler parkour than toddler sit-and-wait-nicely ’til the strange lady helps you swing from the hoops. So while all his friends go to gym class, Monday has become our day to just potter, play and parkour.

He’s never really liked rules….but I think that’s finally coming into it’s own.  I think he has a future in the movement they call the YBAs (Young British Artists).  A couple of weeks back I left him in the kitchen and came back to find he’d emptied the cupboards to create this work of art smiling back at me.

A few months back it was all about making it snow inside with a bag of flour.

He’s also been creating a giant spider web with a ball of wool and has been caught wrapping the house from top to bottom in toilet roll.

Artist at work.  Do not disturb.

A 3 night family summer break for £99

I’m really excited, later this month we are going to review a stay in a private family room at Losehill Hall in Castleton in Derbyshire.  It’s one of nearly 200 Youth Hostel Association properties across the UK.  And until the 12th June 2012 the YHA are offering an amazing deal to Alexander Residence readers booking family breaks in many of their properties over the Summer holidays, see below. I think this could make a holiday, or even an extra holiday affordable for many families this summer.

I’ve stayed in Youth Hostels as a student and while travelling abroad, but I haven’t stayed in a Youth Hostel as a family since I was little. I remember visiting a Snowdonia hostel as a family.  My Mum told us about her adventures youth hostelling as a teenager in the days of helping out with jobs, bringing your own bedding, lights out and making your own food. Now you can have a private en suite room with bedding provided, have meals and packed lunches prepared for you, or self cater and there’s no expectation to muck in with the chores.

YHA properties don’t claim to compete with larger chain hotels but have definitely had a facelift that resembles them. Browsing the YHA website each property has lots of images, description and information which makes choosing a hostel easy.  How welcoming is this room at Losehill Hall?

And the dining room looks fab too:

I’m most excited about having a packed lunch made up for us each day, the little things that take the stress out of a weekend away and allow you to get on with adventuring out and about with small children.  The food on the families and individuals menu is seasonal and features regional specialities.  Breakfast is a full hot and cold buffet, lunch a packed lunch and dinner 3 courses or a cafe bar style menu in city hostels. Children under 10 eat free when adults purchase a main meal in YHA restaurants, and in addition to smaller portions from the main menu there are Annabel Karmel meals.

Hostels can be an affordable way to get out into the country or to explore big cities, there are several hostels in London for example.

The Summer break offer

The YHA are offering Alexander Residence readers a very special offer which covers the majority of hostels:

Getaway with YHA this summer and stay in a family room for only £99 for 3 nights!! Simply book by 12th June for stays between 6th July and 17th September. Enter your offer code FAMSTAY-025 at the checkout or give us a call on 01629 592 700 and enjoy a well-deserved break for an incredible price.

To book a YHA family break using this Alexander Residence offer and to read the terms and conditions, you’ll need to go to this page: www.yha.org.uk/aresidence. Please note food is not included.

Hostels are a great way for large groups to get together.  I have a good friend locally who hires out an entire hostel once a year for a reunion with her friends from University and their expanding families. She says it works perfectly.

I will report back on our visit later in the month!

Extreme craft EXXOPOLIS and #blogitforbabies Nottingham style

Extreme craft, degree level craft, hardcore craft.

I’m exhausted from concentrating and high on glue fumes after today, but it’s been awesome.  Along with 14 other local bloggers I helped to make one of the Windows in Exxopolis the next Luminarium. A Luminarium looks like this:

I’d been harping on to people about sticking together a PVC stained glass window for a giant inflatable sculpture, but it doesn’t hit you quite what that means.  That the window design is based on intricate Islamic geometric patterns. That if you don’t stick a seam properly and the right way up, then the air can seep out, or the rain seep in.  That one side of the PVC is shiny and the other dull, but only in some lights. That it’s going to tour the world, be seen by thousands of people and have to survive in extremes of heat and cold. It’s a HUGE responsibility.

It definitely revealed a great deal about the thinking styles of the bloggers present.

Hello its Gemma, Mammasaurus and Catherine got stuck in, Gemma kept the chat flowing…

Emma from Mummy Musings and her Mini Musing, who was an absolute angel, chatted to Becky from Baby Budgeting.

We welcomed Annie from Mammasaurus on her tour of the UK to raise awareness for Save the Children with #blogitforbabies.Becky from Baby Budgeting claimed it was too hard and she’d only cope for an hour, but ended up sticking til the end.Gemma, still not actually sticking, but she also brought amazing lemon drizzle cake.Lovely Louise from My Gorgeous Boys brought gorgeous cakes, here she is putting together a section of the windowCharlotte from The Crumby Mummy brought awesome chocolate cupcakesRuth from Mini Break Mummy made a really awesome AudioBoo about making our Luminarium window Annie has a croaky voice poor thing and you can hear me too. It’s the first AudioBoo I have listened too and it’s really impressive, I am hooked.
I met Lucy from LishConcepts for the first time, and she was a really lovely person to sit next to and very supportive when I got repeatedly stuck.Here’s Ruth, Lucy and me getting stuck in.And a pre lunch celebrationCharlotte was unstoppable and here she is celebrating a pretty star section with Kim from Architects of Air
And this is me celebrating graduating from 3 piece sections, to a whopping 7 piece section. Seriously it’s that complicated.

@FireflyPhil really got his head round the bigger picture, here he is piecing our smaller sections together. Too much for my not so geometric or logical brain.Charlotte modelling her massive section

Jen from Love Chic Living so had the right kind of brain for this, all this and she just popped in for an hour after work. It took the rest of us an hour to glue two diamonds together…

Here’s one we made earlier! Rosie Scribble, me, Becky, Jen, Annie and Phil holding up the final two segments
It was really lovley to meet up as a local group of bloggers, we had lots to talk about, tips to share and ideas for the future.  It was lovely to get a visit from SuperLucky Di, who gave us good insights into running competitions, which she will be talking about at Cybher, and Di the amazing lady behind Buggy Tug, Teddy Tug and Toddler Tug buggy straps.

We’re all really excited about Wheee! Children’s festival at Lakeside Arts, Nottingham 2-9 June 2012.

Huge thanks to Andrea, Kim and Emily from Architects of Air for their patience and guidance and to Lakeside Arts for their fab hospitality. Thanks to all the amazing bloggers involved, who made Nottingham rock.  And look out for us in the Nottingham Post Saturday magazine.

It’s not too late to reward our efforts, you can text donate in aid of Save The Children #blogitforbabies Text XVRL71£1 to 70070, more info on the Blog it for Babies blog.

I may come back and add some link love and proof read, for now I need to rest my weary head.

I’ll leave you with Amanda (and Becky) in a section of the Luminarium we previewed at a press launch last month.  Somehow she dodged my camera.







Mr G tastes Soreen Toastie Loaf, plus Union Jack Maxi Micro Competition

It was nostalgia that got me on board. Soreen takes me back to my Gran’s 1950s style breadbin, and to happy times visiting her after primary school. We would have Soreen spread with butter and sometimes with a slice of cheese. So when the good people at MumPanel asked me to take part in a spreading the word about Soreen campaign I said ‘Yes please!’   I was curious to know if my children would love it the same way I did.

It turns out Soreen is much more than just malt loaf these days.  There’s a even a Soreen Toastie loaf and perfectly portioned lunch box loaves. I confess initially I didn’t mention my son to Mum Panel as I had a feeling he wouldn’t like malt loaf, but how wrong was I?  Look at Mr G taking on the Soreen Toastie loaf:

The Soreen Toastie loaf was a really clever take on malt loaf, lighter and really yummy straight out the toaster, buttered and warm.  It’s a lovely mix of chewy and crunchy and it’s low in saturated fat. Here’s my more grown up version of Toastie loaf indulgence.

Next week I’ll have more on Lunchbox loaves and Miss L will get a look in.

Meanwhile the good people at MumPanel have a fab Scooter competition you can enter to win a limited edition Red Union Jack Maxi Micro Scooter worth £105.

To be in with a chance of winning this fantastic Scooter with Soreen Lunchbox loaves, just click on Mum Panel and answer a quick question.

And if all this talk of Soreen has your mouth watering, here’s a handy guide to where you can buy Soreen products and here’s the Soreen facebook page.

Disclosure – I choose to blog about brands that are meaningful to my family. I am paid to express my honest opinion about Soreen. I received free samples.