Friday, 27 March 2015

Fresh #WotW

Although signs of spring are everywhere, the weather is definitely still fresh!  Monday morning this week was really chilly on the school run - we still needed our gloves.

Despite this, I've had washing drying on the line for the first time this year.  I love fresh laundry that's been dried outside, it's so much fresher.

And after a really tough few weeks, I'm trying some fresh thinking.  Focusing on the positives.  Working out priorities.  Thinking of where I and we want to be, and not getting bogged down in negativity and the slog that work can be.

So my word of the week is fresh.  How about you?

The Reading Residence

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Slow cooker hidden vegetable pasta sauce

This really easy hidden vegetable pasta sauce is great to make in a batch in your slow cooker and freeze individual portions for a quick, easy and healthy kid or even grown up tea for a day when you have less time.

Although neither of my kids are particularly fussy eaters, I do love to make this as they both love it, and I don't have the usual 'but Mum this is greeeeen' moans!  The vegetables actually makes it taste quite sweet, and as it's thick it 'sticks' well to pasta, so they definitely both eat their five a day when they have it!

Slow cooker hidden vegetable pasta sauce

Makes enough for 10-12 small tubs or portions


One bag of ready to use mixed veg, OR:
  • Two carrots
  • One cauliflower
  • One broccoli
  • Plus any other veg you want to add in
Three tins of chopped tomatoes

Put it all in your slow cooker and mix together well.  Cook on low for about eight hours.

After eight hours, or when the veg is soft, switch off your slow cooker and take the lid off.  Leave to cool slightly for 30 mins or so.

Spoon into the blender and whizz it up to the consistency you want, I make it quite smooth.  Depending on the size of your blender, you might need to do this in batches!

Divide up into tubs or pouches and freeze for later.  I get 10-12 decent sized portions out of mine.

Healthy kids and easily made - what's not to love?  I'd love to know how get on with this recipe.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Aveeno moisturing cream review #byebyedryskin

My kids both have good skin, and have always been lucky enough to escape any excema or skin allergies that seem to affect so many kids these days.

Having said those, both my kids have skin that's slightly on the dry side, so I try and avoid sodium lauryl sulphate in their bath and always moisturise their skin well when they're dry.

We've been using Aveeno moisturising cream on both our son and toddler girl for a while now, and really like it.

Aveeno Cream is formulated with Colloidal Oatmeal, which actively moisturises dry and sensitive skin.  The box also states that regular use helps prevent dryness and irritation caused by skin dehydration.

I can honestly say that both my kids haven't had dry skin when we use this cream regularly.  It's really light, not greasy at all and a small amount really does seem to go a long way.

The cream doesn't really have a scent, and the ingredients don't list a parfum.  That means there's nothing to irritate skin, and no smell for the kids to dislike or get bored of - brilliant.

Toddler girl in particular is really wriggly when trying to put this on, but because it's absorbed straight away, she doesn't mind too much!

We really recommend this cream; I've even been known to borrow it for my dry skin too!

Disclaimer: I was sent some Aveeno products to review, but all thoughts and words are as ever, my own.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

My Sunday Photo

There's no two ways about it, it's been a terrible week.  Toddler girl's been poorly - thankfully nothing serious.  She's been absolutely full of cold, and then the inevitable ear infection and conjunctivitis.  All just three weeks after she got over the last lot of the same.

Thanks to our wonderful NHS the ear infection and conjunctivitis were dealt with quickly, but we've been left with a very unhappy toddler who's got no energy, is unable to breath through her nose and hasn't slept for more than a few hours at a time.  If I wasn't so damn tired her snoring (on the rare occasion she is sleeping) would be funny.

Come on spring, we really need you now... blast those germs away for a few months please.  I don't know how much more of looking after a poorly toddler I can take.


Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tara Binns Eagle Eyed Pilot book review and competition

I would love to be Tara Binns.  She's the lead character of a new series of books written by Lisa Rajan and illustrated by Eerika Omiyale and gets to go on loads of great adventures!

When Tara visits her attic and comes across an old chest with different costumes in, she only has to wonder what she'll be today, run 'widdershins' around the chest and she's transported to a wonderful new adventure.

In Eagle-Eyed Pilot Tara finds herself in a captain's outfit in the cockpit of a passenger aeroplane.  Can she handle the controls and decide how best to navigate a dangerous storm?  Of course she can!

And what will she do with the treasure she finds - keep it, share it with her passengers or something else?

This is a genuinely brilliant book for children, and my six year old loved it.  He awarded it 100 out of 100!  At two, toddler girl enjoyed looking at the pictures, and it was lovely to read them both the same story at bedtime.

In our world seemingly saturated with gender stereotypes and stories of horrible or angelic children, it's really lovely to welcome Tara Binns into our lives.  As a strong, capable and female lead character with morals, she is a brilliant example to our kids.  I hope both my two kids share her vision that they can do anything they want to.

But the best thing about the book is that all those good things are a result of a great story, wonderful rhymes and brilliant illustrations.  In no way does this feel like a book you 'should' be reading, it's definitely a book the whole family will WANT to read.  We will absolutely definitely buy all the other books in the series, and I would love to see Tara on the TV!

You can buy Eagle-Eyed Pilot on Amazon and find out exactly what does happen to that treasure, or you can enter to win your very own copy using the Rafflecopter below.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was sent two copies of this book, one for review and one to giveaway as a prize.  All thoughts are, as ever, my own.

  • You must be resident in the UK to enter. Prize will be shipped to a UK address.
  • Competition runs from 17th March until 23:59 on 31st March 2015.
  • Entry is via one and/or more of the methods in Rafflecopter widget.
  • Winner(s) will be chosen at random by Rafflecopter.  Winning entries will be checked and must be current at time of checking.
  • There is one prize.  The prize is one hard copy of Tara Binns, Eagle Eyed Pilot by Lisa Rajan.  There is no alternative.
  • The winner(s) will be contacted by email or on Twitter (if appropriate) by 7th April and asked to confirm their delivery address within 48 hours.  If no reply is received, a new winner may be chosen.
  • The winner's name, as registered when logged into Rafflecopter will be displayed after the end of the competition.
  • Me add three’s decision is final.
Win competitions at  Also listed on Loquax.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Cherish #WotW

I heard a song today that I haven't heard for absolutely ages.  It transported me back almost two decades ago instantly.

"Wanna cherish each moment that could last cause baby,
you're all that I have
so just in case"

Just in Case, by Jaheim

I wondered how many of these busy happy moments that happen every day right now I actually cherish.  Toddler girl's constant chattering, our son's never ending questions.  Husband's tired "night nights" and my quiet moments enjoying a hot shower in the morning - sometimes the only quiet moment of the day!

Just as back nearly 20 years ago when I first heard that song, I didn't realise how much I would cherish the memories it evokes.  I realise now that these moments, while the kids are small, in bed, safe, really should be cherished.  One day, these will be very happy memories too.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Shifting sands

We're nearly a quarter of the way through 2015 already,  how's it going for you?

2015 hasn't quite bedded in for me yet, I haven't made my mind up about this year.  It has so far felt a bit mixed, with lots of things shifting around but the picture never really changing.

I'm hoping that when spring finally arrives for good and the weather warms up this will change.

I've been working hard, the kids have been full of life and I've been trying to balance what I want to do with what I have to do.

It's been a juggling act, that's at times been easy and other times hard.  I guess this is the life of all parents.

The great thing is we're all still going, I'm on top of my job.. most of the time.  Our son is doing brilliantly at school, and toddler girl has settled well in the 'big room' at nursery.  The house is tidyish, most of the time and we all manage to eat and look respectable every day.

It's a sign of my life at the moment that writing this down feels like a momentous achievement!

Have you achieved anything this year, or have things just happened around you?

Monday, 9 March 2015

Sunny school runs

I'm not sure where this weekend went!  I'm late with My Sunday Photo, so here is My Monday Photo for this week.

Even though March has been freezing, we've really enjoyed the day or two of warm sunshine we've had.  This is toddler girl running around outside on Friday after we dropped our son off at school.

She loves to 'hide' behind trees and run out shouting 'BOO'.  It's impossible not to laugh at her.  I think this is one of her favourite times of day - being free and running around outside, no buggy, no where to rush to, just on our way home haing fun.

Happy days.

Friday, 6 March 2015

Doors #WotW

'When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.'

It probably sounds a bit weird, but I often look at life as a series of doors.  There's something serendipitous about it all.  It seems sometimes when you have young kids that doors are closed to you - or maybe we close them ourselves?  As we have doors closed in the past, often you can see the other that's opened as a result.

And if I stand in a metaphorical corridor of doors at the moment, I'm not entirely sure the doors I want open, are.  

What stops us doing what we want I wonder?  Those doors are in reach.

The Reading Residence

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Mother's Day gift inspiration

Is there a Mum out there who wouldn't like a nice gift for Mother's Day? Although my kids are too young to go shopping on their own, I would love it if my husband took them out for an afternoon to look for a nice gift just for me.

Actually, forget that, I'd love it if he took us all out shopping for the afternoon! I love to go to The Fort in Birmingham, which is great for shopping and for a nice meal afterwards.  We always end up in Nandos or The Harvester after a few hours shopping.  We spent loads of time there just before Christmas and just about all our Christmas presents came from there!

Here's my gift wish list for Mother's Day, just in case my husband and kids need some inspiration:

I love this Emma Bridgewater Live Well Look Well candle.  It comes in a variety of scents and is £18.  It would look great in my study and would provide welcome scent on the long days working from home.  It's available at M&S at The Fort and nationwide.

I love this super cute home is where my mum is cushion, and would LOVE my son to give it to me.  It'd be perfect on my bed and would definitely bring a smile to my face every time I saw it.  It's £19.50 and again is available from M&S at The Fort and nationwide.

Although we're coming out of the darkest winter days, on my really early work starts, I would love this Lumie Bodyclock Iris alarm clock.  It uses light to simulate a sunrise and sunset and has integrated aromatherapy to relax and revive you.  At £160 it's an investment, but the reviews are great and anything that helps in the morning has to be worth it!  You can buy it directly from Lumie.

And on a similar 'wake me up in the morning' thread, this lovely heart cafetiere from Next would bring a smile to my morning coffee.  I love the heart design, and it would be perfect for my coffee collection - I love to try different varieties and have loads!  It's £14 and is available at Next at The Fort, or nationwide.

And because I love nice things in the kitchen, these Joseph Joseph nest measuring spoons would be a great addition to my baking collection.  I totally lack good measuring spoons and these look great, are perfectly functional and I think are a bargain at £10.  I love them!  They're available directly from Joseph Joseph or selected branches of John Lewis.

I'd love to know what you're hoping for this Mother's Day.  Are any of these gifts on your list?

Disclaimer: I was sent a gift guide by The Fort for inspiration, but have received nothing in return for this post.  All thoughts are as ever, my own.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

February's been and gone

Every month I wonder where time has gone, and February is no exception.  I know it's a short month every year, but whoa! Where did it go?

Here are our highlights for the month, I'd love to hear what you've been up to.

  • Celebrating a year's anniversary being back at work after maternity leave. That went fast.
  • A bedroom spruce up for us, nice new curtains, TV and a MASSIVE wardrobe clearout
  • A parent's evening - our son did himself and us so proud.
  • Library visits and quiet reading
  • Tennis camp over half term, WII tennis, tennis matches.  Just tennis really!
  • And even more tennis for me.  Cardio tennis and seizing up not long after.
  • Toddler girl's growing independence, tantrums and language.  I have been bowled over by her ability to count, name colours and ask for things using please and thank you.
  • A birthday for me and a card with no envelope.
  • Wishing, wishing, wishing spring would hurry up.

What were your February highlights?

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

It's Mr Tumble's spotty cake

Toddler girl celebrated her second birthday last week.  She was thoroughly spoiled by everyone, and had lots of presents and a birthday tea at TGI Friday's!

I made her this cake, and in a true Mr Tumble voice called it 'Mr Tumble's Spotty Cake'.  She thought it was great, and was doing the Makaton for spotty bag when she saw it!

Can you guess which is the cake? ;-)

It was really simple to do - a basic madeira cake, cut to size, smothered in buttercream.  I rolled out the yellow icing and cut holes with a basic round cutter.  These were filled with other circles in coloured royal icing.  The handle is a fruit roll laid on top of the cake.  Simples.

It tasted great, and most importantly really suited toddler girl.  She loves Mr Tuimble at the moment, and also loved her home made cake!

Happy birthday to my little girl.  I can't believe she's two already!