Thursday, 27 December 2012

9.51am Four Years Ago... life was changed forever as Big Muddle entered the world and took her first breath.

Today she inspires me with her boundless joy, amuses me with her endless wit and makes me amazed at my own capacity to love another person so much.

Happy birthday, my beautiful firstborn girl.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Christmas Food!

As Abel & Cole delivered all our yummy food before we were even up this morning (!) I'm knee-deep in food prep for the big day!

Tonight we'll be having a big fish pie before Nana Muddle, Big Muddle and I go to the candlelight carol service. I've always done a 'one-pot' dinner for Christmas Eve and used to do lasagne, but last two years I've done fish pie and it always goes well.

Tomorrow breakfast we'll have sausages, grilled tomatoes and eggy bread, made with ciabatta slices and duck eggs (nom!) to keep us going in the long morning slog!

Then the main event is prawn, pomegranate and grapefruit salad (from this year's Christmas Good Food mag) followed by:

I've bought a ready-made roulade for pud, as I'm not a big pudding fan anyway, I'd rather have at the cheese board! As you can see, the menu contains many components that can be prepped beforehand (red cabbage in particular can be made up to a month in advance and frozen) leaving me free to enjoy plenty of the day with the kids!

Nibbles for the evening if/when we get hungry will be mini pies (from the Co-op's very impressive Christmas range) and these Baked Stilton Mushrooms

I'd like to wish all of you a very happy Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous 2013!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Daddy Muddle's Birthday Bouquet

I'd seen the idea of a 'man bouquet' on pinterest, and thought it looked really fun. I usually get Daddy Muddle a tankard or similar for his birthday because...well he's flipping hard to buy for and his birthday being so close to Christmas its impossible to think of anything particularly original!

Most of the ones I'd seen done though were with whisky miniatures or similar, and given that Daddy Muddle only drinks single malt, well, I was looking for something along a more budget-friendly option! So I decided to go for childhood favourite sweets! Pretending the subject had come up on a forum I frequent I asked him about his favourites a while back and jotted them down. This is the finished item:

As you can see he has a very sweet tooth! I can tell you though, I do NOT want to giftwrap one of those ever again!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Santa Steam Train

Last Saturday we took the girls to the Great Central Railway in Loughborough for one of their 'Santa Special' services. The GCR run refurbished steam trains at various events through the year, and even the stations are restored to a bygone age.

We've been on the Santa Specials since Big Muddle's second Christmas (after a disastrous first meeting with Santa!) and we love it. The grown ups get a mince pie and sherry and the kids get a drink, cookie and a chocolate Santa, as well as their Santa presents.

Big Muddle's Zingzilla book

Baby Muddle's 'Sing a Song of Sixpence' book and jigsaw set

They have an entertainer (who's puppet Big Muddle stole!) and Santa comes back through the train to have pictures taken with the children after he's given out the gifts.

Its a puppet!

Very pleased with her cookie!

All in all its well worth while. I've really got my eye on one of their grown up dining services though, for some vintage luxury, but that will have to wait a while yet I think!

I don't think she was that frightened of him, honestly!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Cinderella, you shall go to the ball!

On Saturday, Grandad Muddle took Big Muddle and I to Nottingham Theatre Royal to see their pantomime for this year, Cinderella.

The cast included Sheila Ferguson from The Three Degrees as the Fairy Godmother, John Partridge of Eastenders fame as Prince Charming and the Grumbleweeds, who I didn't know, Big Muddle certainly didn't know and even Grandad Muddle scratched his head to remember! However, it was the latter who really were the stars of the show, I can't remember the last time I laughed so much!

The performance was fantastic, great effects including a flying horse and the costumes were stunning. Sheila Ferguson's solo was fab, Big Muddle said, "she sings vevee vevee beautifully"!

Because the Grumbleweeds were the main comedy duo, it did leave the Ugly Sisters with more of a sinister edge, so Big Muddle was a little scared of them, but that's really the most negative thing I could say!

It's my first panto in a long time and we'll definitely be looking into booking for 2013's performance of Peter Pan!

Friday, 7 December 2012

Random Giving

Today we both gave and received in the Christmas spirit.

This morning we took a bag of food donations to our newly set-up local food bank. I find it incredibly hard to deal with that there are people that are going without basic groceries, and I want to instill into the Little Muddles that it is so important to be aware of, and look after, those who are less fortunate. We spent little over a fiver in Sainsburys and got plenty of store cupboard basics. I'm sure they will be of use to someone. I'm hoping to make the donations a regular monthly, if not fortnightly, thing, as its such a simple thing to do that makes such a difference on your doorstep.

We also received delivery of my Secret Santa present, organised by a forum I'm a member of. I couldn't believe how much care and effort my Santa had gone to. As well as three presents just for me, the girls each got a gift of a handmade crocheted tree decoration and a chocolate Santa lolly. I received a lovely bar of chocolate, a pack of glittery felt sheets, ready and waiting for Christmassy crafting, and a beautiful needlecord handmade roll for crochet hooks. I was overwhelmed by the generosity.

I think 'random' and charitable giving adds so much to the Christmas spirit, I know I've ended the day feeling very festive indeed!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas...all wrapped up!

Yes, that's why I've been awol from the blog for so long! In order to get this finished everything has been terribly neglected, the house is more cobweb than home, the children run feral and the cat has left in search of a full food bowl.

But it is more or less there now. Obviously I can't share with you as yet the contents of the glittery parcels, but I will definitely do a roundup after the big day!

On Saturday me and two friends had our second, and last, co-op crafting day for our hampers. This is positively the BEST way of making Christmas hampers, I would highly recommend it! It's so much more inspiring and motivational than doing it on your own and it's soooo much fun to actually be able to catch up with my mummy friends without the little wonders interrupting every five minutes!

I'll leave you with the words of my ridiculously sensible Big Muddle, when taken to see Santa this Sunday:

"Yes I do like chocolate, but I don't want lots or I will feel poorly"!!

She is far too old for her years sometimes!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Thursday, 25 October 2012


This is what awaits if you send your preschooler to choose their own clothes! At least we're not going anywhere this morning!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Christmas Countdown - Crafting

Now Baby Muddle's birthday has gone, its time to focus on Christmas Crafting! I've already made a start on some hamper contents, this year I'm doing a cooperative effort with two friends, and will be making more headway on that this Saturday as we're having a crafting day to make some more goodies. Unfortunately I can't say too much about the hampers on here as some of the recipients may read this but will give a full run-down after the event (this MSE thread is worth a look if you're after some ideas for yours).

Last year my big sewing project was an advent garland and Christmas stockings for the girls. I followed this tutorial and I'm really pleased with the result, but if I never sew another felt stocking it will be too soon!

This year's big sewing project is going to be a cloud pillow each for the girl's gifts from us. I saw it on this tutorial after seeing a link on Natural Mamas and I just can't resist a good rainbow! Now, just to get some free time at the sewing machine...

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Weekend That Was

Well what an epic weekend! First there was of course Baby Muddle's first birthday! I had decided to keep it relatively low-key and keep the food veeeeery simple, so that I could really enjoy the day too.

She had so much fun opening her presents first thing, and immediately tried to put on the 'Little Sister' top Big Muddle had chosen for her. (Funny how different children are, isn't it? Big Muddle was no way interested in dressing herself at this age...) Then she emptied out the treasure basket we'd bought/made for her and filled it with her cards!

As we'd been up since 5.30am (yawn!) we were pretty ahead of ourselves with the food and party prep, so sat twiddling thumbs until people arrived at 11! We had a lovely lunch of hot dogs with honey mustard onions and potato wedges with cheesy dip.

And, of course, the birthday cake! This was my first time working with fondant icing, so I actually made it on Thursday night for fear I'd have to buy a ready-made fallback from Asda but it was actually a lot easier than I thought and I was pleased with the result.

Baby Muddle was so pleased with her day, especially the Cosy Coupe she got bought (a note of caution though, do not buy one of these if you're of a nervous disposition regarding flatpacks - total nightmare!)

On Sunday, after I escaped to the gym, we took the girls to the park to play on their bikes. It was Baby Muddle's first outing on the trike and I think she really enjoyed herself!

The weather was lovely and bright. I love this time of year, when the leaves turn such vivid reds and yellows, they always look amazing against a blue sky.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Baby Muddle Is One

Happy birthday to my gorgeous, spirited child.

I remember so clearly this day twelve months ago when I birthed you into my arms, and you'd stay there forever I think if you could!

I can't wait to see what your determination and enquiring mind leads you to as you grow.

Hope you have a wonderful day my sweet.

Mini 'Love-Bomb' Weekend

Last weekend we had the landlord coming to do some work on the roof and repainting Big Muddle's room so we decided to take the opportunity to treat the girls to a night in a hotel. We've been meaning to go since Big Muddle and I stayed in one the night before our wedding last year as she loved it so much so off we went. It was also a little bit of a 'Love-Bombing' for Big Muddle who seemed to be getting a bit overwrought with everything at the moment and was being a little overlooked.

We decided on Derby in the end as we wanted somewhere very nearby but we don't end up going there that often as we usually shop in Nottingham. We found a great deal at the Jury's Inn, who have lots of rooms suitable for families, so booked and off we went!

We went for lunch before check-in, at the food court in the Westfield Centre (who I must say, have made great provision for parents in their baby change and parent rooms) and popped to Build-a-Bear Workshop to get a new outfit for Big Muddle's teddy.

Then we checked out, after having a quick drink in the hotel bar. Its a very impressive looking hotel, with fabulously decorated public areas and the reception and bar staff were spot-on. Our room did not disappoint either, on the seventh floor with beautiful views across the city towards the cathedral.

Then it was off for a bit more shopping and dinner at the always fabulous TGI Fridays. This was the first time we've been to their Derby branch and we weren't disappointed. Once back in the hotel Big Muddle stayed up with us to watch Strictly Come Dancing before finally dropping off to sleep.

The next morning we were met with a fantastic buffet breakfast, one of the best hotel breakfasts I've had, before a teeny bit more shopping and travelling home.

Think I especially needed a bit of a reconnect with Big Muddle, as we'd been at loggerheads somewhat over the previous week or so and it really seems to have worked which is good. And Baby Muddle seemed to enjoy her first hotel experience, or at least the concept of a buffet breakfast! All in all a fab one night holiday :-)

Monday, 8 October 2012

Nana Muddle's Big Greek Birthday

Yesterday was my Mum's birthday and I organised a little get together at our house for her. Decided on a Greek menu as it was something a bit different so ploughed Good Food's website for ideas! Ended up with:

Pitta bread with tzatziki and hoummus (both recipes from this book)
Red pepper wrapped halloumi
Greek Salad

Followed by:
Beef Stifado
Prawns with spring onions and garlic (adapted from this recipe)
Lamb traybake
Gigantes Plaki

Then it was on to the decor! Having had a trawl around Pinterest I decided on doilies as place names and lace wrapped jam jars as tealight holders, as I wanted to keep it 'grown up' and leave plenty of table space for the food!

The cake was an easy one. Mum had missed out on a piece of the rainbow cake for Baby Muddle's naming day so that was that, and another Pinterest trawl (addict, moi??) inspired the decoration.

Good time was had by all, and most importantly by Nana Muddle :-)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Felting Frenzy

This afternoon I went to a dry felting workshop at The Bead Shop in Nottingham. I've been to a course there before, for my hen do actually, but this was the first of their open workshops I've been to. The room they hold them in is above their shop and is a lovely bright room with plenty of inspiration around in the form of sample makes on pinboards and crafting magazines on their well stocked shelves.

Our 'teacher' for the day, Emma, explained the basic techniques to us, asked us to sign a waiver (yikes!) then we were away. She was extremely helpful, guiding us along the way with hints and tips, but allowing us to experiment as we saw fit.

I ended up creating 6 felted beads (to be threaded for a bracelet) and had a go at a little owl at the end. I had to finish his eyes at home as I ran out of time, but we were allowed to take enough materials to finish our projects off, plus the needles we'd used.

It was so cathartic, spending 3 whole hours learning a new skill and I've come back feeling so energised and inspired.

The course cost £25 and included refreshments and materials, as well as a 10% off voucher to use in the shop.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

"I am Spidergirl"

This is Big Muddle's new ambition, since she went to a comic book shop on her day out with Daddy Muddle. Admittedly an improvement on wanting to be a Princess when she grows up, but still I am getting a little tired of having to say "Yes, that is a thing" when she declares her ambition to passing strangers, and of watching her run around rooms 'practising'!

This culminated the other day when I found her in the downstairs the top of the ladder-style radiator! After stifling my giggles and telling her why that might not have been the best place to practice her spidey skills, she said "But I was very brave". I had to concede that yes, that was true, and she had done good climbing, but this maybe wasn't the time and the place!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

I Need a Personal Gok!

I'm so in the need of a wardrobe overhaul! Its near impossible to get dressed into something 'nice' when it's half dark and you have a baby yelling every time you have the audacity to leave her side to go to your wardrobe!

But also, I find it hard to work out what "my style" is now. I've had so long limited by clothes having to be maternity or nursing-friendly, and my life has changed so much with becoming a Mum, and then deciding on being a SAHM, that I'm just in a bit of a confusion with it all! The shops I used to buy from all seem a little too fashion-forward for me now, but I also don't want to go for stuff that's too old for me, or dull as ditchwater either.

I could do with finding a Gok-style genie in a lamp, that'd be good!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Saturday, 22 September 2012


...or rather, lack of it! I'm typing this in our dimly lit bedroom because Baby Muddle has taken to only sleeping with a hand on one of us. And she prefers that 'one of us' to be me.

Not only that, but she's also decided that 5am is her natural waking time. Despite the blackout blinds in our bedroom.

This walking stage can't come soon enough!

Big Muddle is a Ballerina!

Well, she's had her first lesson anyway! Today she went to her first 'toddler ballet' class in a local church hall. She loved it. To the extent that there were big heaving sobs because we had to leave when it finished. At least we're sure it was popular!

I don't like to come across all 'pushy parent' but she seemed pretty good at it too. OK, she didn't want to pretend to be a witch, and she absolutely cannot skip, whatever she told the teacher! But she concentrated very hard and nailed quite a few of the bits I never would've thought she would. Very proud.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Butlins Skegness - Our Weekend in Pictures

The butterfly wand she got for being so good on the train!

The obligatory 2p machines!

Rides, rides and more rides!

Barney at the Little Big Club

Meeting the Redcoats

More rides! 

Facepainted as Candi from the Skyline Gang

Skyline Gang 'Magical Masquerade' show

First donkey ride

The excellent panto - 'Jack & the Beanstalk'

Showing off her Skyline Gang t-shirt

On stage at Reds bar playing a boys v girls balloon popping game!

King Meets Queen in Reds bar