Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Reflections on Our Year

As grumpy as I was at the beginning of this year I managed to pick myself up and try to make the most of it.  I haven't travelled abroad or made shit loads of money (excuse my French) but I have been working again, I have spent more time with my family, I have taking my health and fitness more seriously.  I've also made a start on sorting out my home and am looking to the future whilst remaining positively reflective.




As a family we would never have guessed that the last few months of this year would have dealt us such a hard blow.  Unfortunately loss has the potential to take you places you never wanted to return, my anxiety has returned with a vengeance and although I am managing to get some sleep, it has not been an easy road.  As strange as it may be the person in my house that should be most affected is the one showing the most strength.

I am so thankful that I was blessed with my princess and that she knew her dad in such a way that his strength emanates from her.  We know we have a long road ahead of us but we are more determined than ever to make this year and every minute we have the best we can, together.


A photo posted by Gailann (@mummagz) on

Thank you to all my readers for sharing in our lives this year and we look forward to sharing more adventures with you in the coming year.  Happy New Year x

Thursday, 24 December 2015

On The Eve of Christmas

On the eve of Christmas, emotions are running high.
I woke up and sat with my coffee and I began to cry.
This year there was no discussion, no giggles at your plea
for our daughter to spend Christmas with you, rather than here with me.

She lays beside me sleeping and I wonder if she dreams
of years gone by at Christmas with you smiling in every scene.
Is it selfish of me to want you here when I know you're no longer in pain.  When I feel you are in a better place now and we will one day meet again.

Is it selfish of me to need you, when I know you cannot come and I know you'll be up there wishing good things for the kids me and your mum.  Is it selfish of me to keep crying and resent those who don't understand, that you were more than the father of my daughter you were one of my dearest friends.

You always tried your best to understand me, to ask questions before you'd judge and you promised me always to offer, your unconditional love.  You took on my son like he was your own from the very start, you put my needs before your own and gave to us all your heart.

Christmas is a time for family and I'm struggling to say the least but I'll do my best to make it special as I know you'll be proud of me.  As you sit in heaven with the angels, remember to send us a sign that you're having a merry Christmas and laughing all the time. 

xoxo


Sunday, 13 December 2015

Okido - An alternative Christmas Gift for 4-8 Year Olds

My niece once told me that I'm the aunty that always buys her a book.  I wasn't sure at first if that was a good thing or not but she quickly reassured me she loved the books I gave her on birthdays and Christmases.  Toys are fantastic tools for playing, learning and fun but for me nothing beats the value of a good book.

The children and I attended the Messy Goes To Okido launch event back in September, apart from the show being great and very educational, there is nothing more I want to say on that event however, I was recently gifted a set of Okido magazines for Little man and they are FAB.  



Okido is an arts and science based magazine aimed at 4-8 year olds.  It is bright and colourful and packed full of stories, poetry, games and craft.  Each magazine is based around a theme, the ones we received we based on friendship, dinosaurs and television.



The look of the magazine alone is so appealing to young children and the poems and stories had little man giggling away.  The younger of the age range will need support with the reading and activities but from about 6-8 they are simple enough to be done independently.




So if you are looking for an alternative to toys this year then how about a subscription to Okido?

I was gifted 3 magazines which I we have enjoyed and chosen to write about, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, 6 December 2015

Santa Claus 2015 And The Night Before Christmas at Fairfield Halls

It was the night before Christmas when all thorough the house not a creature was stirring not even a mouse, when Santa Claus came to a town near you and delivered a smile and some foam snow too!

The children and I were lucky enough to visit The Studio at Fairfield Halls to watch 'Santa Claus 2015 And The Night Before Christmas.'  

I'd never watched anything in The Studio before and having been used to plays in the main theatre was at first a bit underwhelmed, however as the lights dimmed and the performance began I soon realised that the intimate space was exactly right.  It is basically like taking your children to see a store Santa but instead of just a quick hello to Santa and a parting gift (which they still get at the end)  they are introduced to the world of interactive theatre and spoilt with a delightful tale of a girl who didn't believe.



The story and songs are just right to get everyone in the mood for the magic of Christmas.  The play is delightful and you can even excuse the not so subtle lines of advertisement for Starbucks and Fairy liquid ;-)

At the end of the performance having said our hellos and goodbyes to Santa and receiving our parting gift we left The Studio singing Christmas carols and carrying the magic of Christmas home. 

We were given free entry to the show in exchange for this review.  All opinions are my own.







Sunday, 29 November 2015

Where on Earth? A brief journey through Morocco

Travel for me is not merely about taking in the famous sights and sounds of a faraway paradise but is also about experiencing the land the way the locals do.  There is nothing more exciting (and scary) than being lead by a local through the back streets of a Berber city.

Twice now I have been fortunate enough to travel to Morocco.  The first time was to the port city of Tangier.  Before then my only knowledge of this city was through reading the Alchemist as a young adult for me Tangier was a city cloaked in magic and mystery.

The sight of poverty for some can be too much to bear, for me however, this is reality.  The street children, not begging you for your money but instead handing you a token of some sort in exchange for whatever change you can spare.  The snake charmers in their wisdom enticing you in with the magic that is the dancing snake and the back street bakers that invite you into their store, the smell of freshly baked bread surrounding you as they take the next bakers dozen from their stone ovens.

It isn't all doom and gloom, mixed in with the small homes of the locals are beautiful mosques, spice filled markets and Islamic architecture.  As well as all that there are the mountains, the coastlines and of course the desert.





Roaming like a stray cat in search of interesting smells my second visit to Morocco lead to me to the city of Marrakech (with short trips to the Ouzoud and Essaouira.)  The winding streets, the food, the sights and the experiences were amongst the best I have had to date.  




Glorious Moroccan Spiced Chicken aims to "deliver the hustle and bustle of Moroccan streets into a supermarket near you."  If I could fly to Morocco for dinner every evening I would but in the absence of my multi-millionaire status, Glorious soups are good alternative.

And if you do plan on taking a trip to Marakech anytime soon be sure to check out my tips x

I have in no way been compensated for writing this post, it is however entry to a competition.  All experiences and opinions are my own.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Bed Wetting

Little man was doing so well with being dry through the night until recently.  Every single night without fail there has been a wet bed.  I'm pulling my hair out in frustration.  What am I supposed to do?




The teen princess made toilet training seem so easy, she was in nappy's one day and underwear the next and apart from the odd accident she was dry every night.  Little man on the other hand is giving me a challenge.

It's not that he wets during the day because he doesn't.  He's completely dry, no accidents no desperately running to the toilet because he's left it too long, he's absolutely dry in the day.  Night times are completely different, even if I wake him in the night to use the toilet he still manages to find more before morning to soak the bed.


I've tried no drinks after 7pm and still no joy.  If anyone has any tips and tricks to stop my lovely boy wetting the bed at night I'd be eternally grateful. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

FIRST GIVEAWAY! Win a Childs' space hopper #jumponit - Closing date 30/11

I don't know about you but I thought today was FREEZING It's a good thing the children and I have a couple of space hoppers to keep us nice and warm whilst jumping up and down like crazy people.




To mark the clocks falling back, and the start of winter, Confused.com distributed hundreds of space hoppers throughout London to brighten up people's day (from Camden to Westminster and Notting Hill).
On 26th October a 'bounce mob' of commuters and children came together in Pottersfield Park for a communal BOING to shake up the city's dreary morning. 
After the success of the day, more space hoppers were handed to disgruntled commuters during the two-day DLR strike this week - offering them a fun, alternative way to travel to work (or at least just to bring a smile to their faces!!) 
Laura Buchan, Head of PR at Confused.com, says:

 “We wanted to do something to brighten up people’s day so we sent out hundreds of blue space hoppers and before we knew it, a ‘bounce mob’ had descended on the capital. It was brilliant to see so many people come down to #JumpOnIt by bouncing on the space hoppers we had. We hope we made the morning just that bit brighter for all who got involved.”

The eye-catching spectacle was all captured on film – watch the video, grab a space hopper and #JumpOnIt!


I have 1 space hopper to give away so fill in your details below to be in with a chance!




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Thursday, 5 November 2015

Upping My Fitness Game

It's been a while since I've written about fitness and the journey I'm taking in order to be a better me, both mentally and physically.  

The last few weeks have been unimaginably difficult which has meant my fitness routine has been put a little on the back burner.  I am however starting to get back into some kind of routine and having been gifted the fat loss essentials pack from The Protein Works, it's the perfect time to share with you.




I've tried shakes in the past and have found they either tasted awful or left me really hungry so I immediately thought the diet whey complex would be a complete write off, but boy was I wrong.  It comes in a variety of flavours ranging from banana smooth to strawberries 'n' cream but being a lover of all things extra sweet I chose butterscotch ripple.  The flavour is fantastic, I just add 2 scoops to my milk give it a blitz and it's good to go and has been a great meal replacement, especially for those days where I'm in too much of a rush to make a proper breakfast.



As well as the whey protein, the kit comes with a pre work out (which I am yet to try as I'm waiting until I'm back in the gym and need the extra boost) and 3 different packs of easy to swallow tablets.  What is great about the website is you can look at all the products, their ingredients and the benefits each provides.


A photo posted by Gailann (@mummagz) on

I've only been using them for a short while so as to whether I've lost weight only time will tell but I do have more energy for exercise and will definitely be continuing using The Protein Works products, so do come back and check on my progress.

I was given the essentials pack in exchange for reviewing the products, all opinions are my own.


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Pretending

Some people have places they go or people they talk to for respite. I have my solace right here on this blog.  Writing gives me the time and space I need.  I craft poetry from my pain and gain a light blanket of comfort from releasing my feelings as words on a blank page. 

Some don't understand this need to write, to share my feelings with an audience that don't know me or in some cases do, but I write because I feel I can't speak.  I'm once again brought back to that little girl with an accent afraid to let words out of my mouth in case they bring ridicule, shame or disdain.

I'm once again brought back to that teenager that will not verbally tell you I'm lost but will hide within myself or within the world of a story or verse.  

I want to be that adult that runs down the road screaming, I want to fall to my knees and beg for a different outcome but instead I sit here alone and I write.

Visitors come and I put on a brave face, when I leave home I walk down the road and look at others wondering how many are pretending.  Pretending that their lives haven't been ripped into pieces by one thing or another.  Wondering if God is just an angry child hurling his toys off bridges or into bathtubs, cutting them up and taking pieces of them to throw away.

I might be wrong to question.  I might be wrong to feel anger in my grief.  I might be wrong not to verbalise my sorrow but rather than be trapped in it, I write.



Monday, 26 October 2015

Style Post 26/10/2015

She woke up that morning, her hair a tangled mess and decided it would stay that way.

"Fashion is the armour to survive the reality of everyday life." - Bill Cunningham






Tuesday, 20 October 2015

New Normal

Normality - "The condition of being normal; the state of being usual, typical, or expected."

At the moment we are living in a state of abnormality, nothing is really usual, typical, or expected.  Our emotions go from numbness, to anger, fear, to absolute devastation.  Though in trying to deal with all of these emotions I am still reminded that there is a little person in our lives who has only a vague understanding of what death means and is simply scared and confused by the emotions of those around him, for him this is the new normal.

Thankfully he's at the age where play is a great escape from all worries and for us his play is a reminder, that though life has a time limit, fun, laughter and lots of love are what makes this life worth living.

We were gifted an Oxelo B1 Scooter from Decathlon and it goes absolutely everywhere with us from kickboxing, to shopping trips, to the school run, little man has been having so much fun with it.



One of the great things about the Oxelo B1 is it's stability.  For the price paid you get a very sturdy scooter that is great for children aged 2-4 learning to balance.  It's easy to assemble and comes in a choice of colours.

With everything that is going on in our lives right now we are so grateful that little man at least has one thing that still makes him smile.



Saturday, 3 October 2015

Slumber

Taking selfies, making videos, drinking water, she just can't get the right angle.

Her phone rings.

Life as she knew it is gone.

A soundless slumber in the after of noon jolts her out of the peace she once knew.  Only a second before things were normal, everything was real.

Frantic she screams, no! no! oh my god, what do I do?  What am I supposed to do? What am I going to do?  I'm sorry!  I'll be there soon, oh my god, I'm sorry, I'll be there in a minute, I don't know what to do, I'm sorry.  

A soundless slumber in the after of noon stole her peace.

Amidst the crying the screaming she had forgotten she was not alone.  The girl in front of her asking her what's happened, asking her what's wrong, the girl that looks like him.  She almost whispers the words that she knows will break the girls heart, she doesn't want the words to leave her mouth but they have to.  "It's your dad."  

She holds the little girls face in her hands, "We're going to be alright, we're going to be alright."  More than anything she's trying to convince herself.  "He told you to be strong, he'd want you to be strong.  We're going to be alright.  He loves you more than anything."

A soundless slumber has stolen her peace.

She drives as though someone else has taken over her body, her focus is somewhere else.  She parks really far she's forgotten where she is and how she's supposed to get to where she needs to be.  She holds the girls hand, she doesn't feel the cold.  The girl repeats only one word, the name of her little sister.  Selfless.

They can't find the right place.  They almost don't want to.  They embrace his mother and they go in to see him.  She cries she strokes his hair.  The little girl stands in the corner of the room, she needs to breath, she needs this not to be real, she needs to leave.  She takes the little girl out goes back into the room, kisses him, holds him, cries.

His silent slumber has stolen her peace.

His forever slumber has stolen their peace.

His slumber cuts like a knife.  It has stolen their peace.

Rest in peace D, our world was made better by knowing you.





Friday, 18 September 2015

wishlist - wishagift

I never ask for presents on my birthday but the saying goes if you don't ask you don't get.  This year I've made myself a little birthday wish list using wishagift.  Most of the things on my list are things I will probably treat myself to during the year but it is nice to compile a list of things that family and friends can also have a look at should they want to buy me something!





I have also compiled lists for the prince and princess and a general list for my closet (you can never have too many clothes can you).



Follow my lists and see how they progress and maybe make a couple of your own, drop me a note and I'll pop in and have a look.  Click this link to view wishlist - wishagift

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Meeting a Greedy Italian

I am a lucky girl sometimes and to be invited to watch a brilliant Italian chef in action is an invitation I could certainly not refuse.  The event was held in a quaint global cuisine cooking school in London's Clarkenwell, Food at 52.

I arrived at the event and it was bags off, aprons at the ready to experience Chef Gennaro Contaldo (from BBC2's Two Greedy Italians) cook us one pasta dish after another (I'm pretty glad I went with an empty stomach).  




As well as showing us how to cook with Bertolli with butter Chef Contaldo entertained us with his playful little tips, "Too much salt will kill you, not enough salt will kill you too!" and his stories from home.  One such story he told was of how his mother would work hard and still cook fresh and he would come home from school and eat with little thought to how much she had put into preparing the dish for them.  It was only as an adult many years later that he appreciated his mother was cooking with love.  The story touched my heart because one of the things I always say is if I cook with love the food always turns out better so I always try to cook with love.



Apart from cooking with love, I often cook with olive oil but sometimes the creaminess of butter is needed and that is where bertolli with butter provides the perfect solution.  It's made with around 52% oil so you have just the right amount of butter for the pasta to grab and coat itself perfectly.




We were given lovely little goody bags filled with treats so of course the first thing I did when I got home that evening was cook a meal full of love and my babies enjoyed it so much that after I left and came back from my yoga class the teen princess was still dishing out complements.  






A job well done I say, thanks to Chef Contaldo and Bertolli with butter. "Why I'm cooking so good!" Chef Gennaro Contaldo

We were invited to the event and given the goody bags all opinions are my own.

Friday, 11 September 2015

First Week Conquered

The first week of school has been conquered.  Princess has started the year with passion and determination whilst little man has made friends and impressed his teachers with his confident start.  Me?  I've been in the background as a proud mummy wondering where do I go now?



Before little man started school I was supply teaching part time.  Being able to do an early drop off at nursery meant I could drive almost anywhere in South London to do a days work.  Now that he's in school and it's at an awkward distance from the home my ability to drive to different schools is more limited and I'd much rather have somewhere permanent so I can organise my life a bit better, I guess all I can do for now is keep looking and hoping.

For now I will continue filling my leisure time with exercise, press events, writing and family.



A photo posted by Gailann (@mummagz) on

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Prepare

Prepare - Make someone ready to be able to do or deal with something.

Prepare to be unprepared.

Life with it's roads well travelled by others
foot prints left before you tell their story.
They attempt to guide you, left of the trouble.
Right of the despair.
But my dear children prepare to be unprepared.

The wind will whisper at you through the leaves of the tree
stand strong, learn this lesson, think, hear, see.
Revise and revisit, take the best of what you've learnt.
Remember the reminders.
But my dear children prepare to be unprepared.

Loves swaddle around you you will feel tight, secure
keep you from stumbling, cushion your fall.
It's admiring touch will lead you away.
Embracing is a comfort.
But my dear children prepare to be unprepared.

What can I teach you from what I have gained?
That every story has an ending, 
but every picture isn't framed.
I can tell you all I know, I can usher you past my lane.
But my dear children just prepare to be unprepared.






mumturnedmom

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Mixed Bean Salsa with Tortillas

Another recipe from the cook book 200 Light Vegetarian Dishes: Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook .  This one is a quick and easy snack for when you just can't deal with hours in the kitchen, just add rice to make it a full meal.





Ingredients

1 tin mixed beans
3 spring onions chopped
1/2 red pepper chopped
1 tomato chopped
1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped (alternatively you can add jalapeño peppers to your liking)
salt and pepper to taste.

Method



1. Put the beans, onions, pepper and tomato into a food processor and blitz to form a thick mixture.  




2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  (Optional) leave for 30 minutes for the flavours to combine.  Serve with Tortillas and sour cream (or a vegan alternative) 

And there you have a quick snack for 2 ready in minutes.




Salsa anyone?

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Okra, Plantain and Coconut Stew

As you may have already guessed from previous posts I'm a fan of cooking with okra and  try my best to encourage my children to eat it by preparing it in various ways.  Yesterday, after having done a little meal planning for the week it was time to test my hand at an okra stew.  I got a basic okra and coconut stew recipe from a book called '200 Light Vegetarian Dishes, Hamlyn' and as I do with most dishes I did it my way.



Ingredients
200g okra
1 large plantain
4tbsp coconut oil
1 onion chopped
1 green pepper, cored, deseeded and cut into chunks
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
4 tsp cajun spice blend
1/2 tsp ground tumeric
300ml vegetable stock
400ml coconut milk
200g frozen sweetcorn
1 can kidney beans, washed
juice of 1 lime
salt and pepper to taste

(handful of spinach jalapeños and a sprinkle of grated coconut to garnish - optional)

Method

1. Heat 2 tbsp of coconut oil in a large pan and fry okra and plantain for 5 minutes.  Lift out and set aside.


2. Add 2 more tbsp of coconut oil and gently fry the onions and green pepper stirring frequently for 8-10 minutes until softened but not browned.


3. Add the spice blend, garlic and tumeric and cook for 1 minute.
4. Poor in coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to the boil.


5. Reduce heat, cover and cook gently for 10 minutes.
6. Return the okra, plantain to the pan and add the sweetcorn, lime juice and kidney beans and cook for a further 10 minutes.





7. Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnishes of your choice.  Can be served with bread, rice, noodles or eaten alone, the choice is yours!



Bonn appetite!

Do you like cooking with okra?
Let me know if you give this one a try. 
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