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Gratitude #26


Well its finally arrived ... Its holiday time!

Our adventure down to "English-Land" (What Agent M used to call England when he was little) took us on a wee detour through to Wales for the night to stay with a friend of the family. Her house was gorgeous and getting to just start the holiday by unwinding was perfect. Being out in the country is so peaceful. Going to see the horse before bed and waking up to the birds singing. It was lovely.

The traffic to Bristol on the other hand was a nightmare but thankfully i had prepared for a long trip so Agent M had his snacks and Tablet and we had the Hobbit Audio Book to listen to. Made the 6 hours go by a little easier (should have been about 3 and a half without the roadworks and traffic).

Staying with Family is lovely as we only get to see K and S once a year. Its nice seeing Agent D get to see his mum, cause i know how much he misses her :)

This week I'm grateful for ...

  • Family - We got to go on a picnic at Ashton Court yesterday with Agent D's family down here and it was a bit of an emotional day as his Nan joined up. This is the first time we have seen her since her Cancer diagnosis and the difference in her is really evident. Its upsetting to see her deteriorate but at the same time, getting to see her is priceless. We are going to see as much of her as we can while we are in Bristol. I don't know how we are going to be able to say goodbye to her though. Its quite bitter sweet. 
Agent M and Nan Pat - Ashton Court (June 2015)
  • The Weather - We have been quite lucky as when we left Scotland it was chucking it down yet here its been so warm. We have had a few showers but its been really light and the ground has dried almost instantly as its been roasting. I'm not sure how us pale wee Scots are gonna fair against the suns rays but I'm armed with factor 50 to limit the burning ... I don't want a repeat of Legoland last year when i got burnt really bad (Still a good day though - can see the trip HERE).
  • My Boys - I love that i can share family holidays with them. Even if it is a "Stay-cation" ... Its still a holiday to us and we enjoy spending the time away together. No stresses of home to worry about. Its magical :) I love them both so much. Seeing them together too makes me feel so proud cause even though Agent D isn't Agent M's biological dad, He treats him like his own. It makes my heart melt seeing them play together :)
A wee game of father and son footie

That's crazy mummy taking pictures again :)

Silent Sunday - 28/6/15



Picnic at Ashton Court

Well today was our first full day in Bristol and the weather couldn't have been nicer :)

All day its been sunny and warm. A nice 20 odd degrees ... which was perfect for a Picnic.

So after a trip to the supermarket, the sandwiches were made and off we headed for Ashton Court.


It was a lovely family day out with Agent D's Mum, Step-dad, Uncle and Nan there too :)
That's what i love about coming down to England on holiday. Not only are we getting away but we are getting to spend time with family that we don't get to see alot.


After some food Agent D decided to have a wee kick about with Agent M to try and tire him out a bit for bedtime tonight (The heat has been keeping him up the last 2 nights). Its nice seeing them play about and bond. I love watching my boys together.


I think it worked too, especially when Si got involved, Agent M was exhausted from all the running about and ended up taking a "wee chill out" before Si got him an Ice lolly.


There is nothing better than an ice lolly on a really warm day ... and although he perked up a bit, I'm very confident that he will get a good nights sleep tonight :)


It was a lovely day and a very special one too as we got to spend the afternoon with family, Inc. Nan Pat who isn't very well at the moment. It was nice seeing her happy and smiling today :)

Surviving Long Trips with Kids

Long trips with kids are never gonna be on the top of a parents wish list for summer holidays but there are ways to survive the looooong  journey ahead.


I feel almost like a pro at this whole travel with a kid thing. 

When Agent M was a toddler i went down to "English-land" via a plane. NOT ADVISABLE SOLO with a screaming toddler and a mum with bad anxiety. 
Oh god the flash backs *rocks back and forth*. 

After that hell in the air i decided to go via Train. 7+ hours and 3 change overs can take its toll but being prepared got us through.

Now we go down via car but the preparation is practically the same.

Know Your Journey 
Train- Having a list of exactly what times the trains departed and at what platform was miles easier than having to look on changing boards or ask grumpy station attendants. It will also mean you can head straight for your train without getting caught up in the shops there where your gonna spend money you don't need to. Reserving seats is a MUST when travelling on the railway with kids. Your guaranteed to be sat together (i know this might not be the best thing in the world if your kids are doing your nut in but its better than being spread about the carriage when there are no seats together). I never have problems telling people to move out of seats I've reserved but then I'd rather be a bitch to some grumpy man or woman than have to sit on my suitcase with a small child on a busy train. I've done that before and it is quite possible one of the 7 circles of hell!


Car - Sat Nav is your best friend here. Having printed out directions might seem like a good idea and also more cost effective but the money you spend on a sat nav is worth its weight in gold when you are going somewhere new in and around the Country. The stress reduction is invaluable. especially when travelling with kids. You can pick them up really cheap in shops like cash converters or online so get looking and find yourself a bargain. *Failing that ask your family if anyone has one you can borrow ... Trust me! Its a good idea!*

Think with your stomach
If you know you are going to be on the road/rails from X till Y, think about what meal times will be within that period. If you're going to be starting early having something packed for breakfast will be your lifesaver about an hour or so into the journey. Breakfast Wraps, Muffins and Cereal bars are great to have on hand that wont be really messy. Sandwiches for lunch time makes for a fun picnic on the road (and cost half the price of service stations or catering carts). It will be easier if the packaging is disposable for convenience but a few small tubs wont take up much room in your bag.


You'll know yourself what your kids routine is like and if your Agents are anything like mine, Being hungry is not a state they will stay patiently in for long. Snacks are your friend here. Have some dried fruit or chopped veg sticks in a little tub for that half way point or if they start to get fussy, and plenty of juice/water in the warmer weather. (Yes you will need to stop off for bathroom breaks but you'll need a break from driving anyway and its better than a warm cranky kid in the back loosing his mind cause he's dehydrated).

You can also top up on Coffee - A staple in travelling with kids

Give in to technology
Long gone are the days when you would just keep yourself amused during car journeys and "the wheels on the bus" is enough to drive any grown adult to tears after you heard it a million times so now is the time to ease up on the technology restrictions. At home, day to day, Agent M gets 1 hour TOTAL of techno time. He can chose 30 minutes each of his DS and Tablet or spend the full hour on one device. But once the hour is up, that's it till the next day. 

During long journeys, that rule goes out the window very quickly. I cant expect an 8 year old to enjoy 6 hours in a car without any stimulation. Pre-install movies onto your tablet or phone that will keep the kids entertained. DVD's and Blu Rays tend to come with Digital download codes so you can have a copy of the film on a digital device. We have a few on the tablet so he has a choice of film to watch on the journey.

Agent M watching Pokemon quietly in the back seat

Make sure all the devices are charged fully the night before you set off to avoid any tantrums should the battery die 10 minutes into the film. Same with any portable gaming device like PSP or DS. Yeah you might feel like a bad parent for letting them loose on the devices but trust me ... The journey will be alot calmer!

If your dead set against taking the technological cheat (or don't wanna travel with expensive items) then there are loads of travel games you can play with the kids that will keep them entertained for part of the journey. The AA and RAC have a few good ones ... Plus there is always colouring books and magazine puzzles if they will sit still long enough.

Pack Clever
Every parent knows kids come with so much crap. I mean really. How someone so small can need that much stuff is beyond me. But there are travel versions you can swap out like change mats and you can always share some toiletries with the kids (Johnson's baby wash doesn't come with an age limit and baby wipes will double as face wipes). The only saving grace here is that as they get older, they can go without the majority of it. 
Train - If your little agents are still in the pram stage, get one that is travel friendly. Compact and easy to fold will help you big time on train journeys. Yes the big pram looks gorgeous but on a train you'll be grateful for something small. Backpacks are great too. Train services usually let you have 1 piece of hand luggage per person and 1 suitcase. Put all technology and important things like purse/wallet, ID, tickets, itinerary and any medications in your hand luggage (along with a book for yourself if you can) and snacks in a backpack for the little one to wear. Your only bringing enough for the journey and they will feel like a "helper boy/girl" by having a role to play in the journey.

Car - Having a small child in the car will be easier in terms of baby 'accessories'. The pram/buggy will just pop right in the boot along with any other odds and ends you really need over the holiday. When your kids are a little older they can have all their "entertainment" in a backpack sitting along side them. They can access it throughout the journey and you don't have to keep passing them things when you need to concentrate on the road. 

Having everything in separate bags will help you get to things quicker. Little ones spilt something down themselves or had a nappy leak? Having a change of clothes to hand will make changing quicker and not take too much time out if your journey. 

Relax and Enjoy the ride
Finally remember that its not just your holiday but it's theirs too. Its easy to get stressed out when going on a long journey but the travel is part of the holiday experience. Try to keep your cool and it will make for an easier time all round. You don't want the memories of their summer to be sullied by mummy and daddy getting stressed out and angry ... Cause trust me, they will remember!

Happy Child - Confused Dad (Cause Mum insisted on taking pictures the whole journey)



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Gratitude List #25


Well its the last week of the primary schools (in Scotland) and Agent M is finishing up primary 3. Its hard to believe my baby boy is going into P4 after the summer. It feels like he only just started primary school and now he's almost half way through. Scary stuff!

Its weird not having a routine any more with college. My days feel somewhat longer now as I'm not rushing about in the salon. And alot quieter too. Its nice to just be able to sit and have a coffee or curl up on the sofa with Shabba and watch a horror movie while Agent M is at school. I doubt I'll have much time to enjoy the silence when he's off and wanting my attention all day.

I've booked him into some summer activities though so i might get an odd half hour to myself where i can read my kindle through the day. It will be nice to spend some time with him just the two of us though. Getting out crafting on :)

This week I've been grateful for ...
  • Family - Being able to go to college this last year has been really dependent on my family helping me out with child care and I'm so bloody grateful for that. My Gran and Papa have been a massive help by picking Agent M up twice a week and watching him till i finished. Without them i couldn't have gone to college as child care wasn't something i could find. Towards the end of the year when my papa fell ill, My dad stepped in and Picked Agent M up one of the days (and thankfully i had finished enough of my assessments that i could get out an hour early too get him.

    My Aunt A really helped me out when it came to my assessments. She let me use her as a model for every single topic and all in i passed more assessments with her than i did any other client. She let me experiment with her hair depending on the unit i needed and i will be forever grateful for that.
  • My Blog followers - With this last month or so being kind of a bad spell of me, I've kind of neglected my poor wee blog but i have noticed that there have still been page views and comments. I really do love blogging and i am a bit upset that it fell by the way side but i guess these things cant be helped and if anything, now that the college work is by i can focus on blogging more throughout the day when i get a chance since i have no assessments or projects to hand in. I have found a few blogging challenges on-line that i might try out to help me get back into the swing of things. The one below was created by Emma over at OutMUMbered ... yeah its from a while ago (2012) but that doesn't mean it cant still be followed :)

I have missed so much of the #Project365 that i might have to draw a line in the previous start and begin again. Its a good thing it doesn't have to be a set date ... so i can start it again at the beginning of July so i start off a fresh month.


With us being away on holiday at the beginning of the month i should have plenty of great photo opportunities at least :)

Silent Sunday - 21/6/15



Pre-Holiday Shopping Haul

So college is all over.

Yesterday was my last ever day of Level 5 and it was a bittersweet moment. Yes I'm chuffed to bits that I've completed the year and have came out of it qualified but it was also sad to say bye to the lecturer and some of the girls that aren't coming back next year.

Now that its all over though i can concentrate on the summer ... more importantly the holiday we go on next week.

I know its not a spectacular as say going abroad like some of my friends but i don't care, I'm really excited to go down to England. I cant wait to see family and just have a change of scenery where i can chill out and de-stress.

With the upcoming holiday, We needed to get some new summer clothes (lets face it - Scottish summer is pretty cold at times too) so today we set off to Irvine to see what we could find.

And we lucked out for Agent M ... Big Time!

We have a Wedding reception to go to at the end of August and in the Next clearance we found this gorgeous shirt, waistcoat and tie for only a fiver!

 We also found a matching trousers and waistcoat that came to £20 ... Perfect for the wedding with the shirt and tie from above :)


Since i have booked him into loads of sports activities over the summer holidays i figured he should be in something a bit more comfortable to run in than jeans and for £3 i cant fault these jogging bottoms. The top is lovely too for £7 ... Looks really nice with his new jeans and shoes (they are below)


After we grabbed a spot of lunch we decided to go into the shopping centre and have a look at some of the clothes shops there and in Primark we found more bargains.

This T-Shirt and Shorts set was down to £3 which is ideal for him running about in the garden or even at the beach (if we get a chance to go) and i loved the T-Shirt for £1.50 ... "Dad thinks he knows best ... But mum knows better" :) The Ninja Turtle shorts weren't on offer but he really likes them and they can double as swim shorts so its not a total bust.


The Jacket was the aim today as the one he has just now is a winter coat and its way to warm to wear it (at least for the moment) so we finally found one that was in his size and for £9 i cant complain. Its waterproof for any light showers (plus it has a hood) but is light enough that he's not going to be cooking when we are out and about. We bought a nice wee pair of jeans too that were only a fiver. I LOVE that Primark do such lovely clothes for a little bit less. I don't mind too much if these jeans get scuffed up during days out or playing in the park as they aren't as expensive to replace, like the good ones he has from next or TK Maxx would be.


To finish up our wee shopping excursion i was thrilled to find shoes (in his size) on sale. Agent M has been growing so fast recently that its been a bit of a nightmare keeping up with him and all his play shoes are now too small so finding a pair of trainers for £3.50 made my day! Plus we found some lovely slip on style shoes for him to wear over the summer. "Easy on/off" as he says for running about in the grass or when we go to the soft play. At £1 per pair, it cant really be bet :) 


This added to some of the clothes i had already put past means Agent M is all set for his holidays (and for the Summer activities when we come back) ... Now i just need to bite the bullet and go shopping for myself ... Gulp!

Silent Sunday - 14/06/15



Gratitude #24 - Taking it Easy


Hey folks ... been a while.

3 weeks to be exact.

I felt like i was kinda failing on the whole blogging area of my life. Its hard to blog about crafts, recipes and life as a frugal mama when i'm struggling to juggle all the other aspects of my life. But rather than look at it like a failure in life i'm viewing it as a hiccup in time management.

My unwillingness to slow down with everything i had to do has backfired on me a bit this week as what started as a sore shoulder has now escalated to a trapped nerve and inflamed muscle. All cause i didn't rest it. So having to slow down has made me re-evaluate things a little. Perhaps its not life or death to hoover the carpets every second day. Heck, they haven't been hoovered all week as i cant lift my arm above my shoulder let along push and pull about a heavy vacuum cleaner. Perhaps this is the wake up call i needed to slow the f*ck down and chill out. Take time to smell the flowers and for goodness sake STOP STRESSING!

The last few weeks I've been grateful for ...

  • My Family ... They are just fecking AWESOME!
    I received some lovely items in the post over the last couple of weeks. My Mammy (who i love to bits) made me some business cards and brochures for my hairdressing services and my step dad bought me a case to store my kit, making it easier to go from client to client.
  • Agent D ... The last wee while has been a bit of a roller coaster between us and i completely take the blame. Since I've been feeling really low i've been pulling away from everyone, Including him which he obviously sensed and has caused tension. After breaking down last week and telling him exactly how i felt and was feeling, we have been getting on alot better. Any problems i have or if i'm feeling insecure i know i can tell him and he wont judge me. Even though he cant fully understand why i feel like i'm like i do, he is at least trying to make things better. We have been spending more time together too which has made a massive difference to our relationship. We really needed some couple time. 
Agent D with My Gran and I at an Engagement Party
  • Agent M ... He's coming to the end of the school year which is bringing with it lots of activities and the like at school. Discos, Plays, School trips and the 7 weeks of hopefully nice weather and enough activities to keep him amused. He has been acting up ever so slightly recently which is bothering me but he is still and always will be my wee man so i'll just persevere and hopefully he starts doing as i ask without kicking up such a fuss or out and out ignoring me. He's been helping me this last week since my arm has been hurt so i am grateful for that. Its nice to have help :)
Agent M spending the weekend away with his Papa


Quiche

The other day i bought a ham joint with the intention of cutting it up to make Gammon steaks.

The joint cost me £3.95 and it gave us 3 chunky cuts which were delicious ... but there was a fair bit left in off cuts.

Rather than bin in (as it wasn't enough to make another steak) i decided to use it to make a quiche.
I'd never made one before so i was a little apprehensive but it worked out to be a tasty meal that cost very little to make.

There are loads of flavour combinations you can make. Whatever leftovers you have can be turned into a quiche.

Chicken and mushroom
Ham and cheese
Spinach and mushroom
Four cheese
Tuna and sweetcorn
Pumpkin and feta

Seriously ANYTHING!

Since we had some mushrooms left over too i decided to pop that in with the ham, along with some onion and cheese.

Its so easy to make ... i was surprised i hadn't tried it before.

The Shortcrust pastry can be made by hand or you can buy the ready rolled. I went the Homemade route ...

You'll Need
225g Plain Flour
100g Butter, diced
Your own choice of filling
Grated Cheese
3 or 4 eggs, beaten
3 tbs Milk
Salt and pepper

To Make
Pre-Heat the oven to 180 degrees

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Roll out the dough to approx 1cm thick.

Dust a pie dish lightly with flour and gently lay the rolled pastry over the top. Pressing it into the edges and removing any excess dough that hangs over the edge.

The remaining dough can be wrapped in cling film and stored in the fridge to be used later (Or make another quiche to freeze later).

Place a sheet of baking paper over the top and add rice to the top to hold the paper down. *This is called blind baking*

Pop in the oven for 10-15 minutes or until slightly browned. While the base is baking, prepare the filling. *I fried up ham, onion and mushrooms but at this point you can cook whichever filling you like*


Once browned, remove the rice and paper and add the filling. Mix the beaten eggs, milk, salt and pepper and pour over into the pie. The size of the dish you used and the amount of filling you have will depend on the number of eggs you need. 

Pop the pie back in the oven and cook till the eggs have set. Sprinkle over some grated cheese and leave in the oven for an extra few minutes till it melts.

Remove from oven, Cut and serve.