Beating the January Blues

January.

Apparently the most depressing month of the entire year. The excitement of Christmas has passed, the enthusiasm of starting a new year full of possibilities as been quashed by the cold, damp weather and the dwindling bank balance from all the festive frolics meaning, all in all, it’s often an effort to remain feeling chirpy.

Lots of friends have done Dry January (I didn’t I hasten to add, I did give up in September last year and it was tone of the hardest things I’ve done…bye bye Saturday evening G&T *SOB*) and I am doing Sugar Free February, which is probably going to result in me turning into Hulk by the end of the month.  Approach with caution. You have been warned.

With the weather a bit pants (yep Thundersnow, I’m looking at you – what a let down you were!) and money a bit tighter, a fab way to beat those January Blues is to make the most of being at home. Winter evenings and cold wet weekends are made for onesie wearing and sofa snuggling weren’t they?

(Sidenote: I don’t actually possess a onesie. I am only 5ft tall and I basically end up looking like a giant toddler who rants about grown up stuff like the dishwasher needing emptying and washing needing doing rather than the fact Paw Patrol has finished. It ain’t pretty folks).

Things like baking something yummy, cooking a delicious, comforting winter meal which you can enjoy with the family and cuddling up to watch a film together (or, dare I say it, as a couple once the kids are in bed! How nice does that sound?!) are all things which can help lift the dark veil of grumpiness from January.

I love comfort food (yeah, going on the size of my belly and butt perhaps a little bit too much) but I have added in a few of my favourite winter warmer recipes for you all to have a look at.

Come on folks, we can do this. It’s not long until those daffodils spring up!

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Baking ideas

Chocolate and salted cashew Caramel Brownie Cake

Chocolate and Salted Cashew Caramel Brownie Cake

Dark Chocolate Bounty Bar Slice

Bounty Bar Slice by Hey Little Sweet Thing

 Upside Down Blueberry Cake Bars

http://www.amummytoo.co.uk/2014/10/upside-down-blueberry-cake-bars/

Lemon Drizzle Cake

Lemon drizzle cake


Winter Warmer Dinners

Ground Beef, Onion and Potato Casserole

 Simple Ground Beef, Onion and Potato Casserole

 Italian Meatballs and Spaghetti

Italian Spaghetti and Meatballs by Hey Little Sweet Thing

Tomato and Courgette Galbani Mozzarella Bake

http://www.amummytoo.co.uk/2015/09/tomato-and-courgette-galbani-mozzarella-bake/

 Macaroni Cheese



Films for Mummy and Daddy to enjoy

The Hobbit – The Battle of The Five Armies 

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Inception 

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Gravity 

Gravity [DVD] [2013] DVD

Pacific Rim 

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Jupiter Ascending 

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 300 Rise of The Empire 

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You can buy these DVD’s by clicking here.


 Films to enjoy as a family

(as chosen by my 8 year old son. You may see a theme here…)

 Star Wars – The Force Awakens

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Tron Legacy

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The Lorax

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The Cat in the Hat

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Harry Potter (all of them)

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Ghostbusters (2016)

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 So there we have it. A few ways of having a bit of escapism this winter without blowing the budget.

If you can bear it, wrapping up warm and going out for a chilly walk is always worth it too. If you’re local to Surrey, check out my post for local free places to visit in Surrey for some inspiration. There is always a nice pub not too far away to stop in afterwards to warm up!

And, if all else fails, have a cocktail.

They always cheer me up!


 Disclosure: I was sent a set of DVDs in return for this post but all words, thought and opinions are my own.



Snow joke…

Ah, the great British let-down that is Snow.

We were forecast some yesterday and everyone waited with bailed breath to see if the weather forecasters had got it catastrophically wrong (yep, a bit like the pollsters did with Brexit and Trump) or whether they had actually got it right for once.

Turns out they were right. Kind of.

About 5:45pm last night, after a biblical amount of rain in the afternoon, it snowed. The kids squealed with excitement, even I pushed my face up against the window to see the magical flakes fall from the sky, but sadly the joy was short lived, as it all so often is with regards to snow here in the southern UK.

By 6:30pm, the kids had been out in it, got themselves soaking wet because it was so slippery and were moaning that their hands hurt because it was so cold.

By 6:45pm the kids had walked soaking wet shoes and clothes through the house (despite being asked to take them off at the door) so I was moaning about cleaning it all up.

By 7:30pm it had turned to slush thanks to the earlier biblical rain.

By 7:35pm my husband had phoned to say the traffic was at a standstill and that he wasn’t sure if he was going to get home because cars were sliding down hills.

By 7:40pm the kids were moaning that the snow hadn’t been very good.

By 7:45pm, mummy had a G&T in her hand.

Daddy got home 5 hours after he set off. The journey normally takes 45 minutes.

Proof enough that the England cannot cope with snow I think.


This morning we woke up to frozen slush and ice. It was pretty treacherous out there which the kids thought was fantastic.

Mummy yelled at them, “Don’t skid on the ice on the edge of the kerb!”

So they did it some more.

Mummy yelled at them, “Don’t try and skate on the black ice in the road as we cross it!”

So they did it some more.

Mummy yelled at them, “Don’t throw ice balls at each other! It isn’t snow anymore, it’s as hard as a rock and you will hurt each other!”

So, yep, they did it some more.

Such command and control I have over my children isn’t it? I do astound myself at times.


So, in conclusion, the ‘Thundersnow’ we were forecast lived up to my personal expectations of causing maximum chaos and disruption whilst letting everyone down with it’s shitness. We built a slushman, but sadly no snowman.

snow UK 2017

I posted this on my Facebook page but it made me chuckle so thought I would share it over here on my blog too. It sums up Southern UK snow pretty well I think…

UK snow




The Book Corner: The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell (a Book Review)

“There are a whole lot of things in the world of ours that you haven’t started wondering about yet…”

The Old Green Grasshopper, James and the Giant Peach.

 Front cover of the wolf wilder book by katherine rundell

For some kids, reading a book can be a bit of a chore. I found that with my eldest until recently. Despite my best efforts to help him and to encourage a love of reading, I wasn’t having much luck. This changed however, when he picked up a book about a young Wizard we all know very well. He has read 4 of the books so far and is keen to read the others. And that is what I think the secret is with some children, capturing their imagination. If you have that, that’s half the battle won. I still wouldn’t say he is a book-worm, not like I was at his age, but he is getting there.

My friends daughter however, Lily, is a book fiend. She loves them! So much so, she has to be torn away from her book at bedtime to make her go to sleep. I think it is wonderful, and her mum does too to a certain extent but I can see how it becomes a bit of a nightmare and it must also seem completely bonkers to have to demand your child to stop reading!

Because Lily is such a book-worm, when I was sent a new book to review, I asked her if she would like to read and review it for me, which she jumped at, obviously!

So, here is a very comprehensive and articulate review of a new book (it is out now) called, The Wolf Wilder, by Lily. Age 8.

Thanks Lily, my new book review assistant!


 Rundell’s Amazing Book: The Wolf Wilder

By Lily, age 8.

A child's handwritten review of a book called The Wolf Wilder

What is the book about?

Lily: “Feo and her Mother, Mama, tame Wolves to be wild again but, one night, Rakov’s men burn down Feo’s house and take Mama to jail. With her new friends, Ilya and Alexei, can they get Alexei’s town to start up an army and get Mama back? Find out more in the book…”

Life is Knutts: As Lily says, The Wolf Wilder is a book about a young girl called Feo, who lives with her mother, Mama, in the woods. The book is set in Pre-Revolutionary Russia and is written by Katherine Rundell, and illustrated by Gelrev Ongbinco. We are told the tale of how the rich upper classes in Russia loved to have wolves as pets, as wolves are thought to be precious and magical animals. To kill a wolf, is to damn the person who did so to a fate worse than death. Sadly, because Wolves are wild animals, they inevitably end up going mad in the confines of their aristocratic homes and end up hurting people. Because the wolves are too precious to be killed, even if they have killed a human, they are sent to the wolf wilder in the woods (Mama) who attempts to re-teach the wolves how to  be wild again. The book is full of mystery and almost feels like a Gothic fairy-tale.  It’s a story about standing up for yourself and what you believe in (a very important life lesson) and takes the reader on an adventure in a truly gripping way.

What did you think about the book? Did you have a favourite part?

Lily: “It’s a really interesting story of how Feo and Mama keep wolf wilding a secret, but how long will it last? I liked the drama and how Feo survived the weather whilst she was on the run. I also liked reading about how she escapes Rakov’s men. Halfway through, poor Feo meets Ilya and then a young boy called, Alexei. They make an army, set Mama free and escape. But what about Rakov? Read the book to find out more…”

(She is good Lily, isn’t she?! Is she making you want to go and buy the book to find out what happens for yourself? I think she definitely has a future career in book reviews or sales…)

Life is Knutts: As Lily has said above, her favourite parts of the book seem to be the parts where there is action and suspense aplenty. It certainly made Lily want to keep reading and she finished the whole book in 3 days. Pretty impressive, eh?! 

Thank you for your lovely review Lily! I am really glad you enjoyed the book.

The back cover of the Wolf wilder book.


 On a personal note, I loved the illustrations in this book. There were just enough of them to break up the text and to help the reader visualise what the author had in mind for that particular scene in the book. They were all black and white, but I loved that about them. The book is set in the depths of the Russian woods in the bleakest of winters and this is really portrayed in the atmospheric and wispy ink/pencil sketches you see dotted throughout. They completely draw you in…

 In conclusion, I would say this is a wonderful book for anyone aged 8 upwards to read. I loved it and Lily loved it too. It captures the imagination, it sucks you in (making you want to read it all in one go) and it also teaches you a bit about Russia history in the process. An adventure book with a twist, which is sure to be a hit, regardless of your age.

The descriptions are so vivid by Rundell that you can almost feel the snow and ice under your feet. To be able to make a reader feel such emotion and so at home in a story is quite a feat. I truly believe this book, in time, will become a modern classic.

The perfect book to snuggle up with under a blanket this Winter, or perhaps to fill a young person’s christmas stocking.

I know I would be happy to receive it from Father Christmas.

You can buy your own copy of The Wolf Wilder in all good bookshops and online.


Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of The Wolf Wilder to review. All words, thoughts, opinions and photos are my own…oh, and Lilys’!



Ice, ice, baby…

Holy chuff it was a cold one this morning. Winter has most definitely arrived and with it, the first proper ice and frost of the year.

Cue deliriously happy children.

Cue the walk to school taking 35 minutes instead of 20.

Cue mummy flitting between, “Ah, isn’t it beautiful! Look boys, a leaf frozen in a puddle!” and, “BOYS!!! WILL YOU STOP TRYING TO ICE SKATE ON THE KERB NEXT TO THE MAIN ROAD!!! AND DON’T DO A PIROUETTE ON AN ICE PATCH WHIST IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD WHEN WE ARE CROSSING IT!! Natural selection at its finest there…

The car has the ice scraped off its windows by the boys so they can have ice fingers like Jack Frost (that’ll please Daddy). Cute…until they shove those icy fingers down the back of your neck when you’re trying to put the bins out in a rush because you’re already running late.

Each puddle has to be stamped in to test if it’s become ice or not. There are a lot of potholes on the way to school. That means a lot of puddles. A lot of stamping, and a lot of shouting from me, pleading, “not before school in your uniform!!” My pleading is futile, they stamp away and soak themselves. Idiots.

We have one slip and arse plant on the pavement due to running, after being told not to, but that only results in more giggles of hysteria and spurs them on to attempt it again. I give up.

We come to a giant frozen puddle near school at the end of an alleyway, which all the kids are gathered around. A couple of the kids slip over and are met with disappointed glares and the old adage of, “I told you so!” from their parents rather than sympathy. I feel their pain.

And with that, one of my boys picks up a large shard of ice from said puddle (which is basically on the ground of a car park/garage lockup/alleyway path…and probably covered in dog poo and pee) and without further ado he begins to eat it. A friend points this out to me and I spin round and tell him not to do it. 2 seconds later, it’s back in his mouth. Give him some broccoli and he will have a meltdown like Kate Winslet at an awards ceremony thank you speech, but give him some potentially dog poo covered ice and he’ll chomp on that no problem.

Kids.

We get to school in one piece, just about, but I’m already mentally exhausted and I secretly breathe a sigh of relief as I hand my kids over to their teachers for the day. I’m quite thankful that I’m not a teacher today who is probably having to put up with a class of 30, super excited kids who can’t wait to eat more ice off the floor at playtime. Let’s hope it’s all melted by pickup time….

Life Love and Dirty Dishes