Monday, 31 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday - Kids Choice

Don't even ask how last weeks self feeding went.  With all the good intentions, I was chasing him with a bowl and when I wasn't doing that he was trying to climb out of his highchair.  

I sound like a case for Supernanny!  It's not that bad (honestly.) (I don't think!)

So this week, Again, we're on kids food and I've let the bigger two choose their favorites.  The Easter Hols are nearly upon us and I need to muster resolve for that.  In my quest for an organised life, I'm now activity planning, so I've given the meal planning task to the big boys.

Here's their plan

Monday:  Potato Cakes, Bacon and Beans

Tuesday:  Macaroni Cheese and Bacon

Wednesday: Fajita Buffet Bar

Thursday: Home Made Chicken Strips and Chips

Friday: Home Made Doner Kebab (Thanks to recipe on Mortgage Free in Three)

Saturday:  Oh a well earned takeaway for all!!

Sunday:  The Big 3 Courser - Melon - Slow Cooked Lamb - Ice Cream Buffett!!

I'm also trying to get weight on my 12 year old so we need to plan desserts as well as main courses rather than the haphazard approach of look in the cupboard and choose!  I've written a little about the food diary situation, but will be putting a lot of effort this week into planning several months of food to get some weight on the lad.  

If you have an underweight child, I'd be really interested to hear from you as I feel the care given is dismissive and unhelpful.  Oh I feel a rant coming on, I'll rein it in!!

There's bags more meal plans (mostly done by grown ups!) over on At Home With Mrs M - Please go and have a look.  I love a good nosey!

Have a fabulous week, all of you!!

Claire x 

Sunday, 30 March 2014

So That Was March 2014

March 2014 saw my focussed return to blogging.  I read all your blogs and I felt I needed to get back to it.  I've found this time I've more structure, probably because my head is more organised.

So what did I share with you over the last month?

The most read post was my review of Talk First Baby Signing Classes.  No wonder Joyce is a regular sponsor!

Talk First - Baby and Pre-School Classes

I started my series of 10 Minute Organising Tasks.  This month saw me Detrashing the Car and Speed Cleaning the Bathroom

I've contributed to Meal Planning Monday on at Home With Mrs M - Thank you to all you lovely foodies that have commented, particularly those advising a vinyl sheet.  I've put my meal plans on my Pinterest Board  and there's some great pictures of meal planning boards.  I think I'll make one in April actually.  I've posted a couple of recipes, Hot Dog Pasta and Home Made Potato Cakes on my other Home Organisation Blog

I've ranted on a Friday, particularly about the NHS, Child Eating Disorders and School interfering with food matters.

And I've offered my wisdom about Children's eyesight and opened up about my addiction!  There was also a free downloads of a scavenger hunt to keep the kids on track.

Oh and I posted an actual picture of me rather than my fave avatar.

It's been a good month I think!

Hope you come back for April.  I'll be doing a money project with the kids over the Easter Hols to see just how much the do understand the concept of Money (that starts on Thursday the 3rd) subscribe so you don't miss that, it'll be a good one or follow me on Bloglovin'

Thanks for Reading

C x 

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Saturday Scrapbooking - March - Valentines know I can't be the only scrapbooker out there but I sure can't find any in my neck of the woods to organise any sort of meet up or crop.

So I'm taking to the blog to find fellow scrapbookers!!

It's a little ambitious of me at the moment to be posting a weekly layout but what I do want to do is make a layout at least every month.  I'd also love to do a linky where we can share our layouts and ideas.

So here's...

March - Valentines

This year my Valentines gift to the love of my life was a minimalistic framed layout.

I Absolutely Love You
This was an easy, quick layout that only took just over an hour and was created from my stash.

12 x 12 White Linen Effect Cardstock
4 Strands of Black Cross Stitch Thread
1 Tim Holtz Pointing Arrow
Red Tissue Paper
1 Flower Shaped Brad
Silicone Glue

Cutting Mat with Measurement Squares
Small flower punch
Printer and Computer
Black ink Pen
Print off of the words "I absolutely love you..."
Heart Template
Pokey Tool

Measure In 1 cm from left hand and top edges of cardstock and draw feint line

Place cardstock on cutting mat and starting at the top left hand corner, mark dots at 1cm intervals

Using the needle, poke through the card to make holes to sew through

Starting at the bottom left hand corner, stitch through the holes until you reach the point where you want your arrow

Stitch the arrow in place by wrapping the thread through the centre circle and back through the hole you came up through.  Do the same on the other side.

Stitch to the end of the line and secure the thread at the back.

Blu tack the Word Printout over the cardstock and trace over the words with a sharp pencil

Remove the printout and write over the impression on the cardstock with the black ink pen

Blu tack the heart printout over the cardstock and trace over the outline with a sharp pencil

Using silicone glue and the pokey tool, glue the punched out flowers into the heart shape.  I found spacing them gave a wicker look effect from a distance so kept them quite loose.

Print off your photograph on to a piece of linen effect card in black and white

Rip round the edges for a worn and aged feel

Affix with the flower brad

And you're done!

What do you think?

Would you be interested in giving scrapbooking a go or, if you are a scrapbooker, would you like to share your work each month?  I've linked up with I Heart Naptime's Link Party Palooza.  It is a Huge Linky full of amazing projects.

I'm thinking next months theme will be Outside now that the weathers picking up and we're coming out of our caves!

Friday, 28 March 2014

My Celebrity Home Style with the #GreatBritishHome Quiz

As you regulars know, I'm trying to get more organised in general and I'm striving for a clean home that makes me go "Ahhhhhh" when I get home.

The image of a Great British Home I have in my head is my three lovely boys running to hug me across the large lawn, the dog wagging his tail and me sinking into a comfy, large sofa.  The cry of "Your Bubble Bath Is Ready, My Darling" wafts down the stairs as I glide up the plush carpeted stairs to my sparkling clean, candle filled bathroom.

Lovely eh?  It's great to dream and always good to have a goal!

In reality, I am always glad to be home with our old, but comfy sofa and I love to relax in my deep bath as they are the things that make my home, well mine.

So what makes a home?  What makes a Great British Home?

Firstly, the home is not just a house, it is a home, its where we belong, it's ours.

So Comfortable, Our Sofa is Immediately Sleep Inducing!

I believe Great British Homes are not minimalistic, they are comfortable, everything is in reach.

Great British Bathrooms are functional and not staged.  They are warm and cosy.

The kitchens are used, they are not clinical, they are the heart of the home.

And most importantly we love to love our furniture.  We are sentimental and we do buy things to last.  We buy quality and we buy British where we can from trusted retailers we have grown up with like John Lewis.

So there's my romantic view of my ideal and my belief of a Great British Home.  I then took the #GreatBritishHome Quiz sponsored by Victoria Plumb.  The results really surprised me!

I was named as Mrs Glamorous!

Quite pleased, I can agree with that, I can be glam with a little effort.  Look!

The Absolute Epitomy of Glamour!
And my home style?- Well that made me laugh even more!  Out Loud.  And tell several friends.  And then post it to Twitter.

Turns out my Style is that of TOWIE Chic!  I am liked to Joey Essex and Sam Faiers.  I have not, I add EVER watched TOWIE, so I shall take that as a compliment, grab the Victoria Plum catalogue and upgrade ones bathroom to a glamorous Princeton!  After all, let's not forget, I AM a glamour princess!

Take the quiz here, let me know in the comments what your style is, I'm dying to know!!


This post is an entry for #GreatBritishHome Challenge sponsored by Victoria Plumb, a source of quality bathrooms for every type of home. Take its “What’s Your Celebrity Home Style?” quiz to discover what your home says about you.

NHS Cuts or Complacency

Last month, my GP felt my sons condition was so urgent that we go straight to the medical assessment unit.  The doctor there thought his pain was so insignificant that he could go home despite two GPs diagnosing him with Shingles.  Less than 24 hours later, we were back with 2 consultants talking lumbar punctures for brain infection.  He was treated for Shingles and is still recovering.

My mother is fit to work apparently despite her pain receptor score being 9 times higher than it should be.  Three weeks of pain later, she has been referred to rhumetology for the treatment she needs.

I had to fight to have my childs tonsils out.  He didn't sleep through until he had them out and I didn't sleep as I used to listen for him breathing all night.  He used to stop and cough and I'd be up like a dart.  It was like dozing next to a life support machine and the sleep deprivation left me depressed and unable to recall much of his early years.

There's a couple of other incidents where mis diagnosis and discharge without solving the original issue have occurred and I wonder, is it complacency or are they trying to cut costs?

I'm no fan of the NHS particularly and I would much prefer to opt out completely and have a system like the USA  but unfortunately the first link in the chain is a GP so NHS interface is inevitable.

At the moment I'm worn down by people not doing their job.  

I know people who work in the NHS and they do work hard.  But ultimately they are taken advantage of because  they work hard.

It doesn't help that I live in a town with one of the hospitals that has been highlighted for high death rates, but instead of turning this around, they build a massive entrance hall and provide the same shabby service they always have done.

Am I out of line with this rant?  Am I generalising on my own experiences?  What do you think?

Is it financial cuts that are leading to us being turned away and fobbed off or are they just complacent and don't really care?

I'd be really interested to know.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

How to do a Scavenger Hunt

All kids seem to want to do nowadays is play on a console or talk on facetime.  I find it frustrating and they get ratty when they just sit staring at the screen so I regularly set up activities which don't involve any screen time.

As you know, I like to do a physical activity after school and this is one of my favorites - a scavenger hunt.  Can be done inside on a rainy day or outside.

Get Outside and Scavenge!

You will Need:

This Printout

A Bag for each child

A pencil

How To:

On the printout there is a completed sheet (which is items in our home to give you an idea) and there is a blank sheet.

If you are using the blank sheet, fill in with items in your home, garden or popular nature items you'll find at your hunt site.  I like to add items of interest such as an old photo or strange holiday trinket, something that will get a conversation and learning discussion started.

Make sure all the items can be found, I usually move a few from their usual places to a hiding place (I like to try to outsmart the kids!!).  Outside hunts are great because you never know what they'll come back with!

The kids can either take the items and put them in their bag or just write down where the item is, up to you.

The winner is the person with the most items or the person to finish first.  In the event of just one child doing the hunt, I give the prize for more than 75% of the list.  

I reward the winner with the choice of a Golden Time activity.  It's something we can all do together and a treat with is decided by the winner.  Unfortunately they do sometimes choose 30 minutes on the xbox which kind of defeats my no screen time activity, but hey, they worked for it.

A great way to reduce screen time, get the kids on their feet and pass an hour. (and chance to grab a quiet coffee for you!!)

Happy Hunting!

My Name is Claire and I'm Addicted to Ebay

I think I really am.  I've started checking the app now to see how my listings are doing.

I've gone from listing a few things to finding things to list.  It's all part of my big clear and and organisation plan  but I'm loving the pennies (and they usually are a few pennies) it brings in.  I love seeing the amount clocking up, then BAM into the savings account.

The strangest things sell on ebay though.  I've sold a Freeview Box for more than it was brand new from Argos and I've sold about 70 balls of wool which started an eBay stampede.

I've found books don't sell well on eBay so I'll probably do a Blog Sale to get rid of the Cookbooks I don't use...(please subscribe for this one as I'll probably post it either this Saturday or next Saturday)

But by far my favourite sell is this one....

Bizzare Ebay Sell

I have sold a Morrisons voucher that I received for spending £40 in store a few weeks ago.  I can't use the voucher because I missed the week 2 voucher by being frugal and shopping at Lidl.  So the voucher was worthless to me.  Or so I thought.  I have sold it on Ebay for £4.41 and there's the proof right up there!!  I paid a 10p listing fee as the auction started at 99p and there will be 10% (44p) taken by eBay. Add that to the paypal fees of 33p and I'm left with a profit of 4.14.  Worth it?  I think so for a voucher I could do nothing with other than buy a week 2 voucher on eBay or bin!

How good?!

How exciting!!  So my eBay addiction is not waning and I'm loving it more than ever as an unexpected income stream!

Whoop Whoop!!

What's the most you've made on an item eBay and what's the oddest thing you have sold?  I'd love to hear!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Ten Minute Task - Cleaning the Bathroom

In Ten Minutes?  Seriously?!

Yes.  Ten Minutes. Now I know a good bathroom clean with all the faffiness of vinegar and cotton buds can take a good hour, but sometimes it just needs a quick blitz to keep things shiny and Not-Urgh.

The key to this one is moving fast and not being clumsy, so best not to do when you're tired.

So here it is...

1.  Spray bath, shower and sink with bathroom foam

2.  Take everything off the shelves (I only have 2 so not too difficult)

3. Spray the shelves with bathroom foam.

4.  Empty the bin

5.  Wipe down the bath and spray with shower (or jug a load of water over)

6.  Wipe down the shower

7.  Wipe down the sink and rinse

8.  Wipe down the sink and rinse

9.  Give the cloth a good rinse and wipe down the shelves and skirting boards

10. Wipe the shelf items with a towel as you put them back

11. Wipe down any other surfaces that are gathering dust.

Job done

I do this every other day to keep the bathroom appearing clean!  I do, do a monthly clean with the faffy vinegar cotton buds and it is much more satisfying than a speed clean, but sometimes you just don't have the time do you?

And of course, I am smug once the 10 minute task is done, as always!!

Happy wiping!


Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Does My Child Need Glasses?

That's a question I get asked a lot (and weirdly, I'm not an optician)

I'm asked a lot because two of my boys wear glasses and the younger of the two has quite noticeable glasses. He's had them for almost two years now but we have had problems along the way.

Other parents seem to want to talk to me about eye problems because they don't know what to do.  I'm not entirely sure, like I say, I'm not an optician but I do know when there's a health problem, as a mother you know when it needs sorting and you know when you're being fobbed off.

Our story is that when he was four, during the Easter Holidays, he was being extremely clumsy.  I've always thought he was a clumsy child but when he kept bumping things, I knew it needed sorting.  We went for an eye test at the local optician that day. 

The eyetest for pre-readers is done with pictures.  The optician immediately spotted a problem and referred us to the hospital.  We got the appointment there at the beginning of June.  It seemed like an eternity.  He got his glasses and could see.  It was great.  Then his head grew.

There isn't a large range of kids glasses available.  The ones that are, are great, fashionable and the latest characters but there's not a size difference.  So the styles that fit my 6 year olds head were actually designed for an 8-12 year old.  The frames were too narrow and he was looking over the top.  I was convinced they had not been made correctly and took the new glasses to a different optician to be checked and they were indeed correct.  It was my son who was not using them correctly.

Thankfully, one dispensing optician found a pair of aviator style glasses which are the correct size for his head and work well with his thick lenses.  Unfortunately, several children were nasty at dinnertimes and said he wore grandad glasses which was difficult to deal with.  We reassured him he looked just like a pilot and that the kids just didn't know what was fashionable.  It worked.

My advice for under 5's

1.  If you think there's a problem, ask your health visitor to refer you for a check.

2. Ask nursery if they feel your child has a problem seeing either close up or at a distance

3. Does Your Child talk to you and others right in your face?  Mine did until he got glasses

4. Choose glasses that cannot be looked round, over or under

5. Get a good fit and when your child grows, take them back to be adjusted

I hope our journey helps and eases any worries you have about your child's eyes.

Hopefully, he will have grown out of needing glasses by age 11 because he got glasses at a young age.

Unfortunately my 12 year old isn't as lucky as his short sightedness was only picked up in Year 5.  He's getting contact lenses, but that's another blog post!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday - Finger Food Revolt!!

I'm at the stage with the youngest where he wants to feed himself with cutlery.  He wants the same as us and wants to do it himself.  Oh Joy!  Now moving the dining room to the carpeted room does not seem a good idea.  I'm wondering if a buffet in the kitchen is a daily possibility for the next six months?

So, I shall bite the bullet and cease arguing with a 15 month old because I can't win.  Not only can he out ERRRRR me but he can now sign his requirements thanks to his baby sign class.

Here's my plan for the week.

Monday:  Hot Dog Pasta Bake

Tuesday: Chicken Dinner (maybe without gravy!)

Wednesday:  Fish and Chips

Thursday:  Not So Chilli and Nachos

Friday: Sausage and .... (cringe) Mash with lots of rolling peas and sweetcorn

Saturday: Takeaway (Home made chicken strips and wedges for Mr Independence)

Sunday: The Big 3 Courser - (not decided exactly what yet!)

I know I've jibbed out somewhat and decided on food that can be finger food, but break me in gently, its 5 years since I did this!! (and we had a laminated floor)

How did you get through this phase of the toddler war for independence?

Advice please!!!
This post is linked up with Mrs M's Meal Planning Monday.  There's loads and loads of healthy meal plans over there plus great plans on a budget.  I urge you to look!! 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Please, Not Another Food Diary - or leave my kid alone!

Schools are Obsessed with food diaries and it is driving me insane.

Unfortunately, they are also obsessed with providing my child with breakfast, which, call me traditional but I like to feed my kids when they wake up, not starve them until 10.30 break.  

The healthy eating message is rammed down their throats (not literally) and I know it has led one of my boys to lose weight year on year.  He chooses vegetables and fruit instead of chocolate and crisps.  Most people would be glad but add to that the message of portion control the fact that anyone of a healthy size is bordering on obesity and heart disease leads to the wrong message getting through and has left him with a potential eating disorder.

I know some kids don't get breakfast and I know food poverty is at an all time high in this country, but seriously, how many food diaries can be disguised as a project?!  If you want to know, ask. Don't disguise it as a science project.  

To have a 6 year old read the back of a crisp packet and comment on the amount of sugar in it is wrong.  They should enjoy food for what it is.  It's the parents job to moderate it.

What do you think about the forthcoming free school meals for key stage 1?

From experience, school dinners don't fill my boys but I do agree that the cost was too much.

My eldest is in high school and costs an arm and a leg on snacks, but I can't grumble as at least he's eating now he's left the healthy eating dictatorship of primary school.

What are your views on this, I'd love to hear if anyone else is in the same situation

My ranting Face

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Review: Talk First Baby Sign Classes

As regular readers know, I love Talk First Baby Sign and the Blackpool and Fylde Branch, run by Joyce Jones, have been lovely enough to sponsor My Cava Lifestyle again this month.

Joyce Jones and Signing Dexter
For those that haven't come across Talk First, it is the best class I have been to for babies.  Most classes are open to babies once they have turned six months, but Talk First is open as soon as you are ready!  My youngest has attended from being 3 months old and absolutely adores Dexter.  We have the CD on before and on the way to class and he's clapping and signing away!

Each week has a theme and we learn 8 signs associated to the topic.  At the start of the class we do the welcome song along with the signs followed by a recap of last weeks signs.

Last week's signs were on the theme of Getting Ready
We go round the room practicing our signs to the tune of Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush and the babies and toddlers get ready for the music fun to follow whilst learning signs off all the mums - and of course Dexter!

Joyce has loads of activities to keep the attention of the children, as I must admit, my child is probably the worst for looking round the room and being distracted by a toy (the class we go to is at Lytham Children's Centre so loads of fun in that room!) but Joyce always brings him back with a musical instrument, puppet or game.

The class lasts 40 minutes and usually contains at least 2 musical instruments, an activity and loads of songs.  The words are on the board and the babies really love the ones where you dance and throw them around.  Some classes can be quite a work out particularly when Wham and S Club 7 are on the agenda!

My youngest is really coming on with his signing now, he's reluctant in class but does the signs when we play the CD.  It has been a real help in him communicating what he wants or needs as I feel much more attuned to what he is indicating than I did with my other two boys.

There are classes all over the country the website is

Joyce's classes are in the Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre area and her schedule for the next term is:

Monday:  Lytham Childrens Centre 10am and 11.15am

Thursday: Thornton YMCA 11am

Joyce also does one to one sessions and children's parties.  Here's her Facebook Page for Talk First

I'm sure we'll be going to Talk First for as long as we can as it is the most chilled out baby class I've found! (and my six year old is in raptures when he has an inset day and can come along too!)

Try it out, I look forward to seeing any of you locals there!!

Review by: Claire Sheehan

Although Joyce is our Top Advertiser this month, this has not influenced my review.  

Monday, 17 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday - Spring Fever

I don't know about you but I feel so much better now the weather has picked up and we've got sunshine.  I've tackled the garden this weekend so hopefully we'll get a few lunches outside in the sun this week.

So with the clocks due to change I figured we're not going to want stodgy comfort food much so I'm going for everything I'll miss over the summer!!

Monday: Chicken Enchilladas (recipe from At Home With Mrs M)

Wednesday:  Cod with Cheesy Chorizo Topping, potato salad and err...more salad

Friday: Gluten Free Slow Cooker Hot Pot

Saturday: Take Away

Sunday:  Nigella's Cola Ham, chips and mushy peas 

Is your menu getting a fresher, less stodgy theme?

I'm ready for a crisp salad in the garden I think!

Have a fabulous week!

This post is linked up with #mealplanningmonday on At Home With Mrs M.  There's loads of ideas and menus up there are some are absolute genius with so little money spent on great healthy food.  Go and have a look.  Go on!

Friday, 14 March 2014

#Food Poverty - Completely Missing the Point

After watching the Sport Relief special Famous and Hungry last night, I can't help feeling enraged that the Point has been completely missed!

People are starving here in Britain because of the extortionate price of food and the knock on effect of high utility bills.

A large loaf of  Warburton Medium slice costs around £1.50!!!  I know I could buy unbranded but this is my marker of price increases as I can remember the same loaf costing 79p

Am I alone on thinking this is extortionate?

If Aldi can charge £1 for the same loaf then all supermarkets can.

The cost of gas and electricity is also eating the food budget.

So why is the message that these people aren't given enough money?   The root cause of the problem surely is the cost?!

Am I wrong?

Please set me straight in the comments section if you think so.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday - March wk2

Sorry to have dissapprared, we've had a chaotic few weeks with Shingles, half term and generally poor service from the nhs and care providers.

I've also decided that life is too short and embarked on making money doing a job I love (you guessed it...not health and safety) Its still getting off the ground but here's where I'm up to so far.

So in view of needing to dedicate time to getting things off the ground here's my speedy prep meal plan for this week:

Monday: macaroni cheese with sausages

Tuesday: Steak in Peppercorn Sauce with Scallops (the potato ones!)

Wednesday: Hot Pot

Thursday: Spag Bol

Friday: Hairy Dieters Liver and Bacon

Saturday: Pizza

Sunday: Jamie Oliver Brisket Roast

What do you cook when you're short on time?

There's loads more meal plans on At home with Mrs M, hop over and get organised!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Ten Minute Task - Detrash The Car

Every day, I end up seeing how much I can squeeze in on the home organisation front.  If I don't, things will get out of hand and what is manageable becomes a mammoth task which is daunting and, quite frankly, the beginning of the end as I will be overfaced!

So I thought I'd start blogging my 10 minute tasks to show how small actions make a massive difference.

Today's Task Is


This is what I got in 10 minutes, including the glove box and organising the stuff that needs to stay in the car such as phone chargers and loyalty cards.

From the Rubbish Car!!
The boys are being made to bring EVERYTHING in when they leave the car and I have been disciplined and not filled my door pocket with drive thru wrappings (yet! - I've not been at work this week!)

Confession:  I've not tackled the boot yet.

To keep on top of things I'm going to put a duster in the centre console and give the dash a wipe over whilst waiting at the petrol station.  I figure this will save me on cleaning time and my next 10 minute task on the car can be a mat bash and hoover.

I'm also going to put together a car kit of essentials as the emergency nappies in the glove box were a size 1 (he now is in 5's) and there's no drinks or snacks for those mithering journeys!  I think most people go for first aid kits and the like rather than cleaning products and child pacifiers but hey-ho!!


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