Friday, 25 July 2014

Family Planning

I'm a month out of work now. So far, it's a been blissful haze of late nights and tired mornings. Lazy days at home and lazy days out and about. Domestic chaos. Piles of laundry - even when there’s been ‘great drying’ out. A general feeling of what should we do today? Ah sure, we can do that tomorrow. Let’s just take it easy. Where will we go today? Ah, sure we can go there tomorrow. Let’s just take it easy.

Basically, there has been very little structure in my life and after years of having a VERY well defined schedule, I am realising that I don’t cope spectacularly well without one. I just don’t get anything done without some sort of a routine and then I get stressed out about the accumulation of things I need to do and things I would like to do, so that even the fun stuff seems like too much hard work and it all turns into a vicious cycle.

So, last week, I decided I had had enough. I needed to get organised. I needed to somehow piece all of the things that need to be done and all the fun things I want to do and to find time for them all. I wanted to allocate time to housework, paperwork, fitness goals, etc so that when it was time to have fun I wouldn’t have to worry about any of that mundane stuff and I wouldn’t be distracted from just being with my girls.

I found a really simple way to organise myself and it’s been working well so far. It provides me with structure, but if I want to be spontaneous, that’s ok too, because I can just shift things around a bit or ignore it if the beach is calling! (Seriously, if the beach is calling in Ireland - the dishes can wait!)

A quick online search led me to this Mama blogger in Australia who designs great family oriented printables. I used her ‘Weekly Schedule’ to plan out my week and I've found it to be a great way to keep track of things. I printed out a copy of the blank schedule on Sunday evening, sat down with Devo and started filling it in. We had a think about what we wanted to do that week. A visit to the library? A walk in the woods? A trip to the park? A date night? (It helped to fill in the fun stuff first!) Then we thought about the chores that needed to get done. How many loads of laundry would we realistically do? Hoovering, mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms - you know - all that lovely stuff ;) It all went into the schedule. This week, because there was time allocated to them, there was no trying to cram it all into one afternoon whilst simultaneously losing patience with the children. 

That was a major win in my book!

We also scheduled time for our own personal 'work'. I got some time to write and Devo got some time to devote to a big project I will tell you all about soon. 

The planner has worked really well for us so far and we will definitely be using this as a time management tool for the foreseeable future. It’s working well for the girls too. They have been a bit all over the place since I've been off and Naíonra finished for the Summer. They are not yet particularly aware of the days of the week and what happens when. They get confused and frustrated when I mention, for example, that we'll be going to the funfair on Saturday, and they can't understand when Saturday actually is and why it isn't NOW.

The planner, which is hung on the kitchen wall, has been a brilliant way to physically show them 'how many days' it is until that (purple-circled)  trip to the funfair. (I probably shouldn't mention anything about these types of things until the day of, but I have a big mouth and can't help myself)

There is also a section on the planner for a daily ‘menu’ but we have yet to get that far into scheduling. I know it would be a good idea for us to get more organised in that area and start meal planning. It will save us money, which is absolutely necessary at the moment, and make the 5pm fridge search/head scratch a bit less frantic, but we're not there yet. 

I know there are tons of meal-planning tools out there and great foodie blogs that write about batch cooking and other such useful things and I really do need to investigate further...

Maybe if I put it in my schedule I’ll find time to do that too!


P.S. There's still time to enter the Digestive SOS Kit Giveaway!
P.P.S. Did you see the fancy new 'Nominated' badge over there??? >>> 
I've made the long-list for the Blog Awards Ireland in TWO categories this year - Best Parenting Blog and and Best Craft Blog. Fingers crossed the judges like what they see here and thank you if you nominated me!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Digestive SOS Kit Giveaway

I've mentioned a few times here that I have a wheat intolerance. I shouldn't eat it at all, but I find it difficult not to. I mean, it's delicious! What's not to love about bread, cake, biscuits, pasta and the gajillion other products wheat finds its way into? I also really enjoy baking... which usually leads to eating even more wheat...

Unfortunately, for me, eating wheat means bloating, rapid weight gain and a sluggish digestive system. So, in reality, I should love it a lot less than I currently do. I've stupidly been ignoring my digestive health for a while now (I'm a bit of  a stress eater and this year has been one huge roller coaster so far) and turning a blind eye to the effects wheat has on my body. I really need to get back on track and ditch it again. I know I'll feel a million times better after even week or two. 

It's comforting to know I'm not alone, however, as digestive discomfort is believed to affect up to 30% of the Irish population. But, apart from ditching the foods that trigger a bad reaction in my body, I'm also keen to help my digestive system restore itself.

I got the little kick I needed to start focusing on my health again when I was recently contacted by Alflorex, who have developed a new, proven, once-daily natural PrecisionBiotic® food supplement. They asked me if I'd like to host a giveaway so that one of my lovely readers could win an amazing Digestive SOS Kit and, even though I can't win the prize (sad face) I thought that you might be one of the 30% of people that would like an opportunity to win this great giveaway.

Isn't it nice?! 

The prize contains; 3 month’s supply of Alflorex, three different organic Pukka teas to support digestive health (Pukka three mint tea, Pukka golden chamomile tea, Pukka three fennel tea, 8 Panda Liquorice bars and an Atlantic Aromatics essential Lavender Oil.

Now, the teas (yum!), liquorice (double yum!) and lavender oil aside, despite the company's best convincing lines about how Alflorex 

"is the first food supplement for digestive health problems that has been developed on a truly scientific basis and tested in high quality clinical studies."

I still felt a bit weird about recommending it to you without trying it myself or without an independent opinion at least. So, Alflorex has kindly sent me a months supply to test and I will review it as soon as I start taking it and feel I have something to report back about.

I also spoke to my brother-in-law, who is a Pharmacist, about the product and was happy to hear that he is familiar with it and has heard nothing but good things about it from his customers. So much so, that he's just bought himself a pack to try out. He has also confirmed that it is perfectly safe to take and seems to be very effective. I completely trust his opinion in these matters, so I feel happy to go ahead and let one of my lovely readers claim this amazing prize.

If you'd like to win this great stash of healthy goodness please feel free to enter using the gadget below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 14 July 2014

Gifts For Grandparents

Yesterday was my Mama's birthday. We spent the day in the stunning Wells House and Gardens and had a really lovely day. (More about that soon!)

My mama, or Mamó as the grandchildren call her, is one of those fantastic people that actually appreciates hand made gifts. She really cares that people make the effort. Or at least... I hope she does, because I usually like to try to get the girls to create something special for her on big occasions. 

For her birthday this year they worked very hard on making a thoroughly personalised gift, with just a little help from me.

First we made 'luxury' chocolate buttons. These are really simple to make, but look and taste great. All you have to do is melt some chocolate (we used milk and white chocolate for variety), then spoon the chocolate out onto a baking tray covered in parchment paper, making little circles. While the chocolate is still melty  - let the kids go wild adding different toppings. We mostly used sprinkles of different sorts, but we did use lemon zest on some and fresh thyme on others. Nuts, seeds and dried fruit would also be lovely. For children you could use different types of sweeties as toppings. Yum!

Let them cool in the fridge until they are set. Then all you have to do is bag them up in pretty cellophane bags, tie with ribbon and you're done! Easy, delicious and quite impressive looking!

We made one other gift for Mamó this year too. A personalised letter writing set.

Using drawings the girls had created especially for this purpose, I scanned them in, tweaked/tidied them up a bit in (which I use for nearly all of the images on this blog) and printed them out on some A4 paper.

I also used parts of the images to print onto the matching envelopes.

I packed it all into a cellophane wrapper, created a quick label (again, using and stuck it on the front.

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, though in hindsight I would loved to have bought some nicer quality paper to print on.

I hope my Mama enjoys using it as much as we enjoyed making it! I'm pretty certain she is enjoying the chocolate already ;)

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