Monday, 14 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday (14th April 2014)


Good morning everyone!  

What a busy weekend! We did a car boot sale yesterday - was totally not worth it and won't be making that mistake again. £60 was so not worth getting out of bed at 5.30am on a Sunday - regardless of how broke I am!

It's the first proper day of our school holidays today and for that reason I am making the controversial decision NOT to meal plan this week. 

Nope, I am totally going to wing it with the children this week and do whatever takes our fancy. Picnics in the garden, make homemade pizzas, get takeaways in front of movies, let them choose dinner... A totally relaxed week and will work it around what we're doing that day.   

Today we're off out with friends for the day and food will mainly be picnicky all day long!

Don't let my lack of meal planning stop you though, oh no!  The Linky is still below for your meal-planning-pleasure! 

If you're new to my blog or #mealplanningmonday all you have to do is this - write a blog post about your meal plan for the week and submit the URL of your post using the Linkytools below. If you've not got a blog but want to join in, that's fine - just leave a comment below telling us what you're planning this week.  Any questions, just holler at me via email (in the contact page) or on Twitter @madamding.  

Don't forget to join our Facebook group and check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration! 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Things to do with children over the Easter break


If you're like me, and you're facing two weeks at home with the children over the Easter holidays then it can be a good idea to have a list of ideas of things to do to break the boredom. We've always go a well stocked baking cupboard and craft cupboard so with a little imagination, there's no reason to be bored and fed up. 

Here's some ideas if you're looking for inspiration.

Make an Easter bonnet. We've just done this for my youngest for school (and let me tell you, it was epic) but my older child didn't get to make one so we've papier-mached a balloon in readiness to let her go crazy and style her own bonnet.  If you want to use papier-mache, plan ahead. You may need more layers than you think and it can take a good few days what with all the drying time required.

Decorate eggs. An oldie but a goody. Check out these interesting ideas for decorating eggs from Readers Digest.

Make learning fun. There are tons of printable resources out there and this is one of the children's favourite activities - I do this for Christmas, Halloween, Easter...whenever I need to occupy the children and there's a relevant seasonal event. Colouring in, word-searches, maths problems...with a good theme, the children find them fun and don't even realise they are learning.  Try Teaching Ideas, Education.com and Woodlands Junior School for starters.

Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/booleansplit/

Easter egg hunts. Predictable yet but you can do these indoors or outdoors making up fun and clever clues. National Trust properties also run Easter egg hunts in conjunction with Cadburys if you're desperate to get out of the house!

Easter cooking. My children love to cook. Last year we made Hot Cross Buns and they took what felt like the best part of my LIFE to make but you don't have to be that ambitious. Another favourite is just making some simple biscuits, cutting out Easter shapes and letting them go wild with the icing and decorating supplies!

Image credit: Crafts a la mode

Get creative, think outside the box. Fun things that the children might not have seen before. I love the idea of making these chocolate strawberry carrots and will definitely be letting the children have a go at this!

I'm sure you've all got tons of great ideas - leave me a comment if you've got something you want to share!



Title image credit: http://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Easter_eggs-midiman.jpg

Monday, 7 April 2014

Meal Planning Monday (7th April 2014)


Phew! Better late than never huh? I got totally sidetracked with cleaning (yep, you read that right!) and then work today. Have barely had a minute to myself. Apologies for my lateness!

I have a little more time this week due to after-school activities finishing for the term. We're still at school this week, seems like most of the country are on holiday though! 

Here's our meal plan for the week:

Southern fried chicken wraps
Homemade pizza (probably something with green pesto & mozzarella)
Gammon & pineapple
Chilli con carne
Cheese and potato pie

Very simple week this week!  

Gammon is my sons request. He would never touch the stuff before but amazing how much school dinners can help a fussy-eating child along! Cheese and potato pie is my request - I have cravings for a big plate of stodge!

Once again, it's your turn. I haven't had the time recently to comment on everyones posts but will try harder this week now I have a bit more free time (or that is the theory!).

If you're new to my blog or #mealplanningmonday all you have to do is this - write a blog post about your meal plan for the week and submit the URL of your post using the Linkytools below. If you've not got a blog but want to join in, that's fine - just leave a comment below telling us what you're planning this week.  Any questions, just holler at me via email (in the contact page) or on Twitter @madamding.  

Don't forget to join our Facebook group and check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration! 


Friday, 4 April 2014

Can you help?

Hello!

I am looking for some help on the blog today. Not for me, but for a dear blogging friend.

Fay who writes at Glass Half Full has asked if we can help cheer up her sister, Joy, who is currently battling stage 3b cancer.  Fay herself has faced her own cancer journey and her sister has been her inspiration through this. It's intense, gruelling and just damn horrible. Joy faces chemotherapy every two weeks and has radiotherapy three times a week for the next four months, at least.  


Joy gets lots of pleasure and inner strength from inspirational quotes and Fay is looking for more to pop onto her owl cardholder. She wants to ask the following;

Have you got a picture which inspires and takes you to a calm place? A postcard with a quote which resonates and gets you through a difficult time? Or an ironic comic strip to make you laugh? If you have and can part with it, please help me give it a new home and fill Joy's.

Fay talks on her blog about it a bit more and you can read that here

I know you lovely bloggers are a kind and caring bunch. 

Can you help? 

If you have got something to share - please get in touch with Fay via email at owlofinspiration@gmail.com, on Twitter or via Facebook.

Thank you for reading.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

I am ALL about the Disney Dining Plan!


Now this isn't a sponsored post at all. I just wanted to clear that up before I launch into this post which is all about my love of Disney restaurants. I am paying for my Disney trip completely out of my own pocket, and ouch, don't I know it (especially given recent work circumstances). 

One of the things I love about going on holiday to Disneyworld is eating. No wonder I am a fatty. I love visiting all the different restaurants in the theme parks and also at the on-site hotels - it gives a great opportunity for a snoop around at somewhere different to where you are staying. 



If you're not family with the Disney Dining Plan (or DDP as it is known) it's a plan you pay for upfront or if you've savvy, you get free when you book your holiday at certain times. The DDP includes a quick (counter) service meal, a table service meal and snack credits for each day you are in the park. It doesn't sound a lot but it works out to be quite a lot of food as you get dessert with both meals. Luckily you can often get something to go!  

Now with Disney restaurants, especially the most popular ones, you've got to book in advance. When I say advance? 

I mean ADVANCE. 

Like 180 days in advance. 

I know, right. Sounds completely NUTSO to planning exactly where you are going to eat dinner every day for two weeks, six months in advance and plans change don't they? It's best to be flexible? Scrap that. If you want to eat at Cinderella's Royal Table or the new favourite Be Our Guest, you're going to have to grit your teeth and join 'em because let me tell you, you certainly won't beat 'em!



It goes without saying this takes much careful consideration, weeks of planning even. There's a lot to consider when working out a plan for your two week holiday but I do love salivating over menus and restaurant descriptions and as this is my second time on the DDP I've tried to go to new places with a few old favourites thrown-in for good measure.

We've got character meals, breakfast buffets, teppanyaki, excursions to other hotels... 



We've got to visit the children's favourite which is Chef Mickeys - it's in the middle of the Contemporary Resort, and the monorail stops right inside the building. The excitement and entertainment factor of this knows no bounds for my transport-loving son. And I thought I'd let me husband choose his favourite which is Teppan Edo. My personal favourite last time was Yak and Yeti but they do an excellent quick service option so I have plumped for that instead. The restaurants I am most excited about trying this time around are 'Ohana and The Grand Floridian Cafe. We went to Ohana for breakfast last time and it was lush so I am trying it for dinner and have high hopes. The Grand Floridian Cafe is generally just an opportunity to snoop around the Grand Floridian Hotel which is where I would stay if I had like another few extra thousand pounds to splurge.



So for me, the eating out is as much a part of the holiday as the theme parks themselves. Every single restaurant is a different experience.  

The tipping sucks though. 20%? Bah.

Have you been to Disneyworld? I'd love to hear what your favourite restaurants are!

Monday, 31 March 2014

Meal Planning Monday (31st March 2014)


Good morning to the last #mealplanningmonday of March and for once I actually have a plan! Sorry for my radio silence recently, I did a little post about it last week. I've got a big work week this week and then I am hoping to see some light at the end of the tunnel. I need to, for my own sanity.

I've mainly taken my inspiration this week from Pinned recipes or the many magazines that are lying around, cluttering up my house!  I don't know why I am being so ambitious as aside from work I also have THE busiest week with the children - there's an after school sports, school concert, disco, birthday parties and play-dates every night this week!  Even so, this is how the plan is shaping up this week;

Twice-basked potato casserole
Lamb biryani
Harissa & yoghurt salmon
Fish tacos
Spaghetti bolognese

Only five meals planned as I am bound to fail at some point!

Once again, it's your turn. I haven't had the time recently to comment on everyones posts but will try harder this week now I have a bit more free time (or that is the theory!).

If you're new to my blog or #mealplanningmonday all you have to do is this - write a blog post about your meal plan for the week and submit the URL of your post using the Linkytools below. If you've not got a blog but want to join in, that's fine - just leave a comment below telling us what you're planning this week.  Any questions, just holler at me via email (in the contact page) or on Twitter @madamding.  

Don't forget to join our Facebook group and check out our Pinterest board for more inspiration! 





Thursday, 27 March 2014

Work, life and everything inbetween


I'm feeling a lot like the picture above at the moment.

You may have seen me prattle on about my busy life on my #mealplanningmonday posts - which I completely failed at this week. In fact I'm failing at pretty much everything at the moment.

I have no time for Twitter, no time to keep blog updated and I am letting people down left, right and centre and it's stressing me out big time.

As you may know I faced a bit of a rubbish work situation at the start of February. Well nothing has improved. It's changed, but not improved. I now work double the hours, for half the money or thereabouts. It turns out that working from home, flexible hours means pretty much being at the beck and call of everyone else.  I'm working more than I ever done and get paid less than I ever have. Doesn't seem right or fair.

Of course I have tried addressing it but I am getting nowhere and the sad thing is I am actually quite enjoying my work at the moment but have no time or energy for anything else in my life at the moment. Once I have dealt with the children and their activities, there's little left for me.

I've never felt so over-worked and under-valued and it's taking a big toll.

Next week I start a very difficult 12 month professional diploma. I'm scared about how much pressure this will put me under.

Something has to give.

I don't know what that is yet.

Please bear with me, I am trying to keep my head above the water and catch up and I realise I have committed various things to various people. 

I'm doing my best.