I found my voice!

Me doing Twitter Singup KaraokeI recently found myself diverted by a link I saw on Twitter.  It took me to the blog of The Bald Hiker and a blog post with a selection of videos featuring people from all over the world happily singing songs karaoke style and it made me smile.  A lot.

I couldn’t help but mention my thanks to the originator of said Twitter Singup (@paul_steele).  He came straight back to me (he’s got over 77,000 followers and counting and STILL finds time to reply!) to say thanks and asked me if I wanted a go! No pushing, no challenging, just a friendly little ‘fancy a go?!’ The short version of this part of the story is that after an initial stomach churning moment, I found myself committing!  The woman who’s always sworn NEVER to do pub-karaoke in her life! Well…it wasn’t in the pub, it was ‘just’ on Youtube (have checked, it’s been watched 955 times so far!)  Eeeeep!.

I can’t tell a lie, I did put on make up! I did record my ‘line 1, second chorus’ of Dean Martin’s ‘Volare’ more than once! Overall, I do hope it comes across with the cheerful approach I wanted to give it (not too serious, not too rubbish!).  Even though during the whole ‘video’ process, I sometimes felt like I could just as happily be teetering over the edge of a cliff!

The point of my post is this.  Whether anyone liked it or not, I experienced a welcome side-effect to taking part in this apparently ‘insignificant’ activity.  It took me back to a time when I used to sing out loud and not just in the shower / car.  I used to sing in choirs.  I used to go carol singing door to door with the girl guides. I even sang on stage. It wasn’t because I wanted to perform, it was because I genuinely enjoyed singing out loud.  When I was a child, a teenager even.

The warmest, fuzziest feeling came over me when I’d done it.  All these memories of feeling a very simple sort of happiness came flooding back.  It made me feel great.  I began to reminisce about days when I was carefree, when hope and optimism flowed through my veins, when a four-letter word was ‘love’!  Most importantly, when being kind and happy was how I saw myself and how this made me proud.

Kindness and niceness seems to have gone out of fashion these days. Sarcastic wit is popular.  Nasty gossip is passed on.  Bad news sells papers.  ‘Merry’ is a state of drunkenness. Being referred to as ‘nice’ is practically an insult. What an odd world we live in! I’ve certainly been sucked into all this over the last 20 years or so and become tarnished by it.  I stopped singing too.

When I went into town the day after the above events took place, I was frantically waved at on the street by a lady who was fund-raising in the pouring rain.  I stopped.  She was stunned.  I listened as she told me passionately of her cause.  She stumbled a couple of times on her ‘pitch’ and told me that she was sorry, but she was so pleased I’d decided to talk to her.  As she summarised, it was my turn to be stunned.  She welled up.  She was really uncomfortable and embarrassed.  The ‘cynical’ would suggest it was for effect.  I was there and I’m not daft. She explained that she was sorry, but that no one else had stopped for her that day. We were both wet from the rain and I believed her.

I knew that I had been kind.  And do you know what? It felt REALLY good! Better than anything I’ve felt in a very long time.  I’m going to do it more.

I’m going to start by being kind to myself.  I realised that the original purpose of this blog was to consciously make me think about what I’ve done to ‘fail’ as a ‘yummy mummy’ during the course of the day.  How awful is that?!  I’m actually looking for reasons why I’m a ‘failure’!

And I’m not a failure.  So I’m officially granting myself initial ‘yummy mummy status’.

After all, to my Boo, I’m the yummiest mummy there is!

And I’m going to get yummier! Watch this space! xxx

PS I’m going to sing more too!  Whether you like it or not!

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Wednesdays are full of simple pleasures

Work at home

Image: flikr.com/NiiNaa

I LOVE Wednesdays! Tuesday night is my new Friday night.  I get a warm fuzzy feeling when I go to bed and a big smile creeps onto my face when I wake up in the morning.

There is a Wednesday routine.  Boo and I start by cleaning our teeth, then I get him washed and dressed.  I throw on some jeans and something cosy, drag my hair up (Yummy mummy fail! But do you know what? Make-up, heels and clothing with some kind of leopard print / faux fur / other ‘this season’ must-have, do NOT belong to my Wednesday morning), put a few nappies in his ready-prepared bag and we shoot up to nursery for his weekly fix.  I’m so lucky.  He appears to love going to nursery.

I don’t even have to think about his breakfast, let alone lunch and dinner.  Bliss!

Then it’s home.  I drive straight into my parking space as there’s no need to do the usual reverse manoeuvre to make sure I’m facing downhill and can get Boo out of his chair more easily.  Surprisingly satisfying!

I walk into a very quiet house and I religiously make myself 2 x poached eggs on 2 slices of toast (with cottage cheese if it’s in the fridge and smoked salmon if I’ve planned REALLY well) and enjoy this to myself (i.e. not having to share every other mouthful even though he’s had his own breakfast) sitting in front of grown up tv.  Fabulous!

Then it’s time for a luxurious shower.  By this, I mean one which isn’t disturbed or cut short by a little face appearing, throwing in various bath toys and occasionally attempting the odd non-waterproof item depending on how much attention he’s craving that particular morning! Heaven!

Next I find the spot I’ll be most comfortable in for the day (this ends up tending NOT to be my office for some strange reason), put my laptop on, check my emails, check in with Facebook / Twitter, maybe write a little blog post and generally get on with my working day.  I write copy about diverse businesses, always learning something new.  I make calls and have adult conversations.  Sometimes I get dressed up and go out for a meeting.  Sometimes I lay on the sofa in my comfiest clothes, heating on and regular cuppas, tapping away at my laptop.  Throughout the day I can get more than one load of washing on, out AND back in again and hardly notice I’m doing it! Brilliant!

I break for lunch (haven’t had to think about this in advance either.  I’ll just have a little bit of something I fancy!) and maybe have a read, spend a water-cooler moment or two tweeting away, make a quick catch up call to my mum, or sister, watch ‘Doctors’ (one of my guilty pleasures) or something equally trashy.  I might, just might, dare to have a little snooze!  Zzzzzzzzz!

At around 4.30pm I often start getting dinner going.  No issues with hot ovens/ saucepans and trying to come up with new ways to keep a certain little person entertained and out of the kitchen.  I can even open the cupboard which contains the biscuit barrel without any ‘I want’s’, tears or tantrums.  Hoorah!

Darren arrives home at around 5pm and we have a proper catch up and get a couple of chores completed between us.  I might even sneak in a little snog! Yay!

Then my favourite part.  Just before 6pm I go to pick up my Boo.  When he sees me at the door, no matter where he is in the room, he runs.  And runs.  Arms open wide, he grabs hold of my leg and hugs it briefly, before I sweep him up and give him a hug back.  He happily sits and listens and strokes my face and plays with whatever I’m wearing, while I’m updated on the days activities and then he waves an enthusiastic goodbye and we’re off.  Perfect!

We’ll happily play and read together before bedtime and it NEVER feels like I’m forcing the issue (I’m sure Yummy Mummy has a genuine smile on her face at the end of every single day with her child, but in reality, it doesn’t always work out like this for me).  I’m energised, revitalised and ready to carry on working into the evening (once I’ve had chance to put Boo to bed) without feeling tired at all.

These are the reasons why Wednesdays have become my official favourite day of the week and why they are full of such simple pleasures, which I should recognise and celebrate.  Why it’s important to me, personally, to have work in my life and why working from home suits me well.  Why I love to be me, but how I will always be Mummy.

What are your simple pleasures in life?

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Christmas Make and Do – Gift tags

This Christmas I’m ‘making’ and ‘doing’.  If I can pull this off, I will deem it a successful step towards gaining yummy mummy status!  I planned ahead (my New Year’s resolution in January was to be prepared for Christmas this year, prompted by the previous last minute madness) and so far, I am pleased with the results (will photograph and post gifts made to date shortly).

In the meantime, I have been thinking about the presentation of said pressies as I’m now gradually running out of time and may be working a fair bit more in December than expected.  Today I had some inspiration.  I love the Vistaprint concept.  I’m fairly sure that if you haven’t heard of Vistaprint, you’re clearly not on the internet as much as I am! Their advertising is all over it and freebies are regularly offered.

I wanted to sort out some kind of label for my gifts and was thinking about making something, but I do like a professional looking finish if I can manage it and it occurred to me that I may be able to customise the free business cards offered by Vistaprint, using these as tags.  A few steps later and I’ve got 250 of these on the way:

Gift tag for Handmade items from us

Insert 'from' details of choice

I like this design as I think it fits my handmade theme, being quite muted and traditional.  There are loads of designs to choose from though.  I’ve avoided mentioning the word ‘Christmas’ anywhere as I figured that with so many of these, they will come in useful for any handmade gift occasion!  As the card is a matt finish, it means I can handwrite the recipient’s name myself above the printed message. I will punch a hole in one of the corners and tie the tag to the appropriate gift. In order to qualify for the free product, Vistaprint will print their own details on the back of the card, but I figured that if I want to cover this (it’s only a one-liner so I might not bother), I will recycle some old Christmas cards and stick something festive on the back.

This was easy done too! Simply go to Vistaprint (click here) and select Free Business Cards under the Free Products section and follow the instructions from there.  Note: When it comes to the personalisation, you can use as many or as few of the suggested lines of text as you want to and you can input any text here (for example, you don’t have to put an actual number into the ‘telephone number’ line).

Vistaprint will look to upsell as you go through the checkout process.  I personally welcome this as there are still lots of great deals, but you don’t have to accept any of the alternatives and so your item can still be free if you stick to the standard version!

Warning: Delivery is not free.  If you order now, you can go with 3 week shipping and still be in plenty of time for Christmas, which cost me £3.62 including VAT.

Am looking forward to finishing my pressies off now!

www.vistaprint.co.uk

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(Slimming World Friendly) Emergency Frozen pea and ham soup

soupcon

Kate at The Five F’s recently started a meme encouraging some winter warming soup recipes to be shared.  Kirsty at Imperfect Pages kindly tagged me in this meme, which was very flattering, particularly as the said ‘recipes’ she’s mentioned I’ve included in the past have not been 100% successful!

As it happens though, soup is my thing!

The biggest reason I’m in love with soup is that when I’m on a weight adjustment kick (do you see the way I did that?), soup is my guarantee to weight loss.  My ‘adjustments’ tend to involve following Slimming World principles.  I have been to a meeting.  Once.  It wasn’t for me.  But whether you attend the weekly groups or otherwise, I can’t recommend the diet itself more highly.  Soups work WELL on Slimming World. If you think making soup from scratch is too time consuming, you are wrong.  Filling the saucepan up with a whole bunch of syn-free meats or veggies, bulking this out with pasta, lentils, noodles, beans or rice (again all syn-free) is quick, simple and can deliver amazing results for an entire meal.  Basically, grab a saucepan, throw in as much ‘free’ food as possible, invest in a flask and you’ll never be hungry again!

Just to prove that you should never have to listen to your stomach rumble for any length of time , here’s a souper quick, souper easy, delicious recipe.  I make no apologies for using frozen / dried / tinned ingredients. I often make soups from much fresher produce, but this is an emergency filler-upper and one which you could probably make right now as you’re bound to have the ingredients in your kitchen! It’s almost as quick as heating up a soup-in-a-can.

I’m afraid that measurements tend to apply only to my own size and shape and are NOT my thing when it comes to soups (have tried to include an idea on quantities below where possible).  Generally, it’s all done according to taste and preferred texture.

Ingredients:

1 Onion, a bag of frozen peas, a veggie stock cube, ham, dried mint, macaroni (or other small sized pasta)

Chop one onion and fry in frylight (Slimming World essential, though any kind of oil if you’re lucky enough not to be ‘adjusting’ your own personal scales at the moment!) in a saucepan….add lots of frozen peas….cover with water so that it’s just above pea-level(!), add veggie stock cube and heat up.

Once heated, use a hand-blender to puree the soup.

Add a handful more frozen peas, plus some chopped up ham (I tend to use the 100% meat tinned ham as you can chop it up in big chunks, but I guess any kind of ham would do the trick, especially thick-sliced deli ham.  If you don’t have any ham, this soup works just as well without it!), just a shake of dried mint and a small handful of macaroni (needs to be a small sized pasta, though would also work well with broken pieces of spaghetti or quinoa.  Make sure you don’t put too much in or you’ll end up with a pasta dish and not a soup! However, this is delicious the following day heated up with a bit of extra pasta in it as less of a liquid lunch).

Heat until pasta is tender.

Eat and enjoy! FREE of syns! Yummy!

And so to pass on the meme mantle!

I have to say I’m afraid I’m not particularly familiar with the etiquette involved in this so I’m going to suggest Working Mum on the Verge who regularly inspires me with her culinary delights and Janie at The Hedge Combers whom I know will have something wholesome and hearty to share with us all.

Stay full and slim!

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How to accept a compliment

Take a good look in the mirror and learn to accept a compliment

Bear with me on this one, I feel the background information is necessary!

Today’s blog post was going to be about how I went out of the house yesterday looking (in my book) far less than yummy.  I had a bit of time to kill whilst sat alone in a waiting room at the local hospital (waiting for Darren…nothing serious!) and I’d taken a notepad and pen in anticipation of a moment’s inspiration (have to make the most of getting that kind of time to myself these days!).  I wrote it all down…fervently picking to pieces every aspect of my overall look.  I’d got ready in a hurry (as is the norm these days) and really hadn’t given much thought to my appearance.  Curiously, this blatant self-criticism gave me a means of catharsis.  I look like a flippin’ mess, but I KNOW I look a mess…so that makes it ok then!

Smirking to myself I put the notepad away.  When Darren was done, we drove directly from there to meet my bessie, waiting patiently to have lunch with us at the pub.  On walking in, I was greeted with a huge “Oh my goodness, you look fantastic!” and “Wow! Your hair looks really different too….it’s gorgeous!”.  Now, you may be thinking…”Doh, yeah! She’s your bessie….that’s her job!” Wrong! My bessie’s priority duty is to be completely honest with me and believe me…this particular bessie is top of her game!

So why didn’t I believe her?  If she’d told me I looked like crap I would have agreed immediately.  This unexpected shower of admiration caught me completely off guard and the usual awkward “Really? Oh my gosh, no! I look awful! I haven’t even done anything with my hair!” gushed from my under-glossed lips.  “In actual fact, I was going to write a blog today saying how bad I looked!”

My point is…we all know it isn’t yummy to throw a compliment back in anyone’s face (I’m pretty sure she didn’t take offence, but others could.  Effectively, it sounds like you’re saying your admirer has zero taste!) and I’m pretty sure that Yummy Mummy never puts herself down under any circumstances.  So, rather than writing my original post, I figured I’d give myself a good talking to and teach myself a lesson in how to accept a compliment graciously.

Here goes:

1) Immediate response must always be a 100% genuine “Thank you!” (immediacy is the key to a genuine response here…no matter what you think of yourself, there must have been an element of feeling every so slightly flattered that instant you hear something nice.  That’s your moment).

2) Accompany said “Thank you” with the big smile you know you felt inside (even if that was only for a little instant).

3) Actions 1 and 2 are plenty, however, if inclined to do so, point out what it is that made the praise possible (eg “Your hair looks great”.  Response; “Thank you *smile*. I decided to let it dry naturally today.  This is my ‘wild’ look.”)

4) Acknowledge anyone else who helped contribute to said compliment if appropriate (eg “Your hair looks great”.  Response; “Thank you *smile*. I just had it done.  My hairdresser is a genius.  This is my ‘glamour-puss’ look”. *Mew out loud* (not necessary, but I like to think I could!).

The end.  So simple, there really are no excuses.

Hidden lesson number two is that you really should give yourself a break.  The next time you look in the mirror, be your own best mate and be nice!

Do you accept a compliment easily?  If not, will you promise to do this with me next time? Let’s hope we get to practice very soon!

Image: flikr.com by Eisenbahner

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Corn on the Cob; Mum’s simple treat

Baby Boo eating corn on the cob

Boo's first corn on the cob experience - yummy!

Prompted by Beckicklesie’s Oui Chef challenge (there’s still time to get your posts included!), I couldn’t help myself but purchase corn on the cob earlier this month.

Somehow, my own mother convinced both my sister and I that this was a real treat.  As we grew up, I can even remember ordering it in restaurants as a starter (if you remember when they used to put corn on the cob as a whole meal in itself on the menu, you too were probably a child of the 70s or earlier!).  These days I know it’s a treat…simple, seasonal and around 20p per cob between August, September and October.

I’m ashamed to admit that I had to look up how to cook it!  For those who share my lack of ‘yummy cook of the year’ nominations, remove the husk (the leafy bits) and silk (the stringy bits), stick enough water in a saucepan to cover said cob(s), add corn to boiling water, allow to boil for a further 4 minutes (turning occasionally), remove from pan and serve up rolled in just a knob of butter and perhaps with a little black pepper according to taste.  Real fast food!

On reflection, I think that the reason I remember this distinctly unadventurous suppertime delicacy is because it absolutely engages all the senses.  Firstly, it is a vision in vibrant, yellow, shining on the plate…it looks much more fun than food, more like a slightly quirky toy and every bit as entertaining!  Picking it up with both hands (using those little decorative corn on the cob holders – a food which actually has its very own dedicated cutlery, no less! I can’t think of any other individual food that is bestowed with this honour!) you bring it up to your mouth to get yer chops right ’round it (avoiding the melted butter dripping down your chin)!  This is when the smell hits you, especially as you start eating through it…milky and sweet.  As you chomp your way through it, all you can hear is that accompanying “Munch, crunch, slurp, nom nom” at full volume inside your own head. And finally the taste….there’s literally nothing like it.  Delicious, sweet and oh so simple, exploding with far more flavour than such a basic food should ever be able to achieve!

I remember a lot of giggling at the table and my sister and I would compete to see who could most completely clean up the cob, dipping the already eaten parts in butter to suck out those very last little bits (tooth picks at the ready!)!

I was thrilled to see my little Boo as he began his first ever corn on the cob experience.  It took him no time at all to work out how to go about devouring it.  I watched each of those senses being explored as he did so.  And he loved it.  So effective, I will even go so far as to say that it surely has to qualify as a ‘yummy mummy’s’ treat!  With hardly any effort at all!

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Spotted #2……..

………a group of mums doing pushchair aerobics.  “That sounds yummy to me”, one might think.  A group of mums taking an active interest in looking great.  Keeping themselves in shape….

However, they were conducting their workout in a public car park! Lycra and all! Come on ladies! The worst part is that there is a fabulous little park directly opposite with plenty of flat terrain and a view looking over the river!

So very ‘chav’, when it could have been so ‘California’!

Posted in How Not to be a Yummy Mummy, Regular mum spot, Spotted | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment