Friends, fish and fire – our first school Half Term

Half term has been and gone and while Oscar definitely showed me that he was missing the routine of school, he did really well and we had lots of fun.

Cousin love

We started the holiday with a lush visit from Ben’s sister and her two little ones. I love my niece and nephew so much and watching Oscar play with them (sometimes happily, sometimes grumpily!) just makes me so happy. We had such a lovely time, I was even willing to forgive that they both asked over the course of two days “Auntie Lisa why is your house so tiny”. Out of the mouths of babes I guess!

Cousin cuteness

Cousin cuteness

We took them to our favourite hangouts while they were here, including Applegarth Farm and Dylan’s Milk Barn. Rachel said she felt like she knew Dylan’s already having heard me talk about it so often. I might start charge Ben, the owner a PR fee!

The Neicephews discover Dylan's

The Neicephews discover Dylan’s

Home Start

Once they’d returned home we had a lovely visit from our old Home Start Volunteer. Despite being released from the programme that helps preschool families, our wonderful Rent a Gran (as I lovingly call her), was worried about how Oscar had got on since starting school. It was so touching to know she’d been thinking of us. She popped over for a catch up and bought me such a lovely begonia. It reminded me of the one’s my own Nanna would always have in the house when I was small.

begonia

A kind and thoughtful gift

National Marine Aquarium Plymouth

We finished the week with a short trip down to Plymouth to see some friends. Oscar loved having a sleep over with their daughter and they played so nicely (he kept asking for her once we left). Our friends couldn’t get over the improvement in Oscar’s language. When you hear it every day it’s hard to remember just how much has changed in such a short space of time.

We couldn’t go all that way without a trip to Oscar’s absolute favourite – The National Marine Aquarium. You might remember we went at Easter and I kid you not it’s the only place Oscar has ever asked to go back to. Again and again! Periodically since April he’s just asked “We go Quarium?”. It’s been heartbreakingly cute. And so we planned to take him for the last hour when we arrived on Friday, as we did last time. And like last time we didn’t have to queue and we kind of tailed the majority of the other visitors. Or rather we would have, had Oscar not just been sat in a car for four hours. He went in at top speed and raced around glancing at the tanks as he flew past. When we got to the end he announced he needed the loo. So we found one near the beginning and when he came out, we just started the Aquarium all over again, this time much slower. It worked a treat!

The main tank at the National Marine Aquariu

The main tank at the National Marine Aquarium. Stunning

father and son at aquarium

“Look daddy it’s broken!” Oscar was fascinated by the environments created at the aquarium

boy at aqaurium

Oscar loved getting up close and personal with the biggest fish tank he’s ever seen!

boy and fish

Happy Boy

A rare still moment.

A rare still moment.

The staff at the NMA were just as lovely as always. I realised half way down to Devon that I’d forgotten our DLA and Carer’s letters to prove we were entitled to concession tickets. Just in case, I tweeted them to ask if there was any other way of getting the concession price. I was told to ask for Olly at the desk. When we arrived we did just that and he told the front of house to waive our fee. It was just so kind and much appreciated. Thank you Olly!

Out of interest I also saw this while we were going round. I’m gutted we will miss it again, but if you know anyone who may appreciate a quieter session at the National Marine Aquarium then the next one is on 16th November. Find out more here.

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Bonfire

We finished our stay with a family bonfire at our friend’s dad’s beautiful cottage just outside Plymouth. We had an amazing bonfire, a bbq and a chance to catch up with friends we’ve known for years. And I mean years. I met our hosts sister on her first day at secondary school. 26 years ago! It was so lovely to see everyone and to watch our children get to know each other. Oscar was nervous of the dogs to begin with, but once he started playing with the children he relaxed and stopped noticing them. He had so much fun. And it was a night of firsts for him too. His first sparkler, that he loved and was very good with (with 100% supervision) and his first McDonalds, that he didn’t like at all. Fair enough. Thank you to the Pringle clan for making us so welcome. As always.

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Family Bonfire

Oscar's first sparkler. I held his hand until he said, "no mummy I do it" !

Oscar’s first sparkler. I held his hand until he said, “no mummy I do it”

Back to school

I was worried how the holidays, the first break from school since he started in September, would go. And I know I definitely saw some signs that he was missing it, but really, he coped amazingly well, showing off his improved language and social skills. And despite being ill this week (impetigo apparently, no I didn’t know what it was either!) he’s had a great return to school.

And today he had his first fully dry day without accidents since he started.

This year just keeps getting better for him!

 

 

Mixing it up….

In just a few short weeks time, my bouncing little ball of energy, also known as Oscar, will be turning four. FOUR! Man alive, how on earth did that ever happen? A year. Over. Done. Never to be repeated. When you look at the passage of time through the ageing of a child it makes everything feel so much more transient, so here today gone tomorrow. Literally. Ahh my sweet sweet boy. Every day you change, every day you grow.

So aside from getting maudlin, and feeling all kinds of old ? we’ve been thinking about how to mark our little guy’s fourth birthday. Last year, you may recall, we threw him a wonderful party with the help of our friends at The Hen House, Haslemere. It’s was awesome! So awesome in fact that we weren’t sure what we could do to top it this year (not that it’s a year on year competition, but you know what I mean!) We ummed and ahhed and looked around locally, but couldn’t find anything suitable. Then we started talking about how much fun we had over Christmas and how it would be lovely if Oscar could share his birthday with his extended family.

So that’s exactly what we’re doing. We’re going down to Plymouth for Easter. We’re staying in the same apartment as at Christmas, and we plan to celebrate his birthday, with his extended family, a week early, on Easter Sunday. I’ve been pinteresting like mad already for some Easter themed party food and while I won’t be going mad, a centrepiece always goes down well I find. My favourite at the moment is this one. Isn’t it too cute?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What's not to love?

A dip filled bunny, surrounded by veggies? What’s not to love?

Any other Easter themed party food ideas gratefully received. Seriously, if you’ve got any ideas, or blog posts to share, I’d love to see them!

So that’s the party sorted, but then there’s what to get him for a gift. For the last few years we’ve concentrated on large garden toys for his April birthday, setting him up for the coming summer. And that’s been great, but this year we haven’t really got anything in mind. Maybe a bigger slide? But where would it go? Hmmm. It’s a conundrum that’s for sure. And in terms of play toys, there’s nothing he desperately wants and nothing much he needs, to be honest. He’s got more Thomas toys than you can shake a stick at and Duplo coming out of his ears! He has no interest in any of the movie tie ins and flits between favourite cartoons most days (last week it was 1940s Tom and Jerry, this week it’s been 1990s Rugrats – all hail TV streaming services!) He has just started to pick up things (straws, sticks, the Hoover!) and use them as guns, but this upsets me no end and I have no wish to encourage it. So we’re back to the question; what do we get him? What is he in to?

There is one idea I had. It may sound crazy and you may think this is more for me than him, but hear me out. The boy loves to bake. This has been a thing now for over a year. But recently he’s decided he doesn’t like using my Kitchen Aid and instead wants to ‘mix’ everything himself in a ‘giant bowl’ (his words). For this you need a good sturdy bowl, and I just don’t have one. We tend to use my mixer bowl, which is light and topples off its tiny base regularly. He needs something better. I’ve always loved Mason Cash bowls. My mum had one, my Nanna had one. I used to think owning one was almost a prerequisite for being a mum. I always wanted a beige one, just like my mums, but recently Mason Cash released their Varsity range, in cream and Navy Blue. So I started thinking, actually, of all the things we could get him, how about his own ‘giant mixing bowl’? And if we’re going to do that, why not get him the grande dame of bowls?

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The Mason Cash Varsity Mixing Bowl in blue. The perfect gift?

Surely that’s what every four year old would want for their birthday. Right?

Come back in a few weeks, I’ll let you know what we decide!

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 6

Hello!

Sorry this is a bit late going out, but (as you may know) it’s half term this week, meaning I don’t get my 2 hours in Dylan’s or Costa or wherever just to switch off and write. How other bloggers do it, writing solely in the evenings, I really don’t know. I’m usually so pooped by the time he’s in bed, all I want to do is eat dinner and veg out in front of the telly. Anyway, blogging gripes aside, half term has actually been pretty good. We’ve gone out every day and had play dates and made new friends and his language is having a mini explosion. Which, you know, I love. 🙂 This week he has told me he emphatically loves both pizza and carrots. And that he equally emphatically doesn’t like my ‘pumpkins’ (or orange peppers, but who’s counting). Yeah it’s been a good week!

It’s also been a good week for my social life (how come the kids have such better social calenders than us !) Social occasions can often come with their own issues. Do you plan and moderate or do you throw caution to the wind and limit damage around the event It’s a choice and both can work equally well in my experience and usually depends how much you drink ( you can plan all you like but after a couple of glasses of vino Good luck with that!) So this weekend I had Galentine’s Day lunch with the bestie and it was as awesome as I’d hoped. But I did plan ahead. Firstly I knew I wanted onion rings (have you tried the Onion Rings at the White Horse Amazing!) But for my main I checked the menu the night before, made my choice before I even got to the pub, all the things we talk about doing in group. I chose, what looked like the lowest synned option on the menu, a Bulgar Wheat and Quinoa Salad with beetroot, chicken, spinach and seeds. It was delicious, however it was covered, and I mean covered, in dressing. I couldn’t tell you what the dressing was and as it wasn’t mentioned on the menu I didn’t even think to ask them to leave it out, which was a bit of a shame. However it was so amazingly filling I could only manage half the dish! I had one drink, then moved back to diet coke as I knew I needed to keep my wits about me, if only because we had friends coming to dinner that night!

OOTD for our Galentine's Lunch

OOTD for our Galentine’s Lunch.

I like having people to dinner. It gives you so much more control over what you’re eating, without making a fuss. And I’ve yet to meet anyone who is served up a SW friendly dish and rejects it on account of the lack of lard! Saturday’s dinner was a tried and tested Savage household favourite, Pepperpot Stew. A warming spicy take on a winter classic, this Slimming World friendly syn free dish is served with rice and our guests loved it. So much I thought I’d detail it here.

Pepperpot Stew

Serves 4

  • Frylight
  • 800g lean stewing beef, all visible fat removed, cut into chunks
  • 3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 300g green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp jerk seasoning (I use Bart’s spice mix – it’s got a great kick to it!)
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 400g passata with onions and garlic
  • 400ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Spray a large flame and ovenproof casserole (I use my Le Creuset) with Frylight and place over a high heat. Add the beef and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the peppers, sweet potato, beans, garlic, jerk seasoning, wine vinegar, passata, stock and Worcestershire sauce. Season and stir well.
  3. Cover and place in the oven on 180/gas mark 4 for 2 hours, or until the beef is meltingly tender.image

Serve with rice. I cook my rice in vegetable stock and when it’s done I stir through fresh chopped coriander.

Syn Free and delicious! And so handy! I made this the day before and it heats up really well. It meant I could spend more time actually being with my guests and having a good old laugh!

So that was syn free and fine, but then there was wine. And a small amount of lemon tart (although it was served with berries so….). And we had a super night.

Sunday was Valentine’s Day and my lovely hubby eschewed the traditional chocolates and went with beautiful yellow lilies instead. I cooked us a lovely Valentine’s dinner, which included heart shaped Heck sausages. Sausages have always featured heavily in our relationship. Ben doesn’t have an emotional attachment to comfort food in the way I do, but when he’s had a bad day, a sausage sandwich can cheer him no end. In fact in our wedding vows I promised to make him sausage sandwiches, whenever he was “blue”. So to me, sausages always mean love and what better way to express that love than with heart shaped sausages. Heck very kindly sent us some of their limited edition Peck heart shape sausages to try and boy oh boy did they go down a treat! Ben had his in sandwiches, me with jacket potato and vegetables. At 5 syns a pop I used most of my days syns on them. But they were totally worth it! Delicious and juicy and just so cute!

Heart Shaped sausages from Heck. 5 syns each and worth every one!

Heart Shaped sausages from Heck. 5 syns each and worth every one!

Anyway, my point is that although the weekend was large, it was all about trying to find some balance. Finding the place that lets you be you and do the things you love, with the people you love and yet stay in some semblance of control. And do you know what I think I just about managed it.

Slimming World

Nope, I wasn’t expecting that AT ALL! Mega happy dances all round. That puts me at 12.5lb lost in 6 weeks. I’ll take that!

So obviously I am very keen to replicate this loss again this week, if only to reach my one stone. We are out for dinner this weekend (OK, look I don’t usually have this much of a life!) but my darling friend Jane has sourced some Thai themed Slimming World recipes for us all and I can’t wait. But I’m also realistic. Just because it worked last week, doesn’t mean it will work this week. So I’d just be happy not to gain. Anything else is a bonus!

Have a super week

love

Lisa

xx

 

 

Mrssavageangel Slimming World – Week 5

Well howdy and hello!

Another week down (yeees!!!) And what a week. It’s been such a mixed bag of the mundane all the way to the down right emotional. A roller-coaster, if you will.

The week started well, but on Friday I attended a course to learn about the Autism Spectrum Condition PDA (or Pathological Demand Avoidance). It was as draining as it sounds and extremely emotional for me. But then I find all the times I have Oscar’s Autism held up for me to examine face to face draining. More so than actually living with him! Anyway, the course was catered, which I knew, but I assumed as this was a local authority course it would be very healthy eating focussed (or at least have some god damn fruit!) Nope not a bit of it. Sandwiches thick with butter and packets of crisps and whole chocolate bars. It was my first unplanned challenge and considering my state of mind, I think I did pretty well to just have a few sandwiches and bag of crisps. On the way home I stopped off at M&S as I decided I needed chocolate. I took two tiny bites and then stopped myself. This wasn’t making the day any better or easier to deal with, so what the hell was I doing? And I didn’t eat any more! I know, I’m amazed too! And pretty freaking proud.

Because you see I could have ruined the whole week because of that one day. I could have, but I chose not too. It wasn’t easy believe me. There were days I just wanted to eat and eat and days when I seriously wanted chocolate (and crappy weather and period pains don’t help a mood like that). I tried to keep to ‘speed’ foods where I could and where I just couldn’t face them, ‘free’ foods. I know I had more syns every day than I have had in previous weeks and some days I couldn’t count them all (such as Friday). But I’m pretty sure (other than Friday) that I stayed under the 15. The worst day was probably Tuesday. I could have happily snaffled one or even two pancakes while I was at Dylan’s, but I’d made the decision not to bother with pancake day this year (with the support of the wonderful Mr S!). But I did have terrible lady pains and craaaaaaaved cake all day long. Then I went to my first ever Yoga class. And let me tell you, Yoga is nothing like Pilates. Oh my life, the sweat was literally running in my eyes! And I aaaaaccche like a… well a very achey thing today, but do you know, I came home from that class tired, a bit sore and barely hungry at all! It was extraordinary! And I slept like the dead!

So I wasn’t really sure how I’d fair this week and was pleasantly surprised with this:

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2lb off! Not too shabby at all. That takes me to 10.5lb lost in 5 weeks. Which is nice.

As last night was our group’s Free Food Feb taster session, and as several of you told me you’re enjoying the recipes, I thought I’d share the Crustless Quiche I made. It’s much easier than having to faff about with pastry and was really nice. The recipe is based on one I found on Slimming World’s Lifeline Online. It would be great for a party or a summery dinner with a jacket potato and salad! And no pastry means gluten free, although not sure I could get the boy to eat this just yet. But he did help make it and that’s a start 😉

Roasted Mediterranean Crustless Quiche

  • Low calorie cooking spray
  • 2 onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 large courgette, thinly sliced
  • 2 red peppers, de seeded and cut in half
  • A bunch (min 16) of fine asparagus
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree (Optional. I did add this to mine, but in hindsight I’m not sure it was needed)
  • 2 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 80g reduced fat Cheddar cheese, grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
  2. Spray a large frying pan with FryLight and fry the onions over a medium-low heat for around 15 minutes until lightly browned. Transfer to a wide bowl to cool and set aside.
  3. Stirfry the courgette on medium heat for around 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and add to the onions.
  4. While the courgettes are cooking, spray the red pepper with FryLight and grill with the inside facing up until soft. Turn skin side up and grill until lightly charred. Chop into small chunks and set aside.
  5. Put the asparagus in a shallow dish with a few tbsp of water. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. Transfer them to the now empty frying pan on a high heat and lightly char on all sides. Set aside separately.
  6. Beat the eggs with the garlic, tomato puree (if using), dried herbs and three quarters of the cheese. Season well.
  7. Lightly spray a flan dish with FryLight.
  8. Put the onions, courgettes and red peppers in the prepared dish and pour over the egg mixture. Arrange the asparagus spears on the top of the egg and gently press down.
  9. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until almost set.
  10. Sprinkle over the remaining cheese and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until lightly browned on top and just set.
  11. Remove from the oven and serve warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges.
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Roasted Mediterranean Crustless Quiche

Serves 8 at 2 syns per slice (unless you’re using the cheese as a HEA). This recipe is easily doubled (although you don’t need to increase the asparagus) to make a more substantial dish. Don’t forget to also double the syns if you double the recipe!

It went down a treat at the taster session (I assume. There was none left by the end which is always a good sign), but like I say I’m not sure it needed the tomato puree. Try it and see what you think!

This coming week is definitely going to be another one of those ‘challenge’ weeks (erm, Lisa, aren’t they all a challenge? Well yes, but shhhh, I’m talking). This Saturday I’m out for a Galentine’s Lunch with the lovely Bethany and then we’re having friends over for dinner. And of course Sunday is Valentine’s Day. I’ve got a very special dinner planned for me and the hubster, so look out for that next week! My plan is (as always, when there’s an event on the horizon) to up the speed and keep the syns down. But to be fair, I’d be amazed happy with a maintain.

Have a wonderful week and tell your loved ones they are loved!

love

 

Lisa

xx

 

Galentine’s Day

Are you a Leslie Knope fan? I am. Parks and Recreation is one of my favourite US comedy shows and Leslie Knope is a great character. Perky without being sickly, loyal, ridiculously hard working, good at whatever she wants to be, caring, kick ass and the inventor of Galentine’s Day. What’s not to love?

If you don’t know what Parks and Rec is, we probably can’t be friends. You should definitely look it up. If you’re not sure what Galentine’s Day is, it’s this

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Isn’t that just wonderful? I love a good Valentine’s Day as much as the next soppy old romantic. Cards, flowers, gestures of affection for the significant other in your life. But how often do you show the other people in your life, just how much they mean to you. The other mamas who keep you going when the chips are down, the lady with the bottle of bubbles who can insist you forget everything and calm the fuck down. The girls who know you from old, but still refuse to tell ? In my case I know it’s not enough.

We’re really bad in this country at expressing how much we love anyone outside our family or our partner. Why is that? Love can come in so many forms and be born out of so many things. Admiration, inspiration, respect. And yet, I can think of only a handful of people that I have told I love them in my entire life. It’s just not the ‘done’ thing in this country. I think we confuse love born out of respect with romantic love. They are very different, but maybe the cross over confuses us enough to not acknowledge it, either to each other or ourselves.

Which is why I think we really need something like Galentine’s Day in the UK. We need reminding to tell our gal pals that they are loved. I’m not suggesting we all run out and start a new industry in Galentines Day cards and such, but I think we can all use the reminder, in these busy lives we lead, to express to our bestest friends that we love them and what about them makes them so special to us. Or is that just me?

So on the 13th February reach out. Tell the amazing ladies in your life how you feel. I, for example, might be telling Helen, that I love how strong she is for her family, that she’s the most organised person I have ever met and has the most amazing blue eyes. Michelle, I might be mentioning has the most amazing capacity for love, a beautiful creative heart and almost Renaissance curls. Jane R, that she is so thoughtful and has such an awesome knowledge of local and national law (particularly planning ?) and one hell of a laugh! Laura, that she has the most wonderful hugs, amazing sense of direction and legs that just won’t quit! Nicola, that she can get anything done to the absolute best of her ability, has such a capacity for joy and a gorgeous smile. Rach, that she is always there with the wine when needed, can take any situation and turn it around to her advantage and has the best resting bitch face I have ever seen. And Emma F that she has the ability to make me belly laugh, cares so much about her family and has the best trout pout ever!

All of them are also amazing mothers, dealing with life in the best way they know how and they all inspire me every day. I love them.

You know, that kind of thing.

But one gal I haven’t seen for too long is my girl Bethany. Her full time work week and how precious her weekends have become, means I had to think of a really good reason to borrow her from her family for a few hours. So I’m taking her out for a special Galentine’s lunch to her favourite pub on Saturday. I can’t wait to catch up on allllllll the news about life up in that London, the exciting changes that have been going on and updating on how our children are doing. But most of all I can’t wait tell her how ridiculously amazing I think she is for doing all of it with such grace. And that I love her.

Happy Galentine’s ladies. Tell your tribe you love them.

 

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