Word of the Week: Sunday 29th March 2015

Here we are then… Word of the Week

I am meant to include a Word of the Week badge here but I cannot seem to make it work. Boo.

This week my word is LITTLE, because sometimes little can be good.

The word that best summarises my work is overwhelmed, but I don’t really want to acknowledge that and give presence to it, I want to try and look beyond a temporary set of circumstances that are proving challenging.

Maybe it’s an unconscious self-preservation thing, but I have sought and found solace in little things this weekend. Things feel sunnier as a result, as I stand and watch the hail rocket out of the sky. You ironic creature Mother Nature.

So first off, this little one tucking into his fish pie without a word of complaint. Cracking.

  Two hours spent in the company of close friends, chatting and drinking tea. Lovely.

The matter of moving Blake up to a proper big boy bed this weekend, with lovely bedding purchased from Dunelm. One happy boy, and hopefully better sleep for all of us as he no longer routinely crashes out of bed or kicks his tiny covers off. Bloody marvellous

 Vacuum packing! A TOTAL REVELATION. Take all of the bedding, clothing, towels, muslins, blankets and playmats that you have flung under your child’s bed and into his wardrobe over three years and which has been making your eye twitch nervously for months, fold haphazardly and shove into these brilliant bags from Aldi. £2.99 for 2. SMUG BARGAIN FACE. 

 

 Then suck all of the air out of them with your hoover and watch in amazement as they are compressed to a third of their previous size. Woop at Husband. Care nothing for his lack of interest. Go from this: 

 

To this: 

 

Whilst at Aldi I also picked up a couple of plant pots and some Strawberry, Tomato and Pepper seedlings, and planted them this afternoon which was surprisingly therapeutic. Closing off the week with a bit of new life or some other appropriately pretentious sentiment.  

 This activity also lead to an entirely inappropriate, given the weather, bout of soaking each other with the hose-pipe that had us all screeching with laughter and shivering madly like the utter loons that we are.

Finally these, which I spotted at Dunelm and loved immediately.

  

And this – the largest clove of Garlic I think the world has ever seen. 

 

So there we are. Little things that made the week better. Little.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Fashion Friday the 27th March 2015

It is Fashion Friday. This is a thing, in the same way that Throw back Thursday is a thing. Some of the new bloggers I’m following write about fashion on Fridays.

It is hilarious that I am attempting this really, given that fashion has been far from my radar ever since Blake appeared. In the aftermath of a three day labour and an aggressively colicy child, I felt like a turd for about 4 months. The baby weight came off thanks to utter exhaustion and feeding a child who demanded milk every two hours, but nothing fitted quite as it had done and frankly I didn’t care. I just wanted to sit in jogging bottoms on the sofa and eat Boost bars.

As time’s passed things have of course improved, but fashion stills feels far removed from me given that I have a child who has set himself a personal objective to be 6ft by the age of 12. Whatever spare cash there is goes into feeding my bottomless pit of a boy and keeping him in clothes (generally one to two sizes bigger than his age).

So I have fallen into a cycle of skrimping and saving to buy the bare essentials as when needed. New jeans when the old ones literally fall apart. A winter coat without holes in it. Socks, tights, pants. For three years there has been little thought of fashion.

So I have no fabulously stylish dress, or skinny jeans, or statement jewellery to offer you (although next week I hope to inherit a stash of clothing from one of the most stylish women I know, so who knows what will be on the cards next Friday). What I do have is this… MY HAIR.

I have a complex relationship with my hair. Today I have had a bad hair day. Basically because I have been lazy and scraped a brush through it and nothing more. And I am sure I can’t be the only woman out there who finds that if she is having a bad hair day she feels like crap. Not even the most stylish outfit going will cut it if my mop is not co-operating. 

And in reverse, if I am having a good hair day, I feel pretty fly appearance-wise. Doesn’t matter that my Breton top is by George at Asda. My hair looks niiiiiiiiice.

My friend Ashley has the most amazing hair. It is long and thick and always glossy, it is the type of hair I dream of. I have thick, wiry, coarse hay. It needs THE MOTHER OF ALL WORK to look even half way decent. Long ago, I had to accept that, given the massive psychological bearing my hair had upon me, I needed to spend cold hard cash. I am talking decent shampoo and conditioner and ideally a masque too. This had slipped somewhat of late – nothing against supermarket brands like TresSemme but they were doing nothing for my barnet and as a result I felt flat.

*FANFARE* Enter Living Proof, a discovery by Sophie (of pregnant with fractured ankle fame). I’ll put it out there – it is NOT CHEAP. But it is good. I use their Antifrizz range, and have combined this with lopping off my hair into a bob, and things are much improved. I’m feeling pretty stylish in my battered old boyfriend jeans and Nike hi-tops from the last decade.

And so here’s my secret. If you, like me, are not doing so well on the being-a-fashionable-Mum front, just invest in your hair. It’ll cost you less than a pair of jeans, and you will feel none too shabby as you buy 5 year old size jeans for your 3 year old in the local Sainsburys. The rest, I am sure, will come with time.

  dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

I should add that this blog is inspired by honestmum.com and her fashionfriday Linky which I have linked to. I have however failed to wok out how to add her #fashionfriday badge to this post. Go and check her out anyway x

We interrupt this blog to bring you a recipe: Sun 22nd March 2015

I have had a general disinterest in lentils for a long time, which is a little ridiculous for someone who flirts with Veganism once every couple of months. I can get myself comfortable with them in the form of a nice Dal but other than that I’ve been pretty ambivalent towards them because to me, there’s just not much going on in the way of taste or texture or ANYTHING when it comes to the humble lentil. And when you wrap this general ambivalence into having to deal with the nappies of a child who has eaten lentil bake, you move into ‘complicated relationship’ territory.

So there I was, shrugging my shoulders and muttering a nonchalant ‘BOF’ at lentils when MY MIND WAS BLOWN by my friend Sophie.

Blake and I had pottered round to see Sophie and her son Henry last week, and over the back-drop of two small boys playing and bickering, she’d offered to make some lunch.

‘Lentil and Cous Cous Salad?’

‘Sure’ I said, because I don’t dislike lentils, they’re just a bit blah.

And what she dished up was quite frankly a freakishly delicious, nutrious, filling salad. It was a revelation, and given the fact it is about as easy to make as it is to fart, I am hooked. I have made and eaten it every day since Friday, and given it’s nearly Summer (DID YOU HEAR THAT BRITISH WEATHER?) I thought you all might like to know about this bad boy so you can add it into your Summer Salad repertoire.

So here we go…

Sophie’s Lentil and Cous Cous Salad.

What you need to do is this…

Take yourself off to whichever Supermarket it is you frequent, and buy the basic ingredients that you think make up a good simple salad.

For me, this is a bag of leaves, plum tomatoes, spring onions, cucumber and avocado.

If you happen to shop at Waitrose, hot foot it to their swanky foreign goods section and pick up one of their pre-cooked Puy Lentil and Quinoa packs. They are the ones in the pink pack with the tear off top and the rather uninspiring brown contents which you MUST NOT LET FOOL YOU FOR ONE SECOND.

If you do not shop at Waitrose, you will need to buy some Puy Lentils, Quinoa and some stock cubes.

You should also pick up a pack of Ainslet Harriot’s Sundried Tomato and Garlic Cous Cous. If you shop at Aldi (HI) you want the knock off ‘World Foods’ version.

Then you should do the following:

If you have bought the Waitrose Lentil pack, you may skip step 1.

Step 1: get a pan of water boiling on the hob. Crumble in a stock cube. Dollop in about 5 tbsp of quinoa and 3 of lentils and simmer for somewhere between 7-10 mins. If you haven’t cooked Quinoa before, it’s cooked once it looks like it has burst out of it’s tiny shell, probably because that’s exactly what it has done. Drain and drizzle a bit of olive oil over to stop it sticking together in a big fat lump.

Step 2: boil a kettle

Step 3: bung a salad together and shove in a bowl. You know how that bit goes, chop chop bung bung.

Step 4: measure out 200ml of hot water from the freshly boiled kettle and dump the contents of the cous cous packet into it. Leave it be.

If you have the fancy lentils, complete step 5, otherwise move right on to step 6.

Step 5: tear top off fancy lentils and microwave according to instructions.

Step 6: bring it all together. Give the cous cous a fluff with a fork and then tip it into a container with the lentils and quinoa and give it all a stir to combine. Dollop however much you like on top of your salad.

Now, what Sophie did, which I have been doing because I think it is delicious, is drizzled some olive oil over the top. I think that’s all the dressing it needs, but James bunged some Soy Sauce onto his and then inhaled it in about the time it took me to say ‘Ooo, Soy, interesting.’ And I’d imagine it would be nice also with some lemon/lime juice. Go wild and experiment!

Devour and marvel at the transformation of the humble lentil. Bank smug points for having found a salad that will actually fill you up whilst remaining healthy.

I have no photo yet because I literally fall on it like a hungry velociraptor as soon as I have dished it up. Sorry.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Word of the Week: Friday 20th March 2015

The Reading Residence

Now please don’t get too excited when I tell you that this week’s word of the week is… NAKED.

For 2 reasons.

Firstly, my Son appears to be practising for a promising career in naturism. His naked bottom is making frequent appearances, in private and public.

He will pull his trousers and pants down at ANY GIVEN OPPORTUNITY.

Today in Cafe Nero in Harborne.

Also three times at home.

And when he has not got his pants round his ankles, he enjoys shoving his hands down the back of his trousers and saying ‘that’s my bum Mummy.’

What started as an expression of anger (which was in reality quite hilarious – furious, pouting, screaming child shuffling around like a penguin with his trousers and pants caught round his legs) has now become a habit. I have no idea how to deal with it, so I am ignoring it. And really there’s not much more to say on the matter.

Secondly, because I am not much in love with my naked face at the moment. In fact, I am not in love with any version of my face: naked, caked in makeup, or anything in between.

Three hectic, stressful, sleep and exercise and sunlight deprived months have taken their toll and I look like a hag. My skin is pallid and dry and wrinkled. I have bags upon bags upon bags under my eyes.

It has bothered me all week, my naked face, especially as people have this week started expressing kind but soul-destroying concern. OOO ARE YOU OKAY, YOU LOOK DAZED AND TIRED.

But IT IS OK PEOPLE! I have A THREE POINT PLAN.

It is this:

1. DO NOT ALLOW THE NOVELTY OF YOUR THERMOS (yes, Thermos, read this) to stop you drinking WATER. Water is good for your skin. Skipping water for gallons of tea from your Thermos will not make you all glowy and dewy-skinned like Ingrid friggin-Nilson. So I will be taking another Thermos (don’t ask) of chilled water to work with me and alternating tea and water. HA HA.

2. GO THE FUNK TO BED. Stop waiting up for your husband while he works his 100 hour a week job. It is a sweet gesture, but you are both so tired by the time he crawls through the door that you just grunt at each other like Dinosaurs and slope off to bed to dribble and snore. Give it up. He is giving up the job. You can have a conversation soon. Sleep is good for your skin.

3. FLANNELS. I am quite convinced that flannels will be the answer to my skin woes having read a recent blog by Pouting in Heels about improving her skin in the blink of an eye. So I will stop my dunking-face-in-sink-of-tepid-water skincare routine and I will religiously massage the freebie Balance Me cleanser I picked up from this month’s Glamour magazine onto my face and then remove with a warm, wrung out flannel (I hot footed it to B&M in my lunch break and bought every flannel they had going so that I could also use a fresh one each day as suggested.)

So you can absolutely expect a Word of the Week along the lines of GLOWING or RADIANT in a few weeks time. I might even share a picture of my transformed face. Although there will probably be a child with no pants on in the background.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

We interrupt this blog to bring you a (beauty) recipe: Sat 14th March 2015

It has been a riotous few days in the company of one of my very best friends. There have been double measure spirits consumed (I don’t think I have drunk a double since Blake was born), and chips and steak and champagne and today I am a shell of myself.

Ideally I would lie in a darkened room for the next three days, consuming only lettuce leaves, kale and water, but there’s the small matter of the three year old and masses of washing and LIFE so instead I crawled out of bed this morning, did a workout and then attempted to scrub all traces of tiredness, bad food and alcohol from my face using a home-made Peppermint body and face scrub.

I made this first in the run up to Christmas as a gift for loads of friends and family and it went down a treat with everyone. I’ve been meaning to share it on here for a while because it is quite simply the nicest body scrub I have used, it really does the trick even on my sensitive skin and face, and it is HASHTAG CHEAP.

So here you go…

Sian’s (stolen from Pinterest) Peppermint Body and Face Scrub

You will need some of this:

Having experimented a bit, I would recommend you go for something with a chunkier grain, like granulated sugar, as it roughs off dead skin better.

And then some of this:

Really you can use any oil – I’ve used Olive Oil once but couldn’t help feeling like I smelt like a chicken about to be roasted for days. Sweet Almond is certainly very well received by my skin. I bought this from Amazon because it seems like there is very little you can’t buy on Amazon this days and I do so love to support a tax dodging multinational in my spare time.

And finally some of this:

Also purchased from Amazon. Really you can use any essential oil you like. The stronger smelling the base oil you use, the more essential oil you will probably need to cover the smell. I love Peppermint because it smells fresh and zingy in the morning and wakes me up, but I have also done a soothing brown sugar scrub for my Mum using Lavender and Patchoulli, so take your pick.

What you need to do is work on the principle of double the sugar to oil. So however much oil you start with you want double the amount of sugar AT LEAST. For me, the consistency is a bit too liquid still, so I tend to bung a bit more sugar in. Mix it up until it is right for you.

Then add a couple of drops of essential oil. Be careful here folks as essential oil neat can be irritating to your skin. You want to work with drops of the stuff, not big slugs. I make in bulk, so tend to use between 6-10 drops for a great big mixing bowl of scrub, but if you are only making a small quantity then only use a very little bit of essential oil.

Stir it all together with a big wooden spoon, singing something appropriate (I’M SPINNING AROUND, MOVE OUT OF MY WAY-AY) with gusto.

Store in airtight containers. Old jam jars that have been through the dishwasher work well. Use once a week. I’m no dermatologist, but I do have fairly sensitive skin and I find this is fine if used gently on my face, but take it steady obviously, it might not work for you.

Scrub a dub.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused 

Spring

I’ve been busy today! Two blogs. Unprecedented. But today we got SUNSHINE and something resembling a mild climate which, after a long, dark, soggy, grim February (MOST depressing of months), is worthy of a few words I think.

It made me immeasurably happy to look out of the Kitchen window this morning and see sunlight in the garden. It made me happier still to see washing flying on the line an hour or so later, and it made me verge on ecstatic to see James and Blake pottering and playing around the garden together.

After our stint in Singapore with its tropical climate and gorgeous November sunshine, I have found this Winter hard. Desperate for an ease in the freezing temperatures and a let-up in winds that can slice a chunk out of your face with their ferocity, I have sat and hoped and tried to fill grey day after grey day with amusing, enjoyable, stimulating activities for my child. I have frozen my arse off in what feels like the majority of Birmingham’s parks. I have honestly believed I had frost-bite on two occasions. I have gone through hundreds of boxes of tissues catching drop after drop from Blake’s nose. I have longed for a time when we can go outside and not be perished, or soaked, or coughing our little lungs up.

And finally, today, we have been gifted a crisp Spring day! THANK YOU. 

We cut a dash for the Botanical Gardens this afternoon, which I blogged about fairly recently after we spent a happy but freezing afternoon there. At our last visit, it looked (beautiful but) icy, and it hailed:

Today, it looked like this:



It was even bright enough at one point for this to happen:

We are nearly there fellow Winter-worn Mums and Dads. Spring is having a bloody good try at arriving, and with it will be a reprieve in the constantly streaming noses, the fear or Noro, the hacking chesty coughs. I hope. Now run and buy yourselves a bunch of Daffodils and start researching Summer salad recipes.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

Word of the week: 6th March 2015

I’d like to say I have been secretly smug this week, but that would be a lie. I have been openly smug because of my word of the week.

THERMOS

I had honestly forgotten Thermoses existed. My Dad drives for a living and has long trundled off in the morning with a Thermos of Coffee, but by virtue of not living with my parents for years and years my mind had wiped The Thermos from existence.

Until last Friday, when a friend of mine, who has very unfortunately fractured her ankle whilst heavily pregnant *nightmare* (big love Sophie) mentioned that she had bought a Thermos so that her Husband could make her a batch of tea or coffee in the morning that would keep her going all day and prevent her having to try and get to the Kitchen on her poorly ankle.

*LIGHTBULB MOMENT*

We have a Costa concession at work, who charge the princely sum of 70p for a cup of tea. Which in itself isn’t so bad, except if like me you are essentially a Neanderthal when deprived of Tea, which ideally needs to be drip fed into your system. Then, the 70ps stack up, and before you know it you have set up residence in the Canteen and are spending £10 over 3 days.

So I have purchased the slightly phallic looking beast below, for nine hundred and ninety nine English pennis, and every morning this week I have decanted a full litre of freshly made Tea into it and slugged my way through it over the course of the day. And I find it is still steaming hot at 3.30pm. Marvellous.

I am one week in and I have not taken any money out of the cashpoint at work. My Thermos is already cash neutral. More marvellous. I anticipate this will save me somewhere between £30-£40 each month, and as you’ll know if you’re a part-time working Mum, that is a considerable amount of money.

So there you have it. My word of the week, and cause for skrimping-and-saving-celebration, is THERMOS. Now I urge you to buy one for yourself.

dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused

The laundry backlog

Wondrous things have happened here today. James has cleared the laundry backlog! 

He has had a day off, and he has sorted and folded and made piles out of all the clean laundry strewn all over the spare room, and put two washes through. It is joyous.

I am failing at laundry. I can get it clean and dry but I simply cannot seem to find the extra half an hour or so in the day between my work, James’ current 100 hour working weeks, raising Blake and keeping up an appearance of hygiene in the house; to sort the sodding stuff and put it away. 

And so the mother of all laundry backlogs has crept across the room, like ivy or wisteria or some other rapidly sprawling plant. Up until today, the spare room looked like an overgrown wilderness of laundry. Clothes haphazardly shoved on every available surface (including the toy kitchen to Blake’s dismay), pants hanging from cupboard handles, clothes suspended over doors and airing racks, huge piles of towels and bedding and toddler socks balanced precariously on the spare bed. 

And every morning I wade through it searching for whatever items of clothing I need for myself and Blake for the day, and James does the same, and we stub our toes on children’s toy buried beneath it all and I lament my incompetence. 

I don’t know why it is that I can’t make the final link in the chain, but I consistently fail and so the laundry backlog builds and I wilt a little more at my slovenly attempts at domesticity.

But today James has been a knight in shining armour! It is done. The room is clear. Washing is put away. There is a chance that two teeny, tiny, irrational-raging-lunatic moments may have helped him on his way, may have possibly demonstrated a small amount of emotional baggage attached to the laundry backlog, but in all honesty these two mards were so small and insignificant I imagine that in fact laundry is how he gets his kicks and he relished every moment of the task.

Sorry James. Thank you x



dazedandmumfused is on Twitter @dazednmumfused and Instagram: dazedandmumfused