Tuesday, 31 January 2012

With a cherry on top

I haven't taken part in a meme for ever such a long time, but was tagged by the lovely Louise from Bloggomy and you know what, I really like this one!

The Rules

  • Thank the person who tagged you 
  • List 3 things you love about yourself
  • Post a picture that you love
  • Pass this onto 5 bloggers you love
So without further ado, here goes:

1) Thank you Lou for tagging me!  We have only met a handful of times, but after the MADS she stayed in our London flat and we sat up until the sun came up drinking wine and talking.  We have such a lovely connection and she is such an amazing lady who I am happy to call a friend.

2) Things I love about myself

I love my mouth!  Firstly, my teeth which despite HAW calling them my "tombstones" as they ARE big but I have to say, I am very lucky in that they are straight and fairly white since I stopped smoking years ago.  I wish I could afford to get them whitened as then I would have in my opinion, the perfect smile!  I like the proportion of my lips as well....what do you reckon?

I love my self-confidence, I have always been confident in myself and I really hope that our children inherit this trait from both HAW and I.  It takes you far!

Finally, I love that I have set up my own business with just £300 and  that went into profit within 6 weeks.  I now run Halo Lifestyle Photography with my beautiful business partner and we are planning world domination..watch this space!

Here is the photo I love, it was taken last January on a miserable, cloudy, London day at the top of Primrose Hill.  The family were lovely and this is such a whimsical image it makes me smile every time I see it.  I couldn't decide on a family one, but it goes without saying that my family ROCK, I just wish I could capture us in an awesome pose like this!!!

Now, for the hard bit.  Too pass this onto 5 bloggers I LOVE.  Firstly, I am name checking my amazing friend Tamsyn Wood who won't be able to take part in this meme due to her home circumstances (read her blog for an update) I just want her to know she is always not far from my mind and I love her

Secondly, I am tagging Mummy Barrow who is like my blogging sister.  Not only does she make me laugh (a lot!) but she is going to be my roomate, expect cocktails and cackling until dawn, feel sorry for our neighbours!

Thirdly, I am tagging the Melksham Mum who makes me laugh, if you don't follow her she is worth a follow as she is lovely and chatty.

Fourthly (is there such a word?!) I am tagging Me and My Shadow who is an incredibly supportive blogger and lovely lady to boot.  I am looking forward to spending more time with her.

Finally, the 5th blogger I am tagging is Tiddly Om Pom Pom who is lovely, funny and inspirational - check out her challenges!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Davina for Next - Week 3

Reporting from the far flung sunny shores of Sri Lanka last week, sees me back in London Suburbia and suffering.  I have suffered horrendously from jet lag and then by Wednesday was suffering from a cold, headache and general malaise.  Consequently, I haven't exercised as much as I would have liked, but I did manage a run on Monday and a spinning class on Wednesday but since then, I haven't felt up to any sort of training. 

In fact, I am still sitting on the sofa and suffering, my cough hacking and my lungs ache.  I have also eaten rubbish as I feel sorry for myself, so not expecting any weight loss this week (weigh in is Monday).

However, whilst I know this is NOT good, it is not going to stop me from carrying on.  As soon as I feel better, I will get right back into the swing of things and carry on what I have started and just looking at this exclusive message from Davina McCall also inspires me.  Oh to have a hair and make up artist though!!!!

How are you all getting on???

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Trash Pack "Trashies" the latest craze in collectables review

I have blogged before about the things my children like to collect and when I say we have collected them all, I really mean we have!  The latest craze in collectables is set to be Trash Pack "Trashies" who are a gross gang of squidgy collectables, each represents an item of rubbish and have very cute names!  

We all know that children are fascinated by the disgusting and my two boys are no exception, they took great delight the other day in comparing fart smells under the duvet and you can guarantee that if there was a minuscule, muddy puddle in the middle of a vast field, they would find it!

We were sent a dump truck playset and 5 trashies to review and on opening the package, Beansey exclaimed "oh mum, this is beyond AWESOME, I have seen these on TV and they are cool" so, firstly, well done that TV buyer, the advertising is clearly working to your target audience!

The playset consisted of a rubbish truck that opens out giving the child the opportunity to place a trashie into the driving seat of the dumper truck, but by far and away,  my boys preferred the option of using the rubbish bin to fling the trashies all over the place!  |They lined up the dustbins and spent a rather long time in trying to knock down the bins in the style of a "tin can alley".  This naturally progressed onto trying to get the trashies to land into their own bins.

Like most collectables, some are rarer than others and are designated common, rare, ultra rare and limited edition and with over 170 individuals in the range, there is great scope for playing "swapsies".  They are divided into "gross gangs", the only thing I would say here, is that there is nothing on the trashie or its bin to tell you its name or gang.  Saying that, I am an old fogey and Beansey was able to tell me what ones he had anyway!

Beansey was straight onto the website to find out more and delighted in telling me that is the US, 18 BILLION nappies are thrown out each year,  (re-useables people, come on) and that it takes 2 days for a banana skin to decompose.

Happy Collecting!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Can you help?? £1 is all we need

My beautiful friend Tamsyn blogs at Anecdotes of a manic mum and to be quite frank, she is having a terrible, terrible time of it at the moment.  Tamsyn and her husband Alex moved over to France in search of the "good life" and had a harem of dogs, cats, chickens and ducks, not to mention 4 amazing children under the age of 8.  They had ambitions of being green and self sufficient.  Money was tight, but boy were these guys happy.   

Everything changed in the blink of an eye one day in October last year.  Alex suffered a devastating injury playing Rugby that saw him have 2 brain bleeds in 48 hours.  Tamsyn was told to prepare for the worst.  Please take the time to read her blog, because my words cannot even begin to touch the way that Tamsyn expresses her feelings for the situation. 

Yesterday was Alex's 33rd birthday - here is a letter that Tamsyn wrote to him on her blog as you can see, life is changing dramatically for this wonderful family but they are struggling financially to bring Alex back to the UK.

If everyone of my twitter/blog followers donated just £1 that would be over £2k raised for this family.  It would really, *REALLY* make a difference, it would help a fellow blogger/mum/wife/friend and give her one less thing to worry about.  I will start the blogger donation going and pledge £50 below.

You can find out more on the dedicated website that has been set up in Alex's name making waves for Alex

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Our trip to Sri Lanka

HAW and I have just returned from Sri Lanka, our first holiday WITHOUT THE KIDS.  Since setting up my own little empire I have been constantly juggling the whole WAHM/SAHM balance and naturally, something had to give, this was sadly, the quality time that HAW spent together and the housework!

We are incredibly lucky in that my parents are young at heart and very able, not only that, they are the most amazing parents and grandparents and we are so blessed to have them living close by.  I couldn't have set my business up without them and I am very grateful for all the help they give us.  They have a great relationship with all the children and so I had no qualms about leaving them at all - in fact, the kids were looking forward to a holiday with Nanny and Lala!

We went to the Maldives in 2008 via Columbo and one of the first impressions that HAW had of Sri Lanka was that it was very green and lush.   Therefore, we decided to plan a trip now that the civil war is over.

We flew with Qatar airlines which have recently been voted as the best in the World - they were beyond awesome and made (me!) a very nervous flyer at ease.  On arrival in Columbo we were instantly assaulted by the smells and noise, thankfully, we had a private car pick us up for the 2 hour drive down to Bentota which was a blessing after such a long journey - I promptly fell asleep!

We then spent the next 7 days relaxing in only a way you can do without children!  Whilst I love a family holiday more than anything else, It rarely tends to be relaxing, more a case of same routine, different country!  We relished in just "being" a couple.  We talked and talked and laughed and laughed.  We slept, we swam, we surfed and we ate lobster and king prawns literally every day!!!

We planned and plotted and it was LOVELY to do so without any distractions or interruptions.  The magic of modern technology meant we could speak to the kids everyday, but the truth of the matter is, we were more desperate to speak to them than the other way around!  The highlight for me though, was going to the turtle sanctuary and releasing turtles back into the wild.  It was one of those very special moments and I feel incredibly privileged that we were able to help in this conservation project.

It was a truly magical week and although the suntan is now fading, the memories and dreams will live on in my heart forever.

Peace and Love

S.A.M  xx

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Self Portrait

Self Portrait - Project 366

I have just been going through our holiday photos and there are very few of me as I am always on the other side of the camera!  Consequently, I have just decided to do a quick self portrait.......would love to see others doing this as well - if you have, then please come back and post your link below!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Davina for Next - Week 2 from Sri Lanka

It's 4am as I am writing this - just back from an AMAZING time in Sri Lanka but suffering from jetlag!

When I blogged last week about getting fit with Next and Davina MCCall I vowed to run 3x a week with a goal of running 10k in May 2012.  I have just spent the last 8 days in Sri Lanka with HAW so the big question is, was I able to schedule my runs?!

The answer sadly is no as it was just too hot to be running and I didn't have the inspiration to set the alarm to get up for an early morning run along the beach, BUT (you knew there would be a "but" hey ;-) I did exercise in some way, shape or form EVERY DAY so that more than makes up for it in my book!

The hotel we were staying in had a fitness suite that thankfully had A/C so after breakfast on 2 mornings I went for a gentle jog for 20 minutes and then spent 10 minutes lifting weights for toning, I know it's not exactly a full on workout, but baby steps and all that jazz.

However, what I did do everyday was some form of exercise from body boarding to swimming to walking on he beach at sunset (although we did this with a bottle of beer in hand I have to say) but the combination of good, fresh seafood and enjoyable, everyday exercise has meant that I have come back from holiday 4lbs lighter!  This has NEVER happened to me before and I am thrilled! Now all I need to do is keep that momentum going!
Lobster and salad pretty much every night

There are 10 bloggers taking part in the challenge, if you want to read how they are doing, then head on over using the links below:

Friday, 13 January 2012

Top Tips for Toning your body at Home

Here are some exclusive tips from Davina for working out at home, if you can commit to doing just 3 of these a week, you'll see a difference in the levels of body tone and over time, you'll be able to increase the amount of what you can and can't do!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Holiday Heaven

Last year, I left it to HAW to book the family Summer Holiday. I had visions of us all being pampered at a 5 star resort, sipping cocktails as the sun went down and the kids playing merrily in the pool before we all headed out to sample the local delights of a quaint yet charming restaurant.

Days would blend seamlessly into nights as we relaxed and enjoyed some much needed family time.  So when he came home and sheepishly told me we were going to a camp site and staying in a caravan no less, you can imagine what my reaction was.  I was not impressed. 

You see, over the years, I have become a bit of a holiday snob. 

I have been lucky enough to have visited some amazing places and have experienced many wonderful things from floating in the Dead Sea to flying a propeller plane into the South American Jungle not to mention an elephant safari in Thailand and deep sea fishing in the Maldives.  I have been truly blessed with my adventures.

Having children changed our agenda, we still have that wanderlust but of course, for the time being at least, we have had to be more practical and consider everybody's needs rather than our own. 

Things started to look better when I realised we were going to Ile de Re.  An ex colleague hails from there and as well as being home to the delectable Jonny Depp it is also renowned for being a glamorous yet relaxed island with lots to do.

We flew to Nantes and picked up a hire car and within an hour we were driving through the beautiful French countryside down to La Rochelle where we took in the sights and supped on mussels swimming in garlic with crusty bread.
La Rochelle Harbour
On arrival at our campsite, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the pitches were well spaced out and the vibe was relaxed.  Our mobile home was spotless and well equipped and had 3 bedrooms and a huge decked area with a gas BBQ.

We ventured to the local town and bought huge lobsters and giant prawns from the fish market for less than 10E.  Days were spent on a deserted beach which had a small lagoon for the children as well as a supervised beach club.   The beaches were spectacular, we made endless sandcastles and splashed in the lagoon making up games involving sharks.  

see anyone?! Nope, this was the end of August in France
 The campsite itself was amazing, a real blend of nationalities and all of the children irrespective of language played together in only the way that young children do.  The kids club was fully supervised and we were able to leave the children for a few hours safe in the knowledge that they were being well looked after by British, qualified staff.  The evenings were balmy and we spread our wings by driving to local restaurants to sample the local produce, the children were eating snails, mussels and lobster and relishing the new tastes and experiences.  We also made good use of the BBQ and dined like kings and queens.
Outside our mobile home
 Our 10 days were soon over, and as we sat and reflected on our last night, we decided that actually, a campsite was our PERFECT holiday for the here and now.  The kids get the freedom to roam with their friends, we get the flexibility to relax, explore, play tennis or even have a massage and we have created some amazing memories that we will all cherish for years to come.  In fact, we have convinced the cousins that the way forward is camping and are hoping to book the same with them for this year!  

This is my entry into the my Menorca Holiday Villa competition which could see me win £100 in M+S vouchers which would all be spent on Champagne for Christmas!!


Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Getting Fit with Next and Davina McCall - Week 1

Just before Christmas, the Next Blogger Network were looking for bloggers to road test the new Davina for Next range that is currently in store and on line and selling out fast.   I blogged about going from fit to fat and how I wanted to get back to my physical best, I still can't quite believe that I have gone from a 5 times a week gym bunny to a sofa sloucher, but my resolution this year is to get my fitness levels back on track.

Today, not only did I take delivery of my new fitness gear and trainers, I also put it to the test.

Here is what I ordered:

Grey Long Line Hoody

F.I.T trainers with Blue Cropped loose Pants

AWESOME hand warmers

Now all I needed to do, was put it to the test.  The skies were blue, the sun was out and so, with my ipod tuned to some hard, fast, dance music, off I set.  Now, bearing in mind, I used to be able to run 10k in less than 50 minutes, I was anticipating that I would be able to run at a leisurely pace, breathing in the air and enjoying it at least.  I went on one of my old routes which takes in the road, the woods and a giant field and I *thought* I would be able to run it all at a slow, gentle pace.

How WRONG was I?

I was jogging for less than 5 minutes before I had to stop, stretch it out (boy did my calves ache) and then set off again.  I was really surprised that I could only run for 5 minutes at a stretch.  However, I did it, was out for about an hour.  I really have my work cut out here.

So my fitness goals is thus:

1) Run 3x a week
2) Be running 10k by the 1st May without stopping

I also plan to factor in some gym work but I really want to test my fitness levels by using my running goals.  In fact, I am going to enter the London 10k to give me something to work towards.  Anyone want to join me?

I'll also be posting news and exclusive tips from Davina herself so stay tuned as I go from Fat to Fit!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Handbags and the Gladrags

You may or may not know that the song “Handbags and the Gladrags” was written in 1967 by Mike d'Abo, who was then the lead singer of Manfred Mann. D'Abo describes the song as "saying to a teenage girl that the way to happiness is not through being trendy. There are deeper values”

It was then recorded by Rod Stuart in 1970 and the Stereophonics in 2001 when it became an instant hit.

I totally agree that there is more to life than fashion and bags, but I have seen grown women cooing over handbags as they would a new born.   Indeed, I have been a cooer myself and remember the thrill of walking into Gucci in the 1990s and spending a small fortune on a bag and purse from my first pay packet.  I now have a collection of bags from my everyday satchel to designer bags worth hundreds of pounds and each handbag is rotated depending on what I am wearing and where I am going.

So what is it that drives women to rant about Radley, or go gag a for Gucci? Why is it that men carry a wallet and nothing more? 

I think we need to look back as far as pre historic times and that this “need” is something that is deeply sated in the female genes, it is traditionally the female of the species who have been the carers, the nurturers and the ones who look after everyone, show me a female and I will show you a handbag that has tissues, nappies, wipes, make up, food, laptops and pens, we seem to carry things to make the world a better place. 

The last 20 years has seen an explosion in the “must have” handbag and bags are now the number one counterfeit product seized by customs.  It seems that for some, the handbag has come to represent social status as well as taste and style.  Bags are now given names – we have the “hobo” and “mitzi” as well as the coveted “birkin” which again, I believe lends to us being the carers, we are nurturing our handbags – how bizarre is that?!

Personally, I think a handbag can finish an outfit and the reason I spend my hard earned cash on an expensive bag is that it is something I will use and love for years.  I still have my 20 year old Gucci handbag and it is still in brilliant condition and used on the odd occasion.   I genuinely believe that Pixie will be enjoying my handbag collection in years to come.

So whilst the key to happiness is clearly not through handbags it is definitely something that can give you the “feel good” factor time and time again and in this day and age, that is no bad thing!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post.  However, all thoughts and longings for the latest bag are mine and mine alone.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Deadly 60 trading cards

We have collected them all over the years, Pokemon, Match Attax. Moshi Monsters, Star Wars, Panini and a million more I can't even remember the names but they have driven HAW nuts as they cost a lot of money and then end up all over the house.  I honestly think that man forgets what it is like to be a child at times!!  

I loved collecting stickers as a child and if my kids want to spend their hard earned pocket money on trading cards, then that is up to them!!!!  

Beansy has always been a real action man - at 3 years of age he was watching Bear Grylls back to back and has always had an interest in the world around him, he has moved from Bear (seen them all, I kid you not) to Steve Backshall and both him and Bobo are hooked on the CBBC show deadly 60.

project 366 009/366
Over the Christmas holidays, he was in the local shop and saw Deadly 60 trading cards.  Needless to say, he wanted them and was lucky enough that Santa heard his plea as he got a few packets in his stocking.  It was a massive hit with both boys and now they spend endless hours trading and testing each other on facts about the "deadliest" creatures.

Do your children collect anything???  If so, what?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Scruffy Hair

I'm cursed with natural curly hair which means that I am unable to do much with it,  I used to get it blow-dried straight twice a week pre kids, but I just don't have the time or inclination to do that now.  Consequently I have a minimalistic style in that I just let dry naturally and with the right products, it can end up looking lovely.  I have made peace with my hair and am growing to love it.

The kids on the other hand, have the worst of both worlds.  HAW has very fine, dead straight hair and both Beansy and Pixie have gone from having cute baby ringlets,  to fine, wavy hair which is the worst bits of both HAW and I!  It means that the pair of them constantly have scruffy hair - If I brush it, it frizzes and if I don't, it gets tangled.  The only time it looks lovely is after a hair wash and left to dry naturally, but come on, who washes their kids hair daily?!

Project 366 008/366

I have a water spray bottle that I squirt before school to smooth down the bed hair, but apart from that, they are always sporting scraggly, scruffy hair!

BoBo on the other hand, has amazing thick, curly, auburn hair that always looks lovely.  If I had a pound for everyone who said what beautiful hair he has.........

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Silent Sunday

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Super Amazing Mum Loves....Albert Bridge

I have always lived and worked in London.  I am a proud Londoner but over the years, I had got quite London blasé and had stopped appreciating the beauty on my doorstep.  However, working with a Kiwi business partner and lots of clients who want Iconic London photo shoots, I have re-discovered my love for what in my opinion is the BEST City in the World.  How lucky am I??  This year is set to be an amazing year for London, who of course are hosting the Olympics but I hope that people (Londoners or otherwise!) take the time to STOP and look at the beauty of the architecture and City.  

Today, after a client viewing in Chelsea, I was driving back along the river and my breath caught as I glimpsed the bridge through the trees of the embankment.  It has always been my favourite bridge and has always captivated me, initially as a small child when my lovely Grandad told me it was called "the trembling lady" and that soldiers had to fall out of step when crossing her.   There even used to be sign confirming this but as I was in the car, I didn't get a chance to look.  Looking back, I have no idea "why" it was called the "trembling lady" - can anyone enlighten me??   

As an adult, I would stumble home in a black cab through the deserted streets its lights always gave me reassurance that I was nearly home and "south of the river".

Project 366 7/366
It is beautifully lit at night by 4,000 bulbs and is a stunning chalky pink colour.  For the last few years it has been shut for refurbishment but I am thrilled that we can now drive over it again.  For me, it will always have a special place in my heart.

Do you have a favourite London Landmark?  If so, what is it and why?

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Friday, 6 January 2012

Family Rules

Rules are important in a family, they set boundaries and everyone know what to expect.  Here are our rules, that reside at the top of the stairs (hence the funny photo angle!) so that we are reminded several times a day of what is important to us.    Every day before the kids go into school I always say "bye, bye, love you lots, remember to work hard, play hard" and we are always saying "I love you".  Some of us need to work on "always say sorry" but we all "laugh out loud" lots and lots!

Project 366 6/366

If you fancy writing your own family rules you can head on over to Lucys Locket or tweet with @alysonsblog!

Do you have rules?? What are they??

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

A cure for snoring??

HAW has a predisposition for snoring.  In fact, I can totally understand why couples end up sleeping in separate rooms as they get older, as according to my research (6 mums and 1 dad at the school gate this morning) partners keep each other awake, almost nightly and not for the right reasons!!!!  

HAW and I are off to Sri Lanka next week for a well earned week away of relaxing and rest, but the one thing that I know will throw a spanner in the works, is his loud snoring!  Now, he doesn't do it every night, but I can pretty much guarantee that 5 out of 7 nights I have to give him a budge and say "stop snoring" or "turn over" which he does and the snoring is relieved for all of 60 seconds.

As a Sterimar Ambassador I have been using sterimar on myself and the children for nearly a year now and *none* of us have had a cold or even been ill.  I truly believe that we are ridding ourselves of germs by using this on a daily basis.  HAW on the other hand, hasn't been using it and has suffered from colds.  Go figure that one!!  

Whilst chatting to a friend, she told me that her husband uses Sterimar to help with his snoring and so, HAW has agreed that he will be my guinea pig.  He is going to use Sterimar for a month and I will then report back on the snoring.  Finger's crossed it works as the bags under my eyes will soon be packing their own bags if I don't get a decent nights sleep soon.

Sterimar is great for the whole family and if you or your loved ones are suffering from colds, allergies or the snuffles, then I can't recommend it highly enough.  It is totally natural and isotonic and can be used on babies as well as it has no side effects whatsoever.

I'll let you know how we get on!

Peace and Love 

S.A.M xx

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Me, Cheese and Davina McCall

My business partner Miriam and I have the same tastes in a lot of things, but none more so than food!  I struggle to think of something that either of us  don't like and so, when we work together (as we do most Thursday/Fridays) we delight in stopping for a proper lunch.  Sometimes I bring something to cook and sometimes she does.  It just works and we relish the break in our day.

Today I brought around a "super soup" - it was spinach, edamame, leek and spinach with a splash of cream and a garlic ciabatta.  This is what she presented me with:

Project 366 - Day 5

Out go my resolutions of watching what I eat!  

I am not a massive cheese eater, but over Christmas, HAW and I eat cheese, quince and crackers most nights for supper.  Consequently, I pile the weight on and then have to work extra hard to get rid of the weight gained!   At the end of 2011, I blogged about the Next getting fit with Davina campaign and how I was hoping to be picked.  Well, I have just received an email to confirm that I am one of the lucky (hmmm) bloggers who will be part of the getting fit with Davina campaign.  Serendipitous or what?!!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Super Amazing Mum Loves............

This week I have fallen in love all over again with MAC pro longwear lipcolour.  I first discovered these about five years ago and then went through a "red only" lipstick stage and at the time, MAC didn't have a red colour in the longwear.

Last week I was shopping on the Kings Road and popped into MAC for a browse, I was thrilled to see that they now have the longwear in red (Passion preserved) and promptly bought two!!

Photo Credit

They retails at £17 and is a double ended stick - colour at one end, and then a clear gloss at the other.  You apply the colour and then use the gloss throughout the day to add shine.  It really does stand the trials of the day - kisses, coffees and lots of chat and the colour is still there.  In fact, you do need a good make up remover to get rid of the colour but it lasts all this time without drying out.
If you are looking for long lasting colour with shine, then I can't recommend these highly enough!!  They are great for mums on the run and a superb time saver!

Do you have a favourite time saving beauty product??

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Morning in the Skate Park

Last day of the Christmas Holidays, HAW was, well back at work and Pixie was back at pre school.  She is now entitled to 15 hours a week and so today was there from 9-1pm!  Consequently, when I asked the boys what they wanted to do, the answer was "Skate Park" so off we headed to Priory Park for the last skate of the Christmas holidays!! 

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Home Made French Onion Soup

We woke up this morning to a real change in the weather, cold, windy and the rain!  Oh my.....

I had a huge sack of onions, so on a whim, decided to make French Onion Soup.  Easy, comforting and of course, the most important thing, it is simply delicious.  It is a real winter warmer and the kids all love it as well.

Now if I was a real chef, I would have wiped the onion of the bowl before presenting!!!

You will need:

1) Onions about a kilo (I used 15 regular sized ones)
2) Good beef stock (preferably homemade but I only had chicken in the freezer so that had to do!) about a pint and a half
3) 2 tablespoons of butter 
4) 2 glugs of olive oil
5) 3 garlic cloves
6) Glass of white wine optional (I always freeze leftover wine into an ice cube tray and use these for when wine is needed!)
7) French baguette (again, I improvised as only had mini ones)
8) A slab of Gruyere cheese
9) A teaspoon of caster sugar


1) Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy bottomed (*ahem*) pan and once this is hot,add your sliced onions and sugar.   Push around the pan every so often, until the onions start to brown.  This is the starting point of the caramelisation process and all those lovely brown bits will be used to darken your soup.  Once this process starts, turn the heat RIGHT DOWN and leave to gently simmer for around an hour.

2) While this process is happening, take your baguette and slice into 1 inch slices and bake in a pre heated oven for around 20-25mins on gas mark 6 until golden.  

3) Once your onions are caramelised and brown and sticky, add the stock and wine and scrap the pan to make good use of the caramelised onions, then turn down the heat and gently simmer with the lid of for about an hour.

4) Once the soup is cooked, you need to either put into the soup bowls and then add a crouton smothered in Gruyere cheese or (and in my opinion, this is MUCH easier) add the croutons to your original pan and then grate the cheese all over the pan.  Stick under a preheated grill until the cheese has melted.

5) Serve into individual bowls and enjoy!!!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Day 3/366 Project 366

Well what a difference 24 hours can make!  Yesterday we were in the park with no coats, soaking up the bright winter sun and then overnight a hoolie has blown in!!  We are all on the sofa watching Pirates of the Caribbean and I have just cooked French onion soup for lunch.

A day on the sofa with comfort food - bliss!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Monday, 2 January 2012

Day 2/366

Last day of the holidays before HAW goes back to work tomorrow (but only 11 days until we go to Sri Lanka - Whoop, Whoop!)

Today we went for a lovely long walk/bike ride and then to Vacherin Brasserie for lunch before coming home to watch Harry Potter - The Philosophers Stone.

Perfect end to the perfect holiday!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xx

Christmas 2011

My poor neglected blog!!!

I am so sorry not to have posted but with HAW home for 2 weeks (glorious!) we have been so busy doing family things that I haven't had the want/need/time to blog!  AS for twitter, pah, a pathetic attempt!  I must go straight to the bottom of the class!

What I have concluded though, is that I blog when HAW is working late and so I have the time and inclination to do so in the evenings rather than watch TV.  It's been a great way for me to wind down and to recount our family life, I have really enjoyed doing so!

I want to blog about Christmas now before I forget and so that we have a record of what we did for future generations!

On Christmas Eve we did some last minute shopping and then came home where I took each child upstairs to wrap "their" presents.  In the weeks leading up to Christmas, I took each child out on their own to buy their presents.  Everything was carefully chosen from the local charity shops and they did ever so well at picking out gifts for each other.  We then started to track santa to squeals of "mum, mum he is in Osaka now" and then, just as dusk arrived, there was a mysterious knock at the door and 3 pairs of perfectly wrapped PJ's were on the doorstep with a note from Santa to say "Here are your Christmas PJ's and remember, I can't visit until you are all fast asleep".   The PJ's requested this year were "World War 1 or 2" "Gruffalo" and "Fairies" and Santa did ever so well at getting those!  Then, with a sprinkle of magic oats in the front garden and a can of Coke, carrots and a mince pie left out for Santa, it was up the stairs for our three little lovelies who all fell asleep within minutes!

Christmas morning dawned with squeals of delight proclaiming "He's been, he's really, really been" and so we went downstairs for present opening!   Santa had come up trumps, a new Pink bike for Pixie, a new blue scooter for BoBo and Trick wheels and grips and a chess set for Beansey!  Not to mention wii games, lego, remote controlled cars and clothes!  Didn't you do well my darlings!!!


We had eggs Benedict for breakfast and then had a lovely relaxed morning of playing games and enjoying each others company.  I got a beautiful vintage necklace, bracelet and earrings and perfume from HAW who got a lovely Barbour and cufflinks from me!  

HAW set to work in the kitchen whilst I got everyone ready and my parents then came over with my brother.  We had a lovely day with amazing food and the kids were all in bed fast asleep by 8pm.   The rest of the holiday was spent seeing friends and entertaining culminating in NYE where we had a beautiful beef wellington and fireworks.  It was the perfect break and I am sad to see it over.  I always LOVE Christmas and the build up but no time to get melancholy as off to Sri Lanka on the 13th January!!!!

Here's some more pictures of our magical Christmas break:

christmas dress and party shoes

My brother and dad is his Christmas shirt - he has worn this every Christmas since the 80s!

kisses for my daddy

wowee guitar - huge hit!

Peace and love to you all in 2012.

S.A.M xx