Wednesday, 30 May 2012

District Sports

Every summer in junior school we would have class races in the bid to be picked to have the honour of running for the school in the yearly district sports.  It was a great day, you'd go into school bursting with excitement, waiting, just waiting for the call for you to have "early lunch" with the rest of the squad.  I seem to remember having butterflies for most of the day, but the overriding feeling was one of excitement.

Once you arrived at the sports track, you were allocated seating and the races began.  The heats whereby the three quickest made the final.  Then the final itself.  I was always ok on the solo 100m and 200m, but what really got my nerves going were the relay races.  Imagine if you were the one to drop the baton?

Beansy came home from school a few weeks ago and proudly announced that he was in the district sports team.  My heart swelled with pride and I was really looking forward to today.  Would it be the same?

It was EXACTLY the same.  30 years on and nothing has changed.  The excitement, the build up, the joy of missing school for a few hours.  The camaraderie between the team, the playing in between races, the pride as your school runner won - it was a joy to behold and relive my memories as well as creating fresh ones.

Here is my little superstar in action - they came 2nd in the finals of the relay, he was so SO proud of himself and my heart swelled to bursting point!  Love you little man, you are amazing.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Unaccompanied Minor

HAW grew up as a ex-pat.  His father was in the oil industry, and HAW was having the time of his life in the far north of Scotland at boarding school.  Consequently, it meant that from a young age, he flew, often long haul, alone.

I on the other hand, was always with one or the other parent, and didn't fly solo until I started work and  doing it for business.

HAW is Scottish.  His parents live in Scotland and are rarely down to visit.  Primarily because they are divorced and we don't have the spare room to put them up.  His mother comes to stay once a year but we don't see his father and his wife that often.  To me, family is everything.  My children are so lucky that my parents are 10 minutes away and are an active part of their upbringing but the children don't see the other grandparents that often and I really want them to have a relationship with them.

Why am I telling you this you may ask?

Well, HAW is keen for Beansey, aged 8 and half to fly up to Scotland and spend half term with his cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents and great grandparents.  We have discussed this with him and he is so positive and excited BUT...he would have to fly on his own.

I hate flying, I suffer it because the world is a big old place that I love to explore but the thought of him flying on his own feels me with dread.  HAW is totally cool about it, after all, he was flying to Oman solo at the same age, but for me, I just feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. 

BA offer a great service which means that he would be accompanied at all times, from the minute I take him to the gate to his grandparents pick him up, but still, it makes my heart constrict.

I have a million "what if's" but I also know that he would have an amazing time and really get to know his Scottish family.  

What do you think???  Would you let your child of this age go solo??

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Monday, 28 May 2012

Go to SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!

They say that pride comes before a fall, and I have certainly fallen from a great height.

Sine becoming a mum nearly 9 years ago (yes, I know I don't look old enough *ahem*) I have taken great pleasure in the fact that my kids have been so easy at bedtime.  I have always been a stickler for routine, it suits the children and it suits me and we have been oh so smug about the fact the children were such good sleepers.

Now don't get my wrong, they still are brilliant sleepers, it is the getting them to sleep that is the problem.

This was our routine four months ago:

5pm - Supper
530pm - play/tidy up
6ish up to bath
630pm stories and bedtime for the little ones (5 and 3) whilst Beansy had his bath
7pm - lights out for BoBo and Pixie and stories and cuddles for Beansy
730pm  - lights out for Beansey

All sparko until 7am the next day.  Sometimes, it was even lights out at 630pm and 7pm depending on how tired they were.

Unfortunately, it has all gone tits up.  I am not quite sure why or how if the truth be told, but our routine is now something like this:

5pm - supper
530pm - play/tidy up
6ish up to bath
630pm stories and cuddles for the little ones whilst shouting at Beansey to stop splashing the bathwater everywhere
641pm - chaos - Pixie out of bed and hiding somewhere from me
642pm - BoBo shouting out for a drink/wee/apple/story/school bag
643pm - Beansey messes up his room
644pm - look at watch and wonder is it gin o'clock yet
645pm boys both wandered downstairs
646pm I am shouting "get back upstairs NOW"
647pm - realise I can't find Pixie.  Find her hiding under my bed.  She refuses to go into her room as it is not pink (beautifully done in red shabby chic
648pm - Shut her in her room - scream "MUMMY MUMMY MUMMY"
649pm - stop boys from fighting over lego/pokemon/starwars/book
650pm - SCREAM at the all "GET INTO BED NOW"
652PM - "Mum, mum, I need a poo"


I am seriously at the end of my tether and I don't know how to get it back to how we were.

Would love to know how you all do bedtime.  I need some new strategies!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Taking Risks

It was a glorious day yesterday.  We came home from school, and before long, I had a menagerie of neighbourhood children in the garden.  It was a technicolour explosion with all the different coloured school uniforms and I sat in the dining room working whilst listening to children from the age of 3-11 play at building dens and "potion" making.  I smiled to myself as it reminded me of my childhood.  Carefree and happy, with squeals of delight.  

A squabble soon broke out, but rather than rush outside to settle it for the children, I let them deal with it themselves, and in no time at all, peace was restored.

The peace was soon broken by BoBo screaming at the top of his voice

"Mum, MUM come quickly it is an emergency" so I raced outside to see what the problem was.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Rule Britannia - A jubilee photo shoot.

I love it when a plan comes together!  On Friday, I came up with the idea of a a jubilee styled photo shoot.

My work and personal life is kept very separate, and I don't need to blog about my business as we have more than enough work to keep us going, BUT BUT......I just had to show you guys some shots from our latest campaign which we are calling Rule Britannia, Cool Britannia!

What do you think??

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Chicken Livers with Mushrooms

Last week I was lucky enough to cook with James Martin and he very kindly cooked an impromptu dish of chicken livers in a creamy mushroom sauce.  I can't remember the exact recipe, but that night, I cooked this for the children's supper and they wolfed the lot down.

Here's how to do it:

Chicken Livers in a creamy mushroom sauce

Chicken livers (I got a 1kg tub from my butcher for £4.50p)
10 mushrooms
half tub double cream
Fresh Parsley
Splash of sherry vinegar
Cubed pancetta

1) Fry of the shallots in rapeseed oil and then add the pancetta.  You need to use a hot pan
2) Add the chicken livers and mushrooms and cook for about one minute to seal the meat.
3) Add the cream and splash of sherry vinegar and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.  This will give you perfectly cooked livers that are still pinkish and ever so tender.  The secret here is to not overcook them as that is what turns them bitter.
4) Add the chopped parsley, season, and serve with toast or rice.


chicken livers with bacon and mushrooms

how to cook chicken livers
Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Me, James Martin and Mushrooms

Cooking mushrooms with James Martin

Today, my breakfast AND lunch was cooked by the irresistible and incredibly charismatic James Martin as part of the mushroom bureau initiative to get more people to cook with mushrooms.

I am a huge fan of mushrooms anyway, I love their earthy yet simplistic taste and mushrooms on toast is definitely one of my top comfort foods for a cold winters evening in front of the fire, so I was interested to see what Mr Martin had on the menu and to pick up any tips along the way.

Now, I have to confess to having just a teeny weeny schoolgirl (well, I was one 20 years ago) crush on JM.  In the metro sexual world we live in, I have to say I like a man to be a man, none of this namby pamby girlie nonsense and the fact he knows his way around the kitchen coupled with his love for fast cars, well come on, he got me at "hello".   

james martin 2012
Never trust a PR to take a photo!

The first thing James cooked for us was Mushroom Soup, it took less than 10 minutes and was lush. I was particularly impressed with his homemade croutons which I have tried and failed to make on lots of occasions.  This was followed by pork in a creamy mushroom sauce which was spiked with sherry vinegar.  This really lifted the dish and I'll definitely be investing in some for the condiments cupboard.   I asked him about using chilli with mushrooms and he went one better and made the most amazingly delicious chicken livers on toast which was by far and away, the tastiest thing on the menu.  The lovely big fashionista didn't agree with me on that one and so James whipped up a mushroom omelette.

So, what did I learn?

Mushrooms need to quite literally kiss the pan.  The common mistake people make when cooking mushrooms is to overcook them which results in them letting go of the moisture and becoming slimy.

I make beef wellington a couple of times a year and after spending lots on beef fillet and painstakingly making my own pate, I am often left with the hump as the pasty goes soggy on the bottom.  Again, this is because I have been overcooking the mushrooms so that they are releasing the moisture back into the pasty.  Top tip there people!

For those of you that don't know, the single most important thing you do when cooking meat is to let it rest.  I asked about wrapping meat in foil to do so (as I currently do) and James (Ha, my new BFF) said there was no need to do this.

Finally, a tip that I knew, don't wash your mushrooms EVER (moisture again)  Either brush the mud off or just go with it.

I then asked him the question that he is probably sick to death of being asked. Can you guess what that was?? Answers in the comments below and I'll let you know at the end of the week what it was.

On the way to pick the kids up from school, I popped into the butchers for some chicken livers.  I cooked with them last night and will be blogging the results later today.

If you're feeling inspired to cook with mushrooms, check out more to mushrooms where there are lots of different ways of cooking them and James, if you are ever in Surrey and fancy beef wellington a la super amazing mum stylee...well, you got my number!!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Our inaugural Rugby Tour

The weekend before last, was wet, windy and cold.  Ideal weather some might say for your first ever rugby tour.

I manage the Under 8's at the local club and HAW is one of the coaches.  We decided that an integral part of being a rugby player is going on tour.  So, with this in mind, fifteen families headed to Butlins at Bognor Regis for our inaugural rugby tour!

lads rugby tourI set off with my boys around lunchtime and for the next two hours we were on a road trip!  Spirits were high, the music was higher and we had a really lovely drive down.  We arrived and found our room, happy to see that we were all in the same block.  After unpacking, we headed to the main area to meet the rest of the party.  The boys got their "tour shirts" and we then spent a happy few hours doing what people do on rugby tours the world over - BONDING!!!  The mums over wine, the dads over beers and the kids over penny slot machines and haribo, not to mention tickets.  

Tickets can be won and then exchanged for prizes - well the kids got totally hooked on winning those and they were the bane of us parents!

rugby tour shirts

football at butlins
After a rather late night that included a lock in and lego building challenge, we all had a lazy Saturday morning with our families before reconvening for an afternoon of activities.  We had hired out the "highwire" area and whilst us parents watched with hearts in our mouths, our little darlings climbed, jumped and shimmied across all manner of high wire.  We then went for a group dinner before heading of for some live entertainment.  I think the less said about the better, but midget wrestling was on the agenda.  The kids obviously loved the whole pantomime of the show but I have to say, my eyes bled!

Sunday dawned wet and windy and with happy hearts we headed off to Bognor Rugby club where everyone got wet and muddy.  We finished off with one last swim in the tropical area before heading home. 

We were all tired but happy and have made a lifetime of memories and friends.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Lifeline Screening - the power of prevention

Life Line Screening - The power of Prevention

A few months ago, I was asked if I wanted to review a comprehensive, health screening.  I thought long and hard about whether or not it was something I wanted to do as I wondered if I was "playing God" and interfering in my life long destiny.  My main concern was how I and my loved ones would react if I did find out I was likely to have a heart attack in my 40s or my bone density indicated early onset of osteoporosis. 

My family history is unknown on my fathers side.   That is NOT my story to write without his permission, but it means that there are some health questions we don't know the answers to.  My dad had a heart attack in his late 40s and an aortic aneurysm recently which both increase my chances of suffering from something similar.  

I had a long chat with HAW and my parents and I decided that knowledge is power and that the power of prevention is a good thing.  

I suffer from an under active thyroid, slow metabolism and PCOS.  All of these are hormonal issues and how I ever had three children in five years, is really and truly a miracle.  I am on medication but still suffer from lots of symptoms such as weight gain and fatigue but after ten years of struggling, I have learnt to cope.

Since 1993, Life Line Screening have carried out over 7 million health checks so I knew I was in good hands and despite feeling very nervous, I was also positive about having a hand in my future health.

Firstly, I had a detailed telephone conversation with a consultant where we went through my medical history.  This was then followed up by scheduling a date for me to have five vital screenings in order to look at my future health.   Today was that day! 

 I headed off a place called Strawberry Lodge, where I had a warm welcome.  I filled in a form and waited about 10 minutes before being called for my first test.

The first test was atrial fibrillation and after having electrodes applied to my wrists and ankles I listened to "Hey Jude" whilst the test was carried out.  It was painless and over in about 1 minute.   All the way through, I was kept informed of what was going on.  I was told straight away that everything was within the normal range but a cardiologist would look in more depth.

The next screening was for peripheral arterial disease which, in laymans terms, is looking for a hardening of the arteries which in turn could lead to heart disease.  Cuffs were placed on my arms and legs and again, it was totally pain free and non invasive.  Again, I was reassured that my results were in the normal range but that the cardiologist would write to me with a more comprehensive diagnosis.

My next test was an ultrasound on my tummy, looking for an abdominal aortic aneurysm.  This was the one I was worried about, my dad has recently had this and sadly, it is hereditary.  It is also silent and you don't know that you have it until it is too late.  I found out that 80% of people die before they can be treated.  My dad was one of the lucky 20%.   This was non invasive and pain free, and reminded me of a neo-natal ultra sound.

My final test was a screening for cartoid artery screening, or the likelihood of having a stroke.  This was again carried out using ultrasound and the transducer was placed on my neck to assess the rate of blood flow within my cartoid arteries.  Luckily for me, everything was normal and I will be sent a more detailed analysis within the next two to three weeks.

I was also booked in for an osteoporosis screening but the machine was broken.  This has been scheduled for July so I will report on that then.  I am slightly concerned about this as although there is no history in my family of this, my ankles are very "clicky" after years of gymnastics.

The whole experience was one of ease and utter professionalism.   I would highly recommend this if you are worried in any way about your future health.  Prices start from just £25 for a glucose test.  Although I was the youngest there by some few decades, I will definitely be doing this again in about ten years time.  We only get one body, one chance at life, let's look after it as best we can.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Disclaimer: I was asked to review the services provided by Life Line Screening.  I was happy to do so and all views are unbiased and a true representation of my findings.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Letting go....

This weekend, my "baby" will be leaving home for two nights, on what I believe is an essential part of growing up, and experiencing life.  Beansey is off to his first ever cub camp.

You would think that the happy childhood memories I have of camp, would be enough for me to push him out of the door, but no, I am petrified!  

We had a camp meeting last week, where we were told on no uncertain terms, that the mobiles are ONLY for emergencies and that any text messages that said "is my little Jonny ok?" every 2 hours would be ignored.  EEEKKK.

I tentatively asked "what time is bedtime?" and was told "when they are tired, usually about 10pm"


Of course my little cherub and all his buddies squealed with delight, especially when told they were allowed a midnight feast and always had a walk in the woods by torch light along with archery, an "olympic" afternoon and lots and lots of homemade cake!!

So, what is my problem?

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Royal Premiere of Disney's African Cats

Wednesday saw the UK premiere of Disney Nature's "African Cats" in the presence of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge at the BFI Southbank.   We were lucky enough to be guests of Disney and put on our glad rags to walk the red carpet with the best of them.  It amused me greatly to hear the paps call "over here" and raise their cameras, only to be disappointing when they realised that we weren't celebs!!  I managed to pap the kids though (shameful mother!) and marched us all bold as brass into the VIP area and we ended up standing next to the ex husband of the Queen of pop whilst quaffing champagne.  Lovely.

That's the gossip, now onto the film.  

Set in the Masai Mara and using real footage throughout, we follow the plight of Sita the cheetah who is a single mother to five cubs and two prides of lions - Fang who leads the river pride of lionesses and Kali and his four sons who live north of the river and want to take over Fang's tribe.

This is a true story adventure story that is narrated by Sir Patrick Stewart and directed by Keith Scholey and Alistair Fothergill who directed the awesome "Earth" series.  This is an amazing insight to real true life on the Savannah and the camera angles/shot and sound effects are magical seen on the big screen rather than the TV.  It is an amazing but heart moving film, you are really captivated by the characters and their battles to survive.  

Both the boys loved it and we felt incredibly privileged to have watched this in Royal company.   Prince William gave a speech at the end where he compared it to "more emotional up and downs than Eastenders" but his passion for highlighting the plight of lions and cheetahs was evident.  You can find out more by looking here at the tusk charity  and the trailer for the film is below.

We all loved the film, giving it a massive 10/10 all round.  The only thing the boys want to know though is  "What happened to Fang, was he ever seen again?"

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo