Monday, 26 November 2012

Beautiful Words




"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply, gives you courage"

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Silent Sunday - Healing for Kerry

Photobucket
Myself, Liska, and Kerry!!
One of the delights of blogging is meeting people you wouldn't normally meet.   Kerry from Multiple Mummy and I would never have crossed paths if it wasn't for blogging. We started blogging at the same time and consequently, we met at lots of events, my favourite being a day in the Chelsea Day Spa where we were lucky enough to be pampered whilst trying on shape underwear!  We both got the giggles and as it was a small (some might say intimate as only 5 of us!) event, it was a bit embarrassing to say the least as everyone else was a journo and very serious, yet Kerry and I just kept giggling!!!  It got to the point where we couldn't look at each other for laughing and it is making me smile now just thinking about it.

That's the thing about Kerry, she has the most AMAZINGLY, infectious smile and as well as a being beautiful on the outside, she is beautiful from within.

Sadly, a few months ago, Kerry suffered a brain aneurysm that has left her very ill in hospital.  She has an amazing husband and 3 wonderful children and Liska has organised a blog hop and #healingforkerry social media coming together where you can pray/send healing thoughts and get well wishes.  This was at 10pm last night but I haven't been well hence the lateness of my post.  You can still link up though and tweet, the power of collective thought at ANY time is a powerful one.  Silent Sunday this week is dedicated to Kerry and so, I have combined my prayers, thoughts and photo (yes it is from a year ago, so what?) to dedicate to Kerry and her recovery.

Kerry you gorgeous girl, I wish you a speedy recovery and hope we can laugh again together very soon.

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

Friday, 23 November 2012

Disneyland Paris 20th Birthday Celebrations

We were so fortunate to be invited to the Wreck it Ralph European press Junket and as guests of Disney (how amazing is that?!) we got to spend 3 days in Disneyland Paris where the film was being premiered.

I can't mention the "D" word in this house anymore, as every night, without fail, since we have got back, at least one of the kids has said "mummy, when can we go back to Disney again".  

It was by far and away, the best three days we have spent in a long time and here's why.

We decided to travel by Eurostar as we can get to St Pancras in less than 40 minutes from our home station.  It has been a long time since I used Eurostar as at one time in my working career, I was going backwards and forwards to head office in Paris monthly.  I had forgotten how relaxed it is compared to flying and after an uneventful check in, we boarded our train and set off.





On arrival, we quite literally walked the 10 minutes it took to arrive at Disneyland Paris and as we were lucky enough to be staying in the Disneyland Paris Hotel which is right at the entrance to the park.  The hotel is 5 star and although tired in places (old fashioned) it was a magical experience.  Everywhere you went you were confronted with all things disney from the amazing Christmas tree in reception filled with candy goodies to the tiles in the bathroom.  Heck, even the wallpaper was disney flock.  Our room was huge and the bath tub big enough for my three to all squeeze in.   We had two double beds and a sitting room, it really was a suite and plenty big enough for us.  Again, the soft furnishings were dated but clean and plentiful and the beds were uber comfy.




Breakfast was buffet style and plentiful, and there was no limit as to what you could have which of course amused my children.  Every day we were greeted by disney charachters who totally captivated the children.  By the end of our stay, Pixie was a total disney addict, rushing up and giving kisses and cuddles to all and sundry.  She also "dressed" for breakfast everyday in a variety of princess and Minnie costumes she insisted on bringing!






The magic of disney had bewitched us all even before we hit the parks and we did our best to cram in as much as we could over the next two days.  Just walking through the arch and into the park changes the atmosphere, you can "feel" the magic and the sense of anticipation.    The rides are brilliant, action packed and scary and there was enough to do to satisfy my three who all have different levels of enjoyment.  For Pixie there was of course, the magic of meeting the princesses. We queued for nearly 2 hours, but her little face when she met Princess Tiana was priceless.  She really spent along time talking to her and is still talking about it today.


The rides were brilliant although the queues were long.  My advise is to get fast passes for the ones you really want to do as you get allocated a time in which to do these.  As soon as you arrive in the park, go to your favourite ride and use the fast track machine.  These get allocated really quickly so plan well! Otherwise, comfy shoes are a must as are snacks for the children.

Food in the park is expensive and picnics are not allowed.  We don't do "fast food" as a family so were thrilled when we stumbled upon the Agrabah Cafe in the park which was styled on a Moroccan souk.  Again buffet style, there was an abundance of salad, roasted veggies, cous cous, fruit, kebabs and pasta dishes and it really represented good value for money in comparison to the other restaurants.   It was a welcome pit stop as was very relaxed and chilled and not at all busy, plenty of time for fresh mint tea all round!



We then spent the next two days going on every ride going, from the sheer and utter terror of the Hollywood Tower of Terror (mine) to the more genteel nature of Peter Pan's Flight ride which "flew" you over the streets of London before going to Neverland.  It was utterly awesome, and it really was magical.







Rides aside, the parades were fantastic.  We had prime spot for the Christmas Parade and the whole of Disneyland was transformed into a Christmas spectacular winter wonderland with Christmas trees, and candy canes, holly wreaths and of course, the penultimate parade with the man himself.






The fireworks were amongst the best I have EVER seen.  We were privvy to an amazing private display and a party to end all parties to promote Wreck it Ralph.  Having "done" corporate hospitality for the last 20 years, HAW and I were blown away by the attention to detail and all round amazingness of the party from face painting to dancing with princesses, to eating oysters and langousitines all under a twinkling starry ceiling. 





We were so lucky to be invited and experience a "once in a lifetime" Disney extravaganza.  We had a brilliant time with brilliant people and I know that we will all always remember our magical, Disney weekend.

We can't wait to go back!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

We were guests of Disney and had our accommodation, food and park entry provided to us for the purpose of this review.  This doesn't influence our opinions in any way shape or form.

Weightwatchers Back to Best - Week 8

Morning Everyone,

Firstly, welcome and apologies for not blogging these past two weeks, it has been purely a time issue as we had a once in a lifetime trip to Disneyland Paris and our Beansey was 9 years old.  The last two weigh ins saw me stay the same the morning we were leaving for Disney and lose 1lb last week (even after all that birthday and Disney eating!) which I was happy with.

This week I have been good, I've got back into tracking (this is the only way I can do this, I know some people just eat food from the filling and healthy list and still manage to lose, but for me, if I am NOT tracking, that is when my portion control gets out of hand.

In fact, what I have established on this journey is that it is NOT what I am eating that was wrong, but the quantity.  I swear my plate is half the size it was.  I think living with HAW who is a) greedy and b) a good cook has meant that over the years, it wasn't just my portion size that had crept up.

For those of you that are also on a weight loss journey, have you had a "moment" where you realised what your trigger is?   I am definitely a comfort eater who uses food as a reward.  

E.g I have had a stressful day so I will "reward" myself with a bar of chocolate.  

This is something I am working on,  there have definitely been food issues in my past in terms of binge eating chocolate as a teenager then making myself sick and then in my early twenties and living on my own, I would quite often not eat all day and then gorge at night.  I also made myself sick on several occasions.

I've never admitted that to anyone before, expect a flatmate who caught me in the act, but by facing it head on, I hope that as I continue to lose weight I can fight the demons on my mind concerning food.  They are certainly there and need knocking down!

The good news is that this week  I have lost 2lbs taking my total to 12lbs in 8 weeks which I am really *really* happy with.  I am going to set myself the following targets this week:

1) Stay on plan for another 2lbs loss taking my total to the magical 14lbs (a stone!)
2) Drink lots of water
3) Ignore the "wellwishers" who keep commenting on what I am eating.  You're doing my head in, shut up!!!

Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo


Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Goodbye.

The time has come to say Goodbye.  Au revoir and happily not adieu.

I have waited for this day for the last 9 years.  We first met each other when Beansey was about 5 months old, you seemed like a good idea at the time, a safe place, somewhere to go to meet other like minded mums, we all soon came to realise that you were indeed not safe, but a soul sucking, losing the will to live, kind of place. Yet, like a crack addicted whore, we kept coming back for more and more.

We berated you, we moaned and groaned but still your power to bewitch was strong.  Week after week we trudged back for more punishment.  More bad coffee and toddler screaming induced headaches.

The noise, oh the noise, the shrieks of feral children, usually so well behaved.  It wasn't just the mothers that were intoxicated by you, but our little darlings changed.

They became shouty and boisterous.  Feral kids in an urban jungle.

Today as I sat in your room with no natural light, I had a light bulb moment.  Or rather a too bright, fluorescent light moment.   Today would be the last day I darkened your soulless room with my precious cargo, it would be the last time we ate crappy chips and drank dishwater like coffee.  The last time my Pixie was bitten and running around like a loony girl in a pit that smells of cheesy feet.   The petri dish of germs that fester and multiply.  For Pixie is now 4 and too old for your ways.  She was bored of you today and asking to leave as I have been this past decade.

Today was the day after a 9 year long addiction I broke free. 

You see, Pixie is 4 now and I have no other baby.  Today I broke free of your soul destroying ways.   I walked into the sunlight and breathed in the fresh air.  

Goodbye soft play hell.  






Peace and Love


S.A.M xoxo

Wappy Dog and Angry Birds for the Nintendo 3ds review

"Mum, Mum, can we get a dog?"

How many households hear that cry on a regular basis? I know that we do and so when we were asked to review the Wappy Dog for the Nintendo 3DS I thought it could prove to be interesting to say the least!!

So, what is Wappy Dog I hear you cry?  Wappy is the Worlds first interactive puppy that you can customise with stickers and you can interact with wirelessly using the 3DS.  In the box you get a Wappy dog and of course a games cartridge.  You then have the responsibility of looking after him.  You can feed him, play with him, and see how he reacts with different moods and emotions (his cheeks change colour to let you know!).    You can even teach him to sing and dance and of course, perform tricks!  The aim of the game is to look after your dog!

I had a really cool video to show you, but sadly it is not uploading.  Watch this space and I'll keep trying.

This is a great game for children and mine LOVE the fact it is so interactive.  They have really taken to "Wappy" and he sleeps in the bed with BoBo most nights.   We give this a massive 9 out of 10 and love the fact you can interact even when Wappy isn't with you.  We were playing the game on the way to Disneyland, even though Wappy was back at home in England as  any changes you make will be reflected on the dog when you get home.  

BoBo looking after Wappy on the Eurostar

Now Beansey has a turn, taking it VERY seriously
Along with Wappy, we were also sent the modern day classic Angry Birds Trilogy which the kids have been playing forever on my iphone.  They were so excited to have this on a console and it was absolutely fantastic in 3D.  Heck, I even got addicted!

If you have never played angry birds, the synopsis is one of simplicity, it is basically the birds vs the bad piggies (who also have their own game now) and each bird has their own power.   There is over 100 hours of game play and whilst the kids LOVED it, I feel that it failed on a console level.  Playing games on a console to me should be more of a challenge than on the phone, and whilst I know that some games are brilliant across all platforms, to me, I felt that this is really an app to be dipped on and out of rather than a game to buy.  

However, the kids didn't agree with me and BoBo in particular is really taken with the different approach.  When I asked him what he thought, he said "Mum, it is so cool and I love the way it is 3d, it gives it a different look".

Angry Birds is waaaaaayyy cooler in 3d


Who am I to argue with that?

Peace and Love


S.A.M xoxo

Disclaimer: We were sent a nintendo 3ds and both games for the purpose of this review.  We always review with integrity and all opinions are ours and ours alone!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Skrek the Musical, UK Review


Shrek the Musical - UK Review


We all adore the classic film Shrek, so when we were asked to attend the media review I was ever so slightly hesitant and skeptical as to whether or not the stage version would work.  Considering how the film is pretty great, I wondered how they would manage to put particular scenes onto the stage without looking clumsy and awkward.  But I was pleasantly surprised. It was cheeky, it was over the top and it was without a doubt flawless.

Each scene was unpredictable and completely oozed ingenious quirks that kept me smiling through out. They varied from the hilarious simplicity of Shrek and Fiona having a farting competition on stage (much to the kids amusement), to the clever and elaborate set when Fiona is locked in a tower. The key that unlocked the greatness of the musical and really grounded it was the solid age differences when telling a fast paced story. 

Princess Fiona was introduced as an innocent 6 year old, a romance obsessed 18 year old and then as a bored-of-waiting, 30 something year old to emphasise the tremendous time scale that this poor princess was locked away in this tall dark tower guarded by a fierce dragon.  Well, you could say fierce. Fierce as in a ‘Beyonce-Whitney Houston-mmmhm-gurl’ kind of fierce. 

Oh yes, the dragon was a massive puppet diva dragon and belted out a serious heart wrenching ballad. It was great.

Along with the sassy renditions of the original characters (particularly Lord Farquard), the stage version captured the same essence and morals that underlies throughout the film. And like the film, you engage with the story and follow every high and every low, chuckling at the inappropriate bits, to feeling genuine compassion for characters, to ridiculously grinning away at the big finale song. Oh, and what a finale! 

The infectious energy that leaked down from the stage and into the audience made you just want to run up on stage and link arms with Pinocchio (who’s nose really grew) or one of the three bears and joyfully skip and bop and dance along with them.

We all loved Shrek the Musical and I can safely say it is just as good on stage as it is on film!

Shrek the musical have joined forces with Centrepoint and released a charity single raising funds for the homeless this Christmas.  Please take just two minutes to have a look at this video:


Peace and Love

S.A.M xoxo

DIsclaimer - we were given a family ticket to Shrek the musical in return for a review.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Silent Sunday


Our Beansy is 9!

On your 3rd Birthday

Dear Beansy,

Happy Birthday sweetheart, 9 dude, 9 years old!  Where on *earth* have those years gone?  You'll be in double figures soon enough and it is going waaaaaaayyyy to quickly for me!   I can remember the day we bought you home from hospital, it was bitterly cold and yet this November is so mild.  How the years and seasons change.

This year has been phenomenal for you,  I have seen you change so much, not least your lovely long locks have been cut off.  You finally got your own way, and ground me down and now you are sporting a gelled back to the side do.   I have lost my long haired lovely! Although, if the truth be told, you look incredibly handsome with your new style.

Schoolboy Vampire on Halloween
You have excelled at school, winning a much coveted headmistress's award which are rarer than hens eggs for excellent behaviour and achievement which saw you go up two levels in two weeks.    This has never happened before and everyone including your teachers are so happy with you and what you do at school.  You are also turning into a real gent, holding doors open for people, offering to help carry things for people up and down the train station steps and of course, remembering your manners.  You're not always so good at home but hey, nobodies perfect!

It is not just school where you are excelling, you are a natural sportsman and your rugby team have gone from strength to strength, including being crowned the grand champions of the Curtain Raiser Cup which is amazing.  You've all embraced the game of contact and although my heart is in my mouth, I know you are really passionate about the game.  You've already won festivals as a team and the comradeship amongst you all is commendable.  This was cemented by our inaugural rugby tour to Butlins in May.


You have also turned into somewhat of a fashion freak.  You have a very strong opinion on what you want to wear from chinos and abercrombie hoodies to your onesie (more to follow!).

On your actual birthday this year, you represented the school at cross country and came a respectable 8th out of 127th!  I couldn't believe it when I was watching, you were all running so far and so well but you were utterly exhausted at the end.  I've never seen that in you before and after the initial shock, you were raving about how much fun it was.  You wanted a "skyfall" party and so, we headed off to the local cinema with 6 of your friends to watch the film.  You had invited your "girlfriend" and you were such a lovely boy, you didn't run off with the boys and ignore her but insisted on her sitting next to you.  Even when you knocked her ice cream over, you offered her your one!  We then had two of your friends for a sleepover and you were all so well behaved, if a little noisy!!!

You and your belle in matching onesies!

I can sometimes catch glimpses of the man you will become,  I've just asked you what you want to be when you grown up and you are still saying the same as the previous years "rugby player or a marine".  



Whatever you do end up doing, you have our full support and love (oh so much love) and I will always be here for you come what may.  You are so loved by so many and I m so proud to call you my son.

Love you lots and lots

Love 

Mummy xoxo



Thursday, 15 November 2012

Disney Wreck it Ralph Review


 Disney Wreck it Ralph UK review




We've just returned from Disneyland Paris after an amazing, 3 day press junket for the European release of Wreck it Ralph which is due for to hit the UK on the 13th February 2013.   I'll be blogging separately about our Disney experience, but for now, I want to tell you about the film which I am certain is going to be a sure fire hit.   

I initially thought it wouldn't be my sort of film, after all, a film about computer games held no appeal to me but as the boys are both Disney and computer nuts, I knew it would probably be something they would love.  I deliberately didn't read any reviews before I saw the film as I wanted to have a totally unbiased, fresh approach to the film and I can say I was perhaps naive in thinking that just because the film wasn't about something I was/am interested in that I wouldn't enjoy it.  

This has all the hallmarks of a Disney classic, in much the same way that "The Wizard of Oz" captivated audiences by merging black and white with Technicolour, (look out for the references to the Wizard of Oz in the film BTW) Wreck it Ralph takes us on a journey through the video game arcades from the 80s inspired eight bit, "fix it Felix" (of which our hero Ralph features) through to the 90s in the land of "Sugar Rush" (think Mario or Sonic, fast and furious) before finally crash landing into Hero's Duty which is centred around the tough and incredibly feisty world of fighting against a Cy-bug invasion.



 



The film has several main characters who are all on a mission of sorts.  "Wreck it Ralph" has long lived in the shadows of his nemesis "Fit it Felix" and finally, after not being invited to his games 30th anniversary party, he sets off on a mission to get himself a medal, to prove his worth.  This takes him into all the other computer game Worlds via the geniusly named "Game Central Station" and we are introduced to lots of characters that you are sure to recognise from the past and present.  There is a real story of friendship and loyalty within the film and in true Disney tradition, good overcomes evil with a bittersweet ending.  That's all you are going to get from me as I don't want to ruin it for you!

This is such a clever film that transcends age barriers and generations, it will appeal to parents and children alike and you can't help but be utterly charmed by the characters and their ways.












“Wreck-It Ralph” crashes onto the big screen on February 15, 2013, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select cinemas throughout the UK.

We all adored the film with the kids giving it a massive 10/10 and can't wait for its release, we'll definitely be going to see it again.

Finally,in the words of our hero Ralph, "I am bad and that is good, I'll never be good and that's not bad".

Peace and Love


S.A.M xoxo

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Shredder Review - keeping your personal information safe

Do you shred your personal information or just recycle into the bins once read with an obligatory tear in half?

I know that is something that we used to do once the information was no longer of use to us, but since setting up my business, I have had to re assess what I do with personal information that I am given by clients.   I then spoke to a parent at the school who informed me that they had had their identity stolen, all because they hadn't got rid of confidential information in the proper manner.

With this in mind, when we were offered the chance to review a paper shredder, I jumped at the chance.  Owning my own business means I take clients credit card and bank details so of course this needs to be dealt with in the proper manner.  Added to which, it also gave me the opportunity to shred personal information of a confidential nature.

We were sent the powershred cross cut DS-1 to review which retails at around the £100 mark.  I was quite surprised at the size of it when it arrived as I was expecting a printer sized contraption like the shredders I had used in the past.  This was the size of a small bin and my first impression was that it was heavy.

However, I duly installed it in my office and have been road testing it now for a good few weeks.  It is meant to shred up to 11 pages at a time, but I feel that about 8 is optimum.  This suits me as I don't have huge amounts of paper to shred in any sitting.  The machine itself is noisy (as you would expect) but it is very easy to use with "safe sense" technology which is very reassuring as the kids are in awe of the "beast" as they call it.  Here they are doing a little demonstation:



It is really easy to use and from a green perspective, you get a lot more into your recycling bins than just tearing paper alone.  

I would really recommend a shredder, particularly if you deal with personal information - either as a family or business.

Peace and Love


S.A.M xoxo

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

One good turn deserves another

A few weeks ago, I came up with the ingenious idea of personalising a picture of Beansey and making it into a "Skyfall" poster for his birthday invite.  Only, I didn't have the time to learn or the know how as to how to go about this.  Luckily, the rather gorgeous Emily from a mummy too came to my rescue and sent me a lovely, personalised invite that I then got printed into 6 x 4" photographs for my son to hand out to his friends.

She wouldn't take any form of payment, as said she was happy that my son was happy.  So, I promised her that when the opportunity presented itself, I would "pass the kind" back on to someone else.  

That moment was this morning.

I was standing in the checkout queue at the supermarket, and accidentally bumped into the lady behind me who was carrying some flowers.  We had a little giggle, I apologised and said something like "Oh I am so sorry, can I do anything for you" and she jokingly said "oh yes, you could pay for my flowers".    We laughed, and then I remembered.

I turned to her and the following took place:

Me: "Actually, give me those flowers, I AM going to buy them for you"

Lady: Don't be ridiculous dear, it was just a joke"

Me: "No, seriously a few weeks ago, someone did something extraordinarily kind to me and I promised that I would pass that kind on.  It would be my pleasure to pay for them, I insist".  I then took the flowers off her, and gave them to the checkout lady who scanned them through (deffo in cahoots with me!)

Lady: "Oh my goodness, what a lovely story, they are actually for my mother who is very ill and housebound, she will love this story, you are ever so kind and I promise to pass the kind on as well".

We hugged.  We smiled and I left the shop with a spring in my step, knowing that an act of random kindness had made someones day (in the same way that Emily's did to me).

I know she'll pass the kind on.    I hope reading this has prompted you to do something nice for a random stranger.  If you do and it does, please come back and let me know.

Peace and Love


S.A.M xoxo


I cooked with an award winning, Michelin Star chef!

The Vineyard Restaurant 


Sometimes I wonder whether or not I should start a foodie blog.  After all, I do enjoy sourcing, cooking and eating food and although I wouldn't say I was obsessed, I would say I was passionate.

My dad gave me a Panasonic bread maker a while ago.  Whilst looking for some inspiration,  I happened upon the ideas kitchen which is run by Panasonic but a superb site in which to use as a resource for recipe inspiration.  I was particularly taken by the Breadmaker recipes from around the World and can highly recommend the English cheese and Onion bread one as a lovely alternative to your plain old wholemeal.

Anyway, whilst browsing on the site, I saw that they were holding a competition to win a day out cooking with the michelin starred chef, Daniel Gilmiche and so entered and thought nothing more of it.  You can imagine my surprise, when I got an email to say I had won!  (note to self, enter more competitions).  

The Vineyard is a hidden gem within the Berkshire Countryside and on arrival, I was led to the newly refurbished wine room where we served canapes and champagne and got a tour of the cellars from the youngest somellier in the UK, Yoham Jousselin who was also the UK Somellier of the year 2011.  He was an absolute joy to speak to and what he didn't know about wine wasn't worth knowing!  He is also incredibly humble and concedes that in order to learn and grow as a master somellier, he must listen to others experience.   The tour of the cellar was incredibly impressive and it was pretty spectacular that you see the cellar from above via a glass floor.  Not so good if you suffer from vertigo though!  There is a great story behind the link between Californian/French wine but I am not going to be the one to tell it to you!  It is a lovely thing to find out for yourself!




 We were then introduced to Daniel who talked us through the menu (pictured below) which had some of my favourite ingredients and let us know what we were cooking.  We were four winners and so each had a course to prepare.  I was assigned first dessert which was a pistachio and cherry parfait, two strong but complementary flavours and one I was looking forward to tasting!



Starter





Fish Course


Main Course


Pudding (prepared by my own fair hands!)


















Every course was superb, I particularly enjoyed the braised oxtail (16 hours actual cooking) and the fois gras but thought the fish course was a bit heavy on the garlic.  I would have liked to have enjoyed the flavour of the cod rather than the overbearing one of garlic, but I do see that the pairing would have worked had it been a more subtle hit.

I can highly recommend the Vineyard as a destination restaurant.  After all, its motto is "Eat, Sleep and Drink Wine" and it is definitely a place to go if you want to recharge and enjoy good food and wine.   I'd love to stay on a spa weekend but at over £800 for two people, it is sadly out of my budget.

Peace and Love


S.A.M xoxo