Monday, 27 August 2012

A rainy/sunny/rainy bank holiday

We loaded up Bertie this weekend and headed West to St Davids for a family camping weekend. We didn't really do much, just mooched around the beaches, did some cliff walking (in flip-flops. Never underestimate how unprepared we can be) and watched a lifeboat launch.

My Dad, stepmum, step sister and her boyfriend (who Finn hero worships) were staying on the same site and we almost broke the tradition of disastrous camping trips until the last day when we were battered by gale force winds, the car broke (it is 85 years old) and my Dad sliced his head open. Standard.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Comfort food on a stormy day

There's a whole heap of stuff I love about Twitter. It can be a great support system (I so wish I was on Twitter during the newborn angst days, it would have prevented many a wobble and plenty of tears, I'm sure), provide invaluable advice and give access to some brilliant blogs.

2 Of my favourite blogs came to the rescue this afternoon. Dreary, thundery and miserable outside, we needed some gastronomic hugs inside. What better remedy that curry and chocolate. Not together.

Kimberlee is the ultimate superwoman. She runs a business giving knitting lessons and selling the most amazing cakes (I've tried them, trust me on this one), looks after the gorgeous Henry and writes a great blog. Recently she posted a recipe for beetroot brownies and as the (soggy, weed-infested) veg garden is producing a glut of beets at the moment, I thought I'd give them a go.

Needless to say I wasn't disappointed. Mmmmm.

What's not to love about melted chocolate?

For dinner, I turned to Charlotte, Mama to super cute Lil who writes the most honest, funny, REAL blog about Motherhood you're sure to read. She is also uber cool, has a wardrobe to die for and is gorgeous to boot. Jealous, much? She pointed out a recipe for a delicious-sounding curry this week. Delicious, healthy and super-easy. So we made it. It was gooood.

One big heap of a mess but SO worth it

Monday, 20 August 2012


Thanks to Charlotte (and the rest of Twitter it would seem. I'm never one to pass by a bandwagon) I ordered me a copy of Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred last week.

Now, usually I'm not in to fitness DVDs. I run, cycle, and go to the gym so have never really had a place for them in my life. Plus, as much as it hurts, I like the feeling of pushing myself hard and really getting my sweat on. In my experience, many commercial DVDs don't give you this experience.

...Until I found this one. There are 3 levels and each level consists of 3 circuits; 3 minutes strength, 2 minutes cardio and 1 minute abs. So all in all (not counting the warm up/cool down) it's a workout in under 20 minutes.

Now, 20 minutes may not seem like enough to get results but done right, you can torch as many calories as you would in a longer, slower workout and you'll also get the 'afterburn' effect, where you go on burning calories even after you've stopped.

So, how does it work?

1. Circuit training is one of the most efficient forms of exercise. By combining strength and cardio, with minimal rest, you maintain a higher heart rate throughout the workout, meaning...

2. ...It's intense. High intensity yields a greater calorie expenditure and resulting fat burn.

3.You get a full body workout. By combining upper and lower body exercises, you train your entire body and man, do you feel it the next day.

4. Because it's so fast paced, you're less likely to get bored. You've just about got enough time to think about finishing your star jumps without whacking the dog in the face (just me? Ok, then) and before you know it it's over and you're on to the next thing

5. You can really push hard. Which is the point. Each exercise only lasts about a minute so you can really get your head down and go for it knowing it'll be over soon.

6. You don't need much space. This was a MAJOR selling point for me as our living room is so teeny. No space for grapevines in our house, no siree. No complicated choreography means on the spot jumping around. It's all good.

So, if you're short on time, want to lose a few inches and aren't afraid to work hard, this could be for you.

Have any of you tried it? I'd love to hear your experiences if you have :)

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Lift weight to lose weight

Yep, thats right. If you want to lose weight(well, inches/fat but for the sake of this post let’s call it weight loss as we’re all familiar with the term) you need to lift weights. Resistance training is key to a successful, and more importantly sustainable loss.

Lets have a think about metabolism. So your metabolism determines the amount of calories your body uses as fuel. The faster your metabolism, the greater the calorie burn, the slower it is, the smaller the burn. With me so far?

Ok, now your muscles burn more calories than fat so the greater the muscle mass, the greater number of calories your body requires just to function on a daily basis. According to the American Council on Exercise, maintaining 1lb of fat uses 2-3 calories per day. The same findings show that 1lb of muscle burns up to 10 calories a day so you don’t have to be a maths whizz to work out that if you replace fat with muscle* you’ll burn more calories a day.

We all know that cardiovascular exercise increases calorie burn, right? So you go for a 30 minute run, burn about 300 calories, job done, and your metabolism returns to it’s normal rate. Now, how about a weights workout? Granted your calorie expentiture during the session will be less but the magic of resisitance training is that because your body needs extra time to recover (you know that achy feeling you get after weights? That) your metabolism is elevated even after you’ve hit the shower and gone home. Experts estimate this can be up to 39 hours post-workout!

Before you say ‘but I don’t want to bulk up!’…you won’t. Any bodybuilder will tell you it’s not easy to build muscle mass and often means very structured regimes, carefully planned nutrition and alot of discipline. By adding 2 or 3 resisitance training workouts to your week, you can start to replace lost fat with muscle and look forward to a leaner, more defined shape without added bulk.

Thanks to this greater muscle mass, and your new improved (increased) metabolism, you’ll be burning more calories at rest, not just when you exercise. Using more calories as you sleep? Sounds amazing. This makes for a sustainable loss. Carry on with the weights, and as long as your diet remains the same (i.e. not consuming more calories than you burn) you’ll avoid piling the weight back on, a common pitfall of many a dieter.

So what are you wating for? Grab a set of dumbbells, hit the deck for a set of press ups or get squatting to become a lean, mean** calorie burining machine.

* I’m talking losing fat and gaining muscle. Fat doesnt turn to mucle and vice versa, another common myth debunked right there.
** Perhaps not mean, you can still be nice even with muscles

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Recently around here

Things have been pretty quiet around here lately. The weather, bad moods and general tiredness have meant lots of indoor time which actually makes things worse really but enthusiasm for Doing Things has been running low.

Just when I thought life with small children was getting better, this month came along and smacked me in the face. It's probably a combination of being inside, my mood rubbing off on them and the upcoming changes they face but man, have they been hard work. Think screaming, destruction and general mischief.

So we're slowly getting ready for school time and the gradual adjustment to a new stage in our lives. Still having fun, just with a little more energy, more conflict (for the first time these kids are fighting. We've done well to avoid it this far!) and with a much more tired mama at the end of the day.

On a positive note, the garden has been coming along splendidly and we've had our first harvest of kale, runner beans, tomatoes and beetroot. We've been eating well and training for the 10 mile run is going swimmingly (as it were).

Here are some of the things we've loved this month...

1. Running down hills in a brief sunny spell

2. Racing against the dog

3. Watching the balloons in between tantrums

4. Sheltering in a dreary Bristol back street

5. Snuggling when the energy runs out

6. Finishing the latest project

7. Harvesting the first crop (complete with caterpillars *shudder*)

8. Eating the good stuff

9. Drawing the first family portrait (I know to you this is just another kid scribble but to me it's Picasso-how cute?)

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Three go adventuring

Today was one of those days when we just had to get out of the house. I don't know if it's a boy thing or just my boys but man, these kids have some energy. And today that energy was almost giving me a breakdown so off to the Outdoors we went.

Westonbirt Arboretum is a 40 minute drive from where we live but well worth the journey. It normally costs £8 per adult * (under-fives are free) but we go quite alot so have joined Friends of Westonbirt which means you can go as much as you like over a 12-month period.

It's perfect for us because it gives us a safe, traffic-free open space where they can run, jump and gallop (yes, they gallop) off their energy. There are 2 areas, the silk wood where you can take your dog and the old arboretum (which we went to today) where they don't allow dogs but kids are welcome to run free.

In the old arboretum there is a family trail with things to do for the kids along the way, like a den-building station with wood and 'tiles' to build a house and a network of wood and tree roots to navigate. They also have a tree themed play area with a log tunnel, tree house and wood carvings to play with and educate.

Throughout the year they also hold events such as Treefest, coming up this month and Enchanted Christmas where they light up the trees in a winter wonderland.

They used to have a cafe too which sold amazing cakes but sadly as I found out today, the people who used to run it don't anymore. They did have a pretty cool airstream though, selling ice creams and hot drinks.

If you live nearby, it's definitely worth a visit. Take a picnic, make a day of it and await the deep sleep your children will enjoy as a result (pleeeease?!)

This isn't a sponsored post, we just love it!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Latest creation...

After an industrious few weeks, I have another super-cute blanket available in the shop. It's slightly smaller than the others but still makes for super baby snuggles.

It measures 73cm x 54cm and is available now in the shop.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Up, up and away!

Ever have a really good idea for something to do, thinking it'll be a real treat for the kids then it turns out to be a disaster with them not actually caring about the thing? Yeah, that happened yesterday.

We thought the Bristol Balloon Fiesta would be fun for the boys now they're a bit bigger. They love to watch balloons overhead so we thought they'd get really excited about seeing a whole bunch of them, close up, taking off right in front of their excited little faces.


It started so well. We bought advance parking online for £6 (it's £10 if you don't pre-book) and went straight through to a designated car park, all easy, straightforward and stress-free so far. None of the gargantuan queues I remember from my childhood.

A short, downhill walk to the house at Ashton Court took us on a route through the fairground rides to get to the balloon field. This is where it started to go wrong.

Finn decided he wanted to go on a ride which we decided to say no to as last time this happened he cried when it started, tried to get out and they had to stop the ride so I could yank him off.

So we had tears agogo until we got to the balloon field and the sight of the magnificent hot air-filled beasts stopped the tantrum in it's tracks. Until a guy came past with a handful of silver kids helium balloons and ruined our evening.

Finn decided he wanted one. Cue hysterics for the next hour or so. By this time the balloons were inflating and the mass ascent was underway. It's an amazing sight and if you ever get the chance to visit the fiesta, I'd recommend timing it around an ascent.

Unfortunately Finn didn't feel the same. The tears stopped momentarily if an interesting-shaped balloon went up (hello, WoodyWoodpecker!) but all the cuddles, talks and 'wow, look at that balloon' -ing wasn't working so we had to abandon and head back up to the car.

So an evening which we thought would be brilliant for the kids turned out, rather disappointingly, not the fun family adventure we'd hoped but hey ho, you live and learn, eh?

And Max had a great time. He played, he danced, he gazed at the balloons lifting up, up and away. He ignored his brother and had alot of fun. 1 Out of 2 ain't bad, hey?


Kid loves to dance