To blog or not blog?

It’s been a far while since I wrote a personal post for my blog. I have had opportunities to do some reviews and it has been great to get back into my writing and the chance to work eith new people. In case you missed them Little Leaf Eco  Chicken Dinner with Countdown and review for Optically.co.nz

I wanted to write this post because my poor blog has been so neglected for almost a year! I never had any intention to take a break or leave it so long. Last year was crazy busy. I changed jobs, we went to England for a month for my brother’s wedding, we sold our first home and bought a new one. BUT before we could sell our previous home, we had to put in a new shower, hire a storage unit to declutter, paint, clean, as well as attend open homes, looking for our new home.

I really struggled with poor health last year too. I don’t know why as I have always been generally healthy, but I had tummy bugs, strep throat, plus a viral illness just before we went to England and then after we moved into our new home I got bronchitis. I was not a healthy Mumma. So far this year has been MUCH better.

I was asked by a reader why I had stopped writing? I explained about our busy year and my blog was one of the things that got put on hold. She then said to me that she hoped I would continue to write and she found me to be a sincere mummy blog. WOW reading that blown me away. And it has definitely given me the incentive to get back into writing again.

I enjoy reading other Mummy blogs, I have done for several years now, even before I thought about writing my own. But I do feel I have to ‘compete’ with them, yes silly I know. But the world of Mummy blogging seems to be very competitive and popular, it’s all about like and shares. If your post isn’t liked then no one else sees it, unless the page has an already established following.  

This is actually one of the reasons I stopped writing, I became really disheartened and I definitely questioned why I was even bothering. I have never been a competitive person, but the pressure got to me. I felt my life didn’t live up to what I was seeing in other blog posts. And I also felt because I don’t live in a big vity I was at a huge disadvantage.

Social media platforms changed the way posts are seen, and one thing I refuse to do it pay to ‘boost’ my post. If I did this for one post, would I then have to do the same for other posts?

Sure you could say I’m a tad miffed I don’t have a following but I honestly don’t mind, I write because I want to write. I am relatively new to blogging and who knows what the future will hold.

I needed to take ‘time out’ last year due to family, work and my health. I will still write when I want too. My life is busy enough without feeling like I have to write a blog post.

Thanks for reading,

Stacey

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Chicken dinner with Countdown

I was very excited to be asked if I wanted to make dinner to celebrate Countdown’s Price Lockdown. The challenge was to create a meal I hadn’t made before, or something I had always wanted to try, or my twist on a classic. I just had to make sure the recipe included chicken.

I was sent a voucher for Countdown to purchase my ingredients for my chicken dinner. Being a Mum to two young children I understand the challenges of feeding them something they will eat AND enjoy, plus doing it affordably. I purchased a number of items that had Countdown’s Price Lockdown logo for my chicken meal, meaning I got a great deal to feed the whole family.

As a child one meal I used to really enjoy was when my Mum cooked chicken with tomato soup, and with the weather getting colder it seemed a great opportunity to make it for my family and it was something I hadn’t made before.

Serves 4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Ingredients

  • 750g free range chicken breast (skinless, boneless)
  • 1 onion
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 carrots, (peeled)
  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 broccoli
  • 1 teapoon Homebrand minced Garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of Homebrand Olive oil
  • 1 can of Homebrand condensed Tomato soup
  • 1kg bag of Homebrand long grain rice
  • 1 loaf of Tiger bread (to serve)

Method

  • Preheat oven to 150-180, depending on your oven.
  • Prepare vegetables, I grated the carrot and chopped it quite small, I also cut the celery in half length ways and cut small. I find for my children they are more likely to eat them and it makes cooking them easier. Chop onion.
  • Put the Olive oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery. Fry until the onion is beginning to brown.
  • Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and then add to the frying pan with the vegetables when the onion has started to brown.
  • Cook the chicken until all the pinkness has gone and you can just see white meat, remove from the heat and add everything from the frying pan into a dish which is oven safe and has a lid.
  • Open the can of condensed soup and add to the warm frying pan, keep the pan on a low heat. Using the can fill it with cold water and add this to the frying pan also. Stir to combine. Once the soup and water are combined, add the soup mix to the dish with the chicken and vegetable. Stir to combine, place the lid on the dish and put it in the oven for about 20-30 minutes. I checked on mine after 20 minutes, gave it a stir and cooked for a further 10 minutes.
  • Once all the soup is combined with the water add the liquid into the dish with the chicken and vegetables. Stir to combine, add the lid to the dish and put in the oven.
  • Whilst the chicken was in the oven, I prepared my broccoli and cauliflower to serve with the dinner. I heated some water in a pan and placed the vegetables in the steamer pan. I also cooked my rice in my rice cooker.
  • Whilst the vegetables and rice were cooking, I sliced the tiger loaf bread and buttered the slices, I thought the bread would be a good to mop up the left over sauce.
  • Once everything is ready, serve up and tuck in.

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This chicken dinner was a HUGE hit, we all really enjoyed it. After talking to my Mum about it she mentioned that she has also added mushrooms into it, but I know my children wouldn’t really appreciate that. Something to remember for the future though.

You could also have this meal with pasta or potatoes instead of rice if you wanted too. I chose to serve broccoli and cauliflower as my children both really like them.

If you go on to make this delicious chicken dinner, I would love to hear your thoughts,

Stacey.

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Review for Little Leaf Eco

Wow, its been a while since I did a review and even wrote a post. A few weeks ago I was fortunate to be approached by Maileen of Little Leaf Eco, to review a couple of her items amd I took her up on the opportunity.

I was sent a Stinky Bag for Little Miss and a Kid’s Backpack for Mr Happy. I am always on the look out for new and different things for my children and the chance to review both items has been well received in our household.

A Little About Little Leaf Eco

They are a New Zealand family owned company, with a focus on creating items to minimise waste, help the environment whilst maintaining a high standard.

The creater is a Mum of two boys and finding she was getting tired of lunchboxes breaking halfway through the school year, as well as trying to find the right shape and not always knowing what chemicals were used to create the lunchboxes, her first product the Lunch Tote was born.

Other products by Little Leaf Eco

On the website you can find the Lunch Tote, Stinky Bag, Kid’s Backpack’s and a selection of Wooden Toys.

 

On to the Stinky Bag

The Stinky Bag is designed to be used for sports, swimming gear, gym kits, toys, sleepover items and anything else you can think of. Little Miss is starting school in a matter of months and has weekly swimming lessons so I thought this bag would be perfect for her to try.

We were sent the pink ‘Princess in Training’ bag. When I first showed Little Miss her instantly had a huge smile on her face. She was keen to have a look at the different compartments and started discussing what she could use the bag for.

What interested me most about the Stinky Bag is the bottom zippered section that has been designed to store wet, dirty or used gear separately, ie the Stinky stuff! Plus, the bag has been made so you can put the wet/dirty clothes straight into the washing machine within having to touch them. Tip the opened part of the bag straight into the machine. And the bag is also washing machine friendly (note: I haven’t washed mine yet!).

We have used the bag for swimming lessons and it is perfect! No more having to take a plastic bag to put her wet togs, hat and towel in. The first time we used it, Little Miss had to put her wet things in the ‘wet’ section by herself!

Perfect size to fit everything

There a few pockets to the Stinky Bag also, an outside zip pocket and another one with a velcro seal. Inside the main compartment of the bag, there is a pocket to hold a few small items as well as a label for your child to name their bag.

Separate zip to get into the ‘stinky’ compartment, velcro pocket at the front


Plenty of room inside the bag, two small pockets and a label to name the bag

At the top there is the zip as well as a magnetic button, so you can fold over the top of the bag if you don’t need to fill the bag.

At $59.95 the Stinky Bag can be on the expensive side for bags, but for the size of bag it is worth it. I feel Little Miss will get a lot of use from this when she starts school and because of the design and style of it, I think it will be a favourite bag of hers for a few years to come.

The Stinky Bag comes in three different designs. The two other designs are Super Hero Stinky Bag and Hands Off Stinky Bag

 

Kid’s Backpack

The Kid’s Backpack’s are animal themed and perfect for toddlers and preschool children. They are made with 100% recycled cotton canvas, so lightweight for little people and they have adjustable shoulder straps and I would say they are washable.

There are five designs to choose from, I was given the Blue Dog backpack for Mr Happy. The other designs available are Green Cat, Orange Monkey, Pink Bunny and Red Dog.

Blue Dog Kid’s Backpack $49.95

What I love about it is that it is just his size, easy for him to put on and it can hold his lunchbox, and several changes of clothes for Preschool. It doesn’t have waterproof lining, but its easy for him to open and close.

It also has a handle on the top of the bag, good for hanging up and great for storing the bag at home. Inside of the bag has colourful lining, appealing to young children and has two pockets built inside, always handy to have extra compartments, Mr Happy just loves it. He turns three next month, but I would say that this bag would be ideal from age one upwards, as Little Leaf Eco suggests.

Colourful lining, two small pockets.

So there you have it, my review of two really great Mum-made and of course New Zealand and Eco-friendly products. Little Miss and Mr Happy are proud as punch with their new bags.

Happy Kids with their Stinky Bag and Backpack


Mr Happy ‘modelling’ without realising

Links for Little Leaf Eco

Instagram

Facebook

Pinterest

NB: I was sent the ‘Stinky bag’ and Kid’s Backpack to review and all views and photos are my own. Some information has been adapted from the Little Leaf Eco website.

June

The month of June, I look forward to it but I also dread it. I love it but I also dislike it.

June marks the half way point of the year, and dare I say it, only another six months until Christmas, eek! June is also the beginning of summer in England and the beginning of winter in New Zealand. Living in New Zealand now for just over 12 years I am well adjusted to the seasons here, but June will always be a summer month to me.
I celebrate and remember some pretty special people during this month. The first week of June, it is one of my younger brothers birthday and Little Misses birthday. (I still remember the same brother saying to me shortly before I had Little Miss that I wasn’t too have her on his birthday, as it was his day). Brothers huh?

June 2nd 2011 was the day my beloved Grandpa passed away, he lived for 97 years, pretty good innings huh? And the 3rd June 2011 was the day I delivered our beloved, firstborn baby boy Alex.

This year marked five years since we met him and said goodbye to him. Wow, five years, it’s quite a milestone huh? The build up to the day was harder that the actual day itself, it always is. I had the day planned, I knew how we would celebrate his day and we did.

It is a day to remember him, but of course it is also a day to celebrate. I miss him everyday, and often find my mind wandering at different times of the day, what would he look like, what would he enjoy? What would he have liked for his fifth birthday?

A few days leading up to his birthday I explained to Little Miss that we would be having a family day for Alex’s birthday. Mummy and Daddy would not be going to work and the four of us would have a day of fun. Little Miss decided Chipmunks would be a great idea (indoor soft play venue), followed by cupcakes for afternoon tea and a trip to the cemetery with Nana and Grandad (my Husband’s parents) to do our balloon release.

When I was having this conversation with Little Miss, one evening after dinner, she looked at me and said “But Mummy, Alex is supposed to go to school this year”. With these words I burst into tears. Just hearing these words from my daughter made the event seem more real. I hadn’t felt like crying prior to my chat with her, so the tears caught myself as well as her off guard. I guess with the lead up to the actual day, the tears were a form of release. Little Miss and I shared a hug and I explained to her that Alex couldn’t go to school because he lives with the stars, but he would be watching over her when it will be her and Mr Happy’s turn to venture off to school.

To us Alex is our shining star, we look to the sky at night and we can always see him. Little Miss will always point to one of the brightest stars and says it is Alex. For me and our family I feel it is really important to have a symbol we can look for and see and be able to think of our boy and big brother.

We had a lovely day remembering Alex and celebrating his fifth year. To me as hard as it is, his birthday is a celebration. He existed, he was and still is my first born baby. I think of him everyday, and these days I smile. It wasn’t always easy to smile but know I feel that I can.

Here are some of the photos from our day.

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Mr Happy

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Slide Fun

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Five Yummy Cupcakes

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Beautiful Flowers 3 vases xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Balloon release

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xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Me and Mrs C

A little while ago I shared a blog called Dear Mrs C this post was about me using antidepressants to treat my Post Natal Depression (PND). Shortly after I wrote and shared the post, I made an appointment to see my GP to renew my prescription and to discuss reducing my current dose.

I had been thinking for a while about reducing the dose, I felt the time was right. I had been in a good place for several months and I know when I have my low moments that everything will be ok. I was also worried about any withdrawals I could possibly experience due to the decrease in dosage and I wanted to limit them as much as I could.

I still get overwhelmed at times, with parenting, work, being a wife but who doesn’t? I do however feel I am in a much better frame of mind these days, but I still have my ‘bad’ days. You can do it, Stacey I told myself.

When I saw my GP, I explained how I had been feeling and other things I was doing to maintain a healthy balance in my life. I told him how I like to go to work and feel like ‘Stacey’ and not just a ‘Mummy’. And I really enjoy my time with my children,  also I no longer have the overwhelming feelings of wanting to leave my husband and children. Anyone who has experienced this feeling or is feeling like this, it well and truly SUCKS! Feeling like a failure, and wanting to turn your back on your family you are a part of is very lonely, I never want to feel like that again. At the time I never realised how low I got, I think I hid it quite well at times.

My GP was really good and we both agreed that it was a good time to reduce my dose, by half a tablet. I now take 30mg, one and a half tablets once a day in the morning. My GP explained he would like me to continue on this reduced dose for six months before decreasing any further. I thought this was a really good plan, it would prevent any withdrawals and hopefully help me to remain in a good place.

I started writing this blog post at the end of March and now here I am almost at the end of May. I am due another trip to the doctors for a repeat prescription, it has almost been three months since I reduced my antidepressant and I can say it has been going really well. Phew!

It is so good to write about being in a good place, happy, calm (well relatively calm, my hubby tells me I worry too much!) and to feel like I enjoy my life. I love being a Mum and Wife and I hope I am a better friend and person to those people who know me.

I look back on last year and even the year before and I know now that I wasn’t always in the best frame of mind and I wasn’t really living, but existing.

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Me and Mr Happy April 2016

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Enjoying my children, something that had previously seemed so, so hard

 

It is so healing for me to look at these photos of myself with my children and know the smile is ‘real’ and not forced. Although like I said, there are some days when the smile is harder to achieve,but the good days are by far outweighing the bad days.

When I saw this ‘Winning’ tank avaliable through TheHood I just knew ut would be perfect for me. I love their collection of T Shirts and Sweaters which sum up Mum Life.

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Aus$ 34.99

'Winning'

‘Winning’

Thanks for reading and letting me share, take care xxx

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NB: I purchased the ‘Winning’ tank for myself and my opinion is all my own, I love it!

 

 

 

Project Dollhouse: Part One

Little Miss turns 4 next month, yes 4, I cannot believe it. My baby girl only has another year before starting school.

She may seem at times that she is 3 going on 13 but, oh my what a fun age three has been and heres to many more adventures with her as a four year old.

Project Dollhouse:

A little while ago I shared a photo on Instagram of a dolls house I bought off a friend, that I was intending to ‘do it up’ in time for Little Miss turning 4 at the beginning of June. Little Miss LOVES a dolls house. I have observered her play with one at playcentre, as well as ones that have been at her friends house. I just know this gift will be perfect for her.

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Before shot, I wasn’t keen on the wallpaper, so off it came.

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After a coat of undercoat, luckily we had a tin in our garage!

Unfortunately due to the size of our home (and the dolls house) I have been unable to hide it from her. She is aware it is for her birthday and appears to be happy to wait for that day so she can play with it.

I immediately went into ‘planning’ mode. I decided I would paint some of the walls, making it pink and girly, as I know Little Miss would love that. I was also keen to use some of my scrapbook papers (I have a decent collection!) to decorate the walls and maybe the floors?

I thought it would be good to keep the roof dark, maybe black????? Which lead me to think of black chalkboard paint……..

I like the idea that she can make the dolls house her own. Draw pictures, patterns on the roof to really personalise her house.

When it came to painting the rooms I decided that test pots were the best way to go. I bought a tin of the black chalkboard paint and four test pots from Resene

The four colours I chose were

  • Shocking a cool pastel violet pink colour
  • Wham this colour is a lot brighter than it shows on the website, a very cool green
  • Perfume this colour reminds me of Sofia the First!
  • Sugar and Spice I thought a shimmery paint would be really cool
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Top: Sugar and Spice Centre: Shocking Bottom: Perfume

I was spoilt for choice, so I just decided to go for girlie colours I knew Little Miss would love and I picked a green because I thought I needed to break up the pink!

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All ready to paint

 

Making a start

Firsty I found some white undercoat in our garage (from a project a few years ago) and painted the whole house with it, just one coat.

I then painted the roof in the chalkboard black paint and the outside of the house pink. I decided I would make each room a little different, more on that next time.

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Progress shots

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Progress……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If anyone has any tips/tricks or suggestions I would love to hear them.

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Mothers Day

Sunday May 8th is Mothers Day in New Zealand, Australia (where some amazing Mumma’s live!) as well as several other countries. The day to awknowledge our special Mum’s and thank them for everyone they have done and continue to do for us. This day has always been a day I haven’t forgotten (memory of an elephant over here!) and now I am a Mum myself it is even more significant.

Unfortunately Mothers Day isn’t always a joyous event, it ends up being another day we would rather just forget about.

Mothers Day 2011, I was pregnant with our firstborn, dear Alex. I remember working that day and a few people mentioned to me, that Mothers Day next year would be my first Mothers Day because my baby would be here. Apparently, some people thought being obviously pregnant means you aren’t a Mother yet or deserve a Mothers Day. At the time I didn’t think anything of it, why would I? I would have my baby next year to celebrate being a Mummy with.

Moving on to Mothers Day 2012. I was heavily pregnant with my second baby, (with our soon to be four year old daughter). This Mothers Day officially sucked arse! I was angry and sad my baby wasn’t in my arms. I knew I was a Mother but I thought back to the comments I had the previous year, this WAS supposed to be my ‘first’ Mothers Day. Instead, I was blessed to be pregnancy but also mourning the loss of my boy. I remember my thoughts drifted to “Why me? Why my baby? And would I be able to celebrate Mothers Day next year?”

You are probably wondering what it the point of this blog post? Well, for me I look forward to Mothers Day, as I’m sure most Mothers do, but I also dread it. As my boy’s fifth anniversary looms next month I find myself thinking about him more and more as the day comes closer. And sadly Mothers Day is another reminder that I have three children but only two to wrap my arms around.

Mothers Day can be incredibly difficult for Mothers that have lost children or are yet to have living children and of course those that do not have their mother around to share the day with.

Some women will choose to ignore this day and want to hide away from the world and that is fine, but please remember you are a Mother, this beautiful quote from Franchesca Cox sums up exactly how I and some others Mum’s feel

“A Mother is not defined by the number of children you can see, but by the love she holds in her heart”

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My beautiful ‘Queen Mum’ mug from Sands New Plymouth xxx

 

This is an awesome article by Lexi Behrndt of Scribbles and Crumbs

7 Ways To Remember the Hurting Mothers This Mother’s Day

Please be kind to yourself  on this day if it is particulary hard for you, sending love and hugs dear Mumma.

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