Thursday, 16 April 2015

Life Is Better With Cake

#betterwithcake
Outdoor Adventures


Yes I know that I like to promote a healthy lifestyle but it is true, life really is better with cake.  Over the past couple of weeks having the children at home has meant there have probably been more cake days than normal in our house.  After a trip to the park with a nice cup of tea, eaten at the forest after a rambling walk along the pathways between the trees and ferns or on warm sunny days on the beach with a picnic. My favourite time to sit and enjoy cake is after I have spent hours gardening and I sit with a cup of tea and usually a couple of the children, in the garden, admiring the view of my tidier flower beds and freshly mown lawn. 

#betterwithcake

There is something very comforting about a slice of cake, and we all love to bake but sometimes there just aren't enough hours in a day so this is when I rely on Mr Kipling to provide that sweet treat.  

I am sure you will all agree life really is better with cake.

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

This post is an entry for #betterwithcake Linky Challenge (http://bit.ly/betterwithcake), sponsored by Mr Kipling. Learn more at   https://www.facebook.com/mrkiplingcakes

Friday, 10 April 2015

A Summer of Festivals - Camp Bestival

There is a hint of warmer days ahead and with thoughts of summer we are starting to think about where we will be pitching our tent this summer.  Obviously I won't have the same degree of flexibility this summer as I start my new career, but panic not, I will be taking some annual leave to head to a festival or two with Andy and our children.  So I thought over the next few weeks I would share some of our favourites and those we want to try.


Camp Bestival is top of our list again this year, with a line up to rival previous years and a theme that is really exciting for us.  Being outdoors, enjoying the wild has been part of our lives for years so the Wild theme of our favourite festival is of course perfect, nevermind that Michaela Strachan and Steve Backshall being there and of course we loved the National Trust activities last year, especially climbing that huge tree.  So undoubtedly we will be heading to Dingly Dell early on the Friday! Of course the music line up is important too, there is always music on in our house and we all love sharing new finds and old tunes with each other.  With the Kaiser Chiefs, Clean Bandit and Ella Henderson included in the line up, everyone is happy, but for me it has to be Soul II Soul.  This band is the sound of the summers of my sixth form days.  Immediately I am taken back to the hazy days of being a teenager, planning my escape via university, lazing around with friends, just chilling and knowing that this hacienda will end again soon as our studies transplant us around the country.  


Obviously there is a plethora of other acts and activities, with the comedy line up press release landing in my inbox yesterday, including Marcus Brigstocke, Matt Richardson and Kerry Godliman. And with the promise of more acts to be announced I am sure Camp Bestival is heading for it's best year yet.  

To find out more about Camp Bestival or to book tickets, go on you know you want to....head over to the website...on your marks, get set go....www.campbestival.net

Have a fabulous weekend and until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

A Sporty School Holiday



This holiday I decided to take some time out for the first week, enjoying some family time, catching up on jobs around the house after being lost in my dissertation since Christmas.  Making time to do things with the children was also a priority as my weekends in recent weeks have been spent trying to stay on top of the housework and working on my research.  So I asked the girls what they wanted to do as the boys are busy revising for AS and GCSE exams.  With a great sports centre just a ten minute drive away that offers a varied programme during school holidays they planned which sessions to try. 

Rollerskating is always top of the list, so of course we went along to this, whizzing round a sports hall turned into a roller-disco for 90 minutes is great fun.  With skate hire included in the price it didn't matter that only Kitty's skates still fit.  Also roller skating is still a cool activity for teenage girls, so much so that Lucy asked to bring along a friend.  Next up was an athletics session, you may have seen my trackside photo (above) on Instagram earlier this morning.  For weeks make that months, Amber and Kitty have been asking to try these sessions, which also take place every Saturday.  So I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to have a taster session before being more committed to  chilly Saturday mornings trackside.  They both really enjoyed this morning and I think I will now be heading to the track more often! 

Tomorrow we will be heading back for a racket sports session. A combination of badminton, squash and tennis will mean the girls get a good all round idea of each of these sports.  Lucy already plays badminton regularly and Kitty has been wanting to try it properly for ages.  Apparently playing badminton in the garden doesn't count as a real game!  Amber is intrigued by squash and so I am hoping she isn't disappointed.

Are you lucky enough to have a great sports centre nearby?  Which sports have your children been trying during this school holiday?  I would love to hear, may even offer inspiration for the summer hols!

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo



Wednesday, 25 March 2015

The Big 4-0!


Yes it is true, today I turn 40! I can't quite believe I am at this milestone birthday already but also have felt ready for it for a while.  In all honesty I am really excited to be entering a new decade. After a lot of soul searching and decision making during my thirties I now feel comfortable in my own skin and ready to be grown up, well a little bit more.  With my children getting older, everything gets a bit easier. Most of them are teenagers and yes that has it's own new set of problems, but touch wood, so far, we are doing ok. 

So my hair is a little greyer, (nothing a little dye can't hide), there are few more lines on my face, ( to show that I have enjoyed life)but I am happy, really happy. I have a wonderful husband and five amazing children who make me laugh everyday. In the next few weeks I will qualify as a therapeutic radiographer and embark on a new career, which is exciting and yes a little scary too.  I am truly blessed and am going to embrace this new decade, as maybe life does begin at 40, or just keeps getting better.

Have a lovely day and until next time take care.
Zoe
xo

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Making Plans


For the past week or so there has been a sense that Spring is just around the corner.  It's starting to get light when I leave the house at 6am and it is still light as I head to my car after a long day shift at 5.30pm.  These longer days make me feel less tired and also mean on the days I am at the hospital on placement I actually see daylight!  Also with my dissertation almost completed with less than three weeks until hand in day, I am starting to make plans.  

Thankfully I will have two weeks off for the Easter holidays, to rest and recuperate or actually to bake, get out in the garden, take some time to try some new recipes for dinners, read the pile of magazines I subscribe to that I have neglected.  All the things I love but because of my dissertation have been limited.  Suddenly I will have time again! Yes I need to revise for my exam at the beginning of May and think about my final assignment. But I am also going to make time to do all the other things I love.  My word for this year is embrace and so far I have encompassed this in everything I have done.  So for the Easter holidays I am going to embrace the fact that I have some free time.  This is really important to me as I will hopefully be starting a full time job from July, once qualified, so this is effectively my last lazy student break.  

Aswell as making the most of the Easter hols we are starting, as a family, to think about the Summer.  Plans for the agrden are taking shape, decorating jobs are being planned and we are hoping to head back to Lulworth Castle for Camp Bestival.  This is our favourite weekend of the year, a time we all can switch off our phones and enjoy some uninterrupted family time.  Another job on my list for the Easter hols is to finally sort out the photos from last years Camp Bestival to pop into frames of create some fun collages.  

Are you busy making plans now the days are getting longer?  I would love to hear what you have planned.

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Friday, 20 February 2015

Dissertation, Dissertation, Dissertation

Yes it's that time of year when final year students give up all of the fun stuff to write their dissertations.  This year I am one of those students and every spare moment is taken up with thoughts about my dissertation, reading for it or actually writing it. Simple pleasures of baking, taking the children to the park, or spending time sewing, leave me feeling guilty because I know I should be working on my dissertation.  Since last summer the subject of my research has become my latest obsession.  Being a bit of a perfectionist I will not start writing anything until I know I have fully explored the topic, delving into textbooks and reading many, many journal articles. 

With only four weeks until hand in day and trying to write the discussion part of my extended proposal I am more than a little distracted.  There are some days I wonder if I should be actually driving, using the commute home from placement to consider various options for the trial I am creating.  How many arms,? What will the control arm involve? Will I use mixed methods? Does case study really fit for the qualitative part? These are some of the many questions spinning around my head right now. 

So alongside normal family life and being on clinical placement I will endeavor to complete my dissertation, especially as it is already helping to shape a future clinical study.  Nobody said retraining would be easy and the next four weeks are going to be the hardest, but thankfully I have a very understanding family, who know they will get me back very soon, no longer distracted by endless thoughts about my dissertation.  

And to all the other final year radiography and nursing students currently stuck down the dissertation rabbit hole, good luck.  We will be allowed out very soon, to see daylight again!


Until next time, take care.
Zoe

xo

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Having Fun in Muddy Puddles

Living in the countryside means we get to spend alot of time outdoors, even in the winter. Wrapped up in cosy hats and scarves, warm coats and hands protected, snuggled in gloves, we head to the beach, the forest or just across the fields to the park.  Blowing away the cobwebs is as good for us as it is for the children, even our teenagers will join us, as being outside is a way of life for us, instilled from when they were tiny, playing in the garden whatever the month.



Having the right outdoor clothing obviously makes spending time outside in the chillier months all the more bearable.  something I have learnt over the years living in rural Suffolk is that you must dress for the weather.  There have been times I have been caught out and being cold on the beach is no fun at all.  With this in mind we have always made sure the children have good winter coats, opting regularly for ski jackets, due to their warmth, for keeping off that sea breeze and of course keeping them dry when the heavens open just at school pick up time.  Obviously as they have got older they choose other coats most of the time, or no coat (teenagers!) yet they all still opt for cosy waterproofs when we head out for walks.  So when Muddy Puddles got in contact, asking if Kitty would like to test their Blizzard Ski Jacket, of course we said yes! Having inherited numerous hand me downs over the years Kitty was delighted to try a brand new coat.



Arriving the day before Christmas eve, Kitty eagerly tried on her new coat.  The colour was perfect, not too pink and was very snuggly.  We both particuarly liked that the hood is detatchable as Kitty often finds hoods annoying, unless it's windy or raining, when she welcomes the shelter it offers.  She was also impressed with all the pockets and a space on the label to write her name.  Personally I was very impressed with the overall quality of the coat, the fleece lining was soft, the outer shell seemed tough enough to put up with some serious outdoor fun. Over the years we have brought numerous coats and after initial inspection this stands in the top three.  Muddy Puddles is a brand I have loved for years, but as the children got older I moved away from it, but have previously loved their waterproof trousers and all in one suits.  

So aesthetically it passed the Kitty test and so far had past my test, but now we had to try it outside.  Would it keep my youngest warm and dry, but more importantly would it be cumbersome when playing at the park or heading up the climbing wall in the forest?  Having a coat the doesn't hinder play but keeps children warm and dry is important for parents and I am pleased to report that the Blizzard Ski Jacket fits the bill.  Furthermore it is easy to clean, quickly wiping down after a slip playing football on a muddy field and is washable too.  Now to talk price, is this coat good value for money?  With an RRP of £59 it may seem a little pricey for some, (hence the 4.5 stars in the star test below)but believe me it is worth every penny.  As a mother of five children affordability is key but durablity is of vital importance too.  I need to know that something like this will last more than one season, will be worn year after year, even handed down to younger siblings.  Bearing this in mind, this jacket is not expensive as I know Kitty will get at least two winters wear and then I am sure my little nieces will love it as much as we do.  Now that is fantastic fashion maths value for money!

The Star Test (5 being excellent, 1 being poor)
Blizzard Ski Jacket from Muddy Puddles

Fit  - 5 Stars
Quality  - 5 Stars
Durability - 5 Stars
Comfort - 5 Stars
Price - 4.5 Stars
Practicality - 5 Stars

I have just popped on to the Muddy Puddles website today and the Blizzard Ski Jacket is in their winter sale, reduced to £36, even better value for money.

Until next time, take care.
Zoe
xo

Disclaimer - Muddy Puddles kindly provided the Blizzrd Ski Jacket to be reviewed, however all opinions, thoughts and text are my own.