Sunday, 31 July 2016

Happy one month Veganversary

Since Piper hadn't fancied doing anything that we had planned on the other days hubby was away, I decided to take her out solo for lunch. Our first trip eating out as vegans!! We were celebrating our month anniversary as Vegan's-hurrah! I have to admit I thought I'd find it harder than I have, I've actually really enjoyed it so far and can't imagine going back to eating meat or dairy now.

Having read about the great vegan options at the Handmade Burger Company we decided to give it a go. We went for the cajun vegetable & bean burgers with chips and it was lush! Great to have one on one time with my biggest girl!

We did some shopping and then headed to hobbycraft for Piper to pick some craft supplies for her big lolita event coming up. She got fake flowers for a flower crown she's making and then I took her to the pic n mix beads and well that's where the rest of the afternoon went.......she loves that part and picked lots of beads to make bracelets and all sorts of things!

She said she had a lovely time and even wrote her own post over on her blog; 99 % Glitter

Hubby and Bailey got home at 10.30pm and we were all so happy to see them again. Nice to have everyone back and hubby had a great weekend at the con!

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Yorkshire Wildlife Park

Hubby and Bailey went off to London Film and Comic Con with our stall and so for the first time in over two years I was home alone...well not quite alone I still had the girls and Ruben and Loki and the not quite alone alone...Still it was very strange without my two big boys!! I tried to keep us as busy as possible to distract us from being sad without them. 

We had a very quiet afternoon when hubby and Bailey set off on Thursday lunchtime and then on Friday Ruben and I were up at 6.30 to walk Loki. Usually hubby walks Loki early, sometimes I go too but never Ruben. It was nice to have his company even if it was mainly because of Pokemon Go!!

Back home after our walk and the dishwasher was blocked, I couldn't unblock it so we had to go old school and take turns in washing the pots! We were supposed to meet up with friends at the park for a picnic and then go swimming but first the heavy rain started and then there was news of a gunman on the loose in the are we needed to drive through to get to the park/swimming baths. Obviously was not meant to be so my friend and I rearranged for next week.

After a morning of sorting a mammoth pile of washing and trying to get rid of a rather stubborn headache I took Cordelia and Ruben to the cinema to watch Finding Dory. It was actually much better than I thought it was going to be, it was Cordelia's favourite film when she was 2-3 years old and she wanted to watch it all the time. We watched it an awful lot in between Barbie films (Piper), Transformers (Bailey) and well Ruben was just happy to watch anything! We all enjoyed it.

Saturday was another early morning dog walk for Ruben and I, then we left at 9.30 (am!!) to got to Yorkshire Wildlife Park. We haven't been since our trip back in 2011, everyone looks so small in those blog photos! They both wanted to visit a zoo and this one is only in Doncaster-half an hour away-and has so many new animals since we last visited so a great opportunity to get out of the house. Piper didn't want to come, she's not a fan of zoo's, so she stayed home and did a lot of sewing.

It was really busy but its such a big place that it can cope with big crowds. This was us next to the Emu enclosure-we all agreed that they re very strange animals with their bendy necks!

The giraffe enclosure:

All the photo's below are Cordelia's, she's much better with a camera than I am!

Cordelia and Ruben loved the Polar Bears, the enclosure they have is huge. We watched them for ages; play fighting, splashing in the water, yawning!

Our favourite though was the Armadillo, he was so funny. He had a big enclosure which he shared with the marmoset's-they were mainly hidden in the green, leafy trees above whilst the armadillo ran around (they are so fast!) in a big circle. He had even made a lane in the dirt with all his running around, he kept running off to itch his back on tree logs and dig holes in the dirt. I think we could have watched him for hours actually but there was so many animals to see!

The tigers and lions were all asleep so we didn't watch them for long

We did have another trip back to see our armadillo friend though....

We went along at lunchtime to watch the Bug Show live, but a few minutes in and I realised it really isn't meant for sarky teenagers, in fact I'm not sure who it's meant for because it was the cringest thing I've ever had to watch. The two presenters were so cheesy I actually couldn't look at them, Cordelia and Ruben struggled not to fall on the floor they were laughing so hard. I can see what they were trying to do-be a bit like the Longleat shows I think-but gosh it was awful. Very patronising, even for younger children. We left after we all felt we could breathe again but I had tears running down my face...

We got back home via the supermarket only to find our youngest cat Coco wasn't very well so had to rush him to the vets for antibiotics and painkillers. I think it was lucky that we did as he had a UTI and it can be fatal in male cats. Not the best end to what was a fun day but he's much better now thankfully!

Monday, 25 July 2016

Camping, Scarborough, Filey & Cayton Bay

Last week we did something we haven't done for over 2 years-we went camping! We only have a small 4 man tent now, since we sold our big 8 man Outwell tent a couple of years ago. We had a couple of big camping holidays when the peeps were younger but its not as easy to go a) away with teenagers electricity-free camping or b) be away from the business for too long.  So we settled for two nights camping at the seaside, we live nearly a 2 hour drive away from the coast so we don't really go that often. Which is a shame as I love the sea.

We stayed at a quiet campsite about 20 minutes drive from Scarborough, its a lovely place and one which we have been visiting as a family for many years. It was Piper's first holiday back in September 2001, when she was 9 months old, Bailey 3 years old and me early on in my pregnancy with Cordelia. We actually spent two weeks in a holiday apartment near the castle and although it was before had a car we visited all the  little towns up and down this bit of coast on the bus /train. Was a lovely two weeks and I remember it fondly.

It was very hot when we arrived, Hubby managed to smash the wing mirror into the side of the cliff he was parking against, it was actually quite funny. He's been driving for 4 years next month and apart from one incident in a very tight car park in Lourdes he's had no mishaps in 4 years! After we got parked and walked right up into the town centre-its a very steep place-and bought everyone drinks we had a walk around to the North beach.

The view of the castle, looks very dramatic up there n the cliff:

This statue of local miner Freddie Gilroy has quite a sad story, it was only supposed to be a temporary installation here but a local resident purchased it and so everyone still gets to enjoy it. Info taken from the Discover Yorkshire Coast site

'Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers' is a giant steel structure made by Ray Lonsdale an artist fabricator and sculptor and is now on permanent display thanks to the generosity of a local Scarborough resident. The sculpture is based on a retired miner Ray became friends with who turned out to also be one of the first soldiers to relieve the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of World War II. This piece of art is not just about Freddie Gilroy but represents all the normal people that were pulled out of an ordinary life and forced into a very extraordinary and dangerous one during the World Wars. Ray Lonsdale sculptor from County Durham said: "Scarborough is a unique town and I am pleased that my 'Freddie Gilroy and the Belsen Stragglers' will be on show there for residents and visitors alike to look at and enjoy. This piece is almost a war memorial as it depicts the lives of all those who suffered during the World Wars". "I hope that people get enjoyment from my sculptures but also reflect on the sensitivity and emotion which I have tried to convey through my work."

Cordelia thought it was very cool.

Beautiful views on the beach at Scarborough North Bay

So nice to dip your toes in the cool sea..

Beach selfies!

Paddling with Dad :D

Best photo of Loki EVER!

The perfect weather for playing in the sea with Dad

The view from Cayton Bay looking towards Scarborough

Bridlington Harbour

Beautiful Cayton Bay, one of the most beautiful beaches, felt like we could be somewhere much more exotic than North Yorkshire to be honest!

Bridlington Harbour, Piper found a statue that resonated with her, since the lady was sewing/knitting!

Ice cream time!

Loki liked burying himself in the sand to keep cool-Ruben thought it might be fun to bury him and he actually let him haha!

Beautiful Peasholm Park-great for Pokemon Go time and eating chips :)

We had a nice couple of days, although have to admit to not being that fond of camping. Didn't sleep much at all, especially the second night due to high winds and hubby being repeatedly woken up by being hit in the face with the tent, albeit gently, but still annoying! The girls had a huge row in the showers Tuesday morning and Ruben had a bit of a meltdown in the showers too the same morning. Meaning our first camping morning was super stressful. It always takes a while for the kids to come around when we are away, its like they have to remember how to behave without the lifeline that is being online. I find that quite hard as a parent. I really wish they could be offline more, in fact, I wish we all could. By the time we had arrived for the beach the argument had blown over and everyone had calmed down (headphones in, spotify on!) I love spending time with them away from distractions and we had some wonderful moments in between some not-so-wonderful moments (life isn't perfect, we're not perfect parents, we don't have perfect children). Like watching them play with their puppy in the sea, watching Ruben and Cordelia swim and play with their dad in the sea, watching Piper sit so peaceful and take everything in around her. I wish we could have stayed away from home a bit longer but we are just too busy at the moment with work. I've pencilled in a full two week break later in the year and I'm really hoping we get to escape somewhere with limited internet so we can all have a break and enjoy each others company.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Going Vegan

Becoming a vegan is something that I've considered for quite a while but was quite reluctant to actually take the plunge until Piper decided to go vegan.  After much discussion with Piper and lots of looking into recipes, reading blogs for advice and getting books out of the library we decided to give it a try. That was 16 days ago and so far so good!

We've tried lots of new recipes, Piper has got involved in lots of the cooking too. We got talking to a fellow vegan in Tesco and he told us all the best vegan shops in Sheffield to visit as well as some of the best snacks! We've visited the Incredible Nutshell twice now, it's a great little shop that is absolutely packed with vegan foods and so every time we've been in we've picked up a few new things to try.

To be honest it's been quite an overwhelming experience so far, there's so many arguments for and against, so much research, so many options and it's not just food either. We have had to look at all of our products as a household too. Even though it's only Piper and I that have gone vegan, we've set about changing over all our shower gels, toothpaste, handwash, make up, deodorants, cleaning products etc to vegan friendly versions. It's not an overnight change because there's a lot involved and also we are on budget so that has to be taken into account to.
Some products we've been lucky to find in our local poundshop, so we stock up on those when we are nearby. 

There are so many products available in the supermarkets now that it's been quite easy so far. Piper has been excellent at trying everything I've cooked, even if it's something she's not normally keen on. It's been an enormous learning experience for both of us so far. 

We sat and watched the documentary Cowspiracy together last week and that was a real eye opener and a definite motivator. We had so many great conversations afterwards and continue to come back to the points it brought up.

Our favourite recipes so far are butternut squash  risotto,  chickpea and spinach curry, potato rosti and spiced fried potatoes. I've also made a couple of batches of biscuits with vegan margarine which have been nice. I'm not so keen on a lot of the packaged vegan foods and there's a lot of sugar involved which I'm finding quite hard given that I'd just spent two months learning to eat sugar free and enjoy full fat dairy foods. There's also a lot of carbs involved which is also something I don't normally eat too much of. 

There's a lot of time spent reading the back of packets as so many foods that are vegan don't say so!! And it's not so easy to eat out but that's something we've been looking more into too. I found some dairy free ice cream in asda yesterday for Piper which she loved. And the Vego chocolate bar has been my favourite chocolate so far.  It's going to be a continuing learning curve for both of us I think. But we are both happy to have made the change.

It's nice to be able to support more small businesses locally and also as a fellow small business owner even our friends businesses too. A fellow home ed mum sells vegan friendly deodorant over at  Hippy Paste and I put an order in for both Piper and myself. It's a fab little deodorant and it works really well. It's one less thing I'm having to check the packaging for or do lots of research on so I'm very happy.

Hubby made Piper and I a vegan pizza last week, our first experience using vegan cheese! I'm not a fan really as think it tastes a bit plastic so onwards with trialing different cheeses! It was great to have a night of cooking though haha ;)

Incredible Nutshell goodies;

Hubby's vegan pizza!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Sheffield Elephant Herd

We had a trip into Sheffield city centre after hearing all about the new elephant herd installation on the news and social media. It's one of the biggest art displays in the UK and is all to raise money for Sheffield Children's Hospital. All the elephant's will be auctioned off in October. All four of my children at some point or another have been in the children's hospital and received fantastic care so I really hope they raise lots of money.

There is an app you can download and then you can scan each elephant and collect them all. A bit Pokemon Go really! Ruben enjoyed collecting all the different elephants in town, we managed to see 34! Here are a few of them;

Sheffield has its very own claim to space fame with Helen Sharman, who was the first British astronaut and first woman to visit the international space station in 1991. She came and did a talk at my secondary school which I remember well. A cool lady!

A nod to the Johnny White sculptures in the Winter Gardens, Sheffield is famous for its steel and cutlery. Ruben had a great workshop two years ago with Johnny making an Iron Giant out of reclaimed/recycled metal.

A rare photo of the pesky Hobbits! 

This was my favourite elephant-a very tail theme!

Ruben is pretty much my height now yikes!

A snooker themed elephant outside the Sheffield Crucible. Signed by lots of famous players.

Sheffield is also famous for its musicians including Jarvis Cockermouth,  Oli Sykes (who we were lucky enough to meet twice in the last year!) Arctic Monkeys, Roision Murphy, the Human League, Reverend and the Makers.....

We did quite a few kilometres and we still didn't see them all! So we'll have to do a few more trips over the summer.