Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

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Valentine’s Day will be here before you know it, which for many of us means thinking about getting something special for our loved ones. Over the last few weeks, I have had some fun working alongside some fabulous companies to put together a rather special Valentine’s Day gift guide, which will hopefully give you some ideas and take away some of the stress in finding the perfect gift!

To be honest, I always get a little bit stumped when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I like to try and find something a little bit different, yet something personal and thoughtful too; and I think the following gift ideas certainly tick all three of those points!

Personalised Star Map – Under Lucky Stars

Under Lucky Stars is a company that creates personalised Star Map’s, which shows the alignment of the stars, where you are, at a moment in time special to you. All you have to do is visit their website and start creating and I challenge you to try and narrow your special moments down to just one! Or, you can do what I did, and get lost in stargazing for well over a hour!

When I designed a Star Map, I thought about all the special moments my fiancé and I have had together and I thought about our last weekend as a couple (before Pumpkin). We had planned a romantic weekend together and “surprise surprise” Pumpkin decided to make an early appearance and share the weekend with us! So, I chose our Star Map to reflect the moment our little star said hello! The result? See for yourself, it’s really beautiful and is a constant reminder of when our lives changed forever!

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Star Maps start from $55

A New Map of Love – Abi Oliver

To me, a book is a really personal present, as it shows the person who has gifted it has taken time to think about the recipient; their likes, dislikes, their humour and also taken the time to have a sneaky peek at their book shelf to get an idea of the kinds of books they like to read!

Since becoming a Mummy, I have not been able to read any where near as much as I would like and to be given a book for Valentine’s would be wonderful, although I would also be telling my fiancé to expect to see me with my nose stuck firmly in the book every evening until it’s finished too! Perhaps, not quite so romantic, but such a gift of a “little bit of me time” though!.

A New Map of Love is such heart warming read about a gentleman called George Baxter and the journey into his new life following the loss of his wife of twenty-six years. It’s a novel about second chances in love and do you know what?, that is all I am going to say about it as I don’t want to spoil the book for you! Yes, I know that’s rather mean of me, but, I loved it and savoured every reading moment and I want everyone else to have that experience too! Plus, there is the little issue that I have passed the book on to my mum, who no doubt will be reading this and will not have finished the book yet and will be cross at any “spoilers”.

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Couple’s Personalised T-Shirts – Genie Gadgets

Personalised couple’s T-shirts are a big thing and Genie Gadgets have some amazing ones to brighten up any couple’s wardrobe! Whether you and your partner are “Sweet Peas” or “Huggy Bears”, you are sure to find a T-shirt to personalised to suit and reflect your personalities! These are such a fun idea, the only problem you will have is choosing what ones to get, will you be matching or will you be independent personalities?

When I showed my fiancé, he wasn’t to sure whether I was joking or serious about them! I don’t think he could even disguise the look of pure terror on his face when the T-shirts arrived, perfectly cuddled up together in their packaging! Terror was replaced with relief when I assured him I wouldn’t make him wear it out, although I can guarantee the one day he does wear it to take the bins out, he will be caught by the neighbours and stuck chatting for ages! I shall enjoy that moment (and promise to update this post with photographic evidence)!

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Personalised T-Shirts £12.99 each

Cupcake Bath-Bombs 

I love bath bombs, especially if they come with the promise of a disturbance-free bath! Is it just me, or whenever I get in the bath or shower after my son has gone to bed, I can mysteriously hear him cry and when I go to check, he is actually snoring away! If I dare to have a bath whilst he is awake, I will hear a knock at the door, followed by “mamma mamma” – which gets increasingly louder until an ear piercing cry is about to be let loose in the hallway!  So, bathing, always comes with a big “do not disturb sign” and Daddy is on duty during this time!

These Cupcake Bath Bombs, are just so pretty and come packaged as a Little Box of Love! There are Six Bathbombs in total: Chic & Cheerful, Love Buds, Kiss Me Quick, Rosebud Buttercup, Feel The Love, Urban Rose.

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Cupcake Bath-Bombs £9.99 – as an added bonus, you can get 10% of all orders, use the discount code LUPSIE218 at the checkout!

Luxury Dog Collar ID Tags – Paws With Opulence

Dog’s are important members of the family and why should they be forgotten about on Valentine’s Day? This is where Paws With Opulence comes to the rescue with these incredibly beautiful broken heart dog collar ID tags!

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They are available in Sterling Silver, 9ct Gold and 9ct White Gold, and also available in 2 other different designs, with hand-engraving available too. All of Paws with Opulence’s products are all handmade using the finest quality materials, so you can be certain your dog is going to be well and truly spoilt!

Whilst your choosing your dog collar ID Tags, why not have a look at Paws with Opulence’s collars, leads and accessories and I dare you not to fall in love with their gorgeous range and spoil your dog a little bit more!

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Broken Heart Luxury Dog Collar ID Tags: Sterling Silver £89 9ct Gold £229
9ct White Gold £289

Wooden Toy Two Tier Cake Stand & Cakes

I have covered presents for pretty much everyone in this gift guide, except for the important little people in our lives. When I was a nanny in the USA, I was surprised at just how big Valentine’s was! It was also a day for friends and family members too! So, it would be rude not to include the little ones too!

Pumpkin enjoys making everyone imaginary cups of tea at the moment and would absolutely love these toy cakes and cake stand, to make it a proper tea party! Plus, its wooden, so it will withstand some of the rigorous testing that only toddler can give it!

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Two tier cake stand and cakes – £19.99 – to get 10% of all orders, use the discount code LUPSIE218 at the checkout.

I hope you like the gift guide, below are links to the retails main websites, where you’ll find a wide range of other gift ideas too!

Under Lucky Stars

Abi Oliver – A New Map of Love

Genie Gadgets

Paws with Opulence

What2buy4kids – Don’t forget if you use the discount code LUPSIE218 you will receive 10% of your order!

Disclaimer: Some items were gifted for the purpose of this gift guide, all opinions are my own.
Contains affiliate links.

Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Debbie from My Random Musings.

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Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I’m Debbie, I’m 36 and I live in North East England. When I’m not blogging, I’m usually writing my novels (or someone else’s as a ghost writer), reading or having a Netflix binge.

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
My blog, My Random Musings, is a bit of a mixture. It started out as somewhere I posted whatever was on my mind, hence the name. Now it’s main focus is motivating people to go out and live the life they truly want with some writing and blogging based posts and posts about books thrown in for good measure.

I’ll have been blogging for three years in March of 2018.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer and when I finally decided it was time to stop saying it and start doing it, a blog seemed like a good place to start. I hadn’t written anything in years and I wanted to get back into writing before I started on my first novel.
The blog was meant to be a short term thing but I fell in love with it and now I couldn’t imagine ever not blogging.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
To someone thinking about starting, go for it. Just do it.

To someone who’s just started, I would say enjoy the ride. Learn as you go, talk to other bloggers and don’t compare yourself to someone who’s been doing it for years.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
I don’t lol. Seriously I try to schedule blog post updates when I schedule the actual post and then I can concentrate on the fun part of social media daily. I allow myself half an hour to catch up on everything I’ve missed overnight, then I just pop in and out throughout the day – probably way more than I should.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
I would love to have more readers of course, but content wise, I think I’ve finally found a balance I’m happy with. My main goal with the blog is to keep posting daily and (hopefully) produce content that my readers enjoy and find useful.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
I’m hopeless with the techie stuff. I spend more time Googling and messing up than actually getting the thing done lol.

And the easiest?
Writing the content. I love writing and that’s the part I enjoy the most, so I guess by extension, it feels like the easiest part compared to the dreaded techie bits and the marketing.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
Oh wow that’s hard.
Ermm, ok the movie would be Grease. The song would be A Thousand Years by Christina Perri.
It’s way too hard to choose just one book, this is killing me lol. Right now, it would be Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. It was one of the first horror books aimed at adults I ever read when I was around twelve and I’ve loved it ever since. But if you asked me the same question next week, my answer might well be different haha.

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Debbie for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog My Random Musings.

Debbie is also on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Amazon Author Page

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Brain Fog

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I have been a bit quiet on my blog for the past week, and that is because Flare is in town again. If you don’t know who “Flare” is, please take a moment to read one of my earlier posts, where you will get to learn about my frequent unwelcome visitor.

This time Flare has brought with her a particularly horrible sidekick and that is what is known as Brain Fog or what I call “Bee-isms” to try and make light of it. Brain Fog is where my thought process can sometime get a bit jumbled and the wrong words come out of my mouth, despite my brain knowing the word I actually want to say. Sometimes, this can be a bit amusing, other times it can be downright frustrating and I feel a little bit silly.

However, to my family this is often a sign for them that I am pushing myself too much and I am needing to slow down. I am grateful, that they recognise this, as I am stubborn and will keep pushing on each day until I will make myself poorly and now they will step in before this happens. Even as I write this, I know that sounds an incredibly selfish thing to do, but to be brutally honest with myself, it is down to pride; I want to be the best mummy I can be and I want to be able to lead a completely normal life.

This is where I need to give myself a reality check and pull myself up from feeling too sorry for myself during “Flare’s” visits; I do lead a normal life, a normal life for me. I accept that pain, fatigue, medication and numerous hospital appointments will be part of my life, for the rest of my life and this is where I need to be organised. If I recognise that things are worsening, I deal with it, by consulting with the team of medical practitioners working with me. If my Lupus is in a period of remission, then I focus on what is working well at that time and try to remember what lead me to that point for future reference. Equally, I need to try my hardest not to fight on during “Flare’s” visits, swallow my pride and most importantly try to recognise the early signs and speak more openly about them to my family.

I know that all sounds idealistic and easy, but believe me it’s not and my fiancé often needs to remind me of the above and bring me back to reality gently. Especially when I am feeling sorry for myself or feeling that I am crap Mummy, yes, that thought frequently goes through my head when “Flare” comes to visit.

In my eyes I have the most wonderful family, a family who I love, adore and I am fiercely protective of. Over the next few months, I am making some big decisions, which I am doing in my own and my family’s best interests. I will write about them when the moment feels right, at the moment, I am not quite ready to share them yet. In the meantime, I will focus on being healthy and spending some quality time with my family.

Blog, Brew & Biscuits!

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Sam from Travelling With Our Kids.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I’m Sam, and I have just turned 30! I have 2 little boys who are 6 and 2. I’m married to Nick who I met in 2009 on an online dating site. We got engaged after 3 months and married in 2012. When I’m not writing my blog I am working full time for the family business. My husband works in our bike shop along with my younger brother while I work alongside my parents running the holiday business

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
The blog is about family travel and days out. I have also started to add in some posts about gluten and milk free travel as our boys are intolerant to both. I started writing when my youngest was born, so it will be 3 years old at the start of February.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
I had been reading other blogs (What Katy Said being the main one) and loved the idea of doing my own. I also have no hobbies whatsoever so the blog gives me some “down time” in the evenings.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
Go self hosted straight away if you plan to make money from your blog. Also it is a lot of work, so get organised and schedule your time on your blog to get the most out of it.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
Badly? I normally ignore all social media during working hours unless its for our family business. Once the boys are in bed I spend an hour or two just doing social media. It isn’t the best but it works for me. If I did the blog full time then I expect this would be different.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
At the moment my blog is just something to keep me sane after a hard days work. I would love for it to take off and be able to spend more time on it. However, our family business is pretty important so this always has to come first.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
Trying to find my voice. I still don’t think I have quite mastered it. However, my writing has improved greatly over the years and I spend some time each month updating old posts.

And the easiest?
I don’t think anything is really easy when it comes to blogging. Ha! I love social oopmh and it takes the stress out of scheduling twitter on a daily basis.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
I like comedy so something like Bad Moms, one song Want to Want me as my boys love the song. I don’t tend to read any books, so probably read a children’s book to the boys.

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Sam for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog Travelling With our Kids.

Sam is also on TwitterPinterest & Instagram

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Art and Crafts With Pumpkin

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Up until a month ago, Pumpkin loathed all things to do with Art, crafts and messy play. The moment he glimpsed the table loaded with paint, paper or crayons, he would let out an ear piercing shriek and would grab the paper and screw it up. This would be followed by an almost involuntary movement, as his arms would suddenly sweep left to right like windscreen wipers, sweeping all traces of anything arty or crafty from the table and onto the floor.

I must admit, I felt so disappointed that he didn’t like doing art or crafts, as I loved doing them and couldn’t wait to do them with him. So, what did I do? I tried the non-messy variety; where you squirt paint into a zip-lock bag and it can be squished about with no little fingers getting paint all over them and technically no mess anywhere. What was Pumpkin’s response to this? An ear piercing shriek and the Zip-lock bag being screwed up and thrown across the kitchen.

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I decided to leave all things art and craft for a while, and packed away everything. About a month later, on a particularly wet winters day, Pumpkin and I were stuck indoors, and he was drifting from toy to toy and not finding anything particularly interesting to play with. So, I decided…no, let me rephrase that, I seized the moment to get some paper, pens and stickers out. This was greeted by one very curious little boy and lots of ooo’s, aaah’s and ooh mamma’s! This was responded by a happy little dance in the kitchen by me!

The paper, pens and stickers were a success, so much so, that Pumpkin asked for more “Paper and sticks” that I took advantage of only having Christmas themed stickers and started making some christmas cards too!

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Pumpkin’s growing love for art’s and crafts has enabled him to make Christmas and thank you card’s for our family. We are now at a place, where a day doesn’t go by without Pumpkin asking for his “Paper and sticks”, although Pumpkin now loves to stick his stickers in all sorts of places! Yesterday, I found a unicorn sticker on my bum, this was six hours after we had done sticking and after a trip to the supermarket!

Over the next few weeks and months, I will be adding lots more to our art box and I am excited to see Pumpkin get stuck in with as much confidence and as many belly laughs as he has done so far! I just wish he was as enthusiastic about the clearing up afterwards or washing the paint off himself…cue another ear piercing shriek and more sharing of his art work by me!

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Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Carol from A journey to a lifetime.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
When not writing a blog, I am a stay at home mum to 3 children aged 7, 3 and 2 years old. So, my life when not writing is a lot of playgroups and a whole lot more craft and imaginative play

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
I am a money blog aiming to help families to save money where they can, so they can enjoy what really matters. I have had the blog for close to a year but only really started to blog since August.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
As a family we have been on a budget since finding out I was pregnant with our second. We didn’t have as much saved as with our first and we didn’t want to get in to debt again. Being on a budget has now become a way of life, since my third child was born I became a stay at home mum and we still get to have all the fun we used to have. So, I wanted to share my hints and tips with others to show how you can live well on a very tight budget.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
Find your niche, I blogged many years ago and because I didn’t have a niche I just followed others and I got bored very quickly as it just was not me.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
This is my struggle, I am finding it takes a lot of time now but hopefully over the next year something will click, and balance will get better.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
My goal at the moment is to grow, I am a fairly new blog with a small following and I want to help more families to save money where they can, so they can enjoy what really matters.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
Social media, I am not really winning at any platform yet and, so I find it takes up so much time.

And the easiest?
The writing, once I have the blog idea (slightly harder) writing the post I really enjoy and certainly find the easiest.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
These are hard, but movie would be Pretty Woman, song Elton John I’m still standing and book Tillie Cole’s Rome (a total chick lit but it kicked my love of reading off again so has memories).

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Carol for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog: A journey to a lifetime

Carol is also on Twitter, Pinterest & Instagram 

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What to feed a teething toddler

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This last week has been all about teething in our home, poor Pumpkin is cutting another tooth and that means he is hardly eating a thing. Pumpkin cut his first tooth at eleven and a half months old, yet he showed all the possible signs of teething from when he was six months old. Even now with his five teeth and three more on the way, he really struggles as each new one comes through. Not only does teething put him off his food, it also knocks him right out of his sleep routine and I can guarantee at least two nights this week will again see Pumpkin wide awake and full of energy for anything from three to five hours in the middle of the night. So, as you can imagine, we are all exhausted, grumpy and a little bit tearful out of sleep fatigue!

Over the past week, I have posted a few photographs on my Twitter and Instagram feeds of meals that I have made for Pumpkin; these are my go to meals when teething, as I know he will eat them. If he doesn’t, then I know he is really in a lot of pain and I will then go back to weaning basics and give him his favourite mushy foods and Calpol!. I have had some requests for the recipes, so I am going to share them in this post, please note that I am not a chef or nutritionist! I make most meals up as I go along and use what I have in cupboards and the freezer, so please feel free to adapt as you go along too!

I cram/sneak as many vegetables as possible into my cooking, as since Pumpkin hit toddlerhood, he has become adverse to vegetables and this is one of the only ways I can sneak them into his diet. As a baby, he would happily eat a wide range of vegetables, I don’t know why this changed, but I still continue to offer vegetables at all meals, but it always is treated with the same reply ‘no no mamma’ then it is thrown onto the floor…

Here are two of Pumpkin’s go to teething meals:

Sneaky Veggie Bolognese Sauce

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Ingredients:

Oil (1 Tablespoon)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Garlic Clove (crushed or finely chopped)
500g Beef Mince
1 Vegetable Oxo Cube
Tomato Purée 1 Tablespoon
500g Passata
1 Carrot (Grated)
1 Courgette (Grated)
5 Small Mushrooms (Grated)
1 Frozen cube of Spinach (Grated, whilst frozen or use fresh and chop finely)
1 Red Pepper (Grated) – Optional – this was our new addition this week!
Oregano
Worcestershire Sauce (1 Tablespoon)

Method:

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan
2. Soften onion and Garlic in the oil
3. Add the beef mince to the onion and Garlic, and cook until the mince is browned. Once browned, I like to drain the mince in a sieve to get rid of any excess fat and then return to the pan.
4. Put the pan back on the heat, sprinkle in the stock cub, add the Tomato puree and stir well.
5. Add all the grated vegetables and stir until well combined.
6. Add the Passata and stir, if required add some water to loosen the sauce (remember that the vegetables will reduce and this will add some additional liquid as it cooks down)
7. Add oregano and the Worcestershire sauce, stir and bring to the boil.
8. Once at boil, reduce down to the simmer, partly cover with saucepan lid and simmer for 30 mins, stirring occasionally.

Additional seasoning can be added if required, please feel free to swap and change ingredients for your family’s tastes. You can freeze any leftovers, for quick and easy meals too!

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The next recipe that I posted was a slow cooked Chicken Curry, this recipe is a great way to introduce curry to your little one, whilst making a soft and gum friendly meal for when they are teething! Plus, once it’s in the slow cooker, you can pretty much forget about it and get on with your day! Feel free to adapt the recipe and add vegetables/spices to suit your little ones tastebuds!

Slow Cooked Chicken Curry

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Ingredients:
1/2 Onion
1 Jar Mild Salsa (I didn’t have any passata when I last made this, so substituted with a jar of salsa, and it tasted much better and Pumpkin agreed!)
Mild Curry Powder (1 Tablespoon)
2 Chicken breasts, cut in half
1-2 Teaspoons of Cream Cheese per serving (see Method for details)

Method:
1. Put chopped onion, Salsa and Curry Powder into Slow cooker and stir well.
2. If required, add a little water to loosen the sauce.
3. Add Chicken breasts.
4. Cook on High for 4-5 hours or until chicken is thoroughly cooked (occasionally stir the sauce).
5. When ready to serve – remove a portion (one half of the chicken breast) and shred into a bowl, add some of the curry sauce and stir through a teaspoon of cream cheese. Add more cream cheese if required for your Toddler’s tastebuds!
6. This can be frozen, just don’t add the cream cheese if you are going to freeze!
7. Serve with Rice or Couscous.

Teething Friendly Snack Ideas:

Mini Bread Sticks – the best ones I have found are from Waitrose
Raisins
Rich Tea Finger Biscuits – given sparingly but he adores them!
Petit Filous
Fruit – All kinds in finger sized portions
Ella’s Kitchen Fruit Smoothies – a fail safe snack when teething is really bad!
Oat Cheerios – dry without milk, make a great finger food snack
Mini Bread Sticks & Cream Cheese Dip
Frozen yoghurt and fruit purée ice lollies

Sometimes Pumpkin is just not interested in lovingly home cooked food, like he used to be when I was weaning him. This can be frustrating when I have made a meal only for him to spit it out and say ‘no no mama” and drop it on the floor. If I am honest, it makes me wonder where I went wrong, I spent hours when he was a baby, making a wide range of different vegetable combinations to match the brightest rainbow to be gleefully munched by him. I just don’t know where and when it changed, suddenly he just isn’t interested in my flavour combinations or the luscious greens. No, Pumpkin is interested in Chicken Dippers, Fish Bites, Sweet potato Crocodiles, Baked Beans, Peas and Sweetcorn.

However, I should be grateful that he is eating something, and I should embrace that and the fact he does eat some home cooked meals, I am currently working on some more hidden veggie meals with him and try to work at his speed and not mine when it comes to new tastes.

I also need to stop taking his food rejections personally, it maybe that his gums are hurting, or his tastebuds are still developing and what tastes nice to me, tastes really nasty to him! After all, don’t we all have days when we would rather have convenience food over cooking a big home cooked meal?

I hope your little one enjoy Pumpkin’s ‘current’ favourite meals, if you have any questions please get in touch and I will be happy to help!

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Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Helen from Welsh Mum Writing.

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Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I’m Helen and I blog over at Welsh Mum Writing. I live in South Wales with my husband, two year old and a cat with OCD (no I’m not joking). By day I work in strategic communications and public relations. I work full time but I have a flexible work pattern so somehow I manage to fit it all in. If anyone asks how, I usually tell them it’s a copious amounts of caffeine and a need for very little sleep (or am I just used to sleep deprivation now?).

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
I started by blog in October 2017 so it’s relatively new. It’s a platform for me to share my moans and musings, as well as hacks and tips that help me fit as much into my day as possible – anything from making the most of your time and money, to quick and easy family recipes.

I’ve been blogging since 2013 though, starting off with a personal blog and then moving on to my other blog at www.helentreharne.com. I’ve had several books published so anything to do with my fiction writing or tips for writers is over there.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
A need for a creative outlet was part of it. I love writing but don’t have time to fit in writing another novel. I can manage a couple of 500 word posts a week in my lunch breaks at work.
I also wanted to share some of my experiences to help reassure other mums they’re not alone. Trying to juggle everything can be overwhelming and frustrating. It’s easy to become isolated from other mums when you go back to work.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
Give it a go, but be realistic with your expectations and the amount of time you can commit. Do it because you enjoy it. Don’t compare your writing or work with anyone else’s.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
I think it’s useful to have all the major social media platforms if you might want to “go pro” with your blogging in the future, but I’m also a fan of a “pick your winners” approach.

I’m lucky that I already had an established Twitter following when I started my blog, so I don’t feel like that’s effort for me. I schedule evergreen content in advance and dip in a couple of times a day for a few minutes to engage and find new content. I can usually fit that in.

Other platforms are a challenge for me as I work and don’t have opportunity to take lots of exciting photos, and I don’t like posting photos of my son in public platforms. I keep my hand in with them but I haven’t thrown at lot of energy at them yet. I’ll probably pick one a quarter to really go at and build up my following.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
It will still be going but it might have a slightly narrower niche perhaps. I’m quite open minded.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
The making things look pretty bit. There’s a lot of work that goes into making content easy to read and to produce graphics. That can take a lot of time which I don’t always have.

And the easiest?
Coming up with ideas for content. I’m always jotting things down, whether that’s products I liked which deserve a review, an observation or an experience to share. Like most bloggers, my brain is full of ideas but I don’t always have the time to put them all done.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
That’s a tough one as I’ve so many favourites. Films are the toughest choice as I’m a bit of a movie buff. I haven’t seen it for a while, so I’ll pick Mr Skeffington with Bette Davies – my all-time favourite actress. Fortunate Son by Creedance Clearwater Revival would have to be up there for my song choice. As for book, Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett.

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Helen for joining me!

Please take the time to visit her Blog: www.welshmumwriting.com

Helen is also on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest & Instagram 

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Happy New Year!

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As many of you were getting ready to welcome the new year in, I was tucked up in bed fast asleep. As a parent to a very active 15 month old little boy, sleep is a luxury to me and my fiancé and therefore to us, it’s more appealing than staying up to welcome in the New Year. Call us old or boring, or even both, but that’s our life at the moment and we wouldn’t change it for the world.

2018 will be a year of big changes for me (more of this to come at a later date) and I am going to try to embrace this with a positive and open mind. Yes, there will be times when I will feel anxious and question what I am doing and whether it is right for our family, but ultimately we are doing this as a family and this is what I am keeping central in my thoughts during all moments of self-doubt and when my old friend anxiety creeps in.

New Year’s Resolutions

I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, as I know I am crap at sticking to them and I can’t be done with putting any additional unnecessary pressures upon myself. Let’s face it, I know I need to loose weight, I know every gym in the country would eagerly sell me a contract that I would only use for a month and stupidly pay for the next year and feel guilty about it every time I drive past the gym on the way to the shops to get some more chocolate. Likewise, I know I need to cut down on coffee, chocolate and other delicious food groups (yes, when you are a parent, coffee becomes a food group), but the cravings will beat me down by the end of day 2 or 3. If I need to do these things, I will do them when I am ready to, not just because it’s the start of a new year.

Daily Positive Reflection

Instead, I try to make time at the end of each day, before I go to sleep to reflect upon and find three positive things from my day. These three things do not have to be big things, they can be the small things such my ones for yesterday 1) My favourite song coming on the radio 2) Seeing the absolute delight Pumpkin gives his Nain and Taid, and, 3) Listening to the wind and rain outside, whilst we are all warm and snug inside playing with Pumpkin’s favourite toys.

I openly admit, I don’t always remember to do this every day, sometimes I am just too tired and fall to sleep and other times if I find myself awake during the night worrying about things, I try to reflect then. As I find this helps ease the worrying and gently coaxes the sleep back.

What did 2017 teach me?

Whilst I am writing about reflecting upon the day, I am going to take this opportunity to reflect and be honest about what 2017 has taught me and try and take these lessons forward into 2018.

1. Dreams are there to be chased, sometimes all you need to do is take a leap of faith into the unknown and you may just land in a place where your dream becomes a reality! I have always wanted to live in the West Country and this year we took that leap into the unknown and now we love our new home in Somerset and couldn’t be happier

2. Sometimes our dream challenges are not all they are cracked up to be and no matter what positives we try to throw at them, the negatives just outnumber the positives and we just have to let that challenge go. 2017 saw me achieve something that I had wanted for a long time, only to discover it was not all it was cracked up to be. Despite trying my best, it was not going to change, so I held my head up high and walked away, as there are other dream challenges out there too!

3. I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to baking, Christmas tree decorating and organising Birthday’s, moving and erm anything else really…hmmm that makes me a bit of a control freak too, doesn’t it? However, when I am doing this with Pumpkin, I need to let the perfectionist go and just get on and enjoy myself too, after all isn’t that what he is doing? I learnt to see things through the eyes of a toddler, if they oooh, ahhh, laugh and clap then I know I am doing things right!

4. Believe in yourself, if there is something you want to try and you have the opportunity do it! I spent nine months of 2017 deliberating whether or not to start The Lupie Mummy. I was always too shy to share my writing/thoughts with others, I was worried what people would think and self-doubt crept in and stopped me repeatedly. It was my fiancé that gave me the final push and I am so glad he did, it has been my escapism and more importantly it is slowly but surely helping me regain my identity again.

5. 2017 threw my little family a lot of obstacles and we jumped over every single one, at times it was a challenge but we never once doubted our strength as a family unit to be able to get through each challenge life decided to throw at us. I absolutely love and adore my little family and watching Pumpkin grow from a baby to a toddler has been amazing and so much fun, I really couldn’t wish for anything more. Even in the tough times, comfort and strength was be found close by and I don’t need to take on the world by myself, I have my family (both immediate and extended) around me and we do it together!

Looking Ahead

Let’s look ahead, I hope 2017 was fun and 2018 will be kind to you and your family. If you have made resolutions, do not put unnecessary pressure upon yourself to achieve them, make them fun, so they become an enjoyable part of your year not an energy drain.

2018 is going to be an exciting year for The Lupie Mummy and family, I hope you will join us over the next few months as our adventures will begin to unfold (don’t get too excited it doesn’t involve another baby, a cat or a puppy!).

So, on that note, Happy New Year!

The Lupie Mummy xx