Into The West …..

For the fourth year running we decided to have a staycation in our beautiful country, there is so much to do and see here that our “to do list” gets larger each year despite constantly tipping away at it !

This year we decided to head to the west of Ireland, Galway in particular. I felt along with Galway city (and even the suburbs) being full of life and packed with things to do it was also a great place to base ourself from and do a few day trips.

The kids slept through lunch on the way up so rather than wake them we continued to drive and headed to The Maldron on arrival which was right across the road from our accommodation and it was superb !

The staff were great and it as as very child friendly in general, the kids were given lovely colouring packs and a great menu to choose from … typically though they still picked the usual sausages and chips and a pizza ! I got a fab green curry and Mr Mmmm got a serious burger that tasted as impressive as it looked.

We ate here twice on our stay and I also noticed they had a superb kids club schedule displayed at the front desk. Obviously I did not see the rooms but having stayed in one The Maldron groups hotels prior I would have no problem recommending this hotel or the hotel group in general.

* My delicious Thai green curry ! *

See more at http://www.maldronhotelsandyroadgalway.com

We usually opt for a hotel as our two water babies like to have the pool at their disposal but with J having his arm in the cast it meant swimming and water parks were out for us this time round so we decided to stay in student apartments and they were good value, comfortable and clean.

We stayed in Cúirt Na Coiribe just outside the city centre and I couldn’t find fault, It was everything we needed and the kitchen was really well stocked with crockery etc I was surprised to even find an eggcup when I looked for one ! The only complaint was there was no real opportunity for my crew to interact with other kids but that’s not really a fault of the accommodation.

Galway Atlantaquaria

It didn’t take a genius to predict how the day was going to turn out when we awoke to the first day of our jollies … yup you guessed it after weeks and weeks of sun it rained on our parade or our holiday if you want to be specific.

Luckily a trip to the aquarium was on my to do list anyway as the only thing I love to check out as much as a zoo when I’m away is an aquarium and it was an experience the whole family enjoyed.

Galway aquarium boasts the fact it is Irelands largest aquarium and not only is there a superb variety of sealife to be seen (even some sea horses, my favourite!) there are lots of other interesting experiences to be had.

The opportunity to get “kisses” from some mullet was a real treat and my two found it hilarious ! They were also in awe at the real fin whale skeleton and loved getting up close with the star fish and spider crab, I would highly recommend organising your trip around the touch pool tour.

There is a great gift shop with something in every price range and plenty of pocket money toys so you are not fleeced !!!! And there is also what seemed like a lovely restaurant attached also which we only saw passing as we opted for icecream instead ! I would highly recommend a trip to the aquarium if you are in the area.

Check out http://www.nationalaquarium.ie for prices (we paid e33 for a family ticket) and touch pool tours/feeding times.

St Brigit’s Garden

Visiting St Brigit’s garden has been on my to do list for almost two years now and my trip didn’t dissapoint.

Each beautiful garden is designed to represent one of the Celtic festivals, Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine and Lughnasa that marked the beginning of each season.

* The highlight for me personally was the beautiful wildflowers basic maybe but they lift my soul *

There is something to appeal to everyone from the beautiful wildflower gardens, the herb beds, the stone circles, the fairy trail, a playground/sand play area and much much more.

On entry the kids were given activity sheets that were a little beyond my guys but lovely for school going kids and even helped us adults notice a few things we might not have done without them !

We had brought a picnic for the kids and had said we would grab something for ourselves at the cafe/ creperie and I must say the food there was exquisite, initially when ordering I felt the cafe was a bit pricey but on receiving our food we both agreed it was worth every penny ….

I ordered the goats cheese quiche and Mr Mmmm got a sandwich but in all honesty the sandwich was so much more than two slices of bread with some filling. The food that is served is of superb quality and is just mouth watering and I can assure I’m very fussy about food ! We weren’t hungry enough for cake but there was an amazing selection and the slices were huge !

We spent at least 3 hrs + in this beautiful attraction and another while in the beautiful gift shop.

There was a summer camp taking place the say we chose to visit and it looked like all were having a blast and there are other fun events organised throughout the year.

See http://www.brigitsgarden.ie to see more !

Salthill Promenade

Saturday morning we hoped for the best and headed to silver strand just outside Salthill but it was very windy and the showers were more than sporadic so we got back in the car again and true to form it dried up ! We walked on the Prom in Salthill and in true seaside fashion got chips for lunch followed by an icecream.

At that point it was after turning into a lovely day so we headed for the playground near the aquarium. It’s a super playground that caters for all ages is quite big but is well designed and you never feel like you’ve lost sight of your little ones.

What I really loved about this playground was the metre of grass all around the perimeter, it was lovely to sit down and have a coffee and it meant we had a picnic spot for snacks also.

There was a fantastic array of climbing frames etc and a lovely atmosphere here and along with friends we met up with we almost spent 3 hours here !

The kids enjoyed the playground so much that in the end we didn’t go to the merries ( amusements /funfair for those not from Cork !!!) As planned but they looked fab !

The stops en route home !

One of my favourite things about the west of Ireland is the stone walls everywhere and I was adamant I wasn’t leaving without a picture of the gruesome twosome on one of these walls and I hit the jackpot just outside Kinvara in that not only did we spot some nice looking walls but a round tower too ! We hiked up the field , spoke a little about the history of the round towers and got my snap and I was happy – the simple things huh !!!!

Actually we stopped a few times between Galway and Lehinch to take in old ruins and basic landmarks as it’s something I love to do and the kids love the little things like hearing about “long ago” and playing pretend in an old gatelodge.

* what a peaceful view looking up from inside the roundtower *

We stopped for lunch in Lisdoonvarna in the first pub we saw ( and had a nice lunch ) but there was loads of places to choose from as we drove through.

This was by far the best day weather wise so we decided to stop at the beach in Lehinch which was super but unfortunately the timing was bad and the tide came right in putting a stop to our fun after less than an hour ! This is certainly a place I’ll be returning to as it had a cool vibe and I have my heart set on a surf lesson !

More exciting things to do and see !

Although we did not experience any of the below they either were on my to do list or caught my eye ….

Leisure land in salthill looked fab with 3 pools to choose from a huge slide and an inflatable obstacle course !

See more at http://www.leisureland.ie

Caherconnell Fort Carron, Co Clare also caught my eye . More than one of the best preserved stone forts on the Burren there is also a selection of sheep breeds to be discovered and sheepdog demonstrations also and when you’ve worked up an appetite you can satisfy it in mountain haven cafe.

To find out more see http://www.caherconnell.com

Terra Nova Gardens Killmallock Co Limerick.

Visit the beautiful gardens and feel the magic at the natural fairy fort. Look for the fairies and check out the fairy shop. This is a lovely way to break the journey into the west ( well from the south anyway ) and I was dissapointed not to have the time to stop on our journey home last week that said it’s high up on our to do list.

See more at http://www.terranovagarden.com

Despite being unlucky with the weather we had a great trip up west and four nights was not enough as there was so much more that we hoped to do and didn’t but we will be returning for sure !

If you have any recommendations for our next trip up west do let me know.

As always all my opinions are genuine and my own and are based on our experiences alone.

Xoxo Laura.

Our Stay At Top Of The Rock Pod Pairc.

Last Friday we headed west to Top of the Rock Pod Pairc in Drimolegue, it was not our first trip here as we had been two years ago but the kids being two years older ( 3&5) meant it was a whole different experience and even better than the previous one.

We got a warm welcome from the pod pairc owner David Ross who omits a calm and relaxing vibe that gives you a sense of the kind of experience you will have during your stay.

We opted for a luxury pod again this time as it is the only pod that has a toilet and kitchenette with fridge. The other pods and tent pitches are only a stones throw from the communal kichen/ toilets and showers and communal area (which are all spotless) so it’s not a massive dissadvantage not to be in the luxury pods.

For once we weren’t the last to arrive so while we waited for the rest of our party the kids scoped out our digs and the pairc itself. We got aquainted with the animals and even got to help David feed the crew and get to know and bottle feed Billy the kid who was a big hit with all the children.

When all the gang had arrived we headed off down to the river for a paddle, unfortunately my battery had gone flat so I couldn’t capture the gorgeous scenery and the beautiful mountains as we went cross country from the pod pairc to the river.

The kids had a ball in the water and on the fantastic stepping stones and it’s possible for older kids/teens to have a swim.

It was a gorgeous walk but uneven for the smallest two so we returned via the road which was quite a challenge as although it is short it is quite steep when your carrying a three year old ! Bring a buggy or carrier if you have a diva or a smallie!

After working up an appetite we cooked tea and just let the kids have a free reign which was just amazing. It was fantastic to be in such a safe space that we could feel comfortable in giving the kids a bit of independence and they had a ball in the playground and met lots of friends.

Little J was very put out when I told him he had to refuse the invite to a “party” some older girls were having in their pod, I suggested he meet them at the swings and thought to myself if he’s getting invites like this at five I’m going to be in trouble in ten years time !!!!

Just before bed I called the kiddies to roast some marshmallows on the superb campfire and funny enough they were ready for bed after that so I had no arguments ! There was a lovely atmosphere around the fire among kids and adults alike and the fun went on till midnight but even though we were right next to the fire it didn’t disturb us at all.

The Following morning after a fantastic sleep the we were all eager to eat breakfast and get going on the Farm Hands programme. This activity wasn’t in operation the last time we visited so we were all eager to enjoy the experience. There is an additional charge for this of e10 per person ( children and adults alike ) but it is well worth the charge as you get almost two hours of fun and education.

We started off at the farm learning the history of the Ross family and farm along with learning about all the animals in the pairc and even meeting the beautiful doves that work as surrogate mothers to hatch the duck eggs. We were lucky enough to see some little ducklings released to the pond also and that was only the beginning !

We then took a stroll to the farmyard and met the climbing goats on our way and learned a lot about tree species, we then hit the farm yard where farm safety was explained to us and the kids enjoyed the straw bale maze!

Then the bit they had all been waiting for ……

The tractor ride !

We all piled in and we were taking on a tour around the farm learning as we went but also stopping off for a picnic of delicious home baked biscuits and Glenillen lemonade (included in price) both were a bit hit with children and adults alike.

When we completed farmhands we went back to the communal area where the kids received a certificate come activity sheet to colour from David.

At that point the kids were tired so we had some lunch and made for the road while the folk that were staying on went for a nap.

We didn’t even make it to Drimolegue before they were sound asleep ! We all had such fun and a jam packed 24hrs the kids absolutely loved it and I had such a relaxing time which is a big win !!!

It was so good to switch off and not “nag” for 24hrs… Top of The Rock is a superb place that every family needs to experience, to switch off and get away from the rat race.

I for one can’t wait to return.

For more info see https://www.topoftherock.ie

When in the area also check out;

Waterfall Alpaca Farm

https://m.facebook.com/waterfallalpacafarm1/

and Glenillen Farm

https://www.glenilenfarm.com

Eight Terrific Titles for your little Terrors!

Looking for some new titles to add to your bookshelf or reading corner or maybe your stuck for a gift idea ?

Hopefully you will like these titles as much as we do ! Mostly in English but with a few as Gaeilge and a sprinkling of Spanish !

Enjoy

xoxo L.

What are Germs ? – Katie Daynes/Martha Álvarez Miguéns/ Susie Harrison.

In this beautiful Usborne lift the flap book we learn what are germs?, where do they live and how do they spread along with much more … This was a great aid in our house to ensure hands were washed etc !

J (5) and L (3) are equally as impressed and intrigued by this fantastic factual and informative book.

This is one from a series of these lift the flap very first questions and answers books and another of our favourites is what is poo !

This is a book that gets read over and over and one we all highly recommend !

Gobnait Ge – Marni Mc Gee / Alison Edgton.

Published by Futa Fata.

An leabhar eile álainn ó Futa Fata…. lèaráidí álainn, scéal deas agus na focail ag bath… gach rud gur maith liom !

An sionnach glic convinces gullible Gobnait that she has lost her ears ! On the search for her ears gobnait gets nearer an nearer to ending up as the foxes next meal … will she realise what’s going on in time !

Another favourite of James’ so much so that when he asked his grandad with no Irish to read it to him James ended up telling the story in English almost word for word !

Futa Fata never let us down when it comes to fantastic stories with beautiful illustrations but this is by far one of our favourites.

Some Dogs Do – Jez Alborough.

“All dogs walk and jump and run, but dogs don’t fly- it can’t be done ….”

Or can it ?

Little pup Sid discovers he can fly one morning on his way to school but none of the other pups believe him as he cannot repeat the fun when asked … the story shows just because you have not seen something done does not mean it can’t be done !

Sid also encourages us to believe in ourselves and that when we do anything is possible ….

A lovely book with illustrations as equally beautiful as the message it sends to little kids.

Mac Tíre na Draíochta – Laurence Bourguignon / Michaél Deruilleux.

Published by Futa Fata.

An leabhar is fearr linn as Gaeilge in ár d teach anois gan amhras… gach Lá nuair a thàinig Maidhceo Mac Tíre ar ais tar eis ag siúl cheap sé go bhí duine no rud eigin isteach sa teach.

Maidhceo decides to give his walk a miss one day and hides until his visitor identifys himself !

His uninvited guest is none other than chearbhall a self professed magic rabbit, an unlikely friendship develops and they are living in harmony until the rest of the pack of wolves get word of his secret and invite themselves for Christmas dinner.

Maidhceo and his new friend need to come up with a clever plan to ensure chearbhall agus a chlann are not on the menu for Christmas dinner !

If you only buy one book this year I suggest this is it, You won’t regret it !

Giddy Up Buckaroos! – Shandy Trent/Tom Knight.

We recently borrowed this book from our local library and my two both loved it ! Join 2 amigos as they use their imagination to enter the wild west !

This is a lovely fun book with great illustrations and a lovely rhyming pattern that is arranged to include twelve fun Spanish words ! The last page and back cover help you by phonetically guiding you with the pronunciations along with giving the translations.

A lovely book for pre schoolers especially if you want to sprinkle some Spanish into everyday life !

See more at http://www.littletiger.co.uk

Babaí Cathal Am Dul A Lui! – Anne Paradis/Katy.

Published by Futa Fata.

A beautiful book to introduce Irish to little people and a lot of fun for tiny hands.

Help Cathal get ready for bed by helping him find all he needs under an aray of flaps..

The Cathal series in general is a lovely one but I really love the board book with these great flaps to engage little ones and develop fine motor skills.

Futa Fata does it again !

Super Red Riding Hood – Gemma Cary/Kelly Caswell.

Right from the first page we see that this girl means business insisting she is to be called “super red riding hood” leaving the traditional “little” in her dust!

Red takes pleasure in helping others and displaying acts of super heroism on a daily basis so it’s no surprise when she encounters the big bad wolf in grandma’s she sees right through him and deals with him efficiently!

This is an empowering re hash of the traditional fairy tale that is less frightening and shows not all little girls need “saving”.

I absolutely llllllooove this book ! And the gruesome twosome got a great kick out of it too ! This is a book I really enjoyed and would highly recommend.

Owl says Hoot – Libby Walden/Amanda Enright.

Caterpillar Books.

This is a beautiful touch and feel book with six beautiful sounds.

We don’t actually own this book but I’ve lost track of how many times we’ve borrowed this from our local library!

Meet the different animals who all have a different lifestyle and sound… this book has gorgeous illustrations, lovely rhyming and realistic sounds with Luna the wolf being our favourite…

This would be a lovely addition to any book shelf that has little hands reaching in ….

Do let me know what you think or I’d you have any must reads you’d like to share please do !

If you like this maybe you’ll like a post on my top ten fave of last year … or my top 10 books as Gaeilge !

See below ;

https://wp.me/p8Fxga-1aq

https://wp.me/p8Fxga-1np

A man may be marvelous but it’s always the mighty who keep the show on the road ….a house is only a home when the lady of it is at her best !

Whoooah what a week … so after ever so cockily celebrating the exit of sickness from our house after a loooong winter, thinking to myself

The weather has changed for the better… this is it now a fun, healthy and energetic summer lies ahead wooohooo…

Boy was I in for a low blow ! I had been feeling quite tired and low for a few days before but Wednesday was when it hit a throbbing throat , feeling hot and cold and completely void of all energy, even the skin on my left leg irratated the right !

But the show had to go on or I put on a few low level performances to say the least … I kept the kids home from preschool as I genuinely didn’t have the energy to drive or dress myself , there was microwavable mash, cooked chicken, pizzas and a trip to the chipper for dinners as i didn’t want to look at a potatoe peeler !!!

Now Mr Mmmm is very good he does his share in the house but the reality is anybody who knows a farmer or anyone involved with farm machinery knows its silly season right now so 9-5 his phone is hopping, he’s  dealing with the machinery and then when he gets home it’s off to tend to his own jobs so I actually can’t remember the last night out or even night in we’ve had together …

Back to my point ..so after a few days floored the wash baskets are overflowing, there isn’t a matching pair of socks to be found and grabbing a clean knickers is a struggle !!!! The floors are mank and the whole house needs a going over … so what’s my point your saying ?

Nobody quite realises what you do at home all day until you don’t ….

We all do it when your partner comes in after work what do you say when they ask “what did you do today ?” What’s the first thing that comes out of your mouth … mmhhhhmm yup NOTHING. … nothing my arse !!!

More like the only person you did nothing for was yourself but that’s a whole other post !

So aside from being sick it was quite an emotional week with the referendum Fri and all the posts on my feed leading up to D-day were buzzing ! Ironically it wasn’t the opposite sides tactics that got me down (as I felt they held no truth for me anyway for the majority of the time) but the many stories of brave women dealing with harrowing scenarios broke me … I just had to scroll on from Wednesday as emotionally I wasn’t able

poor me huh reading about it… just how must all these women have felt ?

So I dragged my sorry arse to the polling station as nothing and I mean nothing would have stopped me… I felt my self looking at each person questioning in my head what way they would vote?

Thankfully common sense has kicked ass and our daughters, nieces , friends and other females we know now can be free to choose … I feel this country is now a little better now for my beautiful girl and I thank everyone of you who voted yes … as for the people who campaigned “religiously” you are amazing .

Anyway the next time you feel you do nothing or your job as mum isn’t quite enough …stop …and you’ll see just how much you do ! Or write down everything you do even just in a two hour frame ! Youll see ….

That was quite a ramble but right now I’m too tired to go editing ! Sometimes you need to leave things be and accept them and not just online !

And Publish !

Xoxo L

And just like that I am mother to a 5 year old !

Every year I say the same thing where did those … years go ! Seriously though he’s five !!!! In September I will no longer have two preshoolers and even now he is well and truly a boy.

If you’ve read my birthday posts before you’ll know I have had parties at home and a cake made on request for the gruesome twosome the last five years as I have so many happy memories of my childhood birthdays and I hope they will too.

That said there is more prep gone into one of these parties than I put into my own wedding …fact ! Because it’s so important to me that they have a blast.

I’ll be the first to admit I probably get a little worked up about the idea … this day last week I was going to paint the kitchen and the hall for the big event…

Really … what planet was I on !!! I barely got the normal household tasks done !

It was great that the celebrations fell on a Sunday as I had all day Saturday to get organised and to make the cake .. this year’s request was batman so we hit Google images and J picked exactly what he wanted , thankfully one of the easier ones too.

For the actual cake I used Pearl Mc Gillicuddy’s all in one bun recipe which I doubled and added 4/5 drops of doTERRA Lime essential oil.

http://kitschow.blogspot.ie/2010/03/372-pearl-mcgillicuddys-all-in-one-buns.html?m=1

and the BBC good food recipe for cream cheese icing but instead of the orange juice I added 4 drops of doTERRA Lime essential oil.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/user/220914/recipe/foolproof-cream-cheese-frosting.

To decorate I follow my picture from Google images and I started as I always do by tracing round the tin on paper and cut out so I know the dimensions I’m working with.

I generally draw the patterns free hand but you could always print a colouring sheet of your child’s favourite characters and work from there, some obviously are easier than others and this batman symbol cake was one of the easier ones !

I first covered the cake with the base colour you can use marmalade, jam or as I did edible glue to stick the pre packed icing on, I then rolled out and made the belt part of the cake.Then using an oval serving dish I had I cut and placed the yellow badge on top.

Next up was the bat sign ! I traced the same oval but took about 2cms off the edges to make a smaller oval. I then used an egg cup and a knife to cut the curves and ultimately make the bat shape !

After that was whacked on I was done !! Definately alot easier than my previous efforts (the two tractors being the hardest !).

Now he’s five of coarse his independence has shot through the roof so he had to cut the cake ! Each year the party and the guest list grows I’m allready dreading the numbers next year when “big school” has started ! We had a lovely day celebrating with family and friends who were so generous and thought full when it came to gifts.

Its safe to say we have enough lego to entertain an army of children and that’s only the new sets I’m talking about !

In his element ! Isn’t that what it’s all about ! That smile ….

* Little miss refused to be in the “family” picture ! *

All over for another year …

Xoxo L.

To see last year’s minion cake and how I made it click here !

https://mindmadnessmilesandmummetime.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/my-son-my-son-i-cant-believe-hes-4/

And little L’s unicorn cake …

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1923683284561977&id=1721773594752948

Fun And Creativity Al Fresco !

Two of my favourite things in life are arts and crafts and nature … so a few weeks back (via my Facebook page) I decided to combine the two and organise a nature walk followed by nature art.

Last year I did the same, we walked a little and collected some of nature’s treasure and returned to the picnic benches to create amazing collages, this year I decided to add paint to the mix !

So this morning a group of us, friends old and new met and headed off with our smallies on a little walk taking in woodland and sea views and collecting various pieces of nature in a range of textures.

We then returned to the picnic benches where the paint, paper and was distributed, the kids used their finds and imaginations to create beautiful work all at their own pace.

I prepped a few of nature’s paintbrushes and we made the others there and then using the tape and twigs and a variety of flowers, seaweed and wild grasses etc.

Shell stamping was great fun and plenty of lovely collages were made also !

The kids I feel really enjoyed the lack of structure and needless to say the picnic afterwards !

We had almost 3 hours of fun on this adventure and all we needed was a roll of electrical tape , some paper and some paint. So go on…. organise one near you or with a group of your friends !

Keep an eye on my Facebook page for more fun events in the coming weeks and months !

https://www.facebook.com/Mind-madnessmiles-and-mum-me-time-1721773594752948/

Xoxo L.

Here is some of the kids work !

There wasn’t going to be paint without a roller ! My little lady would have none of that !

Today I looked in the mirror and saw myself for the first time in a long time …. It felt so good !

The last few weeks we have been on the lookout for a pony for the kids and the possibility of one for myself should one fall into my lap !

Both Mr Mmmm and myself have never pushed our interests on the kids ( I’ve seen too many pushy pony club mums to go there!) But there’s no denying that it’s lovely that James has the love for farming and Luce seems to be getting the horsey bug !

This morning I was stuck to my bed when a friend rang to say that she might have a pony suitable for the kids and needed some help with a mare and her newborn foal. I hopped out of the bed with such gusto I’m shocked I didn’t do myself an injury !

Those who know me know that horses (and animals in general) were up to two years ago a huge part of my life.

Two years ago my beloved Jane a horse I’d owned for 15 years (and loved since I clapped eyes on her aged 14 ) passed on leaving me without an equine friend for the first time in over 20 years.

That along with me giving up my boarding kennels business to be a stay at home mum meant the animal enthusiast was now “just a mum” with two pet jack Russells !!!

After exiting the bed at the speed of lightning I went to my “work clothes” drawer opened it for the first time in almost two years. The smell of must nearly knocked me! A few drops of wild orange essential oil and a spin in the dryer and my fleece was slapped on my back.

On passing the mirror I stopped, looked and saw “me” for the first time in far too long and it felt good !

I bet no one else gets that excited to see themselves in a regatta fleece !

I dressed Lil Luce and we headed off .. first looking at two groups of horses then heading back to the stables.

While I helped the vet wash out a fantastically protective mare after giving birth just yesterday my little lady had a ball go carting around the yard with my friends daughter and her nephew, learning to poo pick and meeting a few new four legged friends.

Speaking to the vet, reassuring and calming the mare, handling the foal was hardly rocket science but doing again what was once such a huge part of my life made me feel so good.

I felt capable, in my comfort zone and there is no doubt my seratonin levels increased more than they did in a long time !

I have missed my equine therapy and it was so good to be more than “mum” that I certainly won’t be leaving it as long again to kiss a velvety muzzle and inhale that indescribable scent.

I cannot wait to add an equine ( or two!) to our family soon and I am looking forward to sharing this amazing obsession with my little girl !

Xoxo Laura.

5 of Our Family Favourite Dinners ….

I vowed I would never be a mum who cooked multiple dishes for my family at dinner but of coarse I want everybody to like and enjoy what’s put in front of them. So here are our family favourites that ensure everyone clears their plates !

Most of these dishes are quite economical and with one or two you can get two dinners out of them. I put the costings as if you were to buy the ingredients from scratch but if you shop with these recipes in mind for the week they will come out even cheaper … I find Lidle and Tesco is where you get the best bang for your buck!

Bacon, bean and beef burgers.

This is a great way of inexpensively bulking out your packet of mince and adding a twist to your conventional beef burger !

What you need;

An average packet of mince ( just over 400g). I like to use the less than 5% fat mince but decide for yourself depending on preference and budget.

1/2 tin of mixed beans drained.

125g of bacon lardons ( double this I’d you want to bulk out the beef even more)

Potatoes to serve with the burgers roasted or chipped.

I top with cheese, onion and tomatoes but go with what you feel !

Method;

Simple bung the meat and beans in s bowl, mix shape and fry ! Serve with your favourite toppings and with chips or potatoes .

This recipe will make 4 large burgers or 2 large and 3/4 small for just e6.

Meatballs.

Mr Mmmm’s fave !

“The only difference between good and bad meat is the length of time you cook it ” a quote from my grandad who discovered in later life that he is a great cook !

For these to be deliciously tender this dish needs to be made at least 24hrs in advance.

What you need;

Family pack of meatballs.

Dried or fresh Basil.

3 carrots.

2 onions.

2 peppers (3 small ).

4 tins of chopped tomatoes.

1 tablespoon of sugar.

1 tablespoon of ketchup.

Add in any extra veg you have in the fridge.

Method;

*Brown the meatballs on the pan and set aside.

*Fry up the veg and when almost cooked add the meat to brown a little more

*Bring the 4 cans of tomatoes to the boil stir in the ketchup, sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. Let it simmer for a while before adding to the dish with meat and veg.

*Heat in the oven for 20 mins at 140/160′ and do this at least two more times before serving and you will have lovely tender and tasty meat balls.

*Be sure to stir each time and add water if necessary.

*serve with pasta or roasties.

With this recipe you will feed a family of 5 approx for less than e10. You will also have enough sauce left over to use for cheesy pasta and garlic bread another day!

Sausage Stew.

Another fairly new love of the kids ( us adults like it but the kids are nuts for sausages so there you go !)

What you need;

12 jumbo sausages.

3 large carotts.

4 celery sticks.

110g of pearl barley.

1 pint of beef stock.

Method;

* cover the pearl barley in water and bring to the boil, simmer for 10 mins.

* lightly cook the sausages.

* fry the veg ( adding 100ml of water to prevent sticking) and add the stock bring to boil and simmer for five minutes.

* transfer to a casserole dish and add the pearl barley, put in the oven at 140′ for 20 minutes.

* add the sausages before heating at 180′ for 20/30 mins to serve with boiled potatoes.

With this recipe you will feed 4/5 for e7.50 . You will have enough veg and gravy left over to either make soup with or freeze to add another packet of sausages to another day so it’s great eating on a budget

Bacon and Green bean potato cakes topped with a fried egg.

This is a more recent favourite in our house but it’s my no 1! Everybody cleans their plate when I produce this dinner.

What you need for 8 Potatoe Cakes;

10 average potatoes.

180g of bacon lardons.

40g of chopped green beans.

20g of chopped onion.

Serve with;

A egg per person.

50g of green beens per person.

Method;

* Boil and mash the potatoes, I mash them with salt, pepper, butter and milk !

*Fry the lardons chopped onions and green beans, when cooked add and mix into the mash.

* fry (or boil) your whole beans to serve on the side partially.

* Make up your potatoe cakes and fry one side , just as your turning sides fry your eggs in a separate pan and pop your partially cooked green beans in with the potatoe cakes .

* and serve ! Make sure to leave the egg runny to get the full flavour !

The kids don’t notice the green beans chopped into the potatoe cake but won’t eat them on the side so I usually give them some baked beans or spaghetti on the side.

With this recipe you can feed a family of 4/5 for under e6.

Fish Pie.

Confession …. the whole family does not eat this I hate fish !!! Everyone knows the nutritional value of fish and my gang love it so I grin and bare the smell and whip this up for them and I eat the leftovers from the night before.

What you need:

( I make this in my good old free dolmio lasangne dish)

10 average potatoes.

A mix of fish, I usually buy from the 3 for e10 range in Dunnes so I get coley fillets, cod and salmon. I also buy extra prawns but they are not a must.

2 stock cubes.

50g of plain four.

Splash of milk.

1 small onion.

2Carrots.

2 sticks of celery.

Method;

* Steam the potatoes to create your mash topping … once you have them on bake the fish for about 15/20 mins with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

* Chop the carrots, celery and onions and fry lightly. You can throw in whatever you have veg wise but I think carrot, celery and onion work best with the fish.

* Disolve the two stock cubes in a pint of boiling water, put in a pot and sieve the flour in gradually whisking to eliminate lumps and bumps. Add a splash of milk and have a peek at the fish, if there its juice collecting on the tray tip it into the pot and stir in.

* When the fish is cooked add it into ( if you used the same fish as I did only use half of it ) the veg to the sauce.

* Pour the sauce and fish into a dish and top with mash.

* Bake at 180′ until the mash is browned and crispy.

* Serve with the veg of your choice.

This will serve 4/5 people for e16 (e12 if you leave out the prawns) but you have half the fish left (freeze what’s left ) to do a puff pastry pie or chowder too. You can also cut cost or bulk out by adding more veg.

So there you have it ! Five family friendly dinners that can be done on a budget. I’d love to hear what you think if you give any of them a go !

Xoxo L.

Camping with a baby – A Guest blog by Sinéad Morrissey.

Recently I was following Sinéad’s facebook posts of her camping holiday with her family in France as we have considered it too and would love a Camper !

It dawned on me that it would be great if Sinéad shared her experience via a guest blog post and maybe could offer a few tips to other families thinking of doing the same so I was delighted when she said yes !

Its safe to say she has a talent for writing that shouldn’t be left dormant !

Enjoy xoxo L.

I had this bright idea while I was pregnant to buy a Camper Van. I always wanted one so of course while a bit hormonal I thought it a great idea to put myself in debt !
Of course, himself agreed 100%. Anything really to keep me from bursting into tears and or going into a rage.
Fast forward eight months and we were in France. In a very small six mtr 1996 Camper van. With a pre-teen and a five-month-old.

What was I thinking?!! Cue nervous giggle!

To be fair it was our first foreign trip camping ever and a huge learning curve.
The realisation didn’t dawn on me until we were in a four-berth cabin on the ferry over that…… EVERYTHING will be revolving around baby’s feeds and naps!! Something I actually, believe it or not, had not considered.
But we managed with the help of a very large flask for his hot water and little individual tubs of formula. I rinsed the bottles and used sterilizer tablets to make up for having to leave microwave steriliser at home. Luckily, he is taking puree, so his milk feeds were quite small.

He adores the organic baby food by ELLAS Kitchen. So, I made sure we had plenty to last the holiday along with plenty of his Lactose free formula so as not to be panic buying something we didn’t know while away.

This carry on of course could have been avoided if I had tried to breastfeed…….but that’s another story for another day !!!

After a very rough crossing we headed off to the first campsite thankfully it was only three hours’ drive so we were not under too much pressure. The website had assured us there would be a restaurant on site, as well as a bar etc.

We were quite excited to have a nice meal and settle in. But, it was not to be…… all were closed ….and we were famished. We walked to the closest village to find everything closed there too. The only one of us content that night was the baby.

In my obsession with making sure baby had everything…. I had forgotten about the rest of us.

Baby slept through the night…. thanks, I think to the fact I brought his mattress from his cot. I made sure he couldn’t go anywhere by using one of those toddler rail guards between him and said teen. So, she couldn’t roll onto him either. He had his usual blankets too as well as his lullaby owl, so everything was normal in his world.

We made a habit of going to bed when baby went to bed because he was up at seven…. which meant we were all up at seven, so it just made sense.
The next campsite was better. The restaurant stayed open until nine so that suited us perfect. The pool was indoors and heated…. another bonus. Baby had a great time in the water. I brought his swim ring that goes around his neck. He loves it. I can take my hands off him here and there and he seems to enjoy the freedom.

We also got out walking with baby in his backpack. He loved being up high seeing everything. He really is a very nosy baby!

Third campsite was a wash out. Ankle deep in muck I was the picture of depression. It was in the middle of acres of trails for walking and cycling yet there was no hope we would be able to use them. I had enough at this stage of moving things around the camper. Shifting buggies, mattresses, rails, backpacks, bumbo, trailer for the bike (really should have left these at home as you can rent bikes and trailers from the campsites). Wet towels due to the dryer on site not working and all the clothes we brought but didn’t wear.!!!!!

Foot went firmly down… metaphorically and physically into the mud !!!

So, off we went to a hotel for the last two nights. strangely enough it was hard to get a family room online. They would only accept one child. But the campsite manager rang around and got us a lovely room in Ibis Budget. It was bare but did the job.

After an eventful ten days altogether, we headed back to the ferry. Bringing onboard enough food for all of us for the 24hrs as there was not a great selection onboard due to the boat being smaller than the summer one.
So, lessons learned…
With babies and kids good weather is a necessity!!! I thought I was being smart going outside high season. But no way would I take them away again unless guaranteed good weather.
I did not need two buggies. Or the bikes and trailer. Or most of the clothes I brought…. or the huge gazebo…. or the small tent.
I did need bibs, way more bibs then I brought.
The rest of us need food too… not just baby.
We need an add on for living space!!!
We should stay on one campsite for longer… I felt I spent most of my holiday setting up and then packing up.
Pre-teen was an absolute godsend…. Especially when baby decided to have a huge meltdown while we were stuck on the motorway!!

Our next trip will probably be when baby is toddling around…… now that will be a different ball game altogether

About Sinéad….

Sinead describes herself as a 38 year old mom to an eleven year old girl who thinks she’s twenty and a six month old crazy baby boy who gave her that second chance she desperately needed.
She is wife to a very patient man and is mum to her furbabies three dogs and one cat. She describes her life as fabulously hectic xx.

” Too posh to push ” or just a woman who chose what I felt was right for me? My experience of an elective cesarean.

Most people are quite shocked when they hear I’ve had two elective cesarean sections for the births of my beautiful children. For most mums or mums to be the thought of a cesarean fills them with dread and they do everything possible to avoid one but I was always one to dance to my own tune and I refuse to apologise for choosing what I felt was best for me despite the few irritating reactions I have received in the past.

You are no less of a woman or a mum if you had a cesarean rather than a “natural birth” whatever the reason

In general I love all things natural, I use medication sparingly and always look for an alternative, but when it came to the birth of my two children I took every drug I was offered to me and did everything I could to ensure I got the cesarean I wanted in both cases.

People in general can’t understand why I would choose to have major surgery not once but twice when there was a “more natural ” option available to me.

Women have been giving birth “naturally” since time began and I have the utmost respect for any woman that has done since. I’ve been told it is amazing and even wondered had i missed out on that raw experience but for me from a young age i knew that despite wanting and hoping to have children going “natural” wasnt an option for me…

Why not you ask …

Well I’m going to tell you my reasons honestly and frankly!

I was petrified…. The thought of the sheer agony ( I’m awful when it comes to pain), the loss of control and the more than likely demolition of my neither regions sent me into a spin many are unlikely to comprehend. The thought effected me so much so that I broke down in tears at the first doctors appointment and even had nightmares in the early stages of my pregnancy.

I had friends who had such bad experiences of a “natural” birth that they still wince speaking of it and others who literally have ptsd as a result. All who after a horrendous experience ended up having a cesarean anyway but that was not the part that caused them the pain and distress ….

I felt my best shot at getting the cesarean I wanted was to go private …

Now I’m by no means rolling in it and I’m the kind of girl who has to do serious talking to herself to justify paying more than e30 on a top but for me it was money well spent. At the time I was also self employed and a day spent in cuh for a routine scan could’ve cost me anything from e60-80 euro depending how busy I was but again like your method of delivery you choose what you feel is right for you, end of…

I left my doctor’s surgery with a list of Gynaes but it may have been double Dutch as the names meant nothing to me as a first time mum.

After doing some research I chose my man !!! When choosing my requirement was I wanted a Gynae that was “for the woman ” as much as “for the child “.

After my first appointment with my chosen gynae I knew I was in good hands and felt completely at ease .

I had a great pregnancy but I spent the week before my scheduled c-section in hospital on bed rest due to pre eclampsia, so the first was different to the second in that I went down for the sugery from my hospital bed as opposed to rising out of my own bed at the dawn and heading in to the cuh .

Going down to the operating theatre that first time and waiting down there was so much more frightening than I had imagined it to be … I felt like a young girl who wanted to cry out for her mammy.

I really had no idea what to expect as I had purposely not looked at a single “one born every minute ” or asked to hear people’s stories for fear the bejesus would be scared out of me .

At that moment in time ignorance was far from bliss ….

I really had nothing to be worried about as the nurses, the doctors and the aneasethist were all amazing . The most painful part of the surgery was the insertion of a needle into my hand !

One the things I did know was going to happen and I was dreading was the insertion of a urinary catather and really the nurse was so blazee about it all there was no fuss and it was done in a jiffy .

I was also quite anxious about the epidural , I had heard the horror stories but again my worries were unfounded as I was in great hands.

The birth ( yes you still get to call it giving birth ) was great …I could feel no pain but was aware of what was going on and could feel the “rumaging” to get my baby out.

The screen was up and I saw nothing until they had baby J’s head out, the screen then went back and I saw the exit of my gorgeous baby ! I heard that amazing first cry ( the relief and emotion swept over me !) Had him placed on me and in no time I was in the recovery room with him on my boob!

Both of my little people spent a couple of nights in neo natal simply because they had injested mucus (a common thing with c-sections) but the nurses were amazing and during the night would ring my phone when the fairies needed feeding and I would be wheeled down to do so.

With the c section there is that extra two days in hospital but for me that was not a problem! It just meant I got an extra tutorial on bathing the baby and got plenty of feeding support !

I had such a positive experience the first time round that when I got to do it all again less than two years I genuinely had no fear and of coarse felt much more confident second time round as I knew exactly what to expect ….

The main difference for between the first and second section for me physically was the recovery period after .. going into and during the first pregnacy I was quite fit and active but with the second pregnancy I was overweight and unfit and I feel this made it harder to recover ..Maybe the second is harder in general but I felt my lack of fitness was the main factor in my slower recovery . That said you are reopening a new wound and your muscles are being “disturbed” again !

For me both my experiences were extremely positive now whether that was down to my amazing gynae, God or luck who knows but if I was a betting woman I’d say the gynae… either way I’m happy with my decision and have no regrets .

Things you need to know if you are going for a planned cesarean section ;

  • It’s not uncommon for babies to injest mucus as they do not pass through the birth canal therefore the the mucus doesn’t get a chance to be squeezed out. This may lead lead to your baby spending a few nights in neo natal. Of coarse you will be quite emotional but seriously it’s like they pick the most loving and amazing nurses and put them in neo… your baby will be in the best of care!
  • If you do not want your baby to have a dummy make sure you say it if they need to go to Neo. Both our babes were given them automatically when they were down there. I didn’t have an issue and it didn’t effect their latch but everyone feels different about dummys/soothers.
  • If you are having a scheduled c- section and haven’t gone into labour your milk can take up to five days to come in. Placenta encapsulation can help speed your milk up as can essential oils and certain foods. Hang in their it will come but for a day or two it can be quite emotionally difficult .
  • Bring light snacks ! You do not get that iconic cup of tea and toast after a cesarean and when staff are busy and kichen staff are gone home your request for toast and tea can be forgotten! Had it not been for my stash of special k bars I would have starved or and least got very hangry
  • Let’s talk about that “first poo” ! So I had heard this was like a second labour but I just assumed the pain was as a result of giving birth … I didn’t realise it effected c section mums ! Now I drank heaps of water and prune juice so all was ok . My point to this is don’t think your out of the woods when you’ve done the one ! Constipation can get you literally when you think your home and dry, do don’t ease up on the fluids just because your at home!
  • Do not be afraid to push that call button, the staff are run off the feet ( when J was born May 2013 it an extremely busy day there was a almost 50 babies born !) I was slow to push the call button to ask for the pain meds I was due and it was foolish .. you are important too and have every right to push that call button even if you feel your request seems trivial.
  • Mind your wound like a shiny penny … the the last thing you want is to get an infection. I used to have a clean hand towel to pat the wound dry and a separate towel for the rest of the body. I also stuck a maternity pad horizontal across the front of my big knicks to protect the wound.
  • It in not uncommon to feel numb around the wound site in the days and weeks following ..I didn’t have this on the first so got quite anxious when I felt this way second time round. Don’t panic but do consult your public health nurse or doctor about this feeling or any concerns you have however “small” you may think they are.
  • Make sure you follow all aftercare instructions and no matter how fit you feel don’t return to excercises without the consent of your doctor and even then go gently.
  • If you feel sonething isn’t right seek advice …. I’ve always felt my stomach was not quite right after my second pregnancy and recently (3 yrs later) after attending a workshop I was informed I had separated stomach muscles therefore if you are active and are intending to return to excercise do so with the help of an expert and I would highly recommend Terezia from Per4orm for women .
  • https://www.facebook.com/per4orm/ is where you’ll find her .
  • Take time , accept the help that is offered, ask for it if it is not and let your body heal and appreciate it for all its been through !

Remember however your baby enters this world you are the most important person in their lives , you are everything to them and you are amazing and don’t let anyone try to suggest you took “the easy way out ” as there is no easy way to birth a child but the reward is out if this world. …

Have you had an “elective” c-section, I haven’t met anyone that has or are people just afraid to admit it …surely I’m not the only one ?