Meal Plan – Emptying the freezer so we can fill it with Christmas food edition

Following what feels like the shortest October in history, we are now in “nearly Xmas mode”. I am still avoiding carbs wherever possible with varying degrees of success. Although it feels like much more of a challenge now that salad season is long gone. Who wants lettuce in November?!

It’s going to be a fairly quiet week for us. Aside from my nephew’s birthday we have no other plans really. Moose’s after school club was cancelled due to a lack of staff and Bess is sitting mocks. I am working weekdays only now which is great. It means that I have weekends free to relax with the kids but I do miss having a couple of days off midweek so that I can be a bit less stressed with getting dinners ready and spellings done etc.

I noticed that our freezer is pretty full so this week I think we will try to eat our way through that lot to make lots of space for yummy Xmas food! It should make for some interesting meals and if November is anywhere near as short as October felt then Xmas will be here before we know it.

This week in food

Monday: Chicken and roasted vegetables with garlic bread

Tuesday: Pork satay with broccoli

Wednesday: Garlic and herb chicken with cauliflower cheese and Brussel sprouts

Thursday: Steak with pea shoots, pear and stilton

Friday: Chicken burgers and chips (mushroom omelette for me)

Saturday: Lamb meatballs with red pepper harissa sauce and bulgur wheat (cauliflower rice for me)

Sunday: Salmon and broccoli with hollandaise sauce (and potatoes for the kids and MrG)

 

Whatever you have planned for the week, I hope you enjoy it. I would love to hear what your go to meals are? Easier to prepare the better! Feel free to comment below.

Personal Mobility in the Wake of the Covid Epidemic: Hike in Used Cars Sales

Humans go through cycles. Some of these cycles are generational. Others occur over a longer term. Such as the rise and fall of civilisations and empires. With the advent of the car, having your own vehicle became a symbol of financial and social as well as literal mobility. Allowing people to easily travel just about anywhere they wanted to go. Following this there was a realisation of the effect of vehicles on the environment. Whereupon the more conscientious members of society invested in bikes, bought bus and train season tickets or walked to work and school instead. And then came Covid-19.

Dangers of Public Transport

Sharing your space with others becomes a problem when faced with the possibility of contracting a serious respiratory virus, with potential long-term after-effects. No longer can you shrug and use a dab of hand sanitiser or just remind yourself to wash your hands as soon as you can. That might work for colds which are mild, or even seasonal flu which is only serious for older people or those with compromised immune systems, most of whom are already eligible for the flu vaccine. The actuality of Covid-19, plus the effects known as ‘long Covid’ add up into a nasty illness from which recovery, for anyone, is not guaranteed.

 

Costs of Running a Car

For some, the costs of running their car made making the switch to public transport a common sense decision. But, given the huge rises to public transport costs of late, reconsidering this might be a pleasant surprise! Sure, the initial cost of the car will be significant. However a used car is instantly much cheaper than a new model. And thereafter, your running costs will drop to much less than a lengthy commute, especially if it requires more than one bus or train. Insurance and taxes are reduced when you invest in a second-hand car, as they are based on the already reduced purchase price, making the saving continue for the life of the vehicle.

 

Loss of Eco-Friendly Cred

While you might think that going back to car ownership is giving in to the dark side, in an environmental context, again, this is not the case. Used cars have already gone some way to amortising the ecological impact of their manufacture, and every year that it is in use thereafter continues this process. You might not think of yourself as eco-friendly as you would be on a train. It might surprise you though. Especially if you manage to buy a second-hand hybrid vehicle which has high green clout in its own right.

 

If you are going back into the office and your skin crawls at the thought of being crammed in close to strangers after all this time. Why not check out the used car market? You can buy used cars at cheap prices from KAP Motors.

Where to go – Canada. Travelling with kids.

There are so many choices when it comes to travelling. You could be forgiven for thinking that these choices would be diminished when travelling with tiny humans – but you would be wrong. One of the best destinations to visit as a family is Canada and fortunately there are lots of flights to Canada from the UK that you can book

With so many destinations to choose from it can be a little overwhelming. No matter what you love to do during your time away, we have put together a few ideas to help you plan your next trip!

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada, Ontario

With more than 15000 animals including sea turtles (my personal favourite), Jellyfish, Sharks and Stingrays. Ripley’s Aquarium is the largest in all of Canada. This place is a must see for sea life fans of all ages!

CN Tower

Right next door to Ripley’s Aquarium is the CN Tower. Holding the title of the world’s tallest freestanding structure for 30 years, this is a great way to get a wonderful view of Toronto!

The queues to get into the CN Tower can be pretty long but don’t worry, there is plenty to do along the way including a great big Moose! As well as the Moose there is the Skyquest cinema and even a magician to entertain those waiting to see the stunning views over Toronto from the top of the tower.

Niagara Falls

Top of the list of must see’s for a lot of visitors to Canada. Known for it’s waterfalls of the same name, Niagara Falls is a city with lots to offer. See the falls from a different angle by taking the Journey Behind The Falls or if you have older kids do The White Water Walk. Go and check out the Butterfly Conservatory or have fun on the Cosmic coaster at Clifton Hills Amusement park!

West Edmonton Mall, Alberta

The biggest mall in North America (spanning the size of 48 city blocks), West Edmonton Mall is a destination in itself. As well as a plethora of shops, the space also features an indoor amusement park, waterpark, bowling alley, mini golf course and ice rink, on top of the over 800 stores and services found on site. With more attractions than you could enjoy in one day, a stay at one of the two on-site hotels makes this an ideal weekend destination for families looking for a range of fun to be enjoyed all in one spot – without ever having to step outside.

Did I mention there is also a zoo!

Stanley Park, Vancouver

Stanley Park is Vancouver’s premier spot to get up close and personal with nature and animals. The grassy expanse offers outdoor teahouses and stunning views, beachfront hideaways and splash parks. It is a typical getaway spot for friends and families, especially as it is home to Vancouver’s aquarium, and some of its best equestrian outlets.

Something to know, before you go

Children who are traveling to Canada without both parents need authorization from the non-accompanying parent. Sometimes this is enforced and other times not, but to play it safe you’re better off with a notarized letter. Divorced parents should carry copies of legal custody documents. Find out more about the rules here.

Love it or list it – Is this our forever home?

MrG has had to work away for the past couple of weeks. He has returned home at the weekends though and we seem to have developed a possibly slightly unhealthy obsession with watching A Place In The Sun (Scarlette is by far my favourite, in case you were wondering). It got me to thinking about what happens next and whether we would ever consider buying another property abroad to use as a holiday home once the children have all flown the nest – especially now that I have health concerns.

Aside from how sad it makes me feel to think of them all leaving home – not least because I would then a) have to do their chores myself, but also b) there would be only MrG and I left. We might actually have to spend some time together. Jesus. Maybe 10 years wasn’t long enough to really consider the implications of this whole marriage thing.. There is also the issue of what we would do with a 4bed house and only the 2 of us in it?

Don’t get me wrong, it would be good to keep a bedroom free for guests and MrG has already nabbed the fourth room for his home office. So, we would easily use the space. But by then we will hopefully have paid off the lions share of our mortgage and it would be nice to change it up a little. A quaint little Spanish villa that we could jet off to for the winter would be lovely!

Shifting my focus

Or perhaps we ought to be thinking less about what we will do and more about how Bess will manage. After all, university isn’t cheap and accommodation costs could be huge.

According to a recent article from Age Uk Mobility about how Uk homeowners have changed their home during lockdown, lots of people have made some really positive adaptations to their property lately. Maybe now is a good time to be looking for a little place to let to her and a maybe a couple of housemates?

At least that would be an investment of sorts and would kill 2 birds with 1 stone by giving her a helping hand at the same time.

Even though she is only 15, Bess is already researching the universities she would like to apply to. It would make total sense to buy somewhere to do up ourselves over the course of the next few years but I’m not totally convinced that we could manage that on top of both of us working full time too.

Love where you live

At the moment we love it here. We have lived in this house for 12 years and in that time we have added a kitchen/diner extension and a shower room downstairs which has created a space for me to be able to use to work from home as well as a bedroom upstairs and remodelling the old separate WC and tiny bathroom to create a decent sized family bathroom and an airing cupboard. You never realise how useful an airing cupboard is until you move into a house without one!

So we have done a fair bit of work and I am just not sure we could actually find a house which could offer the same space outdoors as we have at the moment. The garden is narrowish but it’s pretty long and the front of the house has parking for 6 cars – if they aren’t huge and you have a skill for Tetris.

We have been really lucky in terms of the street we are on. It’s very quiet and our neighbours are, with one exception, lovely!

Everywhere I have looked at online seems to be full of compromises which frankly I don’t really want to make again.

The pull of that glass of red on a beautiful balcony overlooking a Spanish sunset is rather strong though..

Crystalina Positive Aura Fairy Dolls

Ad. We were sent this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions remain our own.

 

As well as having my own 3 children I am also Aunt to over a dozen nieces and nephews! It wasn’t difficult though to know which of my nieces would love to try out the Crystalina Fairy dolls.

Em is the same age as Moose and she and he have been inseparable since they were very small. Being really close in age (just shy of 3 weeks between them) they have grown up to be best friends and close cousins.

Em is the sort of child who very much believes in magic and is fascinated by the world around her. I knew right away that the Crystalina Fairy Dolls would be something she would absolutely adore.

What’s in the box?

The Crystalina Fairy dolls stand at approx 10cm tall and come in a range of 4 to choose from. Each one is supplied in clear, plastic packaging and includes a magical colour changing Sprite, who comes with a very special amulet necklace and display stand.

The Sprites all have their own positivity aura superpower. Rose Quartz is for love, Turquoise is for healing, Amethyst is for Wisdom and Aventurine is for luck.

Of course the amulets work with the Sprite Fairy dolls and I am happy to note that the clasp on the amulet is quick release which is a great plus point from a safety point of view.

Each Sprite Fairy doll has 10 auras to cycle through and then 1 special superpower which can be activated by simply shaking the doll.

Another cool aspect of play is that when 2 Crystalina Fairy dolls ‘meet’, they can bond and share an aura colour! The shared power is remembered by the doll until they meet another.

The Fairy Sprites also come with a cool moon shaped display stand which has a space in the back for the amulet and one in the front for the doll to stand. They look awesome lit up in the childs bedroom!

What did we think?

Em loved the concept of the magical crystals and Fairy Sprites and to be honest I thought they were kinda cool too. If there is one thing that kids can never have enough of it’s positive reinforcement of their feelings and emotions. I like that the Crystalina Fairy dolls offer exactly that

As well as helping the child to understand their emotions and helping them to feel empowered the Crystalina dolls also have a friendship aspect while being clear that each one has different and equally awesome gifts to bring. I like that about them.

The Crystalina Fairy dolls are marketed as being for girls aged 4+ but to be honest I think they are missing a trick because Moose loved the dolls too! I would say though that most 4 year olds might struggle to understand how to use the dolls – I am sure they would be fine with help and would most certainly love the colours!

Available from Tesco, B&M and other good toy retailers.