Are my kids spoilt.....enough?!

One of the things as a mother I worry about is “Do I do enough with or for my kids?” which is REALLY ironic because I also worry (sometimes in equal measure) “Are they spoilt?” When I look back on my childhood I have no complaints, I don't feel like I missed out on anything...well apart from a deluxe Barbie dream house, still foaming about that Santa but its mostly happy memories. However when I look at my kids life now, which I realise is no fault except my own, no offence parentals but it was crap in comparison! I’m only 30 but it feels like light years ago and kids have it so much better now. So why do I always feel guilty?! It could be part that it is now rammed down our throats that we will be scarring our children for life if we don’t spend all our time sculpting their new born minds. Gone are the days of simply accompanying your parents on their day getting housework done and being grateful for a play date with juice and biscuits. I love doing things with my boys but just not ALL the time and spending their nap time doing housework. Yet I’ve done it all with my boys, even before they were born I did antenatal class’s to ensure I wasn’t wrecking their life’s before they were born! To be fair these were very useful, I met one of my best friends there and have made some other friends for life, and this is the key most important thing of doing these classes’s to meet people going through the same thing. However some of them not so good, baby swimming lessons?! can’t sit up but let’s go swimming, baby massage although very nice your baby either cry’s or falls asleep, baby sign language...Archie learnt to talk before he would even do the simplest sign for “more” and I could go on and on of the other ways I have wasted money on the shame  train. I now know all this but I still feel guilty and I’m still at it, just in another age group!?
I don't mean to be rude about my own childhood and I'm sure most people I know it was a similar story because that's the way it was then. For one toys were not cheap, there was no Poundland, B and M bargains etc and you only got toys on your birthday or Christmas; when you only got one big present and if you were lucky a few more little ones. One Christmas we got a SNES (in truth I think it was more for my Dad) but we thought we were Kings and that was years of entertainment, no upgrades or new games. Birthday Party's were at your house, a few friends, dairylea sandwich's, chocolate crispies and maybe a party bag. There weren't any soft plays either...well apart from Dickens; ahh remember the excitement if you’re Dad needed paint or something DIY, it meant a trip to their ball pool. I also only learnt how to ride a bike because a "big" girl who lived up the street called Haley taught me when I was 7 by taking my stabilisers off and plunging me down the back alley. I didn't have skin on my knees for about 3 months, you know the scabs that look like knee pads?... but that's how I learnt. A day out usually meant a walk into Shields and then humping the food shopping back from "Prestos" and then a game called sorting out the clean socks. I remember a rare trip to the beach a mile away, aged 6 we walked there with a picnic and all the clobber not a complaint, well my Mam couldn’t drive then, never mind have two cars; unheard of. It was an amazing day until I was given a £1 coin to get some Ice Lolly's from the van...I believe there was some discussion about not losing it, "be careful" as that was it etc.  I hadn’t even made it half way when I dropped the £1 into the sand, it instantly vanished. I dug and dug, raked the sand through my fingers but it was gone and THAT was it no ice lolly’s.
I personally couldn't even swim until I was 8 when lessons started with the school, we went swimming now and then but it was always a massive treat. There weren’t many parks about either...or trips to them but for Christmas our Dad built us a small climbing frame with a tyre swing, it was immense and although now wouldn’t pass ANY safety laws every kid on the street was at our house constantly. I didn't go on an aeroplane until I was 10 and that was only on a prop plane to London which had so much turbulence I was sick in one of those revolting paper bags...infact maybe THATS why I don't like flying. People often ask me “who taught you to bake” but in truth no one. My Mams and Grandmas are good cooks but we never did huge baking sessions, just sitting on the bench watching was a luxury. We always had nice family holidays but when I say family, I mean we visited them in various parts of the country. I did get abroad for the first time when I was 11 to France... we drove the whole way for 24hrs and stayed in a Eurocamp tent for 2 weeks; honestly the best holidays ever though. I’m sure there are loads more great things I can’t remember but it doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t change any of it but despite this I am always thinking “What can I do with the kids today? Not “Here’s some mixed up lego, I’m cracking on with the ironing now, instead of doing it when you’re in bed and then I can relax!”
My kids have so many toys they are spread over 3 rooms, infact I think they have more than my old nursery. A Tipee, scooters, bikes, a million figures, pirate ships, 2 boxes of fancy dress I could go on and on, I try not to feel too guilty for this as 1. its mostly all our relatives who spoil them the year round and 2. it is literally the only way I can get a shower. The worst thing is if I don't tidy the toys up they literally won’t play with them because they can’t see them...I can hear my dad’s voice now "Pick it up or its in the bin" I'm blushing as I sort Lego by colour for them.  Archie age 3 could swim and ride a bike without stabilisers, I can only take 20% of the credit for this as apart from doing “Babie swimming lessons” (which Archie hated after 4 lessons) the husband has been so dedicated taking him most weeks, while I catch up on the housework piling up....because I have tried to spend every waking moment WITH my child! Archie and Oscar have been abroad more times than some adults and combined have been to the USA 11 times! I let Archie cook with me once and now he thinks he’s Jamie Oliver, most meals are now accompanied with “Can I help?”...I totally see why my parents didn’t let me help, it’s truly hell and yet here I am about to have a stroke making cookies and Spaghetti Bolognese with one child who can’t even talk?! Arts and crafts were something you did at school for me, with one of your dads shirts on but most rainy days it’s like Art attack in our house, pasta pictures, stickers, face painting....crayoning the walls and eating glitter. I would like to point out now that I also have 2 BOYS! not little girls who this is heaven and they like to sit quietly doing it with maybe a nail painting session after. It pure torture I don't know why I do it sometimes but I'm powered on by guilt. Weekly Toddler groups, Music Class, days out to a Farm or Fire station or the beach in all weathers and obviously we drive nearly everywhere. My kids complain about walking upstairs to brush their teeth never mind to the park or supermarket; another tantrum/migraine inducing decision. I can't even discuss the cost of birthday party's now or the crazy things I have done for them...anyone seen my Batman Cake Tutorial! Today I spent £30 at soft play YES £30! Now Oscar is over 1 you have to pay for him so 2 kids, 3 lunch's a few drinks and snacks GONE! We don't always spend this much but we go at least 1-2 times a week to different ones, again I make my excuses that boys need to burn off energy and what can you do when its pouring of rain most of the time? The worse thing is this only kills a few hours and now my eldest Archie has started to ask "What are we doing now?!"  So now we need a morning and an afternoon activity or "something fun today"! I have thus far resisted the urge to say "I did nothing when I was your age"...it’s only a matter of time.
Right I've got to go, I'm looking into ice skating lessons and seeing what we can do for Halloween....someone stop meeeee!
Ash xox
Me and my brother WE survived!

My version of this week!

Literally Blood, Sweat and Tears!


GG's Ginger Chicken. #recipe #homemadetakeaway #slowcookerfriendly

I gave up on Chinese takeaway years ago, slimy meat, sauce you could paste walls with and full of MSG which makes the husband hyper. I'm still dedicated to pizza and the odd curry but I always make this on a Saturday night if we fancy a change. This is one of my all time favourite meals and recipes anyway, my GG made it up (shes clever like that) and I sometimes change how much ginger I put in or add some chilli flakes but its nice all ways. 


Skin Care Routine. #Cleanse #Sparklyskin

I have a confession...I don't take my make up off before bed!
I know, I know its a bit gross but in my defence usually by the time I've put the boys to bed, collapsed in front of the TV and then realised "crap its midnight better get to bed" a quick teeth brush is all I can manage. I also (unless its a big night out) don't wear a lot of make up a bit of tinted moisturiser, mascara and that is it. However over night...it feels... I have turned 30 and my skin has shouted "No more!" It might also be worsened by going from humid Texas that's massively air conditioned to freezing Newcastle and I've got the house very toasty! All of a sudden my skin feels sensitive, blotchy, I think I'm getting more spots than in my teens and the very fact that my forehead looks like a piece of leather holding up my eye brows was enough to take action. 
As a trained beauty therapist I always get asked questions about skincare but since I'm not practising in a salon any more I feel a bit out of the loop on new skin care ranges so I will just tell you my tips and what I use. The main thing I would say is that there is no such thing as a face lift in a bottle so spending tonnes of money wont make you turn back the clock, I think consistency is key here though and although I am a terrible "Cleanser"...used to be... I am an avid moisturiser. Plus don't forget to pick products that suit your skin, I have a dry complexion. I started my new little routine a week ago before bed or to be honest if I know I'm not going out again I do it straight away and already I can feel and see the effects.

  • Cleanssssssse. Now I have been a fan of baby wipes in the past, they are so easy but even the skin wipes...you know the proper facial ones apposed to knicking some from your child's nappy draw, I don't feel they clean your skin properly and sometimes sting. Its up to you how you cleanse your face but I truly believe that the following way is the only way to make your skin sparkling.

  1. Tie your hair back...don't want it looking like its been combed with a pork chop at the front.
  2. Apply a layer of a thick cream cleanser massaging as you go - At the salon I used to work at we used Elemis and I love all their stuff so I still use Elemis Rose Cleanser or my current favourite is the Elemis Pro Collagen Cleanser balm, its oily but really conditions the skin and I love the smell- then using large cotton pads take it all off again in circles going upwards.

3. Apply another layer of the cleanser but this time soak a flannel in as hot water as you can bear and rub all the cleanser off. I know its old school but it works, I have even treated myself to a couple more.

4. Rinse out the flannel and clean your face once more then put in the laundry hamper so you have a fresh one each day - I usually wipe round the sink first to get rid of toothpaste etc before putting it in the wash but that's a busy Mum tip not skincare related.

I know its rank but I had to prove it, this is AFTER a
 baby wipe cleanse and I only use tinted moisturiser.

5.Now you can use a toner I sometimes do but the most important thing now is that you close the pours cold water works too so splash your face then pat dry with a towel.

6.Moisturise. Again I like Elemis and I am using the Pro Collagen Marine cream for the past few weeks and really noticed the difference but for years I have also used Olay Total Effects and I know we don't live in Australia but an SPF of at least 15 is vital to fight wrinkles even on a rainy day, I like how it comes with a tinted moisturiser too. I also in the winter use Total Effect serum. I apply a tiny amount of serum first and let that absorb for a few minutes. Then apply the moisturiser.

Now this is the important bit, I've seen people apply creams by pumping them into their fingers, rub their hands together and scrub their face with it...no no NO. That will just waste the good stuff on your hands and all the areas wont get properly hydrated. Put however much you need on the back of your hand and use this like a paint palate, apply splodges (love that word) to your face equally then massage in circles. This means that the whole face gets treated rather than it running out when you get to your chin.

I know I'm CRAP at selfies...I need practise.
  • If you have oily skin you shouldn't avoid moisturiser because your skin will produce more sebum (oil) to compensate so use a light moisturiser specific for oily or combination skin and should reduce the bad kind of shine.
Tip. If you use specific creams/treatments like eye or lips, apply these last then they will treat the target area versus getting rubbed around your face if you apply your moisturiser after.

  • The other thing I am doing this week is discarding any old make up and buying some new make up brush's. I only use 3 brushes really but they have all seen better days and bacteria builds fast in stuff like this so bin them or clean them to prevent spots. 
  • Exfoliate, in-between the cleanser and toner, once a week use a skin exfoliator, this will scrub off dead skin leaving brighter completion and you guessed it prevent blockages and therefor spots.
  • Drink plenty of water, I'm good at this but when its cold I crave hot drinks (caffeine until I can have wine) and the other day I realised I had only drank 1 cup of OJ and the rest was cups of tea and I mean proper builders brew...ooops.
If you have been having a bit of a skin SOS too I hope this makes your skin shiny again.
It could be worse.
Ash xox


Banana Bread. #Recipe #Nutella #Yummm

This is one of the first recipes I can honestly say is mine. I once had some banana bread from a bakery in Chicago when I was travelling and became obsessed with it. When I got home I tried a couple of recipes but they were never as good so I have played about and I have to say its pretty good. It always zooms away and my friend Fi asked for the recipe literally 3 years ago and despite promising it, I never got around to writing it down so this is for her.


Goodbye Festivities.....

I think each year Christmas has a theme, you know when you speak to people after the event its weird but even people who don't know each other say the same thing "Oh it was quiet" "We all had the flu" "It was BUSY" and this year is the year of "God I have eaten and drank soooo much". I am well amongst everyone and have totally over done it but have no desire or interest in going on a diet. I find it hilarious that we all have a Pony with chips washed down with tonnes of wine and 24hrs later we are having celery and 4 hours at the gym. I cant bare it. January is by far the worst month of the year, everyone is skint, fat and lets face it a little depressed. "The most wonderful time of the year" is over, even the weather is hung over and after a week or two of lying in watching back to back Friends re runs and eating selection boxes for breakfast it REALLY hurts getting back into your routine. It is going to be a particularly hard month for me as well as I'm going to be a single parent with the husband away with work. I'm already a few days in and I literally don't know how people do it...seriously. On the plus side there is less mess and we are having beans on toast x3 for tea, instead of making a 2 course meal.....I still need to throw like a major party/ball  "We survived January"!
I had a lovely Christmas though, it was our first one where the boys were REALLY excited for Santa,Archie actually shook when he saw Santa had eaten the mince pie and I have to say kids are hard graft but this one morning a year makes it worth while, totally magical! It was also extra nice to catch up with everyone I haven't seen for nearly four months. Despite cutting it fine to be ready if you were following my blogs in the lead up Christmas in a week!, I was limping but I made it and very enjoyable it was too, even managed a child free wedding. Did everyone pay attention to "Dwaine the Drain" and NOT pour the fat from cooking copious amounts of meat? Well I didn't cook a turkey as went to the mothers(and nearly laughed myself sick at a game called "Drink every time Mam says f*ck") but she was well warned about the fat situation and the ham we cooked was drained into a Tupperware and made into a bird cake by stirring in some feed with it. Unfortunately I didn't take any pics before "Homer and Marge"...that's the pigeons that reside in our garden, I named them that 3yrs ago after I watched him try to be "amorous" with her for over an hour. He is nearly as fat as a chicken and she is thin with a tuft on her head...anyway they ate the lot.
To survive the "January Blues" I am going to try and to do lots of new things or things I never get the time for so stay tuned ......Me and Archie already made a start by having a little date day going ice skating and loved it!
Ash xox
God just looking at these it feels like for.ever ago.
Reindeer Dust...naturally.
Oscar trying the carrot!
Archie NOT happy he cant open presents now.
Has he been?
Who buys this for a child?!
SO happy!
Made for me.
Your welcome Dwaine!
Best present ever off the brother.
The husband did the boxing day swim...nutter there was frost on the sand!
Great favour.
Brotherly Love.
This is how you do New Year kids.
Date day with ma big boy. #retro