About Me

About me

My name is Nik and I am Mum to two small boys called Sam and Oliver and partner to the long suffering Ali and we are based in Devon, England.

My blog is about my journey though life, the highs, the lows and all the fun and messy bits in-between.

It is a personal blog that is written by me and only features my opinions. I do work on behalf of businesses and companies, writing posts and reviews but I will only give you my honest thoughts, if I love it or hate it I will tell you.

If you would like to get in touch with me or my mini monsters please contact me at
themummymonster1@gmail.com





Sunday, 22 April 2018

Dartington Hall - April 2018

 
This morning I wanted to just go for a wander, nothing strenuous just a gentle stroll and I was thinking of heading to one of our local walks such as Decoy or Stover. However I always come back grumpy due to the amount of dogs and other people. Can you tell I woke up grumpy??? Lol

So when Ali suggested heading over to Dartington Hall, it was perfect!! 

We arrived and the first car park was fairly empty although the onsite cafe looked busy. 
We paid to park (£1 for four hours) which in my eyes was a bargain and we headed off under the arch. 

Thankfully I had remembered the stones from the Devon Ricks and Stones Facebook page so the boys could hide them along the way. 

Once under the arch and past the Barn Theatre you are greeted with the sight of The Great Hall and what a beautiful site it is. The courtyard is lined either side with the most quaint cottages which are dwarfed by the impressive Great Hall building. Unfortunately the Hall was closed for. Private function but I’m sure it is as good inside as it is out.

 
As you head past the Great Hall, you then get a wonderful smell of Sunday lunch from the onsite pub and head to the cherry blossom trees. The boys had great fun thinking it was raining or snowing whilst the petals were gently falling to the ground.

 
 
You can then choose your own path, we decided to head don to Jacobs Pillow. The pillow is a large ball sculpture which is very tactile and the boys loved chasing a round it.

From the sculpture we headed further down into the gardens. The garden are steep slopes which when dry, the boys absolutely love running or rolling down the slopes but unfortunately due to the wet weather they were today out of bounds.

What I was amazed at was the amount of flowers that were in bloom. Some of the flowers I hadn't ever seen before. There are also the old trees which have gnarled with age. Ali remembers playing on the same trees when he was a child.






















Whilst strolling around Sam was extremely chuffed to find a small hut, which heard water rushing through. He decided a troll  must live down there and its padlocked to keep him locked away. He thought they would unlock it at night so he could stretch his legs and find some food!! Love a child's imagination. Oliver just loved the padlock and refused to move away!! lol



We then headed down to the stream where Sam found some stepping stones to cross whilst Oliver and I took the long route around. We then found some trees to climb and sit in. Whilst sitting on a bench we came across a friendly robin. He was so cheeky trying to be brave and closer and closer to us until I put my finger in the air whilst talking and he flew straight across the top of it. The boys loved it.





















Whilst Oliver sat on the bench Ali and Sam went off to discover The Old Playhouse. A beautiful house with a tree climbing around it. What a wonderful childhood someone would have had to have this particular building to play in.





After the playhouse we headed back to the Great Hall and then slowly back to the car park. Unfortunately we didn't have time to head to the park today but we vowed to return with a picnic and make a day of it.

Overall, a couple of hours spent wandering in a truly beautiful setting which quite frankly I had forgotten about and missed.

 
My opinion is that Dartington Hall has something for everyone of all ages, it really is worth a visit.









 

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Buffet Food

I seriously need some help. In the next couple of months I am going to be catering for two different parties and although my Mum is helping me, I really have no idea what to serve!!

When I go to a buffet all I can see is pastry, pastry and more pastry and as I cant eat pastry it fills me with dread :(



The first is Oliver's joint birthday and Christening party. I will be serving different generations. People will be stood up and using paper plates so not really being able to use cutlery. So what the heck do you serve?

Time is also limited as I don’t want to spend the day cooking and miss him turning two, but I want it to be impressive and ensure no one goes home hungry as there is nothing worse!!

The second birthday is a fifth birthday party for Sam!! About 35 hungry children who just want to feed on sugar and squash. Do I just bite the bullet and buy everything or will hoards of children appreciate the time and effort of cooking everything from scratch??

Do people still want sausage rolls and egg sandwiches or do they want nibbles and fancy little quiches? How do you know how much to feed people? Are they going to have eaten before they attend or are they wanting lunch?

It seems to be a complete minefield!!


Since writing, We have given in and ordered sandwiches and wraps to take a bit of pressure off us 👍

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Internet Safety

One of the things you may not know about me is that I am passionate but learning how to keep children safe on the internet, however this is not an easy task. Technology moves on so fast that sometimes we struggle to keep up with it.
 
 
 
Today our local police force sent out a poster raising awareness of apps that have hidden features or are being advertised to children but are not suitable.
 
 
 
It was quite scary to see how many apps were on the list and it certainly wasn’t an exhaustive list either as I have been informed about apps that include characters such as Blaze, Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol where adults are using them to talk to children or show them images which again are not suitable.
 
Facebook states that you must be over 13 years old to join, however children themselves and sometimes parents agree to their child having a Facebook account at a younger age but they forget they have lied and the adverts are shown according to age so children under the age of 18 years are seeing restricted adverts.
 
People also think that Snapchat is safe as any pictures disappear, however they don't realise that once something is online it doesn't ever really disappear, its on a server somewhere or someone has taken a screen shot. Young people especially get caught out, they send out a sexy picture (a sext) and they think its gone but unfortunately not :(
 
Ali and I gave in at Christmas and bought Sam an Amazon Kindle. We had been asked by the School to download an app for Sam to do his maths homework. Now after much thought we have downloaded a couple of apps for him too but it wasn’t without investigation first. We chose the CBeebies app and a Thomas The Tank Engine app. 
 
I still don’t stray to far from him when he is on the Kindle and the parental controls are well and truly switched on, so much so, we couldn't remember how to switch them off recently when Ali wanted to download an app!!! Lol
 
This Easter Sam’s homework has been to look at technology and see how and why we use it, so Sam has been looking at everything asking if it’s technology!! However one of the questions on the sheet asks about what apps they have access too and it makes me wonder if children do access apps without their parents or without the parents investigating them first. 
 
What’s the protocol in your house? Do you look at the apps first before allowing your children to use them? Does your child have their own device?
 
#keepthemsafeonline #keepuptodateonline #internetsafety #themummymonster #knowtherules #agelimitsforareason #blog

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

#HaySpring


Looking for something to do this Friday with your bored children?

How about checking out the event at Exeter’s Princesshay?

On Friday 6th April from 11am – 3pm the family event with the hashtag #HaySpring which will take place in the Princesshay Shopping Centre.

Activities include:

1.       Street Entertainment for the whole family

Get creative and colour-in a new art installation - The Pentagon. Designed exclusively for Princesshay, this unique street-art has hand drawn cartoons and felt tips galore, all ready for colouring.

While you colour, you can enjoy the spectacle of Rainbow Stilt Dancers roaming throughout Princesshay. 



2.       Style and beauty advice

Need some spring fashion inspiration? Beauty and fashion blogger Chantelle Znideric will be on hand with the latest wardrobe trends for spring. Take a break from shopping and enjoy free makeovers and advice, samples and mini treatments in the beauty area.

3.       Vintage carousel

Enjoy some nostalgic entertainment with the vintage carousel in Princesshay square. Rides cost £2 a go with 50p from each ride going to Princesshay’s charity of the year, FORCE cancer charity.



4.       Live music throughout the day

Some of Exeter’s best artists will be performing in Princesshay square – take a moment to stop and listen to some of the city’s local talent.

5.       Freebies and games 

Try the spin to win gift card game in the centre outside New Look and be in with the chance to win on-the-spot prizes.

6.       Kookybooths FREE photo booth

Grab your friends and family for a snap in the spring-inspired photo booth, with a free print for every visitor.



7.       Colourful Umbrellas

Princesshay has teamed up with In Exeter to bring the colourful umbrella installation to the city. Local shoppers and tourists can admire the bright spring coloured umbrellas in Princesshay and on Exeter High Street. Keep an eye on Princesshay’s social media for the colourful umbrella photo competition.

8.       Win a £500 gift card

Princesshay has teamed up with Heart to run a competition for two weeks from the 23rd March – 6th April.

Find the winning window in Princesshay for your chance to win, once you have found the window, you will be a step closer to winning that £500 gift card.

#Hayspring #Event #themummymonster #nomoreboredchildren

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Seed Bombs!!



Recycled Paper Seed Bombs




This is mine and Sam’s first go at an instruction blog post so please go easy on us especially as I had to supervise as well as make and do J


So here it goes…..


These are the instructions to make your own Seed Bombs.


To make a seed bomb you will need the following

Ingredients:

Old paper – newspaper, bills, white or coloured paper

Warm water

Food colouring

A packet of wildflower hardy seeds


Equipment:

A large bowl

A jug

A hand mixer

A sieve

A spoon

A cookie/playdough cutter or silicone mould

Fine mesh


Method


Start by shredding all of the paper into small pieces and place into a bowl. Sam and I used between 6-8 sheets of A4 in each batch we made.



Fill the jug with warm water and add your chosen food colouring. Be sure to add a lot of colour as you will loose a lot of it when the water is drained later.



Pour the warm water and food colouring over the shredded paper. The water should cover the paper and leave for as long as you can. The first batch we left for about 2 hours and the second batch we left for about 3.5 hours. Stir occasionally to ensure all the paper is covered in water.




Once it is well and truly softened, use a hand blender to turn it into a pulp. It is worth holding a cloth around the bowl as it can be quite a messy job!!




Once it has turned into a pulp put it in a sieve over a bowl or sink and use the back of a spoon to push out as much as the water as possible.




Once it is a dry as possible return the pulp to the bowl. Then it is time to add the packet of seeds, mix them carefully into the mixture.




Now comes the fun bit, either spoon or use your hands to add the mixture into a silicone mould or a cooker cutter. If using a cookies cutter then mould the mixture and place the mould over fine wire mesh. Make sure there is some kitchen roll under the mesh to catch the water.

  
Once they are thoroughly dry, remove them from their mould.



Wrap them as you wish but don’t forget to include the details of the flowers and when and how to sow them. Enjoy J





I just realised that Sam isn't in any of the pictures!! I promise he was there helping me!! lol

Have fun and don't forget to show me your results x



Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Easter – how do you celebrate it?


 
Easter, is a funny time of year for us as Ali is a butcher and he is absolutely snowed in at work, however this year it sounds like he could actually be snowed in if the snow returns for Easter!! Anyway, I am usually on my own with the boys.

 

Depending on when Easter falls it can also fall on my Mum’s, my brothers or my birthday. Mum’s is at the end of March, my brother is early April and I am at the end of April so we often have a family meal to arrange too.

 

Easter is also a bit usual for us as Sam can’t have dairy products. Technically he is lactose free but we generally avoid all dairy products, this means that buying chocolate eggs unless specific ones can be hard and they don’t always taste great so I avoid them.

 

This year I have decided that I will buy them one chocolate egg each and then do a basket of Easter things for them to find during an Easter egg hunt. So far I have bought some Easter bubbles, some Haribo sweets and the Paddington 2 DVD to watch. I usually hide little yellow chicks all over the house and then send the boys off with their new buckets to find them. Depending on the weather sometimes the chicks are even hidden outside. Once they have found them all I give them a clue to find their Easter gifts.

 

However I feel a bit mean by telling other people not to buy them any Easter eggs. Neither of the boys are particularly bothered by chocolate (they certainly don’t take after me, I am totally bothered by chocolate and would eat it for breakfast, lunch and tea) so am I the only one who says no the chocolate eggs?

 

Do you have egg hunts in your house? Do your children get lots of chocolate? Do they eat it or do you help? What other alternatives do you use?
 
#Easter #chocolate #alternativegifts #themummymonster

Monday, 12 March 2018

Getting dressed after swimming :(

 

 
Getting dressed after swimming!!! Grrrrrrrr!!!!

Now I think I have expressed before how much I hate swimming pool floors. Yuck!! When I walk on them they make my feet feel funny and I feel physically sick!! I know I’m strange but I’m having a new issue with changing rooms and when I have talked about it online it seems to be dividing opinions!!

 

I HATE getting dressed after swimming, now I think most people will agree this is the worst bit about swimming but my main problem is, I am so slow at getting changed. 

 

 
Sam and Oliver both have swimming lessons at a fab private pool but there are no changing rooms, you simply get dressed at the side of the pool. Thankfully I don’t have to go in with Sam anymore but I do with Oliver. 

 

Now I have no problem with getting dressed in general, both my boys have seen me naked but I go all bashful when on the side of the pool especially if men are around. I just wish I had the body confidence of some of the free flowing ladies who stand stark naked and get all their bits and bobs dried out in the open but that will never be me so I try to do everything under towel. 

 

Due to this fact, I actually gave in and purchased an adult poncho towel so I can try and hide my modesty a little at least, it’s a godsend! Seriously it was worth every penny, but I am still the last to get out of the changing room!!

 

So I asked online, who do you get dressed first after swimming? Yourself or your children? I thought this was where I was going wrong and what an overwhelming response I had!!!

 

Personally, I get Oliver stripped off, and wrap him in a towel, then strip myself and put on my poncho towel whilst I get Oliver dressed and warm. Then when he has a drink and snack, I get dried, but I’m still the last out so why??  I even use talcum powder to aid the drying process. 


 

I decided to ask how other people did the dreaded task. So I ran a poll on Twitter, the results showed clearly that people get their children dressed first, however when I dug deeper people explained that actually got their children stripped off and wrapped in a towel with a drink and a snack and then get themselves dressed before going back to their children!!! It’s a minefield!!

 

The vote response was: 11 votes in total to the question

After swimming who do you get dressed first?

9% Yourself

91% Your child/children

 

@toys_preschool responded:

I’m quite shocked some people have voted themselves! I would have thought every parent would get children dry, dressed and warm before getting dressed themselves.

 

Motherhoodirl.wordpress.com tweeted:

Definitely my kids. I remember how cold I used to feel after swimming when I was kid and I can’t imagine leaving my children standing around shivering in their towels while I got myself dry and warm!

 

Jo on the Mummy Monsters Facebook page said I personally get their swimmers off and put them in a hooded towel/dressing gown and give them a snack while I change then do them. I usually have 2 to sort. Until recently this was our weekly routine at swim lessons when I was in the pool with the youngest.

 

Hollie also on Facebook mentioned I get daughter dry then put her top half on. Give a snack while I get myself half dressed. Then finish getting her dressed, then finish getting myself dressed lol. It’s not something I enjoy doing. Which is why we only manage swimming around once every couple of months x

 

Jo C said Me first, if I dressed him he’d expect to go. So towel on drink, me get dressed as fast as lightening.

 

It seems Jo has to turn into Super Mum with lightening speeds to get herself ready as otherwise her children would be out the door before she is dressed!! Eeeeekkkkkk!!!

 

Kate said: Children, then I give them food while I get dressed. Cold, hungry, wet children aren’t fun.

 

I have to agree wet and cold children are not happy bunnies. Oliver is ok, but Sam can be a proper Grump!! (He takes after his Dad!!) lol

 

Other thoughts on Facebook included:

 

Briony: I would usually be on my own with both. I would wrap Millie the eldest in a towel. Dry William and get him dressed. Then dry Millie and get her dressed. Sit them both down with a drink and snack then sort myself out. When they were small i would either strap them in the buggy or put them in a play pen which some pools have.

 

Lynsey: I get the kids sorted first...and use turban towels for the girls hair. I always wear a dress when we head to the pool so I can just throw it on https://static.xx.fbcdn.net/images/emoji.php/v9/f4f/1/16/1f601.png

 

Hollie: If I remember I take my towelling dressing gown.so I drop dry whilst I sort the boys. If no dressing gown then I sort them same as Jo trunks off then towels. Get them dry have been known to stand freezing in cubicle getting them warm til I can get dressed. Dawlish pool so cold the turning blue when come out. Hence take the towelling d. Gown

 

Simon: Pretty much do it together, encouraging him to do as much of it as he can himself

 

Sarah: I wrap my daughter in a towel to keep her warm and give her a snack (she's always starving!). I get myself dressed then she's usually dry-ish and ready to get dressed x

 

Sinead: Me. First thing I was told (and works for us) is strip the little ones and wrap them in a towel while you get changed. By the time you are done they are pretty much dry! So much easier https://static.xx.fbcdn.net/images/emoji.php/v9/f7f/1/16/1f60a.png.

 

Katie: Child first so doesn't get chilly and pop her hooded towel on her hair then she eats a snack whilst I get dressed

 

Laura: Used to get baby ready first but soon realised it's quicker and easier to get me ready first while she is in a towel.

 

And last but not least:

Heather: Youngest kids first. Then 1 adult helps the older ones whilst the other sorts themselves out

 

So I agree with most of these statements and follow them so why am I still last out of the changing room?? Perhaps I will never know why and just should accept that I am warm and dry and so are my babies J
 
#themummymonster #stillalwayslast #gettingdressedsucks



Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Coconut Oil

Ali and I were sat eating our home cooked but fairly unhealthy dinner the other night whilst watching the body coach Joe Wicks jumping about the screen, as you do, and he started to demonstrate a healthy dish to cook on his getting fit program.

 

The meal he cooked was a stir-fry and at the beginning he added a large dollop of coconut oil. Ali and I chatted it over and we decided that if we are going to do something about our lifestyle we have to start making small changes and the first start on our ladder would be giving coconut oil a go.

 


I also chatted it over with a friend as I knew she used it in her cooking and she sold it to me when she said it still makes great roast potatoes!! She knows how to win me over!! Lol

 

So off I trundled to the supermarket looking for coconut oil. I headed for the oil section and I am not sure why but I think I expected it to look like olive oil and I am still trying to find it until the lady next to me, bent down and picked up a jar with a white substance in it. Once she left, I didn’t want to look like a wally obviously!! I also picked up a jar and sure enough the white substance was coconut oil.

 

What I didn’t realise was that there are different types of coconut oil. Ones where you can taste the coconut and ones where you cant. I will take a longer look next time.

 

So I decided to give it a go! I thought I would start small. I love roasted asparagus. One the jar I bought it doesn’t give you any guidance on how much to use so I put a teaspoonful into the tray with the asparagus. I soon learnt that with the oil a little goes a long way! Unfortunately it was spitting all over my oven L

 

The next test was bacon!! I was a little suspicious about whether this would actually work, but my goodness it did!! My bacon was lovely and crispy and no taste of coconut at all. Ali had no idea that I had done anything different J win win!!

 

So I think the coconut oil is definitely here to stay and we have started our journey.

 

Now I asked my blogger colleagues about what they used coconut oil, thinking they would come back with lots of cooking ideas but oh no, it seems this coconut is magical oil as it can be used as a stain remover, nipple cream, make up remover or simply popped into a bowl of warm porridge. I was absolutely shocked about many uses that the bloggers said they used it for.

 

Jennifer says I use it as part of my skincare routine. I have sensitive skin, but I find it's great as a cleanser and makeup remover. www.mightymamabear.com

 

Now I don’t use moisturiser but would consider using the coconut oil if I already had it in the house.

 

Again Helen says I find it brilliant for using when travelling. Instead of taking separate make up removers, body lotion, lip balms I just take a tiny pot of coconut oil & it really cuts down on space taken http://casacostello.com

 


I am always looking for lip balm and now I have it in my kitchen cupboard. Fab stuff.

 

I wish I knew the following tip from Rhiannon, who actually had it suggested to her from her Health Visitor. It worked really well on my son’s cradle cap. He keeps scratching at it and it calmed right down. www.toyinfinity.co.uk

Oliver’s cradle cap, was awful as a baby but now his hair is thicker it seems to cover it but it is still there. I think I may have to give this one a try.

 

Beth suggests that It works well as a deep conditioner for your hair. I’ve slept with it in and washed it out in the morning and my hair felt so soft. It’s also supposed to help speed up hair growth too
Twinderelmo.co.uk

 

Again, Why didn’t I know about this oil sooner?? Karen mentioned that We used it from birth after each nappy change. Keeps baby so soft and rash free. Great to use as barrier on those meconium poops too www.ouririshfamily.com

 

Both my boys had sore bums as newborns, where was this miracle cream then?

 

Laura suggests it soothes minor ailments too. I use fractionated coconut oil as a carrier to apply essential oils to aid so many symptoms and situations in my house !
www.mindmadnessmilesandmummetime.wordpress.com

 

Where does this magical oils benefits end??

 

Claire has nothing but praise for the oil. Omg my list is endless!! We LOVE coconut oil in our home (unscented)

Remove any left over stickiness from stickers

Apply to diaper rash or itchy skin

Apply to chapped nipples while nursing

Rub a little inside nose to reduce allergy symptoms

Use a quick eye makeup remover

Multiple uses for healthier cooking or baking, especially kids snacks

Mix with baking soda for a natural stain remover on upholstery and carpet

Use a general hand/foot mosituriser, especially cracked heels (I do this nightly before bed) Www.ourmummylife.com

 

Louise bakes with her coconut oil. I replace the butter with coconut oil when I make banana cake and it makes the most delicious, moist cake! https://pinkpearbear.

 


Rachel suggests It's excellent for healing tattoos as it's all natural and moisturising. Illustratedteacup.com I bet Ali wishes he knew this. His last tattoo didn’t heal well and it is possible that this could have helped him!

 

I am seriously amazed by this oil and I am wondering if there is anything it can’t do? If you would like more information on coconut oil then I found a useful article on the Good Food website https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-coconut-oil

 

I am now off to spread myself in coconut oil from head to foot and then I am going to rub myself on a stain on the sofa to see if it will come off.

 

Have a fun evening x

Dartington Hall - April 2018

  This morning I wanted to just go for a wander, nothing strenuous just a gentle stroll and I was thinking of heading to one of our loca...