17 Dec

The Big Christmas Food Shop

If, like me, you’ve got that slightly rising panicked feeling about Christmas Dinner and what the last shop before Christmas Day will cost, stop now and have a little read of Day 17 of my Christmas With Caitríona series.

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12 Dec

Simple Handscrub & Lotion Bars

Simple-Homemade-Cosmetics-2.jpgSimple Handscrub

This is the kind of gift that a small child can make, and actually they’d probably love the feeling of squishing the oil and other ingredients together. We used organic ingredients because we’d rather use them where we have the option. Read More

01 Dec

December 2018

With the Toy Show being on last night Christmas season has officially kicked off in Ireland; in fact I have a Christmas party to go to tonight. The kids are obsessed with Christmas and their pure joy and delight in decorations in the shops and music playing on the radio is brilliant. As usual for the start of December though I don’t have the decorations up and I’ve no Christmas Tree in the sitting room quite yet.

I know I’m not the only one. I suppose it’s a hangover from the days of being so stressed out about money that we tried not to put the decorations up early or the presents under the tree until we had them bought. It felt like we were making promises to the kids (and to ourselves) that we just couldn’t keep.

The memories of tossing in turning in bed at night wondering how to borrow from Peter and pay Paul will never go away. I hope that they never do because I understand now that they have (a) brought me to where I am today and (b) know exactly what it’s like for those who are struggling at the moment.

Over the next month I’ll have something new each day for you to read or watch. I’ll share my tips on how to prepare for Christmas on a budget; how to not to be a Mammy-martyr in the lead up to the big day, how to ask for help gracefully, and some budget present ideas for all ages.

For today, the first day of December, I’d like to ask you to add 1 small extra item to your grocery shopping this week to donate to your local food appeal. It needn’t be something expensive, even if it’s an extra tin of beans or a bag of rice. If you’d rather not add an extra item in, why not see if you have something in your cupboards already that you’d like to share. Here’s the list from the St Vincent de Paul for their food appeal (this is also suitable for the Lions Club food appeals). Click here for the St Vincent de Paul list.

I’ve got some bags of pasta and some tins of beans which will be brought to our local collection point this week.

Chat tomorrow. Cxxx

26 Jan

Monitoring Your Child’s Internet Access

I originally wrote this piece in 2013 and unfortunately I’m reviewing it today in the light of discussion about children’s internet access and online safety today. Read More

15 Oct

Preparing For A Power Cut

Storm Ophelia is on the way tomorrow, and some areas of Ireland are already in red alert, others are in orange alert. We know for sure now that there will be some disruption and this means that there’s a distinct possibility the electricity could be cut off. Ever since the power went one Christmas Day when I was growing up, I’ve compiled a contingency plan so that I always have particular supplies in the house, just in case.  This can apply in times of bad weather, snow or just when there are supply problems so it’s a good idea to prepare now – you never know when these tips will come in handy!

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12 Oct

How Does She Do It?

It’s a question I’m often asked.

I try to explain my weekly work schedule in the home and outside of the home and I see people’s eyes glaze over. In truth, the writing part of my life is not a hardship. I could sit at a computer and write my heart out. Some days I have to restrain myself from writing too much and ignoring all the other tasks put on pause while I write something that’s on my mind. Read More

05 Aug

Learning From A Two Week Digital Detox

Originally published in October 2015.

Sure it’s only two weeks I said to myself as I mailed my essential contacts to let them know that I wouldn’t be available for a fortnight. I set up a blogpost so that readers would know what I was up to. Then I deleted social media applications from my smart phone. Yes. I deleted them so that I wouldn’t be tempted to use them. I turned off every single notification I could, after I’d made sure to take a note of all-important passwords. Yep I was ready to become disconnected.

In August 2014 I did something similar, but this time it was for a whole fortnight. It wasn’t just me though, my husband had agreed to go on a digital detox with me. When I think about it we are constantly connected to the online world. When I’m in the kitchen working I have podcasts running in the background, when I’m out and about I have the phone with me in case somebody needs to contact me and it’s irresistible not to check the phone on a busy day, particularly when I spend so much of my day outdoors. In the evening we sit down for a while to watch TV and often end up dual-browsing/observing what’s on the telly without actually taking it in. Don’t think that this is unusual, in my experience it’s a fairly normal description of an average household.

I’ve had enough with this always-on lifestyle though. It bugs me when I don’t feel present, parenting mindfully and being in the moment means that I shouldn’t have a blinking phone or camera in my hand to document it or discuss it online. Watching TV is fun with Twitter open on the phone but it’s intrusive and resting at night was becoming more difficult as the phone was in my hand until I went to bed and again first thing in the morning. Read More

08 May

Leaving Cert Energy Balls

When 6th year started last September it seemed like June was a lifetime away. We’ve had many a battle of wills about the 17-year-old’s eating habits. She leaves early in the morning which means I get to see exactly what she’s taken (or not) for lunch before I head out to work. There’s been a couple quite a few early morning phone calls to make sure she has enough food to get her through the day in school. She isn’t a fan of breakfast, and truthfully would skip it only for her Dad makes sure she eats every morning before going to school.

I can’t make her study, harder or otherwise. I can’t sit beside her helping her with her spellings or reading anymore. I can’t lead her by the hand to school, although somedays I wish I could.

In the evening, when she gets home from school, I’m here with dinner and a cup of tea. There’s a hug and a chat; a debrief of the day in school, discussions about all girls’ schools being full of wagons (it’s a Dublin term), answering technical questions about pie charts and languages, etc. Left to her own devices she would happily drink a vat of sugary coffee or minerals, with a side of doughnuts. That’s pretty much her ultimate study food. I’m at a point where I pick my battles, I am not going to tell her what to eat or not. We’ve had the chat about managing sugar spikes and subsequent crashes. The easiest way to combat the rollercoaster that is parenting a Leaving Cert teenager is to make sure there is plenty of food available when she needs it, and that there’s a more convenient healthier option than convenience food.

That’s where energy balls come in. I’m not going to go on and on about the health benefits because I’m not a dietician. These include oats for slow release energy, peanut butter and seeds for fats and protein, dried fruit for fibre, and cocoa powder for flavour. I use honey as a sweetener here but you can use maple syrup or agave, or another sweetener of your choice. The key thing is to smush it all together in a bowl (technical term I know) and roll them into balls which will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Leaving Cert Energy Balls

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 150g Oats
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 handfuls seeds (I use sesame seeds but use pumpkin, flaxseeds, or sunflower seeds if you like)
  • 2 handfuls dried fruit (I use raisins)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter (smooth or crunchy whichever you prefer, why not try almond butter either?)
  • 50ml hot water
  • 2 tablespoons runny honey

Method

Put all the ingredients into a bowl. Stir well until the ingredients are combined. Take a ping-pong ball sized amount into your hands and roll until you have a compact ball. You can store these energy balls in the fridge for up to 5 days because there is no dairy in the mixture. For extra texture, roll the balls in dessicated coconut or even cover them in dark chocolate.

The verdict from the teenager? “They’d be lovely if you hadn’t ruined them with raisins.” Mind you, despite the fact that she detests raisins she still eats them. Just saying…

12 Dec

A Sort Of Minimal Christmas

Just to warn you this isn’t a big pontificating blog about how you shouldn’t buy stuff for Christmas for your kids, or how my family is better than yours. Of course I’m going to think my family is awesomely flawed (like every other family) but I’m biased. 😉

I am one of the biggest Christmas nuts there are out there. I plan for the next Christmas from St Stephen’s Day, I start saving from 1st January; basically I blooming love Christmas. I love the lights, the family time, the music, the telly, the children’s awe and wonder. It’s blinking brilliant (not just the lights).

There are a few things that we do over the month of November/December though to make for minimal Christmas stress, in particular for the kids, but it’s a side benefit that the parents do well out of it too. Read More

18 Aug

Let Me Tell You A Story

A long time ago in a kitchen far away, tucked into a corner of North County Dublin there lived a woman who didn’t know what she was going to do with her life. Nearly 8 years ago now, she waited for her first born son to arrive, and rubbed the curve of her belly, and wondered how things were going to be when she went back to work after having her first baby.

She worked in an office in the City Centre you see, as a PA for a property company, which was as far apart from food blogging as you could imagine. Read More

31 Dec

Coming Over A Bit Pollyanna

You’ll excuse this slight interruption to the regular “2014 in review” and “2015 predictions/resolutions” blog fayre. I’m coming over a bit Pollyanna.

“It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt” was ringing in my ears as I gracefully tumbled fell arse over tit off the bed when trick-acting with the boys a week or so ago. I ended up with my legs in the air and my back landed on a steel-toe-cap boot belonging to my hubby which was at the end of the bed. His foot wasn’t in said boot I hasten to add. I roared and the boys thought I was messing. Read More

02 Dec

All Hail My Cup Of Tea

The day didn’t start well. Today that is.

We had run out of milk. Well there was a small amount but the kids needed it for their breakfast and I had no cup of tea. I should have known at that stage that the day was on a downhill trend.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow account of how disastrous my day has been so far, I’m going to just stick it in bullet form so it doesn’t sound so bad.

  • Tea (or lack of)
  • Buggy off balance (tipped over on the way home from the shops as I overloaded it)
  • Rodents
  • Terrible Three Meltdown
  • Toilet Training Mishaps
  • Burnt Jam
  • No Dinner Yet
  • Dog Poo On My Shoe
  • Headlice Letter
  • Delivery Man Roulette

On the plus side I now have a cup of tea so the world is slowly turning to rights before I condition and comb my own hair as a precaution as I’ve only just got the boys to bed after doing theirs.

So my day hasn’t exactly been the most glorious experience but you know I’ve had worse. I think I should go off and do the lottery or something as my luck can only change tomorrow. In the meantime maybe this might make your day a bit better?

Fancy tickets for a family of four to the “All Hail King Julien” Premiere and a 1 Year Netflix subscription? Read More

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