Mother’s day with Moonpig #LoveStartsWithMum

My Mum just isn’t my Mum, she is my friend too. I took the love my Mum gave me for granted when I was younger and it wasn’t until I was in my early twenties that I realised my mum was also my friend. 

I have always been close with my Mum but we became a lot closer when I came back from University. She has always been there for me when I needed her – she taught me how to be strong and showed me what unconditional love is.

My Mum was by my side when I gave birth to my first born and she held my hand when I received my Cancer diagnosis. One with tears of joy and one with tears of pain.

I am the  Mother who I am today because of the guidance I have received from my Mum, I wish i could show her just how much I appreciate everything that she has done for me.

Last weekend I was invited along to a Mother’s day even run by Moonpig, where they were to showcase their #LoveStartsWithMum campaign. My invite was extended to bring along my Mum or Mother figure. Mum doesn’t live near to me so we don’t really get to spend any special time alone, whenever we do see each other it is either on school holidays or when she is visiting the whole family. So I was really looking forward to spending some quality time with her and Moonpigs promise of afternoon tea along with some creative crafts and pampering looked like the ideal time for that.

I have previously used Moonpig on quite a few occasions, but I know that my Mum uses them often as she doesn’t live close to her family and she likes to personalise cards to send to us. So I was looking forward to visiting Moonpigs headquarters and getting a sneak peak as to what they are all about and what else they have on offer.

Mum and I arrived to a lovely warm welcome, not only from the Moonpig team but also the friendly security guard who was there on the door to greet us. we made our way down stairs to where the other invitees were mingling with each other and was treated to a gin cocktail.

We took a seat on one of the many comfy couches and sat down to enjoy our refreshing drink. They also had mocktails for us ladies who don’t drink. Once we had our seat it was time to look around the room and take it all in. There were flowers all over the place, who knew Moonpig had such a variety to choose from?

Once seated and glass in hand we were then introduced to the members of their team where we was told a little bit more about Moonpig and who they are. We also got a little sneak peek into their new Mother’s day advert.

Who are Moonpig?

  • Uk’s No1 online cards, flowers and gifts retailer
  • 1 in 3 people in the UK have used Moonpig
  • Serving over 100 million brilliant moments since they launched in 2000
  • They create 16 million cards a year
  • They receive 300 orders a minute
  • They have a range of over 10000 cards with infinite ways to customise them, uplifting gifts and award winning flowers
  • Everything is designed by their in house team of designers
  • Cards are created from paper in the Lake District and Italian Lakes

Moonpig believe that we are all, as humans, born to care for one another, hungry for love and that we long for meaningful connection. But, in our fast paced life our caring nature has got lost. They want to reignite our passion for caring and sharing by unleashing our caring instinct. Moonpigs cards are embodied with care. They serve their purpose with their unique selling point of personal giving a card that, not only, tells a story but is also uplifting.

Their range and quality is important to them.

So what is Love Starts With Mum

  • The poet Robert Browning once wrote “Motherhood: All love begins and ends there”
  • When you think of your first experience of love the first person that pops into your head is your Mum or Mother figure
  • So if love starts with Mum, Mother’s Day starts with Moonpig
  • Creating cards with Moonpig means you can pick the perfect card, from their extensive range, that represents your relationship and express your gratitude by filling that card with the most beautiful written story building note inside and then adding a gorgeous bouquet of flowers with her favourite stems and you can even add on a gift that you know she will love.
  • With Moonpig, it isn’t the end of a story. It’s just the beginning of a new chapter.
  • #Tellher – Tell your Mum that you Love everyday

When the speech was over we was then split into three groups and sent off to either make our own personalised card for our Mum, flower arranging and a cocktail making class.

The first activity we did was to make our own card. First off we had to get creative in the photo booth so that we could have a photo to upload to the Moonpig website when creating our Mother’s Day Cards

Taken by the Elouisa the photographer on the day. Inside the photo booth

Once we had our fun in the booth we made our way over to the laptops that were already set up for us on the Moonpig Website and we chose our card to personalise. This was hard as there were so many to choose from, I could have sat there all day just browsing through the vast selection that they have on offer.

In the end, as our photo was funny, I went for a comedy card. Something that I wouldn’t normally do, but I thought it was quite apt for the card.

I found the whole process of creating a card, from the start to payment, to be easy. Even though the card was for my Mum for Mother’s Day and she chose the design with me she does not know what it says inside. I chose for the card to be delivered on Saturday 30th which is the day before Mother’s Day. Although, we could have gone for next day delivery as you can order a card up to 9pm the day before.

Once all of the groups had finished, we were invited to take a seat at one of the many beautifully laid out tables for a spot of afternoon tea.

There were sandwiches, cream scones, cakes, tea and coffee all for us to dig in to and a chance for us all to have a little natter about how our day was going

All refreshed and we was ready for our next activity of the day, Flower arranging. Led by the inhouse flower expert, Roxanne, we were taught how to take our bouquet of flowers from the box that they arrive in, how to cut and are for them. We were given tips and advice on how to to make the flowers that we receive to last longer.

I love Lilies but Mum doesn’t as she doesn’t like that they leave a stain from the stamen. Roxanne told us that if you remove the stamen early on then pollen will not fall off and leave a stain.

I personally like the distinctive fragrance that you get from lilies, so i was very happy that my bouquet included them.

I also learnt that you should trim the stems every few days and replace the water when it gets cloudy as this will help your flowers to keep fresh for longer. If any of the flowers are wilting, then remove them from the bunch so that the rest of the flowers can keep in bloom. Also, some flowers have petals that look imperfect, you can just remove these and it will not harm the flower.

Moonpig offer a 5 day freshness guarantee. If you follow the care tips then your flowers should stay fresh for at least 5 days or you get your money back! Well, I can honestly say that the flowers that i received on the day have stayed fresh for up to 9 days! As i write this, it is the 11th day, I still have the bouquet in my dining room with just the lilies and roses that have wilted.

It’s never been easier to order flowers for Mother’s Day with Moonpig. They have a brilliant range of flowers and plants online to send to your Mum for next day delivery in the UK

Once we reboxed the flowers back up and labelled them up with our names we had a little look around at what else Moonpig had to offer for Mother’s Day gifts.

From afternoon tea gift experiences to soft toys and hampers. You can even personalise bottles of prosecco and canvas bags.

The last activity of the day was a cocktail making class, but unfortunately we didn’t get to take part as we had to leave early in order for us to get home. From what I saw though it looked like lots of fun. We saw the other ladies mixing their own drinks up led by a cocktail expert.

Both myself and Mum had a lovely afternoon, where not only did we get to spend some quality time together doing a variety of fun things but we also spent time socialising with other ladies and we met some lovely ladies.

The Moonpig and PR team are lovely hosts and the event was well organised, it really was a welcoming event (and probably one of the best that I’ve attended). Not only was we gifted the bouquet of flowers that we had unboxed but also was given a gorgeous goody bag full of Moonpig gifts.

Unicorn Bath Crumble, a mug and a cocktail book

I would like to thank Moonpig for a splendid afternoon and to my Mum, Happy Mother’s Day

Mum and I

I was invited along to the event for the purpose of this post. No payment has been received.

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Give Mum Something Special With This Paper Flower Mother’s Day Card

When I was a child every Mother’s day I would always make a card for my Mum, I knew that she cherished these cards a little bit more as she knew that time had been spent on them. In fact my Mum still has them stored away in a tin in a cupboard and we sometimes look at them together, I even showed my children them once and they loved looking at them.

This is something that I have encouraged my children to do too. I love that schools make cards with the children when it comes to a special occasion but I also like that they use their own initiative at home to do them too.

I have always made sure that the boys have the crafts so that they can create whatever they want without having to ask me for help. They have a drawer unit that is full of equipment that they call their Mr Maker Unit.

I know that it takes time to make cards at home and some people do struggle with doing crafts so I do actually like to use Moonpig to make them too, this is an online store that you can customise with your own words and give them a personal touch with added photos and names. These cards are also for keeps. My mum made me my 40th birthday card with them and I still have it up on my side, it shows pictures of me throughout the years.

Anyway, back to the Paper Flower card

The flowers do take some time and can get quite fiddly so if making with children i suggest making the flowers bigger.

You will need:

  • Coloured card
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • And time.

Method:

  • Cut your chosen coloured card into 8cm squares (go bigger if you want bigger flowers)
  • Fold in half from corner to corner to create a triangle, aligning up the edges 
  • Fold in half again to create another triangle, aligning up the edges
  • Open back up and fold the corner up along the centre fold line. Do this for both sides
  • Open back up and fold  the corner up to the fold that you just created. Do this for both sides
  • Open back up and you want to push up along the bottom edge of the triangle so that you create a diamond shape by folding it on the second fold

  • Then fold over the over hang from the diamond so that you have a clean straight edge. Do this on both sides
  • Fold up the bottom along the first crease on both sides
  • Then fold in half and glue down the sides
  • So now you should have created your petal. Once the glue has dried, press around the edge to open it up

I have created a video below of how to make a petal. In case my instructions are not easy to follow

Once you have at  least 8 petals you need to glue them all together to form the flower

I made 8 petals as mine were quite small but if you are making bigger petals then you may not need as many.

I made three flowers from different colours and then placed them on the front of a card. Once placed into position I then glued them down with a glue gun. I made the vase from a piece of paper but you can also draw this onto the front of the card.

I stuck it down creating a 3D effect.

You now have a 3D flower card ready to give to Mum on Mother’s Day

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Little Notes of Happiness

This week we’ve been leaving little notes of happiness wherever we go.

Little notes of happiness are kind words written on a piece of paper of post it note and left (anywhere you want to) wherever you go.

We left ours at the cinema, on the bus, at the bus stop, in a shop, on an escalator and on bill board.

The aim is to make some random person smile. We’re all going through or have done in the past some bad times and it’s so nice to receive some words of kindness to make you happy, to make you smile.

It doesn’t matter what you write as long as it’s nice.

I just imagine someone reading our notes who has had a tough day, whether it be at work or at home and just to smile for that brief moment and for them to realise that they are not alone and that people around them do care.

If our notes made just one person smile then I have achieved something.

My son loved doing leaving the notes, he was like a little mischievous imp who was up to no good, running around sticking the notes in places when no one was looking. Giggling as people looked around as he thought he had been caught. The boys wrote lots of kind words and now carry around post it notes and a pen so they can do it again when we are next out.

We will carry on spreading our joy and happiness by leaving notes around wherever we go. Why not join us and leave them where you live?

 

 

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Dark Chocolate and Ginger Butter Biscuits Recipe

The youngest earned himself a treat last week as he tried hard at school so he chose to make biscuits. he had made them the week earlier and I had commented on how perfectly round they looked and that I think he cheated and nipped to the shops to buy some before he finished school. He was so proud of them and he wanted to make them at home with me.

We decided to tweak the recipe a little by adding in chocolate, ginger and egg and removing most of the sugar. So, basically we made our own recipe but we were still following his idea of actually making some biscuits.

Ginger Chocolate Butter Biscuits

Butter biscuits with a twist

Ingredients

  • 250 grams Butter
  • 3 1/2 Cups Flour
  • 1 tbsp Baking powder
  • 40 grams Caster Sugar
  • 2 Eggs Or 1 large egg
  • 100 grams Dark chocolate chips
  • 40 grams Fresh ginger diced and chopped
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla essence

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven at 175c 

  2. Combine the butter with the caster sugar together until fluffy.

  3. Add in the vanilla essence and egg/s. Mix together.

  4. Next, mix in the baking powder and the flour. Add the flour a little at a time until it starts to form a dough like texture. You don't want it too dry so keep testing it. The mixture should be able to form a ball in your hands without it leaving a sticky residue 

  5. Add in the ginger and chocolate chips and fold them in.

  6. Roll a walnut size piece of the dough in your hands.

  7. Gently press together in the palm of your hands. 

    Line a baking tray with some grease proof paper.

    Place the dough onto the paper and gently press down with the back of a fork.

  8. Leave in the oven for 10-12 minutes, keeping an eye on them. Remove when slightly golden

These biscuits have just the right of crumbliness but melt in your mouth leaving a warm smooth taste from the chocolate and ginger.

Perfect for a treat with a cuppa

Alternatively, If you don’t fancy making them with ginger or chocolate just skip them out. They taste just as good. We made a batch of butter biscuits and then added in the ginger and chocolate to the mixture so we had two lots of different biscuits.

This recipe made up about 25 biscuits.

 

 

 

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No Bake Raw Banoffee Bites

After making my last batch of raw millionaire bites it made me think how nice they would taste with some banana. So I adapted the recipe and sure enough another perfect treat that consists of four different layers that melt into each other. Not only are these little beauties rich and smooth in taste but they are healthy too. Packed with nutrients, vitamins and minerals that help provide energy, anti inflammatory, reduces the risk of anaemia and boosts the immune system – to name but a few.

Bananas do contain sugars but these are natural occurring sugars A medium banana contains around 14 grams of sugar but they are also filled with nutrients that your body needs for good health, including fibre, potassium and B vitamins.

These bites are perfectly balanced out with a smooth melt in your mouth cashew base, topped with the sweet banana and the gooey date and cacao that adds in a depth of richness.

No Bake Raw Banoffee Bites

No baking required, these bites are super easy to make and can be stored in the freezer for up to a month.

Ingredients

  • 300 grams Medjool dates
  • 3 tbsp Organic peanut butter
  • 2 Bananas
  • 300 grams Raw Cashews
  • 4 heaped tbsp Raw Cacao Powder
  • Coconut Oil
  • Agave or honey

Instructions

Base

  1. Ground the cashew together with 2 tbsp of coconut oil, until its crumbly

  2. Place into the bottom of a 9x9 tin/silicone.

    Press down firmly and put into the freezer to set

Centre

  1. Mash together the bananas and place on top of the frozen cashew base. 

    Place back in the freezer to set

  2. Blend together the dates and peanut butter with 2-3 tbsp of coconut oil until it is a smooth caramel like texture. Add in a couple of tbsp of honey or agave nectar and mix well.

  3. Take the base out of the freezer and add on the date mixture. Press down with the back of a spoon and smooth over.

    Place back into the freezer to set (about half an hour)

Topping

  1. In a saucepan on the hob place the cacao powder, 5 heaped tbsp of coconut oil and 2 tbsp agave or honey

  2. Melt together until runny. Mix well
  3. Take the base back out of the freezer and top with the cacao mixture
  4. Place back into the freezer to set

  5. Once all set and the chocolate has hardened, take out of the freezer and leave for about 10 minutes then cut into bite size pieces. 

  6. Store them in the freezer for when you fancy a treat

Give them a go and let us know how you get on

 

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A Week of Sporting Achievements for the Boy

I bring to you a very proud parent post..

The week started off pretty dire for my son. He had spent the weekend not feeling very well and ended up in bed, missing school on Monday due to throwing up the night before.

He was due to race in the Year 7 Essex Cross Country Championships on the Wednesday; something he been looking forward to doing for a long time. He had spent the last couple of months training hard for it and really wanted to enter. Racing and running has been something that he has got into through his Dad and older brother – both compete at competitive levels.

By Tuesday he was back in school and back at training. The training session was really just to test if his fitness was ok to compete in the race, he seemed to be ok and didn’t complain of feeling ill.

Wednesday came and his Dad picked him up from school at midday to take him off to the cross-country race. He was the only boy who had been entered into the race from his school so it was up to us, his parents, to get him to the event.

He was excited but nervous. He really wanted to do well in this race. Back in November he raced for his school in the borough championships and didn’t do as well as he as expected. In my eyes he done brilliantly, but to him he knew he could have raced a quicker time.

When you look forward to something for so long, the nerves take over, especially when you want to do well.

He lined up on the start line, the only child from his school, ready to move at the sound of the start gun.

Doesn’t he look small at that start line?

Growing up watching and supporting his elder brother competing in races for the borough and County just made him very determined to want to do the same. He had looked forward to following his footsteps and couldn’t wait until he was in Senior school so that he was able to do so.

He ran a superb race, crossing the finish line in 6th place  and securing a place to represent the County in the Inter-Counties Cross Country next month.

Safe to say I had a very happy boy. His persistence paid off and he never gave up. He had his sights on something and grabbed at it with all that he had to give.

On Friday he came home from school sporting a new badge on his blazer. He had called me on his way back and I was a little worried as i had missed his call and he wasn’t answering my returned calls. He came straight over to me saying

“Do you notice anything different?”

Of course I did. I noticed it straight away.

A new badge on his lapel. An Achievement Award Badge rewarded from Jack Petchey Foundation.

There was more. He reached into his bag and pulled out a framed certificate and a letter

He had been awarded Outstanding Achiever after being nominated by another child in his year group at school.

I cried.

Sending your child to a school where they had no friends from their junior school and always wondering if they have made friends or if they have fitted in, is a big worry. So, to read how he was nominated by another child for his running achievements in school but also because he is always engaged and focused in all school activities and school work. His peer also said that he is always willing to help others. This makes me well with such pride.

Just look at his little face in the picture above and see how proud of himself he is!

He has also been rewarded £250 to spend in his school, he needs to choose a department to spend it in. Which, he already knows. Without a doubt it is going to be the P.E department as he wants the school to supply children in athletics a vest to wear instead of wearing their PE shirt.

And if that wasn’t enough of his achievements for the week he topped it all off today by competing for a place in the boroughs team to compete in the London Giving Mini Marathon and securing a place.

My only wish for my boys is to have the very best life, to play hard but equally work as hard to achieve the imaginable. My boys are the greatest thing that ever happened to me, there is nothing more than seeing them smile and hear them laugh. I am super proud of all of them and the young men that they are becoming.

I am one very proud parent

 

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Pop Up Lego Cafe In London

The boys cross country race and football was cancelled today so whilst I was strolling through my twitter feed I came across a status retweeted by Warner Bros UK about a pop up coffee shop opening just for a couple of days in London. The Coffee Chain, inspired by the cafe that is featured in the Lego Movie, was opened up yesterday by the stars of the film Chris Pratt (Emmet) and Tiffany Haddish (Queen Waterva Wanabi) on the Southbank alongside the Thames.

The pop up cafe was brought to life with around 48000 bricks including a LEGO coffee machine, donuts and the morning paper.

 

We popped onto the train and went along to grab a coffee and hot chocolate. My son is absolutely mad about LEGO and couldn’t wait to get there. He was so excited when he saw that not only was there a LEGO cafe but also there to greet the public was Emmet and Sweet Mayhem.

It certainly made our trip worthwhile.

The public were encouraged to donate a small sum of money towards UNICEF.

As we entered into the cafe there were lots around us to keep us entertained

 

Joseph took along his very Joseph took along his very own LEGO character that he created of himself as a runner and they allowed us to take a photo of it on top of a donut

We are now looking forward to watching the movie when it comes out next week

Are you?

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Flashback to the Operating Theatre

It’s been over 2 years now since I had my operations, one to remove the tumour and one to correct a complication that happened after the first one.

Life has been great since coming out of hospital and I would like to think that I have adapted well to having a stoma now. I still have my moments and it has affected my confidence immensely, but since receiving the news that I had Cancer it made me realise that life is too short to hide away in the corner and beat yourself up about things that you can not control. I now try hard to fight my emotions with the ‘you can do it’ attitude.

I often visit the hospital for Oncology and stoma appointments, I have at least 6 appointments per year. Last week I had an appointment that had nothing to do with my Cancer and whilst I was there I bumped into my surgeon. I hadn’t seen him around the hospital since I was discharged back in December 2016.

I was waiting around for my medication from the pharmacy so i thought i would grab a quick drink from Costa, whilst in the queue I looked over to my left and I had to double take. There he was standing next me, smiling away, it was his smile that I noticed straight away. I remember his smile being very kind and gentle. And as I stood there, I really wanted to say hello, but was worried he wouldn’t remember me. I looked over at him again and this time I didn’t see his smile but instead I saw him in his scrubs. I had to blink and look away to take the image away from my mind.

The flashbacks came.

Being wheeled down from my hospital bed to the theatre in the early hours of the morning.

Laying on a bed in the operating theatre.

Looking around me and feeling cold.

The bed was cold.

My toes were frozen

People walking around, hurry about with tools, talking medical terms to each other

White walls

Beep Beep Beep…

Opening my eyes to seeing faces all around me

I remember struggling to breathe

Feeling pressure and tugging in my abdomen

Worried eyes

Beep

It was cold, so cold. It even smelt cold

Bright lights in my eyes

I felt uncomfortable. So much pressure

Urgency in peoples voices

Raised voices. Lots of words that just seemed to blur into each other

Slowly drifting off

And then waking up in a different room

Pain. In so much pain

Crying and screaming about the pain

Another surgeon giving me injections

Feeling so tired

Waking in my hospital bed back on the ward.

For days after I didn’t feel right. I was in lots of pain, but it wasn’t the pain that was worrying me. It was that uncomfortable feeling of being pulled from my inside, of feeling pressure and movement in my abdomen. I didn’t sleep well days, every time I fell asleep I had nightmares of waking during my operation. It took a good few weeks for the feeling of what may have happened to subside.

I have no idea if I awoke during my operation, maybe I dreamt it all, maybe I just imagined that it all happened.

But, seeing my Surgeon brought all those feelings back. As fresh as it was back then. This was a few days ago and I am now waking up during the night sweating. Whatever happened in that operating theatre It has certainly left me with more than a physical scar to look at!

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