My vegan, dairy & sugar free flapjacks | Simply Marcia


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My vegan, dairy & sugar free flapjacks

I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen! Our supply of delicious Deliciously Ella sweet potato brownies (for my sugar free February challenge) are no more, so I thought I’d have a go at making some sugar-free* flapjacks.

*Technically, these flapjacks aren’t completely sugar free as they contain 1) maple syrup and 2) squished banana and a few blueberries so I’m not sure how truly healthy-healthy they are? But, whilst sugar-free February is going well, I do need some kind of sweet hit once a day – so, ta dah! This is it:

VEGAN, DAIRY & (REFINED) SUGAR-FREE FLAPJACKS

INGREDIENTS

180g oats
3 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large mashed banana
1/4 punnet blueberries

METHOD

Thankfully, no special skills are required when it comes to the method – simply:

– mash the banana
– add the olive oil, maple syrup & vanilla extract & give it all a bit of a stir
– stir in the oats
– gently stir in the blueberries
– grease a small’ish cooking tin/tray with a little olive oil
– tumble the flapjack mix in to the tray and gently flatten
– chuck in the oven for 20-25 minutes at 180C

Allow to cool a bit before cutting in to little squares (I go as small as possible!) and enjoy with a cuppa!

Do you have a favourite, tried & tested sugar-free recipe? Please let me know – I’m in need of more inspiration! x


Going sugar free this February?

WHY AM I DOING SUGAR FREE FEBRUARY?

As I bathe in the smug glow of having successfully achieved Dry January, and having found I do actually have some kind of restraint and willpower, I’ve decided to throw myself in to Sugar Free February. I don’t think I have a massive sweet tooth (I do love cheese however!) or consume a huge amount of sugar but I’m guessing the truth is that I probably do. It’s hidden in some of the unlikeliest foods …

So, to help boost my health, discover new recipes and hopefully help me make some longer-term sugar-free changes, I’m going to give it a go!

WHAT ARE MY SUGAR FREE RULES?

– no added sugar
– no ready-made or processed foods
– homemade meals and snacks only
– fruit, dried fruit, maple syrup, honey and cacao powder are allowed*

*I want to be realistic and find natural and healthier alternatives to refined sugar on a long-term basis. Plus these ingredients have many health benefits in themselves.

MY GOALS FOR SUGAR FREE FEB

– to experiment with and create some new family-friendly sweet treats – both The Body Coach and Deliciously Ella have some yummy-sounding and easy-to-make sugar free recipes (they will be my lifeline I suspect)
– to make healthy choices and food swaps – so nibbling on nuts and seeds rather than biscuits and the like
– to create sugar free versions of sauces that normally have loads of hidden sugar – things like sweet chilli sauce, tomato ketchup – and baked beans!

CHALLENGES I CAN FORSEE

– two birthdays in our family this month (eek, that will mean the temptations of birthday cake and meals out!)
– having 3 children means there will be sweet treats in our house as usual (I’d love to be able to say the whole family will be going sugar-free but it’s a definite no ha! I will however, be secretly trying to reduce their sugar intake via homemade cookies and fruit crumbles – shhhhh)
– February half term means the kids will be around (needing food – constantly!) and, combined with planned days out will mean lots of food related potential temptations
– Pancake Day and Valentines day also fall within half term
– alcohol – I don’t want to undo all the good work and health benefits from having completed Dry January, however, I do want to enjoy the odd drink – so it’ll be clear spirits – gin! (the alcohol containing the least amount of sugar) with soda water for me this month (I had no idea tonic water has so much sugar in it!)

Wish me luck! During Sugar Free February I’m planning on sharing a couple of sugar-free recipes that I enjoy and have helped me achieve my sugar-free goal!

Are you taking part in Sugar Free February? Let me know if you have any tips!


My 2017 round up – some of what I’ve learnt!

As 2017 draws to a close, I find myself making final Christmassy plans, catching up with family and friends, and pondering a little on what this last year as brought me. So I thought a little round up to remind myself of some of the positive things that have made 2017, for me:

Moving to Cornwall

The biggest decision made this year. My partner and I have five children between us: he has two older boys, I have three younger ones who live with us. Uprooting my three and moving us all 2 1/2 hours drive from Bath to south-east Cornwall might have seemed a little crazy but you know, sometimes, when the opportunity strikes, you have to grab it and just do it. There was a lot of soul-searching, head-scratching, umm-ing and ahh-ing of course – the biggest worry I had was how this move would affect my children. But kids are resilient; there have been tough times of course, but, they’ve started new schools and made new friends. They still see and stay with their dad once a fortnight in Bath so those ties are still strong – and thanks to social media, they now have the best of both worlds with friends both here in Cornwall and back in Bath.

What I’ve learnt: The move has highlighted the fact that I’m a hoarder- I had too much ‘stuff’. Thankfully, the move meant scaling back and giving back to charities. I’ve also learnt that I really, really like to be away from the crazy rat-race. And that this part of Cornwall is not that far from Bath (hooray!). The novelty of doing up a new (but very old) house wears off once the Cornish sun shines and the beach calls – it’s a tough call – beach or DIY? That kids are hard work no matter where you live. And that I really, really, really love living in Cornwall – but equally, being so close to Dartmoor (my spiritual home I think).

Freelancing

I wasn’t sure how the big move would affect my freelance marketing. All my strong, client links and networks were back in Bath and Bristol. This is where most of my freelance work came from until our move. Thankfully, proving true that location is (mostly!) irrelevant when it comes to working as a freelancer I’ve a) managed to keep hold of projects and clients I was working on back in Bath and b) I’ve built up some lovely, new contacts here in Cornwall and have new clients and exciting projects taking me in to 2018.

What I’ve learnt: Communication is key. Whether that’s keeping conversations running with existing clients or networking and meeting new potential ones. And that you can’t rush or force these things – I’m all for natural chemistry! Oh, and sometimes heading to the beach to clear the cobwebs away and work stuff out! Keeping my LinkedIn profile updated and fresh has helped too.

Health

I’m very lucky; I’m not someone who thankfully suffers from illness very often. However, this move has made me recognise that as I get older, I want to become stronger and do what I can to live a happy and healthy life for as long as possible – it must be the sea air! This year I’ve upped my exercise game. Not quite a runner, I would class myself as someone on the cusp of super-fast walking/jogging – is that a thing? Point is, come rain or shine, uphill and down dell, I’ve been out there – my heart rate has been seriously pumping and working hard this year, and as a result I’m more toned and without a shadow of a doubt, so much fitter. I’m also a fan of kayaking – it’s perfect for all the family, it brings you so much closer to nature, it’s great for your core muscles and it’s easy! It’s also been a year of ‘in with the veg’ and ‘out with the meat’. I’m not quite ready to go full vegetarian (pescatarian is more likely!) but we’ve certainly had far more meat-free days than carnivorous ones. If you fancy joining me, Meat Free Mondays have some brilliant advice and recipes.

What I’ve learnt:
I’m really, really not a naturally sporty kind of person and didn’t think I could move as fast as I can – but with support and encouragement (and gentle nagging from other half when all I really want to do is slouch on the sofa with a bar of galaxy and a good box set, rather than head out in the torrential rain and fast walk up that bloody hill again) – I’ve made massive progress . I’ve also discovered a genuine love of lentils and legumes – my meat free substitutes.

Environment

Coming from a family of small holders and grow-your-own’ers, nature and the environment is a massive part of my life. Living in this part of the world, close to both the glorious beaches and breathtaking moors has brought us even closer to nature. Being able to spend so much time this summer literally touring the Cornish coastline, swimming, rock pooling and kayaking has been wonderful. And which is why, watching the recent Blue Planet 2 series has had a massive impact on me. We’re a family of re-users and recycle’ers but had no idea the scale of the plastics pollution of our oceans. It’s such a huge and dreadful problem but there are loads of brilliant initiatives we can all be a part of such as Surfers Against Sewage and One Less Bottle. Also this year we acquired a new allotment which a) I love, b) don’t quite know where to start with, but c) am determined to fill with edible plants for us, a wildlife haven for insects and small creatures and a penned off space for our lovely rescue hens!

What I’ve learnt
Ok, this is blindingly obvious I know, but we really do only have one planet. One environment. If a species becomes extinct, that’s it – game over for that species. It’s surely our duty to look after all creatures and all environments on this amazing planet. More than anything, it’s left me feeling passionate about doing my bit. That means buying locally, massively reducing our plastic consumption in this family, joining petitions and lobby’s, joining in with local beach cleans. That also means looking after and nurturing our small patch of land to help preserve it and the insects and creatures that visit it for future generations.

Food (and more importantly, gin!)

I’ve always loved ‘growing my own’ and having grown up in the era of ‘The Good Life’ and with parents who ran a small holding, it can come as no surprise to learn that food is a genuine source of joy for me. From keeping bees and hens to growing window sill herbs or hours spent on my allotment, I’m still a massive fan of the GYO movement. Life though, has been pretty hectic since our move to Cornwall – so we’ve kid of cheated and our GYO produce has come in the guise of Tamar Valley Grow Local whose philosophy is ‘Grow, Share, Cook’- if you can’t grow your own then buy and support local businesses who do! We like think we’re also doing our bit for local gin distilleries here in Cornwall too! It’s my tipple of choice and thankfully we’re lucky that there are some brilliant independent distilleries here which we’re gradually working our way around …

What I’ve learnt
Beside the fact that gin is my thing (nothing new!), supporting local farmers, small holders and independent producers via local schemes such as Tamar Grow Local is the next best thing to growing your own. It’s also great for the local economy and the environment. My intention next year is to combine a bit of home growing with local produce purchasing … first things first though – I need to get my house (allotment!) in order …


Christmas is coming. And I’m trying not to … PANIC! My tips for a thrifty-ish Christmas!

I love the sparkly season. Christmas is the best. I love it. And so does my 10 year old daughter who’s inherited this love for the festive season and has already decorated her bedroom in a more-is-more fashion. Her stocking is already up, ready-and-waiting. Basically her bedroom has been transformed in to Santa’s Grotto (ho, ho, ho!).

Whilst my natural tendency is to nosedive head first in to all things Christmassy, glittery and mulled-winey, a spot of overspending in October and hence a slight budget issue means I’m having to resist going completely wild in the aisles this Christmas. Bah! humbug! But instead of panicking (and hitting the credit card) I’ve got creative and come up with some (untested and not-yet-tried) ideas for a thrify’ish Christmas:

Christmas Cards – this year, I’m thinking virtual Christmas Cards (Blue Mountain have some cute, free ones) and hand crafted ones (more specifically, hand made by the kids) for grandparents/family. It’s also time to dig out last year’s Christmas cards to transform them in to this year’s gift tags (et voila!).

Budget – not one of my strong points (see above) but a necessary task … Money Saving expert is a great site for tips and common sense advice to help avoid a potential financial nightmare-before-Christmas – this is where my Christmas budgeting plans will start their existence. And having spent some time trawling through the never-ending Christmas wishlists my kids have written, I think a good compromise is possible though when it comes to everyone else, some corners have to be cut this year… So one thing we’ve agreed as an extended family this year, is to run a secret santa! So this year, each family is ony buying for one adult and one child from another family et cetera, et cetera, et cetera (there are literally loads of us). Brilliant! Money and time saving.

Christmas Food – I love getting in the kitchen creating Christmassy goodies (usually just for us) but this year, I’m going a step further thanks to my well-thumbed Nigella’s Christmas book and have already made a start on some fab chutneys and freezer-friendly foody gifts. And when it comes to Christmas food-food, this year it’s an Aldi and Lidl Christmas for us – I think Kevin the Carrot would approve.

Christmas stockings – so in the past the kids’ Christmas stockings have been full of loads of little bits and pieces which, whilst cute, the kids have kind of overlooked and abandoned (especially my boys who are now teens) – time to rethink. I’ve decided to only buy stuff that’s actually useful (or edible!) in their stockings – so it’s in with shin pads and deodorants and out with novelty mini-football games and the like. Considered purchases are the way forward this year. Careful, online browsing and research using comparison websites is my plan. Which brings me on to …

Lists – I’m a bit of a list freak so this bit feels pretty natural. For me, if I’ve written something down in list format it won’t get forgotten. For Christmas, I have lists for food, recipes to try (and ingredients to buy), presents and events to take the kids to (think Santa’s Grotto, Christmas Markets and Lights switch ons (Candutu is a brilliant site for finding Chrsitmassy events near you!).

Recycleables – some of our Chrsitmassy items are perfectly good enough so it’s ‘in with the old’ for us – that means no new Christmas decorations, party dresses (whaaaat!) or jumpers … that kind of thing. The one thing we will be getting is a real tee – there can be no compromise as far as I’m concerned. We’ll be heading to Cedar Croft nurseries in Cornwall for ours!

Happy Christmassy plotting & planning!


Christmas-ready?

Whilst this time of year is mostly super lovely and sparkly and full of Christmas cheer (which I love – Christmas starts in our house on 1st Dec), it can also be pretty stressful at times – the list of things your kids need, must make, must wear, must attend for school related stuff goes on and on; finances can be a worry (£64 for just one PS4 game W.T.F!!!) and simply trying to keep on top of everything and being super-organised can be a trial in itself – arghhhh! It’s at this point that ideally, someone would hand me a massive bucket of sand for me to stick my head in, so I can opt out for a bit … Sadly, this has never happened so it’s a case of taking a deep breath in, grabbing a pen and paper and (in my case) writing a BIG to-do list.

With not long now until the BIG DAY, a slight feeling of panic is always lurking close by and a serious amount of ridiculous questions: have I got enough pressies for the kids? what about stocking fillers? have I bought pressies for everyone else? what shall I get for this year’s secret santa (who ever thought this was a great idea?)? what if I run out of wrapping paper? when do I buy the turkey? how do I best cook the turkey (Nigella’s recipe or Jamie?)? where’s the best deal on big tubs of chocolates? how much weight will I put on (do I care? how will I get rid of it in the New Year if (who am I kidding!) – when I do?)? What about prosecco (thank goodness for proseccowatch.com !) … it can be tooooooo much!

Back to the list. For me, this is the best way of getting some kind of control.

Actually, the list becomes a list of lists. For me it’s the only way. I divide my lists in to 3 🙂

1. A list for myself, my partner and all three kids with dates and times: where is everyone, any playdates, parties or meet-ups with friends and family, and what each needs to take, wear or bring. This list is all about the logistics!

2. Then it’s on to the still-outsanding-presents list – what’s still to be bought and for whom (and even which shop – bit too much?). Wrapping paper and similar stuff goes on the list – as does a date for the actual wrapping – if it’s on the list it will get done … eventually.

3. Finally, it’s the food and booze list – what do we still need for the big day? At this point I have to remind myself that basically Christmas Day food is simply the usual roast dinner but on a bigger scale and with prosecco, (too many) chocolates and a yummy pudding thrown in for good measure – it’s about persepctive and all that. Of course there are little treats and yummy extra’s but to be honest, as long as the usual suspects (turkey, crackers …) are on the list, the rest can be grabbed once on a trolley-dash around the supermarket? Winging-it style right?

Once the lists have been completed, I do feel better, for sure – it’s a case of getting on with stuff and getting through those lists and the satisfaction of crossing through those to-do’s! Hooray 🙂

Fianlly, a word of ‘warning’ – if you’re anything like me and have crazy port-induced ideas about home-baking EVERYTHING a la Jamie and Nigella in order to create the perfect Christmas, can I suggest that, yes, enjoy the indulgence of reading and watching all the Christmassy cook books and TV shows but rather than try to recreate new stuff, instead simply stick to only what you already know and can do best – maybe it’s fab roast potatoes or gravy, or amazing mince pies but don’t even think about creating brand new recipes or new cocktail creations on Christmas Eve – keep it simple I say!

By the way, my go-to no-bake but homemade recipe that I make all-of-the-time is Nigella’s rocky roads – everyone loves them and a simple dusting of icing sugar, edible glitter and some carefully placed mini-reindeer (totally kitsch) turns these easy-makes in to Christmas-ready scrummylicious sweet-treats!

Happy pre-Christmas!

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Picnic!

Oh! we do like to be beside the seaside (or park, or garden or umm, living room (indoor picnics happen A LOT in our house)!) enjoying a lovingly prepared picnic of top-nosh scrumminess! I love, love, love browsing through lifestyle magazines (and quite frankly, even supermarket summer mags) with their beautiful picnic scenes … Fantasising – this could be me. This could be us. Our picnics could look like this. Everything looks so perfect. So co-ordinated. So very Cath Kidstonesque, Joules and Boden and I want some! I want the handmade cloudy lemonade being decanted from a frosted glass (glass!!!) jug into pretty glass bottles with stripy straws. I want the bunting. I want the pastel throws and squishy luxurious cushions. I want the homemade EVERYTHING!

In my experience however, what I usually get picnic-wise is last minute shop-bought EVERYTHING (we pretty much hot-foot it to Lidl or Aldi and grab anything vaguely picnicky); squash decanted in to a couple of old 1L water bottles; an angry wasp (or two); a confused bee (the yellow stripe in our picnic blanket is not a row of sunflowers confused bee), a random dog (not our own) peeing on the cool box; grumpy, hot,”I’m bored” (what?! the?! actual?!) children; and a localised weather event the forecasters forgot to mention (rain, wind, sand storm …).

However, even though my fantasy picnic has never materialised, I totally love our real version – low expectations help. As do:
– access to toilets
– ice-cream vans
– a football (my two boys + football = lots of random boys joining in and playing en masse)
– a wind-break (it will be windy, you may need shade (if you’re lucky) and a small child near you (not one of your own – even more annoyingly) will probably create a mini sand-storm effect by digging a hole right next to you and fling sand everywhere – brilliant – think of your wind-break as potential sand-flinging protection (note to self to invest in more wind-breaks))
– wet-wipes (not so good with sand but great for sticky situations!)
– layers (it will probably get cold at some point)
– more towels than you think you’ll need
– spare clothes (one child (not in swim wear) will insist on not getting in to the sea, river, pool … only to get in to the sea, river, pool … emerging 30 seconds later rocking the bedraggled drowned rat look).

And due to a serious case of every-child-in-our-house-likes-different-things and daily changes as to who eats what and who now doesn’t like this or that (ANNOYING), we’ve gone down the purely buffet-only picnic route, with the kids completely helping themselves (no pre-made sarnies or soggy egg rolls on our picnic blanket!) – that way everyone eats what they want (the only rules are that there must be some bread-type substance plus some form of protein and veg/fruit before any naughty stuff) – it works.

Happy picnicking days obviously!

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Ouchy head

Hungover in other words 🙁 Boo hiss, why do I do it?

I start out to have one (yes, one!) very civilised g&t – a post getting-kids-to-bed and reward for having survived another day of parenthood/working/domestic stuff/SUMMERHOLIDAYS (!!) but instead this ‘one’ turns in to a giant mid-week g&t bingette (how? what? gulp!). Am awakened by a roaring, pounding head being held in a vice-like grip, gritty eyes and a dry mouth – whyyyyyy! What a picture of healthy glowiness I very much am not …

There are so many hangover ‘cures’ out there, but I think that whilst age doesn’t necessarily affect my ability to say ‘no’ to ‘just one more’, age has given me plenty of time to figure out what actually works for me. So my hangover cure consists of:

more sleep
ibuprofen
water
dark glasses
fried egg sandwich (with tonnes of ketchup)
more ibuprofen
persuading partner to administer medicinal head massage
more sleep
more water
hot soak in the bath
a large g&t

Which is ok if your hangover happens on a Saturday or Sunday, however week day hangover’s are in a completely different league 🙁 and pretty much you just have to work through them. Think tonnes of water, a day’s supply of ibuprofen, whispering (no loud voices please), grabbing a full on carb-protein hit en route to work, grabbing super quick power-snoozettes when sat on toilet or when on train, and declaring that wearing dark glsses indoors is ‘so now’ … It’s the only way (for me).

According to science though, there are some little tricks that might work:

1. eat some honey (apparently the fructose helps with low blood sugars the morning after the night before)
2. drink in some electrolytes (these restore the much-needed salts in your body – exercise or energy drinks are good for this – or, good old fashioned Dioralyte sachets)
3. do some light exercise (fresh air and a light stroll help clear your head) *
4. eat a banana (when you drink, alcohol depeletes your body of potassium which the good ol’ banana contains – hooray!)

* number 3 is not for me until at least 3pm on hangover day

Ultimately, all of the above could be avoided if only I knew how to say no!

Psssst, this is possibly not appropriate having berated hangovers, but, if you happen to be on a budget then Aldi do a great London gin for only £13.99/L 🙂 just saying …

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Super food and clean eating confusion

Is it me? I mean, I want to be healthy and really would love to adopt this new ‘clean eating’ thing that seems to be everywhere right now (MANY celebs are jumping on the ‘no-sugar-no-added-stuff’ band-wagon and publishing clean eating cookbooks with the promise that you too, can be more like them) but, I’m not sure if you can teach an old dog new tricks? Or at least, not too many new tricks?

I LOVE my food. I’m a little truffle-pig if left too long (who am I kidding – length of time is irrelevent) on my own near edible stuff. I really can’t be trusted and think Will Power is an actual person (rather than a form of personal restraint – what’s that anyway?). But, I recognise as I get a bit (ahem) older, that my metabolism is definitely not what it was – it really needs a good kick up the (too large) bottom.

I’ve done the whole Slimming World thing (which does work actually), I’ve just kind of been there, done that, and now want to eat well with no naughty, secret and scarily huge amounts of sugar in fat free stuff. I’ve managed to get my head around overnight fat-free natural (no added nasties) yoghurty-oaty-fruity breakfasts (I can do recipies with three ingedients). I literally bung in to a container a handful of fruit (whatever’s to hand and about to walk itself out of our fruit bowl), a handful of plain porridge oats and a few dollops of fat-free plain yoghurt. Chuck it in the fridge overnight and hey presto – an amazingly simple but super delish and super satisfying breakfast. You can find some other recipe ideas here 🙂

Having got to grips with this easy-peasy breakfast changer, and on a bit of a ‘get me’ high, thought I ought to continue my pursuit of super-food clean eating … Including more (lots more) green stuff in your diet is relatively easy to do (think kale, spinach and watercress) – I just bung it in a bowl ‘on the side’, however, some clean living superfoods, much as I’d love to include them in my diet, will cripple your weekly food shop finances; for one recipe I loved the sound of I needed (amongst others) the following 5 ingredients (that sadly I don’t have lurking in my (not) beautifully stocked pantry): medjool dates, cacao, chia, coconut oil, maple syrup – at Mr Sainsburys, I would have had less than 50p change from a £20 note.

Eeeek. I’m thinking there must be simpler (and cheaper) alternatives? Our grandparents ate smaller and quite simple meals but they were very balanced – lots of veg, some carb and some protein. The term super food has become a bit of a buzz word and is so confusing – aren’t all pure, natural and unadulterated foods a bit super?

So if, like me, you’re a bit dazed and confused by the whole super food thing, then then article from the Independent might help 🙂

Happy super-fooding!

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Handbag heroes

Back in the day (aka pre children) the contents of my handbag were a) few and far between, b) super glamourous and c) never sticky!! Generally all I needed back then were lipstick, my phone, lip balm and purse.

Roll on 14 years and it’s a very different story. The contents of my handbag are mostly now a) sensible (tissues (a mix of new and used), wet-wipes, plasters, empty bottles of calpol, cheap bifocals), b) food-related (crumbly breadsticks, rotting fruit, forgotten sweets stuck to the inside of my bag) and c) school letters and parental slips (that have been signed and then forgotten about, now lying crumpled up and past their ‘must-send-in-by-date’, waiting for the next handbag clear out …).

I’ve come to realise that I am in fact a walking-vending-machine-come-cash-dispenser-come-clearer-upper-of-messy-things … I don’t actually mind this – I like to be a provider of things for my hungry, messy, sticky, (sometimes) bloody and sore and ever-money-hungry children.

This hand-bag transformation starts the minute you have your first baby in your arms – a sense of mild panic runs through you if you don’t AWLAYS at ALL TIMES have EVERYTHING with you that your little darling might need (you also suddenly realise that no ordinary handbag will cut it – your new best friend needs to be able to handle all sorts of emergencies and scenarios and carry EVERYTHING) – personally I was a fan of ‘the bigger the better’ (translates as ‘can fit more in’). If you’re currently on the look out for one of these bigger and better bad boys, Mumsnet do some great baby bag reviews for here and now …

I think this feeling of being a provider of easy-access comforts for your children never quite leaves you (it’s a major habit of mine), so even now, eldest child (aged 13 and 3/4) along with younger two, is still greeted at the end of the school day with a plethora of food (some healthy, some (shamefully) not so), wet-wipes (the child is incapable of eating anything without leaving the remnants around and on him and his surroundings), and  … complete control of the in-car entertainment (Kiss FM anyone?).

But anyway, lurking somewhere in this sticky and crumbly collector of random old receipts and shiny coins there are in fact some things that never change – my handbag heroes – lipstick, my phone, lip balm and (less) money. They’re just a bit more battered and bashed up than they used to be!

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In-car essentials …

You know how it is. It’s 7.52am and joy, of joys, you’re on the school run. We face and survive it every day, however, every single day, without fail, as we’re all piling in to the car (squabbling over who’s going to sit where, who’s turn it is to sit in the front passenger seat blah blah blah (I’m good at zoning out now!)), my heart slightly sinks a bit with dread …

It’s the same old story – we get going (everyone’s is seated where they need to be), and then Child A sneezes – needs a tissue … I find one stuffed in the side of the car door (not sure how long it’s been there but …it’ll do). Child B has forgotten a snack for break-time … I rummage around in my work bag and pull out a slightly-squished ‘seen-better-days’ banana (think more black than yellow) – Child B is NOT happy. Child A sneezes again – another tissue is needed – urgently! Arghhh – I frantically, and one-handed (I’m TRYING to drive!!!), rummage around in the car door (pretty much this car door contains everything) and my bag – the only option is tissue recycling. All is well. Until, in a queue of traffic, a casual glance at Child C’s school shoes proves disastrous (why did I look?) – they are vile and disgusting and need a quick wet-wipe clean NOW (naturally wet-wipes are nowhere to be found …). Best option at this point is to turn the radio up – loud.

So, now, I pledge that my car shall always contain the following at all times:

tissues
wetwipes (perfect for grubby shoes, faces, hands and car interiors)
anti-bac handwash
– snacks (think teeny in-car ‘vending machine’ containing non-easily-squished foods: boxes of raisins, school bars, breadsticks, apples …)
– chewing gum (for queasy kids and cross mummies)
– plastic bags for all the rubbish (because, yes, our car floor is absolutely not a dustbin as far as my kids are concerned and they absolutely, always pick their rubbish up and carefully place in said plastic bag – obvs)

Happy school running everyone 🙂 x