How To Go Out But Stay In

Lock Down has cancelled a lot of our plans for 2020 but does that mean we still can’t do them? Well, sure you can’t go on your all inclusive holiday to Lanzarote but don’t let Lock Down tie you to your sofa!

I have thought of 4 ways you can go out without actually going out!

1. Coffee With Friends

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I love nothing more than catching up with friends over a coffee. It instantly lifts my spirits and sets my mood for the day. Before Lock Down, I would meet with one of my mummy friends every week for a walk and a coffee and have a good ol’ chit chat. We had organised a girl’s night out for a huge group of us but that got cancelled (thanks Corona) so we, instead, had a zoom chat. It was like meeting up in a cafe with the girls. We all sat at our laptops with cups of tea and coffee and giggled together. It made me so thankful for modern technology allowing us to actually see each other and talk in a big group. I left that zoom chat feeling my usual uplifted and refreshed self after seeing the girls.

2. Date Night

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I don’t know about other Mums, but I love having a date night every now and again. A little break from the little one, a chance to reconnect with my partner and, more importantly, eat something I didn’t have to cook or worry about the washing up! Well, that’s just another thing Corona has mucked up for me! So, instead, we put the baby to bed early and tried to have a date night at home!


We ordered a take away (so that took care of the cooking problem) but I didn’t want it to feel like another night on the sofa. So, we got dressed up like we would on a normal date night. I put make up on and Steven even put on after shave! I lit candles, switched on the fairy lights, laid out a blanket on the floor and dished out the take away into fancy dishes (like we were in a real restaurant) to set the scene. I even put the wine on a fancy tray. Simple, yet effective. We then sat down, watched TV and had our fancy Chinese take away picnic!

3. Boozey Lunch

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If Lock Down isn’t an excuse to day drink, then I don’t know what is! Steve and I love going to the pub at lunch time when the weather is gorgeous. Sitting outside in the sun with a cold beer and nibbles, bliss. So, when Olivia was down for her nap, I laid out some nibbles (all fancy like, so it felt like we weren’t at home) and opened up a couple of cold ones. We turned on some music and sat under our pear tree and I swear, it felt like we were on holiday!

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Even Cody wanted to join us.
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4. Trip To The Cinema


Wanted to go to the cinema with the kids? Now you’re stuck at home and the weather is horrible? 3 words: At, home, cinema. And, no I don’t mean stick a film on and sit on your sofa. What do kids love to do? Build a sofa fort! Grab bed sheets, sofa cushions, chairs, anything you can find and make a fort with your kids. Add blankets, pillows, fairy lights and snacks! Movie snacks are essential. Turn off the lights, turn on the fairy lights, sit on the floor in the fort and watch a movie with your kids. Doesn’t sound like much but you’ll be surprised how much they love it. My little girl is only 18 months and she absolutely loved it!

You could go a step further and set up a projector (you can even buy projectors for your phone). This would be so fun to do outside, too. Like a sundown cinema experience!


So, what have you done to make this Lock Down experience more bearable? Share your experiences in the comments below!

 

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Star Wars Day: Wookie Cookies

I know. You’re surprised to see Star Wars content on this blog. I haven’t even seen a full movie (don’t come for me). However, Steven and his family are Star Wars fans, verging on super fans. So, I thought this May the fourth, I would cheer them up with these! I first saw this idea on Pinterest and wanted to recreate it with my own recipe.

I have previously made other Star Wars themed bakes for Steven’s brother’s 40th birthday. We organised a Star Wars themed kids party (with no kids) in our new home (at the time), which included: Pin the Lightsaber on Yoda, Star Wars pun food (Ham Solo sandwiches), inflatable lightsabers, homemade photo booth and a Millennium Falcon cake.

It’s a relatively simple recipe but, nevertheless, may the force be with you! See? I can do Sci-Fi!

Recipe

You will need:

Ingredients

  • 400g Plain Flour
  • 3/4 tsp Bicarbonate Soda
  • 2 tsp Ground Ginger
  • 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp Ground Mixed Spice
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Nutmeg
  • 180g Butter (soft)
  • 125g Dark Brown Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 125g Golden Syrup
  • 190g chocolate
  • 100g white chocolate chips

Method

  1. Sift the flour and spices together in a large bowl.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Add egg and golden syrup to creamed mixture and combine well.
  4. Gradually add in the flour and spices until fully combined and makes a loose dough.
  5. Split the mixture into 3. Wrap in clingfilm and chill overnight.
  6. Preheat the oven to 170° Fan.
  7. Remove the dough from the fridge and leave at room temperature for 10 minutes.
  8. Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut out your gingerbread man shapes.
  9. Using a fork, make impressions in the dough to look like fur.IMG_8379
  10. Bake on a lined baking tray for 8-12 minutes (depending on size of cookies and whether you like them soft or crisp).
  11. Leave to cool on a wire rack.IMG_8382
  12. Once fully cooled, melt the chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 30 second intervals in the microwave, stirring in between until fully melted.
  13. Leave the chocolate to cool slightly before pouring it into a piping back (or you can use a zip lock bag)
  14. Snip the end of the piping bag (or the corner of the zip lock bag) and pipe a diagonal line across your gingerbread man.
  15. Place the white chocolate chips along this line. I used white candy melts because my cookies were quite large (and it’s all I had in the house #QuarantineLife).
  16. (Optional) pipe two eyes and a nose on your wookie with the chocolate.

So, there you go! Absolutely delicious wookie cookies! Not bad for a non-nerd, aye? I hope you enjoyed reading this and if you recreate these, please share the pictures with me! I would love to see your quarantine baking!

Happy Star Wars Day!


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Fluffy Bunny Pancakes

Tomorrow is Pancake Day! It’s the perfect excuse to have a fun dinner or a sweet treat.

Since this is the first Pancake Day Olivia can take part in, I was trying to think of ways to make it fun. I always love pictures of people making animal pancakes for their kids. There are no rules. You can make teddy bears, butterflies and everyone remembers the pancake art trend. Olivia is still too young to appreciate full blown pancake art but I wanted to practice a simple design that I can make her on Sunday mornings or a grey day to cheer her up and I thought one of the most simple (and cute) designs would be a bunny!

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Although I had a lot of fun making these, I can’t wait until she’s a tad older and can decorate her bunny how she likes. Whipped cream tail? Chocolate whiskers? Strawberry teeth? Banana eyes and blueberry nose? If you do make these, please share your designs with me! I would love to see how you (or your children) decorate them.

Not only is this adorable, but they actually taste so good. I had some left over batter, after making these, and decided to have some for breakfast (as it was just there, and honestly, they’re so delicious!). I topped mine with strawberries and honey (how grown up am I?) but I kind of wanted to cover it in Nutella, whipped cream and sprinkles. Not gonna lie.

The recipe is perfect and you don’t need to run to the shops to get anything ‘special’. Chances are you’ll already have everything you need in the cupboard. So, without further adieu…


Fluffy Pancake Recipe

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Ingredients

  • 135g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 130ml milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar into a large bowl.
  2. Lightly whisk the milk and egg together in a seperate bowl, then add the olive oil.
  3. Pour the milk mixture into the large bowl with the flour and whisk with a fork until completely combined.
  4. Leave batter to rest for a few minutes.
  5. Heat up a frying pan with 1 tbsp of oil to stop the pancakes sticking (you’ll need to add oil as you go).
  6. Add a ladle of batter to the heated pan. For the bunny you will need 1 large (body), 1 medium (head), two small (feet) and two ear-shaped pancakes. You’ll want to make several of each so you can practice and pick the best ones.
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  7. Once the top of the batter begins to bubble, flip the pancake over and cook until golden brown on both sides.
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  8. Arrange into a bunny shape and decorate!!!
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And that’s it! It’s literally that simple! These are perfect for a spur of the moment pancake craving or a spontaneous weekend breakfast.

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Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you all have a very yummy Pancake Day!

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DIY Valentine Treats

Looking for something yummy this Valentine’s? Then look no further! I have everything you need for a romantic night in, a gift to share and those who hate V-day. These are also great if you’re having a ‘Palentines’ or ‘Galentines’ get together. If you make any of the following, please tag me in your creations on social media as I’d love to see how you recreate these.

Chocolate Strawberry Hearts

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Everyone loves chocolate covered strawberries on Valentine’s day. Why not make some for your valentine with a twist?

What you will need:

  • Strawberries
  • Chocolate
  • Pink Candy Melts
  • Toothpicks

Method

  1. Cut the tops off of the strawberries and cut in half.
  2. Arrange two halves into a heart shape (flat side down, points together). You may need to trim the edges to be more rounded.
  3. Push a toothpick through the two pieces of strawberry to secure them. Place onto greaseproof paper.
  4. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and drizzle over the strawberries until evenly covered.
  5. Allow the chocolate to set and remove the toothpick.
  6. Melt Candy Melts in a heatproof bowl and drizzle over the strawberries in a zig zag pattern. Allow to set.
  7. Serve immediately or refigerate until ready to serve.

Giant Valentine Cookie

This is the perfect gift! I make this everytime we decide to have a stay-at-home valentine’s. It’s so good to share in front of the TV. If you’re not very artistic and not sure how to decorate it, NO WORRIES! Melt some chocolate over it when it comes out the oven, add ice cream on top and it makes the perfect dessert.

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What you will need:

  • A batch of your favourite cookie dough
  • Royal Icing coloured red and white
  • Sprinkles

Method

  1. Create a batch of your favourite cookie dough. (I used a packet as it was quicker).
  2. Arrange cookie dough into a heart shaped pattern on a lined baking tray.
  3. Bake accordingly and allow to fully cool.
  4. Create royal icing (recipe below). Divide icing into two bowls and dye one of the bowls of icing red.
  5. Decorate the cookie as you would like. I think this looks particularly good with a traditional valentine message like ‘Be Mine’, ‘Will you be my Valentine?’ or ‘I love you’. Add sprinkles or other edible decorations.

 

Anti-valentine Biscuits

Not everyone likes Valentine’s day so if you’re one of those people (or you’re having a ‘Palentines’, this would also be fun) this is for you.

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To make the biscuits

You will need:

  • 100g sugar
  • 200g butter
  • 300g plain flour

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 160ºC/140ºC fan/Gas Mark 3 and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (take care not to overmix).
  3. Slowly add the flour to the mixture until fully combined.
  4. Use your hands to squeeze the mixture together into a ball.
  5. Gently roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut your shapes out (I used a large heart cookie cutter). Place the biscuits onto the baking tray and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack.

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To Decorate

You will need:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 500g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 3 tsp water
  • red food colouring

Method

  1. Whisk egg whites until white and fluffy with soft peaks.
  2. Slowly add the icing sugar 1tbsp at a time and mix thoroughly.
  3. Mix until the icing forms a soft peak on the whisk. Not stiff enough to stand straight but just loose enough for the point of the peak to slowly fold over.
  4. Seperate the mixture into two bowls. Dye one bowl of icing red and put half of the red icing into a piping bag with a small round tip.
  5. Carefully pipe a boarder around the heart biscuits and leave to set.
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  6. Add 1tsp of water at a time to the remaining red icing until it is slightly runnier. 
  7. Carefuly pipe the runnier icing onto the biscuits and use a toothpick to ensure the icing evenly flood the biscuit to the boarder.
  8. Once set, put white icing into another piping bag with a small round nozzle and pipe words in the centre of them. You can pipe any words. You could even make these like traditional candy hearts by using different colours and ‘lovey dovey’ expressions.

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I really loved making all of these and I can honestly say they are all delicious! Thank you for reading and please check out some of my other posts. I recently did a post you might like called ‘Super Easy Valentine Crafts To Do With Your Kids’, although to be honest anyone could do them!

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Super Easy Valentine Crafts To Do With Your Kids

Simple and fun crafts to do with your little ones.

These are all really easy and simple, fun crafts to do. All of the following activites have no more than 6 steps and you probably already have everything you need to do them in your home. 

I love doing holiday crafts and as my daughter gets older, I look forward to being able to do more crafts with her. I have very fond memories of sitting at my dining table with my Mum doing different crafts throughout my childhood and I hope to give my daughter the same memories. I am also hoping that doing themed crafts will get Olivia excited about holidays just like me. 

Here are some of the crafts we did this week and some I hope you can have fun with your kids too.

Valentine Card

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This is one of the easiest cards to make with your baby or toddler and it looks so good. It’s perfect to keep as a momento and is super fast to make during painting time.

What you will need:

  • Blank greetings card
  • Craft card
  • Tape
  • Finger paint

Method

  1. Cut out a heart shape out of craft paper.
  2. Using tape, attach the cut out shape to the center of a blank greeting card. This can be done by folding the tape against itself to create a piece of double sided tape.
  3. Let your baby/toddler fingerpaint over the shape and on the card. You can use paint brushes, sponge stamps, paint rollers or simply their hands.
  4. Before the paint drys, carefully remove the shape and tape from the greeting card and leave to dry.

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LOVE Canvas Art

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I really loved making this. Not only is it a perfect gift for Valentine’s but it’s also a great decor piece for your home. Is there anything better than having your baby’s hand and footprints to look at years later when they’ve all grown up?

What you will need:

  • Blank canvas
  • Finger paint
  • Acrylic paint/sharpie

Method

  1. Mark out on your canvas where you would like the handprint and footprints to go.
  2. Paint your baby’s hand and gently press it onto the canvas.
  3. Paint your baby’s feet and gently press them onto the canvas in a V shape.
  4. Draw out the L and E and, once you’re happy with them,  go over it with black paint or a sharpie (I used a black felt tip and a fine liner to go around the edges of the letters).

Hanging Paper Hearts

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These are so simple! This is probably something to do with slightly older children but they sure do brighten up the place. You can hang them on banisters, door handles or even a small decorative tree or branch. I have hung them on my ugly serving hatch as we’re having it patched up at the moment before we remove it and redo the whole wall! For now it will hang these paper hearts.

What you will need:

  • Coloured craft card (I used pink and red)
  • Stapler
  • Scissors
  • String

Method

  1. Cut coloured paper of various lengths and widths. I started with red strips of 2cmx21cm to create the chain of hearts.
  2. Fold strips equally in half.
  3. With the fold at the bottom, bend the ends together to make a heart shape and staple together. If you want to make a chain, tuck the fold of the next heart in between the edges of the first.
  4. If you are making a nest of hearts, join all edges of hearts together, bend and staple all together with one end of a piece of string in between.

You could even use the chain method to make a wreath or a long paper chain to wrap around your banister or hang on your mantle. 

Woollen Heart Garland

I love how this turned out! Again, this is probably something to do with older children (or by yourself like I did) but it looks so cute. I did different sized hearts along the garland just because I thought it was pretty but you could do the same sizes, different coloured hearts or even different shapes like stars!

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What you will need:

  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Stapler/tape
  • Red wool

Method

  1. Cut out several heart shapes from the card board (or double up craft card).
  2. Staple the end of the red wool to the heart.
  3. Randomly wrap the red wool around the cardboard shape until no cardboard is shown.
  4. Secure the end of the wool by tying it off or using a stapler.
  5. Repeat the above until all shapes are covered.
  6. Measure out desired length of wool and attach the hearts in equal lengths.
I hope that you try some of these crafts. If you do, please take a picture and tag me in it so I can see your creations! 
I will shortly be uploading a Valentine Treats post so keep your eye out for that!

 

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Minecraft Cake Tutorial

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This weekend, my younger brother turned 12 and he requested a Minecraft themed party. I volunteered to make him a Minecraft cake and he was so excited. It only occurred to me later on that I was going to have to figure out HOW to do it.
So, if like me, you want to make a child’s birthday or you’re just wondering how to do it, I’m here to help!
My brother told me he wanted a chocolate cake but you can make any flavour cake you’d like. I used a 10 inch (25cm) square cake pan.

 

1. Make the Cake

Ingredients
For the cake:

  • 280g (10oz) butter, room temperature
  • 280g (10oz) caster sugar
  • 5 eggs
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g (9oz) self raising flour
  • 25g (1oz) Cocoa Powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan, Gas 4) and thoroughly grease a square 10 inch (25cm) cake tin.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder and mix well.
  4. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, and add 1/5 of flour mixture after each egg.
  5. Pour in vanilla extract and mix until combined and pour into cake tin.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes, until a skewer, inserted in the centre of the cake, comes out clean.
  7. Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin before turning out on a wire rack.

2. Assemble the Cake


For the filling:

  • 200g Cadbury dairy milk (or your favourite chocolate), melted

Method

  1. Once the cake is fully cooled, level the chocolate cake by cutting the top until flat then divide the cake length ways through the middle. Put the shaved off chocolate cake to one side to use later.
  2. Pour over 3/4 of the melted chocolate on the bottom half and sandwich the other half on top.
  3. Cut out a section of the cake. You can use my template below or create your own (but remember to make the shape out of squares, like Minecraft!).
  4. Layer the cut out piece on top of the cake using the remaining melted chocolate to fix it to the cake.
  5. Place cake onto a cake board (you can also use some melted chocolate to fix the cake to the board).

Template

16.5cm

3. The ‘Dirt’

For the chocolate buttercream:

  • 225g butter
  • 175g melted chocolate, room temperature
  • 250g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1tbsp semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

  1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl. I used the microwave, heating it at 30 second intervals and stirring in between to avoid burning the chocolate.
  2. Leave to cool slightly.
  3. Mix the butter, milk, vanilla and icing sugar in a mixer until smooth.
  4. Add the chocolate and mix until thick and creamy.

For the ‘dirt’:

  • 15 chocolate digestive biscuits
  • left over chocolate cake

Method

This will be used to pat on the side of the cake to give the soil look of the grass square in Minecraft.

  1.  Put chocolate digestives into a zip lock bag and close it up. With a rolling pin or a mallet, beat the biscuits into crumbs.
  2. Crumble the left over chocolate cake shavings into the bag and mix until it looks like soil.
  3. Pipe the chocolate buttercream on the sides of the chocolate cake using a piping bag and a round nozzle. Then, pat the ‘dirt’ mixture onto the sides.

4. The ‘Grass’

For the vanilla buttercream (the grass):

  • 110g butter
  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • 60ml (3tbsp) semi-skimmed milk
  • 2tsp vanilla essence
  • green food colouring (preferably gel)

Method

This will be dyed green and will be the grass on top of the ‘dirt’ squares.

  1.  Mix together, butter, icing sugar, milk and vanilla essence in a mixer until combined.
  2. Scrape down the sides with a spatula and add green food colouring (I use gel food colouring as it gives a stronger colour and doesn’t add extra liquid to the mixture).
  3. Mix in the food colouring until the colour is even throughout.
  4. Put buttercream into a piping bag with a star tip.
  5. Pipe small spikes all over the top surfaces of the cake in neat rows to look like grass.

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Finishing Touches

I piped more of the green buttercream onto the cake board to give the effect of layered grass. It also allowed me to secure fondant figures from Minecraft to the cake board. These figures were bought online but if you have time and the skill, you could make them yourself ahead of time. I added the element of sand to the cake board by crumbling plain digestive biscuits and securing it using edible glue (you could also use water icing). Similarly, I used edible glue to secure blue fondant to the cake board to add water to the scene.

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I was really proud of this cake, mostly because my brother was super happy with it and was so excited to see it. This is a really simple design for Minecraft. If you have the imagination, you can create different scenes using this basic technique.

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Olivia’s 1st Birthday

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So, my baby turned one year old this week. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think I’d feel the way I did. I thought I would be excited to throw my little girl her first ever birthday party and have a great time with friends and family, creating a memory that would last a life time. I did not see it this way.

Instead, the week leading up to her birthday, filled me with dread, heart ache and reminiscence. I couldn’t believe that a year ago I was holding this precious, tiny baby that was all mine and depended on me for everything. Now, she crawls around the house at speed, wants to feed herself and doesn’t need me to rock her to sleep at night. I felt like time was already slipping through my fingers and I wanted it to slow down. I got quite down about it, to the point where I didn’t want to throw her a party but the fear of regret forced me to power through.

I teared up in the middle of HobbyCraft buying decorations, I cried putting up pictures of her monthly milestones and the night before, I laid in bed thinking back to my labour I was in a year ago. The first time I saw her face.  I sobbed like a baby. I felt ridiculous. “She’s only 1! It’s only the first year of many. I have 17 more! Oh… I only have 17 more. This last one went so quick and let’s face it, she’s not going to want me to throw her birthday parties when she’s a teenager so maybe I only have 12 at most?” is what I thought to myself. It was that moment I realised, I’m not going to have many chances to throw her birthday parties so I need to grab every opportunity and go all out!

We had a party at our house and only invited family (as that is all we could fit in our house). I would have loved to invite all our friends too and have Olivia surrounded by as many people that love her as possible but we struggled for room as it was. I decorated the whole of the downstairs, the day before. As well as baked cupcakes and a separate cake for Olivia to destroy. I even made a fondant duck, as we have a bit of an obsession at the moment, in hopes it would encourage her to destroy the cake. I spent 4 hours cooking and preparing party food and organising how to display it (I’m a bit OCD when it comes to parties).

So, the big day arrived. I felt fine. Steven got Olivia out of bed in the morning and we all sat in our bed talking about the day ahead and then he hands me a card. I assumed it was for Olivia but he said it was for me. Puzzled, I opened it and on the front was a picture of all of us and the words ‘Happy Birth Day’. Upon opening the card, I couldn’t stop the floods of tears as I read the words ‘Thank you for being such a good Mum’. Any Mum out there knows, there’s nothing more rewarding than someone telling you, you’re a good Mum or that you’re doing a good job because that’s all you hope for and you don’t really know if you’re doing a good enough job for your little ones. So there you go, my plan to hold it all together was thrown out of the window before 9am.

Afterwards, we took Olivia downstairs to show her the present from us. The night before, Steven and I had spent the evening building an IKEA play kitchen so she could play with it the morning of her birthday. It filled us with joy to see she immediately was smiling and trying to open the doors and move the tap.

The party started after Olivia’s nap and afternoon bottle. Soon, the house was filled with family and a serious amount of presents for Olivia. She was very spoilt. I loved seeing people’s faces when they saw Olivia. She just lights up a room and makes everyone smile. Everyone wanted to hold her and speak to her and as a Mum you can only hope that she continues to be surrounded by such love.

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After opening presents, we stripped her down to her vest and sat her on the dining table. We sang happy birthday (which she hated as she is not a fan of group singing) and let her go to town on her birthday cake. I’m so glad I decided to do this because the pictures are ones I will treasure forever. She was in her element (she’s more like her mother than I thought) grabbing chunks of cake and eating them, making a mess and just enjoying herself.

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One of the many lessons I’ve learnt this past year of being a Mum is how to sacrifice your own feelings to make your children happy. I know this was only a small thing, a birthday party, but it’s made me more comfortable to do the best for her and create as many happy memories for her as possible, even if it breaks my heart. In the end, seeing her happy will mend it again.

Happy Birthday, sweetheart xxx

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Thank you for reading!

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