Monday, 30 March 2015

They make me proud

 We had purchased some tickets for their school Easter raffle and we'd won a prize. I was very proud of Alyssa when her headteacher commented to me how she was a very good big sister as she had really wanted the Cinderella egg. Harvey wanted the Batman egg so she let him have that one.



Harvey ~ "Can I have some chocolate now?"

Later you can yes...

"How many minutes in a later?"

Alyssa hasn't been very well today so Harvey came into the kitchen to ask if he could make a sandwich for her.

"I need some bread.....some butter....some cheese. Then some pickled onions on the side. That will cheer her up."



She was very shocked that he'd thought about her and wanted to make her feel a bit better.



Thursday, 26 March 2015

Pancakes for breakfast


The Sweetpeas decided they would like pancakes for breakfast so why not?

Harvey set about mixing the batter whilst whistling.



Very happy when I was able to flip the pancake too! (I was also very happy that it landed back in the pan and I wasn't going to end up scraping it from the ceiling.)


Alyssa was very pleased that I said we could have pancakes.


Cherry yoghurt on pancakes definitely improved our morning.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

How many second chances do you give?



It's been an ongoing battle with The Sweetpeas' "father" and CSA in order to obtain any kind of financial support. Yesterday they must have finally got hold of him as I received a text from him asking how I'd like it to be paid. This is the only contact I've had from him since the start of January and we are now nearing the end of March. He's then gone on to force the issue of access to them. Pay-as-you-go parenting as he must view it. "If I'm going to pay, I want to see them" kind of attitude.

I've never stopped him from seeing either of them, even though he's never paid them a penny in years. (They had one CSA payment and that was it!) I was always aware that access and money were two completely separate things. He has always chosen in the past when he's seen them and also for how long. It's been a long-standing joke that you can see him starting to feel uncomfortable around them after about an hour as he then starts to make excuses as to why he needs to leave. It's like he just doesn't know how to interact with them anymore. That's not at all surprising to me as how can you be a father when you show limited interest in your children and only when there isn't something better to be doing?

I truly hope that he reads this post (yes, I'm talking to you ;) ) and sees that his actions have demolished all kind of trust that they have in him. I've really let them decide what they want to do with regards to seeing him and both now accurately say that "what's the point in messaging him as he won't reply?"  That's really hard to come to terms with when you are an adult let alone when you are 5 and 7 years old. I actively do not belittle him or try and brainwash my children into hating him. They are little people that have their own minds and will decide what they want to do. Harvey often comments that he wants to see Daddy so that he can go to Frankie & Benny's. The conversation moves along and it turns out that he really just wants to go out and doesn't truly care who takes him.

So,how many second chances to you give an absent parent that continuously let them down? How many times do you let them get their own way when it truly isn't in the best interests of the children?

We've been in this situation many times before so this isn't a second chance. It's more of a second chance of a second chance of a second chance.....of a second chance. Yes, I have lost count of how many times I've had to read how he's changed and he'll not let them down again. Read as in text messages as he refuses to talk properly and he notoriously cannot read texts in the tone that they are sent. That makes the situation even worse and infuriating. If I had hours to trawl through the messages, I'm sure I would find plenty saying how he wants just one more chance and if he messes it up again, he will leave them alone.

When I sat watching their Christmas performance and looked over to see the empty chair where their father should have been, that was the final straw for me. The look of pure sadness in their eyes after he had promised them he would be there. That's a picture that will haunt me forever.

He's shown no remorse for that evening. It's not much to ask to have consistent, quality time with them and actually be contactable when they want to talk about their day? The reply I often got from their father was that he was "scared".

There is a word beginning with C that truly sums him up.

Coward.

I'll continue to let The Sweetpeas decide what they want to do at the moment until a court potentially forces things differently.


They will be watching and remembering every wrong move that their father makes I'm sure.

UPDATE : An actual apology was forthcoming about how he has treated them. Thank goodness I was sitting down! He wants to be in their lives and make an effort but I can't help but want to try and protect them from being hurt once again. There's nothing more that I would like than for them to be able to see their dad and have quality time with him. I want them to be a part of his life and get to learn about what he does and have conversations with his friends like they do with mine. 

I've tried very hard to be amicable with their father in the past but I think that this time there does need to be some kind of formal ground rules laid down on both sides. I'm not a perfect mother by any stretch of the imagination. (I apologise now to the people that had the unfortunate view of me running home this morning to collect Harvey's "muddy clothes" that he needed for school. It's not a sight that I wish on anyone.) I also need to be more aware of what their father can and can't do with them due to  his own work and family commitments. 

Life as a single parent can be extremely challenging at times so I'm going to approach this "second chance" as a way of us getting The Sweetpeas the best of both worlds. 


UPDATE OF THE UPDATE : It was short lived. He saw them once and then no contact either by text, phone call or visit.







Thursday, 19 March 2015

Axe


I had a parcel arrive today with this little helpful note. *Places axe away*



Letter from Alyssa


Alyssa will sometimes write me a letter if she feels that she can't say it out loud. 



Sunday, 15 March 2015

Mother's Day




Harvey's card featured a lovely button flower front and then some writing inside. I especially love number 3 and how he has tried to spell "kind". 


Alyssa's card had been tucked away in her desk and I had to promise not to go looking in there for it until today.


Saturday, 14 March 2015

Coca-Cola Cakes

Red Nose Day appeared and The Sweetpeas took part in their school "bake off". They made some Coca-Cola cakes as we thought it would be something a little different from the usual sponge cakes.


We used the recipe over at thelittleloaf.com so a huge thank you to Kate over on that page. (Please take a look over there as there are some great ideas for decorating these cakes.)

Ingredients

For the cake mix

200g plain flour
250g caster sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 large egg
125 ml buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla essence
125g unsalted butter
2 tbsp cocoa powder
175ml Coca-Cola

For the icing

400g icing sugar
125g unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp Sodastream Cola flavouring
40ml milk

Decorations

popping candy
fizzy cola bottles

So this is how we transformed all those ingredients into some pretty yummy cupcakes.

Harvey combined the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in one bowl whilst Alyssa mixed the buttermilk, egg and vanilla essence in her bowl.


I melted together the butter, Coca-Cola and cocoa in a suacepan over a low heat.



I then poured the Coca-Cola mixture into Harvey's dry bowl. He then mixed it all together before we then added in Alyssa's buttermilk concoction.



You really need to beat it well in order for it to combine altogether. It may look like it will never happen but it will suddenly all turn to a glossy chocolate mixture.


The cake mixture is then poured into cake cases. We used some great silver foil cases inside a silicon muffin tray. We filled them nearly to the top.


After cooking in a preheated fan oven at 180 degrees C, this is how they turned out.
They took about 17 minutes for my batch but you just need to cook until a skewer comes out clean when test them. This mixture makes 12 cakes. 

We allowed them to cool before icing them.

Mix together the butter and icing sugar. Add in the milk and Cola syrup. The original recipe said to beat with an electric whisk slowly and then increasing until it becomes light and fluffy.

We had to use a wooden spoon and do it "old skool" as we did it very early in the morning and didn't want to wake up the neighbours with our very noisy electric whisk. Bad idea and took forever so a good lesson learnt there,

we then piped on a bit of icing onto each one and decorated with a fizzy cola bottle sweet and a sprinkling of popping candy. (You could put popping candy into the actual icing too if you wished like the original recipe suggests.)


They were awarded 3rd place in the Red Nose Day "bake off" at their school too.




There was half a tub of buttermilk left so I thought I should make use of it rather than waste it. I made the same mixture and just baked it in a normal cake tin to make one giant cake. These definitely worked better as little cupcakes I found but they do have an unusual taste.

"I'm not really quite sure about them" ~ Harvey



I thought the little cupcakes were great and I shall definitely be doing the frosting again if nothing else. I like the addition of the popping candy especially.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Fudge Tart


My Grandma was a school cook at one point and I remember being amazed at all the yummy treats that she make for us. Fudge tart was a firm favourite of mine and I would buy it every lunch time when I was at secondary school.

When my village magazine published the recipe this month I decided to attempt it in my own kitchen. (My Grandma had left a copy of the recipe but it was to feed the entire village school.)

First thing was to line a pastry tin with shortcrust pastry. I used my new silicon pastry case. (I'm a little addicted to silicon bakewear I have to admit.)

Rub 45g lard and 45g butter into 175g plain flour. Add 30ml water and knead it altogether until it's combined.

Roll it out and lay into the tin.


I'm sure I had some proper baking beans somewhere but I have no idea where they are right now. I did a quick Google search and one site suggested using coins. That'll do for me!

I obviously put greaseproof paper over the pastry first and then filled it with the contents of Chunky's money box.

Bake blind for 15 minutes at 185 degrees C.

FILLING ~ Pour 150ml milk into a saucepan. Add 100g butter and heat until nearly boiling.

Mix a paste with another 150ml milk and 50g plain flour. Add this to the heated milk mixture.

Add 75g sugar and heat until it's gorgeously smooth. 1 teaspoon of vanilla essence needs to then be mixed in and then the whole mixture can be poured into the pastry case.


Allow to cool and then add a bit of grated chocolate on top and that was it for me. (I suppose I could have trimmed the edges of the pastry to make it look a bit prettier but my Grandma hated waste so why do that?)


It's a big thumbs up from Chunky....



...but unfortunately this is another dessert that Alyssa isn't keen on.



Ah well, more for me.

My Three and Me

Monday, 9 March 2015

I just don't know

"Why is it England, Ireland and Scotland but not Walesland?" ~ Alyssa

Knitwear


We were having a sort out and came across some more of the jumpers that I had as a child. I absolutely adored this pony one that my Grandma knitted.


Some have plenty of room for growth...


.... but others can be worn straight away.


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Use it up


I'm determined to be able to see the back of my kitchen cupboards and also start afresh with my freezer so today was a bit of a "use it up" dinner.

I ended up with a piece of battered fish, sage and onion stuffing and then a bit of mint sauce all in a sandwich.

Absolutely delicious but not sure it would feature on a restaurant menu.


Sunday, 1 March 2015

Pirate and princess party


The Sweepeas were invited to a fantastic "Pirate and Princess" party this afternoon. They were ready by 10am (yes, 4 hours early!) and were absolutely bouncing off the walls with the anticipation of the event.
They needed to go in fancy dress and both decided that they wanted to be pirates. 

As you can see, we had a go with the facepaint win again. 






I had to take a photograph of the cakes too. They tasted so yummy so I have requested the recipe so that I can give them a go in the future. 


Alyssa was very pleased to be awarded 3rd place by the birthday boy too.