Monday, 30 January 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 30th January (longest month ever!)

This week was a bit of a fail. After my exciting weekend galavanting in Leeds I had zero time or energy to shop or plan properly, so my plan was slapdash and ill thought out. We ended up having chinese take-away on Thursday and lots of quick meals like pasta or sandwiches. I felt out of control and irritable the whole week because of it, I stopped keeping on top of the dishes and by Saturday I was fed up.

This is what a week off plan does to me, I hear lots of rumblings about how meal planners are a load of rubbish or a waste of time, but for me they make the difference between a good week and a bad one.

So this week I am determined to get back to it and actually enjoy it!

The one complication for me this week is that I am doing a course this week at a conference centre, so won't be able to take leftovers as I won't have reheating ability. Most annoying


I baked a small ham on Sunday so planing to use up the leftovers either in an egg fried rice or if we are feeling particularly tired - some sort of epic toasted sandwich.


Paul is working late, so I'll be eating solo, so I thought I'd try my take on these Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes I saw on Pinterest the other day. Sounds like the perfect meal for one to me. Oh and are you following me on Pinterest? I have a dedicated Meal Planning Inspiration Board! Jus Sayin.


Cottage Pie, once again Paul has the day off so will make one of his awesome cottage pies. It is a total winter staple meal for us and there is nothing better than leftovers the next day.


Leftover Cottage Pie (with added veggies) - Since I can't take leftover's for lunch, we'll be keeping them for tonight's dinner. I usually boil up some extra veggies to make it feel like a slightly different meal.


I'm planning on adding some chicken thighs to the sweet potato and chickpea curry I usually make, served with brown rice. I usually make a HUGE panful of this so it should last a few days for lunches, or I may freeze some for another week.

I went to Sainsburys this week as we had the offer of a lift (a rare treat for a non driver), so spent slightly more than usual; £47.

What is everyone else eating this week? Don't forget you can grab my free PRINTABLE MEAL PLANNER over on last week's Meal Plan Like a Boss post.

I am also hosting a regular linky for any bloggers who'd like to share their meal plans, I find it so helpful to have them in one place to gain inspiration and build a community.

Although I am having technical difficulties with InLinkz this week, please bare with me while I try to find a linky tool that actually works well...

(Feel free to leave your links in a comment and I'll add it in for you when I get it set up, sorry this is not ideal)


Sunday, 29 January 2017

Sunday Moment - 29th January

I didn't do a Sunday Moment last week, as I was travelling back from my weekend in Leeds. I spent the weekend with the most amazing bunch of women, but I wanted to save that for another post, so keep an eye out for that one.

1. This week me and Paul went to look at a potential evening wedding venue, and the registry office we want to get married in. We absolutely loved both, so come payday we will be paying deposits and setting dates! I don't want to say anything just yet as its not booked but watch this space! We stopped at Flatcap Joes for a celebratory coffee after, a little hint the venue is under 10 minutes walk to Flatcaps.

2. Is it just me has January been 78 days long so far?! Seriously, longest month ever. I sat down on Tuesday night thinking "wow this has been a long week" and it was only Tuesday. It's a hard month with everyone being skint or frugal, and the cold damp weather. I'll be glad to see the back of January. And high five for a couple of 4 weekend months ahead!

3. I am definitely having a "my baby is all grown up" moment right now. Zoe is fully talking now and sometimes when I look at her I get a glimpse of the child she is becoming. Her baby features are fading and I am equal parts sad that she isn't a baby anymore and immensely proud of the kid she is becoming. She needs to stop growing so quickly though, she is so so tall. I got these Gap dungarees in the sale a few weeks ago in size 3y thinking she'd have room to grow and they are so short on the leg! The trouble is she is tall but slim, so sleeves and legs are short but everything is baggy. Need to start stocking up on the next size clothes. Recommendations for longer/slimmer fitting clothes brands appreciated.

4. PLEASE tell me I am not the only mother who starts breaking out in a cold sweat over these types of activities. We DO NOT do this at home, mainly because we rent our house and its wall to wall cream carpets but... I was so on edge. My lovely friend Alyssa invited me over and set up this activity for the kids. Zoe had an absolute blast but I was so on edge and hovering with the baby wipes. I am suddenly very thankful for our childminder who does this with Zoe all the time.

5. I just have to tell you about my new favourite item of clothing. In fact I am wearing it as I type this post! This Mother Like No Other jumper was my little january sale treat to myself and I am SO GLAD I bought it. I sometimes worry with some of the Mama Merch stuff that its made for slim people and wouldn't suit me, but this is so snuggly and a really nice comfy fit. I am an 18-20 (UK) and sized up to the XXL which was perfect for me as I prefer a baggy fit.

6. I had a playdate with a wonderful friend and her little boy yesterday, someone who since maternity leave we had lost touch a little, so it was wonderful to catch up. I set up all the happyland sets before they arrived but obviously it all got trashed within minutes, but everyone had fun. I'm making it a bit of a personal challenge to try and reconnect with the people I love who I've lost touch with a little this past year, with work and toddlerhood. Friends are so important.

How was your week? Anything to report?


Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Pack Pony and Proud

A response to the Daily Fail on wearing my toddler in a sling.
I absolutely loathe to give the Daily Mail any sort of attention, but I felt really strongly about something this week and wanted to word vomit about it. The aforementioned publication published a delightful observation piece about women who wear their older children in slings, citing all sorts of experts in their usual one sided view.
So, the term Pack Pony Mum seems to be a clever journalist trying to make a catchy alliterative version of pack horse, which is just a charming way to describe any woman/human. They seem to want to paint women who wear their toddlers and pre-school aged children as martyrs who are so desperate to keep their children as babies and stunt their development, that they force them into slings and smugly carry them around all day long. Or even worse, that we see slings as a replacement for our kids walking!?
I am here to tell you the reality of wearing a toddler.

Baby Wearing my toddler in a connecta Wearing my toddler in a ring sling Wearing my Toddler on my Back in a Connecta
A sling is not an alternative to walking, a sling is an alternative to a buggy, but in my opinion much less of a hassle. I have worn Zoe in a sling since she was 10 days old and I am a big advocate of babywearing, not only for the bonding/attachment type benefits but also for the convenience. I don't drive and rely a lot on public transport, anyone who has waited an age for a bus to find there are already two buggies on board will agree it is a pain in the backside and if you have to make an appointment or be somewhere at a set time it is impossible. I also enjoy having use of my hands while out and about, if Zoe was sleeping in the sling I could drink a coffee, check my phone, read a book, browse the sale rail at Marks and Spencer. I felt free and not tied down to a heavy buggy getting in everyone's way.

Now Zoe is 2 years old, I wear her less, but slings are still integral to our day. I always carry my trusty Didymos Houndstooth Ringsling in my handbag. It folds up nice and small and I can whip it out whenever Zoe gets tired or asks for a carry. She is a strong walker and loves running around and exploring wherever we go but she is still only 2, and her little legs need a rest once in a while.
My favourite thing about using a sling now she is older and talking more and more is the conversations we can have and the observations she makes. We can point out the birds and aeroplanes we see, and talk about the colours/shapes/numbers we encounter. I can easily hear her if she tells me she needs a wee or she wants a drink etc... And I just find the whole experience of going out for the day with a 2 year old much less stressful.

So, that is my experience of being a Pack Pony Mum, and despite the Daily Fail and Loose Women trying to paint me to be some sort of helicopter parent stunting my childs development by forcing her into a sling. This really couldn't be farther from my truth.
Also, to clear up a couple of other frequently asked questions;

1. Does it not hurt your back? - a well fitting ergonomic sling can be incredibly comfortable and and as a heavier toddler Zoe tends to only be in for short periods, and I find it easier on my back than pushing a heavy buggy or lifting a buggy on and off buses.

2. Is she clingy or attached to me permanently? - I am a believer in attachment parenting which contrary to popular belief does not mean your kids are clingy and attached to you permanently, it is about building strong confident bonds which promote feelings of security, which actually can make children more confident and independent. I have definitely noticed this with Zoe.

3. She doesn't like it or want to be carried... - This is my least favourite comment we get, like I am forcing my child to be carried against her will into a tiny fabric prison. Please rest assured there is absolutely no way to put a reluctant toddler in a sling - its like trying to fight an octopus. She is in the sling because she is tired or because she asked to be.

Accurate depiction of attempting to force a toddler into a sling

Do you wear your toddler or pre-school aged child or are you in agreement with the Daily Mail? I'd love to hear your sling stories and any funny comments you get whilst out and about...


Monday, 23 January 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 23rd January

What a week! We did pretty well sticking to last week's Meal Plan, instead of risotto we had an egg fried rice but apart from that we were on plan all week. I spent the weekend in Leeds meeting up with some of my best friends in the world at the HUGE Punky Moms meet up - over 50 rad women in one space, it was intense and amazing. Although as a result of not getting back until late afternoon Sunday, I haven't done my food shop yet.

But here is my plan based on what we have, and what I plan to buy afterwork tomorrow;


Sausage Sandwiches, something easy as I'll be doing the food shop and catching up on housework and washing etc...


Prawn pesto spaghetti - a firm favourite quick mid-week meal, last week I added some lightly roasted kale and capers to mine and I died and went to heaven - my satisfied corpse is typing this.


Cottage Pie - it was really great last week, and we always make enough for lunch the next day too. There is something lovely about having homemade meals for lunch the next day.


Garlic chicken thighs with boiled potatoes and salad. I am on the lookout for more interesting chicken recipes, if anyone has any suggestions, let me know!


Home-baked ham with jacket potatoes and homemade coleslaw - since we had ham and Christmas and loves it we decided to make it a more regular thing, why should we save something so delicious for once a year?

I am aiming for £35 on shopping this week, so I will update this once I've been to Aldi.

What is everyone else eating this week? Don't forget you can grab my free PRINTABLE MEAL PLANNER over on last week's Meal Plan Like a Boss post.

I am also hosting a regular linky for any bloggers who'd like to share their meal plans, I find it so helpful to have them in one place to gain inspiration and build a community. Huge thank you to the wonderful Amy from Crap Dieter who dropped their link last week, those porridge squares looked amazing!

So to take part in the linky;

1. Blog your meal plan and link it using the linky tool below.

2. Feel free to grab a button too, if you fancy.

3. Click on a few other blogs, and give it some love - its nice to share and be nice.

Nelly's Cupcakes


Monday, 16 January 2017

Linky: Meal Plan Like a Boss (FREE PRINTABLE)

I was about 80% on plan this week, but I had a damn good reason. On Tuesday I had a dentist appointment to have a tooth extracted. It went much better than I expected but I still didn't fancy cooking a lasagne after and ended up eating chips (soft and bland). BUT the way I see it is I can roll that meal over to next week.

This week I am only planning Monday - Friday as I am going away for the weekend to Leeds with my best friends, to meet my internet best friends. I am so excited! The need to be frugal is even bigger if I am to have any gin money.

Monday: Leftover corned beef and potato pie with boiled potatoes and carrots.

Tuesday: Cottage Pie.

Wednesday: Risotto - either prawn or salmon, I haven't decided yet.

Thursday: Chicken enchiladas.

Friday: Homemade pizzas

Breakfast this week at work will be porridge or fruit, and lunch will either be leftovers of the above or soup/avocado toast/things brought from home.

I find writing down my meal plan in blog form super helpful, and if I blog it I am much more likely to stick to it. However, I also write it down and stick it up in my kitchen so that others in the house can see it (and try to remember to take things out of the freezer in time). I have had all sorts of cool planners and calendars for this over the years but none have been 100% my style so I decided to make my own! I designed it in black and white as I don't tend to have colour ink in my printer plus monochrome is cool right? Anyway, I decided to make it available as a FREE PRINTABLE for you guys to use too, if you like.

Download; Meal Plan Like a Boss Printable.

I have also decided to add a little linky to my weekly meal plan, so that other meal planning bloggers can link in one place, mainly as a source of inspiration and to get ideas from everyone else, but also to help build a little community of meal plan bosses. I regularly get comments from a hardcore few (hey Kim *waves) but I would love to see a few more and check out their plans too! So if you are a blogger who meal plans, let linking! (I will try to share as many as I can through social media and use the hashtag #mealplanlikeaboss - also how would people feel about the occasional twitter chat exchanging tips?)


Sunday, 15 January 2017

Sunday Moment - 15th January

1. My week started with a trip to the dentist, not the best way to start a week. I have had tooth issues for the last couple of months which has involved a trip to the emergency dental hospital 4 days before Christmas and popping a lot of pain killers. Finally, I had my bad tooth extracted on Tuesday. I was pretty scared and nervous about it but my new dentist is a total hero who took that bad tooth out like it was no big deal and then hummed along to pearl jam with me while I sat in shock that it was all over so quickly. He also gave me some new cleaning treatment which left my teeth pearly and white. So basically I now love my dentist and I'm booked in for regular check ups along with Zoe.

2. If you read my blog, you'll know I am big into meal planning. I designed a really cool (well I think so) meal planner this week for myself, having struggled to find one I liked. After I got a few compliments on it I decided to make it available as a free download, so check out the blog tomorrow if you want to grab a freebie.

3. Zoe is BIG into drawing right now. We got her the IKEA easel for her birthday and she loves it. We don't keep it out all the time, but every morning without fail she asks for her "pens" or "chalks". It is so wonderful to see as I was exactly the same as a kid and love to share this creativity with her. I really want to expand some of the creative things we do together, so if anyone has any ideas or links to share, please do!

4. I made a slammin sweet potato and chickpea curry this week with brown rice and roasted kale. It was so delicious and I felt so healthy even when I went back for seconds. I also started Reading Lauren Graham's new book Talking As Fast As I Can: From Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls, and Everything in Between which I am already half way through and loving. If you're a Lorelai fan, you'll love it too.

5. LOOK AT THESE BOOTS! These were one of those purchases where I wish they did them in my size too, so me and Zoe could twin. I picked them up in the M&S sale for £9.99 and cannot wait to see her in them. I was thinking about doing a little toddler style post soon so watch this space for more boots spam.

6. During the same shopping trip where I bought the aforementioned boots, I tried on this dress. I was a complete idiot and didn't buy it! WHY??!!??! I plan to dash back in store next week and pray there is one left. Wish me luck.

How did your week go?


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

8 Toddler Approved Lunch Ideas (that aren't sandwiches)

In our house we are breakfast people, we love cereal and eggs and pancakes and sausages, bacon ... The list is endless. We never struggle to come up with ideas for breakfast. However, when it comes to lunch we often find ourselves stuck in a bit of a sandwich rut. Throw in a toddler who changes her mind/tastes on an almost daily basis and we end up eating the same thing over and over.

So I set myself a challenge to shake things up at lunch time and try some new ideas. Hopefully they might inspire you to try something new too...

1. Wrap Pizzas
This is a great one to get kids involved in the making, I pre-chop a few different toppings and let zoe place them on the wrap. We often use cream cheese or pesto as the base and then top with grated cheddar. They only take 5-10 minutes to cook and I often find Zoe gets a real kick out of seeing something she helped make cooked, and then eating it.

2. Quesadillas
Similar to the wrap pizza, Zoe likes to help choose the filling and arrange them on the wrap. Recently we have enjoyed hummus and falafel quesadillas, but you can really put anything in them. We use the George Foreman grill to cook them, which is superquick.

3. Dippy Lunch
This is one of our favourites right now, Zoe loves to deconstruct things before eating so having something which is all separate suits her. Our favourite is hummus or homemade guacamole (which is basically just smooshed up avocado) with pitta bread (cut into strips), cucumber and carrot sticks, and either chicken strips or cocktail sausages.

4. Soup and bread
We have only recently started to get on board with soup. It is still a little hit and miss but she loves dipping the bread. Her favourites tend to be sweeter soups like butternut squash, sweet potato or carrot.

5. Cold pasta salad
A great quick pasta dish we love is pesto with peas, if we have any ham or leftover chicken I tend to throw that in too. We also love tomato and tuna or a little bit of butter with sweetcorn and chicken. Basically anything goes and as Zoe is a total carb fiend like her mother, it gets gobbled.

6. Toasties
Toasties are technically a sandwich, but with the melty cheese and many many filling options which might not be trusted in a cold un-toasted sandwich, toasties are a firm favourite here. Tuna and cheese, or ham and cheese are the usual, but I can also usually sneak in some spinach or slices tomato without complaint.

7. Avocado on toast
Ok ok, so this could be seen as a breakfast food, but when you have a breakfast loving toddler, you need to think on your feet. Zoe is a avocado fan, and this is a great easy lunch. I tend to have egg with mine, although Zoe is not a fan of boiled egg. Its super adaptable and packed full of healthy fats.

8. Eggy fried rice
A firm favourite here, we often have it for dinner but its great hot or cold for lunch. I tend to throw in anything we have that needs using - sausages, salmon, roast chicken, veggies... a dash of low salt soy sauce and an egg... delicious.

Are there any ideas I have missed? What do your fussy toddler love to eat for lunch?


Monday, 9 January 2017

Meal Plan Like a Boss - 9th January

I STUCK TO MY PLAN! We ended up dropping the prawn fried rice, as we had so much leftover lasagne, but apart from that we were 100% on plan and it felt amazing. I did nip back to Aldi to buy bananas, cheese and milk mid-week but it came in under £5 so my weekly shop (including nappies) came in under £30.

I am feeling even more determined now, with wedding plans starting to form the need to be frugal and save is bigger than ever. So with that in mind I am really challenging myself to spend as little as possible - so that means no more coffee on the way to work, or thursday treat sushi etc... Wish me luck!

Monday: Leftover roast chicken fried rice.

Tuesday: Lasagne.

Wednesday: Prawn pesto pasta.

Thursday: Sweet potato and chickpea curry with rice (kale).

Friday: Bangers and mash with vegetables.

Saturday: Marinated chicken thighs with baked potato and salad.

Sunday: Corned beef and potato pie.

Breakfast this week at work will be porridge, and lunch will either be leftovers of the above or soup/avocado toast.

My shopping list for this week looks like this;

500g lean mince
Butter (block for pie and white sauce)
Sweet potato x4
Potato x 4
Porridge oats
Avocado x2
Small brown loaf

Which should come in at under £15 if I can avoid adding too much above this. What is everyone else having this week? I am thinking of starting a Meal Plan Like a Boss linky to allow others to link up and share their own plans, what do you think?


Sunday, 8 January 2017

Sunday Moment - 8th January

1. I took Zoe to the cinema this week, we haven't been to the cinema since she was a non-walking baby, but she has really gotten into films recently and I thought she might enjoy it. We went on a Tuesday when the tickets are cheap and went to the Studio screening at our local Empire, which is a much smaller room (less than 40 seats) so if she didn't like it we could just leave and not have lost too much. She wasn't a fan of the fold down seats as she didn't weigh enough to stop them springing back up again, so she sat on my knee but was completely engrossed by the film; Moana. I would highly recommend Moana to any parents, its such a beautiful film with some fantastic music.

2. Zoe got a Mini Micro Scooter for Christmas and has loved scooting around the house with it, so this week we braved the cold to try it outside. Sadly the adventure was short lived as it was fairly icy and cold, and Zoe took the opportunity to ditch the scooter and make a run for the road. So being the chill parent I am, I picked her and the scooter up and marched us home. I think we will save the scooter for a more enclosed space and for slightly warmer weather. Any tips on scootering with a toddler who likes danger are appreciated.

3. I have been off this week with Zoe, which has been wonderful. We have been getting back to normality after Christmas and I've enjoyed cooking and preparing food again! I am back on the Meal Plan bandwagon and Zoe has even been helping in the kitchen a bit! She loved helping arrange the topping on these wrap pizzas.

4. And so it begins... The dreaded potty training. We have been contemplating it for a while and introduced Zoe to the potty and the idea a few months ago. This week I took the opportunity to try no-nappies. She has taken to it like a total champ with only a couple of accidents (usually when she is engrossed in an activity) in all honesty I am not entirely sure what to do next, but I am doing what I always do and following Zoe's lead. She is back at the childminder tomorrow so we need to have a chat on how to move forward but she is really enjoying being a big girl and using her potty. I'll definitely share some tips once we've cracked it.

5. I thought I would give a little wedding update, we are very much still in the early ideas stage but we have definitely decided to keep it as low key and affordable as possible. We are planning to check out an evening venue in the next couple of weeks and we are looking at dates in autumn.

6. Zoe has really started to enjoy playing with her tablet recently. We bought her a Kindle Fire last Christmas when there was a great black Friday deal on, but she hasn't really taken much of an interest until now. We are trying to decide on an appropriate amount of screen time for her at the moment, and have downloaded a lot of educational apps, one in particular has really helped her get to grips with colours. It is amazing seeing her pick up technology so quickly, Paul is keen to get her into coding and other geekery as soon as possible. Any toddler appropriate app suggestions?

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and New Year.


Monday, 2 January 2017

Meal Planning Like a Boss - 1st January

Guys, I am so rusty. I haven't planned or properly cooked in so long. Its all been off the cuff panic cooking or a lazy click on Just Eat. I was literally scrolling for a full 5 minutes looking for a vaguely recent food photo to accompany this post and all I could find was my Christmas dinner, which I didn't even cook! Oh dear.

Things need to change

I am feeling that scary, anxious, out of control feeling in my tummy and I need to make lists and plans. So here I am, back to meal planning and hopefully I will stick to it for a while. With weddings to pay for we need to be frugal and not throw money away on takeaways out of sheer laziness. So I am taking the bull by the horns and setting myself a goal of completing and blogging my weekly meal plan each week in January, as well as photographing my food again, which I actually find really helpful (be sure to follow my #therealnellyeats hashtag over on instagram)

Monday: Bangers and mash with carrots and broccoli

Tuesday: Beef lasagne with salad.

Wednesday: King prawn egg fried rice

Thursday: Pork chops with potatoes and vegetables

Friday: Homemade pizza

Saturday: Tuna pasta bake

Sunday: Roast chicken

I am off work this week so I have planned breakfasts and lunches for me and Zoe too. I have taken a cupboard and freezer inventory so our weekly shop this week should be fairly small with just a couple of fresh bits of fruit and vegetables needed.

Anyone else back on the meal plan bandwagon? Please share yours below too so I can get some inspiration!


Sunday, 1 January 2017

2016 vs 2017

I hate resolutions, the stereotypical making a breaking of vague and unattainable goals is just not my bag. However, I do enjoy looking back on the things that have happened this year and making plans. Not wishes or dreams but attainable objectives that I can stick to. Although, that being said I set myself some goals back in January 2016 and only actually achieved one of them. Does that mean I stop making plans and striving for something? No. Learn and grow.

So 2016 was pretty crappy in the world, with Brexit and Trump and so many people dying. However, I feel like personally it was a pretty big year! I got a new job back in February and actually really love it, I feel like I have a path and can see a career in the distance, which feels pretty good.

I also had a bit of news back in November which I neglected to share... I got engaged! Only took nearly 11 years but we finally made the mutual decision to put a ring on it.

Zoe has also bossed this year, shes growing like a weed, eating like Duane "The Rock" Johnson in training, and is turning into an amazing little girl. She knows all of the words to Let It Go from Frozen and has mastered counting to 14 and climbing up to the highest slide at softplay on her own. Boss.

I finally I found my people this year, I posted about finding your Village back in March 2015 but I feel like I got this so much more this year. I joined an online group on facebook, which I heard about through a friend and honestly I have never met a more amazingly inspiration group of women. I am even heading to Leeds in a few weeks to meet about 90 of them! I feel much more "me" this year and credit them a lot with that self discovery and confidence.

So, 2017. What do I want to happen? What are my goals?

Firstly, work-wise I have some training goals and would like to get my head down, work hard and hopefully get some sort of promotion or payrise, or at least be working towards that goal in a positive way.

Secondly, get married! I haven't hidden the fact here that we are pretty skint a lot of the time thanks to childcare costs and just life, so I would like to manage to get married in a fairly frugal and low key way. If you'd like me to I can share those plans here?

Thirdly, I would like to let my creative side out this year. I did a bit of designing last year for Punky Moms and created these rad stickers. I'd like to create a few more things and find time to be creative.

Last but not least, I need to be more organised at home. I work 30 hours a week now and have a spirited two year old, so house things have fallen a little by the wayside. We are in damage limitation mode rather than getting ahead of things. So, I'd like to get back to meal planning, maybe set up a cleaning rota of some kind (tips welcome!) and just feel a little more in control at home.

P.S One more thing that I would like, but not sure I can squeeze in, is more blogging. I miss this, I miss you... Lets talk more, OK?

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